Saturday, May 07, 2011

More 'Isolated Incidents': Wave Of Racist-right Crimes Hits Spokane Area -- But It's Not Alone

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Last weekend, my old friend Bill Morlin wrote a major Sunday piece for the Spokane Spokesman-Review describing how the old scourge of white-supremacist hatred and the violence that always accompanies it has been on the rise again:
There’s also been a spike in racist activity and hate crimes in Spokane and other Pacific Northwest communities – indeed, almost everywhere in the United States.

Racist graffiti, acts of malicious harassment and distribution of hate literature in 1980 marked the emergence of the Aryan Nations in North Idaho, recalls Marshall Mend, a founding member of the human relations task force.

For nearly three decades, the Aryans and their splinter-group associates were responsible for a series of crimes, including murders and bombings, throughout the United States.

The Aryan Nations held annual gatherings of hatemongers, burned KKK crosses and even got permits for disruptive parades down Sherman Avenue in Coeur d’Alene, all of which severely tarnished the region’s image.

Most local hate activity disappeared with a multimillion-dollar court verdict in 2000 that bankrupted the Aryan Nations. Four years later, Aryan founder Richard Butler died, and some wishfully thought hate, too, had disappeared in this region.

Now, though, there are two new self-proclaimed Aryan leaders in North Idaho – Gerald O’Brien and Paul Mullet – who are fighting each other for power. There are two competing Aryan Web sites. Another splinter faction, the Aryan Nations Revival, based in New York state, dissolved last week and, according to a Web posting, threw its support to O’Brien’s faction.

Meanwhile, almost a dozen hate crimes have been reported in the past 14 months to authorities in Kootenai and Spokane counties.

The region’s spike in hate crimes follows a national trend that started after the country elected its first black president in 2008. Besides more hate groups, experts say they also are seeing an increase in secretive, anti-government militia activity.
Sure enough, in the week that followed, there were three major stories involving white-supremacist violence in the Inland Empire.

First came
the arrest of a Pullman white supremacist who apparently was leading hate-crime attacks on taco-truck drivers. No, really:
A Whitman County man who bragged online about being involved with racist taco truck protests in Kootenai County was arrested on a federal gun charge Wednesday.
Jeremiah Daniel “J.D.” Hop, who describes himself as an anti-race-mixing activist on the racist website Vanguard News Network, is accused of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Investigators spent most of Wednesday searching Hop’s home near Pullman, as well as another property in Whitman County associated with the suspect, said Don Robinson, supervisor for the FBI’s Coeur d’Alene office.

Hop, who was arrested Wednesday morning, is not a member of the Aryan Nations but is involved in racist circles, Robinson said. Hop was convicted of third-degree rape of a child in 2005.
The guy is obviously a genius. I thought everyone loved taco trucks. And the child-rape conviction just reminds us, once again, that a lot of these people have, well, issues.

Such as Kevin Harpham, the neo-Nazi arrested for planting a lethal backpack bomb along the parade route of this year's MLK parade in downtown Spokane. He was further charged with federal hate crimes this week. Meanwhile, the Spokesman's Meghann M. Cunniff reported on what Harpham's online postings revealed about his mindset -- and his politics:
He also wrote of being influenced by writings and podcasts by Edgar Steele, the former Aryan Nations lawyer who is currently awaiting trial on federal charges that he hired a man to kill his wife. Harpham promoted a speaking engagement by Steele in Florida in 2006 and wrote in 2007 that he “finally broke down and had to go out buy some silver,” because of Steele’s influence.

Harpham eventually became an active supporter of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination; he urged others to make individual rather than group contributions to help avoid any links between white supremacists and Paul’s candidacy. Harpham claimed in 2007 to have made two contributions, one for $50 and another for $25, to the Paul campaign but contradicted himself in other posts, saying he supports the campaign but wouldn’t spend money on it.

“I don’t care about getting America back on its feet, what I want is for Ron Paul to provide the conditions for us to build White communities with our own businesses and schools,” he wrote on Christmas Eve 2007. “We could do very well under these conditions and start amassing great wealth to expand.”

But as Paul’s presidential prospects faded and the U.S. economy tanked, violent themes began emerging in more of Harpham’s online comments.

Harpham last posted on Jan. 16, a day before the bomb was discovered. Ten days earlier, he had offered to let fugitive white supremacist Craig Cobb stay at his home. It’s unclear whether Cobb, who faces hate crime charges in Canada, took him up on the offer.
Oh, yes, and speaking of Edgar Steele -- he was found guilty of plotting to murder his wife and mother-in-law this week too. And it seems the wife, who has remained loyal through it all, is now denouncing the verdict:
A murder-for-hire trial comes to an emotional end. A federal jury convicted Edgar Steele on Thursday of plotting to kill his wife and mother-in-law. But Steele's wife vows to set the record straight. The Boise jury found Edgar Steele guilty on all four counts.

The trial was moved to Boise for fairness at the request of the defense. Despite those efforts, Cyndi Steele said her husband's trial was some kind of federal government conspiracy.

"They took our life and turned it into an ugly story, it is farthest from the truth," said Cyndi.

The story began when a mechanic found a pipe bomb under Cyndi Steele's car. Investigators said a hired hand, Larry Fairfax, planted the bomb at the request of her husband, Edgar Steele.

"I am the wife, the proud wife of Edgar J. Steele, and I am here to tell you that this is a cover-up, a frame-up to cover-up Larry Fairfax's crime against me," said Cyndi.
I have a hunch she's going to be showing up on Fox News to plead her case.

In any event, these are obviously all just "isolated incidents" that have no larger significance whatsoever. Move along, please.

When Teachers Push Back, All Of A Sudden Glenn Beck Loves The Unions -- At Least, The Idea Of Them

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Glenn Beck is obviously a profoundly confused guy. He wants to portray himself as a defender of the average working guy -- even though nearly every one of his programs is a propaganda hour for corporate power, including that of the corporation he works for. (For the time being, anyway.)

Yesterday he invited some teachers into his studio, selected from a group of people who were dissenting from business as usual at their schools. He was astonished to discover -- after having spent much of the show acting as though the unions hated these people and might bomb their cars -- that most of these teachers nonetheless were happy to defend their unions, and pushed back against his portrayal of the teachers' unions as being riddled with far-left radicals who wanted to destroy America.

Faced with this, Beck resorted to a defensive position in which he spewed out a line of pure gobbledygook that had NOTHING to do with anything he had ever said previously on any of his shows
BECK: I'm not against -- believe it or not -- I just talked to my mother-in-law -- I've told this story before -- was arrested on a union march with Jesse Jackson! And I just told her just the other day, she said, 'Man, our union' or uh -- ' our school is out of control.' And I said, 'Mom, I will march with you' -- she works at Yale. They treat their employees like garbage.

Unions -- I'm not against unions!
I'm against corporations being so wildly out of control with no one watching over them. There's not stop! Right now, call the police on GE. Who you gonna call? Who you gonna call? All the way to the White House! There's no one to call! Because they're all in bed. OK?

If somebody's abusing the system in a corporation or in schools or whatever, and there's no union -- who you gonna call? What, are you gonna get another job? You're not gonna get another job! You know what I mean? So, it's the balance of things. When unions become too powerful, they get out of control. When business becomes too powerful, out of control, it's 'do the right thing'. And that's what's not being taught anymore.
Can you make any sense of that? I sure can't. Especially because it has nothing whatsoever to do with the sustained attacks on unions that have been part and parcel of Beck's show for the past year and more.

Here are a couple of examples from the past month:

As you can see, Beck's has attacked unions for being infiltrated throughout by conniving evil radicals who want to destroy the American way of life. Controlling corporations has never been mentioned previously. Indeed, Beck starts out defending his position initially by referring to all of his "proof" that the unions are far-left radicals -- and then, when faced with the real world concerns of teachers, he suddenly shifts gears and starts claiming that he loooooves unions and wants to march with them because they're the only counterweight to corporations -- even though this has not a thing to do with teachers' unions, who are not doing battle with corporations directly at all.

Just goes to show: Not only is Beck a pathological liar, he's a two-faced weasel to boot.

Cue The Waaaahmbulance: Brent Bozell Whines That Bush Didn't Get Any Credit For Getting Bin Laden -- Or 'Winning The Iraq War'

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Sean Hannity was busy all week flogging the torture-apologist line, claiming (falsely) that the torture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad produced the intel that led to the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Last night he had on his buddy Brent Bozell of the wingnut Media Research Center to continue flogging this line:
HANNITY: And none of it would have happened but for George W. Bush, enhanced interrogation, rednition, black sites -- they don't touch it! They don't mention it, Brent Bozell. Why?

BOZELL: Think about this, Sean, what Barbara Walters just said. 'But it was Obama who had the courage and the guts and the coolness.' Oh, George Bush didn't have courage and guts and coolness? You know -- even Bill Clinton! He didn't have courage and guts. Only Osama bin Laden -- I mean, [giggles], Barack Obama -- had the courage and the guts and the coolness?

Look, you want to praise the man for -- the president for what he did? I'm all for that. He did a great job. But my God, where were they when George Bush won us the war in Iraq? Where were they praising him? And why can't they -- why can't they give him the most minimal praise?

It is because of this man's techniques -- that they condemned all these years -- it's because of those techniques that that man is dead today.
Ah, yes, the "Bush deserves credit" line that Fox & Friends trotted out on Monday. Actually, Bozell was quick to jump on that bandwagon, complaining earlier this week that Obama himself snubbed President Bush in his speech announcing the raid:
Unfortunately, while the president spoke for the whole country in remembering the pain of 9/11, his remarks left a gaping hole. He made no generous bow to all the efforts of his predecessor George W. Bush as well as his team. My one regret is that Bush 43 didn't get this scalp. He deserved it more than anyone.

Instead, Obama played subtle and wholly undignified games. He underlined that Osama had “avoided capture” under Bush and “continued to operate” during his tenure. But “I directed” CIA director Leon Panetta to make getting Osama the “top priority” (as opposed to?), and “I” gave the go-ahead to the final mission. Obama also avoided Bush in a Medal of Honor ceremony on Monday afternoon. Even in a Monday night “bipartisan” event at the White House, Obama honored the “military and counter-terrorism professionals” and “the members of Congress from both parties” who offered support to the mission....but no credit for Bush.

If the roles had been reversed, you know Bush would have been more generous. It’s what Bushes do.
Oh, we remember what Bushes do, all right. The last one ran the presidency like a hung-over, coked-out spoiled preppie out careering through the skies in a Texas Air National Guard F-102, half asleep at the wheel. And when he eventually had to unceremoniously bail out just as he crashed the economy, he and his conservative apologists somehow managed to blame it on minority lending practices.

[Later in this Hannity episode, Bozell adds that "the far left is not happy that Osama bin Laden is dead." Oh really, Brent? Do you have any evidence of that?]

But there's a problem: Bush really deserves very little credit at all for the success of this operation -- because the death of Bin Laden, as every serious foreign-policy person understands, is a direct result of Obama's decision to adopt a completely new strategy against Al Qaeda:
Behind Obama’s takedown of the Qaida leader this week lies a profound discontinuity between administrations—a major strategic shift in how to deal with terrorists. From his first great public moment when, as a state senator, he called Iraq a “dumb war,” Obama indicated that he thought that George W. Bush had badly misconceived the challenge of 9/11. And very quickly upon taking office as president, Obama reoriented the war back to where, in the view of many experts, it always belonged. He discarded the idea of a “global war on terror” that conflated all terror threats from al-Qaida to Hamas to Hezbollah. Obama replaced it with a covert, laserlike focus on al-Qaida and its spawn.

This reorientation was part of Obama’s reset of America’s relations with the world. Bush, having gradually expanded his definition of the war to include all Islamic “extremists,” had condemned the United States to a kind of permanent war, one that Americans had to fight all but alone because no one else agreed on such a broadly defined enemy. (Hez­bollah and Hamas, for example, arguably had legitimate political aims that al-Qaida did not, which is one reason they distanced themselves from bin Laden.) In Obama’s view, only by focusing narrowly on true transnational terrorism, and winning back all of the natural allies that the United States had lost over the previous decade, could he achieve America’s goal of uniting the world around the goal of extinguishing al-Qaida.

Bush had also portrayed al-Qaida and terrorism in general as a millennial threat; he and his top aides especially liked to compare the conflict to the Cold War. “This is the great ideological struggle of the 21st century—and it is the calling of our generation,” Bush said in 2006, in a dramatic rendezvous-with-destiny speech timed to the fifth anniversary of 9/11. “Freedom is once again contending with the forces of darkness and tyranny”—the terrorists who would seek to impose what he called a “totalitarian Islamic empire.”

But the comparisons to the Cold War or the fight against fascism in the 1940s were silly. Al-Qaida, even in its best days, never represented anything like the ideological threat from the Soviet Union or the hegemonic threat of Hitler’s Germany. As Wall Street Journal reporter Alan Cullison wrote in a little-noted article in The Atlantic in September 2004, on the eve of 9/11, al-Qaida was a small, fractious group whose members could not even agree among themselves what its goal was. Quoting a remarkable series of letters he found on Ayman al-Zawahiri’s old computer in Afghanistan, Cullison wrote that jihadis who were members of Zawahiri’s Egyptian Islamic Jihad—the biggest component of al-Qaida—still wanted to make Egypt the main enemy. They wanted to focus on the jihadis’ old adversary, the “near enemy” of the repressive Arab regimes, rather than endorse bin Laden’s rather grandiose effort to take on the “far enemy,” the United States.

By invading Iraq, the Bush administration resolved the debate for al-Qaida, turning America into the “near enemy.” Years of relief followed for al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan as Bush dealt with the Iraqi insurgents, lumping them together with the “terrorists” of 9/11 as though one static group of global bad guys existed whom Americans would be fighting at home if they weren’t in Iraq. The 43rd president, in effect, concocted a new war in the middle of a half-finished one, sapping our military, our credibility, our economy, our morale, and our moral standing; alienating much of the world; and diverting our attention from destroying the chief culprit of 9/11.

The Bush approach remained scattershot throughout his two terms in office and was conceived “piece by piece,” in the words of one European diplomat in Washington. There is no evidence that Bush ever held a grand strategy session with his principals, in which all of the variables were laid on the table: the price of the global war on terrorism, the strategic goal, and the real costs, in dollars and lives, of an Iraq invasion.

The lack of clarity in strategic conception led directly to the imbroglio in Afghanistan and Pakistan today. There is no longer any question that the diversion of U.S. troops and, in particular, intelligence assets and special forces to Iraq in 2002 and 2003 produced a Taliban and Qaida resurgence in South Asia. It also made the Pakistanis—who even in the best of times were playing a double game—hedge about their own strategic shift away from support for jihadis as a counterweight to India. In 2007, Mahmud Ali Durrani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States at the time, suggested that this was when Washington began to lose some of his country’s support. After 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was captured in Rawalpindi in March 2003—just as Bush was invading Iraq—“al-Qaida was almost destroyed in an operational sense,” Durrani told me. “But then al-Qaida got a vacuum in Afghanistan. And they got a motivational area in Iraq. Al-Qaida rejuvenated.”

Fortunately for the United States, Osama bin Laden made his share of mistakes in the past decade as well. And now, at long last, with America’s focus once again back where it belonged, he has paid for them. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once famously lamented that “we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror.” Neither he nor other senior members of the Bush administration ever developed those “metrics.” But by any metric, Barack Obama has just tallied a major victory.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Pre-debate Tea Party Gathering In Greenville: Chock Full O' Nuts!

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

[Photo via Judd Legum at ThinkProgress]
Seems there was a very good reason Tim Pawlenty decided not to show up for that pre-debate Tea Party rally in Greenville, S.C., last night: It was being run by some of the wingnuttiest, far-right elements in America:
According to [its] official program, the pre-debate “Freedom Rally” is sponsored by several extremist groups, including the Oath Keepers militia group and the radical anti-communist John Birch Society. You can see a picture of the program here.
And the speakers were straight out of casting central for rattle-eyed nutcases -- right along side GOP stalwarts like their new governor:
The rally also featured a cadre of high profile speakers, including Judge Roy Moore, the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice who lost his job after refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building, and Nikki Haley, South Carolina's first female governor.
Yep, that would be the same Roy Moore who flirted with a presidential bid under the banner of the militia-friendly/far-right Constitution Party. And while the local press reported that Haley "fired up" the Tea Partiers while mostly sticking to "policy issues" in her speech, she couldn't help brushing up against the nutcases everywhere she turned:
She followed John Birch Society president John McManus, who equated neo-conservatives with socialists, and Greenville Republican activist Dan Herren, who urged the tea party to try to work within the GOP to make it more conservative.
On top of that, she spoke with that huge Oath Keepers banner right behind her. That's one of the rally's chief sponsors -- and it's one of the most bizarre, paranoid and extreme -- not to mention potentially dangerous -- of the Tea Party factions.

After all, let's recall the 10 points that Oath Keepers proclaim as their oath:
  • 1. We will NOT obey any order to disarm the American people.
  • 2. We will NOT obey orders to conduct warrantless searches of the American people.
  • 3. We will NOT obey orders to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to military tribunal.
  • 4. We will NOT obey orders to impose martial law or a “state of emergency” on a state.
  • 5. We will NOT obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty.
  • 6. We will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.
  • 7. We will NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext.
  • 8. We will NOT obey orders to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on U.S. soil against the American people to “keep the peace” or to “maintain control."
  • 9. We will NOT obey any orders to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies.
  • 10. We will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.
As Mark Potok of the SPLC told Bill O'Reilly:
But the reality about the group is that what it's really about is the fear that martial law is about to be imposed, that Americans are about to be herded into concentration camps, that foreign troops are going to be put down on American soil. The Oath Keepers says specifically, we will not obey these orders, we will refuse orders to put Americans into concentration camps. Now, is that dangerous? It seems to me the danger is that these are men and women, in the case of police officers, who are given a real power over the rest of us, sometimes the power of life and death. They make very important decisions. And if these men and women are animated by the idea that, you know, foreign forces are about to come into this country and put us under martial law and throw us all into concentration camps, I think there is a certain danger associated with that. ... They're operating on the basis on crazy theories that may cause one of them to draw a gun one day.
The Oath Keepers are also extensively involved in the Tea Party movement, having helped co-sponsor their national convention in Tennessee last year, as well as a host of local Tea Party gatherings, such as that full-bore Patriot gathering I attended in Montana.

Then there's the John Birch Society -- whose paranoiac fantasies spun over many long decades have given birth to many of the paranoid fears trotted out by folks like the Oath Keepers and Alex Jones: they're the true godfathers of American right-wing extremism, and the true godfathers of the Tea Party movement as well.

Rachel Maddow exposed them a little while back
and they didn't like it one bit. That's too bad: after all, the Tea Partiers often betray their true Bircher lineage in polls, as well as in the overt agenda of their movement leaders. Indeed, movement icons like Glenn Beck promote Bircherite conspiracy theories on Fox News. In the past year, it seems, they've become mainstream Republican again.

Which tells you just how insane the Right really has become.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Once Again, Senate ConservaDems Prove Suckers For Republican Voodoo Economics

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

[Video via]

Dean Baker has a question for Claire McCaskill:

Why Does Senator McCaskill Want to Bankrupt Our Children?

That is what people should be asking Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill along with her fellow senators who are advocated strict caps on government spending. The idea being pushed by Senator McCaskill, together with Tennessee Senator Bob Corker and several other prominent senators, would limit federal spending to 20.6 percent of GDP. It would require difficult-to-obtain super-majorities to exceed this cap. Spending would be cut across a variety of programs if the cap is not reached.

This proposal is hugely deserving of ridicule for a variety of reasons. First, it operates from a blatantly wrong premise -- that government spending has grown out of control.
Those familiar with arithmetic know that government spending had increased by little as a share of GDP prior to the downturn caused by the collapse of the housing bubble. In 2007, the last year before the onset of the recession, spending as a share of GDP was 19.6 percent. That is 1.1 percentage points less than the 20.7 percent share 30 years earlier in 1977. So the idea that there is a long-term trend of out-of-control spending is simply not true, or what they call outside of Washington, a "lie."
Robert Reich calls it "lipstick on a pig":
Republicans figure that if they can’t sell the pig, they’ll just put lipstick on it and find some suckers who will think it’s something else.

That’s the proposal emerging in the Senate from Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee and also Democrat Claire McCaskill of Missouri. It would get the deficit down not by raising taxes on the rich but by capping federal spending.

If Congress failed to stay under the cap, the budget would be automatically cut.
According to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the McCaskill/Corker plan would require $800 billion of cuts in 2022 alone. That’s the equivalent of eliminating Medicare entirely, or the entire Department of Defense.

Obviously the Defense Department wouldn’t disappear, so what would go? Giant cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, education, and much of everything else Americans depend on.

It’s the Republican plan with lipstick
. It would have the same exact result. But by disguising it with caps and procedures, Republicans can avoid saying what they’re intending to do.
Why is it that ConservaDems think that suckering for right-wing voodoo economics is some kind of "bipartisanship," anyway?

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Sarah Palin's Tribute To The Military Becomes A Nasty Attack On Obama

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Well, the black hole we feared might open due to the critical mass of wingnuttery in one location didn't quite occur Monday night in Colorado, but Sarah Palin's "Tribute to the Troops" speech certainly gave us a look at the black hole that is her mind.

Her speech was full of all kinds of classic Palinisms -- such as her insistence that American troops never be placed under foreign command. (In reality, of course, U.S. soldiers have served under foreign commanders numerous times in the past century, including in critical theaters of World War II.) Or her bizarre formulation for world peace.

But what really stood out was the fact that Palin's speech -- delivered less than 24 hours after the death of Osama bin Laden was announced, and full of all kinds of congratulations and praise to the troops and commanders who made it happen -- deliberately omitted, in about as obvious and as graceless and clumsy a fashion imaginable, President Obama from the congratulations.

Indeed, she instead congratulated George W. Bush. And then she went on to attack Obama for his foreign policy -- and worse yet, imply to the gathered soldiers that he was undeserving of their loyalty -- without, in fact, ever once even enunciating his name.

Here's how her congratulations went:
PALIN: Last night -- thank God, last night -- all of us hearing the news that one evil leader -- [applause] -- one evil leader of Islamic extremists who was responsible for the murders of thousands of innocent Americans had finally met justice, at the hands of America's finest. [Applause] It is my honor to get to speak of those finest in uniform today. We get to pay tribute to those finest United States military.

I know that we'll probably all remember as individuals where we were that September day when the horrific thoughts and ambitions and plans of this terrorist cut short the thoughts, ambitions and plans of beloved innocent Americans who were heartlessly murdered on September 11, 2001. God bless all the brave men and women in our military and our intelligence services who carried out the successful mission to bring Osama bin Laden to justice. And all those who had laid the groundwork over the years to make that victory possible.

This historic action that was announced last night, it was the result of the diligence, and the hard work, and the character of countless American warriors.


Yesterday was a testament to the military’s dedication in relentlessly hunting down an enemy through many years of war. And we thank our president -- we thank President Bush for having made the right calls to set up this victory.
Then, as the Denver Post reported, she went on to attack Obama's foreign policy:
Striking a more political note, Palin said American troops need clear leadership. She cited the Obama administration's policy in Libya as an example of "a lack of clarity."

"We can't fight every war," she said. "We can't undo every injustice in the world.

"We don't go looking for dragons to slay."
Then she wrapped up on a truly scurrilous note:
PALIN: We need leaders who embody the same standard as to which the men and women in uniform hold themselves.

Remember: the true soldier fights because he loves what is behind him. Behind him here is tradition, it's patriotism, it's -- it's not a need for a fundamental transformation of America! It's for a renewal of all that's good about America!
Does that sound to you like she's telling these soldiers that President Obama is undeserving of their loyalty? It sure does to me.

By the way, we haven't gotten word yet on what Jerry Boykin's speech contained. Considering that he's been promoting the theory that President Obama and the radical liberals are working hand in glove with Bin Laden and the Islamic radicals to destroy America, well, let's just guess that major portions of it had to be rewritten. We'll report back when we learn more.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

A Retrospective: What Was The President Thinking At That Saturday Night Dinner?

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Looking back at Saturday night's White House Correspondents Dinner, it's clear now that some of the jokes were more than little pungent -- considering that the president at that point had authorized the mission to kill Osama bin Laden.

For example, there was this bit from Seth Meyer's ribbing of various entities, including the president and C-SPAN:
MEYERS: Every time I tune into C-SPAN it looks like they just had a fire drill. C-SPAN is one unpaid electric bill away from being a radio station.

People think Bin Laden is hiding in the Hindu Kush. But did you know that every day from 4 to 5 he hosts a show on C-SPAN?
You can see that Obama enjoyed that joke quite a bit. You have to wonder what he was thinking just then.

That's even more the case in his pwnage of Donald Trump:

Josh Marshall pointed this one out:
OBAMA: But all kidding aside, obviously, we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience. (Laughter.) For example -- no, seriously, just recently, in an episode of Celebrity Apprentice -- (laughter) -- at the steakhouse, the men's cooking team cooking did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks. And there was a lot of blame to go around. But you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership. And so ultimately, you didn't blame Lil' Jon or Meat Loaf. (Laughter.) You fired Gary Busey. (Laughter.) And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night. (Laughter and applause.) Well handled, sir. (Laughter.) Well handled.
That was already a cutting and sardonic appraisal. Given the weight that Obama was carrying that night, it now appears in retrospect to be flatly devastating.

The Torture Apologists Have To Rewrite All Kinds Of History

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

We know Republicans seem to have a deep-seated belief that only torture will keep us safe from the terrorists, even though the people who do real intelligence gathering can tell you that just wrong: It's ineffective and counterproductive -- not to mention morally depraved. Not that any of this seems to deter conservatives.

So the spectacle of every right-winger on the planet rushing to claim that it was torture that provided the intelligence leading to the killing of Osama bin Laden was nothing if not predictable. And of course, it turned out to be wholly wrong.

For instance, here were Rudy Giuliani and Sean Hannity last night on Fox. Most of the segment was devoted to claiming that it was "aggressive interrogation techniques" that provided the key intelligence to finding Bin Laden, though at one point Hannity actually commended President Obama -- and then lied about him:
HANNITY: But we needed the intelligence to confirm that right. Does this now bring this debate back to the forefront? And by the way, and I give President Obama a lot of credit here. Because I thought it was a gutsy choice.


HANNITY: A gutsy choice, not to drop a 2,000-pound bomb but to send these guys in, so we can confirm that it's him.

GIULIANI: When you consider everything that could have gone wrong and how President Obama would look today if it did, it took a lot of courage to do that and I do admire that. And I think there's a good day the last two days for both President Obama and President Bush. Because I think President Bush set in motion all of the things that led to this. And then President Obama picked up on it and carried it out. And I give both of them a tremendous amount of credits.

HANNITY: And I do too. And this is a good day for this country and we'll going to talk to Todd Beamer's dad who's going to be on the program. And -- is going to be on the program tonight. And General Tommy Franks is on tonight. But as I look at this, would President Obama not now realize that without the intelligence, he wouldn't have had the ability to make this decision, I would hope that it might change his mind.

GIULIANI: Maybe it will. And the reality is he also at that very last minute when he's made the decision had to know that intelligence had to know, 50/50. I mean, you never know.

HANNITY: You'll never know.

GIULIANI: They were going in there to get Osama Bin Laden but who knows if it wasn't somebody that just looked like him or was like him. The better your intelligence, the more accurate your decision making and the safer we are. And the reality is, and I was glad to hear the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton say this. This is not the end, we are in the middle of this, and we can't let down our guard. We shouldn't be leaving Afghanistan as a result of this. We shouldn't be leaving Iraq, we should remain there to get the job done.

HANNITY: I agree but this is where I find myself a little conflicted here because this is almost the opposite of what candidate Obama said he would do. And maybe for the first time he's grown in office.
Oh, yeah, it was almost the opposite: -- if by "almost" you mean "the opposite of":


Now, you can argue that Hannity and Giuliani couldn't have known that they were 100 percent wrong in their speculation, since John Brennan didn't officially shoot it down until today.

But in fact, we already knew that waterboarding had nothing to do with this intelligence. It had already been reported by the Associated Press:
Mohammed did not discuss al-Kuwaiti while being subjected to the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, former officials said. He acknowledged knowing him many months later under standard interrogation, they said, leaving it once again up for debate as to whether the harsh technique was a valuable tool or an unnecessarily violent tactic.

It took years of work before the CIA identified the courier's real name: Sheikh Abu Ahmed, a Pakistani man born in Kuwait. When they did identify him, he was nowhere to be found.
Once again, smart, lawful intelligence gathering made the difference here. I gather that this is anathema to the conservative mindset, however. No wonder they're so incompetent.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Fox & Friends Wants To Be Sure Everyone Gives George W. Bush Credit For Bin Laden's Death

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Fox & Friends had wall-to-wall coverage of the celebrations inspired by news of Osama bin Laden's death this morning, and had on lots of analysts to discuss the Obama administration's big victory in the so-called "war on terror".

To do that, strangely enough, they had on all sorts of commentators, including various politicians, such as Karl Rove, and featured statements from the likes of Dick Cheney. Oddly enough, not a single segment managed to include a Democratic politician or even one person from the Obama administration.

Instead, what we heard all morning was how George W. Bush deserves credit too! They even ran a segment featuring Bush vowing in 2001 he would eventually get Bin Laden, with the longest time frame being a year from then.

As Steve Benen puts it:
There's a fair amount of this rhetoric bouncing around this morning, and it's not especially surprising -- Republicans aren't going to credit President Obama, regardless of merit, so it stands to reason they'll try to bring George W. Bush into the picture.

If this is going to be a new GOP talking point, we might as well set the record straight.
In March 2002, just six months after 9/11, Bush said of bin Laden, "I truly am not that concerned about him.... You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, to be honest with you."

In July 2006, we learned that the Bush administration closed its unit that had been hunting bin Laden.

In September 2006, Bush told Fred Barnes, one of his most sycophantic media allies, that an "emphasis on bin Laden doesn't fit with the administration's strategy for combating terrorism."

And don't even get me started on Bush's failed strategy that allowed bin Laden to escape from Tora Bora.

I'm happy to extend plenty of credit to all kinds of officials throughout the government, but crediting Bush's "vigilance" on bin Laden is deeply silly.
But it's what we expect from Republicans. And especially the crew at F&F.