Tea Party movement continues its noble effort to block America’s slide down the road to serfdom:
supporters will gather in Marin County today, where they will listen to speeches from affirmative action opponent Ward Connerly and John Yoo, the UC Berkeley law professor and an architect of the Bush administration’s “enhanced interrogation” policy.
Two high-level Republican sources said that the National Review editorial had been prearranged, however, by Neil Bradley, a top leadership aide* who is close to April Ponnuru, the executive director of the National Review Institute, and Kate O’Beirne, NRI’s president.
“It was a political blowjob,” one Republican aide said of the National Review editorial.
Bradley denied the accusation: “The assertion that I ‘prearranged’ the National Review editorial, or any editorial, is 100 percent false,” he said.
O’Beirne also denied the allegation, calling it “absolutely, categorically false.
On the one hand, I’d like to believe the worst about these people. On the other hand, the Daily Caller hardly has a track-record of honest reporting so I’m not all that predisposed to believe their allegations.
Since its release last week, House Republicans have been touting their “Pledge To America” as a bold policy vision to solve the nation’s problems, which they would enact if they gain a majority after the November elections. However, revealing the pledge to be nothing more than regurgitated rhetoric that ignores critical issues, even conservativecritics have slammed it as “meaningless stuff” that fails on “advocacy of long term sound public policy.”
Today on Fox News Sunday, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) seemed to concede this point. When host Chris Wallace noted that the Pledge does not even address entitlement spending such as Social Security and Medicare, Boehner countered by saying that its purpose is only to “lay out the size of the problem,” rather than “to get to potential solutions.” This, of course, flies in the face of GOP branding of the proposal, but Boehner explained that he doesn’t think the American people can handle his ideas right now, saying, “Once Americans understand how big the problem is, then we can begin to talk about potential solutions”:
WALLACE: Congressman Boehner, as Willie Sutton said about banks, entitlements are where the money is. More than 40% of the budget. Yet, I’ve looked through this pledge and there is not one single proposal to cut social security, medicare, medicaid.
BOEHNER: Chris, we make it clear in there that we’re going to lay out a plan to work toward a balanced budget and deal with the entitlement crisis. Chris, it’s time for us as americans to have an adult conversation with each other about the serious challenges our country faces. And we can’t have that serious conversation until we lay out the size of the problem. Once Americans understand how big the problem is, then we can begin to talk about potential solutions. [...]
WALLACE: Forgive me, sir, isn’t the right time to have the adult conversation now before the election when you have this document? Why not make a single proposal to cut social security, medicare and medicaid?
BOEHNER: Chris, this is what happens here in washington. When you start down that path, you just invite all kind of problems. I know. I’ve been there. I think we need to do this in a more systemic way and have this conversation first. Let’s not get to the potential solutions. Let’s make sure americans understand how big the problem is. Then we can talk about possible solutions and then work ourselves into those solutions that are doable.
Indeed, Boehner was more than a little off message in saying “let’s not get to the potential solutions.” As his own Pledge states, surveying the proposals laid out in its pages, “We recognize that these solutions are ambitious.” It concludes by affirming that Republicans will fight to “promote and advance solutions.”
But numerousRepublicans, including Boehner, have proposed plans to deal with Social Security and Medicare: cut benefits. All of their proposals — from raising the retirement age, to privatization, to declaring the entire social safety net unconstitutional — are deeply unpopular with the American people, hence Boehner’s apprehension to delve into the issue.
Conservatives continually fear monger about the sustainability of these vital social programs, falsely insisting they are “bankrupt” or a “Ponzi scheme.” So Boehner seems to be saying that he won’t lay out his plan to deal with this supposedly imminent danger until he’s had enough time to deceive the American people into thinking his “solutions” are needed.
Discussing President Obama’s Iran policy on Fox News this morning, Bill Kristol gave the neoconservative’s answer to every foreign policy problem: military force.
Scoffing at President Obama’s continued offers of engagement, Kristol claimed that the only way to deal with Iran was to threaten war. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the Iranians do a phony feint toward negotiations to try and buy some more time,” Kristol said. “That’s what they’re buying, they’re buying time for their nuclear program to go ahead, it has been going ahead.” Kristol then prepared the ground for what he hopes is America’s next war:
KRISTOL: I think the reason the president doesn’t want to talk about the real implications of having a delusional and hateful Iranian regime in power is that the real implications is if sanctions fail, we will have to use force. And not certain that the president doesn’t actually know that. I’m open to the notion that he will end up a year from now using force against Iran, and I guess he feels there’s no point signaling that now.
I think it’s a mistake, because I think the more you put force on the table, the more you might encourage those within Iran to say ‘wait a second we’re heading towards the precipice.’ That’s not his style, he keeps to door open to negotiations, but I’ve got to say that if you look at the way this is playing out, it’s playing out toward use of force against Iran.
In regard to the utility of threats of force against Iran, the actual evidence is, unsurprisingly, precisely the opposite of what Kristol says. President George W. Bush regularly threatened Iran, but rather than strengthening moderate voices, as Kristol imagines it would, this actually strengthened those elements who believe, like Kristol himself, that moderation signals weakness. As journalist Barbara Slavin wrote in 2007, Bush’s belligerent rhetoric had the effect of “boosting Iranian hardliners who argue that the Bush administration has no interest in reconciling with Iran and that Tehran’s best course is to reach bomb capacity as soon as possible.”
Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji was adamant in a May 2010 interview that talk of a U.S. military option was harmful. “If you do not have the threat of foreign invasion and you do not use the dialog of invasion and military intervention, the society itself has a huge potential to oppose and potentially topple the theocratic system,” Ganji said, adding:
What I’m trying to get to is that jingoistic, militaristic language used by any foreign power would actually be detrimental to this natural evolution of Iranian society.
“Unfortunately, the policies of the United States have fanned the flames of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East, particularly during the Bush administration,” Ganji said. “The belligerent rhetoric of Bush didn’t help us [the Iranian democracy movement], it actually harmed us.”
On the other hand, Ganji praised President Obama’s engagement policy, stating that it helped create a favorable environment for the Iranian democracy movement. “Obama offered a dialog with the Iran,” Ganji said, “and this change in discourse immediately gave rise to that outpouring of sentiment against the Islamic Republic last year.” Unlike Bush’s threats of war, which only served to unite the regime against an outside threat, Obama’s engagement policy, combined with increasing sanctions pressure, has, by offering the regime a genuine choice, contributed to the worst crisis of legitimacy in the Islamic Republic’s history.
Ganji also noted, however, that continuing fear of U.S. action had caused democracy activists to censor themselves. “Since Iranians, in particular opposition groups, do not want to see a repeat of Afghanistan or Iraq in Iran,” Ganji said, “they’ve actually had to scale back their opposition to the government in order not to encourage an invasion.”
In his mania to embroil America in yet another disastrous war, Kristol will no doubt simply dismiss these views, just as he dismissed Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen’s warning against U.S. strikes on Iran as “silly.” But given Kristol’s record of being wrong on most of the key foreign policy questions of our era, it’s clear whose views should actually be dismissed.
Greenwald: “If the President has the power to order American citizens killed with no due process, and to do so in such complete secrecy that no courts can even review his decisions, then what doesn’t he have the power to do?”
What makes this assertion of authority so surreal is that there’s all kinds of stuff the President can’t do. He can’t get the Senate to pass his climate change bill. He can’t even get a vote scheduled on his OMB Director. After all, we’ve got checks and balances in this country!
On Fox News Sunday this morning, host Chris Wallace noted that the GOP’s “Pledge To America” has been widely panned even byconservatives. In response, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who played a lead role in drafting the Pledge, claimed that two publications praised his plan:
WALLACE: Congressman McCarthy, a number of conservatives aren’t buying this. Let’s take a look at what Erick Erickson, of the conservative website RedState had to say about this document. He said “it is full of mom-tested, kid-approved pablum that will make certain hearts on the right sing in solidarity. But like a diet full of sugar, it will actually do nothing but keep making Washington fatter before we crash from the sugar high.”
MCCARTHY: But National Review says it’s bolder than the Contract of ’94. Wall Street Journal says it will do more to shrink the federal government. It’s like when the Contract came out. There’s going to be attacks on both sides.
McCarthy misrepresents the right-wing Wall Street Journal editorial page’s reaction to the Pledge. In truth, the WSJ gave a the Pledge a decidedly mixed review, stating that the pledge is “less specific in offering new ideas than was the GOP’s 1994 Contract with America,” and it attacks the Pledge for its unambitious approach to earmarks, health care and tax policy.
There’s a reason why McCarthy could only cite one source that wholeheartedly endorses his party’s trainwreck of a plan. The National Review‘s political fellatio aside, public reaction to the GOP Pledge has been almost universally negative.
Once, pretty much everywhere, beating your wife and children was regarded as a father’s duty, homosexuality was a hanging offense, and waterboarding was approved — in fact, invented — by the Catholic Church. Through the middle of the 19th century, the United States and other nations in the Americas condoned plantation slavery. Many of our grandparents were born in states where women were forbidden to vote. And well into the 20th century, lynch mobs in this country stripped, tortured, hanged and burned human beings at picnics.
Looking back at such horrors, it is easy to ask: What were people thinking?
Yet, the chances are that our own descendants will ask the same question, with the same incomprehension, about some of our practices today.
Is there a way to guess which ones?
I thought this was going to be another just-doesn’t-get-it opinion piece in the Washington Post. After all, the answer to its headline question, “What will future generations condemn us for?” is painfully obvious to anybody who follows climate science (as I discussed here).
But the author, Kwame Anthony Appiah, has in fact written a very thoughtful piece on the “three signs that a particular practice is destined for future condemnation.” And the Post is running an online poll where “Our treatment of the environment” is already easily winning. Here are the three signs:
By Climate Guest Blogger on Sep 26, 2010 at 9:07 am
Thomas Edison perfected the first incandescent light bulb in 1879. It burned for 13.5 hours. And incandescent bulbs are still burning 131 years later, but at a price that’s costly to both our wallets and the environment. Incandescents are extremely inefficient. They operate at about 20 percent efficiency with the other 80 percent given off as heat energy. And an incandescent light bulb’s average lifespan is only around 5,000 hours or roughly one year.
But while incandescents are looking more and more like the has-beens of light bulbs, light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, could be the future. LED bulbs are more efficient, less costly in the long run, and better for the environment because they use far less energy than the alternatives.