On last night’s O’Reilly Factor on Fox News, Krauthammer grossly oversimplified the environmental regulations he was mindlessly railing against — explaining that the Environmental Protection Agency’s new rules to regulate coal ash, air toxics and mercury were simply an attempt to regulate carbon emissions. In fact, they are a series of rules — not all finalized — that would regulate a host of toxic pollution from coal plants, with carbon emissions being possible piece.
In turn, host Bill O’Reilly took the bait, explaining that “Look, you have to have a certain amount of carbon emissions, and if you go over it, you can’t burn any more fuel. That’s it.”
Watch it: (The EPA regulations portion of the segment starts at 3 minutes).
In a new article on the possibility of an Israeli military strike on Iran, the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg reports that, when in office, “even Bush balked at attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities, and discouraged the Israelis from carrying out the attack on their own.” Goldberg also reports Bush’s attitude toward those anxious for the U.S. to get into yet another war in the Middle East:
Bush would sometimes mock those aides and commentators who advocated an attack on Iran, even referring to the conservative columnists Charles Krauthammer and William Kristol as “the bomber boys,” according to two people I spoke with who overheard this.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney has admitted that he was in favor of a U.S. attack on Iran, but was vetoed by President Bush. This is the first indication we’ve seen, however, that Bush thought that Kristol and Krauthammer are as crazy as the rest of us do.
Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review tweeted this column by Charles Krauthammer and asks, “Who Made the Administrators Legislators?” In a long piece that decries everything from the $20 billion BP escrow fund to TARP, Krauthammer concludes:
Everyone wants energy in the executive (as Alexander Hamilton called it). But not lawlessness. In the modern welfare state, government has the power to regulate your life. That’s bad enough. But at least there is one restraint on this bloated power: the separation of powers. Such constraints on your life must first be approved by both houses of Congress.
That’s called the consent of the governed.
It’s hard to know where to begin here. First, Krauthammer and National Review didn’t utter a peep of protest when George Bush’s DOJ was issuing secret legal opinions that argued that laws against torture were irrelevant and that the Geneva Conventions — ratified by legislators — were “quaint”. In fact, they actively supported such actions using utterly twisted ends-justifies-the-means rhetoric and basically told Congress to take a hike.
In other words, the Republican party — which overwhelmingly lost the last two elections — has orchestrated a grand strategy to cripple the Congress and prevent legislating. They won’t lay out an agenda for the upcoming November elections. They claim that regardlessof the results of those elections, they will only accept conservative policy “compromises.” They won’t even permit the staffing of the Federal Reserve during a major economic crisis. They are, in essence, arguing that Congress should do nothing.
Ironically, in the tweet immediately following a link to Krauthammer’s piece, Lopez says, “every democrat and retiree, especially, should be pressured to agree to not be lame” and links to this pledge by Rep. Top Price that demands that Congress literallynot even hold a session after the midterm election before the new Congress is convened. So if Lopez and Krauthammer want to speculate about why it is that the Congress seems to be increasingly irrelevant to policymaking, they should start by taking a long, hard look in the mirror.
On Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor last night, host Bill O’Reilly hosted Charles Krauthammer to criticize the four Supreme Court justices who dissented from the court’s recent gun rights ruling in McDonald v. Chicago. Though she only joined the dissent written by Justice Steven Breyer, O’Reilly focused his attack on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, claiming that she “doesn’t care about the Constitution“:
O’REILLY: But my contention is that Ruth Bader Ginsburg in particular — and I’m trying to convince Megyn Kelly of this — doesn’t care about the Constitution. That all of her rulings are based upon her personal belief system about what is good and bad for American society. [...]
You don’t like it? Get a constitutional amendment and overthrow the Second Amendment. Two thirds of the states got to do it. Go ahead and put it on the ballot.
But Ginsburg doesn’t want to do that. She wants to be the end-all dictator here about her ideology. Do I read her wrong?
It’s not surprising to hear O’Reilly’s claim that Ginsburg doesn’t respect the Constitution, since he’s made that charge before. But it is more than a bit ironic, considering his past lack of concern with what the foundational document says. In Nov. 2009, he declared, “I don’t care about the Constitution!” when Fox News’ top legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano told him that the Constitution supported Attorney General Eric Holder’s push to try five Guantanamo Bay detainees — including Khalid Sheikh Mohammad — in New York City.
Today, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israeli security officials are “divided” over whether they need permission from the U.S. should Israel decide to attack Iran over its nuclear program. The Israelis fear that if new sanctions on Iran fail, “the Israeli and American positions on Iran could rapidly diverge — and Israel, if it chooses to attack Iran, would have no choice but to do so on its own.”
While top U.S. officials have been reluctant to focus on a military strike against Iran, let alone endorse an Israeli one, Fox News war hawk John Bolton said last night on the network’s business channel that the U.S should actually “be helping Israel if they’re making a decision that they might use military force against Iran.” However, on the O’Reilly Factor, another reliable Fox News armchair warrior Charles Krauthammer actually acknowledged that attacking Iran could prove pointless:
KRAUTHAMMER: Do we have enough intelligence? Do we know where their stuff is hidden? They have spoken about a second uranium enrichment place. Do they have others? And, also, how deeply buried and how hardened are the targets? Because unless we know if we have access with our equipment, our bombs, they may be ineffective. I think they have got to make assessment on the current intelligence which appears to us, at least on the outside, rather weak.
Watch the compilation:
Krauthammer is right. There is a strong possibility that bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities would be completely “ineffective” at eliminating its program, because, as the New York Times reported in January, “Iran has quietly hidden an increasingly large part of its atomic complex in networks of tunnels and bunkers” which has “shielded its infrastructure from military attack in warrens of dense rock” and has “obscured the scale and nature of its notoriously opaque nuclear effort.”
Moreover, bombing will most likely incentivize the Iranian leadership to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty and accelerate its nuclear program toward weaponization. An attack would not only unify the country around the regime but also, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates said last year, “cement their determination to have a nuclear program, and also build into the whole country an undying hatred of whoever hits them.” “Even a military attack will only buy us time and send the program deeper and more covert,” Gates has said.
Today’s Fox News Sunday panel looked at Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to hold terrorist trials in federal courts rather than military commissions. The discussion quickly shifted to Holder himself, and whether he should be fired. NPR’s Juan Williams argued that Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol and Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer were lobbing “unjustified” attacks on Holder since the Bush administration repeatedly tried terrorists in civilian courts.
Krauthammer then cited the case of the failed Christmas Day bombing by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, saying that the Obama administration should have assumed that he “has people who are working with him” because he’s Nigerian:
KRAUTHAMMER: You arrest a guy who’s got a bomb in his underpants. You know, it’s likely he didn’t do it at home in his kitchen. … The guy is Nigerian. You’ve got to assume — you have to assume that he has people who are working with him.
WILLIAMS: Because he’s a Nigerian?
KRAUTHAMMER: Why do you assume otherwise? It makes no sense at all. You capture a terrorist and in almost all of our plots there are groups of terrorists. [...]
WILLIAMS: We have made such progress in terms of breaking down al Qaeda and getting them in terms of the structure to malfunction that there are now more lone wolves now and it’s tougher to capture and know the extent of knowledge they have at any one moment. There was no evidence, on the face of it on that day, had come from an al Qaeda training camp.
When Williams asked whether Holder should be held “accountable for all intelligence failures, including intelligence failures by the British and everybody else who didn’t understand what Abdulmutallab was up to,” Kristol smirked and shrugged his shoulders. Watch it:
On Jan. 5, President Obama admitted that there were “human and systemic failures that almost cost nearly 300 lives” on Christmas Day. He added that it “was not a failure to collect intelligence; it was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had.” Unlike what Kristol was trying to argue, it was not solely the fault of “incompetence” by Holder.
In the hyper-charged atmosphere following the 9/11 attacks, anyone who suggested that U.S. policies or behavior played any — any — part in the spread of extremism was denounced for “blaming America” or “excusing terrorism” or some such. The Terrorists hated us for who we are, we were told, and that was that, and any further attempt to understand the conditions that produced terrorism was strictly for hippies and appeasers.
In the intervening years, though, and especially with the implementation of counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, that view has been largely discredited. Not only is it no longer seen as “excusing terrorism” to try and understand what activates and motivates extremists, or to explore whether and what U.S. policies and behavior have played a part in that, it’s seen as necessary for U.S. national security.
In the wake of the failed Christmas attack, though, and the discussion over what motivated Umar Farouk Abdulmutalab to become a violent jihadist, a few neoconservatives seem to have been emboldened to exhume some of this “they only hate us for our freedom” nonsense that so many Americans, Iraqis and others died to debunk over the past years. Sounding this tired note last night on Fox News, Charles Krauthammer scoffed at Al Qaeda’s grievances, saying, “These are excuses and not actual grievances”:
KRAUTHAMMER: When you hear Gibbs talk about Guantanamo as a recruiting tool, this is what we hear over and over again, I mean it’s as if he knows no history at all. The list of grievances that Al Qaeda has is endless and replenishing. [...]
The reason the war is on is because Al-Qaeda hates our way of life, our independence, our tolerance, our respect of women and the threat it poses to the fanatical kind of Islam that they are advocating.
Apparently, General David Petraeus is also one of those who Krauthammer thinks “knows no history at all.” Here’s what Petraus said about Gitmo last May:
PETRAEUS: Gitmo has caused us problems, there’s no question about it. I oversee a region in which the existence of Gitmo has indeed been used by the enemy against us. We have not been without missteps or mistakes in our activities since 9/11. And again, Gitmo is a lingering reminder for the use of some in that regard.
It’s really hard to believe that we even still need to have this debate. The point, again, is not whether Charles Krauthammer buys Al Qaeda’s grievances, or whether he thinks that they’re merely “excuses,” it’s whether the next guy that Al Qaeda tries to recruit as a suicide bomber buys them. And it’s simply no longer a matter of serious debate that a significant number of potential recruits buys Guantanamo as a grievance.
On Monday, President Obama met with liberal-leaning journalists and commentators in an off-the-record session that included MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. Reporting on the meeting that night, Fox News’ Bret Baier suggested the White House had a “double standard” and was “playing favorites” after the White House had challenged Fox’s credibility as a news organization. On Fox and Friends this morning, host Brian Kilmeade and Fox contributor Michelle Malkin demanded that the off-the-record session be put on the record for the American people:
KILMEADE: Let’s go to your second question. What did you talk about in your off-the-record meeting with opinion journalists at the White House-friendly media outlet for over two hours and why should it be kept secret? Who was there? What do you need to know Michelle?
MALKIN: Well, we know that a lot of left-wing opinion journalists were invited to this off-the-record meeting that lasted two-and-a-half-hours. That’s a lot longer than General McChrystal got and I think that the news-consuming audience ought to know what was discussed. We ought to know and it ought to be disclosed what was discussed by those attendees when they talk about this White House and its policy. Why shouldn’t this be completely transparent?
Yesterday, super-hawk John Bolton was upset that President Clinton, along with a group that included Center for American Progress President and CEO John Podesta, went over to North Korea to negotiate the release of two imprisoned American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee. “It comes perilously close to negotiating with terrorists,” Bolton said. Even after news of their release, Bolton still called the move a mistake. “[T]his is a classic case of rewarding bad behavior,” he complained.
Many right-wing commentators later piled on. “John Bolton is right,” declared the Weekly Standard’s Steve Hayes. “This is a lifeline to a regime that is a terrorist regime that has proliferated nuclear technology,” he said. Former Bush press secretary Dana Perino even blamed Vice President Al Gore for the journalists’ imprisonment because he is a co-founder of the company (Current TV) that employs them. “Al Gore is responsible if he made the order, but ultimately, he’s responsible, and I think we need to hear a little bit more about that,” she said last night on Fox News. Some other lowlights:
– Fox News’ Dick Morris called Clinton’s trip “awful” and “ridiculous” and suggested that Ling and Lee should “live with the consequences of their decision to go” to North Korea.
– Charles Krauthammer complained that North Korea “got a lot” out of the deal and that “it does help the North Koreans in their legitimacy.”
But some conservatives did see the utility of Clinton’s trip. “I think it’s wonderful, obviously, that he secured their release,” Laura Ingraham conceded. Shortly after landing in Los Angeles, Ling expressed her “deepest gratitude” for the rescue:
LING: Thirty hours ago Euna Lee and I were prisoners in North Korea. We feared that at any moment we could be sent to a hard labor camp and then suddenly we were told that we were going to a meeting. We were taken to a location and when we walked through the doors we saw standing before us President Bill Clinton. We were shocked but we knew instantly in our hearts that the nightmare of our lives was finally coming to an end. And now, we stand here, home and free. Euna and I would just like to express our deepest gratitude to President Clinton and his wonderful, amazing, not to mention, super-cool team.
But what many conservatives don’t understand is that, as nonproliferation expert and Ploughshares Fund president Joe Cirincione noted yesterday, Clinton was “the right man at the right moment.” And the BBC’s John Sudworth noted that now was the time to get the deal done:
And not least, there’s always the fear that North Korea could, by holding on to these two journalists, continue to use them as leverage. So I think in Washington’s wider — and perhaps colder — political interests, it makes good sense to try to clear this up now.
“I am very happy that after this long ordeal, Laura Ling and Euna Lee are now home and reunited with their loved ones,” President Clinton said in a statement. “When their families, Vice President Gore and the White House asked that I undertake this humanitarian mission, I agreed. I share a deep sense of relief with Laura and Euna and their families that they are safely home.”
Ultra right winger John Podhoretz attacks Ling and Lee, calling them “amateurish” and saying that they should “be held accountable” for trying to report from inside North Korea for an “amateurish” network. Podhoretz adds that Ling and Lee made U.S. policy toward the communist state “even more messy.”
,The Center for American Progress has released a statement on the return of Ling and Lee:
We share the sense of excitement and relief expressed by President Obama and many others today upon the successful release of our fellow citizens, Laura Ling and Euna Lee. We are proud of the role Center for American Progress CEO and founder John D. Podesta played in accompanying former President Clinton on the mission to secure their freedom. We hope the North Korean regime decides to build on this successful episode by recommitting to its existing obligations toward the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through peaceful means.