Congress, Obama and Placing Blame

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Quite a few Democrats and liberals flocked to Matt Taibbi’s article at Rolling Stone – Obama’s Big Sellout. Whatever one wants to call it – constructive criticism or pushing for more progressive outcomes – that’s a good thing. To call Obama Bush Lite or to use untruths to indict Obama is not anymore fair when it comes from Democrats and Independents then when it comes from unhinged tea smokers. Taibbi is not a bad writer or a bad liberal, but he has made some factual errors and has also committed some errors of political math. It’s simply a fact of life that as Matthew Yglesias points out, one or two Democrats or Joe Lieberman can take legislation like the public option health care reform bill passed by a large majority in the House and trash it. Obama is not the head of an organized crime family. Sure Democrats can promise economic incentives for the home states of Senators like Snow and Lincoln, but normal politics just do not seem to work for Nelson or Lieberman. The president cannot make people act rationally. Nor can pleas to decency and humanity work on the malicious likes of Mitch McConnell(r-KY) or James Inhofe(r-OK). Matt addresses the political math,

The implicit theory of political change here, that pivotal members of congress undermine reform proposals because of “the White House’s refusal to push for real reform” is just wrong. That’s not how things work. The fact of the matter is that Matt Taibbi is more liberal than I am, and I am more liberal than Larry Summers is, but Larry Summers is more liberal than Ben Nelson is. Replacing Summers with me, or with Taibbi, doesn’t change the fact that the only bills that pass the Senate are the bills that Ben Nelson votes for.

The problem here, to be clear, isn’t that lefties are being too mean to poor Barack Obama. The problem is that to accomplish the things I want to see accomplished, people who want change need to correctly identify the obstacles to change.

Tim Fernholz at Tapped lists some very blatant factual errors in Taibbi’s piece, The Errors of Matt Taibbi.

* Jamie Rubin. James P. Rubin is a former Assistant Secretary of State in the Clinton Administration and not Bob Rubin’s son. He informally helped Hillary Clinton transition into her role as Secretary of State. James S. Rubin is Bob Rubin’s son, and had a similarly unofficial role in the economic transition. Neither were on staff, on the advisory boards, or on an agency review team.

* Austan Goolsbee “didn’t make the cut.” Goolsbee remains one of Obama’s key economic advisers and has the president’s ear from his posts on the National Economic Council Council of Economic Advisers and the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. He skipped transition work and went to work immediately in those posts.

[   ]….* Over at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which is supposed to regulate derivatives trading, Obama appointed Gary Gensler, a former Goldman banker who worked under Rubin in the Clinton White House. Gensler was a failure in the late nineties, but in his new post he has been fighting alongside Senator Maria Cantwell to close the loopholes in derivatives regulation that Taibbi complains about later in the piece.

There is more at the link and Fernholz did a fellow up piece here, On That Taibbi Post …

To deal with the two examples that Salmon questioned, on the issue of Michael Froman’s role in the transition, I never say that the article doesn’t identify him properly. I’m just pointing out that if Taibbi’s writing an article about how these shadowy figures are undermining the bailouts and financial regulation, focusing on someone who doesn’t work on the bailout or financial regulation is a weird way to go about it, unless you’re just trying to identify everyone with a connection to Bob Rubin and use vague innuendo to suggest they’ve done something shadowy. Taibbi also claims that Froman “hired” Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, which just isn’t true. Nor is it true that Froman and James S. Rubin were “running” Obama’s transition economics team; they also weren’t involved with the November 2008 decision to bail out Citi.

I think intra-party criticism is healthy. It’s good for Democrats and the country, but as Fernholz notes the Taibbi piece reads like the worse kind of conspiracy laden trash that is common on the net and Fox News. If you took out the shadowy innuendo there wouldn’t be enough left to publish.

Some good news, Citigroup Has Reached a Deal to Repay U.S. Bailout Funds

If President Obama and Democrats have made the U.S. into a “socialist” state, how come Exxon is till making money hand over fist, Exxon’s Natural Gas Holdings Grow With $31 Billion Deal

ProPublica has a break down of TARP funds spending, repayments and some speculation about the future costs and returns. Bailout Breakdown: Losses Likely to Be Larger Than Treasury Estimates. It’s not rainbows, but it’s not the worse either. Like the Citi repayment some things might break for the good. PP states,

Because the latest estimate deals only with the TARP’s first year, it doesn’t include two big programs that recently ramped up.  The foreclosure prevention program [9], in terms of spending, is just getting started. It’s unclear how much of the $50 billion set aside for that program will ultimately be spent, because of the program’s difficulties [10]:  As of the end of October, Treasury had paid only $2.3 million [11] in incentives to servicers. But whatever Treasury ultimately spends, none of that money will come back, since the program involves subsidies, not investments.

I realize that helping people avoid foreclosures is not, in strict accounting terms, an investment on which one gets returns. It could be argued that keeping people in their homes paying something on their mortgages is better for the economy in the long haul.

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Jonathan Cohn on the recent report on the cost projections of the Senate health-care proposal, BREAKING: New Cost Estimate on Senate Bill

Over time, the cumulative effect of these changes will grow, so that the gap between what we’d spend on health care without reform and what we’d spend with it will shrink. In 2019, the last year of the projection, the difference–that is, the amount of extra money our society devotes to health care–is a measly $23 billion out of more than $4.5 trillion total.

That’s 0.5 percent–not five percent, but zero-point-five percent. If that were the price of expanding insurance to around 40 million people, it’d be an absolute bargain.

Not the first use of the phrase, but does anyone remember John McCain rejuvenating the phrase “like a drunker sailor” to describe the spending of Bush and Republicans. He put on a good show of course and the media act it up as part of perpetuating the “maverick” image, but McCain did nothing  to either cut spending or increase revenue. Now after spending a trillion dollars of money, mostly borrowed from China to create the new and improved Iraq, McCain and Republicans are blowing a fuse over some simple arithmetic to claim we just cannot afford health care reform – as is always the case with conservatives we can afford to let people go bankrupt or dieMcCain Calls New Report ‘Dagger In The Heart’ Of Health Care Reform

But Democrats argued the report said something very different. From a White House blog post on the report published this afternoon:

So how did reform’s opponents manage to use this report to claim that costs will increase? They cherry-picked total expenditures at a singular, fixed point in time – ignoring the overall rate of cost growth, the impact on Medicare and America’s seniors, and the fact that millions of more Americans will be covered.

It’s the kind of claim folks here in Washington love. It might be technically “true” but it hardly explains the truth.

Never underestimate the power of a conservative smear campaign, Historic Win for Constitutional Rights! Injunction Granted in CCR Lawsuit on Behalf of ACORN. The only reason those funds were with held were because of those doctored video tapes. There was no trial, no one was found legally guilty of anything. ACORN was found guilty by conservative media with the help of conservatives in Congress and a few DINOs.

Hannah Giles, James O’Keefe, BigGovernment.com and Andrew Breitbart all partners in framing ACORN

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It turns out that amateur filmmaker and pimp James O’Keefe along with his friend Hannah Giles lied about what was on the ACORN video tapes. Those lies were echoed far and wide across Wingnuttia, including Andrew Breitbart’s GigGovernment.com, Michele Malkin, Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly and every little right-wing conservative blog. The echo was if nothing else an abject lesson in the sheeple mentality of the conservative movement. In the irony of all ironies anyone that wanted to compare the video that O’Keefe edited and then shown at BigGovernment could also compare the video to the transcripts that were also posted. Certainly none of the name brand right-wing conservatives bothered to view, read and compare. Why examine the evidence when that would simply delay the lynching by media. To date no one has had access to the full unedited videos. Right-wing conspiracies are rarely dark and hidden. Why go through all the trouble when conservatives are not proponents of an honorable opposition political philosophy, but more like a cult that swallows any and all disinformation dispensed by its leaders. Need an opinion on global warming. Don’t ask a climate scientist, ask Sarah Palin who after attending six colleges finally got a degree in journalism. Need some expert advice about foreign policy. Ask the walking picture of insanely poor judgment, Dick Cheney. Conservatives cannot tell the difference between facts and opinions. Nor are they remotely aware that informed opinions are based on facts, not beliefs. On with the ACORN story. H/T to Bad Attitudes for this link,  SURPRISE, SURPRISE! ACORN Framed! The excerpt is from a pdf available at the link – sorry about the formatting ( the small numbers refer to the appendix)

What the Transcripts Show About the Doctored ACORN Video Tapes
The following is an analysis of the heavily edited videotapes and partial transcripts posted on
biggovernment.com by O’Keefe and Giles based in their undercover visits to ACORN and ACORN Housing offices. Below the analysis, an Appendix provides key excerpts from the posted transcripts.

1. Transcripts reveal that O’Keefe and Giles said they needed ACORN’s help to protect Giles from a
violent pimp—but they carefully edited this out of their videos1. O’Keefe and Giles used clever editing and
voiceovers to hide a key fact that the transcripts show to be true in each case: In each office, the duo claimed that 20-year old Hannah was being threatened by a violent abusive pimp. They pleaded for ACORN to help protect the prostitute (and in some cases underage girls as well) from the pimp by helping her get a place to live.
O’Keefe and Giles edited this out of the video given the news media and the public, but neglected to remove it from the transcripts.
Remember, for example, the tape of the NY ACORN worker advising the prostitute to hide money in a tin can, presumably to evade taxes? The transcript shows it was so the pimp “can’t get it from you if he wants to come and rip up the place.” And the prostitute told the loan counselor that her pimp had “ all these 13, 14,15 year old girls from El Salvador and that’s what—I need to protect them like I know what its like and I have to protect them and like give them somewhere to live.” 2

2. While their press releases claim they were posing as a “prostitute and a pimp,” the transcripts show
that O’Keefe consistently introduced himself as Giles’ boyfriend trying to protect her.3 While we have seen videos of O’Keefe’s ridiculous “pimp” get-up, with Chinchilla cape, hat, and walking cane, these are all outdoor visuals. In the actual videos in the offices, every view of O’Keefe shows him dressed in normal casual business attire.

3. In each of the cases, the ACORN staff advised the prostitute to pay taxes, not to evade them. They correctly advised, as any tax lawyer or properly trained tax preparer would have, that the IRS requires taxes to be paid even on income from illegal activities, but does not require disclosure of the illegal activity itself. 4 For over half a century, this is the way the courts and the IRS have reconciled the right not to incriminate oneself with the obligation to pay tax on illegal activities. Indeed, among the IRS codes from which filers must select, there is none for prostitution, and the closest codes are for entertainment or personal services.

4. The San Diego office reported the duo to the police. In the San Diego office, where O’Keefe/Giles raised the topic of smuggling underage prostitutes across the border, the ACORN worker called the police,5 as did Acorn workers in Philadelphia

5. The San Bernardino video was a scam on the duo. In the San Bernardino office, the ACORN worker,
finding their stories ridiculous, met them with her own outrageous tales. The ACORN worker spins tales of a sordid past, including murdering her husband. While Giles and O’Keefe had the tapes for a month before releasing them, they never conducted any kind of check of the claims. Within 24 hours of the videos’ release,the police had confirmed that no such murder had taken place, and that the worker’s two ex-husbands were alive and well. San Bernardino resident Jim Miller, who lives near ACORN’s office and is also featured in the video giving business advice, said he thought the “whole thing was a preposterous production.

Considering the state of the economy – the real economy on Main St, not the McMansions of the Wall St crowd, the urban myth industry that has grown around health care reform, liberals upset over Obama’s continuation of many of Bush’s questionable national security policies in regards to Constitutionality and sending more troops to Afghanistan its amazing that Obama’s poll numbers are as high as they are, Gretchen Carlson’s Advice For Obama: Just Lie And Say You Don’t Look At Polls — Like Bush Did. Gretchen also has a degree in journalism from what I understand. When she looks at Dubya’s poll numbers for December 2001, you know a few months after 9-11 when regardless of political affiliation you showed support for Bush because you supported the president of your country in a time of crisis; did she just not think or chose not to do a simple enough analysis.

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Condeming the American middle-class and working class to outrageous health-care costs they cannot afford or even when they can, a debilitating illness cannot condemn them to bankruptcy and even homelessness is a social injustice akin to slavery. making that comparison as Senate majority Leader Harry Reid did is well within the realm of reasonable discourse. The usual chorus of hate mongers and multimillionaire right-wing elitests sewar on their gold Rolex watches their little feelings are hurt, Conservatives express outrage over Reid remarks. First what Reid said in full context, Reid Compares Health Battle to Emancipation, Women’s Suffrage

“Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all Republicans have come up with is this ‘slow down, stop everything, let’s start over,'” Reid said on the Senate floor today, CBS News Capitol Hill Producer John Nolen reports. “You think you’ve heard these same excuses before? You’re right.”

“In this country, there were those who dug in their heels and said, ‘Slow down, it’s too early. Let’s wait. Things aren’t bad enough,’ about slavery,” he continued. “When women [wanted] to vote– ‘Slow down, there will be a better day to do that.’… When this body was on the verge of guaranteeing equal civil rights to everyone, regardless of the color of their skin, some senators resorted to the same filibuster threats that we hear today.”

The senator went on to ask when Congress should reform health care, if not now.

“There are now those who don’t think it is the right time to reform health care,” he said. For those who feel that way, he added, “it will never, never be a good time to reform health care.”

For fifty years big C conservatives -Forget the Democrat and Republican labels. There used to be liberal Republicans like Nelson Rockefeller and right-wing Democrats like Richard Shelby – have been admittedly opposed to economic progress for real working Americans and anti-social justice. It has been part of the very philosophy that defines them and the platform they run on. In the lala land of conservatism its wrong to call conservatives out on the foundations of their beliefs, but ironically it is also perfectly alright for conservatives to pretend their senistive little feelings have been hurt when a promient Democrat such as Reid pints that out, Conservatives express outrage over Reid remarks

Limbaugh: “This is outrageous.” On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh said that Reid’s remarks were “outrageous, because Harry Reid knows the Republican Party was born in the fight against slavery.” Limbaugh added that Reid’s remarks are an indication of what Democrats have “been reduced to.”

Malkin: Reid “playing the race card.” In a December 7 post, Michelle Malkin wrote that Reid was playing the race card in his remarks, adding: “I’m sure Nevadans appreciate being likened to slavemasters, too.”
Conservatives frequently accuse Obama administration, progressives of creating “slavery”

For instance:

* Beck: Recipients of federal aid have been “taught to be slaves”

* Beck: Progressive policies create “slavery”; “slavery to government, welfare, affirmative action, regulation, control”

* After ranting about how “illegal immigration is modern-day slavery,” Beck compares himself to Ben Franklin

* Beck says he can “make a case” Rathke brothers are “enslaving people through ACORN”

* Beck: “The government’s irresponsible spending is turning us into slaves”

* Tax deduction change latest Obama proposal Beck claims “involves enslaving people”

* Beck: “You know what this president is doing right now? He is addicting this country to heroin — the heroin that is government slavery.”

* Beck says of stimulus package: “It is slavery”

* Beck again compares recovery bill to slavery

* On Fox, Forbes’ Ozanian refers to Employee Free Choice Act as “pro-slavery bill”

* Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com publishes blog post comparing health care reform proposal to slavery

* In rant on health care, Levin equated Senate Finance bill with “economic slavery”

* Limbaugh: Democratic Party “obsessed with your death,” “party of abortion and euthanasia, slavery and not liberty”

* Limbaugh’s guest host is latest radio host to compare current policies or proposals to slavery

Modern Conservatives by their own definition define any and all attempts to rectify social and economic injustice as radical and unAmerican. Yet Malkin once again claims that Democrats are the party of slavery because of Lincoln’s Emancipation. Lincoln has very little in common with today’s rightwing Republicans. Liberalism in the 19th Century was the active implementation of Enlightenment ideals. Something conservative southern slave holders adamantly fought. It was the considered opinion of Abolutionists that slavery was destined by implication of the Bill of Rights to become a sordid relic of America’s past and should not be allowed in expanding western territory. Lincoln was not an abolitionist, but he was a political liberal of his era. By the time he reached the presidency, while he was not as strident as the Abolitionist he knew that slavery had to be abolished. As many writers have noted, he was pragmatic to the point where if he could have saved the Union and delayed Emancipation he might have done so. That kind of pragmatic politics has not changed much. And to point out the obvious, Lincoln saved the Union by rejecting a fundamentalism political view of state’s rights.

Not a complete or definitive history by any means, but here is some background on two phenomenon that happened simultaneously – the Republican party of Lincoln became slowly more conservative, while Democrats, especially in the North returned to their Jeffersonian roots and were supportive of Black American issues and ambitions to elected office, African Americans Return to Congress, 1929–1970. One would think a patriot would be aware of the realignments of liberals and conservatives between and within political parties, but we are talking about Malkin, Limbaugh and Beck – poster children for malicious ignorance.

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Donald H. Rumsfeld. Remember him. He was the Secretary of Defense, the conservative wonder boy of straetgy and tactics. He and his likewise brilliant commander-in-thief George W. Bush(R) squandered victory in Afghanistan to divert resources to Iraq because, as he claimed about WMD ,“We know where they are.” He now swears he does not remember a request for more troops for Afghanistan.

…the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said that Rumsfeld refused U.S. commanders’ requests in December 2001 for U.S. troops to deploy on the mountainous Afghan-Pakistan border to prevent Osama bin Laden and his closest followers from escaping into Pakistan.

Conservatives do tend to live in their own little world. Perhaps as conservatives try and reinvent themselves they might try living in the real world enough of the time that it doesn’t let terrorists like Bin laden escape, claim there is an urgent need to invade a country because of weapons that do not exist and then get hundreds of thousands killed. Oh, and check the local community college to see if they have any classes in competence and how to improve one’s memory – or at least learn how to be better liars.

OK, so I over generalized a little. They do remember how to be common criminals, Watergate redux: Break-ins reported at another climate research center.

Burglars and hackers have attacked the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, apparently in an attempt to further the “Climategate” intimidation of global warming researchers. The Climategate smear campaign rests on the release of thousands of emails illegally hacked last month from the British Climatic Research Unit (CRU).

Conservthink: That’s when faced with facts they hack e-mails, distort said e-mails, then repeat.

Michelle Malkin just cannot make up her mind who she hates and fears more, Latinos or gays. Anti-gay right advances new smear that DOE official Jennings promoting “Child Porn in the Classroom”. This kind of tactic is not new to the rabid Right. They have attacked classic literature for years, including such works as To Kill a Mocking bird, Catcher in the Rye and Orwell’s 1984. We all know that conservatives are up to their neck in producing porn, whether books or movies. Conservatives are also the biggest consumers of porn. This is just another faux outrage and part of their completely unfounded and unhinged hatred of Mr. Jennings.

When not remembering where and what the troops were doing, attacking Latinos and the gay community or breaking into research facilities,  conservatives enjoy circulating e-mails about confrontations with Muslims that never happened. Fish Stories More Risky Via Email

Guy sends an email to friends and family recounting his single-handedly thwarting a potential terrorist plane hijacking at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport by man-handling a group of Arabs in “full attire” and tossing them from the plane. The email goes viral on the right-wing interwebs, even ending up on Glenn Beck’s Project 9/12 website.

The airline has debunked the e-mail. Neither Beck or blogger Debbie Schlussel. Beck and Schlussel’s track record for truth-telling is such if they started claiming The Theory of Gravity was correct, I’d start to have doubts. Schlussel double checked with the writer of the e-mail who was not where he said he was and not involved in an incident where a Spanish gentleman was simply asked to turn off his cell phone. Schlussel is not the least bit phased by the facts:

Debbie Schlussel wrong again

Conservative are Consistent. Consistently Dishonest.

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Conservatives Continue To Claim The Stimulus ‘Failed,’ After CBO Report Said Otherwise

Today, the White House is hosting a jobs forum, “to sound out ideas for accelerating job growth during the worst labor market in a generation,” as Democrats in both houses of Congress are attempting to craft jobs legislation. Yesterday, the administration for the first time expressed support for new legislation, so long as it has a “relatively small deficit impact.”

This effort comes in the wake of a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report showing that the economic stimulus package is having its intended effect — creating or saving 600,000 to 1.6 million jobs — albeit in a weaker than anticipated economy.

Republicans, though, have said that additional jobs legislation “would meet resistance.” They’re justifying this position — aided by the conservative media — by claiming that the “failed economic stimulus” has not created jobs, despite the CBO reporting otherwise.

It might be too soon to create another stimulus package since the current one has not be spent yet. We could have the entire conservative noise machine have some kind of miraculous epiphany and start having an honest discussion about where to put stimulus funds to best create jobs, but that is as likely to happen as aliens beaming down bars of gold for everyone. They’ve had some sleazy economists from the Hoover Institute write columns about how the stimulus si not working just after funds had barely started to be disbursed. And the fact is Congress had not dispersed all the Recovery Act funds yet, The $800 Billion Deception: Conservatives claim the stimulus has already failed. But it has barely started.

The Obama administration believes the stimulus is working. “There is broad agreement that the ARRA has added between 2 and 3 percentage points to baseline real GDP growth in the second quarter of 2009 and around 3 percentage points in the third quarter,” the CEA reports. Given that Macroeconomic Advisers is projecting the economy grew at about a 3 percent clip in the third quarter, it’s possible that stimulus activity could have meant the difference between growth and contraction in the just-ended quarter. And far from being out of ammunition, the government still has about 75 percent of the $787 billion Congress appropriated to spend during the next two years.

Where is the thoughtful criticism about jobs and the economy coming from. You can skip the Rupert Mudock’s Wall Street Rag, Faux News and The Weakly Standard. If there is angle on the economy that can somehow be twisted to blame on the guy that will be in the White House for one lousy year in January, they’ve found it. If someone wants some cogent criticism try Paul Krugman or some of Robert Reich columns at HuffPo.

Over at the ThinkProgress link at the top there are some quotes from conservatives about spending, the stimulus and deficits – such as Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), both of whom voted for the original TARP bail-out and did little more than whine while they spent the country into its worse deficits during the Bush era.

How tiresome, Palin trips over the ever growing pile of hypocrisy – of her own making of course, Sarah Palin: Birther

So, to recap: Palin, prompted only to talk about “the birth certificate,” realizes that she’s being asked about President Obama’s proof of citizenship. She says the public is “rightfully” making it an issue, that it’s a “fair question,” and that it’s fair game — and because some people have questioned whether Trig Palin is really her son, it’s fair to “reverse that” and ask questions about the president’s birth certificate.

The Trig stuff should be off limits. The birth certificate stuff is perhaps one of the most thoroughly debunked urban myths ever. To keep bringing up the birth certificate has reached well beyond the point where its “rightfully” an issue and become some kind of mob based delusion. If Palin’s desire is to be taken seriously on policy issues it seems like she is her own worse enemy in regards to developing that persona. If Obama had spent his campaign yammering about Area 51 and martian corpses we would have had a President Hillary Clinton. Yet conservatives embrace equally bizarre myths and are embraced as a true conservatives, or as Palin and Beck like to call them, “common sense” conservatives.

Someone Needs to Check the Air Vents in Dick Cheney’s Bunker

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Is Dick Cheney, a former 4th branch of government or some hybrid fungus of athlete’s foot that we just cannot get rid of, Obama Rebuts ‘Dithering’ Charges: None Of The Options Called For Troop Deployments

In recent weeks, Republicans have been attacking President Obama for taking too long to settle on a strategy for the war in Afghanistan. The charge has been led by Vice President Cheney, who accused Obama of “dithering” and endangering U.S. troops:

It’s time for President Obama to make good on his promise. The White House must stop dithering while America’s armed forces are in danger.

Make no mistake, signals of indecision out of Washington hurt our allies and embolden our adversaries. Waffling, while our troops on the ground face an emboldened enemy, endangers them and hurts our cause.

Tonight in his prime-time address to the nation, Obama ordered the deployment of 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan and said that the U.S. would begin withdrawing in 18 months. He also pointed out that none of the options put before him were set to occur before 2010, so his review process did not result in any endangerment of U.S. troops.

When did the conservative movement actually start caring about the boots that carry out the inanity that passes for foreign policy. Was it President Obama that shifted military resources away from Afghanistan, and let Osama Bin Laden get away at Tora Bora, to Iraq to find nonexistent WMD. No that was Dick and George. Was it Obama that insisted that torture was legal and produced reliable intelligence. No, that was only true in Dick’s squalid imagination. Torture produced more terrorists and put our troops in more danger. Maybe someone should check the ventilation in Dick’s bunker. Whether one agrees with escalating troop levels in Afghanistan or not, maybe President Obama will finish the job that George and Dick left. No one should be surprised that President Obama’s goal has been – since his presidential campaign – to track down and eliminate al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Its beyond incredulous that Obama is doing more then Cheney did, yet Cheney is accusing him of ‘dithering”. Dick and George dithered for seven years. Its odd considering Cheney’s dismal legacy that anyone would consider his opinions relevant. Yet every few weeks he emerges from his bunker and there’s the media happy to give him a soapbox and take dictation. Could just one journalist ask Cheney, considering the lengthy list of failures that constitute his tenure as Mr. 4th Branch, why he thinks his opinion matters and why America should listen.

I recently saw an anti-health care reform commercial from a group called 60plus. Its basically a let’s scare grand ma to death diatribe. The commercial and web site claims they’re non-partisan, but Rachel Maddow researched them back in August and found they are far from it. On the contrary they’re just more right-wing conservative astroturf ,

And who has a record of funding this organization 60 Plus?  Well, when 60 Plus started lobbying against prescription drug reform at the state level a few years ago, AARP actually looked into who was behind them.  And they found that, quote, “virtually all of their largest contributions in recent years have come from the same source—the nation‘s pharmaceutical industry.”

In 2003, the drug-maker Pfizer paid 60 Plus to help defeat prescription drug legislation in Minnesota and in New Mexico.  According to the AARP‘s investigation, Pfizer, quote, “hired Bonner & Associates, a Washington-based firm that specializes in ‘Astroturf lobbying.‘  The firm‘s paid callers, reading from scripts that identified them as representatives of 60 Plus urged residents to ask their governors to veto the legislation.  Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. later said it had paid Bonner & Associates to make the calls.”

Why does Bonner & Associates sound so familiar?  Oh, yes, they‘re the firm that‘s now being investigated by Congress after they admitted to stealing letterhead and writing fake letters to impersonate groups like the NAACP in their coal industry-funded efforts to defeat climate legislation.  Same guys.

60 Plus also appears to have had ties in the past to the platonic form of Washington things or people to whom it is best not to have ties.  That, of course, would be Jack Abramoff.  According to a “Mother Jones” magazine investigation, Jack Abramoff once instructed an Indian tribe to donate 60 Plus, saying that that would help garner support for their legislative causes with the House GOP leadership.

60 Plus is well-known in Republican and conservative circles.  And like other corporate-funded P.R. operations, it often takes on causes that you wouldn‘t logically connect to their stated purpose.  The 60 Plus Association, which again, bills itself as a seniors advocacy group, they took on a subject they want us to believe is near and dear to the hearts of seniors.