Desert Waterfall wallpaper – In the Health Care Debate Republicans Argue for the Right to be Irresponsible

Desert Waterfall wallpaper

Dahlia Lithwick on the continuing right-wing legal challenges to the ACA(Affordable Care Act), It’s Good for You A federal appeals court hears arguments about Obama’s health care law—and broccoli. The Right continues to badly beat the near dead horse that declining to participant in purchasing health care insurance is not an activity. In most cases most of us would probably agree that not doing something is indeed the choice not to participate. Health care is among the exceptions as one lawyer defending the ACA points out,

Turning to the “necessary and proper” clause and congressional authority, Davis adds that in terms of whether the law was “necessary,” “this is clearly a slam-dunk for the government.” Davis wraps up with a hypothetical in which “four twentysomethings in Virginia” are involved in a massive car crash as they road trip up to Ocean City and must be evacuated via helicopter, costing hundreds of thousands in taxpayer dollars. Gazing down at Staver, he asks, “Is it your submission that Congress has no power to address in the aggregate what we know happens every day?”

No one plans for accidents or diseases to happen, but we know they do. Since we’re not all cyborgs yet, we will all be personally affected by accidents, disease or simply the process of aging.

Acting Solicitor General Neal Kumar Katyal, defending the ACA on behalf of the Obama administration, quickly tries to poke a hole in the argument that the law mandates “inactivity.” “It is almost a universal feature of our existence that we do use health care,” Katyal says. The activity here, he argues, “is participation in the health care market.” He notes that providing health care to the uninsured costs $43 billion per year, adding $1,000 to every family’s annual health care premiums. Wynn tosses him another broccoli hypo, asking whether the government has the power to mandate the serving of broccoli to the unwilling. Katyal replies that “it depends how the broccoli is served up.” Laughter. Katyal then dismisses the argument that a government that can force you to purchase health insurance can also force you to buy from General Motors: “You can’t show up at a General Motors lot and drive away and stick the bill to your neighbor,” he says. The panel appears more than persuaded. Davis talks of the need for “practical” solutions to problems of this scope.

Needing health care eventually is not some esoteric abstract in regards how humans go about the business of lying. Only a conservative lawyer would use some esoteric apples to oranges car purchase comparison to try to make his point. You can indeed op out of driving. If you do so, me and other car owners will not have to pay for the consequences of that. He should know better than to bring up cars. I’ve never lived in a state that does not mandate auto liability insurance at the minimum. The far Right’s animus towards the health care insurance requirement is ironically, if you take Republicans at their word that they are pro personal responsibility, reeking of hedonism. Emergency rooms have to treat patients with or without insurance. We all have to pay for that. They are accounted for on the actuarial tables that determine everyone’s premiums. Put aside for the moment that hospital collections will haunt non-payers for the rest of their lives. They still have to have some reimbursement while the uninsured agrees to pay ten dollars a months for the next fifteen tears. Yet another hypocritical aspect to the Right’s obtuse arguments against the mandate (which I’m not fond of, but do not think is unconstitutional) is the efforts across multiple states to force pregnant women to undergo certain unnecessary testing before they can end their pregnancies, Texas Passes Ultrasound Requirement

One thing we definitely know is the claims that the ultrasounds directly prevent abortion have no evidence for them. Preliminary research shows that ultrasounds have no effect on women’s decisions to have abortions. This makes sense if you accept the premise, as I do, that women have functioning brains and ask for abortions precisely because they don’t want to have developing embryos inside them. Conservative legislators have fantasies of women seeing fully formed babies on monitors, bursting into tears, and running out of the clinics. In reality, sometimes seeing an ultrasound makes it emotionally harder, but doesn’t change a woman’s mind. And sometimes it actually makes the decision easier, because most women abort early in their pregnancies, and the images they’re looking at mainly show how tiny and unformed the embryo or fetus really is.

Still, this is no reason to be complacent about ultrasound laws. The premise of these laws, that women are uniquely stupid and need to be talked down to, enshrines inequality between men and women into law.

The powers that be cannot compel you to get health care insurance but they can make you jump hoops in order to exercise personal health care decisions? As former Judge and Catherine Crier wrote in Contempt: How the Right Is Wronging American Justice (2005), the Right regularly stakes out an ideological position and then scrambles to find some constitutional support rather than starting out with the constitution and forming positions based on the Constitution, legal precedent and history.

Economics professor Robert E. Prasch on Supply-Side (voodoo0) Economics in Fact and Fancy

Let’s look up the figures. The key to this theory is in steps 1 & 2, describing a causal relationship between lower tax rates and increased private investment. Our starting point, or baseline, will be the average of what is called “net private domestic investment” over President Jimmy Carter’s four years (1977-1980), which we will compare to the average across the four years of President Ronald Reagan’s second term (1985-1988). The reason to select the former years is that they are widely recalled as having been dismal. Indeed, we have been repeatedly told that they were so bad that voters granted Reagan a mandate to pursue supply-side economic policies. Likewise, the latter years are selected as the effects of the enormous tax cuts enacted during Reagan’s first term should have had their strongest effect during his second term. Selecting data from Reagan’s second term allows us to set aside the economy’s abysmal performance during his first term with its devastating recession — the worst that occurred between the Great Depression and the Crash of 2008. In addition, by Reagan’s second term the wealthy should have had ample opportunity to adjust to their lower tax rates.

When we look up the figures on the official National Income and Product Accounts, we find that “net private domestic investment” did not increase. On the contrary, it declined from an average of 7.0% of total Gross Domestic Product during Carter’s four years to an average of 5.7% during Reagan’s second term. More shockingly, if we factor out inflation, we find that the real dollar amount of investment fell slightly despite the fact that the American economy of the late 1980s was over 17% larger than the late 1970s. To put it mildly, this is a powerful refutation of the supply-side story.

But, proponents might respond, surely overall savings rose as a consequence of the lower tax rates? Let us check. Comparing the averages over these same two four-year periods, consumption as a share of total National Income increased from 64.8% to 67.2%. Because the median American income for a full time year-round employee declined between 1980 and 1988 (from $34,483 to $34,253 in constant 1994 dollars according to the Bureau of the Census), this increase in the nation’s consumption was most likely undertaken by persons in the upper echelons of the income distribution.

In light of facts presented in the previous two paragraphs, we are ready to sum up. President Ronald Reagan’s supply-side economic policies left us with more consumption on the part of the wealthy, a lower savings rate, less net private sector investment, and a lower median income for a full-time year-round worker. These who lived through those years will not be surprised by these numbers, as conspicuous consumption on the part of the wealthy was a dominant and widely-noted theme of that era.

In late 2009 Republicans held unemployment insurances benefits hostage to extend the entire package of Bush-Republican supply-side tax cuts. Conservatives in denial from the Bush years and his historic deficits or conservatives that liked to pretend they had nothing to do with Bush’s economic policies (tea nuts) all insisted the supply-side tax cuts were nonnegotiable. Bush’s policies were not and  are not Bush’s policies. The decision to worry more about putting yet more money into the pockets of the wealthy, rather than cut the deficit or invest in jobs and education, was a supply-side decision. Republicans, just before the 2010 mid-terms voted to continue the same policies that are largely responsible for our budget problems – a lack of revenue. After the 2010 elections the so-called tea baggers came to Congress. What do they want? More supply-side tax cuts. Now these cuts are so huge that not even Reagan would have approved. So the Right has learned nothing about the burden of voodoo zombie economics on the middle-class or the poor. On the contrary. Every few years they just insist that they have not kissed moneyed elite ass. They need to apply some more lipstick and kiss harder. Because there are still some reasonable people in charge of the Senate the Right has not been able to fully implement Voodoo 3.0, but they have at the sate level. Republican governors in Wisconsin, Michigan, Texas, New Jersey, Ohio and Florida have all slashed education and basic services, gone after union bargaining rights, while cutting taxes for corporations. Spending by the wealthy probably is up, they’re the only ones that have any money. While we all wait for all those wonderful jobs that supply-side economics is supposed to create. The Right will keep calling President Obama and Democrats socialists no matter what the facts say. We’re not living in the moderate Democrat economy, much less the liberal economy. We’re living in the continuation of the supply-side economy. Apparently because as far as conservatives are concerned voodoo can never fail enough times to be proven wrong.

Black and White San Francisco Skyline wallpaper – Republicans Threaten to Sabotage US Economy

United States Cities

Black and White San Francisco Skyline wallpaper

Tough choice on two good posts on House Leader John Boehner’s(R-OH) latest attempt at fiscal extortion. There is Steve Benen’s Boehner puts a price tag on his ransom note,

It’s worth noting that the Speaker’s ransom note now has a price tag — albeit, an unrealistic price tag — but no additional details. Boehner doesn’t know where the $2 trillion in cuts should come from or over what kind of timeframe. He just knows that he’s picked an arbitrary number and expects Democrats to figure out a way to meet his demands.

The ambiguity is not an accident, and it’s not just the result of a lazy House Speaker who isn’t proficient enough with policy details to do the work himself. Rather, Boehner can’t get more specific without committing to massive reductions in Medicare and Social Security — there’s almost certainly no other way to find those kinds of savings, given the Speaker’s parameters — which he doesn’t want to put on paper.

If there was a pictionary for entry for pantywaist conservatives, a multitude of conservatives comes to mind – Rush Draft Dodger Limbaugh, Dick Deferment Cheney, Sarah Palin and certainly Boehner would do. Pantywaist extortionist Boehner, along with every other Republican that was in the House during the Bush era, voted to rise the debt ceiling 7 times. He and Republican recently voted for the Ryan Plan to gut Medicare and simultaneously rise the deficit $6 trillion dollars over the next ten years. So deficits did not matter when they were in charge of all three branches of government and their current deficit peacockery is not about deficits it is about who gets to spend the money and how to spend it. Much of the Ryan/Boehner/Republican added debt would not be to save education, Medicare, Medicaid or our struggling infrastructure – it would be to give corporate America – already floating in trillions in profits – yet another tax cut. Then there is Jonathan Chait’s John Boehner’s Double Bluff

On top of that, the demand itself is a bluff. Boehner says he wants to cut trillions, which would have to entail cutting Social Security and Medicare. Boehner does not want to cut Social Security and Medicare. Oh, sure, he wants them to be cut. But he does not want to be the one who cuts them. He wants a bipartisan agreement in which President Obama provides him with cover to cut Medicare. He does not want to trade revenue increases for these cuts, which means Obama won’t accept them. But he’s hoping the threat of a shutdown can force Obama to accede to a deal he doesn’t like.

It seems to me that Obama’s play here is clear: He needs to ask Boehner to spell out his demands. What’s the exact bill that Boehner demands as a condition for not crippling the U.S. economy? If he wants to make demands, he needs to write out those demands.

I don’t think Boehner will do it. Boehner got through the government shutdown by cutting billions, not trillions, which allowed him to focus on small-bore programs and programs that only benefit the poor or vulnerable. But if he wants to cut trillions, then he faces real political peril.

Boehner is your typical modern conservative – he does have the gull to manipulate your brothers and sisters to their deaths in Iraq, but carry through on a threat to toss the nation into an economic abyss. He and his brethren don’t have that kind of nerve. He doesn’t even have the nerve to write his own budget. He and his tea smoking sycophants are cowered down behind President Obama, hoping to use him as a shield. They need the political cover so when they go to their next town hall meetings they can say they didn’t cut the grandparents or that disabled kids’ medical care, Obama did. A trillion or two, where is that going to come from – the US Department of Education, always a favorite target of wing-nuts has a budget in 2011 of about $70 billion.  The US Department of Defense, the single largest part of federal expenditures has a 2011 budget of about $1.4 trillion. So Boehner and the tea nuts could do away with the DOE and DOD and still not reach two trillion in cuts.

This column by Eliot Spitzer is one of the reasons not to fall into the trap of becoming discouraged. Republicans took a well deserved trouncing in 2008. There was nothing in terms of good governance they had not either bungled and buried in their mendacity. Sure there was lots of whining, world record whining that still goes on, but they are also fired up. War Against the Weak – The brutal Republican campaign to eliminate the collective rights of individuals and increase the collective rights of corporations.

Is there less recourse for the little people? Click to expand image. Is there less recourse now for the little people?Three recent Republican efforts, each one critical to the conservative agenda:

1) the attempt by Republican governors to eliminate the right of public employees to bargain collectively;

2) the attempt to eliminate the consumer protection bureau created in the Dodd-Frank financial services reform law—probably the most important part of the law for ordinary investors;

3) the recent 5-4* Supreme Court decision to limit the right to “class-arbitration” in many circumstances—taking away the collective power of those whose injuries are too small to be effectively remedied individually yet who, together, might be able to stand up to much stronger institutions.

The unifying theme is an assault on the weak. The power of individuals, each of us feeble in isolation, to act collectively and hence stand up to the powerful is being eviscerated. Those who already begin behind are finding the few legal protections afforded them under attack. A critical element of the Republican agenda has become increasing the legal power of those who already have power, and diminishing the power of the weak.

The focus on eliminating public-sector collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin and elsewhere—even after workers had agreed to all the financial concessions sought—makes clear the fundamental reallocation of power being sought. If we are upset at the outcome of an election, we don’t take away the right to vote of those who defeated us; or limit their speech. If a trial results in an outcome we are not satisfied with, we don’t eliminate the capacity of the opposing the party to call witnesses. So why the rush to alter the rights of the workers? Why not focus on the failure of elected officials to negotiate more effectively or elect leaders who will do so?

Being enthused has little to do with fighting the creeping wave of rights being undermined. The conservative agenda just be fought because it is the American thing to do. It is what Jefferson, Hamilton and Tom Paine would do. If that kind of motivation doesn’t work, fight these pin striped charlatans just to be a pain in their ass.

Kind of strange that I have read civil libertarian Glenn Greenwald and the far Right’s National Review both claim that President Obama’s national security policies are about the same. About the same is still not exactly the same. It was the important differences that lead to finding and killing Bin Laden, A tale of two presidents: Bush, Obama and Osama bin Laden

This historic moment is political. All historic moments are political. History is political, and the only people who now claim otherwise do so purely for political reasons. Even the desperation to deceive the public into believing the lie that the Bush administration’s immoral, inhuman, and illegal torture regime helped make this successful raid possible is purely impurely political. Dick Cheney wants credit for this success because Dick Cheney doesn’t want anyone to remember that his astonshing failures made this raid necessary. Every time Dick Cheney appears on television, it becomes necessary to revisit the historic facts. Every time any Republican or right-wing apologist or oblivious media hack repeats the lie that Republicans are competent, much less superior to Democrats, at protecting national security, it becomes necessary to revisit the historic facts: If not for the Bush administration’s unprecedented failure at national security, the unprecedented terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, would not have succeeded.

If Cheney wants some kind of credit I’m sad to say that he deserves credit for being one of the most, if not the most treasonous Vice President in US history.

George W. Bush Gets a Third Term With Republicans in Washington and in State Governments

Some wonky stuff about unemployment and what can be done about it, “We Dare Not Let This Happen” (But Don’t Support Doing Anything About It)

Dean Baker is frustrated with a Washington Post editorial telling the public there’s nothing we can do about the unemployment problem, a problem it cannot even characterize correctly (see Dean on this point). Me too.

The editorial starts by noting that:

unemployment remains well above what it should be; the longer this persists, the more we risk a “new normal” of structural unemployment, which is a fancy term for elevated human suffering and snowballing economic waste. We dare not let this happen. The question, though, is how to generate the new jobs.

We dare not let that happen! We need to do something! Unless, according to the editorial, fear of what might happen if we try to help the unemployed gets in the way.

First, fiscal policy is ruled out as a solution to this urgent problem. As Dean Baker notes, “The Post tells readers that we can’t try to create jobs through fiscal stimulus” because bond vigilantes might drive interest rates up. However, the “interest rate on 10-year Treasury notes is now 3.14 percent, much lower than it was in the budget surplus days of the late 90s” even though we’ve heard these warnings for some time now.

Well, if the problem is so urgent, certainly the editorial will support money policy instead? Nope. Here, the worry is inflation. But, as Greg Mankiw notes this morning, he agrees with Paul Krugman that “the price of labor does not show any significant inflationary pressures right now,” and hence there is little to worry about in terms of inflation (and other signs of inflation are absent as well).

So what should we do about the unemployment problem given that (according to the Post, not me) both monetary and fiscal policy are off the table?

Mark Thoma thinks we need to take some risks in terms of possible inflation. Policy makers are not exactly risk prone at the moment. Even Democrats, with the exception of the House’s progressive Caucus have bought into the mind-boggling narrative that cutting spending, making the working poor and middle-class ( or median class – those making $55k and below) should bear most of the hardship and sacrifices – are the path to fiscal nirvana. Fingers crossed, maybe the ideas in the People’s Budget – which contains some spending for job creation, and goodness forbid rising some revenue will start to generate some pressure on both the House and Senate to realize rising revenue to the key to digging ourselves out of the deficit hole and out of everyone’s fears of long-term structural unemployment. It is just a phenomenon of the Village that once a problem has been around long enough, and short of people dropping dead in the streets, they just get used to what has or will become the new status quo.

While the Republicans have settled on the narrative that poor people and all the super powers poor people have, caused the Great Recession, because, you know, markets are perfect and deregulation always leads to the best outcomes. Republicans have also decided the unemployed are shiftless dirt-bags that need to be cut off from the government entitlement wealth machine as soon as possible, Florida Lawmakers Approve Deep Cuts in Jobless Benefits

A bill that would establish some of the deepest and most far-reaching cuts in unemployment benefits in the nation is heading for the desk of Gov. Rick Scott.

The Republican-controlled House and Senate passed the compromise measure just before the legislative session ended Friday night.

The legislation would cut maximum state benefits to 23 weeks from 26 when the jobless rate is 10.5 percent or higher.

If lower, the maximum would decline on a sliding scale until bottoming at 12 weeks if the jobless rate was 5 percent or less.

Both chambers were agreeable to a sliding scale, but the House wanted to cut the maximum to 20 weeks while the Senate wanted to keep it at 26.

The benefit reduction is expected to cut unemployment taxes paid by employers, but not until next year.

Florida has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, 11.5 percent, and already had some of the lowest unemployment benefits.

Florida’s Criminal-in-chief Rick Scott and the Florida Republican Mob thinks it is fine to steal from the government and senior citizens (and cut corporate taxes yet again), but Americans who need a little help getting through tough times can just find a cardboard box and a bridge to live under. Scott would fit in great with Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. They both campaigned on job creation and have yet to do anything to create jobs ( They have voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, to gut Medicare and to spend millions to protect DOMA) and . House Republicans, taking heat for their vote to gut Medicare have gone into stealth mode and are now attacking Medicare and Medicaid through a “compromise” bill that Robert Reich describes as The Republican Plan With Lipstick.  The implications of this new compromise explained here, On Medicaid, Cinderella and Pumpkin Politics

The only real hope of not cutting the state budgets by cutting off aid to the most vulnerable might lie in the fact that a quarter of Medicaid funding goes to the elderly, mostly because long-term nursing home stays are not covered by Medicare but by Medicaid, absent private funds for them. Many of these elderly recipients, if not most, were not poor to begin with. Nursing home care is expensive and once private funds are run down it is Medicaid which takes over.

Thus, the Medicaid cuts might mean that middle-class voters will wake up some day finding an extra very large bill for grandpa’s nursing home care in their mailbox. Or grandma might be deposited on their front step because there are no longer funds to care for her.

Wait, wasn’t I talking about Medicare. Do not be fooled by thinking cuts to any of the social insurance programs – Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – exist in a vacuum. Changes, massive cuts in one, have effects on the other. Cuts in Medicare will mean of funds for one’s care will be paid for out-of-pocket with Social Security funds. Cuts in Medicare will be mean more reliance on Medicaid. More reliance on Medicaid also means more of a drain on Social Security funds, especially for the retired and severely disabled. In turn any of these cuts will mean more of a burden on working class families who cannot afford to pay the new larger portion of their family’s medical expenses.

The money is there. We are still one of the wealthiest nations in the world. A world in which it is considered courageous to take money and medical care away from the most vulnerable Americans, but just crazy to rise revenue, U.S. Taxes At Lowest Level Since 1958

The post-World War II historic average is that federal revenues equal about 18 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, the broadest measure of annual economic production. In the year 2000, after the longest economic expansion in U.S. history, federal revenues equaled almost 21 percent of the economy. As a result, Washington cut taxes in 2001 and 2003.

Revenues plunged to around 15 percent of the economy in 2009 and 2010 amid the deep financial crisis, and dipped even further this year, to 14.4 percent, the lowest level since 1950.

Federal revenue as a percent of GDP

The revenue issue is not simply about rising federal income taxes on the richest 2% or the richest corporations. One of the reasons those at the top pay so little taxes in proportion to their income is because much of that income is not from a payroll check but from capital gains, An Empty Offer from the Super-Rich

It drives economist Bruce Bartlett crazy every time he hears another bazillionaire announce he’s in favor of paying higher taxes. Most recently it was Mark Zuckerberg who got Bartlett’s blood boiling when the Facebook founder declared himself “cool” with paying more in federal taxes, joining such tycoons as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Ted Turner, and even a stray hedge-fund manager or two.

Bartlett, a former member of the Reagan White House, isn’t against the wealthy paying higher taxes. He’s that rare conservative who thinks higher taxes need to be part of the deficit debate. His beef? It’s a hollow gesture to say the federal government should raise the tax rate on the country’s top wage earners when the likes of Zuckerberg have most of their wealth tied up in stock. Many of the super-rich see virtually all their income as capital gains, and capital gains are taxed at a much lower rate—15 percent—than ordinary income.

We don’t need to just rise taxes back the rate they were during the 90s we need to rise capital gains taxes back to their rate during the Reagan years of 28 percent. The argument goes that rising capital gains makes all the wealthy folks start hiding their money in the mattress rather than invest. That’s just a fairy tale. Have never seen any empirical truth to that. Why stop investing and bringing in substantial amounts of easy money. Executive compensation has grown disproportionately to the income of the average Americans since the 1970s. The income and investment trends shows that  capital gains is one of the ways the richest have escaped the top tax rates ( add to that the usual loopholes and deductions)

Distribution of US wealth
Larger percentage of income from stock i.e. capital gains

Brent Bozell: Bush Gets All The Credit, None Of The Blame for getting Bin Laden,

Every Friday the Media Research Center president appears on Fox & Friends to whine about how awful and terrible the biased liberal media are, and his complaints almost invariably revolve around how unfairly the media treated former president Bush. This morning, Bozell attacked the press for not giving Bush enough credit for the death of Osama bin Laden, even giving the 43rd president a “hip hip hooray!”

Bush-era policies have had a lasting impact and deserve credit for this successful counterterrorism operation, argues Bozell. And that’s funny, because in December 2009, Brent Bozell wrote this:

The economy can no longer be blamed on Bush. Obama has shaped it with his fiscal policies. He owns it. So when wil his allies in the press ever acknowledge that the “jobs program” is a fiasco, and that Team Obama failed to match its own hyperbole on what the “stimulus” would accomplish?

So, in Bozell’s reckoning, eight years of Bush economic policies had only a fleeting carry-over effect and could not be “blamed” in any way for the poor state of the economy less than a year after Obama took office. (For a rational, less-hackish analysis of the impacts of Bush’s and Obama’s economic policies, see last week’s Washington Post.) But at the same time, argues Bozell, Bush’s counterterrorism policies have had lasting benefits and were clearly responsible for Bin Laden’s death more than two years after Bush left office.

I’ve read this economic meme from several right-wing pundits and blogs. When is Obama going to man-up and take credit/blame for the economy. About the same time we all start taking blame for the thief who stole our car and drove it off a cliff. Obama substantially altered Bush’s national security polices in regard to Bin Laden. President Obama resurrected the CIA’s Bin Laden unit for starters. he shifted military resources away from Iraq to Afghanistan, where Bush used 9-11 to sweep up Iraq into some kind of global threat from terrorism. More here, Torture May Have Slowed Hunt For Bin Laden, Not Hastened It

Obama Thanks SEAL Team Who Killed OBL For ‘Job Well Done’ . This is just another reason the Right is so pissed off about Bin laden’s death. Most of the military actually likes Obama. Which makes sense, since BushCo treated them with such contempt.

George W Bush Vindication wallpaper

TBogg’s post on Andrew Breitbart’s interview with CBS – I Was Sad Because I Had No Shoes Until I Met a Teabagger Who Had No Balls

But what about those “smooth as a Ken doll” American men (obviously not including Lindsey Graham who is literally hung like a gay bull. Seriously. Just ask Joe Lieberman):

The “Big Government” publisher also said the Tea Party is “run by women.”

“Because their husbands are afraid, they’re eunuchs,” he said. “They’re afraid of being called a racist, they’re afraid of being accused of sexual harassment in the workplace for even looking the wrong way, they live in a politically correct world where they’ve been turned into eunuchs.”

That’s right. Out of necessity the Tea Party is being run by ladies in mom-jeans and be-sequined American flag sweatshirts because their husbands haven’t been worth jackshit since they told that joke about the coloreds at the Teambuilding Tuesday luncheon and then got fired by that lady in HR who is probably a total man-hating dyke.

Andrew has some personal issues that go well beyond politics.

Republicans – Grand Poobahs of Cynical Hypocrisy and Crass Exploitation

Those who think Politico leans too far Right – and I agree – they’re practically fair and balanced compared to Real Clear Politics who ran with this gem, Burlingame After Meeting With Obama: He Turned His Back On Me

Debra Burlingame, the sister of Charles “Chic” Burlingame (pilot of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon) met with President Obama today, along with other families who were victims of 9/11. Burlingame said she confronted Obama about Attorney General Eric Holder prosecuting the men who interrogated KSM, which may have produced intelligence leading us to bin Laden.

Burlingame describes the encounter with Obama: “As a former attorney I know you can’t tell the Attorney General what to do, he said, ‘No, I can’t.’ But I said ‘we — that shouldn’t stop you from giving your opinion. We wouldn’t be here today if they hadn’t done their jobs. Can’t you at least give them your opinion.’ And he said ‘no I won’t,’ and he turned around and walked away.”

Isn’t it well known that Presidents are always committing to agreeing with people they stop to shake hands with that as soon as they return to Washington they will forthwith politicize the Department of Justice. Just because Bush did it, one assumes. RCP makes no mention of the fact that Burlingame is also a rabid right-winger who is one of the founding members of Liz Cheney and Bill Kristol’s Keep America Safe. Cute name for an organization that is pro law breaking even to the point of demonizing anyone who wants to investigate whether – probably just a coincidence – former VP Dick Cheney broke the law – Is that “Keep America Safe”—or “Keep Cheney Out of Jail”?

A few days back I took a look at a new organization launched by Liz Cheney and Bill Kristol called Keep America Safe. They claim it is designed to put the Obama Administration on the defensive about national security issues, and they promise to run ads against Democrats in marginal districts. But turning to Keep America Safe’s advocacy page, we find an absolute obsession with one issue: a criminal probe into the origins of the torture program by the Justice Department. The whole Keep America Safe campaign is geared to making the point that the torture program and other Cheney-authored measures that probably crossed the threshold into criminal conduct were perfectly legitimate policy alternatives. Keep America Safe seems largely dedicated to keeping Cheney out of jail.

Now Michael Isikoff unearths more information that supports this thesis. Who’s bankrolling Keep America Safe, he asks? It’s Florida real-estate developer Mel Sembler, whose last foray onto the political stage was as chair of the Scooter Libby Defense Trust. Is Keep America Safe a related operation, also geared to the legal defense of the Vice President’s office? It sure looks that way.

Consider Cheney’s latest speech, in which he accused Obama of “dithering” about how many more troops to commit to Afghanistan—a peculiar charge to fall from the lips of a man who sat on a request from his Afghanistan commanders for ten months without action. The setting for this latest volley was an award dinner at which Cheney’s former chief-of-staff Scooter Libby, now a convicted felon whose sentence was commuted by President Bush following a furious lobbying campaign by Cheney, was presented with the “Service Before Self” Award. What exactly was the nature of Libby’s service? According to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, Libby failed to give an honest account of the role played by Dick Cheney in the outing of a covert CIA agent as an act of petty political revenge. The Cheney speech at the event honoring Libby went up immediately at the Keep America Safe website, more evidence of seamless coordination between the legal defense efforts and the fearmongering Keep America Safe campaign.

Focusing on one extremely unhinged defender of the Bush administartions law breaking and her poor vitim play, is the conservative media’s idea of breaking news. If so, the least they could do is include some important facts. Burlingame has no faith in the American system of justice, thinks the DOJ is just supposed to be a puppet for the Right or the prevailing winds of public opinion rather than justice and is happy to use what was supposed to be a non-partisan tribute to the victims of 9-11 into a cheap-shot political opportunity. The Burlingame crowd helped manipulate this country into an unesccary, expensive, bloody and counter prodcutive war. It is Burlingame, both Cheneys and Keep America safe who should be on a national apology tour for turning their backs on truth, justice and American values.

Burlingame is one of those head in the sand sore losers who hate it that torturing KLM did not lead to the capture or death of Bin Laden or he would have been killed in 2004. Like many on the rabid Right it absolutely pisses them off that it was President Obama that revived the CIA’s Bin Laden unit and it was under his leadership that Bin Laden was brought to justice. She jions the illusratious company of the crank Koch brothers, David Koch Says Obama Doesn’t Deserve Credit For Successful Bin Laden Operations

Obviously it’s not the case that Obama is temperamentally more of a unilateralist than Bush or McCain. But he may just have a better sense of what’s important and what’s not. I like to think, though, that part of the difference is that Obama takes the United Nations seriously. The UN Charter is often viewed in American circles as circumscribing American sovereignty, but in this case it’s relevant that the US had authorization from the UN Security Council to take “all necessary steps” to neutralize the “threat to international peace and security” posed by al-Qaeda. The President’s judgment was that that entailed striking the compound without telling the unreliable Pakistani security services in advance. Both Obama’s predecessor and his opponent in the campaign said they wouldn’t do that, and if they’d followed through on their word Bin Laden might have gotten away.

The Koch brothers are to good judgment and Americanism what clogged drains are to good water flow,

In 1958, Fred Koch became one of the original members of the John Birch Society, the arch-conservative group known, in part, for a highly skeptical view of governance and for spreading fears of a Communist takeover. Members considered President Dwight D. Eisenhower to be a Communist agent. In a self-published broadside, Koch claimed that “the Communists have infiltrated both the Democrat and Republican Parties.” He wrote admiringly of Benito Mussolini’s suppression of Communists in Italy, and disparagingly of the American civil-rights movement. “The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America,” he warned. Welfare was a secret plot to attract rural blacks to cities, where they would foment “a vicious race war.” In a 1963 speech that prefigures the Tea Party’s talk of a secret socialist plot, Koch predicted that Communists would “infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the President is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us.”

[  ]…In 1967, after Fred Koch died, of a heart attack, Charles renamed the business Koch Industries, in honor of his father. Fred Koch’s will made his sons extraordinarily wealthy. David Koch joked about his good fortune in a 2003 speech to alumni at Deerfield, where, after pledging twenty-five million dollars, he was made the school’s sole “lifetime trustee.” He said, “You might ask: How does David Koch happen to have the wealth to be so generous? Well, let me tell you a story. It all started when I was a little boy. One day, my father gave me an apple. I soon sold it for five dollars and bought two apples and sold them for ten. Then I bought four apples and sold them for twenty. Well, this went on day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, until my father died and left me three hundred million dollars!

The Koch brothers typify the elitist attitude of the modern conservative movement. They took their wealth and surprise, they created more wealth. Just like anyone else with that kind of start in life would do. Now they think of themselves as blessings to America, John Galt-like superheroes of capitalism with a sense of entitlement and no sense of humility. No sense of gratitude for all the peons on their payroll or all the working class people who buy their products and make their wealth possible. They are the poster children for libertarian conservatism who think any regulation – like regulating the amount of arsenic in your drinking water to protect you and your children – is no less than a pinko commie plot to keep them from squeezing even more money out of the masses.

Some of the rightie bloggers are having a smile at this story, 9/11 Family Invited To Presidential Ground Zero Visit Snubs Obama

As 50 carefully selected families prepare to join President Barack Obama for a ceremony at the World Trade Center site Thursday, one of the invited 9/11 families have decided to pass on the Commander-in-chief’s visit.

Although many consider it to be a once in a lifetime invitation, the Vigiano family of Deer Park, Long Island have respectfully declined.

“If this form letter was the invitation, it was kinda lame,” John Vigiano told PIX 11 News when describing the email invitation sent to him from the White House.

This one family expressed those thoughts. Everyone got the same e-mail from the White House. Sure a nice letter on White House stationary would have been nice, but considering the breaking news and the issue of time constraints, well we do live in the digital age. The White House even called to apologize. The Vigianos expressed the view that they were still in mourning to some extent and even Bin Laden’s death did not bring closure to the death of two sons. There is no arguing with their pain. They feel what they feel. I’ve suffered loss of loved ones myself and to some extent I will never get over it.  The Lonely Conservative in posting about that story writes, I Get Better Spam Emails

Is there anything the people in the White House don’t bungle? They really must think of us as one big herd, only distinguishable by our ethnicity, gender, social status or groups of victims. The White House invited fifty families to join President Obama today as he visited Ground Zero for the first time in his presidency. One family declined, saying they didn’t want to be part of a photo-op. What turned them off? The invitation they received.

Oh my. This president has clearly insulted all of “us”  in the worse imaginable way. Why he includes himself as being among the families of 9-11 victims he fails to explain. President Obama will have to go a long way to match the insults directed at the families of 9-11 victims by conservative Republicans, Media figures, GOP strategists defend Coulter’s attacks on 9-11 widows

Coulter’s comment that has perhaps drawn the most attention is an attack on the widows of 9-11 victims, read by Lauer: “These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I’ve never seen people enjoying their husbands’ deaths so much.”

[    ]…On the June 7 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, Fox News contributor Sandy Rios stated that Coulter’s “words are laser-focused on the truth,” comparing them to “Holocaust pictures” that “we have to see … to understand what happened.” Rios also compared Coulter’s words to a “clarion wake-up call,” and “cold water” that — in O’Reilly’s words — “wakes you up.” Rios further praised Coulter’s “gift of words and imagery,” calling her “unique” and “frank” and adding that “she plays an important role.”

[  ]…On the June 7 edition of MSNBC’s Scarborough Country, Republican strategist Jack Burkman defended Coulter’s statements “[a]ll the way,” asserting that Coulter “understates the point” and is “telling the truth.” Burkman added that the 9-11 widows — whom he compared to anti-war protestor Cindy Sheehan — “exploited commercially” the deaths of their loved ones, that they had “breathlessly … stepped just into the fame thing,” and that “before the bodies are cold, they’re out selling and trying to make money.”

[   ]…Also on the June 7 edition of The O’Reilly Factor, Republican strategist Karen Hanretty asserted that Coulter’s attacks on the 9-11 widows were not “mean spirited,” but rather “tongue-in-cheek,” “satire,” and examples of “Ann’s own personal style.” Hanretty further argued that “this entire discussion” of Coulter’s book “proves the point” that “liberals regularly trot out these heroes, or as she calls them, ‘human shields’ that Republicans can’t refute.”

[  ]…On the June 8 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck stated emphatically that Coulter was “right” about the “9-11 wives.” Beck agreed with Coulter that “[j]ust because you lost somebody in a tragedy doesn’t mean that you get a free pass for the rest of your life.

It is another round of Conservatives Can Get Away With Anything. Even the blatantly crass exploitation of 9-11 for political gain. The sleaze-fest known to history as the 2004 Republican Convention,

Chicago Buckingham Fountain and Skyline wallpaper – Republican Thought Police and Bin Laden

Chicago Buckingham Fountain and Skyline wallpaper

Osama Bin Laden’s death by Seal Team 6 with a Democratic commander-in-chief at the helm is generally good news. Most Americans think so anyway. Ironically for that portion of the population that uses blood as a measure of any national security successes, Bin Laden’s death is, chose one or more: 1) Not really due to President Obama and his national security team, which included reviving the CIA’s Bin Laden unit, that Bush dismantled in 2005. Bin Laden’s death is really all due to Bush 43. 2) President Obama does not deserve credit because he is some how making too much political hay out of it or the reverse, Obama is not jumping up and down and sanging Who let the Dawgs Out while making the announcement. 3) Bin laden was found due to torture and since Obama stopped torture he doesn’t deserve credit. No facts, nada facts, no dates or names or supporting documentation is offered for this one, you just have to believe. It is the revival of national security, law breaking and morality as a kind of religion onto itself argument. Bush said ‘We Don’t Torture’. So we do not torture, but torture works or torture does not work, but we do it anyway or torture is fun because Rush Limbaugh said so while on oxycontin. Some of the reasons for not being a knee jerk conservative zealot is that you do not have to keep track of all the falsehoods and contradicting arguments and counter-counter factuals that can cause nauseating migraines. 4) OK President Obama and Special Forces killed Bin Laden but liberals are not gloating enough so it does not really count as an accomplishment. So if liberals and progressives feel torn right now it is because  you have the you’re exploiting this while thing conservatives pulling one way and you’re not cheering enough conservatives pulling you in the opposite direction. Note this confirms the merits of the long-standing liberal tradition of listening to conservatives, but ignoring what they try to pass off as serious and substantive. 5) Big deal, liberals got the planner of the 9-11 attacks. Its nothing but empty symbolism. Things of great symbolic importance are only important when and if Republicans approve. In other words conservatives admit Democrats are just Gladiators and all Republicans are Caesar. 6) President Obama does not deserve any credit because according to unnamed sources in a British tabloid Obama took too long to decide. This is from the same people who used evidence from a single source named “curveball” as a lynchpin in their evidence to send over four thousand Americans to their deaths. The Right hates anyone who thinks with their brain instead of their gut.

In regards to making the decision to send in a Seal Team CIA Director Leon Panetta gets into some of the history of acting rashly and why it might be a bad idea. This acting from rashly from gut instinct versus giving some thought to one’s actions is one of the defining differences between the Right and normal people, CIA Chief Breaks Silence: Pakistan Would Have Jeopardized bin Laden Raid, ‘Impressive’ Intel

Panetta wanted to get those aides’ opinions on the potential bin Laden mission, and he quickly found a lack of unanimity among his team. Some of the aides had been involved in the Carter Administration’s effort to go after the hostages held by the Iranians 30 years ago; others had been involved in the ill-fated “Black Hawk Down” raid against Somali warlords in 1993. “What if you go down and you’re in a firefight and the Pakistanis show up and start firing?” Panetta says some worried. “How do you fight your way out?”

But Panetta concluded that the evidence was strong enough to risk the raid, despite the fact that his aides were only 60%-80% confident that bin Laden was there, and decided to make his case to the President. At the key Thursday meeting in which President Obama heard the arguments from his top aides on whether or not to go into Pakistan to kill or capture bin Laden, Panetta admitted that the evidence of bin Laden’s presence at the compound was circumstantial. But “when you put it all together,” Panetta says he told the room, “we have the best evidence since [the 2001 battle of] Tora Bora [where bin Laden was last seen], and that then makes it clear that we have an obligation to act.”

Obama decided that Panetta’s arguments trumped two other options: striking the compound remotely or waiting until more evidence was available to prove bin Laden was there. “If I thought delaying this could in fact produce better intelligence, that would be one thing,” Panetta says he argued, “but because of the nature of the security at the compound, we’re probably at a point where we’ve got the best intelligence we can get.”

In addition to the Special Forces option the CIA and White House staff considered a high-altitude launching  “direct shot” with cruise missiles or a bombing raid from B-2 bombers. These options had obvious advantages and down sides. Special Forces could be another “Blackhawk down”, missiles would cause a considerable amount of collateral damage and it would be very difficult to confirm the kill was in fact Bin laden. The same would be true of a B-52 attack. Not the Right, but normal people would pause and consider these factors. The Telegraph story quotes none of these considerations, only reporting it all as political squabbling in the White House, so like Fox News they reported bits and pieces with a lot of rightie spin.

In the same story Panetta also debunks another myth spread by Pamela Harpy Gellar that the military and CIA actually committed treason, launching the attack over Obama’s objections. “He(Obama) told him(Panetta) the mission was “to go in there [and] get bin Laden, and if bin Laden isn’t there, get the hell out!”

It might be years, as in 20 to 50, before we get some redacted CIA documents release that confirms when, where and how torture was used and whether it led to any real victories. In the mean time there is some strong circumstantial evidence against the torture meme and none for. Former Republican Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld confirms: Waterboarding did not net intelligence that led to bin Laden

Dick Cheney said today that “it wouldn’t be surprising” the intel came from Bush’s torture program. However, there is currently no evidence to suggest that the detainees that provided the information that led to bin Laden were subject to torture. And Bush Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who presumably has some knowledge about what went on at Gitmo, today threw some cold water on this theory:

“The United States Department of Defense did not do waterboarding for interrogation purposes to anyone. It is true that some information that came from normal interrogation approaches at Guantanamo did lead to information that was beneficial in this instance. But it was not harsh treatment and it was not waterboarding.”

Admittedly a rough day when you have to choose between Dick Pathological Liar Cheney and Donald “Abu Ghraib” Rumsfeld. The NYT does its usual job of taking a kid-gloves approach to even questioning the legality of torture, but they do report this, Bin Laden Raid Revives Debate on Value of Torture

Glenn L. Carle, a retired C.I.A. officer who oversaw the interrogation of a high-level detainee in 2002, said in a phone interview Tuesday, that coercive techniques “didn’t provide useful, meaningful, trustworthy information.” He said that while some of his colleagues defended the measures, “everyone was deeply concerned and most felt it was un-American and did not work.”

Obama administration officials, intent on celebrating Monday’s successful raid, have tried to avoid reigniting a partisan battle over torture.

The bottom line is this: If we had some kind of smoking-gun intelligence from waterboarding in 2003, we would have taken out Osama bin Laden in 2003,” said Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council. “It took years of collection and analysis from many different sources to develop the case that enabled us to identify this compound, and reach a judgment that Bin Laden was likely to be living there.”

From the moment the first Qaeda suspects were captured, interrogators at both the military’s prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and the C.I.A.’s secret prisons were focused on identifying Qaeda members who served as couriers.

“We knew that it was likely that if we were ever to get Osama bin Laden, it would be because we somehow came upon somebody closely associated with him that he trusted,” said Charles D. Stimson, the top Pentagon official on detainee affairs from 2004 to 2007.

In 2002 and 2003, interrogators first heard about a Qaeda courier who used the nom de guerre Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, but his name was just one tidbit in heaps of uncorroborated claims.

After the capture in March 2003 of Mr. Mohammed, the chief planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, he was subjected to the most harrowing set of the so-called enhanced measures, which included slamming prisoners into walls, shackling them in stress positions and keeping them awake for as long as 180 hours. Like two other prisoners, he was subjected to waterboarding.

According to an American official familiar with his interrogation, Mr. Mohammed was first asked about Mr. Kuwaiti in the fall of 2003, months after the waterboarding. He acknowledged having known him but said the courier was “retired” and of little significance.

Tommy Vietor and Marcy Wheeler seem to agree the time-line for torture does not fit into the Rights’ bloody fantasies of when the intelligence was gathered and how it was used, KSM waterboarding led to disinformation, not to bin Laden

Senate Intel Chair Dianne Feinstein: Torture Did Not Lead To Bin Laden In Any Way

“To the best of our knowledge, based on a look, none of it came as a result of harsh interrogation practices,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee in a wide-ranging press conference.

Moreover, Feinstein added, nothing about the sequence of events that culminated in Sunday’s raid vindicates the Bush-era techniques, nor their use of black sites — secret prisons, operated by the CIA.

“Absolutely not, I do not,” Feinstein said. “I happen to know a good deal about how those interrogations were conducted, and in my view nothing justifies the kind of procedures that were used.”

Had enough cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs right-wing talking pints yet. One more. Osama Bin Forgotten by BushCo was found because Bush invaded Iraq? SOURCE CAPTURED IN IRAQ WAS NOT IRAQI, WAS TRYING TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IRAQ CHAOS WE CREATED

Much of the right blogosphere is crowing about a detail in this Telegraph story about how we got to bin Laden’s courier, and thus ultimately to bin Laden:

[A Wikileaks] file suggests that the courier’s identity was provided to the US by another key source, the al-Qaida facilitator Hassan Ghul, who was captured in Iraq in 2004 and interrogated by the CIA. Ghul was never sent to Guantanamo but was believed to have been taken to a prison in Pakistan.

“Captured in Iraq”? That’s like catnip to the right. So, at Breitbart’s Big Peace we get “The Hunt for bin Laden: The Iraq Connection?” At Gateway Pundit we get “More Bad News for Dems… It Was a Captured Terrorist in Iraq Who Gave US Info on Bin Laden’s Courier.” And so on.

[   ]…Kalar is in the Kurdish region of Iraq. But also please note the year of the capture: 2004. Zarqawi and his fellow Islamists were running amok in Iraq precisely because we’d overthrown Saddam and then (spectacularly) failed to establish security.

In 2006, two and a half years after his capture, Ghul was transferred to a secret Pakistani prison system, where he was held alongside British suspect Rangzieb Ahmed. The two spoke to each other, and Ghul seemed to indicate he was Pakistani….

Lovely. Some “Iraq connection.” (The source for that is here.)

So the righties are now saying that overthrowing Saddam was a good move in the war against Al Qaeda because a key connection to bin Laden settled in a region largely outside Saddam’s control, and that guy subsequently thrived for a while in the Iraq chaos the war created. I fail to see the logic.

If we go with the Brietbart story about Hassan Ghul, then the story they have been pushing about torturing KLM falls apart. This is a fairly common tactic on the Right, to have two contradictory conspiracy theories. if one falls apart they still have one in reserve. Or the two combined overwhelm the reader with the sheer volume of bullsh*t.

Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) Claims He Voted for Health Care Fix Bill That Does Not Exist. Randy votes for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act in the House and for passage of the Ryan Kill Medicare Plan. If passed into law that would mean the repeal of the provision that prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage to someone with a preexisting condition. A constituent calls him out on his vote. Randy says he voted for a health care reform “fix” the next day that would restore the preexisting condition provision. Problem is there was no vote and no such fix to vote on.

Democrat wins Wisconsin District 94 Assembly seat previously held by Republican

Democrat Steve Doyle defeated Republican John Lautz for the Wisconsin District 94 Assembly, flipping a seat held by Republicans for 16 years in a race that focused attention on Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to curtail collective bargaining right for most public employees.

With 92 percent of precincts reporting, Doyle won 54 percent to 46 percent, based on unofficial results in Tuesday’s special election. The race flips a GOP Assembly seat for the Democrats, who remain in the minority.

The seat was previously held by Mike Huebsch, who Walker picked in January to serve as secretary of administration. Huebsch was first elected in 1994.

The tide is turning. It seems especially at the state level the wingnuttery is wining by the fight of a thousand cuts. We are fighting back and we will prevail.

“We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority”

Than Senator Barack Obama(D-IL) in 2008,

And we have a difficult situation in Pakistan. I believe that part of the reason we have a difficult situation is because we made a bad judgment going into Iraq in the first place when we hadn’t finished the job of hunting down bin Laden and crushing al Qaeda.

So what happened was we got distracted, we diverted resources, and ultimately bin Laden escaped, set up base camps in the mountains of Pakistan in the northwest provinces there. ( how Bush blew getting Bin Laden at Tora Bora)

They are now raiding our troops in Afghanistan, destabilizing the situation. They’re stronger now than at any time since 2001. And that’s why I think it’s so important for us to reverse course because that’s the central front on terrorism. They are plotting to kill Americans right now. As Secretary Gates, the Defense secretary, said, the war against terrorism began in that region, and that’s where it will end.

So part of the reason I think it’s so important for us to end the war in Iraq is to be able to get more troops into Afghanistan, put more pressure on the Afghan government to do what it needs to do, eliminate some of the drug trafficking that’s funding terrorism.

But I do believe that we have to change our policies with Pakistan. We can’t coddle, as we did, a dictator, give him billions of dollars, and then he’s making peace treaties with the Taliban and militants. What I have said is we’re going encourage democracy in Pakistan, expand our non-military aid to Pakistan so that they have more of a stake in working with us, but insisting that they go after these militants.

And if we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and the Pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take them out, then I think that we have to act, and we will take them out.

We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority.

And so it goes, Detective Work on Courier Led to Breakthrough on Bin Laden

For nearly a decade, American military and intelligence forces had chased the specter of Bin Laden through Pakistan and Afghanistan, once coming agonizingly close and losing him in a pitched battle at Tora Bora, in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. As Obama administration officials described it, the real breakthrough came when they finally figured out the name and location of Bin Laden’s most trusted courier, whom the Qaeda chief appeared to rely on to maintain contacts with the outside world.

Detainees at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, had given the courier’s pseudonym to American interrogators and said that the man was a protégé of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the confessed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.

American intelligence officials said Sunday night that they finally learned the courier’s real name four years ago, but that it took another two years for them to learn the general region where he operated.

Still, it was not until August when they tracked him to the compound in Abbottabad, a medium-sized city about an hour’s drive north of Islamabad, the capital.

C.I.A. analysts spent the next several weeks examining satellite photos and intelligence reports to determine who might be living at the compound, and a senior administration official said that by September the C.I.A. had determined there was a “strong possibility” that Bin Laden himself was hiding there.

[  ]…At 8:20 that morning, Mr. Obama met with Thomas Donilon, the national security adviser; John O. Brennan, the counterterrorism adviser; and other senior aides in the Diplomatic Room at the White House. The president was traveling to Alabama later that morning to witness the damage from last week’s tornadoes. But first he had to sign off on the final plan to send intelligence operatives into the compound where the administration believed that Bin Laden was hiding.

Even after the president signed the formal orders authorizing the raid, Mr. Obama chose to keep Pakistan’s government in the dark about the operation.

Location of Abbottabad via Google

I’ve already read and you can bet we’ll hear more from the Right by way of wishful thinking that illegal and immoral torture lead to revealing the courier’s name. Thus far there is no proof that is the case. This NYT piece says “detainees”. Which if that is the case means they had multiple corroborating informants. The NYT is also reporting the military gave Bin Laden a sea burial. A smart move considering how a land burial would become a kind of shrine for other psycho terrorists.

Contrary to some reports Danger Romm is reporting that there may have been some Pakistani assistance. The NYT and the President says that only US forces were involved in the actual raid. So if there was Pakistani it was likely more in the way of intelligence sharing than actual boots on the ground help. As DR there are lots of reports being filed and more details are being added literally by the hour.

What does killing Bin laden mean in the grand scheme of Islamic radicals and terrorism. A couple of the print and braodcast anlyst have claimed that it might mean very little in the long haul. I’m only a medium level chess player, but in terms of the pych ops battle, taking out an oponents more powerful pieces can have profound affects on their momentum. While there might be some retalitory acts in the next few months, the military and the commander-inchief have madea decisive impact on the over-all momentum. My personal theory as to why President Obama and SecDef Gates were seemed to be so obsessed with Afghanistan was because of Bin Laden and because of Pakistan, rather than Afghanistan itself. Afghanistan has no real tactical value in battling terrorism. On the other hand Pakistan has nukes and a sizable portion of the population, especially in the north, has sympathies with the fundamentalist radicals. Now that one of the symbols that inspired that radicalism is gone that might mean Obama can start to draw down forces – a mission largely accomplished moment. All wars eventually have to enter the end of military action phase and the beginning of largely political solutions. Bin Laden’s death gives the president that defining moment for the political phase to begin. Whether he sees it that way or will seize the moment is another matter.

Obama was gracious enough to give Bush some credit, yet another reaching out moment which will not be returned in kind. The battle to see who deserves credit has already begun, Fox News’ Bret Baier Helps Divert Credit For Bin Laden’s Death Away From Obama To George W. Bush

Bret Baier hosted a lengthy special report on the death of Osama Bin Laden late last night/this morning in which he seemed to be doing his best to make sure that President Barack Obama didn’t get too much credit for doing what President George W. Bush had failed to do: hunting down and killing Bin Laden. First, Baier offered no challenge as Bush’s former chief of staff, Andy Card, repeatedly suggested that Obama owed at least part of his success to Bush’s efforts. Then, while talking to a Democrat, Baier said, “Obviously, this is a bi-partisan win.”

Predictably, Card offered faint praise to Obama for the accomplishment. Card said we owe a great debt of gratitude to our military and intelligence community. He added, “I also really praise the resolve that President Bush had and also the resolve that President Obama demonstrated.”

Would that be the same resolve President Bush demonstrated when he said in 2002, “I truly am not that concerned about (Bin Laden)?” The L.A. Times reported,

“I was concerned about him when he had taken over a country,” Bush continued. “I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban. But once we set out the policy and started executing the plan, he became — we shoved him out more and more on the margins. He has no place to train his Al Qaeda killers anymore.”

Or how about Bush saying in 2006 that capturing Bin Laden is “not a top priority use of American resources?”

After 9-11 Bush and his right-wing sycophants made it their crusade to deflect any blame from themselves and to direct blame towards President Clinton. Even though the Bushies were clearly bordered on criminal negligence in their national security policy – ignoring several warning signs. BushCo and their supporters have never apologized for their utter incompetence or admitted their mistakes and now, two and half years into the Obama presidency, they want credit after a a series of failures of historic and deeply tragic proportions. These are the same people who want to hold Democrats responsible for Republicans trashing the economy, the same wing-nuts who sent over four thousand Americans to their deaths and spent over a trillion dollars in exchange for the death of Saddam Hussein – VP Dick Cheney’s buddy in the oil business.  Bin Laden’s death is a victory for the CIA, Special Forces and the current commander-in-chief. If the Right wants to try and scrape off some credit for themselves, well, they can always be expected to live down to the lowest expectations.

We Have a Revenue Problem Not a Spending Problem, Congressional Budget Office report traces deficit back to 2001

Tax cuts, wars, recessions and spending are the primary culprits in the current U.S. budget deficit mess, analyses of Congressional Budget Office data show.

The Washington Post reported Sunday the United States went from projected annual surpluses in January 2001 that the CBO said would have wiped out the nation’s debt within several years to owing more than $14 trillion with trillions more on the horizon because of choices made by both Republican and Democratic political leaders.

The Post said while polls show most Americans blame wasteful federal programs for the red ink, routine bumps in defense and domestic spending account for only about 15 percent of the problem.

Two recessions torpedoed the stream of income tax revenues that had the government on solid footing. The combination of tax cuts under President George W. Bush and President Obama and recessionary losses totaled about $6.3 trillion in revenues that never appeared, the review of CBO data shows.

Bush administration spending decisions added 12 percent and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan piled on $1.3 trillion, the Post said.

The addition of a prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients under Bush added another $272 billion while Obama’s economic stimulus contributed $719 billion, or 6 percent of the total shift, the analysis of CBO data by the non-profit Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative found.

A separate Washington Post analysis of CBO information found the Obama administration policies added a total of $1.7 trillion. Bush-era policies account for more than $7 trillion, the Post review found.

President Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary, Robert Rubin, told the Post the best idea for the surplus would have been a reinforcement of Social Security, but the idea of reducing taxes was very appealing.

“The problem was a whole other part of the political spectrum wanted to use the surplus for tax cuts,” Rubin said. “They said they wanted to give the people back their money. Of course, it was also the people’s debt.”

OK, we have a belief in voodoo economics by the Zombie party that refuses to die despite this being the second great recession those policies have wrought and a revenue problem associated with the same zombies. If they can’t figure out the cause of our problems how in the world can America trust Republicans zombies to fix our problems.