David Kirkpatrick

July 5, 2010

Karl Rove, fiscal hypocrite

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:27 pm

Of course that should surprise absolutely no one who paid any fiscal attention from 2001 to January 2009.

Daniel Mitchell blogging at Cato@Liberty rips Rove a new one for essentially doing what he always does — pretending the unfathomable fiscal recklessness of the Bush 43 years never happened.

From the link:

Rove has zero credibility on these issues. In the excerpt below, Rove attacks Obama for earmarks, but this corrupt form of pork-barrel spending skyrocketed during the Bush years. Rove rips Obama for government-run healthcare, but Rove helped push through Congress a reckless new entitlement for prescription drugs. He attacks Obama for misusing TARP, but the Bush administration created that no-strings-attached bailout program.

January 8, 2010

9/11 didn’t happen under Bush’s watch?

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:18 pm

Man, it sure seems like he was POTUS in September 2001.

This bit of revisionist history — the idea Bush was not president when 9/11 occurred – seems to be something of a right-wing meme. So far it’s come from Mary Matalin, Dana Perino and Rudy Giuliani.

You could make the semantic argument that the terrorist attacks were’t under Bush’s “watch” because he’d only been in office for less than seven months (although there is very solid evidence his domestic defense team knew about the threat and did nothing to act on the intel), but to take one example from above — Giuliani’s — the quote is very direct: “We had no domestic attacks under Bush. We’ve had one under Obama … ” And of course 9/11 wasn’t the only domestic terrorist attack during Bush’s presidency. Two high profile examples are the shoe bomber and the anthrax attacks distributed via the U.S. Postal system soon after 9/11.

This type of political linguistics no longer works in the age of online video. At one time a political actor could make a crazy, carefully worded statement to a small publication, make certain the deeper point and the blatant lie got into the media stream and then later spin your original quote around to explain what you really meant by the words “Bush’s watch.”

Not any more. When that quote is preserved for all to watch online at will — all three links above go to video of the statement in question — there is no way to spin your words unless you want to admit to either being quite confused, ignorant or a blatant liar.

Yes, there is a fringe of the GOP base that will hear these quotes and completely forget the Bush 43 administration presided over the worst domestic terrorist attack in U.S. history, plus a few more to boot. That base won’t win elections. These lies won’t entice any swing voters, and could absolutely force those voters away from the party. That does seem to be what the GOP has become at this point. Catering to a dwindling base at a moment in U.S. political history where the Republican Party could be making great strides back to the fore.

Update — Rudy’s already working to spin this one, but this comment from “dave” from the link is a great response to the entire issue:

According to Rudy, it appears the republicans define “terrorism” much in the same way Clinton defined “sexual relations”.

With that in mind, would you rather be represented by a politician who dissembles about personal behavior with no broader implications, or a politician who does the same on issues of national security?

December 2, 2009

We all know …

… the 2000s were a fiscal disaster — tough markets, bubbles growing to bursting by the end of the decade and drunken sailor federal spending by a GOP-led government. The party of fiscal conservatism? Hardly.

Things were bad, but look at the longer view to get an idea of exactly how bad using just one indicator — the S&P 500 index (emphasis mine):

With the ’00s about to flip the odometer to the ’10s, there has been a raft of commentary about how lousy a decade this has been. Stock investors can vouch for that: The ten years since Y2K are on track to produce the worst total returns for investors since the 1930s. And, after the roaring ’80s and ’90s, the disappointment of the last decade is all the more galling.

Indeed, it will be hard for investors to wash the taste of trillions of dollars of losses from their mouths.

In both the 1980s and the 1990s, the broad S&P 500-stock index index provided a total return (which includes dividends) of more than 400%, according to Capital IQ, a Standard & Poor’s business. The total return for the S&P 500 since New Years 2000 has been negative 10.8%.

Now the Bush 43 administration and GOP Congress are given a pass on the events of 9/11 and how that disrupted the entire American social structure, including commerce. But that event was over eight years ago, plenty of time for the party of fiscal restraint to get the economy back on track, right? Not so much. And where did the profligate spending go? Into half-assed and outright fraudulent foreign adventures:

Hirsch believes a key factor for stocks in the 2000s was the September 11 terrorist attacks and the U.S. government’s expensive involvement in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Vietnam War hurt stock returns in the 1970s, he notes, while World War II kept the market down in the early 1940s.

Of course Bush inherited what is now considered a highly over-valued market that was ripe for a fall back to earth. September 11 was the balloon bursting sledgehammer and seven additional years of absolutely horrible fiscal policy and economic management has put us where we are right now, and leaving a steaming bag for Obama’s administration that will most likely dominate the bulk of his first term, if not much, much longer.

And right wing media is now happily blaming Obama for the economic conditions on the ground.

October 20, 2009

Why FISA never needed reform in the first place

I’ve already done a post today on this excellent article by Julian Sanchez on the Obama administration and how it’s retaining some of the Bush administration’s overreaching tools for use in the “global war on terror.” So far the Obama administration has been a disappointment in not rolling back the beating U.S. civil liberties took in the Bush administration’s  panicked response to 9/11.

And as it turns out — and that I’ve argued repeatedly — the tools to fight international terrorists were firmly in place before 9/11, they were just implemented with Keystone Kop level competence.

From the second link:

The FISA Amendments Act is the successor to an even broader bill called the Protect America Act, which similarly gave the attorney general and director of national intelligence extraordinary power to authorize sweeping interception of Americans’ international communications. It was hastily passed in 2007 amid claims that the secret FISA Court had issued a ruling that prevented investigators from intercepting wholly foreign communications that traveled across US wires. Former Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell even claimed that FISA’s restrictions had rendered it impossible to immediately eavesdrop on Iraqi insurgents who had captured several American soldiers. The New York Post quoted tearful parents of the captured men expressing their horror at the situation and a senior Congressional staffer who alleged that “the intelligence community was forced to abandon our soldiers because of the law.”

Yet as a Justice Department official later admitted, the FISA law clearly placed no such broad restriction on foreign wire communications passing through the United States; rather, there had been a far more narrow problem involving e-mails for which the recipient’s location could not be determined. And as James Bamford explained in his essential 2008 book, The Shadow Factory, the delay in getting wiretaps running on the suspected kidnappers was the result of a series of missteps at the Justice Department, not the limits of FISA — no surprise, since even when FISA does require a warrant, surveillance may begin immediately in emergencies if a warrant is sought later. (The suspected kidnappers, by the way, turned out not to have been the actual kidnappers.) Yet on the basis of such claims, a panicked Congress signed off on almost limitless authority to vacuum up international communications — authority that we already know has resulted in systematic “overcollection” of purely domestic conversations, and even resulted in the interception of former President Bill Clinton’s e-mails.

October 1, 2009

Torturing the innocent

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:44 pm

It happened, all for the purpose of false confessions. Read the linked article and realize for almost nine-tenths of the time the Bush 43 administration held the White House this was the United States. A United States of America completely unrecognizable to the Founding Fathers of this land.

(Hat tip: the Daily Dish)

September 3, 2009

NYT calls for Cheney’s scalp

Well not quite, but pretty darn close. This New York Times editorial is asking for far reaching investigation into the Bush 43 torture regime and specifically calls out Dick Cheney for his self-admitted role in this disgraceful period of United States history.

Quite a turnaround from a newspaper that notoriously refused to use the word “torture” with U.S. activities for many, many years.

From the first link:

After the C.I.A. inspector general’s report on prisoner interrogation was released last week, former Vice President Dick Cheney settled into his usual seat on Fox News to express his outrage — not at the illegal and immoral behavior laid out in the report, of course, but at the idea that anyone would object to torturing prisoners. He was especially vexed that the Obama administration was beginning an investigation.

In Mr. Cheney’s view, it is not just those who followed orders and stuck to the interrogation rules set down by President George Bush’s Justice Department who should be sheltered from accountability. He said he also had no problem with those who disobeyed their orders and exceeded the guidelines.

It’s easy to understand Mr. Cheney’s aversion to the investigation that Attorney General Eric Holder ordered last week. On Fox, Mr. Cheney said it was hard to imagine it stopping with the interrogators. He’s right.

The government owes Americans a full investigation into the orders to approve torture, abuse and illegal, secret detention, as well as the twisted legal briefs that justified those policies. Congress and the White House also need to look into illegal wiretapping and the practice of sending prisoners to other countries to be tortured.

Mr. Cheney was at the center of each of these insults to this country’s Constitution, its judicial system and its bedrock democratic values. To defend himself, he offers a twisted version of history:

Update — The Daily Dish ran a post today clarifying that the main issue is the NYT news department, and not the editorial board, avoiding the word “torture” in context of U.S. activities that amount to, well, torture.

August 30, 2009

Taking a power sander to his legacy …

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:17 pm

Dick Cheney returns to the public sphere.

He may well avoid any legal problems related to his torture program breaking both United States and international law, but Cheney is certainly cementing his place in history. And it’s not going to be in the American hero section of the library.

From the link:

Former Vice President Dick Cheney asserted on Sunday that the Justice Department’s decision to review detainee interrogation practices by Central Intelligence Agency workers and contractors was “a political move” and that President Obama was trying to “duck the responsibility” by saying the choice was the attorney general’s.

From John Kerry:

Senator John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee and also a decorated Vietnam veteran, responded more bluntly on ABC’s “This Week,” saying that Mr. Cheney had shown through the years “frankly, a disrespect for the Constitution, for sharing of information with Congress, respect for the law, and I’m not surprised that he is upset about this.”

And from John McCain:

Mr. McCain’s sharpest departure from Mr. Cheney came in his criticism of the C.I.A.’s use of extreme interrogation methods, even as Mr. Cheney again insisted that they had provided critical, life-saving intelligence. The senator, a frequent critic of torture, said that such techniques violated the Geneva convention on torture, damaged United States relations with allies, substantially aided al-Qaeda with its recruitment and produced unreliable intelligence.

March 18, 2009

Wilkerson on Cheney

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:46 pm

I’ve already posted on Andrew Sullivan’s reaction to this great piece by Lawrence Wilkerson on the ridiculousness of Gitmo, and the Bush 43 regime’s “intelligence” tactics.

He also took on Dick Cheney’s recent interview with CNN and pretty much rips it to shreds. Wilkerson is someone in a position to understand the internals of the Bush administration since  he was chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

From the second link:

Recently, in an attempt to mask some of these failings and to exacerbate and make even more difficult the challenge to the new Obama administration, former Vice President Cheney gave an interview from his home in McLean, Virginia. The interview was almost mystifying in its twisted logic and terrifying in its fear-mongering.

As to twisted logic: “Cheney said at least 61 of the inmates who were released from Guantanamo (sic) during the Bush administration…have gone back into the business of being terrorists.” So, the fact that the Bush administration was so incompetent that it released 61 terrorists, is a valid criticism of the Obama administration? Or was this supposed to be an indication of what percentage of the still-detained men would likely turn to terrorism if released in future? Or was this a revelation that men kept in detention such as those at GITMO–even innocent men–would become terrorists if released because of the harsh treatment meted out to them at GITMO? Seven years in jail as an innocent man might do that for me. Hard to tell.

As for the fear-mongering: “When we get people who are more interested in reading the rights to an Al Qaeda (sic) terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry,” Cheney said. Who in the Obama administration has insisted on reading any al-Qa’ida terrorist his rights? More to the point, who in that administration is not interested in protecting the United States–a clear implication of Cheney’s remarks.

But far worse is the unmistakable stoking of the 20 million listeners of Rush Limbaugh, half of whom we could label, judiciously, as half-baked nuts. Such remarks as those of the former vice president’s are like waving a red flag in front of an incensed bull. And Cheney of course knows that.

Cheney went on to say in his McLean interview that “Protecting the country’s security is a tough, mean, dirty, nasty business. These are evil people and we are not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek.” I have to agree but the other way around. Cheney and his like are the evil people and we certainly are not going to prevail in the struggle with radical religion if we listen to people such as he.

January 30, 2009

Wall Street ought to burn …

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:01 pm

… for this. Given the circumstances, this level of bonusing is inexcusable and if the bailout, SEC and Fed have any teeth at all, this should be punished. I’m a capitalist, and when my business is on rough waters I simply don’t make as much money. I certainly don’t get “bonuses” for failure.

The Wall Street bailout was one of the final shameless and shameful acts of the Bush 43 administration.

From the link:

By almost any measure, 2008 was a complete disaster for Wall Street — except, that is, when the bonuses arrived.

Despite crippling losses, multibillion-dollar bailouts and the passing of some of the most prominent names in the business, employees at financial companies in New York, the now-diminished world capital of capital, collected an estimated $18.4 billion in bonuses for the year.

 

That was the sixth-largest haul on record, according to a report released Wednesday by the New York State comptroller.

While the payouts paled next to the riches of recent years, Wall Street workers still took home about as much as they did in 2004, when the Dow Jones industrial average was flying above 10,000, on its way to a record high.

Some bankers took home millions last year even as their employers lost billions.

January 22, 2009

The fiscal GOP under Bush 43

Not the least bit fiscally conservative. As a matter of fact, quite the opposite. That’s going to be a tough mantle to bear when the next election cycle rolls around and Republican candidates start in on the empty rhetoric of big-spending Democrats and prudent Republicans.

Yes, the current administration and Congress will be big spenders. It’s not going to be surprising. Disappointing maybe, but no surprise. The surprise will be it’s almost impossible that a Democratic White House, Senate and House will outspend the most recent GOP-controlled White House, Senate and House.

Any new-found GOP fiscal conservatism is going to ring hollow for probably a couple of more election cycles, and very maybe much longer.

From the Cato-at-Liberty link:

House Minority Leader John Boehner tells NPR, “I and most Republicans believe that a smaller, less costly government gives us a healthier economy and a healthier society.”

Reality check: How the federal budget grew during the years of President Bush and a Republican Congress:

September 24, 2008

The no-short list grows

I’ve already put my thoughts on the anti-capitalist move by the SEC to ban the short selling of certain stocks out there. Predictably everyone wants a little protection from the free and open market leading to more companies being added to the no-short list.

Here’s a NYT article via AccountantsWorld covering the very subject.

From the second link:

The list of companies that regulators are protecting from short-sellers keeps growing, as do the questions surrounding it.

By Monday evening, the number of companies on the list rose to nearly 900, from 799 on Friday, when the Securities and Exchange Commission sought to restrict bearish bets against financial companies to help stabilize the markets.

 

Nearly every major bank is now included, along with large insurance companies and others. Trading in bank stocks withered on Monday amid uncertainty over the rules and the sweeping bailout that the Bush administration has proposed for financial companies.

But many questions remain. Some analysts — and a few firms initially left off the list — complained that the initial S.E.C. roster was incomplete.

Want to see just how ridiculous this whole process becomes once the stinky can has been opened? Here’s a bit from later in the article:

By Monday evening, the Ford Motor Company, which also owns a bank, was added to the list.

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