The use of the deadly attack on the embassy in Benghazi, Libya, that resulted in the deaths of four Americans as a political tool has frankly astonished me since the foreign policy naif Mitt Romney had the bad taste to broach it the very evening that it happened. For that reason, I see a kind of lukewarm vindication of the Obama Administration’s public statements regarding the matter in the NYT’s in-depth study on it, which draws two meaningful conclusions: that al-Qaeda was not involved in the attack and that it did stem in part from the widespread protests over a rather dumb bigoted little video, just as was stated by current NSA Susan Rice.
It has long seemed to me that the Benghazi affair as initiated by the Romney folks was a matter of using President Obama’s perceived strength (as having authorized the successful raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden) against him. The failure on the Romney side began with the claim that a statement attempting to ameliorate matters from the Cairo embassy was a sign that the Obama Administration actually sided with radical Islam, but this blew up into a claim that the administration was actually somehow derelict in defending the Libyan embassy from attack from several others on the Republican side, including Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, and House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa. The use of the Benghazi tragedy as an indictment of the Obama Administration spans a number of criticisms that conservatives have had with the Commander-in-Chief—that he is Muslim or more sympathetic to radical Islam, that he isn’t a real leader, or that he wants America to fail.
It’s pretty much always been bullshit. Senators McCain and Graham did the best job of giving the game away when they failed to attend a briefing on the matter, opting instead to hang their faces in front of a camera pointing fingers. Rep. Issa, supposedly a kind of watchdog, has fluffed the matter at intervals, but is mostly of the school of investigation that insists that if he doesn’t hear what he thinks he ought, there is surely a cover-up afoot.
On Sunday, “Meet the Press” host David Gregory asked Issa to respond to The Times story, which was published online Saturday. The story also said the Benghazi attacks were “fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.”
“We have seen no evidence that the video was widely seen in Benghazi,” Issa said Sunday. “People from this administration … have said under oath there was no evidence of any reaction to a video.
“What we know, David, is the initial reports did not name this video as the prime cause,” he added.
Is that so? (No, it is not. And being a very concerned person, he might perhaps have looked at more than a few media accounts, no?) He’s also said that if a group alleges it has some connection with al-Qaeda, then that is good enough for him, which must be very validating to jihadi-come-lately groups who can at least claim to know somebody who knows somebody.
I’m afraid until Fox News gives the high sign, the idea that there was something more than usually rotten in Benghazi will be as certain a thing as the unbearable whiteness of Santa Claus in some quarters.
What I do want to point out, though, is that there is a sobering side to this in that the militants who made this attack came from the people the US supported in the overthrow of Qaddafi. I think there is an analogy that could be preemptively applied to involvement in Syria, for example. If anyone has the ear of, say, Sen McCain, they might want to try to explain it to him. I sort of hope President Obama has figured it out, but I’ve no real idea. Something about good intentions.
Well, it’s almost a year now since Willard Romney limped offstage and exactly nine months, almost to the day, that the Republican National Committee floated its 100-page manifesto for The Great Rebranding of 2013: The Growth and Opportunity Project (GOP—get it? how clever is that?).
The GOP was chock full of searing insights and smart advice for a titanic course adjustment and anyone unfamiliar with the actual Republican Party might have thought “by Jingo, I think they’ve got it!”
The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself. We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.
Instead of driving around in circles on an ideological cul-de-sac, we need . . . a route into our Party that a non-traditional Republican will want to travel. Our standard should not be universal purity; it should be a more welcoming conservatism.
The Republican Party must focus its efforts to earn new supporters and voters in the following demographic communities: Hispanic, Asian and Pacific Islanders, African Americans, Indian Americans, Native Americans, women, and youth. This priority needs to be a continual effort that affects every facet of our Party’s activities, including our messaging, strategy, outreach, and budget.
If, as Mitch McConnell claimed at CPAC today, the Democrats’ 2016 “presidential ticket looks like a rerun of the Golden Girls,” given that the all-star lineup at CPAC 2013 includes in its cast Jeb Bush, Eric Cantor, Steven Crowder, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Newt Gingrich, Bobby Jindal, Michele Bachmann, Steve King, Ron Johnson, Wayne LaPierre, Dana Loesch, Reince Preibus, Sarah Palin, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Wayne Allyn Root, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump, Scott Walker, Ben Shapiro, Allen West, the ghost of Andrew Breitbart, and Mitch himself, what rerun shows would best encapsulate:
(a) CPAC 2013?
(b) the Republicans’ prospective 2016 presidential ticket?
The source of the sensation of the 2012 election campaign, the Romney 47% video, is set to reveal himself to the world this evening, according to HuffPo. To blow further sand up Mitt’s underoos, it appears his offhand attitude to the waitstaff bit him in the ass:
The man, who tended bar for a company that catered to a high-end clientele, had previously worked at a fundraiser at a home where [Bill] Clinton spoke. After Clinton addressed guests, the man recalled, the former president came back to the kitchen and thanked the staff, the waiters, the bartenders, the busboys, and everyone else involved in putting the event together. He shook hands, took photos, signed autographs, and praised the meal—all characteristic of the former president.
When the bartender learned he would be working at Romney’s fundraiser, his first thought was to bring his camera, in case he had a chance to get a photo with the presidential candidate.
Romney, of course, did not speak to any of the staff, bussers or waiters. He was late to the event, and rushed out. He told his dinner guests that the event was off the record, but never bothered to repeat the admonition to the people working there.
The bartender said he never planned to distribute the video. But after Romney spoke, the man said he felt he had no choice.
“I felt it was a civic duty. I couldn’t sleep after I watched it,” he said. “I felt like I had a duty to expose it.”
HuffPo—which, like Mother Jones, whose David Corn played the crucial role in standing the story up after snippets of unattributed tape had appeared on YouTube (not to forget the contribution of James Carter, of course), has shown admirable restraint in protecting its source—ran some more background on him earlier today:
Once the full tape aired, he said he knew he’d have to quit his bartending job. “I knew I was forfeiting the right to work there,” he explained. He said he had bartended events for half the guests at the Romney speech. They all knew him and probably suspected what he had done, he said. He felt like he couldn’t just go back to work. “I was worried I was going to end up dead.”
“I was the only person in that specific spot,” he said of where he positioned his camera that night. “There was no real doubt. I could say that they know. My employers knew and the people I worked with knew that I did it.”
No one fingered him.
Releasing the video was worth risk to his wallet, he said. “It’s a bigger issue than a part-time catering job,” he explained. “I felt like it was my duty. I felt the guy was dangerous, to be honest. ... The one thing I didn’t hear in his voice—I didn’t hear an ounce of empathy whatsoever. ... That kind of scared me a little bit.”
I hope this guy is truly prepared for the backlash he’s likely to face from the vengeful RW thuggerati. Better polish those countertops. He’s no doubt had plenty of practice.
More: The big reveal happens on MSNBC’s The Ed Show at 8pm ET tonight (followed by a slot on HuffPo Live tomorrow morning):
A short clip of this Stones song was featured in “Argo.” The lyrics are obviously the result of a prolonged heroin binge, but the song rocks nonetheless:
In a comment on an Oscars thread yesterday, Robin G praised “Moonrise Kingdom.” I’d been meaning to see it and finally did last night. Awesome movie—highly recommended—and thanks for reminding me of it, Robin G: It was exactly the thing I needed to see.
Why People Hate the Government
My teenage daughter will soon go on a class trip that involves a domestic flight. Among the many neuroses her father and I share is an aversion to flying, but we try not to allow our eccentricities to completely dominate our child’s life, which is some of the hardest work in parenting. However, our ignorance of the demands of modern air travel nearly put the kibosh on a trip for which we’d already paid $1,400 (non-refundable!).
We foolishly assumed minors accompanied by fellow students, teachers and chaperones on a school-sponsored class trip would be allowed to board a winged bus to a destination within the United States with only common forms of identification like a student ID card and birth certificate. Not so; now, even a child must have an official state ID card from the DMV to board a plane. (Because of 9/11? If so, that’s reason enough to take a scuba trip to the North Arabian Sea, find Osama bin Laden’s skull and fashion it into a poop-scoop.)
Anyhoo, we learned that to obtain an official state ID card, a kid must have a Social Security card or a specific printout from the Social Security Administration verifying her application for a Social Security card. The form containing the same information that is issued to new parents to enable them to deduct children from their taxes doesn’t count, or so I was told by the DMV.
To obtain the magical correct form, one must have many additional forms of ID, which may or may not be acceptable to the person at SSA who ultimately reviews it. County school district vaccination records are considered a kind of gold standard, though. I learned this after finally reaching a human being following multiple excursions into the SSA’s hellish, circular automated call menu, which is designed to automatically dump callers if too many other luckless supplicants are in queue, a situation that is apparently the case 90% of the time.
Thus it came to pass that the kid and I took a day off of school and work last week and visited the Three Circles of Bureaucratic Hell in a nearby city. First we sat in the overflow holding area at the county health department to secure the vaccination records, occupying a zone teeming with screaming toddlers, anxious children and nervous families applying for citizenship or refugee status.
Then we languished in the waiting room at the local branch of the Social Security Administration with many crabby elderly folks, some of whom seemed to be practicing outraged speeches to unleash on the indifferent heads of bureaucrats seated behind numbered, Plexiglass-barred window openings in a vast, echoing hall that would make a great set for a MiniTruth scene from “1984.”
After emerging from that ordeal limp and exhausted by ennui, we made our way to the DMV for another crushing round of paper-shuffling and waiting. All told, it took around seven hours (not counting transportation), which was actually less than I thought it would. But it occurred to me that perhaps the experience of being gnashed in the gears of bureaucratic machinery is a more potent driver of people’s reflexive hatred of government than I’d realized.
I’m a confirmed fan of Big Government. I don’t enjoy paying taxes any more than I look forward to dental work, but I understand the necessity of both. The only thing that pisses me off about my tax rate is that Mitt Romney pays a lower percentage, and I’d gladly exchange a larger chunk of my income for a Scandinavian-style social safety net.
But I flatter myself and the Balloon Juice / Rumproast communities by believing that we’ve thought this through more than Honey Boo Boo’s core audience has. To them, the silly hoop-jumping requirements, appalling run-arounds and astoundingly inefficient service on display at the customer-facing outlets of local, state and federal agencies are The Government. Which makes it easier to understand why assholes like Rand Paul get elected.
Maybe better customer service would help consign Reaganism to the political dung heap it so richly deserves? It’s a thought.
Please feel free to discuss movies, music, parenting, soulless bureaucracy or anything else. In other words, open thread.
Via Rawstory, it looks like Bay Buchanan, former Romney campaign spox, has canned punditry for real estate:
Just two days after the election, Buchanan started an online real estate course and recently became a sales associate for McEnearney Associates Inc. in McLean, Va.
“Being somebody that they kind of know will be a real positive and, as you know, I’m just a charming person,” Buchanan insisted, adding that “compared to what I did in the past, this is an easy sell.”
“It’s so negative and TV is more difficult than ever in the sense that it’s really not an honest debate anymore,” she said of her television talking head days. “I can’t just live my life going on TV and being angry all the time.”
And, well, I’ve got no snark about that. Oh, as a pundit, she was great snarkfodder but it’s kind of nice to think that someone can look at being a tv talking head person and walk away if it actually isn’t fulfilling or useful to them (or anyone else, for that matter). And after looking over Bette’s grand recap of some of the GOP’s post-electoral shenanigans, I shouldn’t wonder if other conservative spokesfolks wouldn’t be thinking of doing something along the same lines. Just as happened shortly after the 2008 election, one expects to see some “serious” pundits (think Frum, Douthat, Brooks), plump for “Conservative smarter”, while seeing bloggerati go for “Conservative harder.” But the old tricks won’t be unlearned and there’s no point in message tweaking when it’s the ideas that aren’t hitting it with people.
What’s left isn’t “going Galt” but “going straight”. Not that I’m advising the opposition party in what to do, after all. But I do wish Bay Buchanan luck in her new field, where selling a “fixer-upper” might bear the promise of actually being a fixable commodity.
Via MaddowBlog: FL Senator Marco Rubio told a huge whopper on Twitter:
Rubio is marginally more intelligent than the average tea party loon, which is why, although he was happy to ride their Cap’n Crunch coattails to the US Senate, he is careful to keep them at arm’s length. That may come in handy for him.
Rubio’s party doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the deficit the tea party idiots are howling about; Rubio’s party wants to continue looting the US Treasury on behalf of Mitt Romney’s class. To do so, Rubio’s party needs to destroy Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and any other social program that implies by its existence that corporations and the plutocrats who run them have an obligation to the country.
Rubio doesn’t have a problem with his party’s objectives, but he does have an optics issue, in that he represents a state with a significant number of senior citizens who will be cheesed off if Rubio’s party—led by the tea party nuts—continues to champion cuts in social programs to ensure that Mitt Romney pays less than 14% a year in taxes on his investment income.
There’s no rational case Rubio can make to his constituents on why they should favor screwing themselves to shovel largess to multimillionaire dancing horse hobbyists. So Rubio will just try to bluff his way through this conundrum with big fat lies and hope it blows over before he’s up for reelection.
Will people be dumb enough to fall for that? Could be! This is Florida, after all. But there’s some evidence to suggest that there’s a limit to the stupid.
Reflecting back on the year that was, I think it’s apt the the post-election season seems to have provided the liberal blogger so many gifts. Things like this New York Magazine story about the National Review cruise, rich with detail that keeps the shaden right on freuding. It’s a stocking stuffed with images of the clueless, the bitter, the regretful, and ruminations on the unbearable whiteness of being Mitt Romney. For that matter, this tasty tidbit served up by Romney Number One son, Tagg, is fascinating as a psychological study despite its brevity for the depths it possibly reveals—
Is it possible Mitt Romney did not really want to be president? How does one run for about seven years without actually wanting to be president? He faced a contentious field in not one, but two primaries. He fund raised, he fibbed, he glad-handed, he glibbed, in short, he gave every indication to the outside world that, why yes, he might very much like to live in the White House (not that this is necessarily synonymous with being president). And yet he did not win, and his campaign was not run very well. Who knows what this explains?
Mr. Obama repeatedly lost patience with the speaker as negotiations faltered. In an Oval Office meeting last week, he told Mr. Boehner that if the sides didn’t reach agreement, he would use his inaugural address and his State of the Union speech to tell the country the Republicans were at fault.
At one point, according to notes taken by a participant, Mr. Boehner told the president, “I put $800 billion [in tax revenue] on the table. What do I get for that?”
“You get nothing,” the president said. “I get that for free.”
reads just a bit like wish-fulfillment (although my post had to do with a Mitch McConnell viewpoint-correction—which may well be coming, yet).
No, it’s actually just a stinger scene from Trey Stone and Matt Parker’s X-rated comedy classic Orgazmo. In it, Parker’s character Elder Young is mistaken by porn film producer Maxxx Orbison for that famous hunka-hunka burning love memorialized by Elvis Presley (or was that William F. Burroughs?). In the same dangerous moment of misinterpretation Young’s junior missionary partner Ben Chepleski (Dian Bachar) is errantly ascribed the cheerful disposition and dual-purpose plumbing gear you’d expect from a fishnet-stockinged Robin.
Enjoy! If you get time and the opportunity, please treat yourself to three other South Park movies—Cannibal, The Musical; Team America: World Police; and South Park—Bigger, Longer, And Uncut.
Our hens raided the container garden during their free-range jaunt yesterday:
I never participate in the garden threads because my husband does every bit of the gardening around here. I couldn’t even grow a Chia pet or keep an air fern alive.
Anne Laurie’s early morning open thread featured the image of commenter Hitchhiker’s lovely cat in front of a Christmas tree. But instead of going, “Awwwww,” I went, “Sweet mother of fuck! It’s almost Christmas, and I haven’t done a damn thing!”
My fake tree and all the decorations are still in the shed. I haven’t ordered the Christmas dinner prime rib yet. We haven’t even quite wrapped up our kitchen renovations (although it’s mostly done – we lack cabinet toe-kicks and the backsplash only at this point), and our dining room still sports a bare concrete slab as we haven’t gotten around to laying the tile. Oh, and I haven’t bought the first present yet.
Why? Well, the home renovations have become a convenient excuse for being slobs. Why bother dusting or sweeping when there’s 70s-era glue on the walls where we ripped out the old laminate backsplash and bare concrete underfoot? We’ve actually enjoyed the respite.
As for the lack of Christmas spirit, it just doesn’t seem Christmas-y yet, partly because it’s been so warm. I’m a native Floridian, so warm Decembers aren’t a foreign or unwelcome concept to me. But it does seem unusual to get this far towards the solstice without once having to put on a pair of socks or rifle the closet for a jacket. There have been a few flannel-shirt-over-the-tee-shirt days, but I haven’t had to bust out the woolies. Nonetheless, there is work to be done.
Romneys Spread Loser Stink
Speaking of indolent people, Mitt and Ann Romney are continuing their loser tour. Noted fans of “sport,” the Romneys took in the Pacquiao-Marquez boxing match last night:
I don’t follow boxing, but I think Pacquiao was favored to beat Marquez. That was before Romney visited Pacquiao in his dressing room, exuding a giant cloud of loser dust:
“Hello Manny. I ran for president. I lost,” Romney told the fighter, according to Pacquiao publicist Fred Sternburg.
Then this happened:
“LAS VEGAS — Manny Pacquiao never saw it coming. He never saw the punch that snapped his head back Saturday and dropped him to the canvas and left him sprawled there momentarily, face down, while his wife sobbed uncontrollably and the packed crowd at MGM’s Grand Garden Arena rose to its feet in shock.
With that, a rivalry known for its lack of a definitive triumph suddenly had the most definitive ending of them all.”
I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really hope Mitt and Ann Romney decide to pay the Notre Dame locker room a visit prior to the BCS title game.
Speaking of Losers
Remember the group One Million 51,700 [homophobic] Moms (OMM)? No? Me neither, but this spring, they failed spectacularly in a bid to get Ellen Degeneres fired as JC Penney spokesperson. After that effort flopped, OMM director Monica Cole announced that the breeder klatch was “moving on.”
But a JC Penney commercial featuring Ellen and several Christmas elves attracted their ire again last week.
It wasn’t that Ellen groped a female elf in the ad or anything. It’s just that everyone knows she’s a lesbian, and think of the chiiiiildren!
Because the commercial that occasioned the protest was so innocuous, onlookers found the OMM action confusing. (Pro tip: When you have to explain why you’re taking umbrage, you’re not successfully inciting it.) So OMM declared that the group is “moving on.” Again. Maybe someday they actually will.
Three middle-aged-to-elderly white conservative men recently discussed ways to broaden the GOP’s appeal. Here’s a key insight from their confab:
I see that the way we will get the Hispanics and the other groups, the Asians, as part of the Republican Coalition is to get them first part of the great American Coalition. Make them think of themselves, not make but, persuade them to think of themselves primarily as Americans.
Oh. Ma. Ga. I don’t think they can hear themselves, friends. Bless their hearts.
Well. We’re not quite a month beyond Republican Obamageddon: The Sequel and it would appear that the GOP’s lip-quivering, angst-y period of brutal self-assessment has been completed, in record time, and—guess what? no changes are necessary, there’s nothing wrong with Republicans, it’s the rest of the world that’s fked up.
That’s right. They’re going full gonzo doubledown and as Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo predicts: “There Will Be Hilarity . . .”
Roger that. There already is . . .
For example, we’ve had the week-long Willard “Mitt” Romney National Pity Party including a tear-stained piece in the Washington Post describing a haggard Mitt riding his bike aimlessly through the quiet streets of La Jolla, while Ann stays inside weeping in private. Evidently, she won’t even budge to hop on her dancing horse (Rafalca, likewise, is said to be sulking in her stall, seriously off her feed).
We have photos of Mitt pumping his own gas, for Pete’s sake, without any Secret Service to take a bullet for him and, then, there’s the sad, sad Cratchitt-y tale of the Romney’s Boston Market Thanksgiving dinner. (Actually, I would have taken the Romney’s for Chick-Fil-A folks . . .)
Noam Scheiber at TNR relates the sad but true story of how Mitt and his advisers relied on the results of flawed internal polling almost exclusively in the waning days of the campaign to confidently predict that Romney would win by a comfortable margin.
Scheiber charts out the predicted outcomes in swing states from the internal polls, which were composed of 2 day averages taken over the weekend before the election, compared to the actual results in those states. The contrast is head shaking. The polls underestimated Obama’s vote totals from 2 points to as many as 7 points in these states, all of which were won by Obama and not, as the campaign expected, by Romney.
It really begs the question of whether they ever even wondered why their poll results were so out of line compared to other polls being taken over the same periods by independent sources. The differences appear to be misguided assumptions about the demographic make-up of voters who would turn out combined with a belief that Romney was experiencing a surge of momentum in several of the states (helped on, no doubt, by all the people clapping hard for it to be true).
But before you schedule the fireworks display and invite all your big donors to fly their private jets in and help celebrate (to the extent that the airport was apparently in danger of running out of plutocrat jet parking spots) and decide to forego the concession speech, wouldn’t you want to, you know, nail down your figures a little more? Take a hard look at the assumptions and reconcile them to the assumptions being made by the pollsters who weren’t projecting a Romney landslide? Question things just a leeetle bit more? So poor Tagg didn’t have to melt down and Egg didn’t need to cry? No stiff upper lips for the gob smacked after all.
Not if you do things Mitt Romney Style I guess. Which brings me to the central point. What a bullet we dodged! Someone who is so ready to believe in the complete veracity of their polls when all the other polls are saying “no, no” (well, not all, exactly; Faux News was still out there, but still) wouldn’t even have to try and fake the WMD stuff to take us to war with Iran. He’d just send the troops in with that smirk on his face.
Well, I guess Republicans just plain have a hard time curbing those GOP talking points, bless their hearts . . . even when opening their pieholes means still more embarrassment for the GOP. Evidently, Sen Rob Portman (R-OH) is not buying into the “better branding for tired out ideology” school of Republican Resuscitation.
You’ll probably remember Portman in his most recent role as the Obama Stand-In for the Rmoney Master-Debater Club. You may have forgotten by now, however, that Portman served several useful purposes during the George W. Bush administration, including Budget Director (2006-2007) for the administration which presided over turning a surplus into a record-breaking deficit. Let’s not forget that Dubya was the only President in US history profligate enough to pass an unfunded Medicare Advantage bill, two tax cuts and start two wars at the same time, yelling “deficits don’t matter” all the while.
One might expect that a “serious” person with world-class fiscal silliness like that on his resume might take a seat and be quiet for a while when the subject turns to the economy. But one would be underestimating the arrogance and puffery of the GOP which refuses to retire the nonsense about tax cuts for the wealthy creating jobs . . . or the foolishness about generating revenue through tax reform.
But noooooo . . . Portman campaigned for Romney and was considered for the Vice Presidency of an administration that promised to continue and reinforce those voodoo economic policies without bothering to share with the electorate how they expected to make it work after 30 years of documented failure. Portman probably considers himself a serious contender for 2016 and he’s still a standard-bearer for that failed Romney message:
I saw Nancy Pelosi’s comments … saying you can’t get enough revenues through the itemized deductions and closing loopholes. That’s just not accurate. I mean, it’s just not accurate. You can.
You can get more revenue if you wanted to. So I don’t know where her math is coming from. It sounds to me like it’s more just a matter of Democrat dogma that they want to be sure that people’s tax rates go up.
The problem with that is, it’s going to result in more lost jobs at a time when we’ve already lost too many.
Portman is probably referring to the idea that Romney floated, late in the campaign, to cap deductions. But from Obama’s perspective, the expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts is one thing and the subsequent negotiations over reducing the deficit are another. Obama comes off the election with a strong hand to play on raising tax rates on the top 2%—NOW.
Howard Gleckman, of The Tax Policy Center, explains how capping deductions might work and why it might not work for Obama:
The politics of this would still be very tough. For instance, a deduction cap would hammer charities and they are already gearing up to fight it. TPC estimates that revenues would be cut by one-third if charitable gifts are excluded from a $50,000 deduction cap.
I’m not even sure these changes would get lawmakers all the way there. But they show a compromise is possible. There are ways, crude as they are, to hike taxes on the wealthy without raising their rates as much as Obama would like.
Still, there is another important issue to keep in mind. A cap would only fill the hole left by preserving the low rates now enjoyed by the wealthy. Thus, revenues from such deduction limits would no longer be available to help reduce the long-term deficit—a job that would then be more heavily weighted to spending cuts. And that may be the real reason why Obama is reluctant to use this tool in the short run.
Meanwhile, smart people who are sincere about job creation know that the thing that drives job creation is demand for goods and services. Smart people who are interested in long-term fiscal policy and “lessons learned from history” know that concentration of wealth always results in economic contraction.
It’s starting to really shape up that the criticism of the Obama Administration regarding the attack on the consulate at Benghazi is a lot of outrage about….the Obama Administration even existing. I was astonished that then-Republican candidate for the presidency, Mitt Romney, chose to opportunistically seize on the deaths of four Americans because it was the sort of flail a losing campaign with a candidate who neither seemed to know or care to understand much about foreign policy might launch. Astonished that no one called it off—not astonished that it occured. The point being—I could remember exactly that sort of fail-flail occuring with a candidate who attempted to grandstand on an issue—the economy, which was not his known strong point, in exactly the same point in his campaign;
The candidate was Senator John McCain, and the event was the nonsensical suspension of his campaign and the further subsequent flail of calling together a group of his peers to try and hash out a plan. From then Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s version of the events:
It was brilliant political theater that was about to degenerate into farce. Skipping protocol, the president turned to McCain to offer him a chance to respond: “I think it’s fair that I give you the chance to speak next.”
But McCain demurred. “I’ll wait my turn,” he said. It was an incredible moment, in every sense. This was supposed to be McCain’s meeting—he’d called it, not the president, who had simply accommodated the Republican candidate’s wishes. Now it looked as if McCain had no plan at all—his idea had been to suspend his campaign and summon us all to this meeting. It was not a strategy, it was a political gambit, and the Democrats had matched it with one of their own.
Finally, raising his voice over the din, Obama said loudly, “I’d like to hear what Senator McCain has to say, since we haven’t heard from him yet.”
The room went silent and all eyes shifted to McCain, who sat quietly in his chair, holding a single note card. He glanced at it quickly and proceeded to make a few general points. He said that many members had legitimate concerns and that I had begun to head in the right direction on executive pay and oversight. He mentioned that Boehner was trying to move his caucus the best he could and that we ought to give him the space to do that. He added he had confidence the consensus could be reached quickly.
As he spoke, I could see Obama chuckling.
McCain had nothing, then, and got called on it, just like Mitt Romney had nothing when, during the second debate, he stepped into the trap (“Please proceed, Governor”) that invited the moderator to actually perform an act of journalism and check the factual record, acknowledging that Obama from day one did consider the Benghazi assault an act of terror.
How is it then, that right after Mitt Romney’s notable shellacking in the election, that Senator John McCain decides to jump on the Benghazi bandwagon with both feet, so eager to publically smear Obama that he calls a potential nominee for Hillary Clinton’s replacement as Secretary of State “none too bright” whilst he is literally blowing off a briefing to potentially get the kind of answers that he was seeking?
How does one shriveled human actually contain so much bitterness? I don’t even know. In his wake, the wingnuts who were in mid-flock are caught spouting gibberish by journalists who smell a rat.
This leaves me with the happy thought, espoused by Booman, that just like this was a non-story, maybe this means John McCain is finally persona non grata. I, too, have longed for the time when McCain inserted his platinum card to draw from the old Bank of American Trust, and finds it declined (hell, he should get a bill with penalties for being well and truly overdrawn). But I treat this non-story as a bloggable event in much the way a doctor is interested in symptoms—“He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts.” I’d like to see the symptoms abate—and yet, I am watchful in the event that the screamers on the right will try to actually get their “Watergate-style” hearings—facts be damned! They see the ghosts.
They need them. Or they would have to face the idea that maybe, just maybe, the Obama Administration’s greatest success is in not really being fuck-ups.