Archive for August, 2010

Recasting Bush as the hero of Iraq is taking things much too far

I see that Fox News and top Republicans such as Mitch McConnell are insisting that President Obama credit his predecessor, President George W. Bush, for making possible tonight’s announcement that U.S. troops are no longer engaged in combat in Iraq.

I suppose that’s true, they have a point. You could certainly argue, for example, that if Bush hadn’t committed us to that misbegotten war in the first place, President Obama wouldn’t be making tonight’s speech.

In fact, if Bush hadn’t decided to try to occupy Iraq with far fewer troops than were necessary, ignoring advice from top generals that several hundred thousand soldiers would be needed to do the job right, we might have been able to bring our role to a conclusion years ago instead of now. So they’re right in that sense as well.

And if Bush had understood the nature of the conflict much earlier — if he hadn’t stood in front of that “Mission Accomplished” banner on May 1, 2003 and proclaimed that major combat had ended in …

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Gallup reports historic poll margin for GOP in Congress

According to the folks at Gallup, Republicans now hold a 10-point lead over Democrats in what’s called the generic ballot for Congress. (Registered voters are asked whether they would be more likely to vote for a Republican or a Democrat, with no mention of actual candidates.)

Gallup reports that the 10-point lead is the biggest it has ever found for Republicans (Democrats had a 32-point lead in 1974, during the Watergate scandal.) The finding adds to evidence that a GOP takeover of the House is likely this year, although as Gallup also cautions, “Democrats moved ahead in Gallup’s generic ballot for several weeks earlier this summer, showing that change is possible between now and Election Day.”

As I’ve noted earlier, the GOP base has made it clear that it has no interest whatsoever in any sort of compromise, and will in fact punish any of its leaders who suggest otherwise. As a result, I think we’re doomed to two of the most divisive, tumultuous years we’ve seen in American …

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Watching Iraq from our rear-view mirror

NOTE: This post, a copy of today’s AJC column, includes material published earlier on the blog.

Eight years ago this week, the Bush administration was set to launch an all-out “shock and awe” publicity campaign designed to drive us into war in Iraq. (You may recall that the effort was held back until after Labor Day because, as a White House official later explained, “from a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.”)

It’s important that the American people remember that campaign, because it reminds us how easily fear can be used to manipulate public opinion. Dire warnings of mushroom clouds rising over American cities and of Iraqi unmanned aerial vehicles launching WMD attacks against us may seem implausible in hindsight, but coming from top U.S. officials, they seemed all too real. Over the next few months, they frightened the American people and Congress into an ill-conceived invasion that would cost more than 4,000 American lives and hundreds of …

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Who’s the real Christian? Beck? Obama? You? Me?

Glenn Beck attacks Barack Obama’s religious beliefs, claiming “it’s a perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ as most Christians know it.”

But in turn, at least some in the Christian evangelical community say similar things about Beck.

“Glenn Beck promotes a false gospel,” says Christianinvestigator.com. “However, many of his political ideas can help America. Our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values. Mormonism is not a Christian denomination but a cult of Christianity.”


Reports CNN:

Brannon Howse, a conservative writer and founder of Worldview Weekend, which organizes Christian conferences, criticized evangelical participation in that event in a column this week.

“The Apostle Paul warns Christians against uniting with unbelievers in spiritual endeavors,” Howse wrote. “While I applaud and agree with many of Glenn Beck’s conservative and constitutional views, that does not give me or any other Bible-believing Christian justification to compromise Biblical truth by …

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Terrorism strikes outside Nashville, 800 miles from Ground Zero

It’s an 886-mile drive from Ground Zero in Manhattan to Murfreesboro, TN, outside of Nashville. But to some, that’s apparently too close.

“Federal officials are investigating a fire that started overnight at the site of a new Islamic center in a Nashville suburb.

Ben Goodwin of the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department confirmed to CBS Affiliate WTVF that the fire, which burned construction equipment at the future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, is being ruled as arson.

Special Agent Andy Anderson of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told CBS News that the fire destroyed one piece of construction equipment and damaged three others. Gas was poured over the equipment to start the fire, Anderson said.

The ATF, FBI and Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office are conducting a joint investigation into the fire, Anderson said….

The chair of the center’s planning committee, Essim Fathy, said he drove to the site at around 5:30 a.m. Saturday …

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In the mood for the blues, but not the Moody Blues

Man, I gotta tell ya, the first week back in the harness after a great vacation is a real … pain in the posterior, so to speak. That’s especially true in the blogging world, where you’re expected to be your own one-man band.

In other words, I’m in the mood for some blues tonight. And once I started a-thinkin’ and a-cogitatin’ — you know, the blues, one-man band, and all that — I realized that there was only one place to go to kick off tonight’s episode of Travelin’ Music.

So here’s Benjamin Tehoval, doing it all to bring us the classic, oft-covered “44 Blues.”

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There’s no Santa or Tooth Fairy, and no quick fix for economy

NegativeEquityStatesQ22010-1

Wow.

That explains a lot, economically as well as politically.

The chart above, from Calculated Risk, breaks out housing equity by state. In Nevada, for example, almost 70 percent of homeowners owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. How many of those folks are going to be in the mood to spend money, generating the demand needed to restart the economy? Compounding the problem, Nevada also happens to have the country’s worst unemployment rate, at 14.3 percent in July. A lot of those jobless Nevadans couldn’t relocate for a job even if they found one, not without taking a huge financial hit on their home. That’s a lot of pain and sleepless nights, and cause for a lot of anger as well.

Georgia is sixth, right after California, with almost 30 percent of homeowners under water and another good chunk barely staying afloat. (Ga. unemployment rate: 9.9 percent). An economy that for years was fueled by homeowners who used their houses as ATMs has become an economy in …

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Glenn Beck: The gold standard of megalomania

Some folks on an earlier thread started talking about Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally on Saturday at the Lincoln Memorial, the site of Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The date, Aug. 28, also happens to be the anniversary of that event. Commenters were debating the question of whether the scheduling was just a coincidence, or whether Beck was enough of an egomaniac to consciously try to draw a parallel between himself and King.

I think the video below answers that question definitively if not directly:

After viewing the video, Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly offered an interesting observation:

“I’m trying to imagine what the response would be among conservatives if, say, Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008 had tried to do something similar. Imagine if the campaign had organized an event at the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of the “I Have A Dream” speech, and then released a video comparing the Obama-led effort to the Founding Fathers, the Moon …

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GOP stocking up on not-ready-for-primetime players

From Politico:

“Top Democrats are growing markedly more pessimistic about holding the House, privately conceding that the summertime economic and political recovery they were banking on will not likely materialize by Election Day.

In conversations with more than two dozen party insiders, most of whom requested anonymity to speak candidly about the state of play, Democrats in and out of Washington say they are increasingly alarmed about the economic and polling data they have seen in recent weeks….

A Democratic pollster working on several key races said, “The reality is that [the House majority] is probably gone.” His data show the Democrats’ problems are only getting worse. “It’s spreading,” the pollster said.

Not all Democrats — or Republicans, for that matter — share this pessimistic assessment 68 days before the election. Republicans need to pick up 39 seats, and polls show most voters still have a downbeat view of the GOP’s ability to govern any better …

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In which Ann Coulter complains about the competition

coulter

Joseph Farah, the nutty editor of the far-right WorldNetDaily, has gotten himself into an amusing little spat with Ann Coulter, a woman who lives in terror that somewhere there may be a spotlight that she can’t grab.

Coulter had been hired to speak to a group of gay Republicans at their annual convention in New York next month, an event that they have apparently dubbed “Homocon”. (Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee back in the Bush years, may or may not be in attendance.)

Farah then notified Coulter that he was canceling her speaking appearance at a WND event, accusing her of “legitimizing a group that is fighting for same-sex marriage and open homosexuality in the military.”

“Ultimately, as a matter of principle, it would not make sense for us to have Ann speak to a conference about ‘taking America back’ when she clearly does not recognize that the ideals to be espoused there simply do not include the radical and very ‘unconservative’ …

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