The Boogeyman

If you read conservative blogs, you’ll see the name of one supposed boogeyman come up time and time again, connected–often tenuously–to various scandals in one way or another. They seem to be terrified of this guy, considering they spend so much time obsessing over everything he says and does. Why? Well, this is what they say about him:

He’s a foreign-born billionaire financier. He’s a political extremist with a radical agenda, which he pushes on all of us by using a shady network of political organizations and news outlets. He finances smear machines and character assassins who go after his enemies, while fostering ties to prominent politicians. In addition, some of his organizations have been widely criticized and/or gotten into legal trouble in the past.

The person they’re talking about is, of course, George Soros. But isn’t there already someone out there who matches that exact description? Someone conservatives know quite well? In fact, doesn’t that paragraph perfectly describe Rupert Murdoch?

Murdoch is an Australian-born billionaire media mogul. He’s a right-wing conservative with a radical agenda, which he pushes on all of us through the various news outlets he owns and the organizations he influences. Murdoch’s news outlets carry a wide array of smear merchants and character assassins–such as Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity–who go after his enemies. He was a friend of Ronald Reagan, a proponent of Pat Robertson’s presidential bid and a strong supporter of George W. Bush, among others. Finally, his Fox Network has gotten in trouble with the FCC; there was controversy over his acquisition of Turkish TV channel TGRT; and his News Corporation has been widely criticized for paying almost no corporate taxes on billions of dollars of profits.

I don’t pay much attention to what George Soros does, but this right-wing obsession with him smacks of hypocrisy– especially considering that Murdoch is far more powerful and influential than Soros has ever been. So is the conservative obsession over him simply hypocrisy? Projection? Or maybe it’s an attempt to deflect criticism, since influential millionaires and billionaires have huge amounts of influence in the Republican Party, investing significant amounts of time and money into getting Republicans elected.

Perhaps the right wing should check for the monster under their own beds before hysterically checking under ours.

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Quote of the Day

From tonight’s Democratic debate in Philadelphia:

Sen. Joe Biden: “Giuliani is probably the most underqualified man since George Bush to seek the Presidency…there are only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11”

Jena, Redux

There is a ridiculous Op-Ed from a Jena reporter circling on the right-wing blogs, supposedly “debunking” the Jena 6 controversy. Naturally, it’s filled with incorrect assumptions, misleading statements and downright lies. dnA at Too Sense does a great job tearing the article apart here. It’s quite telling that the only time the right wing pays attention to the travesty in Jena is to “debunk” the egregious racial nature of the controversy.

I’ve often heard conservatives describe themselves as “colorblind, ” but I’ve never bought that description. There is still a lot of racism here in America, and it’s a significant problem that demands our attention. Calling yourself colorblind is a convenient way for you to ignore racial problems in America, to turn your head and pretend that ugly racism doesn’t exist anymore. It’s disturbing, especially from a party that has spent decades engaging in dog whistle politics–sending subtle signals to racist whites in order to pick up their votes.

The Republican Party has a long, shady history of courting racist whites, dating back to Nixon’s southern strategy. The subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) thread of racism is interwoven throughout the fabric of modern conservatism, from incidents like Jena to immigration and even national security.

In the end, their response to Jena isn’t surprising–conservatives clapping their hands over their ears, closing their eyes and assuring themselves that they’re not racist–they’re just “colorblind.”

On Victory

Sorry again for the spotty posting but, like I said, its midterms season–I have a lot on my plate and little free time.

I caught some of the World Series game tonight, which ended with Boston beating Colorado 4-3 to sweep the series.  I was rooting for Colorado, but the Sox were clearly the better team, and they deserved to win.  Congratulations guys–2004 wasn’t a fluke, your team is officially uncursed. Careful, though–once your fans get used to winning, they’ll be awfully disappointed if you get yourselves into another 86-year slump.    

In another hemisphere, Argentine first lady Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner declared victory tonight in her bid to succeed her husband, Nestor Kirchner, as President.  Nestor was credited with helping Argentina recover after the financial meltdown of 2001-2002, and Cristina has pledged to continue her husband’s successful economic policies. 

None of her rivals have conceded, but Kirchner presently leads with enough votes to avoid a runoff, and election officials have confirmed that there have been no voting irregularities.  The next president will begin a four-year term on December 10th, and will face a variety of problems such as inflation, an energy shortage and crime–this in a nation that used to rank among the world’s 10 wealthiest. 

Kirchner is the first woman elected to lead Argentina, though Isabel Peron–wife of Juan Peron–ruled briefly after her husband’s death before being overthrown several years later.  Kirchner joins Angela Merkel, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Ghandi, Golda Mier, and many others as the first woman elected to lead her nation.  

Congrats Boston and Kirchner–both of you are bringing home a victory tonight. And sometimes it just feels good to win.  

Price Tags

Republicans are determined to stay in Iraq, and they don’t care how much it costs:

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported today that “total spending for U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and other activities related to the war on terrorism would amount to between $1.2 trillion and $1.7 trillion for fiscal years 2001 through 2017.” With $705 billion in interest, the cost of the wars could amount to $2.4 trillion — with $1.9 trillion in Iraq.

White House Press Secretary Dana Perino attacked the report as “a ton of speculation” and downplayed it as a creation “based on questions that Democrats in Congress that don’t want us to be in the war asked.” Perino added that the White House is not concerned about the exact cost of the war:

[I]t’s just a ton of speculation. It’s a hypothetical … What I can tell you is I’m not worried about the number.

[…]

The CBO’s projection is not “pure speculation.” In fact, the report considers a range of predictions about the U.S. military presence in Iraq, consistent with the administration’s desire for Korea-like, “enduring” occupation of Iraq. For example, in one scenario, the CBO predicts 30,000 troops deployed for the “war on terrorism” until FY2017. In another, they predict a more “gradual” decline to 75,000 by the start of fiscal year 2013 until 2017.

While the White House may not be “worried about the number,” the cost is certain to be harmful to the economy. “[I]t’s clear under analysis that the nation is on an unstable fiscal path,” CBO Director Peter Orszag told Congress today. The “higher debt and interest costs, is going to cause severe economic dislocation, which are exacerbated by war costs.”

[…]

Tim Grieve adds: “CBO officials were asked this afternoon whether the $2.4 trillion figure represents their ‘worst-case’ scenario. No, they said: It represents only the worst of two different scenarios the CBO priced out. The real costs could actually be higher.

So, the total cost of Iraq and Afghanistan will be close to $2.4 trillion dollars, according to our government’s own estimate.  In comparison, that’s more than twice than the entire United States federal budget for 2008 (which is a mere $1.075 trillion).  And that’s not even the worst case scenario–that’s the likely cost.  The actual cost may be even higher.

In all fairness, though, that’s the White House.  They’ve always had little compunction against spending huge amounts of our money. But what about Congress, which is (supposedly) full of those Republican fiscal conservatives? Surely they will fix this. Surely they will demand the government reign in it’s reckless spending. Surely they will raise hell at hearings and floor debates, demanding conscientious management of the people’s money. Surely they will use the bloated costs of these wars to demand a return to common-sense fiscal policies.  Right?

Well, in a word, no:

The House Budget Committee held a hearing today to receive testimony regarding the CBO’s estimate that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars may total $2.4 trillion. Only one Republican member of the committee attended. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) noted their absence:

Doggett: “I assume, by Mr. [Paul] Ryan (R-WI) being here, that every member of this panel, including every Republican member on that side of the aisle where all the seats are vacant, received notice about this hearing about the cost of war in Iraq?”

Spratt: “I’m sure they did.”

Doggett: “And when was this notice of the hearing sent out?”

Spratt: “Seven days ago, as required by the rules.”

Not only does the White House not care about the cost of Iraq and Afghanistan, but the Republican Party doesn’t, either.

There are significant questions as to if our money is being spent well or not–corruption and wastefulness run rampant in Iraq, bloating the cost of the war to extraordinary levels.  We’re the ones funding this war, we have a right to know where our money is being spent and who it’s going.

As I said before, fiscal conservatism is dead–conservatives have shown us that they don’t mind wasting staggering amounts of the people’s money.  Nobody who supported and still supports the Iraq war can  ever claim to be fiscally responsible–Iraq alone will cost nearly $2 trillion dollars.  $2 trillion dollars of our money, needlessly spent on a pointless war in pursuit of a goal that we had little chance of accomplishing to begin with.

Of course, it’s easy to overlook the price tag when you’re spending someone else’s money…

New Rules for Republicans

 

  1. No more “fiscal conservatism”

Sorry, guys, but you have shown us repeatedly that you could care less about managing the people’s money well.  Being responsible with the public purse is no longer synonymous with conservatism, and for good reason.

Also, no conservative who argued for going into and staying in Iraq can claim the mantle of being fiscally responsible, ever. How dare you complain about government spending on social programs (like health care for children) because it costs too much.  Sorry, but you’re the ones who are spending over $2 billion a week on an unnecessary war—you can’t waste our money on one hand and attack others for spending money on the other hand.

  1. No more complaining about a lack of civility

Stop with the fake outrage and the pearl clutching.  Remember, you’re the ones who gave us the Limbaughs, the Hannitys, the Malkins—it’s your movement that spawned the O’Reillys and the Coulters.  Your side has spent decades demonizing your political opponents, engaging in disgusting smears against sick children, veterans, war heroes, you name it. You’ve compared your political enemies to terrorists and you’ve outright questioning their patriotism. 

Yet, you have the nerve to cry fake tears when someone goes after you, even legitimately?  You have the nerve to complain about the smear artists and spin doctors, despite the fact that conservatives have elevated smearing and spinning to an art form? Are you kidding? Pot, meet kettle.

So, no more crying about being attacked by savage liberals.  No more complaining about being taken out of context when you were directly quoted.  No more talking about vast left wing conspiracies.  No more complaining about being oppressed or having your right to free speech taken away.  Until you clean up the trash heap on your side, don’t complain about the smudge of dirt on ours.

  1. Pro-life means pro-life.

Sorry, but “pro-life” does not mean anti-abortion.  Words have meanings, and you can’t change what some words mean to come up with a handy political label. You can’t be pro-life while denying sick children health care.  You can’t be pro-life while pumping your fists every time we kill a few more Iraqis.  You can’t be pro-life while vehemently defending the death penalty. 

Supporting life means supporting life in all circumstances, not just the ones that are convenient.  If you oppose abortion and support the war in Iraq, for instance, you’re a hypocrite and you’re not pro-life.

  1. Similarly, support our troops means support our troops.

Support our troops isn’t a bumper sticker slogan.  It’s not an applause line.  It’s not a synonym for  “support the war.”

You can’t support the troops and give them inadequate body armor and armored vehicles. You can’t support the troops and deny them world-class healthcare and doctors and hospitals. You can’t support our troops and attack and smear veterans who disagree with you politically.  You can’t support our troops and use soldiers as political props to inoculate yourself from criticism.

Ideally, it means you want to bring our soldiers home so they stop getting killed.  The bottom line is, if you say you support our troops, you better do it all the time, not just when and how it’s convenient to do so.

  1. You’re no longer the tough-guy party.

Sorry, but  there are a lot of people on your side who believe that a few thousand loosely-organized and poorly-funded religious fanatics are going to conquer the world.  These conservatives wholeheartedly believe that terrorists  are a bigger threat to the U.S. than the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, the Civil War and even the British during the Revolution. 

After 9/11, you were all to willing to throw your ideology out the window: small government, states’ rights, limited government spending, protecting civil liberties.  You let your party get turned into a cult of personality and you lead us into worst foreign policy disaster in a generation, wreaking havoc on the American military.

You’re the ones who are willing to throw nearly everything this country stands for in the garbage.  You’re the ones willing to destroy our constitution—the very foundation that American greatness rests on—in order to maybe prevent another terrorist attack.  You’re so afraid of terrorism that you’re willing to destroy America in order to save it.

You don’t need to upend your social and political order to fight terrorism—look at the British and the Spanish, who have both faced significant terrorist attacks.  You pass stronger laws, you gather better intelligence, you improve law enforcement, you go after the people responsible (and not just anyone you feel like), and you go about your lives.  If the point of terrorism is to destroy what makes America great, then don’t hand them a victory by doing it yourselves.  Freedom has risks, but our founding fathers and generations of Americans understood that those risks are, by far, a price worth paying.

Heroes

Lieutenant Michael Murphy, a true American hero:

Two years after he was killed in a firefight in Afghanistan, Dan and Maureen Murphy and their son John will receive Lt. Murphy’s Medal of Honor for heroism on the battlefield today from President Bush.

[…]

In June 2005, Murphy, 29, led his four-man Navy SEAL team into the 10,000-foot peaks of Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush to search for a terrorist thought to be in the region. But they were soon spotted and started taking fire from more than 40 insurgents.

According to a Navy report on the incident, the insurgents held the advantage of terrain and launched a well organized, three-sided attack on the team, forcing them deeper into a ravine.

All four men were soon wounded, said the SEAL team’s lone survivor, Petty Officer 2nd Class Marcus Luttrell.

“We were hurtin’ bad,” Luttrell said. “We were out of ammo, and you know everybody, it was bad, it was real bad.”

Murphy exposed himself to enemy fire while trying to keep his team together, Luttrell said.

“He was in a horrible position. He left himself open so he could move back and forth to each individual guy.”

The mountainous terrain blocked communications. The team’s communications operator was wounded as he tried to find an area to transmit from. According to the Navy report, Murphy moved into the open and “calmly provided his unit’s location and the size of the enemy force while requesting immediate support for his team.”

The report said that at one point Murphy was hit in the back and dropped the handset but retrieved it and completed his call, even saying “thank you” at the end of his transmission.

Luttrell witnessed Murphy’s heroism.

“I looked back up at Mikey and he took two rounds to the back and sat back up, hung up the phone. … That was the last time I saw him.”

[…]

The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government.

Thank you for your sacrifice, Lieutenant.  You served your country well.