Category Archives: Democrats

Hillary Clinton’s disqualifying experience

What does being qualified to serve as president mean? You hear it a lot about the current Clinton iteration. Lots of people who earnestly don’t want Hillary Clinton to be president will tell you there’s no doubt she’s qualified, but [insert objection here]. Her supporters acknowledge no deficiencies other than, perhaps, an almost embarrassing overabundance of competence. It’s because of her previous White House experience, her Senate experience and her Ministry of War Diplomacy experience.

There’s no denying Clinton has experience, but how, exactly, does it qualify her to be president? Her first significant experience in the (so far only) Clinton administration was the monumental health insurance reform fiasco. Her first significant vote in the Senate was the one green-lighting the invasion of Iraq, a massively stupid, destructive, unjustifiable decision that she refused to repudiate for more than a decade.
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Good news: Barack Obama will not be the answer to “Who Lost Afghanistan?”

Lots of Obama supporters on Facebook during the 2012 campaign period were touting the end of the war in Afghanistan as one of the President’s larger achievements. President Obama, they said, “ended the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

This was absurd not just because the war in Afghanistan was not what one could actually call over in 2012 (neither of them were, but that’s another story), but because the President’s promise to end the war in Afghanistan was not a promise to end the war, while his exit from Iraq was the product of a failed negotiation to extend our presence. (11-dimensional chess, I’m sure: Obama pretended to want to stay in order to placate war lovers, but actually wanted the negotiation to fail so he could realize his true desire to be shed of the affair.)

Let’s review.
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Libya: another “good” war gone bad

Libya is on fire (literally). This is because President Obama and his colleagues in France and the UK blew it up with their 2011 assault on the country.

I say President Obama blew it up, rather than the US blew it up, because the US joined in the festivities entirely on his say-so. The President said that the US role was not something that required either consent or oversight from Congress because American lives were not at risk. By this he meant that the US could attack Gaddafi’s forces from the air and sea with impunity forever (it turned out to be seven months, officially). Only, absent congressional approval, it wasn’t the US attacking Libya but the President.
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Damn you, Ralph Nader!

Yes, Ralph Nader is at it again. Almost 14 years after his run cost Al Gore a victory in Florida, hence nationally, the Lebanon Loon has cost Democrats another election in the Sunshine State. And it isn’t even November!

Oh wait, my bad: it’s the Democrats shooting themselves in the face again. Ed Jany, a Republican recently re-minted as a Democrat and the party’s handpicked candidate in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, has dropped out of the race and left the Republican incumbent unopposed. Jany, who has not been a registered Democrat long enough to run as a Democrat under Florida election law, had entered the race as an independent candidate backed by both the state and national Democratic parties. Barring death or a terminal scandal, David Jolly, the Republican victor in a special election to replace deceased Republican representative Bill Young a few months ago, now has an additional 30 months as a Congressman in which to consolidate his position in the district.
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Rand Paul is no threat to Democrats unless they make him one

Just my periodic reminder that the only possible way mystery meat presidential candidate Rand Paul could get the Democratic votes he would require to win a presidential election, assuming he somehow survived the GOP primaries, is for Democrats to cede in his favor multiple issues that would be attractive to the Democratic constituencies.

I used to think this was impossible, but so many Democrats seem to be scared of him that I begin to think it isn’t. Just this morning, a prominent Democratic polemicist called Paul’s foreign policy positions “incoherent,” and said that “incoherent foreign policy is frightening.” I suppose this is true, but is it any more frightening than some of our recent, allegedly coherent and undeniably violent, foreign policies? And will Democratic voters perceive it to be?
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Torturers, looters and oligarchs let their freak flags fly

The people who variously collapsed the economy, bought the political process and brought torture into polite society are tired of your disrespect and they’re not afraid to let you know it.

The latest in the parade of former Bush administration officials and CIA personnel to come in from the cold the suburbs and either defend or brag about their roles in the Bush torture regimen is psychologist James Mitchell, the prominent member of the helping professions who is credited with having designed the procedures used by the CIA to torture prisoners and is supposed to have tortured at least one prisoner himself. In an interview with The Guardian, Mitchell said “I’m just a guy who got asked to do something for his country by people at the highest level of government, and I did the best that I could.” Mitchell follows in the footsteps of former Vice President Dick Cheney and others who say the times required torture and the results justify it, and anyway it wasn’t torture.

In some circumstances, in some countries, admitting to having not just devised torture procedures but practicing them as well would land one in hot water. In the US, however, torturers have a very prominent advocate for letting bygones be bygones: the current President. In 2009, when he ordered the release of the documents the Bush administration’s legal team wrote to retroactively and prospectively justify torture, President Obama said that “[i]n releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution.”
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All across America, insurance company executives and insurance commissioners are doing spit takes

(Updated 11/14/2013)

Obamacare: despise it or hate it, it’s now the law of the land and we all need to accept it and make it … wait, what’s that? The President just changed the law? Okay then.

As you know, people and Republicans have been making a big noise, first about the continuing web site enrollment woes, and then about insurance company customers who are getting cancellation notices for their insurance policies after the President emphatically said for three years that “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan.” (You most likely couldn’t keep your plan but in fairness to the President, he probably thought nobody would want to.) In response to this less than joyful noise, the administration has come up with an administrative fix that they think will put the screws to the insurance companies they blame for the mess, but is almost certain to backfire: they’re allowing insurers to reinstate the cancelled plans if the various state insurance commissioners permit it.
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Lickspittles, Poltroons and Slubberdegullions

Referring, obviously, to congressional Democrats who wish to further reduce food stamp benefits and to cast a Nixon spell on the NSA, rendering all its predations lawful. The latter would be Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-NSA), who is expressing her outrage over the eavesdropping on allies by writing legislation that fully legitimates spying on citizens, and the former a host of other Democrats whose starting point in the negotiations about the SNAP program (food stamps) is a $4 billion cut on top of the $5 billion lost as the stimulus ends.
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James Comey, Obama’s candidate to head the FBI, approved illegal warrantless wiretapping and torture. Forward!

Then-Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama disappointed some of his liberal supporters when he voted in 2008 to immunize our country’s giant telecommunications firms from any consequences of cooperating with the Bush administration’s illegal warrantless wiretapping scheme. Now, he’s nominating a champion of that scheme to head the FBI.

James Comey, who served as John Ashcroft’s deputy in the Bush II justice department, is getting a lot of love from liberals for a 2004 episode in which he faced down senior Bush administration officials who attempted to bulldoze his hospitalized boss into extending his approval of an as-yet undisclosed National Security Agency assault on the Constitution. The administration scaled the program back from whatever so appalled the bed-ridden Ashcroft to the apparently less ambitious but still unconstitutional effort revealed by the New York Times in 2005 — after they politely sat on the story for a year at the administration’s behest — and approved by Ashcroft and Comey.

It was the telcoms’ cooperation with the scaled-down, Comey-approved program that gave Barack Obama the opportunity to earn their gratitude with his vote to immunize them from the criminal and financial liability for their actions. Despite some serious misgivings, Comey also signed on to the Bush administration’s authorization of torture. So the guy that the Democratic president wants to run the FBI, the guy that Charlie Pierce calls “a legitimate choice to head the FBI,” the guy Josh Marshall says “came down on the side of the rule of law,” is a guy who has a history of approving illegal government activities up to and including crimes against humanity.

More and more, the Obama administration brings to mind a political version of the famous Aristocrats joke.

“What do you call them?”

“The Liberals.”

This is why Democrats can’t have nice things

I’ve now read two opinion pieces, one by Charlie Pierce at Esquire last week and another by Jamelle Bouie at The American Prospect today, saying that the failure of various gun control measures proves that presidential leadership doesn’t work. They’re writing to defend President Obama from charges that he doesn’t use his position effectively to lobby for legislation he wants.

Both writers cited the speeches Obama has made and events he attended in the months since the massacre of innocents at Newtown. The number of these speeches and events can be described as a handful, as can the number of months since Newtown.  What Pierce and Bouie are saying, then, is that the President, with a handful of speeches and events during a handful of months, failed to overcome a deeply entrenched and effective gun lobby, and this proves that previous criticism of his lack of leadership is bunkum, that presidents, particularly ones facing the kind of opposition this one does, simply don’t have the power and influence to sway public opinion and legislator’s votes.

Part of the failure, which really shouldn’t be described as failure until the President gives up, is Harry Reid’s. The background check measure that was filibustered to death today would have passed, with a few Republicans voting “yes” and a few Democrats “no,” had Reid reined in the filibuster when he had the chance.

The other part of the failure can be laid at the feet of Pierce and Bouie and anyone else who thinks stumping for some legislation for a few months and giving up if you lose constitutes leadership. If the President keeps working for it and gun control proponents in Congress bring this legislation up repeatedly during this session and the next, and it still doesn’t pass, then we can talk. If he doesn’t keep at it, then it wasn’t leadership but a passing enthusiasm.

Republicans don’t give up this easily. They bring up the stupidest and nastiest ideas in the form of legislation every day they can for decades until they get what they want. Bush George-un worked his ass off, in his own way, on behalf of the Iraq invasion, campaigning for it almost daily for more than a year, sending out every recognizable name in his administration with every manner of lie, working the press like a geisha — a favor returned in spades — even when he was on vacation until he got a majority of legislators and ultimately a public majority to back him. That was leadership. He should be painting his little doggie portraits in a cell in the Hague because of it, but it was leadership.

If Democrats brought up Medicare-for-all legislation every year for 40 years, even when they were the minority, campaigned on it, built think tanks around it, I’m pretty sure we would have Medicare for all right now. Instead, we have comically low official tax rates for rich people and comically low effective ones for huge, profitable corporations, and a continuing erosion of social welfare and social insurance programs. This is not coincidence.

The President seems genuinely put out by the fate of the background check measure. I hope he doesn’t read what Pierce wrote — which includes, not for the first time, the sentiment that Obama is too good for America — and what Bouie wrote, and instead takes for his example people like James Brady and Gabrielle Giffords, who intend to keep trying despite suffering the effects of having been shot in the head, which is worse than not getting your way on some legislation that you put a few months of effort into.

Mr. Pierce, Mr. Bouie: grow up.