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“Oops, He Did It Again”: How John McCain Humiliated Himself On Susan Rice

We don’t yet really know as a society what a person has to do to completely and utterly cancel out a record of war heroism, but we may be about to find out. If this CBS News report is even close to accurate, John McCain’s arguments of the last few weeks about Susan Rice are thrashingly demolished. He has, or should have, zero credibility now on this issue. It will be fascinating to see if he emerges from the holiday weekend subtly chastened, attempting to shift gears a bit, or whether he keeps the pedal to the paranoid metal. He’s getting toward the sunset of what was once a reasonably distinguished career, a career (if we count his time in Vietnam) that began in the highest honor and has now descended into the darkest farce.

The CBS report found the following. It was the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that took the words “al Qaeda” and “terrorism” out of Rice’s talking points for those Sept. 16 talk shows. It found also that both the CIA and the FBI approved of these edits, following standard operating procedure. The report states emphatically: “The White House or State Department did not make those changes.” One source told the network’s Margaret Brennan that the controversy over the word choice employed by Rice has come to the intel world as “a bit of a surprise.” Another source said that there were “legitimate intelligence and legal issues to consider, as is almost always the case when explaining classified assessments publicly.”

There’s one bit of irony introduced to the saga by all these details, which is that this report crystallizes the fact that Rice did indeed hide some information from the public on Sept. 16—but it’s the kind of information that has always been concealed from public consumption, for the kinds of national-security-related reasons that the Washington establishment has always agreed upon. Historically, of course, if any person or persons have objected to this kind of filtering, they’ve typically been on the left. Think Daniel Ellsberg first and foremost. The right always defended this practice, on the grounds that making possibly sensitive information public too soon without the proper running of all the intelligence traps could only provide aid and comfort to the commies or the terrorists, as the case may be.

McCain certainly comes from this school. But this, you see, was different. Different from what, and different how, are both good questions. Different from those dozen or so attacks on American embassies while George W. Bush was president? It’s true that no Americans died in those raids, let alone an ambassador, and that obviously does raise the stakes. But it hardly means that our intelligence agencies should alter their procedures to meet the political demands of one party, or one senator, or one cable “news” channel. If anything, it means dramatically the opposite, and one has no trouble at all picturing, if Benghazi had happened in the heat of a presidential campaign in which a Republican president was seeking reelection, an unctuous McCain standing before the cameras and lambasting Democrats in highly moralistic language for politicizing such a sensitive tragedy.

Well, live by the moral sword, die by it. In the same way conservatives couldn’t see that Mitt Romney was going to lose because they believed only themselves and their own self-reinforcing propaganda, I think McCain probably isn’t aware right now of what a joke he’s becoming. He probably only goes to constituent meetings where they cheer on his desperate antics. I notice from cruising the Arizona papers that they’re not really laying into him yet—just a few guarded criticisms and expressions of disappointment in the letter columns and such. Most importantly of all, establishment Washington has adored him. As long as those shields are there, he can ignore people like me and the MSNBC crowd.

But how long will they be there? McCain, because of what he endured 45 years ago, is permitted more than three strikes. But how many more? In 2008, he foisted Sarah Palin upon an unsuspecting nation. After losing that race, he then turned his back on legislating as he faced a primary challenge from his right in 2010, switching from being one of the few senators who actually took his work seriously enough to try to be a leader on compromise to becoming one of the body’s chief obstructionists and windbags across a range of issues. And now, 2012, has found him slandering his country’s ambassador to the United Nations on the basis of no evidence, creating circumstances that have forced U.S. intelligence agencies to defend their usually private methods in public, and of course laid the groundwork for future and wholly spurious impeachment proceedings. So this last one alone is three strikes, plus probably a couple others I’m not remembering.

McCain is maybe entitled to four or five strikes. But not six or seven. Will he stand down now from this embarrassing crusade? A McCain of a few years ago might have been capable of acknowledging error and saying that if Rice is nominated to be secretary of state, he is now prepared to confirm her, provided she addresses certain concerns to his satisfaction at her hearings. Can today’s McCain do any such thing?

And will tomorrow’s McCain go back to endorsing bipartisan immigration reform? With Republicans rushing to adopt this position, one would think that it would be a natural for McCain—to become, as he was in 2005, the lead Republican on any such legislation. But is he even interested in that anymore? Once you’ve hopped on the Crooked Talk Express, detraining isn’t easy.


BY: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, November 25, 2012

November 25, 2012 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Future Of The American Union”: Lincoln, Liberty And Two Americas

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”

Those are the opening words of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and they seem eerily prescient today because once again this country finds itself increasingly divided and pondering the future of this great union and the very ideas of liberty and equality for all.

The gap is growing between liberals and conservatives, the rich and the not rich, intergenerational privilege and new-immigrant power, patriarchy and gender equality, the expanders of liberty and the withholders of it. And that gap, which has geographic contours — the densely populated coastal states versus the less densely populated states of the Rocky Mountains, Mississippi Delta and Great Plains — threatens the very concept of a United States and is pushing conservatives, left quaking after this month’s election, to extremes.

Some have even moved to make our divisions absolute. The Daily Caller reported last week “more than 675,000 digital signatures appeared on 69 separate secession petitions covering all 50 states,” according to its analysis of requests made through the White House’s “We the People” online petition system.

According to The Daily Caller, “Petitions from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas residents have accrued at least 25,000 signatures, the number the Obama administration says it will reward with a staff review of online proposals.” President Obama lost all those states, except Florida, in November.

The former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul took to his Congressional Web site to laud the petitions of those bent on leaving the union, writing that “secession is a deeply American principle.” He continued: “If the possibility of secession is completely off the table there is nothing to stop the federal government from continuing to encroach on our liberties and no recourse for those who are sick and tired of it.”

The Internet has been lit up with the incongruity of Lincoln’s party becoming the party of secessionists.

But even putting secession aside, it is ever more clear that red states are becoming more ideologically strident and creating a regional quasi country within the greater one. They are rushing to enact restrictive laws on everything from voting to women’s health issues.

As Monica Davey reported in The New York Times on Friday, starting in January, “one party will hold the governor’s office and majorities in both legislative chambers in at least 37 states, the largest number in 60 years and a significant jump from even two years ago.”

As the National Conference of State Legislatures put it, “thanks to an apparent historic victory in Arkansas, Republicans gained control of the old South, turning the once solidly Democratic 11 states of the Confederacy upside down.” Arkansas will be the only one of these states with a Democratic governor.

As Davey’s article pointed out, single-party control raises “the prospect that bold partisan agendas — on both ends of the political spectrum — will flourish over the next couple of years.” But it seems that “both ends of the political spectrum” should not be misconstrued as being equal. Democrats may want to expand personal liberties, but Republicans have spent the last few years working feverishly to restrict them.

According to a January report from the Guttmacher Institute: “By almost any measure, issues related to reproductive health and rights at the state level received unprecedented attention in 2011. In the 50 states combined, legislators introduced more than 1,100 reproductive health and rights-related provisions, a sharp increase from the 950 introduced in 2010. By year’s end, 135 of these provisions had been enacted in 36 states, an increase from the 89 enacted in 2010 and the 77 enacted in 2009.” Almost all the 2011 provisions were enacted in states with Republican-controlled legislatures.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, at least 180 restrictive voting bills were introduced since the beginning of 2011 in 41 states. Most of the states that passed restrictive voting laws have Republican-controlled legislatures.

An N.C.S.L. report last year found “the 50 states and Puerto Rico have introduced a record 1,538 bills and resolutions relating to immigrants and refugees in the first quarter of 2011. This number surpasses the first quarter of 2010 by 358.” That trend slowed in 2012 in large part because of legal challenges. Many of the states that had enacted anti-immigrant laws or adopted similar resolutions by March of last year, again, had Republican-controlled legislatures.

We are moving toward two Americas with two contrasting — and increasingly codified — concepts of liberty. Can such a nation long endure?

By: Charles M. Blow, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, November 23, 2012

November 25, 2012 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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