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“He’s Mike Huckabee And He Approves A Suspect Message”: The Lasting Damage To Huckabee’s Reputation Is Now Complete

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s latest video has the look and feel of an infomercial, because to a very real degree, that’s exactly what it is.

Those who go to the “Diabetes Reversed” website are greeted with an auto-play video from the Republican presidential hopeful, in which Huckabee tells viewers about an “amazing” treatment option for people with Type 2 diabetes (thanks to reader P.A. for the tip).

“Hello, I’m Mike Huckabee. Let me tell you that diabetes can be reversed. I should know because I did it and today you can too. It’s all about making simple lifestyle changes and healthier food choices. And there is no other way to reverse diabetes.

“Prescription drugs aren’t going to cure you. They’re only going to keep you a loyal, pill-popping, finger-pricking, insulin-shooting customer so Big Pharma and the mainstream medical community can rake in over $100 billion a year annually.

“But that’s not your only option. You can avoid the side effects that could lead to needing more drugs. You don’t have to be a part of this failed system any longer, because today you have an amazing opportunity to stop diabetes in its tracks – and actually reverse it, just as I did, simply and naturally.”

In the video, the former governor proceeds to make a pitch for a “profound” diabetes treatment option, which he claims leads “most” people to be rid of medication “within four weeks.” To “make the plan work,” Huckabee says, customers will need the kind of “structure” provided by the infomercial’s sponsor. “I should know; it works,” he assures viewers about the “natural secrets that are backed by real science.”

Blurring the lines between infomercial and campaign ad, the Republican ends the video by saying, “I’m Mike Huckabee and I approve Barton Publishing’s Diabetes Solution Kit.”

A New York Times report added, “The American Diabetes Association and the Canadian Diabetes Association caution against treatments like the one peddled by the company Mr. Huckabee represents.”

So what in the world is the former Fox News host and likely presidential candidate doing?

Even as he seeks to put the ghosts of 2008 behind by winning over major Republican donors, he has pursued some highly unconventional income streams – not just the diabetes endorsement, but selling ads on email commentaries he sends to thousands of his supporters.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Huckabee declined to say how much he earned from these efforts. But she said he had broken off as a spokesman for the diabetes cure a couple of weeks ago, suggesting concerns that the unusual endorsements may appear un-presidential. […]

One ad arriving in January in the inboxes of Huckabee supporters, who signed up for his political commentaries at MikeHuckabee.com, claims there is a miracle cure for cancer hidden in the Bible. The ad links to a lengthy Internet video, which offers a booklet about the so-called Matthew 4 Protocol. It is “free” with a $72 subscription to a health newsletter.

Another recent pitch sent out to Huckabee’s supporters carried the subject line “Food Shortage Could Devastate Country.” It promoted Food4Patriots survival food kits, described as the “No. 1 item you should be hoarding.”

Huckabee began using his name and mailing list as a lucrative tool for dubious enterprises several years ago, and it appears to be a habit he’s reluctant to break. Even after the former GOP governor gave up his Fox News gig, he continued to send out emails with “really questionable ads.”

Republican primary voters will have to decide for themselves whether they’re comfortable voting for an infomercial spokesperson for national office, and whether they believe someone who believes America’s medical professionals are engaged in a racket should serve in the White House, but the lasting damage to Huckabee’s reputation appears to already be complete.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, March 16, 2015

March 17, 2015 Posted by | American Diabetes Association, GOP Presidential Candidates, Mike Huckabee | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Look Over There!”: The Plot Thins On The Clinton Email ‘Scandal’

So over the weekend, the Times, which had already walked back some of the wilder implications of its Hillary Clinton-email reporting, did so just a little bit more. It did it under a provocative (though basically defensible) headline that tried to make it sound like the plot was thickening, but in fact this plot is thinning faster than Tony Blair’s hair (seriously, have a look).  What began life two weeks ago as another “Clintons play by their own rules” mega-scandal is now pretty clearly devolving into a “what do you expect, it’s the government” saga that is about as dog-bites-man as it gets.

The Times headline, on A1 Saturday, proclaimed: “Emails Clinton Said Were Kept Could Be Lost.” The article, co-bylined by the reporter who broke the original story and another, reported that the State Department did not start automatically archiving the state.gov email traffic of deputies until February of this year. This bit of information came from department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, who discussed this at her daily briefing the day before (i.e. last Friday).

Now. Remember what Clinton had said at her UN press conference last week—that even though she used a personal address, everything she wrote to her deputies’ state.gov addresses was archived: “The vast majority of my work emails went to government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department.”

She’s right that they were captured, but that doesn’t mean they were archived, according to what Psaki said Friday. So the Times put those two factoids together and produced its Saturday piece, the most dramatic possible reading of events, which opened by informing readers that contrary to what Clinton had said, not everyone at State was required to archive their email correspondence, so maybe some of those emails she told us had been preserved had quite possibly not.

It’s a defensible news story. But here’s the thing. If you read farther down into the article—and certainly, if you read the transcript of Psaki’s Friday briefing—the picture that is very clearly beginning to emerge here is one of a lumbering department (is there any other kind when it comes to matters like this?) taking a long time (shocking!) to get itself into compliance with regulations and laws. Toward the end of the Times article, it quotes experts saying the kinds of throw-up-your-hands things that people say when they think a situation is unfortunate but not genuinely a scandal (“it really is chaos across the government in terms of what agencies do, what individuals do, and people understand that they can decide what they save and what they don’t”).

As for the State briefing, here’s what happened. Psaki fielded a question that went: “You had said that you would check—yesterday, you said a couple of times that you’re now automatically archiving…the emails of certain principals.” Psaki said yes, that process started in February of this year (there’s your news). Somebody else asked, naturally enough, why not until February of this year:

Psaki: “Out of an effort to continue to update our process. Our goal, actually, is to apply an archiving system that meets these same requirements to all employee mailboxes by the end of 2016. So it’s only natural that you’d start with the Secretary, which we did in 2013; that you would progress with other senior Department officials, and we’ll continue to make—take steps forward.”

Then somebody asked, again naturally enough, why not sooner. “I’m sure,” she said, “if we had the technical capability to, we would have, and it’s just a process that takes some time.” And then later: “This has been a process that’s been ongoing, and obviously, it’s not only time-consuming and requires a lot of effort on the part of employees to do it in other ways, but they have long been planning to do this. It’s just something that it took some time to put in place.”

You get the idea. Anybody shocked to hear those words? A government agency got a directive, and it’s taking a long time to implement it!

Now, you can blame Hillary Clinton for all this if you want to. She was the boss, and in some sense the buck stops at the boss’s desk. But don’t you think the secretary kinda has bigger things on her mind than this? “Hey, Steinberg, forget Middle East peace and Russia and just go find out where we are on compliance with that 2009 National Archives and Records Administration directive!”

In other words—a lot of what has happened here would probably have happened no matter who was secretary of state. If the secretary had been John Kerry then or Dick Holbrooke or whomever—why, even if it had been Clinton scold Maureen Dowd!—the department would almost surely have operated exactly as it did in terms of regulatory compliance. So, if some of these records weren’t preserved, it wasn’t a Clinton thing. It was a State Department thing.

Now obviously, the issue of whether we can trust that Clinton and her staff made an honest effort of determining which of her emails were public and which were private remains. That’s a fair question, although it’s one we’ll probably never know the answer to (just as we’ll never know it with Jeb Bush). As I wrote previously, Clinton needs to learn some lessons from this episode, and one is that suspicions will linger about her.

She ought to be cognizant of this. Not long after she becomes a candidate, for example, she ought to say that this episode has taught her about the importance of transparency and propose that if she is president, her administration will set up a system by which some kind of independent third parties will go through high-level officials’ emails to determine what is and isn’t public. This would constitute direct acknowledgement that she gets why that looks funny to people, and it would not only put the whole thing to bed, she’d get actual points.

But in the meantime, here’s what we’ve learned. On March 2, when the story broke, this was dynamite—a scandal that might prevent Clinton from even getting in the race. Then it emerged that the original Times report overstated things a little. Then it emerged that all kinds of other former secretaries of state and cabinet officials do more or less what Clinton did (some quite a bit less). Then it emerged that Jeb Bush took seven years to release all his emails and chose which ones to put out just like Clinton did. Then it emerged that other Republican candidates also have transparency issues at least the equal of Clinton’s. And finally, it emerged last Friday that the State Department performs certain administration functions rather slowly.

And remember, the only reason we’re going through all this anyway is that the Republicans, who’ve investigated Benghazi six ways to Sunday and come up with nothing on her, are now taking rocks they’ve already turned over and turning them back over. The whole Gowdy committee is nothing but a capital-P Political sting operation. It’s clearer than ever now that this is a committee to investigate Clinton that has one job and one job only: find something, anything, that might keep her out of the White House.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, March 16, 2015

March 17, 2015 Posted by | Hillary Clinton, Republicans, State Department | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Neocons Strike Back”: War Should Be Welcomed And Advocated Without Apology

It’s been a while, so you may have forgotten just what a great time it was for the national security hawks widely known as neoconservatives back in 2002 and 2003. With the memory of September 11 still fresh and Republicans controlling the White House and Congress, there was little to stand in the way of the dream of remaking the map of the Middle East, the region that had so vexed us for so long. Democrats sure weren’t going to—most of them were only too eager to show that they weren’t lily-livered pacifists, so they provided barely any impediment at all to a new war.

Sure, when it came to justifying an invasion of Iraq, the hawks had to exaggerate a little here, twist the facts a little there, spin out ridiculous scenarios everywhere. But it would all be worth it once victory was won. Saddam Hussein would fall, we’d quickly set up a new government, and democracy would spread through the region as a glorious new age dawned, brought forth by the beneficent power of American arms.

Then, of course, everything went wrong. Four thousand Americans dead, a couple of trillion dollars spent, Iraq ripped apart by sectarian conflict, and one clear victor in the war: Iran, which saw a dangerous enemy removed by the U.S. and a friendly government installed in Baghdad. Back at home, the neocons saw themselves mocked and scorned, and even worse, saw Barack Obama become president of the United States.

But they stayed true to their faith. They did not abandon for a moment the idea that with the proper application of military force, any country in the Middle East can be made to bend to America’s will. They knew their time would come again.

And maybe it has, or at least that time is growing closer. Forty-seven senators, nearly all of the upper house’s Republicans, sent a letter to the Iranian government intended to persuade it against signing a deal currently being negotiated with the United States and five other countries. It may have been a P.R. fiasco, but it clarified Republican thinking. They all agree with Benjamin Netanyahu that a “bad deal” with Iran is worse than no deal at all. As far as they’re concerned, any deal the Iranians would agree to is bad almost by definition. And if there’s no deal, then the case for war becomes so much clearer.

On Sunday, one such hawk, Joshua Muravchik, wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post stating bluntly what many of them were probably thinking but were afraid to say: Iran’s leaders can’t be reasoned with, sanctions won’t work, and that leaves us with only one alternative. “Does this mean that our only option is war? Yes, although an air campaign targeting Iran’s nuclear infrastructure would entail less need for boots on the ground than the war Obama is waging against the Islamic State, which poses far smaller a threat than Iran does.” In other words: Urgent as the need for war is, this will be easy. You might even call it a cakewalk.

How many neocons read Muravchik’s piece and went aquiver with delight? Sure, some people reacted with horror. But now it’s been said: War isn’t something we should fear or something to avoid. It should be welcomed and advocated without apology. There will be assurances of reluctance, of course—we wish it hadn’t come to this, truly we do!—but there will be no shame.

That’s particularly important; for such a long time, those who cheered us into war with Iraq have been told that shame is precisely what they ought to feel. But that kind of shame is not in the constitution of those who know that if you want to make an omelet, sometimes you have to bomb a few chicken farms to dust. And what Iran offers now is redemption. The success of this next war will wipe away everything that went wrong with the last one. This time, we’ll get it right.

We’ll destroy the Iranian nuclear facilities from the air in a series of precision strikes that leave their targets in rubble and produce no collateral damage. The people of Iran will cheer the American warplanes, then take the opportunity to overthrow the regime that has oppressed them for so long. With the Iranian problem solved, Israel will be safe and all the conflicts of the region will quiet, fade, and then disappear. Democracy and freedom will spread, for real this time. And everyone will look to the neocon hawks with admiration in their eyes and say, “You were right. You were right all along.”

That is their dream. And it will be easier to realize than you may think—at least up until the point where the bombs start falling. Spend the next year and a half sowing the seeds, writing the op-eds, going on television, giving the speeches, making the dark predictions of cataclysm should we fail to muster the courage to act. If the Iranians walk away from negotiations, declare that we now have no choice but to use force; if there is an agreement, declare that its weakness is precisely why we have no choice but to use force. Condemn those who disagree as weaklings who refuse to stand up to the ayatollahs and their plan to destroy Israel and then the United States. Pressure the Republican presidential candidates to take the most hawkish position possible, as they compete to see who’s the toughest and strongest. If next November brings the blessed return of a Republican to the White House, with a Republican Congress behind him, the war will be all but begun.

Yes, the neocon moment may be at hand once again. Aren’t you excited?

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect, March 15, 2015

March 17, 2015 Posted by | Iran, Neo-Cons, War Hawks | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Senate’s 47 Percent”: Many Republicans Seem To Believe Anything Is Permissible As Long As It’s Designed To Foil Obama

In September 2002, three Democratic congressmen visited Iraq in an effort to prevent a war they thought was a terrible idea.

Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) said very little there, explaining afterward that his sole purpose was to tell Iraqi officials that “if they want to prevent a war, they need to prevail upon Saddam Hussein to provide unrestricted, unfettered access to the weapons inspectors.”

On the other hand, former Rep. David Bonior (D-MI) and especially Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) were quite outspoken while on Iraqi soil. McDermott urged Americans to take Saddam’s promises on weapons inspections at “face value” and charged that President Bush was willing to “mislead the American people.”

Needless to say, supporters of Bush and his policies did not deal kindly with McDermott and Bonior. Writing at the time in the pro-war Weekly Standard, Stephen Hayes called them “The Baghdad Democrats” and said: “What apparently didn’t concern the congressmen was the damage their trip might do abroad to any U.S.-led effort to deal with Saddam.”

Perhaps it’s not surprising that Republicans are now reminding everyone of the trio’s journey. To defend the 47 Republican senators who signed a letter to “the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” they invoke the everybody-does-it argument: that interfering with a president conducting a negotiation is as American as apple pie.

The letter itself, written in strangely condescending language that a good civics teacher would never use, instructs the Iranians about our Constitution. Any deal reached by President Obama without congressional approval would be nothing more than an “executive agreement,” the senators said. It could be voided “with the stroke of a pen” by a future president, and “future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.” It was a blatant effort to blow up the negotiations.

In fact, it is utterly baffling that champions of this letter would even bring up McDermott and his colleagues. For one thing, many of the very same people who denounced the Democratic trio are now praising the letter. Hayes, for example, in an article posted last week headlined “A Contrived Controversy,” said the letter, offered by “patriotic senators,” was “a fact-based, substantive argument, in public, about a matter of critical importance to the national security of the United States.”

Let’s see: It’s patriotic if members of Congress contact a foreign leader to interfere with a president whose policies you don’t like, but outrageous for politicians to do a similar thing to undermine a president whose policies you support.

Which goes to the larger point: The three members of Congress went to Iraq on their own, without any support from their party’s leaders, and were actively taken to task even by opponents of Bush’s policies. At the time, I wrote a column highly critical of the visit that I didn’t enjoy writing because I respect the three men. I also noted that, in light of all the pressures to fall into line behind Bush, “anyone with the gumption to dissent these days deserves some kudos for courage.”

Nonetheless, I argued that just as the Vietnam anti-war movement was damaged by “the open identification of some in its ranks with America’s enemies,” so did the congressional visit set back the cause of those who, at the time, were trying to get Congress to pass a far more restrained war resolution.

By contrast, the 47 Republicans undercutting Obama included the Senate majority leader and the chairman of the Armed Services Committee and clearly speak for most of their party. Only seven Senate Republicans, to their credit, refused to sign, including Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Two stipulations: While I support Obama’s effort to reach an agreement with Iran, I also believe in a strong congressional role in setting foreign policy and embrace the freedom to dissent from a president’s choices on war, peace and diplomacy. And, yes, most of us have had moments of inconsistency when our beliefs about a substantive matter distorted our views on process issues.

But tossing off a letter to leaders of a foreign state plainly designed to sandbag a president in the middle of negotiations goes far beyond normal procedural disagreements. It makes Congress and the United States look foolish to the world. It weakens our standing with allies and adversaries alike. And, yes, many Republicans seem to believe anything is permissible as long as it’s designed to foil Obama.

This is far more damaging to us than what those three congressmen did in Baghdad.

 

By: E. J. Dionne, Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, March 15, 2015

March 17, 2015 Posted by | 47 Traitors, Congress, Foreign Policy | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Things Could Get Complicated”: If Netanyahu Loses, Will Republicans Still Be ‘Pro-Israel’?

The Israeli election takes place tomorrow, and there is a real possibility that Benjamin Netanyahu will lose. While the election will be close and the intricate coalition system the country uses leaves lots of room for uncertainty, the final election polls showed Netanyahu’s Likud Party trailing the Labor-led Zionist Union; Netanyahu is even telling his own supporters he could be headed for defeat, which is not something one ordinarily hears from a politician on the eve of an election.

Here in the United States, that raises an interesting question. In recent years, the Republican Party has elevated “support for Israel” to a level of passion and consensus usually reserved for things such as tax cuts and opposition to abortion rights. But that happened during a string of conservative Israeli governments. If Israel is led by a Labor Party prime minister and begins to change some of its policies, will Republicans decide that “support” is more complicated than they used to think?

It may be hard to remember now, but Israel became a Republican fetish object relatively recently. At times in the past, support for Israel was seen as a liberal cause, but as the Labor Party’s long dominance of the country’s politics faded and policy toward the Palestinians hardened, Republicans became more and more devoted to the country. The real shift probably started in 2001, when Ariel Sharon took over for the last Labor prime minister, Ehud Barak. Since then, the opinions of Democrats and Republicans about Israel have diverged, and the Republican evangelical base has grown intensely interested in the country. These days, one of the first things a freshman Republican member of Congress does is book a trip to the Holy Land (lots of Democrats go, too, it should be said). Mike Huckabee leads regular tours there. Sarah Palin used to brag that she displayed an Israeli flag in her office during her brief tenure as governor of Alaska. Given the rapturous reception he got from GOP members when he came at John Boehner’s invitation to address Congress, Netanyahu could become the 2016 Republican nominee for president in a landslide, if it were possible.

But what you don’t find within the Republican Party when it comes to Israel is anything resembling a debate. As far as Republicans are concerned, Israel is just right; whatever Israel wants to do is right; and whatever Israel asks of the United States is precisely what we should do. The only question is whether you’re “supporting” the country with the proper zeal. Republicans don’t concern themselves much with the lively debates over policy within Israel, because the government is controlled by conservatives (Netanyahu’s Likud Party has ruled since 2001, with an interregnum of control by Kadima, a Likud offshoot). “Support for Israel” just means support for the current Israeli government.

But tomorrow, Republicans could learn that by the standard they’ve been using, most Israelis are insufficiently pro-Israel. And then what? What if a Labor-led government moves toward a two-state solution, or a curtailing of Jewish settlement in the West Bank? And what if those changes are enthusiastically supported by President Obama and Hillary Clinton? “Support for Israel” sounds great when the country’s prime minister and a Democratic president regard each other with barely disguised contempt, but things could get complicated.

That might actually force Republicans to think about Israel, and America’s relationship to it, with a little more nuance. They’d have to admit that when they used to say “I support Israel,” what they actually meant was that they support the Likud and its vision for Israel’s future. More broadly, they’d have to acknowledge that one can disagree with what the Israeli government does and still support the country, since that’s the position they would find themselves in. They might even realize that you can take a one-week trip to the country during which you climb Masada and go for a dip in the Sea of Galilee and still not know everything there is to know about the Middle East.

Maybe expecting Republican politicians to arrive at a complex understanding of an important foreign policy concern is a little too much to ask. But there’s always hope.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, March 16, 2015

March 17, 2015 Posted by | Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel, Republicans | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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