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A Hack On The Stomp: Lindsey Graham Forgets What “Everything” Means

Lindsey Graham sure does sound confident about 2012.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says the 2012 presidential election is the GOP’s to lose.

“President Obama has done everything he knows how to do to beat himself,” Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “The reason people have little [confidence] in President Obama’s policies is they’re just not working. Everything is worse.”

Now, as I recall, Graham’s record of election predictions isn’t exactly sterling. A week before the 2008 election, Graham was in North Carolina touting John McCain’s chances. “[McCain] fits North Carolina like a glove…. I’ll beat Michael Phelps in swimming before Barack Obama wins North Carolina.”

A week later, Obama won North Carolina. Michael Phelps was unavailable for comment.

The senator’s track record notwithstanding, I still think Republicans are making a mistake with this “everything is worse” nonsense. Sure, Graham’s a hack, more concerned with cheap shots than telling the public the truth, but he should nevertheless realize he’s making the wrong argument.

“Everything is worse”? That might make more sense were it not for the fact that:

* American job creation is better now than when Bush left office.

* American economic growth is better now than when Bush left office.

* Al Qaeda is dramatically weaker now than when Bush left office.

* The American automotive industry is vastly stronger now than when Bush left office.

* The struggle for equality of the LGBT community is vastly better now than when Bush left office.

* The U.S. health care system is better and more accessible than when Bush left office.

* The federal budget deficit is better now than when Bush left office.

* The major Wall Street indexes and corporate profits are better now than when Bush left office.

* International respect for the United States is better now than when Bush left office.

Want to try that again, Lindsey?

Whether Graham realizes it or not, he and his cohorts are inadvertently making President Obama’s pitch to voters significantly easier. By that I mean, they’re creating a standard for the debate: either conditions have improved since Obama took office or they haven’t. What the right still doesn’t understand is that this is the best of all possible standards for Democrats.

If the message to voters is, “The status quo stinks,” that’s a tough message for Dems to argue against, because as much progress as there’s been since late 2008, conditions are still awful for much of the country. We were in a very deep hole, and we’re not done climbing out.

But if the pitch is, “Obama made it worse,” that’s a much easier message for Dems to argue against because it’s demonstrably ridiculous.

Republicans, who are usually better at messaging than this, are setting up the wrong question. Instead of asking, “Did Obama make things good?” they’re urging voters to ask, “Did Obama make things worse?” Democrats much prefer the latter for a reason.

If all Obama has to do is prove he didn’t make things worse, he stands a much better chance.

By: Steve Benen, Washington Monthly Political Animal, September 18, 2011

September 19, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Deficits, Democrats, Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections, GOP, Health Care, Ideologues, Ideology, Jobs, Middle Class, Politics, President Obama, Public, Republicans, Right Wing, Teaparty, Unemployed, Voters | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Crazy To Insane: Conservatives Still Want More In Debt Ceiling Deal

Over on the progressive side of politics, they’re nursing their wounds and drowning their sorrows as details of the deal to increase the debt ceiling emerge. They feel like they lost to a Republican party that dug in and used the debt ceiling to achieve their goal of dramatically shrinking government spending and solving the deficit problem without raising a single penny in new revenue.

So they might be surprised to know that conservatives don’t think they won, either. The right, despite apparently negotiating Obama into a corner that pits him against large parts of his base, still isn’t satisfied.

“While this deal is moving in the right direction rhetorically thanks to pressure from conservatives, it still falls well short of the standards we have consistently laid out,” wrote the Heritage Action’s Michael Needham.

The group, a sister organization to the Heritage Foundation, says the upfront cuts included in the reported deal are “insufficient” and the super committee in charge of creating the next round of deficit reduction is a bad idea as reported.

“This deal highlights how dysfunctional Washington has become and we will continue to oppose it as insufficient to the task at hand,” Needham wrote.

On TV Sunday morning, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said he expected a large number of conservatives to share Heritage’s view.

“It’s a $3 trillion package that will allow $7 trillion to be added to the debt in the next decade,” Graham said, dismissively. “So how much celebrating are you going to do?”

Graham said he expected around half of the House GOP caucus to vote against the deal. It doesn’t have his vote yet, either.

One of the patron saints of those hardcore conservative Republicans in the House, blogger Erick Erickson, is also underwhelmed by the deal (it’s not the first time.)

Despite the fact that progressives and Democrats are publicly lamenting the reported deal as indicative of the effect of rhetoric like Erickson’s has had on Washington, Erickson sounds as if he feels as betrayed as some on the left.

“What we know about the pending deal is that the Democrats and Republicans are agreeing to a Deficit Commission,” Erickson wrote Sunday. “Despite the media spin — and the spin of some Republican sycophants — the deficit commission, which will be a super committee of the Congress, will have the power to come up with new tax revenue.”

By: Evan McMorris-Santero, Talking Points Memo, July 31, 2011

August 1, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, Constitution, Debt Ceiling, Debt Crisis, Deficits, Democracy, Democrats, Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections, GOP, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Journalists, Lawmakers, Media, Politics, President Obama, Press, Public, Republicans, Right Wing, Taxes, Teaparty, Voters | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Killing Of Osama bin Laden: Both Well Executed And Lawful

Some are questioning the legality of the raid in Pakistan that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden. Was it lawful for a team of Navy SEALs to launch a mission in Abbottabad without permission from Pakistani leaders? Did they comply with international strictures when they killed the al-Qaeda leader rather than capturing him and bringing him before a court of law?

In a word: yes.

The analysis must begin with the events of Sept. 11, 2001, when about 3,000 innocents were murdered by Osama bin Laden and his forces. There was no guesswork involved in pinpointing the culprits: He took credit for the bloodshed and reiterated his call for attacks against the United States and its allies. In passing the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) just one week later, Congress explicitly empowered the president to take all appropriate and necessary action against al-Qaeda, the Taliban and all those who helped or harbored them. It was, in short, a declaration of war, and Osama bin Laden was rightly targeted for his central role in the atrocities.

Absent a surrender, there is no question that U.S. forces would have been entitled to shoot him on sight had they encountered him on an Afghan battlefield. But that is not where the terrorist leader spent his time. After lengthy and intricate intelligence-gathering, the Obama administration tracked him to a heavily secured mansion in a city outside Islamabad populated by military officers and the country’s elite military academy. With suspicions high that Osama bin Laden enjoyed some semblance of official protection, the Obama administration rightly decided to proceed without notifying Pakistan.

International law recognizes a country’s inherent right to act in self-defense, and it makes no distinction between vindicating these rights through a drone strike or through a boots-on-the-ground operation. Administration officials have described the raid as a “kill or capture” mission and asserted that the SEALs would have taken Osama bin Laden alive had he surrendered and presented no threat to U.S. personnel or the others in the compound that night. This, according to official accounts, did not happen.

Much has been made of the disclosure that Osama bin Laden was unarmed, but this, too, is irrelevant in determining whether the operation was lawful. The SEALs entered the compound on a war footing, in the middle of the night, prepared to encounter hostile fire in what they believed to be the enemy leader’s hideout. They reported that they became embroiled in a firefight once inside; they had no way of knowing whether Osama bin Laden himself was armed. Even if he had signaled surrender, there is no reason to believe that danger had evaporated. As Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said during a congressional hearing on Wednesday: “From a Navy SEAL perspective, you had to believe that this guy was a walking IED,” prepared to blow up himself and those around him or possibly to detonate an explosive that would have engulfed the entire house.

It is easy in the light of day to second-guess decisions made in the heat of war. It is particularly easy for those who refuse to acknowledge that war in the first place. Based on information released by the administration, the covert military operation that brought down the most wanted terrorist in the world appears to have been gutsy and well executed. It was also lawful.

By: Editorial Board Opinion, The Washington Post, May 4, 2011

May 6, 2011 Posted by | 911, Congress, Democracy, Ground Zero, Homeland Security, Journalists, Middle East, National Security, President Obama, Terrorism | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Misguided Criticism: Obama Doesn’t Need To ‘Take The Lead’ In Libya

There’s been a lot of well-thought-out criticism of the Obama administration’s decision to intervene in Libya’s civil war with no clear objective, plan of exit or even comprehensive knowledge of the rebel forces. But one line of criticism, which is coming almost exclusively from the right, is thoroughly unpersuasive: The notion that America has to be seen as “taking the lead,” as South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham put it on Sunday:

“I am very worried we are taking a back seat rather than a leadership role,” he said on Fox News Sunday. “Isolate, strangle and replace this man. That should be our goal.”

According to Joint Chiefs Staff Director Vice Admiral Bill Gortney, the U.S. is running the operations focused on Libya, although Gortney emphasized during a Pentagon briefing yesterday that the U.S. is “working diligently to affect a smooth transition to a coalition command structure in the next few days.” The confusion seems to stem from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who attempted to stress the multilateral nature of the intervention by stating: “We did not lead this.”

Most of the arguments for why the U.S. should be seen as “taking the lead” seem to hinge on little more than the fact that so doing would be emotionally satisfying to those who have been agitating for intervention in Libya since hostilities began. On the other hand, Ross Douthat takes a different tack,arguing that the U.S. multilateral approach facilitates a “caution that shades into tactical incompetence.” But since the U.S. is still extricating itself from President George W. Bush’s unilateral invasion of Iraq, which didn’t exactly amount to “tactical competence,” this too is less than persuasive.

There are several reasons why the U.S. shouldn’t be seen as taking the lead. For one thing, the U.S. is already occupied with the aftermath of one war in Iraq and attempting to bring a more than decade-long operation in Afghanistan to its conclusion. The U.S. does not have unlimited military resources, and other countries that demanded intervention should take responsibility and offer contributions rather than free-riding off of the United States. The statements from the Arab League — which asked for intervention but then wavered when operations started — suggest that there really is a short shelf-life for the legitimacy for this operation in the Arab world, even though intervention initially had global support. If the operation goes badly, or takes far longer than advertised, it’s frankly in the U.S. interest not to be seen as having led the attack on a third Muslim country.

While the case for the international community attempting to prevent Libyan Dictator Moammar Gaddafi from massacring his own people is understandable, there are still reasons for skepticism that this intervention won’t actually compound the problem. But to the extent that the U.S. has decided to intervene in Libya, we should be relieved that the administration has decided to avoid shouldering the entire burden by itself. And we can only hope it actually turns out that way, and the U.S. isn’t left holding the bag.

By: Adam Serwer, The Washington Post, March 21, 2011

March 21, 2011 Posted by | Conservatives, Dictators, Foreign Policy, Ideologues, Libya, National Security, No Fly Zones, Obama, Politics, Qaddafi | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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