Obama Denies that Afghanistan is Another Vietnam

Dec 01 2009 Published by under Featured News

During his speech tonight announcing that 30,000 more troops will be sent to Afghanistan, President Barack Obama took aim at a popular criticism from the Left that Afghanistan is another Vietnam. Obama said, “I believe this argument depends upon a false reading of history.”

The President said, “First, there are those who suggest that Afghanistan is another Vietnam. They argue that it cannot be stabilized, and we are better off cutting our losses and rapidly withdrawing. Yet this argument depends upon a false reading of history.”

He continued, “Unlike Vietnam, we are joined by a broad coalition of 43 nations that recognizes the legitimacy of our action. Unlike Vietnam, we are not facing a broad-based popular insurgency. And most importantly, unlike Vietnam, the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan, and remain a target for those same extremists who are plotting along its border. To abandon this area now – and to rely only on efforts against al Qaeda from a distance – would significantly hamper our ability to keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and create an unacceptable risk of additional attacks on our homeland and our allies.

Obama is right. Afghanistan is not another Vietnam. He is making sure of it by not sending the nation in an open ended commitment as LBJ did decades ago. People who compare Afghanistan to Vietnam hopefully will realize that Obama is not LBJ. This is a different conflict for a different time.

This speech, although it invoked 9/11, was complete opposite of what George W. Bush had been passing off as vision for years. Obama laid out goals, objectives, and an endgame. These are three things that were never clear in the Bush Administration’s strategy. It is clear now why Obama took so long to make a decision. He was not only deciding on troops, but coming up with a comprehensive strategy.

He is correct that America can’t bail out on Afghanistan, but much like Iraq, an endgame must be set, or else the government there will never take responsibility. Obama’s speech itself was comprehensive, but he has a tough, almost impossible, sell to make to the left if he expects them to get on board with this decision.

Full Text of Obama’s Speech

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House Healthcare Bill Puts Nutrition Labels on Big Macs and Vending Machines

Nov 18 2009 Published by under Featured News

There is a ton of misinformation out there about the healthcare bills working their way through Congress, but here is a something that is actually in the bill. It would require nutrition labels on fast food, like Big Macs, and nutrition information to be posted about the contents of vending machines.

Sec. 2572 of the bill states, “Except for food described in subclause (vii), in the case of food that is a standard menu item that is offered for sale in a restaurant or similar retail food establishment that is part of a chain with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name (regardless of the type of ownership of the locations) and offering for sale substantially the same menu items, the restaurant or similar retail food establishment shall disclose the information described in subclauses (ii) and (iii).”

Here is how the nutritional information must be displayed, “in a nutrient content disclosure statement adjacent to the name of the standard menu item, so as to be clearly associated with the standard menu item, on the menu board, including a drive-through menu board, the number of calories contained in the standard menu item, as usually prepared and offered for sale; and

(bb) a succinct statement concerning suggested daily caloric intake, as specified by the Secretary by regulation and posted prominently on the menu board, designed to enable the public to understand, in the context of a total daily diet, the significance of the nutrition information that is provided on the menu board;

(III) in a written form, available on the premises of the restaurant or similar retail establishment and to the consumer upon request, the nutrition information required under clauses (C) and (D) of subparagraph (1); and

(IV) on the menu or menu board, a prominent, clear, and conspicuous statement regarding the availability of the information described in item (III).”

Remember that this section only applies to areas that have 20 or more vending machines, so it likely won’t apply to most office and school vending machines. It makes perfect sense to require nutritional information on fast food packages. I doubt that having the info will deter consumers from having that upsized meal, but those same consumers deserve the right to read about what they are eating.

Some conservatives will be outraged by what they see as government interference with the private sector, but those same people have demonstrated that will get upset by almost anything that the Democrats do. This provision is a great example of how easy it for a bill to expand to over 2,000 pages.

H/T: Congress.org

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Pressure Grows On House Republicans to Condemn Anti-Semitic Signs

Nov 06 2009 Published by under Featured News

As House Republicans continue to play blind, deaf, and dumb, various Jewish organizations came out today and condemned the anti-Semitic signs that were visible during yesterday’s tea bagger protest of healthcare reform in Washington, D.C. Elie Wiesel said, “This kind of political hatred is indecent and disgusting.”

Here are the signs:

Photo via Politico:

Photo from Think Progress:

Mark Weitzman of The Simon Wiesenthal Center said, “Using the victims of the Holocaust in the debate over health care is a cheap and disgusting abuse of history. It reflects only the ignorance and callousness of those who cannot debate an issue on its merits and should be immediately repudiated by all responsible parties. Both the memory of the victims of the Nazis and the American public deserve better.”

The National Jewish Democratic Council called the signs outright anti-Semitism, “Today’s G.O.P. “Tea Party” on Capitol Hill opposing health insurance reform invoked disgusting Holocaust imagery and outright anti-Semitism. Top Republican Party leaders including House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), and House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-IN) stood before a crowd that included a banner protesting health care reform and displaying corpses from the Holocaust. Yet another sign charged that “Obama takes his orders from the Rothchilds”]. Such vile invocations of Nazi and Holocaust rhetoric have been condemned in recent weeks by rabbinic movements, The Interfaith Alliance, and The American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants.”

The group also called on House GOP leaders to condemn the signs, “The time has come for Boehner, Cantor, Pence and other G.O.P. leaders — especially those who were present today — to condemn these disgusting comparisons and anti-Semitism. They must tell their base once and for all to cut out this despicable pattern of Holocaust imagery and rhetoric.”

House Minority Leader John Boehner must be legally freaking blind, because his spokesman told Politico, “Leader Boehner did not see any such sign. Obviously, it would be grossly inappropriate.” This see no evil, hear no evil approach was the same reaction that GOP leaders had when these types of signs started popping up at McCain/Palin events during the general election last fall.

The Republican Party is completely unaware of the fact that the party extremists are the reason why their party is shrinking. Bring anti-Semitic signs to a Capitol Hill protest is not the action of a big tent party. The GOP is now courting a small group of fringe radicals who are more obsessed with being ideologically pure than politically relevant.

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Sen. Hatch: The GOP is Opposing Healthcare Reform Because People Will like It

Nov 02 2009 Published by under Featured News

In an interview with CNS News Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch admitted the real reason why the Republican Party is opposed to healthcare reform is that they are worried that people will like it and vote Democrat in future elections.

Here is the video:

At about the 20 minute mark, Hatch talked about this healthcare reform as a step towards socialized medicine, “That’s their goal. Move people into government that way. Do it in increments. They’ve actually said it. They’ve said it out loud…A step-by-step approach to socialized medicine. And if they get there, of course, you’re going to have a very rough time having a two-party system in this country, because almost everybody’s going to say, “All we ever were, all we ever are, all we ever hope to be depends on the Democratic Party.”

As Think Progress pointed out Hatch’s concern about the fate of the two party system is an old argument first advanced by Ronald Reagan back in 1961. In reference to Medicare, Reagan said, “If you don’t [stop Medicare] and I don’t do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.

Orrin Hatch accidentally let the truth slip out. Republicans are terrified that people will like healthcare reform, so much that they will reward Democrats at the polls. Their opposition has nothing to do with the issue of healthcare, and everything to do with the fact that the GOP is worried about their future as a party.

The argument Hatch is advancing is just as illogical and nonsensical as the one Reagan used in 1961. In the decades since the passage of Medicare, Republicans have no trouble getting elected, and have enjoyed periods when they have flourished, and I am certain that healthcare reform would not equal the end of the GOP.

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Kerry: Dick Cheney Doesn’t Respect the Constitution

Aug 30 2009 Published by under Featured News

Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) were on ABC’s This Week today where Kerry unloaded on former vice president Dick Cheney after Cheney blasted the decision to investigate CIA interrogation abuses. Kerry said, “Dick Cheney has shown through the years, frankly, a disrespect for the Constitution, for sharing of information with Congress…”

On Fox News Sunday today, Cheney said, “I think it’s a terrible decision. It’s clearly a political move. There’s no other rationale for why they’re doing this.”

He also invoked 9/11 and claimed to be defending the CIA, “I think it’s a direct slap at the CIA. I don’t think it will work. I think that if they were faced with the kind of situation we were faced with in the aftermath of 9/11, suddenly capturing people that may have knowledge about imminent attacks, and they’re going to have to have meetings and decide who gets to ask what question and who’s going to Mirandize the witness — I just — I think it’s — it’s silly.”

Kerry replied, “Well, Dick Cheney has shown through the years, frankly, a disrespect for the Constitution, for sharing of information with Congress, respect for the law, and I’m not surprised that he is upset about this.”

He continued, “The Obama administration has no intention — I think the president himself has been unbelievably bending in the direction of trying to be careful about what happens to national security, protecting our national security interests, being very sensitive about the CIA’s prerogatives and needs and so forth.”

I wish somebody would come out and give the real reason for Dick Cheney’s vigorous defense of torture. He is trying to save his own skin. Cheney’s explanation sets up the false premise that the CIA was acting alone. This is not true. Cheney was running operations from the vice president’s office. Cheney constantly used his office to pressure the intelligence community.

If the CIA crossed the line, it was because someone ordered them to, and it is a pretty safe bet that Dick Cheney was involved. Cheney isn’t trying to keep America safe, defend his legacy, or the CIA. He is trying to save his own skin. There is nothing political about wanting to correct some of the most shameful abuses of power in recent American history. The true shame is that people like Cheney carried out these abuses in the name of the American people.

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Dick Cheney Blames Richard Clarke for 9/11

Jun 01 2009 Published by under Featured News

While speaking at the National Press Club today, former vice president Dick Cheney, passed blame for 9/11 away from the Bush administration and on to former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke. Cheney said, Dick Clarke, who was the head of the counterrorism program in the run-up to 9/11. He obviously missed it.”

This stated with an op-ed that Clarke wrote in yesterday’s Washington Post. Clarke wrote, “Yes, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice may have been surprised by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — but it was because they had not listened. And their surprise led them to adopt extreme counterterrorism techniques — but it was because they rejected, without analysis, the tactics the Clinton administration had used. The measures they uncritically adopted, which they simply assumed were the best available, were in fact unnecessary and counterproductive.”

Here is the video of Cheney’s response courtesy of Think Progress

Cheney said, “You know, Dick Clarke. Dick Clarke, who was the head of the counterrorism program in the run-up to 9/11. He obviously missed it. The fact is that we did what we felt we had to do, and if I had to do it all over again, I would do exactly the same thing.” Cheney is ignoring the findings of the 9/11 Commission that Richard Clarke had been trying to warn Cheney and Bush for months before the attacks.

According to Philip Shenon’s book The Commission – The Uncensored History Of The 9/11 Investigation, “Emails from the National Security Council’s counter-terrorism director, Richard Clarke, showed that he had bombarded Rice with messages about terrorist threats. He was trying to get her to focus on the intelligence she should have been reading each morning in the presidential and senior briefings:

“Bin Ladin Public Profile May Presage Attack” (May 3)
“Terrorist Groups Said Co-operating on US Hostage Plot” (May 23)
“Bin Ladin’s Networks’ Plans Advancing” (May 26)
“Bin Ladin Attacks May Be Imminent” (June 23)
“Bin Ladin and Associates Making Near-Term Threats” (June 25)
“Bin Ladin Planning High-Profile Attacks” (June 30),
“Planning for Bin Ladin Attacks Continues, Despite Delays” (July 2)”

Dick Cheney is lying when he claims that Richard Clarke missed it. The people who missed it, or a better way to put it would be ignored it, were Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, and Condi Rice. Cheney’s lies are all part of his campaign to rehabilitate the image of the Bush administration, but there are mountains of evidence to contradict the statements of the former vice president.

Cheney is living in his own delusional little bubble where the Bush administration did nothing wrong. Every time he speaks, he reveals a complete inability to take any responsibility for the past eight years. The Bush administration treated the American people like they were stupid, and even out of office, Cheney continues to treat the public like fools.

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Cheney Waxes Nostalgically for the Good Old Days of 9/11

May 21 2009 Published by under Featured News

During his speech at the American Enterprise Institute today, former vice president Dick Cheney continued to offer up his version of the Bush administration. Today Cheney said that the release of two memos will lead to the Bush administration, “will stand up well in history,” but the most striking part of his speech was his fond remembrance of America’s fear after 9/11.

Cheney remembered the good old days of the post-9/11 popularity of the Bush administration, “We could count on almost universal support back then, because everyone understood the environment we were in. We’d just been hit by a foreign enemy – leaving 3,000 Americans dead, more than we lost at Pearl Harbor. In Manhattan, we were staring at 16 acres of ashes. The Pentagon took a direct hit, and the Capitol or the White House were spared only by the Americans on Flight 93, who died bravely and defiantly.”

The former vice president also stuck to his belief in magic memos that will paint the Bush administration as heroes, “If Americans do get the chance to learn what our country was spared, it’ll do more than clarify the urgency and the rightness of enhanced interrogations in the years after 9/11. It may help us to stay focused on dangers that have not gone away. Instead of idly debating which political opponents to prosecute and punish, our attention will return to where it belongs – on the continuing threat of terrorist violence, and on stopping the men who are planning it.”

He also thinks that history will remember the Bush administration well, “For all the partisan anger that still lingers, our administration will stand up well in history – not despite our actions after 9/11, but because of them. And when I think about all that was to come during our administration and afterward – the recriminations, the second-guessing, the charges of “hubris” – my mind always goes back to that moment.”

While Cheney claimed once again to be defending the little guy, he was really defending himself and the Bush administration. His speech read like a laundry list of reasons and excuses the Bush administration used over the past 8 years.

There was criticism of The New York Times, distancing from Abu Ghraib , a defense of torture, lots of 9/11, WMD, and very little mention of Iraq. Despite all the media hype, there was nothing new in his speech. It was the same old tired defenses that are centered on the idea that Bush/Cheney kept America safe.

What happens to Cheney’s defense if Obama also keeps America safe? Cheney refused to see that there are more than two ways of looking at this issue. He only sees his way, and the opposition, but there are other possible outcomes, and if America doesn’t suffer another terrorist attack during the Obama administration, Cheney’s points will lose all validity.

Full Text of Dick Cheney’s Speech

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When it comes to torture, Condi Rice Isn’t Smarter than a 4th Grader

May 04 2009 Published by under Featured News

Former Sec. of State Condi Rice recently took questions from a few dozen students at the Jewish Primary Day Schools. A 4th grader asked Rice what she thought about what the Obama administration was saying about the Bush administration’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques. A 4th grader asked a question about torture. For people who think that morality doesn’t matter, think about that for a moment.

According to the Washington Post, Misha Lerner asked, “What did Rice think about the things President Obama’s administration was saying about the methods the Bush administration had used to get information from detainees?” Rice said that she was reluctant to criticize Obama, but she also used the 9/11 excuse to defend torture.

She answered, “Let me just say that President Bush was very clear that he wanted to do everything he could to protect the country. After September 11, we wanted to protect the country,” she said. “But he was also very clear that we would do nothing, nothing, that was against the law or against our obligations internationally. So the president was only willing to authorize policies that were legal in order to protect the country.”

She added that the Bush was terrified after 9/11, “I hope you understand that it was a very difficult time. We were all so terrified of another attack on the country. September 11 was the worst day of my life in government, watching 3,000 Americans die. . . . Even under those most difficult circumstances, the president was not prepared to do something illegal, and I hope people understand that we were trying to protect the country.”

The real mind bender is that this was the child’s original question, “If you would work for Obama’s administration, would you push for torture?” His mom said that he was asked to soften it, and remove the word torture. Interestingly, the kids’ questions were unscreened, which meant that those children had better access to the Bush administration than the media did for 8 years.

For people who argue that the moral issue doesn’t matter, I think this exchange is proof that it does. Children are more aware of events than adults give them credit for, and setting a good example does matter. Before someone suggests that the young man’s question was a plant, or written by his parents, the students worked on their questions at school, and it was his school that requested that young Mr. Lerner soften his question.

Morality matters, and when administrations enact policies with questionable morals, it has an impact. Rice essentially admitted that al-Qaeda won on 9/11. The goal of terrorism is to inflict fear, and that is what Bin Laden was successful in doing to the Bush administration. Her answer demonstrated what a bunch of weak kneed cowards, they were. America needed a president that would stand up to terrorists, not cower in fear, or a VP that hid in an undisclosed location.

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Conservative Talk Show Host Suspended for Blaming Unhygienic Mexican Leeches for Swine Flu

Apr 30 2009 Published by under Featured News

WTKK in Boston has indefinitely suspended conservative talk show host Jay Severin for blaming the swine flu on “some of the world’s lowest primitives” in Mexico. He also referred to Mexicans as unhygienic leeches from a primitive country.

According to Think Progress over the course of this week Severin has said, “So now in addition to venereal disease and the other leading exports of Mexico — women with mustaches and VD — now we have swine flu. … We should be if anything surprised that Mexico has not visited upon us poxes of more various and serious types considering the number of cimminalieans already here…”

He also called Mexicans unhygienic, and blamed them for the swine flu, “When scoop up some of the world’s lowest of primitives in poor Mexico and drop it down in the middle of the United States. Poor, without skills, without language, not share our culture, not share our hygiene. … It’s millions of leeches from a primitive country. … Now they are exporting a rather more active form of disease which is the swine flu.”

I don’t even know what to say about this blatant racism. The station was more than justified in suspending Severin. After 9/11, some Republicans thought that racism against people from the Middle East, and Muslims was acceptable, and now they are using the swine flu to unleash their racism against Mexicans that was barely below the surface to begin with.

In an article on the Boston Globe website, Severin is described as, “a bombastic voice whose views often mirror those of fringe conservatives.”
We first got a taste of this form of racism when George W. Bush tried to pass comprehensive immigration reform, but Severin’s comments take it to a whole new level.

Of course, he was just following the lead of conservative talkers like Michael Savage, who have spent the week railing against Mexicans for spreading the swine flu. I would argue the biggest threat to America isn’t a virus, like the flu, but exploitation of this crisis to fan the flames of racism.

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Comparing George W. Bush and Barack Obama’s First 100 Days

Apr 26 2009 Published by under Featured News

President Barack Obama will mark his first 100 days in office this week. To mark the anniversary, here is a comparison of how Barack Obama and George W. Bush spent their first 100 days in office. You may be surprised to learn that both presidents were/are still popular after their first 100 days.

Here are the major accomplishments of the first 100 days of the Bush administration:

1). $1.6 Trillion Tax Cut – In his first 100 days George W. Bush’s top administrative priority, a $1.6 trillion tax cut, passed the House of Representatives, on its way to eventual passage in the Senate.

2). Faith Based Initiatives – Early in his first 100 days, President Bush signed an executive order creating White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. The office focused solely on helping religious or “faith-based” groups obtain federal tax dollars.

3). The Environment – Bush rolled back some of the Clinton era environmental regulations. He also announced that the U.S. was abandoning the Kyoto Protocol, and began his push to allow drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.

4). No Child Left Behind - Only six days after taking office, President Bush sent his No Child Left Behind education reform plan to Congress. The bill, H.R. 1, was the first major piece of legislation passed for the new president.

It might seem odd now, but at the time George W. Bush had an approval rating of 60% after his first 100 days. Americans also gave Bush high marks are the economy with 52% favoring his handling of the issue. However, some early trends were starting to take shape as 58% of those surveyed said that Bush favored business over the environment, and nation was split 44%-43% over whether or not the nation was on the right track.

Here are the major accomplishments of Obama’s first 100 Days:

1). Economic Stimulus Plan – Obama got Congress to pass a $787 billion economic stimulus plan.

2). Expanded SCHIP – Obama signed a law that expanded the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan to cover an additional 4 million children.

3). Lilly Ledbetter Act -Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Act which requires equal pay for women.

4). Ethics Guidelines- Obama implemented new ethics guidelines that are designed to curtail the influence of lobbyists.

5). Iraq and Afghanistan – Obama announced the phased withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq, while sending an additional 4,000 troops to Afghanistan.

6). Budget and Healthcare- Obama got his budget passed, which paves the way for healthcare reform later this year.

Obama also has gotten high marks from the public on his first 100 days performance. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll found that Obama has a 69% approval rating. Americans are also giving Obama high marks on the economy as 58% approve of his handling of the issue. They approve of Obama’s handling of the environment by 61%-23% margin, and 50% of Americans think that the country is heading in the right direction.

Both Bush and Obama had major accomplishments in their first 100 days. The major difference between the two is the speed with which Obama has been able to get things done. Bush and Obama took office facing very different expectations. Not much was expected of Bush, so many experts gave him credit for exceeding the modest expectations set for him, while much has been expected of Obama, and so far he has delivered.

The argument that Obama has done too much doesn’t hold up well, when compared to the fact that Bush laid the groundwork for most of his priorities in his first 100 days. With the exception of the time after 9/11, these first 100 days were the high point for the Bush administration. Only time will tell, how we will someday look back at Obama’s first 100 days.

See Also: Comparing Bill Clinton and Barack Obama’s First 100 Days

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