Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wingnuts: Ahmadinejad's useful idiots Edition

Kurtz (TPM): It's All Obama's Fault
Rush Limbaugh defends Mark Sanford as just a guy fed up with "the country's going to Hell in a handbasket" under Obama who fled the country "to enjoy life."
  • Steve Benen adds:

    A listener apparently sent Limbaugh an email during the program, asking if he was kidding about the White House's economic policies being responsible for Sanford's affair. "No!" he said, adding that the governor may have realized, "The Democrats are destroying the country; we can't do anything to stop it."

    What's especially funny about this is the way in which Limbaugh's attempts to pass the buck and shift the blame -- Mark Sanford isn't responsible for his own behavior, Barack Obama is responsible for Sanford's behavior -- is that it can be applied to practically any situation. Any time anyone does anything wrong, following Limbaugh's logic, he/she could simply chalk it up to Obama-driven despair.

    Remember when conservatives used to say that liberals were opposed to people taking responsibility for their own actions? Good times, good times.

Kurtz: The Chosen Few

Earlier today I flagged a RedState post by Erick Erickson as one of the more egregious examples of a media outlet credulously swallowing the Sanford cover stories. Erickson is back with a follow-up post in light of today's revelations. It's titled the "The Real Lessons of Mark Sanford's 'Hike.'"

Late Update: TPM Reader BB's exegesis of the latest Erickson post:

I love ... the method in which social conservatives distance themselves from wrongdoers. Instead of putting together a cogent analysis of a immoral politician's positions and contending that said politician did little to champion the cause of social conservatism, they merely say that since the politician acted poorly, then he must not have been a true social conservative. It's a very common logical fallacy in these situations.

Moreover, I love Erickson's insinuation that Sanford doesn't attend a bible study, when in fact Sanford professed his Christian faith repeatedly in the press conference and even discussed his affiliation with the C Street Foundation, a Congressional Christian bible study.

Erickson's ability to retroactively select his allies is rather impressive.

  • Hilzoy found these:

    The two silliest defensive responses from before he fessed up:

    "It is refreshing that Mark Sanford is secure enough in himself and the people of South Carolina that he does not view himself as an indispensable man." (Erick Erickson)


    "Are [Cassie] and I married to the only real men left in the entire freakin' country? Do we only want Momma's boys or Daddy's girls in the White House from here on out? Teddy Roosevelt is doing backflips in his grave right now: apparently no one is allowed to go on a writing retreat, take a road trip, or hike, hunt, or fish if they have any political ambitions at all. Unbelievable." (Little Miss Attila)

    Mark Sanford: secure enough in himself to to leave his state without a governor, his wife without a husband, and his sons without a father; enough of a real man to willfully torpedo his closest relationships. Family values in action.

  • Marshall - Opening: Fellow South Carolina Republican Bob Inglis says Sanford's fall may be chance for the GOP to "lose the stinking rot of self-righteousness."
  • C&L Kondracke, Coulter claim Republicans fire their immorality cases like Sanford. Riiiiiiiight

    The Fox talkers were out trying to spin past the gruesome wreckage of Mark Sanford's political career yesterday, partly by claiming that Republicans always give the boot to such cases of gross immorality, while Democrats are so lascivious that they naturally tolerate such behavior within their own ranks.

    First there was Faux Liberal Mort Kondracke on Brett Baier's afternoon show:

    Kondracke: But look. You know, multiple affairs did not stop Bill Clinton from being elected president. But that's because the Democratic Party is a lot more tolerant of licentiousness than the Republican Party is. And that's the rub for poor old Mark Sanford here.

    Then Ann Coulter attempted more or less the same claim later that day on Sean Hannity's show:

    Coulter: But he's a Republican, so he will be gone. Unlike John Edwards, with all of his staff knowing that he --

    Hannity: He may not be governor by the end of a couple of weeks.

    Coulter: That's right. And even if he is, Republicans vote these guys out, generally.

    Oddly enough, Coulter kept bringing up John Edwards, whose political career is pretty much toast -- so it's not a point that actually supported her claim. Moreover, she and Kondracke are glossing over the long history of other Democrats' careers being derailed by sexual hijinks: Gary Hart, Eliot Spitzer, Brock Adams, Jim McGreevy are just a few of the names that come to mind.

    Meanwhile, it's not hard to come up with Republicans whose infidelities have been glossed over and "forgiven" (by the pundit class at least). Some of them are major figures in the party even today. To wit:

    John McCain, who cheated on his injured first wife and eventually married his mistress. That didn't stop him from being the GOP's 2008 presidential nominee.

    Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, who despite having been caught up in a hooker scandal (in which it was revealed he had a fondness for diapers), retains his senior Republican positions in the Senate and is a lock to be the GOP's nominee for his seat in 2010.

    Rudy Giuliani, who cheated on his first two wives, and even used public money and policemen to carry on his affairs (including having cops walk his mistress' dog). Yet Giuliani regularly appears on Fox and other networks as a national Republican mouthpiece.

    Newt Gingrich, who, as Steve Benen notes, "obtained his first divorce in 1981, after forcing his wife, who had helped put him through graduate school, to haggle over the terms while in the hospital, as she recovered from uterine cancer surgery. In 1999, he was disgraced again, having been caught in an affair with a 33-year-old congressional aide while spearheading the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton." Yet some quarters have anointed him the front-runner for the GOP nomination in 2012, and he certainly remains one of the most prominent Republicans in the snake-oil biz.

    Sure, Republicans fire their immorality cases. Except for the ones they don't. Which is most of them.

GOP self destruction unabated June 24: Governor Mark Sanford, R-SC, resigned today as chair of the Republican Governors Association after admitting his affair with an Argentinean woman. Rachel Maddow is joined by Daily Beast contributor Mark McKinnon to assess the impact on the Republican Party.

Marshall: To Be Watched

While we were fixated for most of Wednesday with the Mark Sanford saga, there was some other news that bears watching. The candidacy of Marco Rubio, the staunch conservative candidate challenging the very popular and fairly moderate Charlie Crist for the GOP senate nomination in Florida seems to be coalescing as a key proxy battle between the conservative dead-ender wing of the GOP and the party moderates.

There are a number of these races around the country this year and next. The recently conclude Christie-Lonegan primary race in New Jersey was an example. But Rubio is getting A-list endorsements. Last week Sen. DeMint (R-SC) endorsed him. And now Mike Huckabee is endorsing him too. I'm curious to see whether endorsements in this race will become a litmus test for those who want to prove their unquestioned conservative bona fides.


I'm not surprised Joe Lieberman is offering veiled criticism of President Obama on Iran. I'm surprised it took this long for Joe Lieberman to offer veiled criticism of President Obama on Iran.

At a presser today, Lieberman seemed to take a veiled shot at President Obama's handling of the Iran crisis, obliquely comparing Obama's desire not to be seen as "meddling" in Iran with a failure to stand up for protesters.

Lieberman was at the presser with John McCain, where they unveiled new Iran legislation, to be introduced next month, that would boost funding for radio outlets that have been informing Iranians and might fund a new Farsi-language website. Lieberman said:

"I know somebody asked, 'Don't we risk discrediting the forces of change and reform -- and reform in Iran and risk that the regime will accuse us of meddling.' I would ask, if we don't stand up for the fundamental rights of the Iranian people to speak freely, to assemble peacefully, don't we risk abandoning our own first principles as Americans in undermining the courageous quest of the Iranian people for freedom?"

Lieberman didn't (or couldn't) specify what "standing up" would constitute, how/why it would help reform-minded Iranians, how/why it would advance American interests, or why we should disregard concerns about "discrediting the forces of change and reform" in Iran.

In other words, Lieberman's grandstanding and posturing is about as constructive as all of the other neocon palaver we've been listening to for nearly two weeks.

Indeed, Lieberman's remarks today further reinforce the point from the weekend: we're not dealing with a dynamic that pits the left vs. the right, or Democrats against Republicans. Rather, this is a situation featuring neocons vs. everyone else.

Lieberman isn't satisfied with the administration's deft handling of the issue, but notice that plenty of prominent Republicans believe Obama is absolutely right -- including Republicans who are in office (Dick Lugar), served in Republican administrations (Henry Kissinger, Gary Sick, and Nick Burns), or are prominent Republican voices in the media (George Will, Peggy Noonan, and Pat Buchanan).

Lieberman is siding with McCain, Graham, Kristol, and Krauthammer on U.S. foreign policy? You don't say.

For an alternate take, consider Reza Aslan's interview on "The Daily Show" last night. Here's a teaser: he told Jon Stewart, "All I can say is thank you God for President Barack Obama."

Sully: "Ahmadinejad's Useful Idiots"

Read this whole interview with Hooman Majd. It's most helpful, and brutal on the solipsism and cynicism of the neocons. Money quote:

The neocons know nothing about Iran, nothing about the culture of Iran. They have no interest in understanding Iran, in speaking to any Iranian other than Iranian exiles who support the idea of invasions -- I'll call them Iranian Chalabis. It's offensive, even to an Iranian American like me. These are people who would have actually preferred to have Ahmadinejad as president so they could continue to demonize him and were worried, as some wrote in Op-Eds, that Mousavi would be a distraction and would make it easier for Iranians to build a nuclear weapon and now all of a sudden they want to be on his side? Go away.

I'm not saying Obama is the most knowledgeable person on Iran, but he's obviously getting good advice right now. He understands way more about the culture of the Middle East than any of the neocons. For them to be lecturing President Obama is a joke. I have criticized Obama; for instance, I criticized him for having a patronizing tone in his Persian New Year message. But right now I think he's doing a good job. The John McCains of the world, they're Ahmadinejad's useful idiots. They're doing a great job for him.

  • Sully: The Neocons On Offense

    Nicely put:

    "It's clear why neoconservatives are launching this two-pronged assault on both Obama and his reputed realism. For eight years, neoconservative ideas were in ascendancy (particularly during the first four years of President George W. Bush's term). And while they wrap themselves in the mantle of American idealism, the actual results of their policymaking were, shall we say, less than ideal. President Bush did speak out boldly against North Korea and Iran. And both made considerable gains in their nuclear capabilities. From Egypt to Georgia, President Bush - egged on by neoconservative pundits and analysts - wrote rhetorical checks he had no intention (or ability) to cash."

    The neocons aim, by a series of populist, cynical ploys, to restore the Bush administration foreign policy as soon as they can. Since they have no shame and display no responsibility for their past actions and faulty judgments, you can expect this campaign to continue. Like the far-left ideologues they emerged from, these far-right ideologues never give in or give up. It is always a war - at home and abroad - for them. Which makes resisting them exhausting, but also imperative for the sake of the national security of this country.

  • Sully: The Key To Obama

    Marbury nails it - and the game theory behind it:

    In the early 1970s a geneticist called John Maynard-Smith invented the Hawk-Dove game to try and shed light on why animals don't fight each other to death at every chance they get, in an attempt to maximise their own personal gain. In his game - actually a mathematical model but we needn't go into that - Hawk is always up for a fight. He easily beats Dove. But he gets badly wounded in a fight with another Hawk. Dove, which is programmed to cooperate, reaps benefits when it meets another Dove. But when it meets a Hawk it gets killed. In the short term, the Hawk strategy is the most rational - and evolutionarily successful - strategy. But when the game is played over and again, the Dove starts to do better. A third strategy, called Retaliator, proves best of all. Retaliator is a Dove - until it meets a Hawk, at which point it turns into a Hawk too.

    Ah, yes. Remember Clinton and McCain? The point is that this requires a long-term perspective. It helps to understand Obama's moves under that rubric. In fact, I think it's impossible to understand him without that rubric.

Think Progress: Bachmann’s Latest Irrational Fear About The Census: It Was Used To Intern The Japanese

Last week, Rep. Michele “I’m not a kook” Bachmann (R-MN) boasted about breaking the law in refusing to complete the 2010 Census. The Census is the perfect boogeyman for Bachmann in that it unites her conspiracy theories about the Obama administration with her monomaniacal determination to crush the community organizing group ACORN, which may participate in collecting Census data.

On Fox News this morning, Bachmann repeated her determination to break the law. She also suggested that the Obama administration could use the Census data for nefarious purposes — including the imprisonment of Americans in concentration camps:

BACHMANN: If we look at American history, between 1942 and 1947, the data that was collected by the census bureau was handed over to the FBI and other organizations, at the request of President Roosevelt, and that’s how the Japanese were rounded up and put into the internment camps. I’m not saying that’s what the Administration is planning to do. But I am saying that private, personal information that was given to the census bureau in the 1940s was used against Americans to round them up.

Watch it:

There are many things wrong with Bachmann and host Megyn Kelly’s so-called analysis: First, both women were shocked that the Census would ask for people’s telephone numbers. However, that information is not required by law, and is used only to contact recipients who have incomplete forms.

Second, Bachmann is confusing the 2010 Census and the American Community Survey (ACS), a long-form survey sent out to one in 40 households (0.0028 percent of the American public) each year. The Census, sent out once every ten years, asks only about one’s age, race, and the type of home one lives in. The ACS, started in 1996, collects more detailed data used to distribute more than $300 billion in federal funds to local communities.

Most importantly, the questions that Bachmann is so concerned about — questions she suggests might somehow lead to internment — are not new questions (not to mention they frequently overlap with information given to the IRS every year). Census questions on race have been asked since 1790; home language since 1890; rent since 1880; and income since 1940. The Census has asked what kind of heating fuel heats Americans’ homes since 1940.

Finally, it’s a federal crime for any Census worker to violate the confidentiality of the Census form, punishable by a federal prison sentence of up to five years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both.

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