Posts Tagged ‘Bush’

The Real Facts and the GOP ‘Facts’

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Karl Rove, mastermind of the GOP disinformation campaign

By Emily Theroux

The GOP’s refusal in recent years to deal in the currency of facts has flown in the face of an edict widely credited to the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan: “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” The perspective of the entire Republican Party has been subsumed by a kind of mass denial of reality that relegates “facts” to the last millennium, the enlightened era before America’s own King George W. assumed the throne.

“Bush’s Brain,” diabolical conservative mastermind Karl Rove, first defined the new world order in 2004. During an interview with writer Ron Suskind, Rove stated cryptically and with appalling arrogance that people who lived in what Rove termed “the reality-based community” believed that “solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. … That’s not the way the world really works any more,” Rove opined. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study, too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Ever since Rove and his fellow neocons’ immense hubris inspired them to forsake empiricism in favor of empire, they gave loyal followers permission to reinvent themselves as players of “history’s bit parts,” existing in a bubble of misinformation, revisionism, creationism, nativism, and science denial. If the reactionaries aren’t satisfied with the “tangibles” that reality throws their way, they can always swaddle themselves in Karl Rove’s Orwellian cocoon, where black is white, lies are truth, conservatism is compassionate, corporations are people, and the world is 6,000 years old despite the extensive fossil record. When the conservative faithful feel cornered by reason or statistics or scientific evidence, they can opt out of “the reality-based community” any time they choose by flipping on Sean Hannity or streaming Glenn Beck, then retreating into a “fact-free zone” of philistinism and folly.

Sometimes, Republicans are confronted with the embarrassing truth about their stubborn ignorance or outright lies when an issue or policy suddenly proves politically inconvenient for them. Take, for example, the embarrassing necessity for Virginia’s “Governor Ultrasound,” Bob McDonnell (hoping to be drafted as Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential candidate) to backtrack on his “principled” insistence that rape victims, too, must undergo mandatory ultrasounds and be forced to view the resulting fetal images, just like everyone else waiting in line to clear GOP hurdles to obtaining an abortion. When that kind of cosmic retribution occurs, Republican candidates can follow Rove’s dubious lead and choose one or more of the following five options:

1. Change the subject to some bogus controversy you can blame on the Democrats. “Reality-averse” pols like Mitt Romney, who is truly cynical – and fully aware that this ploy is a zero-sum game designed to obliterate his opponent – have deliberately set up these false constructs (the phony “mommy wars,” for example, designed to distract voters from the very real Republican “war on women”). Indeed, everything, to Romney, is a precisely calibrated political calculation. Like a twisted wingnut version of a Bob Dylan song scored by “Turdblossom” Rove, Mitt doesn’t even fart without first testing which way the wind is blowing.

2. Take credit for your opponents’ accomplishments. When President Obama mounts a successful operation to kill Osama bin Laden, tell voters that if it hadn’t been for Bush and Cheney’s meticulous planning (during all of those years after Dubya said he “wasn’t all that interested” in finding bin Laden), the coup of the century never would have happened. When 1.2 million jobs are created since June 2009 under Obama’s watch, count jobs lost before Obama’s stimulus bill took effect so you can say “he” lost 1.86 million jobs; then use phony-baloney numbers of jobs created by Staples long after Romney left Bain Capital so you can claim “he” created 100,000 jobs. When the American auto industry makes a startling comeback after you wrote an editorial titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” claim as much credit for it as your lying mouth can possibly fabricate.

3. Turn your own failures around and blame them on your political foes. Characterize the historic downgrading of America’s credit rating, which resulted from the refusal of congressional Republicans to raise the debt ceiling for months on end in 2011, as the result of “high unemployment, big government, and ‘unsustainable debt’” caused by President Obama’s fiscal policies.

4. Turn to any of the fraudulent “authoritative” foils you rely on to issue “expert” guidance, official policy positions, or “model” legislation – such dynamic, partisan think tanks and lobbying conglomerates as the Heritage Foundation (funded by those clever Koch boys, who are as rich as God) or the furtive American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), whose member corporations prefer to slink around in the shadows so they don’t jinx their cushy tax dodge. Another option: For your next campaign event, call the bogus “activist” operation, FreedomWorks, whose own Dick Armey can rustle up a cast of boisterous “rent-a-redneck” subcontractors before you can shake a stick.

5. Get your “talking points” from focus-group guru Frank Luntz – called the “mack daddy” (translation: biggest, pimpingest bad-ass) of GOP strategists by Current TV’s Cenk Uygur. Then annihilate those dirty Dems by bellowing the bull that every other Republican talking head is bellowing, on every media venue you can get yourselves booked onto for the next four days. You’ll find that you get particularly good mileage out of Faux News, where sympathetic hosts will toss you softball questions, and “low-information” target audiences (who never watch anything other than Fox’s regurgitated extremist pablum) will generally swallow every last disingenuous word you say.



Did He Get Osama or Not? Case Closed

Monday, April 30th, 2012

President Barack Obama addresses troops at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Wednesday, May 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

By Bob Gaydos

Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.

Those are two incontrovertible facts.

Barack Obama made the crucial decisions to kill one and save the other.


Also, if one happens to be a Republican, inconvenient and uncomfortably on target for the two things Americans care about these days when voting for a president — national security and jobs.

Protect us from terrorists and protect our jobs.

In a presidency hamstrung by two wars he did not start, a recession he did not cause and a Republican Party that struck the words “bipartisanship” from its playbook on Day One, President Obama has had only a few clear successes. He killed Osama and he saved the American auto industry.

God forbid, though — now that the election campaign has switched focus from the GOP field of nightmares to a man-to-man between Obama and presumptive GOP candidate Mitt Romney — that the president’s supporters should be allowed to brag about his accomplishments.

Take Osama, please, as Henny Youngman might have said. In a surprisingly direct (for Democrats) attack on Romney, Obama’s campaign ran web ads on the first anniversary of the event, trumpeting the daring Navy Seals raid in Pakistan that killed the al-Qaeda leader and asked, “Would Mitt Romney have made that decision?”

Good question. In fact, it’s one Newt Gingrich might well have asked of the man he described as an indecisive liar. But the Republican whiners came out in force immediately. How dare the president exploit the killing of bin Laden for political purposes? How could he take a unifying event like that and make it a divisive one? Whaa! Whaa! Whaa!

Do you hear yourselves? Who precisely is he dividing? I still don’t know a single American who is angry that bin Laden is dead and most of them are grateful that Obama gave the order to go get him.

Which, of course, is more than George W. Bush ever did. I know, we’re not supposed to talk about any of that stuff, either, right? About forgetting about capturing the 9/11 mastermind in the mountains of Afghanistan and deciding to level Iraq instead.

And, of course, we’re supposed to forget about that W. landing, in a Navy jet and wearing full flight gear, on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf to declare “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq when the war there had barely begun. And let’s not bring up the Bush team’s attacks in the 2004 campaign on Sen. John Kerry’s courage and patriotism while serving in Vietnam while W. was avoiding National Guard training in Texas. Wouldn’t be fair to recall that, right?

Aw heck, if W. had nabbed bin Laden, he would have just moved on to getting the next tyrant and we would never have heard of it again, right? He wouldn’t have it any other way.

Utter fantasy. And yet, this reaction is pretty much par for the course for the GOP these days. It has no grounding in reality most of the time and the facts are whatever its members say they are, even when they contradict one another. The more troubling reaction to the Obama ads came from some liberal/Democratic supporters who felt Obama should not be politicizing the killing of bin Laden. That it was somehow unseemly for the president to do so.

Yeah? So?

We are talking politics here aren’t we? Since when has it been a genteel sport? Did anyone pay attention to the GOP primaries? Talk about political blood sport. Republicans, conservatives, tea partiers (once upon a time that was genteel) have shown they will say and do anything to tear down the president, including belittling his accomplishments. Don’t ask, don’t tell? Don’t remind them.

The point is, Obama made a carefully calculated decision to take out the head of the most notorious terrorist group on the planet by using feet-on-the-ground troops rather than remote-controlled drones or “smart” bombs. He did it over the objections of some of his top advisers, including the vice president, secretary of state and secretary of defense. And he did it knowing full well that, if the mission failed — as did President Carter’s effort to rescue the hostages in Iran — as commander-in-chief, Obama would get full blame for it. And we would be seeing ads today reminding us of that, paid for by Romney supporters.

So yes, it seems a fair question to wonder whether the ever-changing Romney as commander-in-chief might have made the same decision. (We already know he would have let GM fail.)

Of course, the raid succeeded and al-Qaeda is a badly crippled shell of itself. To mark the anniversary, the president flew in secret to Afghanistan to thank the troops and to sign an agreement with the new government there — the one that replaced the al-Qaeda-friendly Taliban — pledging the support of the United States even when U.S. forces leave Afghanistan.

Yes, the war there will come to an end soon, just as the one in Iraq did. On Obama’s watch.

The man has a right to brag.




Ten States My Sons Should Not Live In

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

A citizens militia group at the border in Vekol Valley, Arizona. Photo from:


By Bob Gaydos

I ran into an old newspaper colleague at the Times Herald-Record offices the other day and in the process of catching up and complaining that I didn’t know what to write about for my blog this week, he asked if I was the one who had written an editorial for the Record (they’re anonymous) about some congressman claiming there are about 80 Democrats in Congress who were members of the Communist Party. “The nut job from Florida,” he said.

I was, I admitted, proudly. He shook his head and said something to the effect of, “Where do they find these guys?”

Where indeed, I agreed. “But more to the point,” I heard myself say, “who are the people who keep voting for them? I mean, really, would you want to live in a place where people put a guy like that in office? It’s one of the things I try to get across to my sons — you get to choose your own career paths, but please, you don’t want to live in places where they keep electing morons.”

“Sounds like you’ve got a column,” the newspaper guy says.

And so I do.

Brief intro: Max is 20 and currently studying art at SUNY Purchase. Zack is 17 and will attend (no declared major) Western New England University in Springfield, Mass., in the fall. They are both bright and, due to environmental influences, liberally inclined politically and accepting of people of all types — except, bless their hearts, morons in politics.

So yes, if nothing else I tell them sinks in, I figured at least I can warn them off living in some states later on, unless they never want to see me or their mother ever again.

This is not, by any means a scientific effort. Rather, it’s an off-the-top-of-my-head-with-a-dollop-of-research compiled list of states where you (Max and Zack, that is) don’t ever want to live. The primary criteria for making the list are: Rampant racism, anti-intellectualism, bigotry, intolerance, religious fanaticism, and electing morons to office over and over again. (If anyone who reads this is from any of these states and doesn’t see it, well, that’s your right. Just add denial to the list.)

These are going to have to be in no particular order mainly because I couldn’t decide which was worst among Texas, Arizona and Mississippi.

Let’s start with Arizona since it starts with an A. Arizona has devolved to such an extent that Sen. Barry Goldwater, darling of the John Birch Society, who was famously demonized by Lyndon Johnson in the 1964 presidential election (“Goldwater in ‘64, Cold Water in ‘65, Bread and Water in ‘66”), would have trouble getting support from the angry white conservatives who run the state today. Gov. Jan Brewer, who recently went toe-to-toe with President Obama on the airport tarmac, signed into law the most repressive, intolerant immigration law in the country.

The state’s current senators are Jon Kyl, whose only job as minority whip is to whip up votes to oppose anything whatsoever proposed by Obama, and John McCain, who used to have a spine and principles until he decided to run for president and needed the support of the Republican right wing. And he gave us Sarah Palin.

Also, Arizona is brutally hot, there’s no water and there’s a bunch of men with guns driving around patrolling the border with Mexico and they’re not cops.

OK, Texas. I could stop with George W. Bush and Rick Perry as back-to-back governors. OMG, Texas. But there’s more. Texans are loudly proud of a board of education that never heard of scientific research and a penal system that likes to keep the line moving on Death Row. Toss in religious fanatics, Tom Delay and a hostility to anything not Texan and no amount of Tex-Mex cuisine is enough to want to live there. Plus, outside a few big cities, it’s miles and miles of miles and miles. It’s no country for young men either.

As for Mississippi, what can you say about a state that perennially ranks at the bottom of lists of states whose residents have a high school diploma, whose children are read to daily, who visit the dentist regularly, and who have a livable family income. Then there’s the racism, the anti-gay atmosphere and lack of concern with proper nutrition. Haley Barbour stepped down as governor in January, but not before granting full pardons to 193 inmates, including five convicted murders. His successor, Phil Bryant, on Wednesday said of Democrats in his state: “Their one mission in life is to abort children, is to kill children in the womb.” He said it after signing a bill to close down the state’s last remaining clinic that performs abortions.

Alright, this is getting depressing and that was not my goal. Let’s add South Carolina, which gave us the Civil War and, to prove things move slowly in the south, segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond, anti-Obama at all costs Sen. Jim DeMint, immigrant-bashing Sen. Lindsay Graham and former Gov. Mark Sanford, who told his wife and the world he was hiking the Appalachian Trail when he was getting his exercise with his mistress in Brazil. You might get away with that in New York, but considering South Carolina’s arch-conservative approach to religion, family, etc. that qualifies as rank hypocrisy. Plus they still like to fly that Confederate Flag.

I’m going to wrap it up because this now looks like it could go on forever and I‘m beginning to feel intolerant. Other states to avoid, boys:

Alabama: See Mississippi.

Oklahoma, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky: Lots of intolerant religious folk who carry guns, and don’t like blacks or gays. Or even women sometimes.

Alaska: Texas with snow. Plus they elected Sarah Palin.

OK, that’s ten, a nice number for headline writers. But I gotta warn you, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas and Louisiana, I’ve got my eye on you, too.

(And thanks, Paul Brooks, for inspiring this column.)