Friday, November 6, 2015



1. Sean Spicer (Spokesman for the Republican National Committee). Spicer is outraged that Democrats have accused Republicans of engaging in a “war on women.” In his words:

“I find it offensive that the Democratic National Committee is using a term like that to describe policy differences. It’s not only bad, but it’s downright pathetic they would use a term like ‘war’ when there are millions of Americans who actually have engaged in a real war. To use a term like that borders on unpatriotic.
Well, at least Republicans still remember we're still in Dubya's wars, a fact they seem to forget every time they push for a new tax break for millionaires. Wars don't need to be paid for; they just need to be remembered in political rhetoric. Spicer's concern for the troops is truly touching. Too bad his party wasn’t equally bothered by the shortage of body armor for our troops and the inadequate care at vet hospitals when they returned home.

2. Ted Cruz (R-Tx). Iran’s spiritual leader Khamenei recently made a statement claiming that the nuclear agreement with the U.S. didn’t stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons; rather, it was Iran’s fatwa, which declared nuclear weapons to be religiously forbidden under Islamic law that was responsible. What was Cruz’ take on the obvious face-saving announcement?
He declared that Iran’s leader explicitly said Iran is “developing nuclear weapons. There is no doubt about it.”
Obviously this is not what Khamenei was saying, but that doesn’t matter to the hyper-partisan Cruz. Is his comprehension that poor? I don’t think so; rather, he simply couldn’t resist the opportunity to manipulate fear, which has become a constant right-wing political tactic.
3. Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. As expected, the bloviating O’Reilly has taken the point in the Fox News campaign against the Black Lives Matter movement. O’Reilly called the organization a “hate group” and declared:
“I’m going to get them out of business.”
He may not be able to put them” out of business,” but from his bully pulpit he can sure further poison the racial divide. How long will it be before one of O’Reilly’s nutcase white faithful heeds his promise and shoots up black protesters? O’Reilly and Fox News have no shame in inflaming racial tensions at a time when reconciliation is urgently needed. It’s become their stock in trade.
4. Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush. What former presidents do modern day Republicans admire? Well, Ronald Reagan for sure. Some ahistorical sorts may even cite Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, or Dwight Eisenhower? Not the erudite JEB. Trying to grab a few headlines while demonstrating he was a deeper thinker than his GOP rivals, Bush told a July town hall meeting in Sioux City, Iowa, that:
“One of the presidents that I really admire is James K. Polk.”
Bush hailed the 11th president (who served from 1845 to 1849) for a number of policy initiatives — including an approach to tariffs Bush believes was “pretty extraordinary.”
James Polk? Not a familiar name around the kitchen tables of America—and probably for good reason. Polk was a horrible president whose actions inspired fierce opposition from foes of slavery who — in the words of the presidential scholars at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center — believed that Polk’s reckless expansionism represented “a transparent attempt to extend slavery into new territories that would become new slave states, thus ensuring that the South would control Congress and the presidency into the foreseeable future.”
Abraham Lincoln knew Polk better than Bush. As a young congressman, Lincoln supported a House resolution censuring Polk for “unnecessarily and unconstitutionally” beginning the Mexican War. He referred to Polk as “a bewildered, confounded, and miserably perplexed man.” Joining Lincoln is passionate opposition to Polk was former President John Quincy Adams. A member of the House when the war was launched, Adams declared that the invasion of Mexico was a southern expedition to find “bigger pens to cram with slaves.”
Jeb Bush can certainly admire the presidents he prefers. At least he didn’t mention his father or brother, and more power to him for reading up on the lesser-known presidents of the 19th century, but celebrating a president whose main legacy was a lust for war and the expansion of human bondage? This may separate Bush from his generally un-historical rivals, but not from the racist and militarist stink that runs through the current crop of Republican contenders.
5. More Jeb Bush. Last month’s Bonehead Absurdity winner for his Iraq War buck passing, Bush has made his revisionism a campaign constant. In his first major foreign policy speech, Bush last week again peddled the idea that the US would have won the catastrophic war started by his brother, if only President Obama, with Hilary Clinton’s approval, hadn’t withdrawn pre-maturely and let ISIS fill the power vacuum.
Bush insisted that his brother’s surge left Iraq “fragile, but secure” and that taking out Saddam Hussein “turned out to be a pretty good deal.”
His audacity in making such a claim is so deranged it boggles the mind. I’m sure I don’t have to remind Phronesis readers that it was Dubya who signed the agreement mandating a U.S. withdrawal by the end of 2011. Not to exempt Obama from culpability, but he did try to keep some residual forces there, but Prime Minister Maliki refused.
A good deal, huh? The war cost $2 trillion, the lives of 4000+ U.S. troops, tens of thousands more wounded in body and spirit, an endless quagmire in Iraq, and America’s reputation in the world. Some deal!
6. Pete Sessions (R-TX). Responding to the horrific shooting of two journalists on live TV, Sessions zeroed in on what he thought was responsible for the widespread gun violence in America. He explained on the Chris Salcedo show:
“It has a lot to do with distrust of people. Chris, I have been in lots of societies, we could say like Japan, where they have a homogeneous society, where people are more alike,” Sessions said. He went on to discuss “this thought process that we have to have diversity in America.”
Although Sessions did acknowledge that “we should and we need to work for” a kind of mutual respect across diverse groups, the thrust of his remarks was that diversity breeds a kind of mistrust that sparks gun violence.
“We have a group of people that are in our country that we’re afraid of, that have created chaos and confusion. And now our country is confused” he told Salcedo, without elaborating on precisely who that group of people is.
Oh, I think we all know who that group of people is. It is the group of people who are blamed for all society's ills. Lately it’s African Americans; before it was Latinos, and Jews, and war protesters, and other scapegoats of the moment. There is always a group of people that is forever undermining good decent straight white conservative people like Rep. Pete Sessions and making them do Bad Things against their will, possibly by burning flags, protesting for rights, or demanding they be allowed to vote.
Good God! The problem is not too many guns in too many hands; it’s that we have too many minorities. You can’t expect people to act like good citizens and not commit gun murder if they’ve got all this diversity to work through. What horseshit! Sessions and fellow gun travelers believe they need guns to protect themselves from THAT group of Americans; every other civilized country believes they need fewer and, despite diversity, have gun-murder rates far lower than in the U.S. The United Kingdom is widely diverse, yet has among the lowest gun murder rates. Why? Because guns are not readily available.

7. Sarah Palin. I think the statement Palin made at a rally against the Iran Nuclear Agreement tops all her previous air-headed, baffling absurdities.

"So up there in Alaska, across the way Russia," Sarah Palin said. "You know there is a name for this taking advantage of America. There is a Russian name for that. And it is called 'fortushka.' And that means Obama's window of opportunity. So as Obama leads from behind the skirt of his right-hand man, Valerie Jarrett, then it's up to Congress to close that window. He may propose. You dispose, Congress. You gotta be in it to win it because we want peace. With unapologetic mighty red, white, and blue, will have peace."

Say what? And to think, she could have been just a heartbeat away. The saddest thing is her ignorance is representative of much of the knee-jerk right-wing opposition to the agreement.

And the Winner is:

Since Palin is just being Palin, this month's winner is:  Pete Sessions.

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