Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kelly's problem is Kelly

I have to say that in many ways I don't care about Jack Kelly's column today. Kelly has written columns in the past lecturing us about how much more intelligent Sarah Palin, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum are smarter than smug liberals think. Now he is sorting out in his own mind but aloud to all of us how Romney could win Florida and cinch the nomination.

Actually, it is not at all clear to me whether Kelly really wants Romney or would be willing to accept Newt Gingrich despite his having "more baggage than Amtrak". Kelly mentions "They know Mr. Gingrich is bombastic, stretches the truth, been a jerk to his ex-wives, and been known to modify his principles when his palm was crossed with enough silver.". Yet Kelly also talks about how Gingrich stands up to "Wall Street-Washington elite" and "Mr. Gingrich stands up to biased, condescending journalists who slant questions and play gotcha.". Apparently it's OK when Kelly describes Gingrich's faults, but when a journalist who is not a self-described conservative does the same, he/she is biased and condescending.

By the way, "Wall Street-Washington elite"? I mean, he's got a point, a lot of Obama's economic advisors are from Wall Street, but as Bill Maher put it "Hank Paulson". But then I guess Jack Kelly has thrown George W Bush under the bus. Or maybe not, we don't know, he ignores the inconvenient.

Kelly finishes by quoting extensively from Andrew McCarthy of the National Review. Romney can't win by attacking the competition, and Romney needs to convince us that he is the most conservative candidate who can win. Why didn't the PG just print Andrew McCarthy's piece from the NRO, since apparently Jack Kelly has no original thoughts of his own.

But more than that, the primary is about selecting a candidate for the general election. So, fine, the Republicans can select a conservative to run against Obama's supposed liberalism, but what ever happened to having ideas? After all, Romney was not a public servant when he worked at Bain Capital, and it shows. They created few, if any, jobs, and for every company they "turned" around, there is at least one and maybe more that they simply carved up and disposed of. And in any event, Republicans keep saying the government can't create jobs, yet they want to present Romney as a jobs creator?

Kelly says Romney will do better if he "clearly, concisely, constantly on jobs, spending and debt, corruption, crony capitalism, national defense". But when Kelly says that, he doesn't mean present the facts, he means present the lies.

Obama could be vulnerable on Civil Liberties, and to some extent on the way Obama chose to try to accommodate Republicans rather than to push his own agenda. But to attack Obama on those points would be to risk Democrats bringing up George Bush's record on civil liberties, and to risk admitting Republicans did not even try to compromise just to help struggling American citizens. It doesn't work for Republicans to say to voters ‘We couldn't let you have that temporary highway construction job because government can't create jobs; you will get a much better job eventually when the government no longer protects worker safety and the air we breathe and the water we drink’. Well, Republicans can’t say that to voters, although they may well be saying something like that to (wealthy) donors.

And maybe that is the point. Republicans need to find the candidate most acceptable to the Koch Brothers, and then let Frank Luntz use a couple of billion dollars to find the right lies about Obama to make the Republican candidate slightly less distasteful.

And Jack Kelly’s seemingly beloved Tea Party are simply the “R” button pushers, kind of the same way Republicans complain about unions. Except that unions were born out of a desire of workers to help each other, while I would argue that the Tea Party was born of anger and resentment, partially at wealthy elites and also the urban poor. Republican elites will focus that anger at the poor, and deflect the anger at the rich. And Jack Kelly will be part of that.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A glaring inconsistency ...

Friday nights, when I can stay awake, I watch Bill Maher's "Real Time". I am somewhat impressed with Maher's practice of having conservatives and liberals on the same three member panel. Conservatives can roll out their talking points, but for a change there are liberals sitting right there to respond. Mind you, the quality of the talking points and the response varies widely.

Last night, Maher had Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican Congressman from California who is a libertarian (like Maher himself). Maher also had Martin Bashir and former MTV VJ Kennedy (another libertarian). Rohrabacher's Wikipedia page is actually somewhat interesting, he is a surfer and in favor of medical marijuana (quite possibly the reason Maher had him as a guest). But despite being a real person with perhaps moderately complicated views, unfortunately he managed to seem more like a Republican caricature.

Which brings me to the reason I was moved to post. Rohrabacher complained early in the panel discussion about the five trillion dollar debt Obama is leaving to our children. Maher responded that Obama's share was 1.7 trillion, George Bush was responsible for the rest, and there was no economist in sight to explain automatic stabilizers, declining revenues and deficit spending to stimulate the economy. But the real thing I wanted to say is that a few minutes later (or maybe it was before) Rohrabacher was complaining that Obama is "slashing" the defense budget. So Rohrabacher is complaining about the defict, but also complaining about attempts to reduce.

To be fair, Rohrabacher claimed to be in favor of "modest" cuts to defense, but he offered no specifics. My point is simply to point out once again a pretty glaring example of a Republican wanting to have it both ways, simply to pander to voters.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I wonder if ...

I am generally not a fan of conspiracy theories. I don't think there is a vast Republican conspiracy anymore than there is a vast Democratic conspiracy. Yet the Republicans do move together; the Democrats not so much. The Republicans do not have a conspiracy, but they don't seem to tolerate dissent. I don't know why Chuck Hagel quit active political life, but I suspect he came to dislike the behavior of his party (although for I know he shares their less than sophisticated approach to economics).

So like I said, I don't believe in conspiracy theories, but it really looks to like many groups tend to move together. I don't think they collude per se, but I think they cooperate, and they don't tolerate dissension well. Look at how Republicans/conservatives have turned on Newt Gingrich (who I am tempted to call Gingrinch). Republicans move together, Democrats try, I think oil traders move as a group. What about ... well, the 1%? How could they move as a group? What would they do and why? Well, in the era of super pacs and Citizens United, the 1% and the corporations they control have a powerful tool in how much money they can donate.

Now, let's look at the way things are right now. Everybody, including the 1%, got a shellacking in 2008. Everybody's wealth went down when the stock market went down, and when home values plummeted. Now, when Obama was campaigning and then elected, we all expected Obama would take action. Pecora Commission. Instead, almost all of Obama's economics staff and a lot of other people in his administration came straight off of Wall Street. Not surprisingly, there have been almost no prosecutions of Wall Street bankers. Record bonuses have returned. Obama has talked about raising taxes on the 1% (income, capital gains, interest carried forward), but with a Republican House and an easily filibustered Senate, the odds Obama will be able to carry out his threats are quite small. Basically the best Obama can do is maintain the status quo. I suspect that is quite satisfactory to the 1%. Obama seems like a genuine Democrat populist, but in reality he has been pretty generous to the 1%, and it seems like he can be counted on to continue to do that.

By contrast, if a Republican gets in the White House, there might be literally be unrest in the cities. Everybody would expect a Republican President would overtly help the rich, give them even more breaks, or at least keep them the way they are. It seem like a bad idea for the 1% to have a Republican President.

How could the 1% keep a Republican out of the White House, especially if they don't conspire and plot together. Actually it is pretty simple, they could simply not donate to candidates who might be serious contenders, like a Mitch Daniels, a Tim Pawlenty or a Chris Christie. They have solid records and actually somewhat moderate records. By contrast, the people who have raised money, some familiar and some not, are less impressive. Donald Trump? Herman Cain? Ron Paul? Michelle Bachmann? Newt Gingrich? Even Mitt Romney? A lot of these people seem almost like clowns.

And maybe that's the point. Maybe the 1% are exercising their power to do what they can to keep Obama in office. Even Romney seems pretty questionable for President. Their chances of getting elected seem less that a Mitch Daniels running against Obama's record. Mind you, Mitt Romeny will run on Obama's record, as Gingrich would do. But Romney's record is complicated, and Gingrich's record is strange. The 1% are actually doing what they can to put up a clown against Obama, maybe.

But I don't believe in conspiracy theories. Not a fan.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kelly's world view

Sorry this thing is so late, I really have had very little time in the last couple of weeks, including the past few days.

A couple of commenters have asked why I comment on Jack Kelly so religiously (which is to say every Sunday?). There are a couple of thoughts there. First, I am interested in international affairs, including security studies, which also seems to be Kelly's first love (so to speak). Second, since he is ostensibly a Pittsburgh columnist (although he is also published in Toledo), I feel someone from Pittsburgh should comment on him (and yes, Dayvoe from 2PJ's would surely do this if I didn't, or even sometimes still does, but so what - I wanna). But the final reason is that Jack Kelly often presents a neat little case study of what I understand cognitive dissonance to be. He takes the facts of a situation and finds way to explain them that fit his view of the world. Like today's (er, Sunday's) column.

Kelly has three sort of central premises. First is that the Muslim Brotherhood (or Ikhwan, apparently) is likely to win enough elections in Egypt to control the government. Second Kelly draws a connection between the Muslim Brotherhood and Hitler, as well as quoting the current "supreme" leader that the Brotherhood wants to establish a "caliphate" in Egypt and achieve mastership of the world. Third Kelly asserts that A) it will be bad for the US if this happens, B) he implies we can do something about this and C) he implies we should if we can.

As to the question of whether the Brotherhood is likely to take of Egypt's government, that seems as likely as not. As to how bad the Muslim Brotherhood is, I am sure they want to be bad to the bone. They survived underground in Egypt, according to Kelly they have no love (and a certain degree of animosity) for Israel, the Shiites in Iraq (or where ever), or America.

On the last point, it should be pointed out that the US supported and by extension defended Mubarak for as long as he has been in power. While Mubarak was in power, there were elections, but everyone understood that the elections were rigged, and everyone understood that the US supported Mubarak. Why should Egyptians in general, much less the Muslim Brotherhood in specific, feel any great love for the US? Are they supposed to somehow understand that our foreign policy is shaped by the power of the Israeli lobby, so that while we support the idea of democracy everywhere, we will support with money and arms those dictators who do things that make the Israeli lobby happy in the US?

Jack Kelly does not come out and say we should control Egypt's democracy, he just says it will be bad if the Muslim Brotherhood takes control of the Egyptian government. He doesn't even say specifically how bad, he just talks a lot about how Hitler rose to power and took over parts of Europe because England and France appeased him. So how could Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood rival the destructive force Germany was able to wield in Europe in the thirties? What might Jack Kelly be thinking when he is giving us these dire warnings?

Two thoughts come to mind. First, (theoretically) the Muslim Brotherhood could achieve what Iran (and the Taliban in Afghanistan) failed to in the 1980's. Possibly they could encourage the people in other Muslim countries in the region to rise up against their current governments and create fundamentalist Muslims theocracies. Kelly specifically mentions Libya and Syria, where in one the government has already been toppled and in the other mass protests threaten the government. If an Islamist wave swept the Middle East, both Israel and the flow of oil to Europe and the US could be threatened.

While that would be really bad, that doesn't seem close to the "mastership" of the world the Brotherhood claims as a goal. How could the Muslim Brotherhood gain control in the world considering the power of China, Europe and the United States? I mean, Kelly talks about how Jimmy Carter misunderstood the Iranian revolution and Obama seems to be doing the same thing with the Brotherhood. But how much a dupe could Obama be, I mean, it's not like he spent a significant part of his childhood in a Muslim country, attending a Muslim Madrassa.

Yes, I am saying that I believe Jack Kelly is, between the lines, suggesting that Barack Obama is a sort of Muslim Manchurian Candidate. At best, Obama might be a well intentioned but dangerously naive dupe, and at worst might sap the power of the US by waging class warfare against the rich, while destroying our families by forcing gay marriage and gay teachers on us as well as giving Sharia law first equal power and then dominance in our legal system.

While Kelly does not come out and say Obama is a Muslim plant, he certainly complains about the rise to power the Muslim Brotherhood seems to be achieving. Its amusing to me that the same conservatives who cheered George Bush when he talked about bringing democracy to the Middle East complain loudly when the effects of democracy come to fruition. The conservatives who support Rich Santorum (an openly religious candidate for President here) decry the religious beliefs of the Muslim Brotherhood. Obviously its not that religion is being pushed into politics, its which religion is taking on a political role. And mind you, right now we are talking about the government of Egypt, not our government. How do the Egyptians feel about this?

For Jack Kelly, clearly American interests (as he defines them right now) trump any rights of the Egyptian people to self determination. Thinking like that is what led us to support the Shah of Iran all those years. Of course, the Shah often had his own plans, but we might have been OK with the Shah absorbing smaller gulf states as long as he accommodated American interests in the region. Just like we supported Saddam Hussein in the 1980's after the Shah was deposed, particularly when Saddam went after Iran, to the point of turning a blind eye at that point when Saddam used nerve gas on the Kurds in Iraq.

Those are the kinds of actions that make the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt more popular than groups we might prefer. Not solely, of course, but our history in the Middle East makes anything we advocate there automatically suspect to most of the population there.

For all of Jack Kelly's knowledge of the specifics of the history of the Muslim Brotherhood, I don't think he has a very good knowledge of the politics of the area. The US really can no longer afford to bluster around the area, removing people we don't like and putting in people who will give us what we want (as we turn a blind eye to what they do to their own people).

If we want to protect ourselves from the effects of our past actions in the Middle East catching up with us, there are things we could at home. A 55 MPH speed limit on the highway, much higher cafe standards, tougher vehicle inspections - all could reduce our dependence on foreign oil (long before we would have to drill, baby, drill). But Jack Kelly will never suggest personal responsibility.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Capitalism run amok ...

I think I was supposed to go dark today. Hey, I have enough trouble keeping my passwords straight, bringing down my blog temporarily would be near impossible. And would my two readers notice .... (Car talk reference, right?)

When I was in college thirty some years ago, studying economics, it was simply understood that if there was a problem, like, say, air pollution, the government needed to address it. After all, one of the basic components of capitalism is (private) property rights. If you dump a bag of garbage on my lawn, I will take you to court. But if your factory spews smoke out, who takes you to court? Who "owns" the air, or the water? So the government has to step in. A slightly more complicated case involves, say, companies that get "too big to fail". When you think about it, too big to fail means that if a big bank fails, a lot of people get real hurt. In the case of the recent financial meltdown, the collapse of Lehman Brothers because of the toxic assets of the same type that were held by other big banks sent a shiver of panic through the financial industry. So the failure of a big bank can harm not only its own depositors, but also start a domino effect in the industry.

These problems I describe are in fact problems of distortions of the free market, where either companies are unable to find a price for a negative byproduct of production (pollution) or companies getting so large as to reduce real competition to almost nothing. That they occur pretty much indicates how the free market is unable to address these problems, and for the longest time were considered to be the responsibility of the government. That was the automatic assumption in the halls of academia in the early eighties.

But now a-days Republicans say that there are too many regulations,and that wealthy people drive job creation in this country. Sorta the opposite of what I learned when I was young.
But that leads some to say the private industry successes of a Mitt Romeny inform and improve his (potential) performance as President. But maybe we should see some (or all) of the actions Romney took in any given private sector situation as showing some sort of success.

Reuters filed this report (In the spirit of not being an online pirate ... I forget where I got this from, I thought it was Greenwald, but as far as I can see Greenwald is mostly only pointing out Chris Dodd's current hypocrisy).

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Isn't this a legitimate criticism?

I don't think Jack Kelly reads anything I say. Which is fine with me, I am going to say what I say regardless of that. But one might wonder where Jack does get his ideas for his columns. I suspect, given his fondness for referencing them, that Jack draws his inspiration(s) from right wing publications and/or blogs. So some on the right wing must have noticed that President Obama is following in the (negative) tradition of George Bush, in grabbing (or just retaining) a lot of power in the Presidency. Maybe people on the right are starting to read Glenn Greenwald.

Today's Jack Kelly column is (sub)titled"A constitutional crisis looms as the president flouts the law". I have been saying for (I believe its) months that while most (or, well, all) of Mr. Kelly's previous criticisms where wrong (based on faulty information, faulty economics, what have you), there were/are legitimate criticisms from the left. Today Jack Kelly get the closest to making those criticisms as I can remember seeing him do. Mind you, he does essentially fail, but today's criticisms are similar to legitimate ones.

I don't think, or would like not to think that this is some sort of "even a stopped clock is right twice a day". Although I will also say that Kelly manages to absolve George Bush even as he slams Obama, supporting the liberal phrase, "its all right if a Republican does it".

So to get to brass tacks, the two allegations I can tease out of Kelly's column are first that a) Obama was ignoring the will of Congress when he attached a signing statement to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that said he would not enforce a particular provision of that law and b) that when Obama made a recess appointment of Richard Cordray for head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Senate was not in recess. Kelly also takes pains to say that most mainstream and/or liberal members of the press did not take any note of these attacks on the constitution.

There's probably something to the last point, but two of the media sources I consult regularly, Glenn Greenwald at salon dot com and the Daily Show, covered these issues. Greenwald covered the NDAA and also has spent time recently in particular discussing how much of the press is giving Obama a pass when he clearly violates parts of the constitution.
The Daily Show, for its part, mentioned both issues in (what else) fairly funny bits. For the recess appointment issue, they showed the clip from C SPAN where the Senate's President Pro Temp or whichever appointed stand in gavel-ed in a session and a second later recessed it for the rest of the holiday. Stewart made a quite comical arm's spread and "what?" gesture for that particular maneuver.

The Daily Show also took note of Obama's signing statement for the NDAA. As I understand it, the NDAA allows for indefinite detention of American citizens. Obama, in his signing statement, said that this provision of this law would not be enforced in his administration. The Daily Show said something about how Obama put a sad face next to his signature, and I believe also something about how Americans were lucky that the Obama administration would continue forever (Stewart did it funny).

I think the National Defense Authorization Act issue is a constitutional failure in more than one way. Authorization for indefinite detention, which should be, under our constitution, illegal, was passed by Congress. At the very least Obama should have vetoed it for that reason. Is the signing statement unconstitutional, in this particular case or in general? In general there have been signing statements dating back to James Monroe, although I am given to understand they didn't generally have instructions until starting in the Reagan era. For this specific case, it seems to me that the President, as chief executive of the federal government, can choose how to enforce laws to at least some degree. But putting in the signing statement is a poor excuse for allowing a flagrant violation of constitutional provision come into law.

As for the recess appointment, yes, in a technical sense clearly the Senate was not in recess. But the Senate was not actually doing anything (I am sure the majority were home relaxing or raising money), and then there is the issue of the abuse of the filibuster by the Republicans since they lost the Senate in 2006. Of course, I can see why Kelly is complaining about this particular recess appointment. Conservative Tea Party types are bitterly opposed to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, and would have preferred to indefinitely block the appointment of a director.

As I said, Kelly repeatedly defends George Bush's actions as not stepping over the constitutional boundaries. Obviously a lot of liberals would disagree with that, but one liberal (Greenwald) asserts that Obama also steps over a similar line. Which raises an inevitable question, who's worse, Obama or Bush. Frankly, I can't really say. Bush being a Republican, it is tempting to simply say he's worse, but in many ways Obama is more disappointing. At the end of the day, Bush and Obama are both so guilty of stepping over the line. Bush should be prosecuted, but he is out of office and not really able to do anymore damage. Obama is still in office, and could easily get re-elected.

So that's Jack Kelly's column today. He still gets it wrong, but I gotta say that he's getting closer.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Jack returns to his roots (not that it works well)

(edit point: this post has a timestamp of Sunday at 5:30 because I started it then; I finished it Monday at lunchtime, which is when it appeared on my blog)

A funny thing happened this morning around 7:00 am when I went to post my weekly screed about Jack Kelly's column. When I went to my blog's address, a screen came up that said my blog had been deleted. To back up a little, yesterday afternoon I was surfing the web while doing other things, and went to check my gmail or something. I got a message blocking me at that point (I might have type in a wrong password, I do that all the time). The message said something about suspicious activity on my account.

So to go back to this morning, I tried to figure out what the deal was about deleting my account. But I had to go help with training for new VITA volunteer tax payers, so I couldn't pursue it in any depth. I did use Google's message system to ask a question of their help people. When I came home after training (around 5:30), my blog was back. But I have to say this is making me think I might have to look at Word Press or some other blogging software.

Anyway, I want to say something about Jack Kelly's column this week. He returns to his national security roots, although he is still slanting his columns to carry water for the Tea Party.

Kelly basically accuses Obama and his administration of trying to get out of Afghanistan before the war has been won (hence the title of the column "Surrender in Afghanistan"). His "proof" boils down to three ideas, two of which I researched slightly.

First Jack quotes Joe Biden saying ""The Taliban per se is not our enemy,"" and then immediately says "We went to war in Afghanistan to oust the Taliban regime because it had sheltered al-Qaida. Perhaps Mr. Biden forgot." Really? I think it is Jack Kelly who is showing a selective memory. We went to war, as I remember it, to demolish al qaeda, particularly Osama bin Laden. Now, to the extent the Taliban got in the way of that goal, we were happy enough to oust them from power. But I think if you asked most Americans whether it was/is a good idea to get involved in a ten year war in Afghanistan at I have no idea what cost in dollars, and 1864 dead Americans, I think most Americans would say no.

And there is the point that the 800 pound gorilla in the corner might want to draw attention to. To repeat myself, we have been involved in Afghanistan for ten years or so, roughly the fist seven of which under President Bush. Apparently holding President's responsible for military success only applies to Democrats. Of course, even then, Kelly should but chooses not to grant that Obama was in office when bin Laden was killed, the thing that was essentially our ultimate motivation for invading Afghanistan.

The second issue Kelly raises is to comment on a story in an Indian newspaper about how the Obama administration is using someone named "Yusuf al-Qaradawi" to negotiate with the Taliban for the US to withdraw from Afghanistan. Interesting story, so I googled this guys name and the word Afghanistan to see what the Washington Post or Chicago Tribune thinks of it. Well, the story was there on google, but the sites that carried were all conservative sites, like the National Review or (one of my favorite site names) "Hot Air". When a story is carried only by conservatives, that immediately makes me doubt it's legitimacy.

The third issue Kelly brings up is a Reuters story that the administration is considering turning over from Guantanamo to Afghanistan someone named Mohammed Fazl, a senior Taliban official, and four other people. He's been held since 2001, and in Guantanamo since 2002. Afghanistan was requesting him since 2005 apparently. The man is accused of particularly brutal behavior (not a surprise to anyone who knows anything about the Taliban), but we are talking about turning ah Afghan national over the the Afghan government for them to decide what to do with. Seems totally unreasonable to me.

Kelly goes on about how Afghans who don't want to live under a brutal Taliban dictatorship would be the losers if the US withdrew. I certainly agree that life under the Taliban would be miserable (in my opinion), but I have to wonder how much the Afghans prefer whatever it is we are trying to accomplish there. After all,
we have been in Afghanistan since 2001, and we are apparently no closer to total victory than we were in 2001. How much are the civilians and Afghan government trying to help us? Perhaps the air strikes that hit civilians, often using drones rather than manned aircraft, has something to do with why the Afghans are no better than suspicious of us.

In addition, I do firmly believe the Afghans are worth helping, but how is it that they are the beneficiaries of soaring rhetoric while the citizens of, say, Zimbabwe are not. The hypocrisy of Republicans during the Bush administration and still today is staggering. To talk about bringing Democracy to Afghanistan or Iraq and then slaughter Afghani's or Iragi's with airstrikes (either poorly aimed, based on faulty intelligence or both) requires an incredibly selective view of the world (not to say cognitive dissonance).

What is most ludicrous about Kelly's column is that he is accusing Obama of wanting to slink away from Afghanistan and I believe he is implying (at the very least) that Obama has no stomach for winning the war in Afghanistan or fighting the war on terror. For anyone actually paying attention, Obama has been very aggressive about Afghanistan and in trampling on civil liberties. How does he compare to George W Bush? I have to say that in my opinion the comparison is too complicated, but Obama and much of the Democrat party (elected and voters) have been astounding in simultaneously pursuing aggressive action in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world against "terrorists" (too often innocent civilians), trampling on civil rights (such as due process, habeous corpus, actually granting detainees trials and attacking whistle blowers and more), and yet pretending that nothing that is being done is contrary to the values of the US. Much the same can be said about the Obama administration's policy towards Wall Street, by the way. Glenn Greenwald has documented much of this, most recently here, but all through his Salon columns going back.

It's staggering that Kelly (in a manner that is typical of conservatives/Republicans/Tea Party people)asserts Obama is either somehow a wuss who doesn't want to fight a war to victory or perhaps in league with al Qaeda, when in fact Obama is ordering the killing of people in Afghanistan and elsewhere at least as aggressively as Bush did, and trampling civil rights at least as aggressively as Bush did. Kelly not only fails to elevate the debate, he actually makes it worse by concocting this fairy tale. Of course, very little of the rest of the media is doing anything to hold Obama accountable for those things he is doing.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Santorum tries to be the man ...

I watched Rick Santorum on Meet the Press this morning. It was pretty interesting watching Santorum bob and weave through the usual sort of questions any hardcore, purist conservative candidate might get. Santorum tried to justify supporting measures that merely make it more difficult to get an abortion versus wanting a total ban on abortion ("any measure that moves the country in the right direction" I recall Santorum saying). He also justified trying to get earmarks for Pennsylvania in particular while opposing earmarks in general (I remember conservatives complaining relentlessly about Obama having got earmarks for Illinois; I can only assume they will complain just as hard about Santorum).

But the most interesting things Santorum said this morning were about what his Iran policy would be (as captured partially by Slate). Although David Gregory pointed out that the Obama administration is quite aggressive in pursing an anti-nuclear policy in Iran, both overt and apparently covert, Santorum proceeded to whine that while we know the Israeli's are acting against Iran, we don't hear anything about US actions. Ignoring the recent drone crash, what part of "covert" does Santorum not understand. Actually, probably all parts of covert, as Santorum said on MTP that he would make sure the Iranians knew the US was acting covertly in Iran (how? by allowing our operatives to be captured?).

I suppose some conservatives might be impressed by Santorum's posturing. I don't expect Santorum to actually spell out what he would want the CIA or whomever to do in Iran. But does he really think that acting like a bully will impress on us how tough he is?