For L. Patty Larkin:
David Atkins with an astounding bit of television in which David Frum, former Bush speechwriter, tells the truth on Morning Joe:
Then about four minutes in, something even more attention-grabbing after Scarborough bloviated about Thatcher and Reagan appealing to the common man:
Since the loss of the election, we have heard an enormous amount of discussion from Republicans on television and newspaper columns about immigration as an issue…but all of us who are allowed to participate in this conversation, we all have health insurance. And the fact that millions of Americans don’t have health insurance, they don’t get to be on television. And it is maybe a symptom of a broader problem, not just the Republican problem, that the economic anxieties of so many Americans are just not part of the national discussion at all. I mean, we have not yet emerged from the greatest national catastrophe, the greatest economic catastrophe since the Great Depression. And what are we talking about? The deficit and the debt. And these are important problems, but they’re a lot easier to worry about if you are wealthier than you were in 2008, which most of the people on television now are again, if you are securely employed, which most of the people on television now are. But that’s not true for 80% of America. And the Republican Party, the opposition party, needed to find some way to give voice to real urgent economic concerns held by middle class Americans. Latinos, yes, but Americans of all ethnicities.
None of the panelists on Scaraborough–not Joe himself, not David Gregory, not Chuck Todd, none of them–dared to answer Frum’s devastating indictment of them. Not of the Republican Party, but ofthem. It was uncomfortable, and then blithely ignored.
After five full minutes of inside baseball speculation on Republican leadership games during which Frum looked like he might pull a Howard Beale (check out the look on Frum’s face at 11:09 of the video!), he finally got a chance to speak again:
I believe the Republican Party is a party of followership. The problem with the Republican leaders is that they’re cowards….The real locus of the problem is the Republican activist base and the Republican donor base. They went apocalyptic over the past four years. And that was exploited by a lot of people in the conservative world. I won’t soon forget the lupine smile that played over the head of a major conservative institution when he told me that our donors think the apocalypse has arrived. Republicans have been fleeced and exploited and lied to by a conservative entertainment complex….Because the followers, the donors and the activists are so mistaken about the nature of the problems the country faces the nature–I mean, it’s just a simple question. I went to Tea Party rallies and I would ask this question: “have taxes gone up or down in the past four years?” They could not answer that question correctly. Now it’s true that taxes will go up if the President is re-elected. That’s why we’re Republicans. But you have to know that taxes have not gone up in the past. And “do we spend a trillion dollars on welfare?” Is that true or false? It is false. But it is almost universally believed. That means that the leaders have no space to operate.
And to think that the guy who coined the phrase “axis of evil” is now the moral conscience of the Republican Party.
So this is the single most influential man in the nation about what textbooks your children and grandchildren will read, because Texas buys so many books, their choices are the default choices in many states. And he’s urging the breakup of the country:
Peter Morrison, treasurer of the Hardin County Republican Party in Texas, suggests in his newsletter that the state should have an “amicable divorce” from the “maggots” who re-elected Obama.
Morrison posted on his Facebook page his post-election thoughts: “We must contest every single inch of ground and delay the baby-murdering, tax-raising socialists at every opportunity. But in due time, the maggots will have eaten every morsel of flesh off of the rotting corpse of the Republic, and therein lies our opportunity.”
“Texas was once its own country, and many Texans already think in nationalist terms about their state,” Morrison continued. “We need to do everything possible to encourage a long-term shift in thinking on this issue. Why should Vermont and Texas live under the same government? Let each go her own way in peace, sign a free trade agreement among the states and we can avoid this gut-wrenching spectacle every four years.”
Reached for comment by Bud Kennedy at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Kent Batman, the chairman of the Hardin County Republican Party, said: “Wow.”
“OK, well — I guess I need to start taking a look at his newsletters,” Batman said.
According to Kennedy, State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy picked Morrison to screen the state’s public-school textbooks.
General Petraeus’s link to a troubling suicide in Iraq.
In 2007, The Texas Observer published a cover story by contributor Robert Bryce titled “I Am Sullied No More.” Bryce covered much of the same ground paved by Miller but added details on the Petraeus angle and allegations of murder.
“When he was in Iraq, Westhusing worked for one of the most famous generals in the U.S. military, David Petraeus,” Bryce observed. “As the head of counterterrorism and special operations under Petraeus, Westhusing oversaw the single most important task facing the U.S. military in Iraq then and now: training the Iraqi security forces.”
Bryce referred to a “two-inch stack of documents, obtained over the past 15 months under the Freedom of Information Act, that provides many details of Westhusing’s suicide…. The documents echo the story told by Westhusing’s friends. ‘Something he saw [in Iraq] drove him to this,’ one Army officer who was close to Westhusing said in an interview. ‘The sum of what he saw going on drove him’ to take his own life. ‘It’s because he believed in duty, honor, country that he’s dead.’ ”
In Iraq, Westhusing worked under two generals: Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil, and Petraeus, then a lieutenant general. But Bryce continued: “By late May, Westhusing was becoming despondent over what he was seeing.” When his body was found, a note was found nearby addressed to Petraeus and Fil. It read:
“Thanks for telling me it was a good day until I briefed you. [Redacted name]—You are only interested in your career and provide no support to your staff—no msn [mission] support and you don’t care. I cannot support a msn that leads to corruption, human right abuses and liars. I am sullied—no more. I didn’t volunteer to support corrupt, money grubbing contractors, nor work for commanders only interested in themselves. I came to serve honorably and feel dishonored. I trust no Iraqi. I cannot live this way. All my love to my family, my wife and my precious children. I love you and trust you only. Death before being dishonored any more.
“Trust is essential—I don’t know who trust anymore. Why serve when you cannot accomplish the mission, when you no longer believe in the cause, when your every effort and breath to succeed meets with lies, lack of support, and selfishness? No more. Reevaluate yourselves, cdrs [commanders]. You are not what you think you are and I know it.”
Twelve days after Westhusing’s body was found, Army investigators talked with his widow, who told them: “I think Ted gave his life to let everyone know what was going on. They need to get to the bottom of it, and hope all these bad things get cleaned up.”
Bryce concluded: “In September 2005, the Army’s inspector general concluded an investigation into allegations raised in the anonymous letter to Westhusing shortly before his death. It found no basis for any of the issues raised. Although the report is redacted in places, it is clear that the investigation was aimed at determining whether Fil or Petraeus had ignored the corruption and human rights abuses allegedly occurring within the training program for Iraqi security personnel.”
Since then, the corruption and failed training angles have drawn wide attention although the Petraeus’s role, good or bad, has not.
The writer returned to the case one more time in February 2008 with another Texas Observer article. It opened: “Since last March, when I wrote a story about the apparent suicide of Col. Ted Westhusing in Iraq, I had believed there was nothing else to write about his tragic death.
“But in December, I talked to a source in the Department of Defense who met Westhusing in Iraq about three months before his death. The source, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals, was investigating claims of wrongdoing against military contractors working in Iraq. After a short introduction, I asked him what he thought had happened to Westhusing. ‘I think he was killed. I honestly do. I think he was murdered,’ the source told me. ‘Maybe DOD didn’t have enough evidence to call it murder, so they called it suicide.’ ”
I have since gone through hundreds of pages of the FOIA documents, including transcripts of interviews with Westhusing’s widow, friends, colleagues. The Q&A with Westhusing widow is haunting. She claimed that her husband would never commit suicide, and she thought it more possible that “someone would kill him.” While he never mentioned being afraid for his life, she said, “In Ted’s voice, there was a fear. He did not like the night time and being alone in that trailer.”
Jared Bernstein on economic fallout from the election:
I spent the whole day yesterday arguing fiscal cliff issues with conservatives, specifically, whether new revenues should be raised through higher tax rates–expiration of the upper-income Bush tax cuts–are by lowering rates and broadening the base. Here’s my field report:
–It is big–HUGE–for conservatives that the President has not mentioned higher rates since Tuesday, including in his comments yesterday. His spokesperson did say that he’d veto a bill that fully extended all the cuts, but the White House has been careful not to come down on one side or the other of the rates/base question. His opposition is quite emboldened by this.
My view: I’m not saying he should say “my way or highway” but he should clearly open negotiations with them next week with the plan he ran on: rate expiration on households above $250K (the top 2%).
-I encountered two camps of Republicans on this: dynamic scorers, full stop, and partial dynamic scorers. The former are those who say: just lower the tax rates and watch the revenues flow in… problem painlessly solved! They’re very, very wrong, and thankfully most of the folks I argued with yesterday are in latter camp. In fact, this is their concession from the election: the recognition that we cannot achieve a sustainable budget path on spending cuts and dynamic scoring fairy dust alone.
–Some, though not Leader Boehner yet, are starting to make sounds about taking unearned income, like capital gains and dividends, which current enjoy favorable treatment in the tax code, off the base-broadening table. I suspect leaves them with a mini-Romney math problem.
–They are not constrained by meeting the $1 trillion in revenues over 10 years we’d get from upper-income rate sunsets. Sen. John Kyl, for example, on the Larry Kudlow show, cited Sen. Toomey’s budget plan as a great place to start. That raises $250bn in new revenues, one-quarter of the top rate sunset amount.
–The President was absolutely right to begin his comments with the imperative of any deal protecting and strengthening the current recovery through additional jobs measures. My experience from yesterday: he will not find willing partners on this among Republicans.
–Yesterday, CNBC anchor Brian Sullivan made what I thought was an intuitive point that’s under-appreciated: it would be a lot simpler and cleaner to just raise the top rates than to have a battle of which loopholes to close. The point above about taking unearned income off the table underscores Sullivan point. Me, I’m a huge advocate for simplicity in the code. Once they start moving around income definitions, watch out.
No matter how strong a hand the Democrats have in these talks, the fact remains that the president is more than willing to trade it away. Stay tuned.