Jeb is the GOP’s serious candidate on foreign policy. Really

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Jeb Bush, apparently more serious about his grilling than about foreign policy. (US News photo.)

 

Today at the Iowa State Fair, Jeb Bush was forced to once again address his brother’s disastrous Iraq legacy, and delivered this gem:

First of all, the Iraqis want our help. They want to know we have skin in the game, that we’re committed to this.

When someone in the crowd reminded him that it was his brother who in 2008 negotiated and signed the status of forces agreement requiring all US forces be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of 2011, he went on to contend something that no one else who pays attention to American foreign policy honestly believes:

We didn’t have to get out in 2011 … It [the agreement] could have been modified, and that was the expectation. Everybody in Iraq and everybody in Washington knew that this deal could have been expanded.

Jeb here is being either willfully misleading or simply delusional.  As Fred Kaplan points out in Slate,

Article 30 of that same agreement stated that its terms could be amended “only with the official agreement of the Parties in writing and in accordance with the constitutional procedures in effect in both countries.” These “constitutional procedures” included a vote by the Iraqi Parliament—and at no time between 2008 and 2011 was the Iraqi Parliament going to take such a vote.

Granted, President Obama did want to get out of Iraq; he won the White House in large part on that promise, and there was no more support in the United States than in Iraq for a continued presence of American troops. And yet Obama did send emissaries—among them former aides to George W. Bush—to seek an amendment to allow a few thousand residual forces. The Iraqi government refused. Unless Obama wanted to re-invade the country, there was nothing to be done.

Frankly, my money is edging toward delusional, in part because of statements like this next one. As CNN reported:

Thursday, reporters asked Bush if he intentionally invoked the phrase “mission was accomplished” as a nod to his brother, who famously spoke in 2003 in front of a banner with almost the same wording splashed across it, yet the war continued on for years.

Jeb Bush, somewhat annoyed, argued reporters were overanalyzing his remarks.

I know you’re obsessed with all this and that’s your job, but it was a mission that was accomplished,” he said, referring to the 2007 surge. “(The phrase) is used. It was actually a movie. It’s been a sequel. Tom Cruise has made a really good living out of it,” he went on to say, appearing to conflate the term with the movie series “Mission Impossible.”

Had enough yet? No? OK, here’s one more.

Asked about waterboarding and other forms of torture, Jeb refused to say whether he would keep in place President Obama’s executive order banning abusive methods of interrogation. Again from the CNN report:

“I don’t want to make a definitive, blanket kind of statement,” he said, saying he prefers to be “cautious” in making such predictions. “When you are president your words matter.”

Later at a separate event in Ankeny, Iowa, he was asked by reporters to clarify whether he was leaving open the idea of allowing methods like waterboarding again in the future.

“I’m not ruling anything in or out,” he said, but stressed “we don’t do torture.”

And Jeb is considered the GOP’s serious candidate on foreign policy. Imagine how the unserious ones sound.

 

 

 

The sordid scandals of the holier-than-thou

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Michigan Republican state reps Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, in happier times. (Photo from The Guardian.)

 

It would be all too easy to devote this blog to nothing more than cataloging the seemingly endless hypocrisies of the religious right. So I just don’t think its worth much of my time, or yours, pointing out the obvious.

But low-hanging fruit can be pretty damn juicy, especially when it’s ripe for the picking in your own backyard. So meet Republican state representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, Tea Party favorites, Christian conservatives, and probably the loudest advocates and defenders of traditional marriage in the Michigan legislature.

Especially if your definition of traditional marriage includes adultery.

Rumors of an affair between Courser and Gamrat — who regularly invoke Christian values to support their political positions — had been swirling around state political circles for months. But the whole thing exploded into public view earlier this week thanks to Courser’s comical attempt to enlist his staff in a scheme to divert attention from the affair by floating claims that he had been caught paying for gay sex behind a Lansing nightclub.

Apparently Courser believed the charges of illicit gay sex would distract his constituents from the more mundane adultery he was actually engaged in. More precisely, as the Detroit News revealed when it broke the story, Courser (married father of four) told his aides the exaggerated claims would “inoculate the herd” and make “anything else that comes out after that — that isn’t a video — mundane, tame by comparison.”

While Gamrat has so far kept quiet about the whole thing, the same can’t be said for Courser. MLive has a terrific overview of the story and the reaction in Courser’s Lapeer district. Here’s a taste:

The story revealed Courser, R-Lapeer, tried to get an aide, Ben Graham, to send an email making the false claim Courser was a bisexual deviant who skipped out on legislative duties to pay for homosexual sex behind a “prominent Lansing nightclub.” The email was meant to “inoculate the herd,” Courser said, for when news of his actual affair with Gamrat leaked.

Courser’s attempts to douse the fire — a 27-minute recording of him accusing ex-staffers of conspiring against him, the release of texts from a person he’s referred to as “The Blackmailer” to prove the conspiracy, accusing a political consultant of being The Blackmailer and tweets accusing Speaker of the House Kevin Cotter of working against him — instead acted as accelerant.

Despite all the free advice from public relations professional urging resignation and silence, Courser continues to press his story of blackmail.

The whole thing is almost too absurd to believe. Almost.

What is white privilege?

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White privilege is …

That’s white privilege.

They’d be dead if they were black (Updated)

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(NBC News photo)

 

Does anybody really believe that if a gang of black men strolled into the middle of the protests in Ferguson, MO, wearing camo, body armor, and carrying high-powered semiautomatic rifles they’d be greeted by local law enforcement with the open arms and camaraderie that were extended to the Oath Keepers?

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Oath Keepers are an anti-government self-proclaimed citizen militia, a “Patriot” group founded in 2009 by Stewart Rhodes, an Army veteran and graduate of Yale Law School. The group is a …

… rapidly growing organization comprised mostly of active-duty police and military, as well as veterans, who fret about things like gun control and the much-feared “New World Order.” Members swear (a second time) to uphold their oath to the Constitution and not to obey orders they think conflict with that. Among those orders (10 “Orders We Will Not Obey” are listed on the Oath Keepers website): Imposing martial law or a state of emergency on a state, and forcing those who resist into detention camps.

As the Guardian newspaper reported, at the same time the Oath Keepers were openly displaying their paramilitary firepower,

a group of at least three black men who were standing by a car next to a hair salon on West Florissant Avenue were arrested after a phalanx of St Louis County police surged towards them, using pepper spray and batons. A spokesman for police department told the Guardian by email on Tuesday that officers had received information “that the occupants or folks near that vehicle were possibly armed with handguns”.

But the spokesman later confirmed that none of those arrested during the swoop were in possession of any weapons.

Call me naive, but if the Oath Keepers were black I doubt we would have seen them standing shoulder to shoulder with local police. We instead would have seen a firefight and a bloodbath on the streets of Ferguson.

And the cops would have been the first to pull the trigger.

**Update**

Vox has an explainer up on the Oath Keepers, including a list of the 10 “Orders We Will Not Obey”:

  1. We will NOT obey orders to disarm the American people.
  2. We will NOT obey orders to conduct warrantless searches of the American people.
  3. We will NOT obey orders to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to military tribunal.
  4. We will NOT obey orders to impose martial law or a “state of emergency” on a state.
  5. We will NOT obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty.
  6. We will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.
  7. We will NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext.
  8. We will NOT obey any orders to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on US soil against the American people to “keep the peace” or to “maintain control.”
  9. We will NOT obey any orders to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies.
  10. We will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.