A LinkSwarm heavy on shutdown-related news:
Posts Tagged ‘George W. Bush’
Obama gave his speech on the NSA scandal a few days ago. I wanted to fisk it because it’s eminently fiskable, and I don’t think that anyone else has done it (though Scott Shackford over at Reason took a stab).
Comments in blockquotes are from Obama’s press conference, the rest are mine (along with referenced quotes to others).
I’m going to take one question.
One whole question? How generous of you! Not only did George W. Bush hold far more press sessions than Obama, I seem to remember him answering a lot more questions at each one as well.
And then remember, people are going to have opportunity to — I’ll also answer questions when I’m with the Chinese president today.
“One, Barack Obama is terrified of the press and refuses to face them on his own. Two, out of fear he is using foreign leaders as props to keep the press from getting out of hand, and to force them to ask questions having nothing to do with his scandals.”
So I don’t want the whole day to just be a bleeding press conference.
How about just one day you have a press conference where you actually answer all the questions reporters have on Benghazi, the IRS, Pigford, and the NSA?
But I’m going to take Jackie Calmes’s question.
Ah, yes, Jackie Calmes. Even among the Obama-philic staff of The New York Times, Colmes stands out for consistently pushing the Obama line, be it the desirability of Keynesian pump-priming deficit spending over fiscal responsibility, Obama’s credentials as a pragmatist, or claiming ObamaCare will reduce the deficit, Obama can always count on Jackie to lend him a helping hand! Imagine Bush only taking one question at a press conference, then calling on Rush Limbaugh or Dennis Miller.
Q: Mr. President, could you please react to the reports of secret government surveillance of phones and Internet? And can you also assure Americans that the government—your government doesn’t have some massive secret database of all their personal online information and activity?
“Could you reassure.” Funny, I thought it was the job of reporters to ask questions to elicit information, not “assurance.” What a nice, slow pitch over the middle of the plate.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yeah. You know, when I came into this office, I made two commitments that are more than any commitment I make: number one, to keep the American people safe;
I’m sure Ambassador Stephens deeply appreciated those efforts during the last few hours of his life.
and number two, to uphold the Constitution. And that includes what I consider to be a constitutional right to privacy and an observance of civil liberties.
Funny, Mr. Obama’s fervor to uphold the Constitution (especially such “troublesome” sections as the Second and Tenth Amendments) has seemed fairly underwhelming to non-liberal observers, especially compared to his enthusiasm for expanding the size and scope of the federal government, or even reducing his golf handicap.
Now, the programs that have been discussed over the last couple days in the press
Well, there’s a pretty vague formulation. Why not just come out and say “The NSA FISA Prism intercept program?” Is this just an inadvertently vague phrasing, or is it deliberate in order to provide plausible deniability if proven false? Given the extensive revisions the Benghazi talking points underwent, I’m going to go with “deliberate.”
are secret in the sense that they’re classified, but they’re not secret in the sense that when it comes to telephone calls, every member of Congress has been briefed on this program.
Funny, but congressional Republicans have said otherwise, and that they had no idea of the breadth and depth of NSA’s Prism program. Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley (OR) says the same thing. And Obama mouthpiece Jay Carney walked back the “every member” claim. Even so, notice the “when it comes to telephone calls” qualifier, which suggests large swathes of other types of data collection they haven’t been briefed on.
With respect to all these programs, the relevant intelligence committees are fully briefed on these programs.
I can’t actually ding that as a lie, since the intelligence committee people who have talked about it (including Marco Rubio) have sounded supportive of it, even the “hand over all your metadata for all phone customers” portion.
These are programs that have been authorized by broad, bipartisan majorities repeatedly since 2006.
The general NSA program yes. “Obtain the records for every phone call made in America?” Not so much. Also don’t forget that as Senator, Obama himself railed against the government conducting “a fishing expedition through every personal record or private document.” Of course, seizing every record isn’t a fishing expedition, it’s a net-drag operation designed to capture all the fish. And George W. Bush’s NSA director says the program has expanded under Obama.
And so I think at the outset, it’s important to understand that your duly elected representatives have been consistently informed on exactly what we’re doing.
Some representatives, and not “constantly.”
Now, let — let me take the two issues separately. When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls.
This statement is almost certainly false, given that some Americans are almost certainly covered by one of the 1,769 classified wiretap orders filed in 2012.
That’s not what this program’s about. As was indicated, what the intelligence community is doing is looking at phone numbers and durations of calls. They are not looking at people’s names, and they’re not looking at content.
This is almost certainly a lie. I can’t imagine there’s not a name-matching algorithm operating even at this very early stage of metadata sifting.
But by sifting through this so-called metadata, they may identify potential leads with respect to folks who might engage in terrorism.
And the NSA’s idea of “people who might engage in terrorism” is “everyone who owns a Verizon phone?”
If these folks — if the intelligence community then actually wants to listen to a phone call, they’ve got to go back to a federal judge, just like they would in a criminal investigation. So I want to be very clear. Some of the hype that we’ve been hearing over the last day or so — nobody’s listening to the content of people’s phone calls.
The strawman set alight here is so large that Nicolas Cage should be standing underneath it screaming “No, not the bees!” First, as Shackford noted in his piece, ” Nobody said that the program was about listening to telephone calls.” Second, just because you’re not actually listening in, doesn’t mean that you can’t glean data from the metadata, including sensitive and potentially blackmail-worthy data. And, as the IRS scandal shows, there’s no reason for the public to believe that Obama Administration officials won’t abuse such data if they get their hands on it.
There’s that word “fully” again. And there’s a great deal of evidence that court has become little more than a rubber stamp, turning down a whopping .03% of the requests submitted.
And so not only does that court authorize the initial gathering of data, but I want to repeat, if anybody in government wanted to go further than just that top-line data and wanted to, for example, listen to Jackie Calmes’s phone call, they’d have to go back to a federal judge and — and — and indicate why, in fact, they were doing further — further probing.
Again with the listening to phone calls. Handwaving.
Now, with respect to the Internet and emails, this does not apply to U.S. citizens, and it does not apply to people living in the United States. And again, in this instance, not only is Congress fully apprised of it, but what is also true is that the FISA Court has to authorize it.
Given that the NSA intercepts 1.7 billion emails a day, I find it hard to believe that they’re all to or from foreigners, unless an usually high percentage of them are Nigerian princes.
So in summary, what you’ve got is two programs that were originally authorized by Congress, have been repeatedly authorized by Congress. Bipartisan majorities have approved (on them ?). Congress is continually briefed on how these are conducted. There are a whole range of safeguards involved. And federal judges are overseeing the entire program throughout.
For this summary of lies and half-truths, see the fisking of the previous lies and half-truths.
And we’re also setting up — we’ve also set up an audit process when I came into office to make sure that we’re, after the fact, making absolutely certain that all the safeguards are being properly observed.
Which is it? You’ve set it up, or you’re going to set it up? And we should trust you for that same sterling oversight you’ve observed for Benghazi, Pigford, and the IRS? Speaking of “audit processes.” Bad choice of words there, O…
Now, having said all that, you’ll remember when I made that speech a couple of weeks ago
No, as a matter of fact, I don’t. You give so many speeches, and say so little in each of them.
about the need for us to shift out of a perpetual war mindset.
Translation: “I’m a 9/10 Democrat.” How Obama’s love of drone strikes, and his decision to intervene in the Libyan civil war (and now, possibly, the Syrian civil war as well) tie into shifting out of a “perpetual war mindset” remains unclear. As does how we get Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and various other terrorist groups (some backed by the Islamic Republic of Iran) to stop killing Americans. It would probably be quite easy to “shift out of a perpetual war mindset” if fighters for radical Islam weren’t waging perpetual war on us.
I specifically said that one of the things that we’re going to have to discuss and debate is how were we striking this balance between the need to keep the American people safe and our concerns about privacy, because there are some trade-offs involved.
So far the “trade offs” of your foreign policy seem to be “keep fighting long enough to avoid being accused of losing in Iraq and Afghanistan, but not doing enough in either place to actually win.”
And I welcome this debate.
Given how thin-skinned you are, how negatively you react to people criticizing you, and how poorly you performed debating Mitt Romney, I rather doubt that.
And I think it’s healthy for our democracy. I think it’s a sign of maturity, because probably five years ago, six years ago, we might not have been having this debate. And I think it’s interesting that there are some folks on the left, but also some folks on the right who are now worried about it who weren’t very worried about it when it was a Republican president. I think that’s good that we’re having this discussion.
You know what debate we weren’t having 5 or 6 years ago? “Why is the IRS targeting the Administration’s political opponents?” And we weren’t having that debate because George W. Bush wasn’t using the IRS to target his political opponents. Unlike you.
We also weren’t having this debate because we really believed that Bush was committed to fighting the war on terror. Unlike you. Moreover, we weren’t having this debate back when there were 22 classified wiretap orders because that didn’t seem excessive. Now that there are 1,769 classified wiretap orders, under an Administration known for abusing its power, it’s a lot more urgent concern. We didn’t have that debate under a Republican because he didn’t have the documented pattern of abuse of power you do. Was it short-sighted of our representatives to sign off on the more expansive measures of the Patriot Act? Obviously so, though how could they have known your abusive administration was coming down the pike so soon?
But I think it’s important for everybody to understand, and I think the American people understand, that there are some trade-offs involved. You know, I came in with a health skepticism about these programs.
Sure you did…right up until you realized you were in charge of them. See also: Lord Acton.
My team evaluated them. We scrubbed them thoroughly. We actually expanded some of the oversight, increased some of the safeguards.
How convenient that everything is secret so we can’t evaluate these “improvements” your team has made.
But my assessment and my team’s assessment was that they help us prevent terrorist attacks.
Maybe. But how many did they prevent, and at what cost? Which of those 1,769 secret wiretap orders were more effective than the previous 22?
And the modest encroachments on privacy that are involved in getting phone numbers or duration without a name attached and not looking at content — that on, you know, net, it was worth us doing.
I’m sure that Obama feels that any encroachment’s on other people’s privacy are entirely acceptable, just as he feels spending more of other people’s money on higher spending and taxes is just fine and dandy. And I don’t think that gathering phone and email data for every American is “worth doing.” Or constitutional.
That’s — some other folks may have a different assessment of that. But I think it’s important to recognize that you can’t have a hundred percent security and also then have a hundred percent privacy and zero inconvenience. You know, we’re going to have to make some choices as a society.
No one (at least among conservatives or libertarians) believes that you can reach 100% security, because human beings are inherently imperfect creatures. But we’re not asking for “100% privacy,” we’re demanding the level of freedom and privacy guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America. And the TSA seems to be closing in on 100% inconvenience for 0% effectivety. 100% privacy and 100% security are both unreachable, but 100% secret surveillance of a free nation’s phone calls and emails is intolerable.
And [all?] I can say is, is that in evaluating these programs, they make a difference [to] anticipate and prevent possible terrorist activity. And the fact that they’re under very strict supervision by all three branches of government and that they do not involve listening to people’s phone calls, do not involve reading the emails of U.S. citizens or U.S. residents, absent further action by a federal court, that is entirely consistent with what we would do, for example, in a criminal investigation.
Both the scandal and the leak of same proves that the supervision isn’t “very strict.”
Once again Obama stands up his “listening to every phone call” and “reading every email” strawmen to give them another pummeling. And I severely doubt that any police department in any city has ever sworn out a warrant that said “give me the phone records for every call in [for example] New York City over the last month.” This is the sort of abuse that can only be carried out by the vast, unaccountable, black budget national security state. Worse still, your Administration’s unwillingness to name and confront the threat posed by radical Islam has made us all less safe still.
I think, on balance, we — you know, we have established a process and a procedure that the American people should feel comfortable about. But again, this — these programs are subject to congressional oversight and congressional reauthorization and congressional debate. And if there are members of Congress who feel differently, then they should speak up.
And we’re happy to have that debate. OK.
Joe the Plumber certainly remembers how “happy” you and your supporters are to have “debates.” Funny how you and your supporters willingness to abuse and leak government information was already on display even before you were elected. We should have taken that as a sign.
That ends the fisking of Obama’s answer to Calmes’ question. This is already so long I think I’ll go ahead and post it, and save the fisking for Obama’s answer to the other question he allowed to a later post.
And the moon became as blood…
The deal Obama struck to extended all the Bush tax cuts is good for America, and also good for the Republican Party. When it was struck, however, the liberal howls of outrage made me think of one other outcome which, while not as good for the nation, would be even better for Republicans: If Nancy Pelosi blocked the deal, the Bush tax cuts (and long-term unemployment) temporarily lapse until the new Republican House takes over in January, at which point they pass a tax cut extension at least as strong as the Obama deal, and probably stronger. So in order to make the point how opposed Democrats are to letting rich people (or “rich” people) keep their own money, they’re willing to let the long-term unemployed stop getting checks for a month (and probably longer), delay economic recovery at least that long, let Republicans pick up an even bigger victory and take all the credit for the deal, make Obama look weaker and make the Democratic Party in general, and Pelosi’s House Democrats in particular, look even more petulant, shrill, and extreme.
That appears to be exactly what’s going to happen. It’s like some perfect storm of liberal fail.
The reasons why House Democrats are undertaking such counterproductive and self-destructive behavior probably requires the insights of a psychiatrist more than a political scientist. In the 2010 elections, voters rejected the liberal agenda about as thoroughly as any domestic political agenda has been rejected in our lifetimes. After two years of trying to push the most liberal agenda since LBJ’s “Great Society” expansion of the welfare state in the 1960s, Democrats suffered massive losses, most dramatically in the House, for a switch of 63 seats. For a graphic depiction of how thoroughly liberalism has been rejected, take a look at this Real Clear Politics map of incoming House seats:
Not only are liberals unwilling to consider why their agenda was rejected by voters, they’re unwilling to even consider that their agenda was rejected. Rather than face up to that unpleasant fact, the nutroots have embraced a far more psychologically satisfying (if political suicidal) explanation for their tidal wave of defeats: Democrats lost the 2010 Election because they just weren’t liberal enough:
- Here’s Joan Walsh in Salon expanding on the theme.
- Ryan Lizza shows The New Yorker that the more Obama Agenda items (Stimulus, ObamaCare, Cap-and-Trade) House members voted for, the more likely they were to lose…and then goes on to suggest that Obama should have been even more radical! Micky Kaus calls him on it.
- Here’s Eugene Robinson joining the chorus: “One contributing factor was the Democrats’ failure to explain their program and counter Republican misinformation – is seen by the conventionally wise as delusional. But I’ve been meeting an awful lot of progressives around the country who share that delusion.” Yes, yes they do. Also this: “I’m hearing the view that the Obama administration, which has done much good, can do better – by speaking clearly, standing its ground – and, when pushed by bullies, shoving back.” One tiny problem: Those “bullies” shoving you are called “voters.” And they just shoved 63 of you off the sandlot entirely.
- Journolist-creator Ezra Klein fingers the hard left’s favorite bete noir as responsible for Democrats’ debacle: Joseph Lieberman.
- Ari Burman says that Obama just didn’t give enough power to the nutroots.
I’m sure I could come up with 10-15 other examples. It’s like that episode of The Critic where Jay Sherman remembers being rejected by a woman he was trying to pick up: “Eww, I don’t like that memory at all! Let’s look at it again through the magic of self-delusion!” All those congressmen lost because they just weren’t as awesomely liberal as I am! High five! Inside the liberal reality bubble, the Democratic Party’s biggest mistake was getting Blue Dog Democrats to run in marginal districts in the first place, and if they had just run people with positions closer to Nancy Pelosi or Alan Grayson in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania, they would have done better.
Of course, outside the liberal reality bubble, this idea is a laughably naive exercise in vainglorious wish fulfillment. It’s also easily disproven. Take a look at the contrasting fates of Tom Perriello and Jason Altmire.
Perriello was the golden boy Democratic freshman Representative from Virginia who was not only the darling of liberals, but also loftily declared that he would rather vote for ObamaCare and be defeated than vote against it and be re-elected. Democrats pulled out all the stops to save his seat, sending him $1.6 million over a 10-day period and having Obama appear personally on his behalf. If the nutroots theory that liberals just needed a candidate worth fighting for to lure them to the polls to assure victory were correct, Perriello should have been a shoe-in. He lost.
Altmire, by contrast, was one of those loathsome “Blue Dog Democrats” that so many liberals feel are merely Republicans in disguise. He voted against ObamaCare. If liberal theories were correct, disheartened liberals should have assured his defeat. He won in a year that fellow Blue Dogs who voted for ObamaCare were being slaughtered.
So the current Pelosi-lead liberal temper tantrum is impossible to explain given the objective political needs of the Democratic Party. However, it’s all too easy to explain given the psychological needs of liberals.
For years liberals have believed that majority status (like The New York Times and black voters) was their unquestioned birthright. Never mind that between 1968 and 2004, a Democratic Presidential candidate had topped 50% of the popular vote exactly once (the post-Watergate Jimmy Carter, who managed to garner a whopping 50.08% of the popular vote in 1976). For them, Republican victories were aberrations from the supposed norm. They truly believed that America was a “center-left” nation, despite polls consistently showing twice as many Americans identified themselves as conservatives rather than liberals. They believed people like John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira who assured them Democrats were the natural majority party, and would take over their natural role as lords of the earth any day now.
And then the 2006 and 2008 election seemed to confirm the theory. Yes! This was it! This was their moment! Finally all of their dreams would come true! Obama was one of them, and with the House and Senate firmly in Democratic control, he would completely replace all the intolerable policies of his predecessor, “that idiot Bush.” He would end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, close down Guantanamo Bay, legalize gay marriage, use Keynesian economics to fix the economy, and nationalize health care. The liberal moment had arrived at last. It was so close they could taste it.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the liberal nirvana. What the rest of us call “real life,” and what liberals attributed to an ever-expanding cast of villains (Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Rasmussen Reports) they lumped together as “the right-wing noise machine” inexplicably rose up to thwart their righteous will. The economy stayed broke, and if the Stimulus did anything it made it worse. The Tea Party happened. Cap-and-Trade went down in flames. Obama figured out that Bush’s anti-terror policies weren’t bad at all now that he was the one who had to deal with the problems. Democrats managed to pull the Zombie ObamaCare over the finish-line despite widespread opposition, but it was a far cry from the glorious platonic idea of a fully nationalized, single-payer system that existed in their mind’s eye (and nowhere else). Then the voters, the same voters liberals believed in their heart of hearts was naturally liberal, rejected them. They were like a football team a mere quarter away from winning the Superbowl, only to have the opposing team rack up three touchdowns on them in the last five minutes. How can this be happening? What did I do to deserve this?
When a party gets walloped in an election, usually it takes time to reflect on why voters might have rejected its message, and what parts of that message (and the party) need to be changed. If you’ve seen All That Jazz (and if you haven’t, you should; it’s a great movie), then you’re probably familiar with the Kubler-Ross grief cycle: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Obama has moved on to at least the third stage, but House Democrats and the nutroots can’t get past the first two.
Conservatives have many interests that might supersede politics: Family, jobs, religion. But for many liberals, the political is personal. As far as they’re concerned, there’s Good (represented by Big Government run by liberals and doing the things liberals want it to do), and there’s Evil (big business (unless its unionized), rich people (unless they went to the right schools), Fox News, etc.). They believe the same things all their Facebook friends and newspapers and TV shows and NPR agree with! It’s inconceivable to them that people of good will might disagree with them.
After all, they’re Good! The other side is Evil! That’s why they write books with names like What’s Wrong With Kansas? rather than Why Can’t We Convince Kansas To Embrace Higher Taxes and Bigger Government? They’ve spent the last 20-years believing that voters are liberals, so it’s impossible that voters rejected liberalism itself. That would be tantamount to voters saying they rejected them personally. That’s unpossible! After all, they’re awesome! No, this could only have been happened because the voters have been tricked. Liberalism didn’t lose, liberalism was stabbed in the back. Hence the hunt for traitors and scapegoats that snatched away their prize at the last moment.
To actually listen to what voters were telling them would mean abandoning the worldview that they’ve clung to so fervently for so long. Thus every bit of cognitive dissonance only makes them cling more fervently to the belief that voters haven’t, didn’t, couldn’t reject liberalism itself. After all, they’re awesome, aren’t they? Aren’t they? Voters sent them a message good and hard, but they have to deny it, because their denial is all they have left. Liberalism can never fail, because whenever it appears to, then ipso facto it wasn’t really liberalism that was failing, just like Communist apologists claim that all those failed Communist states weren’t really Communist, because communism never fails inside the platonic fantasyland of their Marxist imaginations.
And into this seething cauldron of anger and denial comes Obama, blithely announcing the deal to extend the Bush Tax Cuts. After all, Obama still has to govern the nation for the next two years. Clearly the economy is isn’t responding to Obamanomics, so something else needs to be done. And if the Bush Tax Cuts expire, Obama knows that Democrats are the ones that will get the blame for the biggest tax hike in history. So he cut the best deal he thought he could, knowing he would have even less leverage after the Republican House took over in January.
In essence, Obama was saying that voters had indeed rejected liberalism. He was ruining their denial! Here was their traitor at last: Obama the secret Republican.
So the House, under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi, decided to stand and fight on the only issue that seems to unite their base: Their hatred of the wealthy, and their love of other people’s money. The idea that money might belong to the people that actually earned it, rather than the federal government, fills them with rage. Here was their line in the sand: We have to screw the rich, even if it means screwing the poor and the middle class in the process! Even if it makes them more unpopular. Even if the Republicans will just pass a deal even less to their liking in January. So they have to oppose extending the Bush tax cuts, even though it will make the rest of the nation think they’re even more petty, vindictive, and out-of-touch than they already did. When it comes to preserving their wounded egos, rationality goes out the window. If it comes down to voters rejecting liberalism, or liberals rejecting reality, then to hell with reality. It’s no longer about policy, it’s about pride.
And pride goeth before a fall.
According to the latest batch of Wikileak documents. In particular, coalition troops kept coming across numerous artillery shells filled with mustard gas.
Remember the terms of Section 8 of UN resolution 687 that ended the first Gulf War:
Iraq shall unconditionally accept the destruction, removal, or rendering harmless, under international supervision, of:
(a) All chemical and biological weapons and all stocks of agents and all related subsystems and components and all research, development, support and manufacturing facilities
Thus the instance of a single chemical weapon in Iraq violates the terms that ended the Gulf War, and thus the decision by George W. Bush to carry out the liberation of Iraq in 2003 was both legal and justifiable. (This is in addition to the other numerous instances of jus ad bellum cited by Bush in his speech on that reasons behind that decision.)
Liberals, look at yourself in the nearest mirror and repeat after me: “George W. Bush was right and I was wrong. George W. Bush was right and I was wrong.”
They told me that if I voted for McCain, America would ban people for criticizing the President. And they were right!
Can anyone recall an instance of a foreign national being banned from the U.S. for merely criticizing Bush?
Updated: Gizmondo is saying the story isn’t true, though there’s nothing stating that in the original Sun article right now.)