Spain: “F” Is For Franco Not Fascism And Republicans Are Turning Anti-War…Sorta? Plus I Am Bradley Manning.
This is a classic "small d" democratic moment. The economy is in deep trouble -- immediate and long term. Washington is oblivious, compromised by moneyed interests, knotted by ideological divides. It will take an angry and aroused citizens' movement to demand the debate worthy of a great nation in deep trouble.
The dismal jobs numbers only punctuate the reality of an economy that isn't producing sufficient jobs. The crisis is both immediate and long-term. The so-called recovery hasn't begun to recover the jobs lost in the Great Recession. 25 million people are in need of full time work. Home values continue to fall. 25 percent of 17- to 25-year-old high school graduates not in college are out of work. Much of a generation is at risk.
The immediate is only an expression of more profound problems. The middle class was losing ground before the Great Recession. Good jobs are being shipped abroad. Wages aren't keeping up with the costs of basics.
The broad middle class that made America exceptional is disappearing.
The American dream seems ever more like a nostalgic memory. The nation continues to run unsustainable trade deficits, and must dig out of a mountain of debt -- both public and private. For the first time, an increasing majority of Americans fear their kids won't fare as well as they have.
We need action to put people to work. But short term fixes aren't enough. Americans are looking for a serious strategy that will get us out of the mess we are in.
The Beltway Bloviating
But inside the beltway, Washington is clueless. It's the only major city in the country where housing prices are going up. A flood of corporate lobby money insures that the tables are full at the high end restaurants.
Entrenched corporate interests buy a lot more than lunches with their dough. They block vital reforms on health care, energy, trade, Wall Street.
They feed off taxpayers, protecting their subsidies and tax dodges, avoiding taxes, while deficits rise and essential programs like nutrition for infants get cut.
The politicians prefer posturing to bold action, "message" and "spin" to leadership.
Republicans even with the majority in the House are focused on obstruction. They vote for more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, paid for by ending Medicare and Medicaid, hiking costs for those least able to pay -- seniors, the disabled, the dying.
They vow to blow up the economy if they can't get a deal on trillions in domestic spending cuts, accompanied by more tax breaks for the wealthy. They're lining their campaign coffers carrying water for the big banks against even minimal reforms.
The adult Republican presidential candidates like Mitch Romney claim they can get the economy going and create jobs. But they only recycle old and failed nostrums. More tax cuts for corporations who are already sitting on over a trillion in cash waiting for customers.
More tax cuts for the wealthiest, who already have the most concentrated income and wealth since the eve of the Great Depression.
More corporate trade deals that ship goods jobs abroad, undermine wages at home, and force up to borrow over a billion a day from abroad to balance the deficits. Less regulation when we haven't recovered from the catastrophe caused by the excesses of deregulated Wall Street.
They pretend they can balance the budget and put people to work by cutting domestic spending, cutting taxes, increasing spending on the military, and not dismantling basic promises like Medicare and Social Security. They and everyone else knows that is a lie.
The White House offers no clear way out.
The president wants to hail the successes of an economy that isn't working for most people. Yes, his policies saved us from free fall -- thanks, but we're worried about what we face, not where we've been. He sensibly calls for "winning the future" -- making investments in areas like education, innovation and infrastructure. But he's locked himself into austerity, focused on cuts, and offering no big vision of how we move forward.
He's more sensible than the tea party zealots, but remains unwilling to tell Americans what needs to be done and that fight for it.
The Democrats in the Senate are a babble, too divided to deliver a message. The House Democrats are cowed by the losses in 2010, too worried about being accused of being "big spenders" to lay out a course to get the economy going and put people to work.
And few seem ready to put out a strategy that necessarily will take on the interests that are strangling the dream. A national trade strategy that isn't controlled by multinationals. Affordable health care not catering to private insurance and drug companies. Fair taxes that shut down the tax havens, the dodges, the obscene subsidies that drain our resources. An investment strategy that generates vital public and private investment, not more Wall Street speculation, or CEO incentives for laying off workers and plundering their own companies.
It will take a popular uprising to get Washington even to begin to focus seriously on jobs and the economy. We've seen this before. There was a bipartisan consensus on the Iraq War until a growing movement forced first Democrats and then the Bush White House to face reality.
The Washington establishment was drunk on slashing Social Security and Medicare to address deficits, and Republicans embraced gutting Medicare, until popular disapproval expressed both in the polls and in the special election in upstate New York sobered them up a bit. The anger expressed by the Tea Party minority still has Republicans in Washington reeling.
Now we need the people to speak again. This time for the American majority. We aren't buying the old conservative elixirs. The New Dem-Republican lite embrace of half measures and conservative cross dressing isn't acceptable.
Washington has to hear a clear message. We elected you to get this economy going, not gut Medicare. We want to know how you will create jobs. We don't want to be served the old tired babble. We know we can't simply cut our way to prosperity. We know we need a major change in our global strategy. We know we've got to make investments vital to the future -- in education and in innovation. We know this economy needs major reforms. Anyone not willing to challenge the corporate interests that are strangling change isn't serious.
We know it is hard to focus on creating jobs when deficits are this high. We know we'll have to sacrifice, but we're not broke -- we don't have to break promises to our kids or our parents. And don't ask the victims of this economy to sacrifice when those making out like bandits are given a pass.
We know once the economy is moving, taxes have to go up and spending has to be brought under control. So stop the nonsense of no tax hikes.
Tell us what you will cut and why. Don't pretend choices don't have to be made.
So lay it out. How do you put people to work, change our economic strategy so we begin once more to make things in America and create good jobs, not poverty wage jobs? How does that relate to getting our books in order and our priorities straight? Give us a debate worthy of a great nation in deep trouble.
In August, after Washington reaches an inevitable deal on lifting the debt limit after weeks of posturing and bluster, of an idiotic debate focused on what to cut rather than how to get the economy going, legislators will return home for recess.
They need to hear from us.
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The Obama administration attacks Seymour Hersh for reporting 'there is no credible evidence that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons' | Glenn Greenwald
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The deadliest US tornado season in 75 years has ripped babies from their mother's arms and transformed entire towns into apocalyptic scenes of destruction as the toll hit 523. And it isn't over yet. While warmer summer weather should hopefully reduce their intensity, the peak tornado season runs through July and twisters can strike at any time. The damage is as unimaginable as it is unpredictable. Funnel clouds drop out of a darkened sky, tossing cars and mobile homes up into the air, pulling huge trees out of the ...
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One chart stands out: the comparison of yesterday's surprisingly weak Consumer Confidence number with comparable prints taken at financial crises and tragedies of the past such as the October 1987 markets crash, Desert Storm, LTCM, the dot com collapse, September 11, Katrina, and Lehman. Consumer confidence two years into the "recovery" is lower than during any other previous economic "expansion," even as congress is about to unleash the most brutal wave of fiscal consolidation (aka austerity) in recent American his...
A 19-member international panel has condemned the US-led "War on Drugs" campaign as a failure and has recommended major reforms of the global drug prohibition regime. The Global Commission on Drug Policy report argues that the four-decades-long campaign has failed to make significant changes in the international drug scenario and has, in fact, devastating consequences on human societies across the world. "Overwhelming evidence now demonstrates the human and social benefits both of treating drug addiction as a health...
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F Is For Franco But Not For Fascist, Apparently
The New Spanish Dictionary Of Biography's Historical Revisions Tell Us More About What's Wrong With Spain Now Than In The Past
Did you know that General Franco was not a dictator, just a bit too "authoritarian"? What about the people who opposed him? Ever felt the temptation to call them democrats or anti-fascists? Wrong. According to Spain's Royal Academy of History, the right term should be either "bandits" or "terrorists".
At least that is what the academy says in its recently released Spanish Dictionary of Biography, a mammoth 50-volume endeavour to put everyone in their place in terms of national history – the "Spain's got talent" of historical revisionism. And if you're already thinking that this Royal Academy must be some shadowy Francoist webpage with a phoney name you're wrong again: it is the real thing, the royal thing, the actual academy founded in the 18th century to bring the Enlightenment to Spain, and apparently still failing to do so 300 years later.
The fact that the dictionary has been presented under the patronage of the king himself and handsomely paid with taxpayers' money to the tune of €6.5m is doing very little to lessen the scandal many specialists and ordinary Spaniards feel at this body of work which, among other things, routinely refers to the republican side in the civil war as "the enemy" while Franco's troops are described as "the national army".
Or, for example, when it praises the "pacification" of several regions, by which it means the execution of thousands of democrats, socialists, teachers and passersby in general. It's a pity that people cannot overcome their outrage, because some of it is quite hilarious. There are wonderful unintended punchlines, such as when, in a frenzy of praise for the Generalissimo, we learn that Franco had personally warned Lyndon B Johnson not to enter the Vietnam war (if he only had listened!). Franco, the incorrigible pacifist …
But surely history is about different opinions, isn't it? Shouldn't we respect this view as valid as any other? Didn't the postmodernists teach us that history is anybody's guess?
No, I'm afraid. History is based on the free discussion of different points of view, but once a reasonable consensus is reached on a topic, those who insist, for example, that Napoleon was a humble man who hated violence are not taken seriously and never make it into a mainstream reference work.
The consensus about the Spanish republic is that it was a legitimate and democratically elected regime, whatever its flaws; and the consensus about Franco's regime is that it was a dictatorship, whatever its (alleged) merits. Even Franco saw himself as a dictator; in this he was more honest than his biographer. We can argue endlessly about specifics, but nothing changes those facts, in the same way that considering (like we should) the horrors of Hiroshima or Dresden doesn't turn Nazism or Japanese imperialism into better alternatives to V-Day.
So, how is this anomaly possible in Spain? That's the problem with this dictionary. It's not what it says about our past. Whatever you think about the past, at least it has the advantage that is gone for ever. The problem is what this dictionary tells us about our present.
It tells us of a Spanish right wing that has been able to embrace democracy but still rejects its memory, preferring that of a fascist regime responsible for a horrible war and years of repression. In some cases it's the need to justify the family history; but in others it's a prejudice so strong in the present that it projects itself back into the past.
Whatever the reasons, José María Aznar's eight years as prime minister between 1996 and 2004 were a great opportunity for his Popular party (PP) to distance itself from its slightly Francoist origins. But the opposite happened: it chose to legitimise Francoism instead. A whole school ofrevisionist historians was promoted to great success, endlessly recycling the old Francoist myths.
It would have been just ridiculous were it not that at the same time the government was denying thousands of citizens the right to unearth their loved ones from the archipelago of mass graveswhich still covers the whole country.
It was Aznar, in fact, who commissioned the Spanish Dictionary of Biography from the Royal Academy of History. Like a sleeping dragon it has made it through eight years of socialist rule, just in time to wake up for the next PP government, if the polls are correct. As they say: You never know what past awaits you in the future.
The United States has budgeted $7 trillion for defense since 9/11, devoting another $636 billion to homeland security, Chris Hellman sums up for NPP’s Budget Matters. “Al Qaeda spends at most $300 million a year on terror — probably much less. In other words, the enemy’s terrorism budget is 0.003 percent of what the United States pays to secure the realm,” Antiwar.com’s Peter Casey comments. “Osama bin Laden really did a number on all of us,” The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman relatedly concludes.
Homies: “DHS would get no funding to continue building its new headquarters if an appropriations bill being considered in the House becomes law,” Federal Times’ Andy Medici leads — as Jena Baker McNeil predicts in a Heritage WebMemo a “dramatic decrease in funding” for the Office of Policy, and The Hill’s Pete Kasperowicz hears House homelander Peter T. King, R-N.Y., terming GOP-proposed DHS cuts “an invitation to an attack.” Two Iraqi refugees accused of supporting efforts to kill American troops in Iraq survived the USCIS vetting process that allowed them asylum in the United States, The Bowling Green (Ky.) Daily News’ Deborah Highland analyzes.
Feds: Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., demands a probe of cybersecurity issues raised by a twittered BVD bulge shot attributed to Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., terming it vital to “ensure our national security,” The Daily Caller’s Matthew Boyle mentions. Athink-tank report says the FBI baited four men convicted of plotting synagogue bombings, The Riverdale (N.Y.) Press’ Nikki Dowling notes. “Being waterboarded is better than being killed by a drone,” Bush-era Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld tellsMetro International’s Elisabeth Braw — while AllGov ponders how “Abu Zubaydah lost his left eye while in the custody of the CIA.” When senators warn that the Patriot Act is secretly being repressively interpreted, civil libertarians can only speculate what they mean, The Los Angeles Times’ Ken Dilanian updates.
State and local: New York’s governor has suspended state participation in ICE’s much-attacked Secure Communities effort, The New York Times tells. In an NYPD shake up last week, Deputy Chief James Shea was demoted from the “hard-charging” Joint Terrorism Task Force to the Police Academy, “something of a department backwater,” NYPD Confidential confides — while The San Francisco Bay Guardian hears a new police chief saying that the terms of an SFPD-FBI JTTF agreement are “being revisited.” Concern about a proposed ICE processing facility “should prod city officials to offer greater protections to people who live and work nearby,” The Rapid City (S.D.) Journal editorializes. Arizona will stop recognizingphoto-ID cards issued by foreign consulates starting July 20, The Arizona Capitol Times relays — as The Lawrence Journal-World hears a Kansas official predicting success for an Arizona-like ban on hiring illegals after the Supremes upheld the law.
Chasing the dime: Weaknesses in contract oversight on the defunct virtual fence should impel DHS to “strengthen its procurement practices for its border security technology portfolio,” Homeland Security Today hears the GAO finding. Shrinkage of the federal contracting market “is not across the board. While reductions are happening in some areas, other areas such as cybersecurity [and] homeland security are growing,” Washington Technology updates. Borrowing the definition of “inverted domestic corporation” from a DHS measure in force since 2003, a new rule bars contracts to tax-dodging firms incorporated in overseas havens, Washington Business Journal relates. DHS has extended a deadline for bids on a $500,000 contract to provide armed security for Pacific island territory federal buildings, notes Guam Buildup News.
Bugs ‘n bombs: A Vancouver man has been handed six years behind U.S. bars for unlawfully dealing military-style weapons, The Province reports — as Reuters hears the U.S. Africa Command worrying about Libyan arms winding up in al Qaeda hands. The slow process of destroying obsolete mustard munitions prompts the Anniston (Ala.) Chemical Agent Disposal Facility to defer its completion deadline to September, BioPrepWatch updates. U.S. and Polish troops last week “joined forces in exercises relating to combating risks posed by chemical and biological weapons,” Polskie Radio reports. A Pentagon list of cyberweapons that can sabotage adversaries’ critical networks should streamline U.S. computer warfare planning, TheWashington Post details.
Close air support: The FAA announces that people who “illuminate” aircraft with powerful lasers, potentially dazzling pilots, now face $11,000 fines, Bloomberg relates. A Ghana-bound United Airlines flight dumped fuel and returned to Dulles escorted by F-16s after two passengers came to fisticuffs over an over-reclined seat, the Post reports — and see USA Today on the week’s air rage outbursts. An Oklahoman, meantime, was charged for carrying a loaded handgun through O’Hare security, The Chicago Tribune tells. Houston air hub officials “are taking an even closer look at understanding airport activity through a customer service perspective — and standard surveillance cameras may not be enough,” Government Technology spotlights. More than $16 million in liquids and gels will be seized from British women at checkpoints this summer, Terminal U forecasts.
On track: SEPTA engineers are resisting a “safety and security” order issued after bin Laden’s death that they wear fluorescent safety vests when operating commuter trains, The Philadelphia Inquirer informs. “Before we hire a new army of TSA guards, and before we make train passengers arrive an hour early to stand in line . . . we ought to calmly evaluate the long odds against an attack on any particular train,” The Milford (Mass.) Daily News maintains. To improve railway security, China is selling real-name high-speed train tickets nationwide, People’s Daily Online observes.
Courts and rights: A federal judge has set an April 2012 date to try a man accused of plotting to bomb a holiday ceremony in downtown Portland last December, The Oregonian relays.A Colorado man was nabbed by FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service agents after mailing “white powder” to the state Department of Revenue, Denver’s 9News notes — as CNN sees a Connecticut man indicted Tuesday on charges of peddling homemade pipe bombs. Former detainee Mamdouh Habib claims that fellow Aussie ex-detainee David Hicks “lived a privileged and protected life” as a snitch during his five years at Guantanamo, The Australian informs.
Over there: “Across the country, many Pakistanis remain unconvinced that bin Laden was killed in a raid,” the L.A. Times spotlights. “How big a threat is Anwar al-Awlaki and how central a place should he have in U.S. counterterrorism strategy?” The New York Times asks five experts. NATO has captured a senior former Osama bin Laden associate in northern Afghanistan, USA Today relays — while Agence France Presse sees al Qaeda making use of sleeper cells in West Africancountries. Quebec is denying a Montreal man child-assistance benefits because his name appears on a U.N. terror watchlist, The Canadian Press reports — while The Canada Free Press terms it “extremely concerning” that Ottawa’s National Art Centre “has agreed to host an event organized by the Islamic Regime Embassy [sic].”
Kultur Kanyon: In the first issue of “Superputin,” Sergei Kalenik’s Internet comic strip, “Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, clad in a kimono, rushes to rescue a bus threatened by an al Qaeda bomb,” Radio Free Europe reports. Russell Proctor’s “Days of Iron” (CreateSpace) “takes readers 400 years into the future . . . through a story that discusses the world through the eyes of a terrorist,” MMD Newswire relays. After a hard day’s forced labor, an ex-Chinese prison camp denizen tells The Guardian, detainees were forced to make virtual money in online games like “World of Warcraft” (Blizzard Entertainment) to benefit of prison guards. “Video games let us be heroes . . . They could let us be anyone, though. Terrorists, for example,” Stephen Totilo opens in Kotaku — while USA Today spotlights the popularity of “first-person shoot ’em up games” such as “Call of Duty: Black Ops” (Activision) among soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
Screening Room: “If you’re keeping tabs on the recent cinematic reconsideration of 1960s and ’70s left-wing terrorism, ‘United Red Army’ [Lorber Films], Koji Wakamatsu’s devastating chronicle of the ultra-violent fringe of Japanese student radicalism, is a must-see,” Salon suggests. Rick Remender’s graphic novel “The Last Days of American Crime” (Radical Publishing), set in a United States where a second major terrorist strike has inspired technology eliminating the criminal impulse, is to become a film directed by F. Gary Gray, Screen Rant reports. “Wish You Waziristan,” a $50,000 animated short designed by Britain’s Foreign Office to dissuade teens from turning terrorist, has been slammed as a waste of money,Sky News notes. Among other woman-directed entries in this year’s Silverdocs Festival, Katie Galloway’s “Better This World” (Loteria) “sets in high relief the impact the war on terror has on civil liberties and political activism in a post-9/11 world,”indieWIRE informs.
Non compis mentally ill: “A federal judge has ruled that Jared Loughner, accused of killing six people in an attempt to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in January, is not competent to stand trial,” an Onion Infographic informs. “Here are some of the factors that played a role in Loughner’s medical evaluation: During sessions, did not once break eye contact with the interviewer’s crotch; All of the swastikas scrawled in his notebooks had five spokes; Said the Rorschach card that’s clearly a crab was a scorpion; Still using iPhone from, like, four models ago; Purchased the Glock 9mm used in the shooting from Sportsman’s Warehouse rather than from the far more reasonably priced Cabela’s; Quoted Ron Paul’s economic platform verbatim; Neighbors described him as a quiet man who kept to himself; and Kept referring to his rights under the Constitution as if that meant anything in Arizona.” See, as well, an Onion commentary: “Let’s Just Go Ahead And Assume We’ve Learned The Lessons Of The Gabrielle Giffords Shooting.”
In the immortal words of the vice president, this could be a big $%^ing deal: House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is throwing what one Republican calls “a legal and political hot potato at the President.”
In a resolution to be voted on in the House tomorrow, Boehner is giving the president two weeks – until the Pentagon Appropriations bill comes up – to either:
Ask for authorization for the military intervention in Libya, or
Figure out how to disengage the US from the NATO operation in Libya.
The resolution states: “The President has not sought, and Congress has not provided, authorization for the introduction or continued involvement of the United States Armed Forces in Libya. Congress has the constitutional prerogative to withhold funding for any unauthorized use of the United States Armed Forces, including for unauthorized activities regarding Libya.”
Boehner is explicitly and formally stating that the president did not check the box on the War Powers Act before sending the US military to intervene in Libya.
The White House had no immediate comment, though earlier today White House press secretary Jay Carney said “we believe that the policy is working, we believe that the goal the president has is shared by a vast majority of members of Congress, and we have consulted with Congress every step of the way since we have initiated this policy.” Carney went on to reiterate that “our involvement militarily is limited, as the president promised, and will continue to be so, and he has made very clear, for example, that we will not be sending ground troops to Libya; that is off the table.”
Last week we noted that two bipartisan actions in the House of Representatives related to Libya seemed to bode ill for congressional support for the U.S. role in military intervention there. Last month in a letter to congressional leaders, the president suggested that the US mission in Libya is now so limited he didn’t think congressional authorization necessary,
House Republican leaders believe that if the resolution being offered by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio -- requiring the president to withdraw U.S. Armed Forces from participation in the NATO mission in Libya within 15 days – had come up yesterday it would have passed.
Instead the Kucinich bill comes up tomorrow. With the Boehner bill an alternative.
According to a House Republican aide, in the House GOP conference this afternoon, Speaker Boehner said: “The Kucinich measure will express our constituents’ angst, but it will also have long-term consequences I believe are unacceptable. If Kucinich passes, it will have an impact on Afghanistan. From a NATO perspective, we're trying to hold the alliance together and advance a common agenda in Afghanistan. We will have turned our backs against our NATO partners who have stuck by us for the last 10 years.”
Boehner then quoted from a Heritage Foundation paper on the possibility of congressional action on Libya: “’Any action by Congress must have due regard for U.S. responsibilities to its allies. It would be completely irresponsible of the U.S. to presumptively withdraw support from allies that are in harm’s way. Many NATO nations stood, fought, and died with American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nothing should be done to suggest that America would precipitously abandon its allies.’”
Boehner used the attached PowerPoint slide to make his case against the Kucinich resolution (click for larger version):
President Obama’s intervention in Libya—pardon me, “NATO’s” intervention in Libya—has become a moment of reflection for conservatives. Whereas the Right gave the last Republican president carte blanche on foreign policy despite cries from the Left about abuse of power, many conservatives now mimic those complaints by demanding that our current Democratic president follow the rule of law.
The Libyan intervention Obama promised would last only “days, not weeks” has now lasted over two months—a direct violation of the War Powers Resolution which requires the President to get Congressional authority for such action after 60 days.
Writes conservative columnist George Will: “The U.S. intervention in Libya’s civil war, intervention that began with a surplus of confusion about capabilities and a shortage of candor about objectives, is now taking a toll on the rule of law.”
Will isn’t alone in his concern. While the establishment centrists of both the Democratic and Republican leadership continue to shield Obama from the rule of law, some of the loudest demands that this war president be held accountable continue to come from the Right.
In the Senate, some of that body’s most conservative members—Rand Paul, Jim DeMint, Mike Lee, Ron Johnson, Tom Coburn and John Cornyn—were co-signers of a May 18 letter to Obama insisting that the President respect the War Powers Resolution and rule of law.
Needless to say, Democratic Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and “maverick” Republican John McCain vocally disagree with these conservative senators.
In the Republican-controlled House, Speaker John Boehner and the rest of the moderate GOP establishment predictably had the President’s back. Likewise, Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich—one of the few antiwar liberals who did not sell out with the election of Obama—predictably launched a full-frontal assault on this war president.
Kucinich introduced what the Washington Post called a “drastic” proposal that demands Obama withdraw forces from Libya within 15 days.
Kucinich’s co-sponsor was Republican Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana. Indeed, some of Kucinich’s loudest champions concerning this legislation were conservative Republicans. Reports the Post: “Now, a Democratic president has asked the country to support a new military action and missed a legal deadline that required him to get Congress’s authorization. In response, an antiwar movement has appeared in an unlikely place: a House dominated by the Republican right.”
Co-sponsor Burton noted “I think, in the House, there’s probably enough votes to pass this,” and he must’ve been right—after closed door meetings with fellow Republicans the GOP leadership tabled the measure. Said Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith, “His intention is not to undermine the commander in chief, at a time when we have troops in harm’s way.”
Never mind that the Founding Fathers’ intended for Congress—especially the “people’s house” in the House of Representatives—to be the governing body that determines what justified putting “troops in harm’s way.” True to his characteristic Bush Republican form, Speaker Boehner obviously believes this important decision should lie entirely with the President in defiance of the Constitution’s explicit instructions that Congress must declare war.
Make no mistake—a majority of Republicans in both the Senate and House still retain the same doltish mindset as Boehner. But then again, a majority of Republicans have never been conservative. This is nothing new. What is new is that the minority of Republicans who are beginning to rethink American foreign policy are almost exclusively conservatives. Kucinich bill supporter, Republican Rep. Jeff Flake perhaps had the greatest insight this week: “There’s been disquiet for a long time. Republicans have been too eager to support some military ventures abroad. And this, (getting out of Libya) I think, is perhaps a little more consistent with traditional conservatism.”
Flake is right. Perhaps more than he realizes.
Known as “Mr. Republican,” in the mid-twentieth century, Sen. Robert Taft led the conservative charge against the prevailing Democratic belief that it was America’s mission to “make the world safe for democracy,” as defined by Woodrow Wilson and promoted by Franklin Roosevelt. In 1946, Taft said that the US went to war to “maintain the freedom of our own people… Certainly, we did not go to war to reform the world.” In 1957, author Russell Kirk would write in his “Ten Canons of Conservative Thought:” “In the affairs of nations, the American conservative feels that his country ought to set an example to the world, but ought not to try to remake the world in its image.” Despite neoconservative assertions to the contrary, many historians have noted Ronald Reagan’s distaste for prolonged military conflict and that he had the least interventionist policy of any president in the last 50 years.
Wrote Pat Buchanan of his former boss: “Reagan did not harbor some Wilsonian compulsion to remake the world in the image of Vermont.”
At the end of his life, National Review founder William F. Buckley called the Iraq War a mistake and suggested that Bush should be impeached. So did Dennis Kucinich.
It is no mistake that many of the GOP’s most conservative members now more closely align themselves with what some might consider liberal antiwar positions, precisely because prudence in foreign affairs has always been the traditionally conservative position. This might become easier to see the more conservatives realize that Bush was this generation’s Wilson and Obama is now the new FDR—promoting big government at home and abroad with utopian rhetoric and reckless abandon.
Concerning foreign policy, traditional conservatives have always been concerned first with America’s interest, caution and restraint, and the rule of law—something Taft and Kirk always knew, Reagan and Buckley were old enough to remember and too many conservatives today have all but forgotten.
This week, more than a few Republicans proved that genuine American conservatism isn’t entirely dead yet—as a Democratic war president unintentionally jogs the Right’s historical memory and helps to revive conservatism’s traditionalist heart.
From The Hill:
By Russell Berman
One Democrat called it the "sign of the apocalypse."
Minutes earlier, a strong majority of the House, including all but 10 Republicans, endorsed a milder rebuke of the president in the form of a non-binding resolution offered by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). The Speaker’s bill chastised Obama for having “failed to provide a compelling rationale” for the Libya mission, and it demanded that the president report back to Congress within 14 days with information on the operation’s costs, goals, timeline and other matters.
At the heart of the debate over both measures was a desire by members in both parties, but especially Republicans, to express their dismay at Obama for not seeking congressional authorization for the military deployment or, in the opinion of many, consulting Congress at all.
“This resolution puts the president on notice,” Boehner said in a floor speech arguing for his bill over Kucinich’s proposal. “He has a chance to get this right. If he doesn’t, Congress will exercise its constitutional authority and make it right.”
Boehner and the Republican leadership had to scramble this week to head off Kucinich’s resolution after they learned it might win enough votes to pass. Believing that an immediate withdrawal measure would go “too far” and undermine U.S. allies in NATO, Boehner drafted his own proposal aimed at siphoning GOP votes from Kucinich’s bill.
In the end, Boehner won all but 10 Republican votes and 45 from Democrats. But the most striking development was the stronger-than-expected Republican support for the Kucinich proposal. After drawing national recognition as one of President George W. Bush’s most aggressive liberal critics, Kucinich has arguably won as much floor time in a Republican majority as he did when his own party ruled the House. The Libya resolution marks the second time in the last three months that he has forced a vote on withdrawing American troops from a theater abroad.
On Friday his measure earned votes not only from traditional intervention skeptics like Reps. Ron Paul (Tex.) and Walter Jones (N.C.), but it also won over conservative hard-liner Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Dave Camp (Mich.). Dozens of freshman Republicans supported Kucinich, including class president Rep. Austin Scott (Ga.) and two representatives on the leadership team, Reps. Kristi Noem (S.D.) and Tim Scott (S.C.).
Kucinich said he thought he won over Republicans by focusing more on the need for Congress to assert its Constitutional prerogative to declare war than on the wisdom of the mission itself. “Nowhere in this debate did I get into the merits or demerits of our involvement in Libya,” Kucinich told reporters after the vote. “I didn’t address this in a partisan way, and I still won’t address it in a partisan way.”
“I think the victory is in forcing the debate,” Kucinich added. “Because there wasn’t going to be a debate except for this resolution.”
Many of the freshman Republicans in particular had campaigned on a promise of strict adherence to constitutional principles, and Kucinich may have tapped into that sentiment. “The members that I talked to were concerned about the constitutional implications,” he said.
The Ohio Democrat also said he thought the Democratic vote was depressed because of “strong appeals from the White House and the Democratic leadership.” While the White House criticized his resolution and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) spoke out against it, House Democrats did not whip against the bill on the floor. Two members of the Democratic leadership, caucus chairman Rep. John Larson (Conn.) and vice chairman Xavier Becerra (Calif.), voted yes.
Yet Democratic supporters of the president’s policy said GOP support for Kucinich was more about anger and opposition to Obama. The ranking Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Howard Berman (Calif.), surmised that the GOP would not have been so sympathetic to Kucinich’s proposal “if its own party was in control of the executive branch.”
If nothing else, the votes on Friday represented a case of strange bedfellows and found one of the House’s most liberal members speaking in praise of the Republican Speaker.
“I think the Speaker has taken a stand for the institution,” Kucinich said, “and he may not have been ready to come as far as I wanted to go today, but we certainly took a step in the direction of accountability.”
Sarah Palin, if you haven't heard, is taking some of her family around the country, visiting historical U.S. landmarks, and talking to the media along the way.
Thursday her "One Nation" traveling road show stopped in Boston, where the former Alaska governor, her parents, her husband, and little Piper visited Paul Revere's house, the Old North Church, and Bunker Hill. Palin posted photos of that leg of her trip on the SarahPAC blog.
One moment that you won't find posted on the blog is Palin's response to reporters when they asked her who Paul Revere was. Instead of saying, "Come on, everyone knows who Paul Revere, the silversmith and patriot is," she stammered while saying this:
"He who warned, uh, the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms, uh, by ringing those bells, and um, makin' sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be sure and we were going to be free, and we were going to be armed."
Needless to say, the lamestream media are having a field day with that gaffe.
Politico: Palin makes Bachmann look like Longfellow
Forbes: This certainly gives us an entirely new point of view to consider when examining our nation’s founding.
Mediaite: Palin’s version wasn’t exactly the official History Channel rendition of the tale...
ABC: Perhaps this week's lesson in the annals of American history was necessary for Sarah Palin.
Fox News has the video up leading their site, but no text or commentary. Perhaps they're speechless.
All of this reminds me of a fortune cookie I once received that said, "We teach what we most need to learn." In which case, ride on, "One Nation," ride on.