Some Reasons for Hope

Yesterday I was feeling a little discouraged about health care reform, but this morning there are a few things that make me believe that the Democrats , in particular, the progressives, are pushing back.

The first story that caught my eye in the New York Times this morning was about advertisers cancelling ads on the Glenn Beck Show on Fox News.

ABOUT a dozen companies have withdrawn their commercials from “Glenn Beck,” the Fox News Channel program, after Glenn Beck, the person, said late last month that President Obama was a racist with a “deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.”

The companies that have moved their ads elsewhere in recent days included ConAgra, Geico, Procter & Gamble and the insurance company Progressive. In a statement that echoed the comments of other companies, ConAgra said on Thursday that “we are firmly committed to diversity, and we would like to prevent the potential perception that advertising during this program was an endorsement of the viewpoints shared.”

The companies that have moved their ads elsewhere in recent days included ConAgra, Geico, Procter & Gamble and the insurance company Progressive. In a statement that echoed the comments of other companies, ConAgra said on Thursday that “we are firmly committed to diversity, and we would like to prevent the potential perception that advertising during this program was an endorsement of the viewpoints shared.”

The companies may still be advertising on Fox, but not on Glenn Beck’s shows.  A small victory. 

Then there is the still optimistic Eugene Robinson reminding us this morning what thing would have been like if Obama had lost.

We’re told the economy is on the mend, but we still see six-figure job losses every month. The health-care debate has become so polarized that even if it ends in breakthrough legislation, chances are that opponents will still be irate and supporters more exhausted than overjoyed. The deficit is gargantuan, bipartisanship is nonexistent, the prison at Guantanamo is still open, and the war in Afghanistan looks like a potential quagmire. The summer has become a bummer.

But anyone sliding into a slough of despond should keep things in perspective. Almost every day, there’s some reminder of how far we’ve come since President Obama’s inauguration — and how much worse things could be.

On Thursday, there were two such aide-mémoires. The first was a report in The Post that Dick Cheney, in his upcoming book, plans to detail his behind-closed-doors clashes with George W. Bush. The story, by Post reporter Barton Gellman — whose book “Angler” is the definitive account of how Cheney, as vice president, basically tried to rule the world — quotes a source as saying that Cheney believes Bush went all soft on him during the second term.

That was when Bush ordered a halt to the waterboarding of terrorism suspects, closed the secret overseas CIA prisons, made diplomatic overtures to hostile states such as North Korea and Iran, and generally started to behave in ways that Cheney apparently deemed entirely too reasonable.

Othere recent revelations (not by Mr. Cheney) include his wanting a pardon for Scooter Libby (and not getting it) and his campaign to build secret prisons.  If this is true, more places than the Brattleboro, Vermont need to be indicting Dick Cheney for war crimes.  And does this mean that Cheney was no longer President during the second W term? 

Robinson continues

I know that I’m not alone in wishing that Obama were moving more quickly to erase the stain that the Bush-Cheney excesses left on our national honor. I wish Guantanamo were already closed — but Obama did set a date certain for shutting the place down and pledges to follow through. I’m troubled that he hasn’t flatly rejected the concept of indefinite detention — but he at least recognizes that some kind of due process needs to be involved.

I’m most troubled by Obama’s resistance to a full-bore investigation of the Bush-Cheney transgressions. I can only hope that the president sees the error of his ways — or at least that the probe of CIA interrogation abuses that Attorney General Eric Holder might launch is allowed to follow the evidentiary trail to whatever crimes it may reveal.

We are then reminded that Sarah Palin could have replaced Dick Cheney as Vice President.

But witness Sarah Palin’s weird near-daily eruptions — about imaginary death panels and the like — and reflect on what the summer would have been like if she were serving as vice president of the United States.I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling much better about everything.

I’m seeing some signs of hope too, Gene.  I never believed that the election of Barack Obama was a magic bullet that was going to instantaeously cure all our ills, but it sure does make a difference in lots of intangible ways.  The biggest being the need to confront our continued racism.

The Republican Problem with Blondes

I generally don’t like to stereotype people, but today I just can’t resist.  Remember Dan Qualye?  He who used to look adoringly at Bush I?  He was a blonde back then. Then there was blonde bombshell pundit Ann Coulter.  Now the Republicans have Liz Cheney and Elizabeth Hasselbeck. 

Liz Cheney is on a crusade to save her father’s image.  Maybe she is trying to save a Spanish court or a truth commission or U.S. attorney from prosecuting him, but I don’t think it helps much at she can’t get facts which are clearly on tape correct.   Last night Rachel Maddow deconstructed Liz Cheney’s interview with Andrea Mitchell in which Cheney claimed that the linking of Saddam Hussein with 9-11 was an attempt to smear the Bush administration and that her father never said any such thing.  And here I’ve been thinking for at least 7 years that this was the reason for the War in Iraq.  Silly me.  Oh, the link wasn’t really with 9-11 just with Al-Qaeda.  Didn’t they take responsibility for the attack which would mean, if Saddam and Al-Qaeda were linked that Saddam would be linked to 9-11?  But no one has ever found such a link including the Congressional 9-11 Commission.  Liz is a blonde.

And then there is the other Republican blonde, Elizabeth Hasselbeck.  She criticized President Obama’s Cairo speech by saying he never mentioned “democracy.”  Elizabeth, he had a whole section which he called “Democracy.”  Keith Olbermann deconstructed this one.

The Republicans may have a problem with blondes.

What is Dick Cheney Up To?

I couldn’t sleep after something woke me up at 4:15 this morning and I started thinking about Rachel Maddow’s piece last night about former Vice President Dick Cheney.  She presented a video montage of his “torture saves lives” tour of news talk shows.  It is really quite remarkable when you see them one after the other.  Maddow’s piece ends with an interview of Retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson who served as Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff when Powell was Secretary of State.  Wilkerson wondered out loud if Cheney realized that he may be making revelations that could provide evidence which could eventually lead to his, Cheney’s, prosecution. 

Then when I finally got out of bed and turned on the computer, there was Maureen Dowd’s column Rouge Diva of Doom.

When Bush 41 was ramping up to the Gulf War, assembling a coalition to fight Saddam, Jimmy Carter sent a letter to members of the U.N. Security Council urging them not to rush into conflict without further exploring a negotiated solution.

The first President Bush and other Republicans in Washington considered this treasonous, a former president trying to thwart a sitting one, lobbying foreign diplomats to oppose his own country on a war resolution. In 2002, when Bush Junior was ramping up to his war against Saddam, Al Gore made a speech trying to slow down that war resolution, pointing out that pivoting from Osama to Saddam for no reason, initiating “pre-emptive” war, and blowing off our allies would undermine the war on terror.

Asked by Bob Schieffer on Sunday how America could torture when it made a mockery of our ideals, Cheney blithely gave an answer that surely would have been labeled treasonous by Rush Limbaugh, if a Democratic ex-vice president had said it about a Republican president.

“Well, then you’d have to say that, in effect, we’re prepared to sacrifice American lives rather than run an intelligent interrogation program that would provide us the information we need to protect America,” Doomsday Dick said.

Cheney has replaced Sarah Palin as Rogue Diva. Just as Jeb Bush and other Republicans are trying to get kinder and gentler, Cheney has popped out of his dungeon, scary organ music blaring, to carry on his nasty campaign of fear and loathing.

So, back to my question:  What is Cheney up to?  Is he on some long term campaign to get Americans to be afraid so we will elect Republicans again?  Is he trying to influence public opinion so that we don’t think torture is all that bad and we won’t want to bring him to trial?  Or is he just stupid?  Here’s Dowd again

Cheney’s numskull ideas — he still loves torture (dubbed “13th-century” stuff by Bob Woodward), Gitmo and scaring the bejesus out of Americans — are not only fixed, they’re jejune.

He has no coherent foreign policy viewpoint. He still doesn’t fathom that his brutish invasion of Iraq unbalanced that part of the world, empowered Iran and was a force multiplier for Muslims who hate America. He left our ports unsecured, our food supply unsafe, the Taliban rising and Osama on the loose. No matter if or when terrorists attack here — and they’re on their own timetable, not a partisan red/blue state timetable — Cheney will be deemed the primary one who made America more vulnerable.

According to Dowd, even the Bush Family doesn’t like what he is doing.  What scares me is that there is a small segment of the population that will believe everything Cheney says and a larger one that can be influenced by his scare tactics.  But maybe the Bushes would like to silence him before he implicates George W. Bush in a way that will be impossible to ignore.  I think his remarks will lead to more documents being revealed.  Perhaps we should keep Cheney talking.

Rachel Maddow has said several times she would like to interview Cheney and last night issued her invitation again with a twist.  She would have Col. Wilkerson help her to do the interview.  I’d say the odds are not good he will accept.