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Cliven Bundy: Conservative’s Pig in a Poke

6:04 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Ostensibly, Cliven Bundy’s cattle grazing controversy could not have come at a more opportune time for conservatives. The perceived momentum heading into November’s elections had begun to lose some of its steam prompting one Republican strategist to say this week “Republicans may have peaked too early.” Senate races in Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina where Democrats were supposed to be in peril seemed to be much closer then had been previously imagined. The ongoing failure on the part of Congressional Republicans to move forward on immigration once again took center stage and the now open warfare within the G.O.P. between the establishment and the Tea Party continues apace. More importantly the monotonous and hackneyed droning on about Obamacare has begun to lose some of it’s resonance in the wake of three facts. One is that 8 million people have signed up for health insurance and secondly, recent polling shows, that while many Americans are unhappy with the Affordable Care Act most of the dissatisfied want it repaired not repealed and replaced. Finally, even if a majority of the disgruntled favored repeal, the Republican Party, after eight years in opposition has yet to construct a health care alternative. Enter the Cliven Bundy cattle controversy into which conservative commentators and pundits of all stripes piled onto with almost reckless abandon, seeking to capitalize on the conservative base’s anti-government fervor only to discover, a few days on, two inconvenient facts that would come back to undermine their latest conservative celebrity du jour.
Cloven Bundy
First, in spite of all of the efforts on the part of conservative commentators to force fit Bundy’s transgressions into a “government overreach” template the fact stands that Bundy has been using federal land for his private cattle on the taxpayer’s dime. A perusal of commentary on that reliably anti-government website, among others, reveals the type of jury-rigged logic employed in much of the commentary posted in support of Bundy. Many would argue that while Bundy might be technically at fault for not paying the Federal government grazing fees his transgression was trumped by his “moral” case against government overreach. Then there is the far-fetched folly of an idea, propagated by Bundy himself, that because he personally does not recognize the existence of the Federal government, that that somehow really matters or changes anything in the real world. Some would see the unfolding incident as the beginning of a new anti-government crusade or at the very least, a revival of the last one.

The inherent fault of the aforementioned “logic” became all the more apparent when Tucker Carlson, host of Fox and Friends, Editor in Chief of the conservative Daily Caller and no friend of the Obama administration, pointed out that Bundy’s actions are neither legal or ethical. Quoting Carlson “…the Bundys don’t have a legal case that I can see, to be totally honest about it. And this is public land. This is not land that they own. And if you are going to use public land for profit, you have to pay for it, and they haven’t. And so the bottom line, and I think this is something conservatives ought to remember, if you want a ranch without any impediment at all, you have to buy your own ranch. That is the essence, that is the core principle behind private property which undergirds conservatism. So I have a lot of sympathy for the Bundys. I think they were completely mistreated by the federal government. But I still think it’s important to point out that this land does not belong to them, and that’s not a minor distinction. It’s the essence of private property.” Carlson’s opinion was seconded by his fellow conservative commentators Juan Williams and A.B. Stoddard, both Fox News regulars and bona fide conservative commentators in their own right. Another important point that undermines the anti-government claque supporting Bundy was made by Timothy Egan in “Deadbeat on the Range” where he pointed out that: “Ranching is hard work. Drought and market swings make it a tough go in many years. That’s all the more reason to praise the 18,000 or so ranchers who pay their grazing fees on time and don’t go whining to Fox or summoning a herd of armed thugs when they renege on their contract. You can understand why the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association wants no part of Bundy.”

While conservative commentators wrestled with the flawed logic of trying to justify Bundy’s trampling of cherished conservative principles with their own penchant to vilify the Federal government no matter the particulars of this case, it was Bundy himself who made his new found friends look all the more foolish by revealing his own intemperate views on race. Bundy’s ill concieved remarks are now well known and need not be repeated here. That said, owing to the ongoing problems that the conservative movement has with the minority communities, Bundy’s comments can only do more harm than good. And herein lies the great irony of Cliven Bundy and his relationship to the conservative movement. For one thing not only has he acted in a manner that is contridictory to the conservative principals and beliefs, he has acted as the very type of “moocher” that conservatives have often attributed to those who occupy government funded housing projects or receive publicly funded assistance. I can only wonder what one of the columnists on, Dr. Ben Carson, must now think having written a post in support of Cliven Bundy. For you see Dr. Carson is an African-American, a retired neurosurgeon, and according to Cliven Bundy, he would be better suited to picking cotton than practicing medicine or opining about politics. Oh and just one more point, why out of some 18,000 plus ranchers does Bundy need a de facto federal handout? Don’t conservatives believe in a competitive market place? If so, why should Bundy get a free ride while his competitors pay their grazing fees without engineering an armed protest? If Bundy can’t profitably run a cattle business without a de facto public handout shouldn’t he be allowed to fail as part of the back and forth of an economically competitive ranching sector? Read the rest of this entry →

The Tea Party and the G.O.P.: From Rescue to Wreck

7:58 am in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

In the immediate aftermath of the 2010 mid-term elections, Peggy Noonan, tireless cheerleader for all things conservative, published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, “The Tea Party to the Rescue” In it Noonan gushed effusively as to how the emerging Tea Party movement had miraculously injected new energy and direction into a politically lethargic G.O.P. Coming just two years after the decisive 2008 defeat and after a period of strident conservative reaction to the Obama administration’s handling of the 2008 economic crisis, federal spending increases and the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Noonan, like so many others, had misinterpreted the 2010 elections. In these events she saw a return to a more conservative national trend seeing the election of Barack Obama as an aberration. As history played out it would be just the opposite. Today, in the wake of the stunning defeat of the Tea Party backed government shutdown and its failure to derail Obamacare one could reasonably conclude that, for the G.O.P., the rescue had turned into an undeniable and abysmal political debacle. In the words of conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer: “For conservatives this was a complete defeat. They will not try to shut down the government again. They’ll have less leverage in the next round.”

The defeat of the Tea Party backed government shutdown is just the latest setback to be sustained by the Tea Party backed Congress and along with it, the G.O.P. The question is how we got to this point. The answer is to be found in that now famous statement uttered before the Civil War by Kentucky Senator Henry Clay; “If you can’t compromise you can’t govern.” The need to compromise when operating under divided government has been completely lost upon congressional Tea Party Republicans. In fact, they reject compromise-seeing obstruction as a viable and operative strategy. This refusal to compromise in favor of continued obstruction has only worked to guarantee continued political defeat. To quote conservative columnist Ross Douthat opining on an earlier deficit spending impasse: “The inability of the Republicans to make even symbolic concessions has turned a winning hand into a losing one.”

Looking back since Obama was first elected we can see the futility of the original Republican goal of obstruction politics. The goal of making Barack Obama “a one term President” failed in 2012. The G.O.P.’s failure to accept defeat in 2012 and to go on pretending that elections do not have consequences and that Obamacare could be destroyed through defunding or delay has only further deepened their predicament. Likewise, the same is true of their unwillingness to accept the Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The present Republican dominated congress is on track to be less productive than the last, which was the least productive on record. Congress has failed to pass a farm bill or appropriate needed infrastructure spending. Immigration reform is sidelined and forty some odd attempts to repeal Obamacare stand as a public record of wasted legislative effort. In an opinion piece titled “House Republicans prefer sabotage to real solutions” conservative commentator and Fox News regular Juan Williams pointed out, “There is absolutely zero chance that ObamaCare will be repealed while Democrats control the Senate and President Obama is in the White House. Reality also compels some mention of the fact that the GOP has never held a vote on any alternative plan for dealing with the nation’s out-of-control healthcare spending. But reality is a nuisance to Congressional Republicans intent on a brazen strategy to trip up the healthcare program before it can take its first step.” Likewise Newt Gingrich in an interview with Bloomberg News pointed out that Republicans had “zero answers” as to how they would replace Obamacare. Thus the government shutdown, engineered in another forlorn effort to upend Obamacare, can only be seen as the latest act in the thus far failed policy of obstruction politics, a strategy that has been years in the making.

In the political “Danse Macabre” that is political obstruction the government shutdown left ample room for both sides to posture and politic until that fateful moment during the second week of October when the reality of the Republican mistake came more clearly into focus. During that week the political poll numbers showed that, despite the public’s disgust with Washington in general, their dismay with the Republican Party specifically and more specifically with the Tea Party was just too much to be ignored. Citing a NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll: “By a 22-point margin (53 percent to 31 percent), the public blames the Republican Party more for the shutdown than President Barack Obama… Just 24 percent of respondents have a favorable opinion about the GOP, and only 21 percent have a favorable view of the Tea Party, which are both at all-time lows in the history of poll… Yet what is perhaps even more worrisome for the GOP is the “boomerang” effect: As the party has used the shutdown and fiscal fight to campaign against the nation’s health-care law and for limited government, the poll shows those efforts have backfired.” The net effect of these poll findings is that President Obama’s ratings went up as did support for the A.C.A. In fact, Obamacare was seen to be more popular than both the G.O.P. and the Tea Party. Disapproval of the Republican Party topped 70 percent vice 59 percent for the Democrats and 48 percent for the president.

The sinking popularity of the Tea Party was replicated in other polling results: “A Pew Research Center poll released this week showed public favorability for the Tea Party dropped to its lowest level since driving the Republican takeover of the House in the 2010 elections. An AP-Gfk poll showed that 70 percent now hold unfavorable views of the Tea Party.” The Gallup findings, which replicate other polling further found that there is a growing ambivalance among Republicans for the Tea Party that was supposed to be it’s savior. Whereas three years ago when two thirds of Republicans supported the Tea Party today it’s down to 38 percent as per the latest Gallup Poll. The agony of public opinion would turn out to be too much to bear for the Republican esthablishment and it’s media supporters. Gone were the usual defelective commentary about an “oversampling” of “progressives” of the usual allegations about a liberal bias in the polling. A good barometer of how things are going within the conservative movement is Fox News and the arrival ot this disquieting news led to a distinct change in the commentary on that channel. Conservative stalwarts like Charles Krauthammer, Jonah Goldberg, Stephen Hays and Kristen Powers went from the usual scathing criticisms of Obama and the Democrats to publicly bemoaning the self destruction of the House Republicans to a veiled appeal to Obama himself not to rub their noses in defeat by spiking the ball in the end zone and dancing when compromise was finally in view.

The fallout from the Tea Party backed failure to defeat Obama via government shutdown is by now well documented and amply referenced below. The single best analysis that I found came from Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report: “They got nothing. This was a disaster for them. They picked a fight that they could not win. Moreover, in fact, all the political benefits accrue to the president and to the Democrats. The Republicans caved. The president did not have to compromise, so the Republicans start off with a weaker hand when they have to engage again. The Democrats are going to benefit from recruiting in congressional races. Republican money may dry up. I mean, this is a mess for Republicans… primarily the chaos in Washington and the fact that the Republicans are now more easily demonized and defined as the guys who are against anything and everything. Republicans are worried about both small-dollar fund-raising and big-dollar fund-raising. They’re concerned with the small-dollar folks because those are the true blue grassroots Tea Party conservatives who now have nothing — there’s no benefit from — the Republicans caved. They didn’t get anything…And the big donors, who are more pragmatic, are petrified at the thought the Republicans are going to drive the party and the country off the economic cliff. If you looked at — you also have to look at what the Republicans gave up. They gave up arguments over the past few weeks about the rollout of Obamacare and what a mess it was. And they’re just in an inferior position now.”

In the end, the Tea Party achieved nothing except inflicting further damage on an already ailing conservative movement, the American people and the economy as well. I predicted in a piece written before the 2010 elections, “An Impending and Inevitable Train Wreck” that what we have just witnessed would be the most probable outcome of the rise of the Tea Party Movement. I believe that my prognosis has proven to be far more accurate than that of Ms. Noonan who apparently is still in rescue mode. In her latest piece on the shutdown, “Now Obama Rescues the GOP” Noonan once again misses the mark in suggesting that the mistakes, and hence the consequences, to both sides are equally the same and thus the GOP will be bailed out this time, not by the Tea Party but by Barack Obama himself. Of course nothing could be further from the truth as the polls and the post mortems reveal. The debacle that has now befallen the GOP extends far beyond the pale of public opinion polling to responsibility for inflicting billions of dollars worth of damage to the economy, figures range from $3.1 billion to $24 billion as estimated by Standard and Poors and a shaving of one half of one percent of growth from GDP.

Politically the GOP is seen to be adrift and rudderless, wracked from within, in full public view, by intensifying conflict between the Tea Party faction and the Republican esthablishment. Having twice lost in retaking the Senate there is talk about losing this opportunity a third time and an outside chance that they will lose the House in 2014 as well. Alexandra Jaffe writing for The Hill noted,…” polls showing voters primarily blamed Republicans for the crisis have even GOP strategists acknowledging that the prospects of a Senate takeover have dimmed.”

Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report has said that 14 existing seats in the House are now more likely to swing to the Democrats in 2014. Fears of a drop off in campaign contributions to the GOP are now very real as is the prospect that the Party won’t be able to recruit atteactive candidates for 2014. Meanwhile the Democrats have seen an increased interest among those willing to run as well as the money flowing into the party in political contributions. While the Tea Party and the G.O.P. were going down to defeat on Capitol Hill, their candidate in the New Jersey special election for the Senate was defeated by Newark Mayor Cory Booker. Their candidate for Virginia Governor is trailing in the polls while the moderate Chris Christie of New Jersey, who said that the Republican dominated House of Representatives was “the definition of failure” is surging in his reelection bid. And even more consequential is the change in tone among business leaders who feel shut out of the political process by the very allies they bank rolled. From the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to industry trade groups down to individual C.E.Os there is talk about primarying Tea Party radicals with conservative centerist candidates.

One of the grat ironies of the Tea Party era is that for all of their commentary about taking the country back to the principles of the founders they have shown little in the way of respect for the political process they purport to defend. They have willingly and knowingly disregarded the results of elections and the decisions of the Supreme Court when those decisions don’t suit them. They have willingly and knowingly misrepresented public opinion polls claiming that a majority of Americans oppose Obamacare while ignoring the fact that a third of those who do, favor a single payer system, which in turn means that a majority of Ameiricans oppose their ideas on scuttling Obamacare. To some they have threatened the very essence of the democratic process. Tom Friedman in a pair of articles, referenced below, opined “What is at stake in this government shutdown forced by a radical Tea Party minority is nothing less than the principle upon which our democracy is based: majority rule…When extremists feel that insulated from playing by the traditional rules of our system, if we do not defend those rules — namely majority rule and the fact that if you don’t like a policy passed by Congress, signed by the president and affirmed by the Supreme Court then you have to go out and win an election to overturn it; you can’t just put a fiscal gun to the country’s head — then our democracy is imperiled.” Friedman in his second piece went on to compare the Tea Party to extremists in the Middle East saying: “The Tea Party is not a terrorist group. It has legitimate concerns about debt, jobs and Obamacare. But what was not legitimate was the line it crossed. Rather than persuading a majority of Americans that its policies were right, and winning elections to enact the changes it sought — the essence of our democratic system — the Tea Party threatened to undermine our nation’s credit rating if the Democrats would not agree to defund Obamacare. Had such strong-arm tactics worked, it would have meant that constitutionally enacted laws could be nullified if determined minorities opposed them.”

So what in the end did the Tea Party do to the G.O.P. and the rest of the country? Far from rescuing, it wrecked havoc on the party and the political process as well. Democratic political systems rely on the competition of ideas to move society forward or keep it from moving radically off course into the dangerous waters of extremism. The Tea Party has effectively crippled the Republican Party’s ability to compete politically on a national scale, in the process it has bailed out both the Democrats and Obama as all they need do is point to the chaos on the right, and ask the majority of the electorate if that is what they want. There is distinctly less need for politically competitive ideas to come out of the Democratic Party or the Obama administration in this political enviornment. Yes, it is true that the G.O.P. has made great strides in statehouses across the country but many of those state governments have parted company with the Tea Party movement choosing to participate in the federally funded expansion of Medicare and setting up health care exchanges. And it’s also true that most of the core Tea Party congressmen and women come from gerrymandered safe seats but in the long run that won’t save the movement either. Why, because what we just saw in crafting the compromise that ended the shutdown was moderate Republicans joining with Democrats to move legislation forward. This could be the template for the future that will effectively sideline the Tea Party faction and allow the Republican Party to function more effectively going forward. The unrelenting tide of demographic change will also, in the long run, work to change the voter composition in many of those districts now seen to be reliably Republican.

The politics of extremism have also sabotaged much of the original conservative agenda of 2010 and that is bad news for the Tea Party. Quoting political analyst David Fahrenthold, “Now, after forcing four national crises, the House GOP can count one major victory. One major defeat. And a large number of opportunities lost.” Has all of this affected the public perception of the G.O.P. in a politically dangerous way, the answer seems to yes or at least things may be trending that way. A recent CNN/ORC poll that came out after the shutdown showed: “A majority of Americans think it is bad for the country that Republicans control the House of Representatives, and even more want House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to be replaced by another Republican…Fifty-four percent think it’s bad that Republicans control the House. That’s up from 43 percent in December 2012, during the last fiscal standoff. The figure is the first time a majority thought Republican control was bad for the country since CNN started asking in December 2010.” It appears that things are only getting worse for both the G.O.P. and the Tea Party on Capitol Hill. Commenting on the latest Washington Post – ABC Poll, the results of which were published today, Dan Balz writes: “The survey highlights just how badly the GOP hard-liners and the leaders who went along with them misjudged the public mood. In the aftermath, eight in 10 Americans say they disapprove of the shutdown. Two in three Republicans or independents who lean Republican share a negative view of the impasse. And even a majority of those who support the tea party movement disapprove… There was little in the findings for the GOP to feel good about. The party’s image has sunk to an all-time low in Post-ABC surveys, with 32 percent of the public saying they have a favorable opinion and 63 percent saying they have an unfavorable view. Almost four in 10 Americans have a strongly unfavorable view of the GOP. The tea party fares just as badly. Barely a quarter of the public has a favorable image of the movement, the lowest rating in Post-ABC polling.”

I have many friends and family members who belong to a Tea Party organization and they truly love their country and are legitimately concerned for it’s future. But what seems to be lost on so amny within this movement is that they don’t represent a majority of what the rest of the people want or how they want to achieve it. Ted Cruz stated after the shutdown defeat that the leadership on Capitol Hill had ignored the will of the people. But how could Cruz or anyone else make such a claim when 70 percent of those responding to opinion polls show disatisfaction with the Tea Party movement and only 21 percent view it favorably? If the Tea Party were so popular they would have a president in the White House and control both houses of Congress but they don’t. If you don’t control the government you can only be successful through compromise and the Tea Party can’t abide such a thing so they’ve effectively put themseleves out of the business of effecting positive change thereby opting instead to participate by subverting the democratic process. While this may be an essential tenent of the movement and it’s stated goal of cleaning house in Washigton in the long run it’s counter to American political culture. This strategy can only lead to further defeat and a further weakening of the Republican Party. Far from being the saviors of the G.O.P. the Tea Party is politically an albatross round it’s neck.

In his farewell missive to Indiana voter’s Senator Richard Lugar pointed out the problems that result from extremist politics and positions and in doing so he echoed that long ago phrase of Henry Clay that is still relevant today and that the Tea Party crowd just dosen’t seem to understand, “ If you can’t compromise you can’t govern.” Does that mean that we are witnessing the G.O.P. in its death throes? Not neccesarily but there’s no denying that the Party and the conservative movement is politically behaind the proverbial eight ball. However, all factors considerd, one thing is for sure, and that is there’s nothing to say that a given political party has to last for ever. Vote for any Whigs or Federalists lately?

Steven J. Gulitti


Peggy Noonan: “The Tea Party to the Rescue” Wall Street Journal 10/22/10

Compromise as Liability;

Ross Douthat: The Republican Retreat;

Taboo in Today’s GOP? Realism and Compassion;

Farm bill setback opens House GOP up to new attacks about ability to lead;

The dysfunctional House;

Juan Williams – Opinion: House Republicans prefer sabotage to real solutions;

Gingrich Scolds Republicans for Not Offering Alternatives;

Tea party lawmakers see the culmination of years of effort in shutdown;

A Federal Budget Crisis Months in the Planning;

GOP lawmakers bridle at calling Affordable Care Act the law;

Obamacare fight reenergizes tea party movement;

NBC/WSJ poll: Shutdown debate damages GOP;

Poll: Six in 10 would replace every member of Congress;

Support for tea party slips;

Tea Party Support Dwindles to Near-Record Low;

Senate Republicans: GOP Didn’t Gain Anything By Forcing Shutdown;

House GOP extracts no concessions;

Republicans grapple with stinging defeat;

Winners and losers of the debt-limit fight;

Republicans reassess after shutdown debacle;

Fiscal Crisis Sounds the Charge in G.O.P.’s ‘Civil War’;

Shutdown showdown widened GOP-tea party rift;

House tea partiers not anteing up for 2014;

GOP unity frays, frustration builds;\

An Impending and Inevitable Train Wreck;

Peggy Noonan – Now Obama Rescues the GOP;

Shutdown to Cost U.S. Billions, Analysts Say, While Eroding Confidence;

Gridlock Has Cost U.S. Billions, and the Meter Is Still Running;

Pelosi to GOP: Was tantrum worth $24B?;

While GOP ‘picked a fight that they couldn’t win,’ Democrats emerge reunited;

The GOP is adrift, floundering;

G.O.P.’s Hopes to Take Senate Are Dimming;

Fiscal Armageddon could remake Hill in 2014 elections;

Far-Right Republicans Could Hit A Tipping Point As Support Falters;

Democrats hope GOP chaos in fall will help them win back House;

GOP In Danger Of Losing House As Popularity Plummets;

Democrats Have A Shot At Taking Back The House As Republican Popularity Continues To Drop: Poll;

Election prospects put a spring in the step of Senate Democrats;

Opinion: Independents desert GOP;

Conservative groups struggling to recruit candidates in key 2014 races;

GOP fears fundraising disaster;

Republicans’ issues give Democratic recruiting a boost;

In budget and debt fight, White House finds unlikely alliance with business groups;

Businessweek’s Ted Cruz Cover Will Haunt Your Dreams;

Business Voices Frustration with GOP;

Majority Of Americans Think It’s ‘Bad For The Country’ That Republicans Control The House;

October 2013 Post-ABC poll – Obama, Republicans and shutdown fallout;

Poll: Major damage to GOP after shutdown, and broad dissatisfaction with government;

Tom Friedman – Our Democracy Is at Stake;

Tom Friedman: From Beirut to Washington;

David Fahrenthold – Amid four national crises, many of GOP’s goals after retaking House have been ignored;

GOP Could Pay a price for Gerrymandering;

Cruz: No surrender;

The Importance of Dick Lugar’s Farewell Warning;

Beyond Benghazi

11:00 am in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

As we navigate our way through this season of political scandal there are questions which have begun to arise, surrounding events in Benghazi, as to motives, both on the part of the supposed architects of failure and those likewise ascribed to their accusers. The Benghazi affair is both fraught with conflicting stories and muddled facts as to what happened and why and what role, if any, was played directly by President Obama and his immediate lieutenants. Beyond discerning what the president actually knew and when he knew it there are numerous questions as to what are the real motives of those on the right who are leading the charge to get to the bottom of it all.

Looking back to this past February, Senator John McCain, appearing on Meet the Press demanded: “Shouldn’t these people [the Administration] be held accountable for the deaths of four brave Americans? We need answers.” More recently Congressman Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, appearing on that same program, made his case for going after whomever it is determined to be responsible. Issa has publicly alleged that the CIA has been manipulated to get the truth that the administration wanted and that the American people had been lied to. That lying, deception, false statements and cover up are all actions of this administration that are legitimately within the scope of Congressional oversight. Issa has demanded to know what the State Department had failed to do to protect American lives. And lastly he, along with the rest of the American public, has lamented the needless loss of four brave Americans.

The maelstrom that Benghazi has become is now easily seen as a politicized contest between the G.O.P. and the Obama administration in their respective efforts to shape a message to the American public. That message, to paraphrase BBC Washington correspondent Katty Kay, is one in which the American people are now completely either missing the point or can’t discern what constitutes a clear picture of what actually happened and why. Are we engaged in a political witch-hunt to bring down the Obama administration or are Republicans engaged in a legitimate inquiry so as to preclude future Benghazi’s or is it both? Is this really about establishing ineptitude on the part of former Secretary of State Clinton or a rightwing ploy to torpedo her chances in 2016? After all Rand Paul, a potential contender for the presidency, has gone on the record as saying, before guilt has been unequivocally established, that Hillary Clinton is unqualified for the presidency. Former Vice president Dick Cheney has publicly asserted that the Obama White House is engaged in a cover up, David Brooks of the New York Times has disputed that, saying that the CIA is trying to shift blame to the State Department. White House sources have alleged that Republicans have altered e-mails so as to create “support” for their position. In the froth and foam of all of these charges and countercharges some on the far right, as in the IRS scandal, have clamored for Obama’s impeachment while other voices within and from outside of the G.O.P. have cautioned restraint until all of the facts are known. The House Republican leadership has asked that Congressman Issa to cease and desist with his personal attacks.

If it is truly the goal of Issa and his allies to rectify, for all time, the shortcomings that led to the Benghazi, tragedy then I say he deserves our support and if it leads to the impeachment of the President Obama and / or the end of Hillary Clinton’s political career so be it. But if Issa’s efforts are just the latest iteration of “gotcha” politics or just another attempt at partisan attack for its own sake then it is almost certainly guaranteed to yield little in the way of benefit to either the American people or the Republican Party. For you see the issues that surround the tragedy in Libya are far from unique to the Obama Administration. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. Political columnist Bob Cesca in his article “13 Benghazis That Occurred on Bush’s Watch without a Peep from Fox News” detailed numerous attacks on American interests which took place during the Bush administration and which received little if any attention from those now clamoring for accountability in the Benghazi incident. Likewise in his interview with Congressman Issa, David Gregory, moderator of Meet the Press, pointed out a litany of past attacks on U.S. interests abroad and asked why Issa wasn’t interested in establishing responsibility for those attacks as well only to have Issa ignore past history in his focus on the present.

The central and most important question to be raised here is whether or not Congressman Issa and his political allies will seize this opportunity to examine all of the recent failures in protecting American interests abroad so as to establish a sound and effective policy for protecting those interests going forward, or will they succumb to the politically attractive alternative of short term political gain that might be had from tying up the Obama administration in endless rounds of hearings over scandals real or imagined? Conceivably and legitimately, this line of inquiry could extend to an analysis of the run up to and the conduct of the War in Iraq as well which contained elements of manipulated intelligence, lying, deception, false statements and cover up of the ineptitude of the Bush administration’s lack of a game plan to manage Iraq after the end of hostilities. After all couldn’t it be said that hundreds of Americans died needlessly there as well?

I’m not a big believer in “multitasking” so I say let Issa and his consort make a thorough examination of Benghazi and let the political chips fall where they may. But after that let Issa and his associates go through the list of other past security failures as outlined by Bob Cesca and as suggested by David Gregory so that they can prove to the American people that their motives aren’t purely, or even largely, political. Anything less than that would leave the American people with only one plausible conclusion and that is that Issa and the Republicans had only one goal in mind when they launched the Benghazi hearings and that was the pure politics of a continual campaign of obstructing the Obama Administration through whatever means were handy at the time.

Steven J. Gulitti
7 June 2013


John McCain: Meet the Press – February 17, 2013:

Darrell Issa: Meet the Press – May 12, 2013;

New Benghazi probe evidence puts spotlight back on Clinton;

Serious Investigations, or Partisan Ploys?;

Boehner calls for release of Benghazi emails as pressure grows on administration;

13 Benghazis That Occurred on Bush’s Watch without a Peep from Fox News;

Benghazi emails put pressure on White House;

Rand Paul: Hillary Clinton does not deserve higher office due to Benghazi;

Benghazi: A Desperate GOP Attack;

Cheney: White House ‘lied’ to hide Benghazi ‘incompetence’;

White House: GOP fabricated leaked Benghazi email;

State fretted over Benghazi talking points;

White House releases Benghazi emails;

White House: Benghazi emails have different quotes than earlier reported;

Redacted truth, subjunctive outrage;

Benghazi witness points finger at Clinton on lapses in consulate security;

Petraeus’s role in drafting Benghazi talking points raises questions;

Rep. Chaffetz: Administration covering up on Benghazi terror attack;

Benghazi Depositions To Examine Hillary Clinton’s Role In Response To Attacks;

Defense bill presses Pentagon on lessons learned from Benghazi failures;

House Republicans grill Benghazi auditor on blame for security lapses;

GOP to Darrell Issa: Cool it;

Conservatives at a Dead End?

1:02 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Election day has finally arrived and to true conservatives the final outcome will probably be nothing more than a mixed blessing at best. First and foremost Mitt Romney is hardly a rock ribbed conservative, not if you base your assessment of him on his political track record. He has migrated politically from a Northeastern liberal Republican to a faux “severe conservative” and then back to the center as the political winds have necessitated. Just look at his political maneuvering in the post primary run up to today. He may have disavowed the “Etch-a-Sketch” comments of Eric Fehnstrom but he has surely followed just that strategy, even to the point of largely agreeing with the foreign policies of Barack Obama as evidenced in the third presidential debate. In short there’s little reason to believe that Mitt Romney is anything but a shrewd political charlatan.

For conservatives whatever happens tonight there will still be several nagging questions to address. For one, what became of the “conservative counterrevolution of 2010″? In the wake of the widespread Republican by-election victories we were treated to all manner of editorials and op-eds, both written and on talk radio and Fox News about how America had seen through and rejected the “Socialism” of Barack Obama, returning to a more conservative political mindset. I however always believed that 2010 represented more of a protest vote than anything significant in the way of a fundamental shift in the political paradigm. Support for the notion that 2010 amounts to a protest vote rather than a fundamental shift in the American political landscape can be seen in the decline in popularity of the Tea Party Movement, the increased frustration on the part of the public with Republican Party obstruction in Congress and the increasing numbers of Republicans who have distanced themselves from Grover Norquist’s no tax pledge. Neither does Norquist’s idea that “all that we need is a Republican president with enough digits to sign what’s put before him” appear to resonate very well with the voting public. While more people identify as conservatives than identify as liberals, the net number of those who identify as conservatives is roughly around one third of the American public. If conservative thoughts had really taken hold you would see the numbers of people identifying as conservatives being north of 50% and the presidential race would look a lot different than it does today. Likewise the conservative attacks on Obama’s handling of the economy and posture as a world leader have failed to register with a majority of Americans. If they had Mitt Romney would be ahead by at least 6 to 10 percentage points rather than trailing within the statistical margin of error.

The myth that America is a “center right country” has been faithfully kept alive in the warrens of conservative media but as the polling numbers show on the day of the election, there’s no reason to believe that that idea has anymore validity today than in did in 2008 when Dick Morris claimed the same thing on the weekend before the election saying that: “Republicans were coming home and John McCain would win the election.” If there was anything in the way of a true conservative counterrevolution then where were the true conservative leaders during the Republican primary process? Out of the length and breadth of the conservative movement not a single viable candidate arose to challenge Barack Obama, instead Mitt Romney merely waited out the self destruction of one flawed conservative challenger after another till he was the last man standing. Quoting political commentator Steve Bogden: “Normally, you have a competitive primary. This year, it was an ongoing audition for whoever was going to be the anti-Romney. Almost everybody had their surge, but there were no credible challengers. Cain? Ging­rich? Santorum? Romney didn’t have to ‘win’ this year. He just waited for everyone else to lose.”

If Mitt Romney is lucky enough to win tonight it will be a squeaker and being the shrewd politician that he is he will continue to drift around the center no matter the tone of his rehtoric. He’ll have no other choice if he hopes to be reelected in 2016 and that bodes ill for conservatives who will be hoping that he pushes their agenda forward. I seriously doubt that Romney would ever subscribe to Grover Norquist’s notion that he should be a rubber stamp for a Tea Party Congress. I doubt that Romney sees Norquist and his anti-tax movement as anything more than a political sideshow to the big show of governing. If Barack Obama is lucky enough to win this evening I fully expect to see the usual crisis of confidence reemerge among conservatives when they beat each other up over the idea that “every time we nominate a candidate who moves to the center we lose.” The great irony of this debate is that if they did nominate a far right conservative, and why didn’t they, they would lose anyway. Like the Romney-Ryan economic plan the math just doesn’t add up for conservatives. For all of the bluff and bluster that one hears on Fox, Limbaugh, and across the entire spectrum of right-wing media about the American people being fundamentally conservative it just ain’t so. If it were true we wouldn’t be in essentially a dead heat and Romney would be way out in front. However in spite of four years of a visceral anti-Obama diatribe on the right, a lackluster economy and a threatening world scene there just aren’t enough conservative votes out there to make it happen.

Steven J. Gulitti

Mitt Romney’s Lehman Moment?

3:21 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Did Mitt Romney, in his ill timed and ill conceived commentary on the violence in North Africa, just doom his presidential aspirations the way John McCain did in 2008 when he said that the economy was on sound footing just as Lehman Brothers collapsed? In a twinkling of a political eye Mitt Romney through his remarks on the death of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans has taken his focus off of the one topic where he has an advantage over Barack Obama, the economy, and redirected it to foreign policy, a subject where his campaign performance thus far has been woefully inadequate if not outright abysmal. As a result Romney has introduced the issues of his own lack of foreign policy heft and judgment into the race at what couldn’t be a worse time.

By now it is more than evident that Romney jumped to conclusions, those based on an absence of chronologically verifiable facts, in framing his condemnation of the president for a statement put out by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. The subject statement appeared six hours before the first protests and well over twelve hours before the deaths of American diplomatic personnel in Libya. The chronology of those events can be found in “What They Said, Before and After the Attack in Libya”, referenced below. This raises three fundamental questions. One, was Romney compelled to act in haste in addressing developments in Libya and Egypt as a result of the scathing criticism that he received from the far right and those conservatives who had raised questions about his chances of success only the day before, particularly those who suggested that he hasn’t been forceful enough? Or is it the case that Romney just doesn’t have the requisite background and temperament to adequately deal with fast moving foreign policy issues and as a result is prone to poor decision making when these issues are front and center? Lastly, is Romney too influenced by a claque of Iraq War era Neoconservatives who have him simply parroting those old canards that Obama is an “apologist” for America, a sympathizer who cares more about radical Islam than his own country and someone who doesn’t truly believe in American Exceptionalism?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions then Mitt Romney has proven one thing to the American people and that is that he is a deeply flawed candidate when it comes to foreign policy and crisis management and thus ill suited to be this country’s Commander-in-Chief. It’s more than a bit ironic that after doubling down on his ill conceived comments, Romney has yet to come out and condemn the man who produced the controversial film that mocks the Prophet Mohamed or the incendiary pastor, Terry Jones, whose previous actions in threatening to burn Korans set off a wave of earlier violence across the Muslim world. Political columnist Howard Fineman, appearing on MSNBC’s Hardball, summed up Romney’s performance as follows: “He got the facts wrong. And it’s a classic case of jumping out ahead of a fast-moving story, chasing what you think is some kind of immediate political gain. He [Obama] never sympathized or apologized. Mitt Romney is pursuing a political strategy that is so nakedly and obviously political…I don’t see Mitt Romney having studied his career as that much of a foreign policy guy. He never has been. He was plugged into the NeoCon view in about 2007, and that was the beginning of his foreign policy education, and that’s still where he is.” Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson appearing on the same program stated that Romney’s actions gave rise to questions about his overall judgment and character.

Another ominous development for Romney’s is the almost total silence on Capitol Hill and among the Republican establishment where almost no one has come to his defense. In fact most of the support Romney has received thus far has come from the very critics who just three days ago where suggesting that his campaign was doomed to failure. In stark contrast to the questionable support Romney is getting from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Bill Kristol, Laura Ingraham et al., is the flak he taking from those on the right who you would expect to be in his corner. Here are several examples. Reliable Republican cheer leader Peggy Noonan: “When you step forward in the midst of a political environment and start giving statements on something dramatic and violent that has happened, you’re always leaving yourself open to accusations that you are trying to exploit things politically.” Mark Salter, a former McCain operative and regular critic of Obama’s foreign policy none the less criticized Romney’s actions: “However, his [Obama's] policies are not responsible for the attacks on our embassy in Cairo and our consulate in Benghazi or the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. In the wake of this violence, the rush by Republicans — including Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and scores of other conservative critics — to condemn him for policies they claim helped precipitate the attacks is as tortured in its reasoning as it is unseemly in its timing…Moreover, the embassy’s statement was released before the attack, and was not, according to administration officials, approved by the State Department. If that’s true, it cannot be fairly attributed to the president…I understand the Romney campaign is under pressure from some Republicans to toughen its attacks on the president…But this is hardly the issue or the moment to demonstrate a greater resolve to take the fight to the president. Four good Americans, brave and true, have just died in service to their country…Nothing said or done by the president or anyone in the U.S. government is responsible for the violence that led to their deaths.” The National Journal’s Ron Fournier: “Romney’s actions are ham-handed and inaccurate.” Ben Smith of BuzzFeed: “If you think the eye-rolling at Romney is just coming from the MSM, call up some Republican foreign policy hands.” Former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough: “I’ve been inundated with emails and calls from elected GOP leaders who think Romney’s response was a mistake.” Bush era Ambassador Nicholas Burns: “I was frankly very disappointed and dismayed to see Governor Romney inject politics into this very difficult situation, where our embassies are under attack, where there’s been a big misunderstanding in the Middle East, apparently, about an American film, where we’re trying to preserve the lives of our diplomats — this is no time for politics.” Conservative writer David Frum: “The Romney campaign’s attempt to score political points on the killing of American diplomats was a dismal business in every respect.” And even Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly: “I’m not sure the governor is correct on that. The embassy was trying to head off the violence” with their statement.” The bottom line is this, Mitt Romney has violated a cardinal rule of American politics, one promoted by Republican Senator Arthur Vandenberg, that politics stops at the shoreline.

As serious a mistake as Romney has made this week it’s hardly an isolated incident. Earlier in the year when the Obama administration was locked in a controversy with the Chinese Government over a dissident who had taken refuge in the American Embassy and who then left it as part of a diplomatic deal, Romney inserted himself into the proceedings, again jumping the gun on events, saying that it “was a day of shame for the Obama administration. Romney was rebuked for his “foolish” remarks by none other than William Kristol of the conservative Weekly Standard. The dissident is now residing in the United States. Romney’s misguided approach to understanding foreign policy was on display again when he stated that Russia is America’s primary foreign policy concern: “Russia, this is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe”; a statement that would lead to Colin Powell’s blunt rebuke: “I don’t know who all of his advisers are, but I’ve seen some of the names, and some of them are quite far to the right, and sometimes they, I think, might be in a position to make judgments or recommendations to the candidate that should get a second thought. For example, when Governor Romney not too long ago said, you know, the Russian Federation is our number-one geostrategic threat. Well, c’mon Mitt, think. It isn’t the case.” Earlier this summer Romney would question to what extent President Obama understood our special relationship with Great Britain only to then embarrass himself by publicly criticizing the London Olympics which, in turn, resulted in his being publicly scolded by the both the British Prime Minister and the Mayor of London. The remainder of Romney’s European tour was marred by misstatements and missteps culminating in a world wind tour of self inflicted political pratfalls.

Romney has been peddling the fantasy that if he were president or if elected that somehow he’d be able to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons. At the same time he’s blaming Obama for the nuclear progress that Iran has thus far made. This of course, on its face, is seen to be an act of intellectual dishonesty coming from a candidate who is willingly ignoring the facts. In the words of veteran foreign affairs correspondent David Sanger, “The economic sanctions Mr. Obama has imposed have been far more crippling to the Iranian economy than anything President Bush did between the public revelation of Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities in 2003 and the end of Mr. Bush’s term in early 2009. Covert action has been stepped up, too. Mr. Bolton has called efforts to negotiate with Iran “delusional,” but other advisers — mostly those who dealt with the issue during the Bush administration — say they are a critical step in holding together the European allies and, if conflict looms, proving to Russia and China that every effort was made to come to a peaceful resolution.” Sanger in his op-ed “Is There a Romney Doctrine?” lays waste to the claim that the president has pursued a policy of appeasement showing how “the arrival of the general election requires Mr. Romney to grapple with the question of how to attack a Democratic president whose affection for unilateral use of force — from drones over Pakistan and Yemen to a far greater role for the Special Operations command — has immunized him a bit from the traditional claim that Democrats can’t stand the sight of hard power.” To this one should add the fact that Obama engineered the removal of Muammar Gaddafi without a single American casualty and that from Osama bin Laden down to rank and file Al Qaeda operatives the Obama Administration’s actions have killed hundreds of America’s enemies. This alone stands in stark contrast to conservative claims that Barack Obama is prone to appeasement. Sanger in the “The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power”, published in 2009, detailed how both Iran and North Korea had greatly expanded their nuclear programs as America was distracted by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That said it’s somewhat odd that Romney has resurrected the saber rattling of the now discredited NeoCons in calling for a more muscular American military posture overseas and that just when two thirds of Americans feel that the war in Iraq did nothing to make the country safer and at a time when America’s infrastructure is in need of serious investment at home. With regard to relations with Israel Romney’s criticism amounts to nothing more than the same old sound bites on the one hand and a pandering to the Jewish vote on the other. This is hardly the commentary of one experienced in the complexities of the Arab-Israeli conflict and certainly not one that accounts for the changed political landscape of the Middle East and North Africa in the wake of the Arab Spring.

In his quest for the Oval Office Mitt Romney has attempted to sell himself to the American people as an accomplished businessman who would use the skills acquired in private equity to better run the business of government. Yet to date there has been little in the way of “actionable intelligence” that would lead the American voter to see Mr. Romney’s electioneering as anything other than a plea to take a leap of faith in casting one’s vote for him. This is particularly true with regard to his ability to intelligently address matters of foreign policy as Commander-in-Chief, a role where the president can affect events far more significantly than he can when dealing with economic affairs. For you see America isn’t a corporation where a CEO is beholden only to shareholders. A president has roles and responsibilities to fill that are far beyond the scope of a corporate leader. We’ve elected businessmen to the presidency before, Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush and none of them have been considered in the long run to be great presidents. Romney has now come under fire from John McCain for failing to articulate his own detailed foreign policy program. Then again Romney hasn’t detailed anything in the way of a detailed program as to how he would turn the economy around, an area of his supposed expertise, so why would anyone be surprised that he’s not even outlined one for foreign affairs, a subject where he has proven himself to be wholly out of his league? David Ignatius of the Washington Post described Mitt Romney as a man having “no grasp of foreign affairs” whose approach to the subject amounts to a “series of sound bites” all of which portray a candidate who knows little about a subject of the utmost importance. With Mr. Ignatius’ observations in mind I believe we may have reached a tipping point in the 2012 election much the same as we were in September of 2008. The latest polls show Romney falling behind the president in key swing states and events in the Muslim world may still go against Barack Obama. However, the poll results that hit the newswires this morning are based on data that predate Romney’s latest gaffe and as a result Americans may still favor Obama when the see the next round of polling and especially when they consider this latest episode in a recurring series of Romney foreign policy disasters.

Steven J. Gulitti



What They Said, Before and After the Attack in Libya;

Koran-burning pastor Terry Jones backs anti-Muhammad movie;

Hardball with Chris Matthews for Wednesday, September 12th, 2012;

Peggy Noonan: “Romney Is Not Doing Himself Any Favors”;

Noonan: Romney not helping himself;

Don’t Politicize Embassy Attacks;

Romney and Foreign Policy;

Even As Experts, GOP Figures Criticize Romney’s Embassy Statement, Right-Wing Pundits Blame “The Media”;

Mitt Romney Response To Libya, Egypt Attacks Called ‘Irresponsible,’ ‘Craven,’ ‘Ham-Handed’;

Bloody Bill Kristol Calls Romney’s Attacks Over Chinese Dissident ‘Foolish’;

Romney: Russia is our number one geopolitical foe;

Why Colin Powell Bashed Mitt Romney’s Foreign-Policy Advisers;

David Sanger : Is There a Romney Doctrine?;

Marist Polling:

9/13: Obama Leads Romney by 7 Points in Ohio

9/13: Obama with Advantage Over Romney in Florida

9/13: Obama Up Five Points Over Romney in Virginia

Rasmussen Reports;

Fox News Turns the Guns on the Far Right

3:01 am in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Something happened on the way to the presidential forum in Orlando last week, Roger Ailes the CEO of Fox News decided to change Fox News’ ideological course and turn the guns on conservative candidates themselves. Quoting Howard Kurtz, “It was part political spectacle, part American Idol, part YouTube extravaganza, a pure Roger Ailes production—and the latest sign that the Fox News chairman is quietly repositioning America’s dominant cable-news channel…the real eye-opener was the sight of his anchors grilling the Republican contenders, which pleases the White House but cuts sharply against the network’s conservative image—and risks alienating its most rabid right-wing fans.” While this may come as a surprise to many, this “course correction” has actually been underway for some time. The first piece of baggage pitched overboard was Glenn Beck who’s yammering about Barack Obama being a racist was in Ailes words, “a bit of a branding issue for us”. In other words the loss of advertising revenue due to Glenn Beck’s ranting, raving and crying was all that Ailes needed to seal the fate of Beck on the network. Ailes went on to categorize Beck as a “performer” as opposed to a journalist which of course is spot on. Kurtz writing for the conservative leaning Newsweek said of the changes: ” Fox executives say the entire network took a hard right turn after Obama’s election, but, as the Tea Party’s popularity fades, is edging back toward the mainstream…After the Gabrielle Gifford’s shooting triggered a debate about feverish rhetoric, Ailes ordered his troops to tone things down. It was, in his view, a chance to boost profits by grabbing a more moderate audience.” Kurtz goes on to note that Ailes has grown tired of Sarah Palin and her antics as well.

In a scathing attack on Ailes and Fox’s new tack to a less strident tone, Rush Limbaugh proclaimed that “Fox wants these people to tear each other up, ’cause they want approval from the mainstream media.” Limbaugh may be miffed by being left behind as a result of this new course being set by Fox but in the final analysis Roger Ailes is a businessman who just happens to be a conservative. What he isn’t is a hard line blind faith ideologue that’s going to go down with the sinking Tea Party or to allow a crackpot like Glenn Beck to become an all encompassing “tar baby” that traps and encumbers Fox News to the point of completely destroying whatever credibility the network has left while costing the network millions in lost revenue. Ailes, a consummate businessman, played the Tea Party, Beck and the hot rhetoric of the far right like banjoes when he profited from an association with them and moved away from them as soon as their value to the network came into question. It seems to me that Roger Ailes has astutely read the declining fortunes of the Tea Party, the slump in standing of Congressional Republicans, the sinking campaigns of Perry, Bachmann and Paul as well as the stymied political future of Palin for what they are, harbingers of the end of an extremist right wing surge across the landscape of American politics.

I would bet that Ailes, being concerned about the future of the country, as so many of us are, has come to the conclusion that during desperate times like these it is reckless to engage in a campaign of blindly denigrating the incumbent administration to the point that it might hobble that administration’s ability to govern effectively. Ailes may have finally come to his political as well as business senses in seeing much of what has transpired on the far right since Obama was inaugurated for what it is, borderline sedition and that sort of thing isn’t good for business.

Steven J. Gulitti


Roger’s Reality Show;

Roger Ailes: Fox News Is On A ‘Course Correction’ Away From Far Right;

The Pathos of Denial

7:17 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

You know as far as being honest about the role of the Koch brothers in Scott Walker’s anti-union efforts, it’s been more than somewhat amusing to see the elaborate kabuki dance of denial, self delusion and double talk that has emerged on the right since the Madison protests began. It seems that some of my good friends on the far right, a few who can clearly be classified as members of the fringe element, have worked overtime at trying to deny the very clear, apparent and undeniable role played by Charles and David Koch in what has become a Midwestern assault on public employee unions. Now at the risk of sounding too high handed, lets all understand one simple thing: If the Koch brothers found and fund an organization like American’s for Prosperity, and that organization’s leadership publically states that it is out to cripple public employee unions, then the link is indisputable and undeniable. That link would be undeniable when viewed by any intelligent and reasonable, right thinking human person, that is. I find the inability, on the part of some of my right leaning friends, to honestly admit the undeniable, a development that for me engenders the utmost pity for them in their self inflicted plight.

For you see every time someone denies established facts his credibility suffers as a result, to the point that it can be diluted to such an extent that it can never be repaired or even restored. All this at the cost of a great effort at vigorously denying that the Koch brothers are involved with these anti-union efforts, in spite of quotes from Dave Koch himself as to their role in founding and funding AFP and of AFP’s president Mr. Phillips and his hit man Mr. Hagerstrom of their desire to “cut the unions off at the knees.” This public denial of the obvious is something that can only be classified as deep denial and severe self delusion. I am sure that there are clinical classifications for this type of behavior, but that’s beyond my pay grade and professional certification. If it’s not the aforementioned then it’s just plain old deflection or outright fraud. Either way it’s a losing proposition for those who have taken up the fight of trying to publicly disentangle the Koch brothers from events in Wisconsin and beyond. This is particularly amusing as the Koch brothers themselves have never denied their involvement, even as their water carriers have been working overtime in an attempt to do so. That said, how much longer are those who are busy talking in circles amongst themselves going to continue to fool themselves as to the degree of impact that they might be having on the current national discussion? In reality, by continuing to deny the undeniable, they have effectively removed themselves from the larger discussion and are only talking to each other and reinforcing their continued self delusional fantasies as the rest of reasonable humanity has long since tuned them out.

Perhaps this affliction on the right that is the result of the heavy involvement of the Koch brothers and other big money players in the Tea Party Movement. Perhaps it has it’s roots in the desire of the Tea Party crowd to go on believing that the “movement” is actually a genuine grass roots operation rather than an organization pumped up with the money of the wealthy and puffed up by all of the free press It has received from Fox News. Perhaps all of this big money involvement, especially the part it played in the last election, has given rise to a certain uneasiness among the rank and file of the far right, suggesting that they have ceased to be in control of their own “movement”, if in fact they ever were. That uneasiness would in fact be very hard to cope with over the long term, especially when the interests of big money leave their little allies behind as they pursue their own specific interests. If that is in fact the cause of this complicated dance of denial, then that would go a long way to explaining things. Short of that explanation, I’m not sure that another exists out there in the realm of the real world.

If anyone is in need of the details pertaining to the involvement of the Koch Brothers in the battles of Madison, see the following for details:Scott Walker, Conservative Hero Propped Up By the Koch Brothers or The Proof of the Pudding Concerning the Koch Brothers

Steve Gulitti


Dispatches From Madison‏

5:16 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

A funny thing may in fact have happened in the course of attempting to bust public sector unions in Wisconsin. Lets take a look:
1.) It’s now seen to be more then blatantly fraudulent on the part of Scott Walker to make the claim that his efforts to strip away collective bargaining rights were solely motivated by fiscal reasons. State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald appearing on Fox News revealed that the motives were largely political. To wit: “In an interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly moments ago, State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI), one of Walker’s closest allies in the legislature, confirmed the true political motive of Walker’s anti-union push. Fitzgerald explained that “this battle” is about eliminating unions so that “the money is not there” for the labor movement. Specifically, he said that the destruction of unions will make it “much more difficult” for President Obama to win reelection in Wisconsin. In Fitzgerald’s own words: ”If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you’re going to find is President Obama is going to have a much difficult, much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin.“Scott Fitzgerald publicly admits that the purpose of killing unions is fully political”;   See also : WI Senate GOP Leader Admits On-Air That His Goal Is To Defund Labor Unions, Hurt Obama’s Reelection Chances; 

Quoting political commentators Sam Stein and Amanda Terkel “It was also a 180-degree reversal by Walker and state Senate Republicans, who have insisted for the past three weeks that the collective bargaining provision was designed to help alleviate the state’s budget problems. State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) had previously said he would not attempt to pass any portions of the bill without Democrats present.” Wisconsin GOP Senators Pass Stand-Alone Anti-Union Bill Without Democrats Present;   Thus the legislation was separated from the budget measure on Wednesday to break a three-week stalemate created when the Democratic senators all went to Illinois to deny the chamber the 20-member quorum required to take up bills that appropriate funds. As it has now been shown, the anti-union element of the Walker effort never had anything to do with fiscal matters after all, it was all an elaborate subterfuge. ”Wisconsin Assembly Approves Bargaining Curbs”

2.) Legal challenges are underway and could possibly stymie Walker in the short term. To wit: “Dane County officials have directed county attorneys to take legal action over the state Senate’s passage of a bill taking away collective bargaining rights from public workers. Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk said Thursday that state officials don’t get to choose which laws they’ll follow and when.”  ”Hold on: Republican Senators Broke the Law on Turf of Kathleen Falk” Moreover: “Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, filed a complaint Thursday morning with the Dane County district attorney charging that the Joint Conference Committee that convened at 6 p.m. Wednesday and passed an amended version of Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill is in violation of the open meetings law. The complaint states that Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald and his brother, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, and others “knowingly attended the meeting in violation of the Open Meetings law” and are subject to penalties identified in state statute. The complaint asks that the actions taken at the meeting be declared void.” “Officials file complaints with DA and AG on controversial Capitol vote”; Appearing on tonight’s News Hour on PBS, Frederica Freyberg of Wisconsin Public Television said that as of this afternoon, Wisconsin unions are planning to file suit against last night’s rushed through bill on the basis of labor law violations. Freyberg also said, that the bill could be challenged on the basis of terminology as well.

3) Recall efforts are well underway and gaining steam. Recall efforts have actually been underway since before last nights “Ash Wednesday Ambush.” Wisconsin Voters Launch Recall Campaign Against Eight GOP State Senators;×4754076. The particulars of what can be done in the near term are as follows: “Because the recall statute allows elected officials to serve for a full year before they are subject to recall, Walker himself is immune until January of 2012. Eight of Walker’s Republican allies in the state senate have served at least one year of their current term, however, and thus are eligible for a recall petition right now. If just three of these Republicans were to be replaced with Democrats, the state senate would flip to a Democratic-majority body.” Eight GOP State Senators In Wisconsin Can Be Recalled Right Now; Gov. Walker Can Be Recalled In January;×588854 A Wisconsin Democrat appearing on tonight’s Newshour claimed that the Democrats may already have enough signatures to trigger the recall process. See also: Early Recall Polling Shows Strong Opposition to Republican 8 Senators and: Poll: Majorities support recall of two Wisconsin GOP senators

At this point one could truly say the Scott Walker and the far right have appeared to have won a battle, perhaps if only in a qualified sense. However, the wider war between pro-union progressives and the Tea Party backed far right may just be getting underway. That war may in fact be short lived, in Wisconsin, if the recall of the state’s Republican state senators take place in the very near future. If a recall is successful, it’s a whole new ball game as Scott Walker and his allies will then be at a strategic disadvantage. One can only wonder if the battles now being waged in Wisconsin constitute the high water mark of right wing political extremism, or does the lurch to the right have further to go before the self correcting forces of America’s centrist politics reasserts itself.

Steven J. Gulitti


Glenn Beck and His “Caliphate” Upended by the Arab Street

8:11 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

If there’s one thing that can be discerned for sure from recent events in the Middle East, it’s the upending of Glenn Beck’s “Caliphate Conspiracy” and the rendering of that theory and its author to nothing more than a farcical sideshow to the big show now underway in the Muslim world. Moreover Beck’s latest pratfall may be the beginning of his own self inflicted marginalization and eventual irrelevance, resulting from increased criticism of Beck himself by prominent conservatives.

Beck has promoted the theory that “the Egyptian revolution is not about the citizens of the country fighting for their political rights or better economic conditions.  Instead, the Egyptian people are being “played” by the Muslim Brotherhood.  The Muslim Brotherhood is also part of larger movement by progressives and Marxist to take over much of the world in the pursuit of “social justice.”  Under Beck’s theory the Egyptian revolution will not only spread to other countries the Middle East, but also to India and Europe.  The caliphate will consist of India and much of Southeast Asia, in addition to Portugal, Spain, France, and the United Kingdom.”

Well it goes without saying that such a sophomorically simplistic theory should be seen as irrelevant and inapplicable in a complex world such as ours. Not only is it unlikely that devout Muslims would ever make common cause with “the hardcore socialist and the Communist left”, there isn’t enough of a “hardcore of Communists or Socialists” left in the world today to supplement the ranks of this great “Caliphate” army. Those left from yestardays Communist cadres are too busy making money in China, Russia and Southeast Asia. Likewise, today’s European Socialists seem hardly the type to saddle up for a prolonged war to affect the invasion of their own home territories. American Progressives are now, for the time being, engaged with trying to protect the gains of the past eighty years. Perhaps Mr. Beck is relying on the Maoists of Nepal to come to the aid of todays Islamic radicals. Moreover, today there are twenty two different variations of Islamic thinking, parceled beneath the two main Islamic schools of thought. Thus it would be highly unlikely that any ideological unity could be affected from one end of Islam to the other, especially when you consider the cultural and ethnic differences that one would encounter between Casabalnca and Jakarta. 

To drive the point home, a sampling of what’s actually happening across the Islamic world reveals just how divorced from reality is Mr. Beck and his theory:

  • “The Tunisian revolution that overthrew decades of authoritarian rule has entered a delicate new phase in recent days over the role of Islam in politics… Tunisia’s liberal social policies and Western lifestyle shatter stereotypes of the Arab world…Protesters held up signs saying, “Politics ruins religion and religion ruins politics.”


  • [In Bahrain] “an anxious calm prevailed, with a standoff continuing between an absolute monarchy determined to preserve its full range of powers and a peaceful opposition demanding a transition to democracy with an elected government and representative Parliament.”


  • “But the demands in Morocco include a desire for a more legitimate democracy; with limits on the power of Mohammed VI…The Arab world is changing and the Moroccan people need a change in the Constitution for more democracy. We want a country like Britain, with a constitutional monarchy and a strong Parliament that is not corrupt.”


  • “The Egyptian people have spoken, and we have spoken emphatically. In two weeks of peaceful demonstrations we have persistently demanded liberation and democracy. It was groups of brave, sincere Egyptians who initiated this moment of historical opportunity on Jan. 25, and the Muslim Brotherhood is committed to joining the national effort toward reform and progress.” 


  • “Surprised by the turnout, older opposition leaders from across the spectrum — including the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood; the liberal protest group the Egyptian Movement for Change, known by its slogan, “Enough”; and the umbrella group organized by Dr. ElBaradei — joined in, vowing to turn out their supporters for another day of protest on Friday. But the same handful of young online organizers were still calling the shots.”


Thus, as shown by the above, there is little evidence of Beck’s claims that:”1. Groups from the hardcore socialist and Communist left and extreme Islam will work together because they are both a common enemy of Israel and the Jew. 2. Groups from the hardcore socialist and Communist left and extreme Islam will work together because they are the common enemy of capitalism and the western way of life. 3. Groups from the hardcore socialist and Communist left and extreme Islam will work to overturn relatively stable countries, because, in the status quo, they are both ostracized from power.” According to Ryan Witt the National Examiner:”there has been no credible evidence that the Muslim Brotherhood is behind the Egyptian uprising.  The Muslim Brotherhood did not officially join the protests until days after the uprising began.  There is also little chance of the Muslim Brotherhood taking over EgyptThe Muslim Brotherhood has never shown the ability to gain widespread support in Egypt, as their agenda is considered too radical for much of the relatively moderate population.  Many of the ideas of the Muslim Brotherhood, such as limiting the presidency in Egypt to males only, have been strongly rejected by the Egyptian population.”

 Beyond the absurdity of Beck and his “Caliphate Conspiracy” theory there is the increasing irrelevance of Beck himself. It would be innaccurate to describe Glenn Beck as a legitimate political commentator, after all he is nothing more than a political entertainerer, in a sense nothing than the equivelent of a rodeo clown in American political comentary. Beck is nothing but a side show to the big show going on all around him.

Of late, as a result of the “Caliphate Conspiracy”, Beck has been taken to task by several prominent American conservatives. Foremost among Beck’s critics is the NeoConservative William Kristol who said: “When Glenn Beck rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East from Morocco to the Philippines, and lists (invents?) the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left, he brings to mind no one so much as Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. He’s marginalizing himself, just as his predecessors did back in the early 1960s.” Richard Lowry of the National Review echoed Kristol’s criticism, to wit: “a well-deserved shot at Glenn Beck’s latest wild theorizing.” David Brooks opined on Beck’s “delusional ravings about the caliphate coming back…For the first time, you began to see a lot of really serious conservatives taking on Beck and people like that, and saying, you know, your theories are just wacky.”

What’s the bottom line on all of Mr. Beck’s “Caliphate” blather; plummeting ratings and a declining audience. According to On Media, The Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times’ Frank Rich:” The January ratings are in and Glenn Beck had his worst performance since his Fox show started in January of 2009, drawing just 397,000 viewers in the 25-54 demographic and 1.762 [million] total viewers.” This decline amounts to a 39 percent decline overall and a 48 percent drop off in the prime 25-to-54 age demographic. This figure represents the steepest decline of any cable news show. Quoting Rich:” His strenuous recent efforts to portray the Egyptian revolution as an apocalyptic leftist-jihadist conspiracy have inspired more laughs than adherents.” Or perhaps as per Business insider, Glenn Beck has merely worn out his welcome with American audiences: “It’s entirely possible viewers are simply tiring of the chalkboard and the high rhetoric, which has been notably higher of late…And needless to say Beck is not the phenom he was a year ago, merely by dint of the country becoming more familiar with him.”

Surely none of this could sit well with Rupert Murdoch and the managers of the Fox News Network. Here we are in the midst of one of the greatest events of this new century and one of their prime time commentators is making a fool of himself peddling absurd theories which only give rise to a wave of criticism from both the left and the networks natural allies on the right. Moreover, all of this controversy is taking place against a steady stream of advertisers asking that their products not be promoted on Glenn Beck’s show. In the end, that can’t be good for Fox as it ultimately cares about advertising revenues, not the validity of the multitude of bizarre Glenn Beck conspiracies. By his recent actions, Mr. Beck has merely moved further away from the center of the national and international political discussion, taking his naive and unsophisticated viewers along with him on a magic carpet ride into the realm of irrelevance.

Steven J. Gulitti



Glenn Beck lifts ‘caliphate’ to the top of Google Trends with conspiracy theory – National Political Buzz |

Glenn Beck Stands By Egypt Caliphate Conspiracy Theory: ‘I’m Not Wrong’


Next Question for Tunisia: The Role of Islam in Politics

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Fears of Chaos Temper Calls for Change in Morocco

What the Muslim Brothers Want

Protest’s Old Guard Falls In Behind the Young


Glenn Beck lifts ‘caliphate’ to the top of Google Trends with conspiracy theory

Why is Glenn Beck freaking out over Egypt and a caliphate?

Beck hits ratings low, Maddow tops Morgan


The G.O.P.’s Post-Tucson Traumatic Stress Disorder

For the Tea Party’s Joe Miller, Honesty is Not a Principle To Stand On

10:13 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

It’s ironic, but when I debate back and forth across today’s political divide, the one thing that members of the Tea Party Movement consistently love to point out is that their candidates stand or fall on principles. Thus it is alleged that the movement’s quasi-heroic candidates prefer to go down to defeat rather than compromise or deviate from those very deeply held, almost solemnly enumerated principles. Well for one Tea Party star in particular, Alaska’s Joe Miller, the principle of honesty seems to be missing from his litany of deeply held, immutable beliefs. You see Miller, as per recently released records was: “disciplined for using three co-workers’ computers for political purposes and initially lying about it when he worked as a part-time lawyer for the Fairbanks North Star Borough in 2008” And what was the purpose of this unauthorized use of other people’s workstations? Nothing less than an attempt to influence an online opinion poll for the Alaska State Republican Party Chairmanship. Miller eventually admitted, “he was using the computers to vote with “different URLs” in an online poll about the state’s Republican Party chairman, Randy Ruedrich, whom Mr. Miller wanted removed. Mr. Miller cleared Internet cache files from each of the computers. He also used his own computer to participate in the poll and then cleared his cache. After initially lying about the computer use, he eventually admitted to it in a letter to his supervisor, Rene Broker, the lead borough attorney.” Joe Miller eventually resigned from his position at the Boro in the wake of disciplinary action, but only after denying the charges while having deleted years of e-mail that would have included public records.

While we’re on the topic of Joe Miller, how about his hypocritical stance on the constitutionality of unemployment insurance. Miller believes that there are no enumerated powers within the Constitution that provide for this benefit. From his interview on Fox News:”Why are unemployment benefits unconstitutional?” asked Fox News’ Chris Wallace? “The Constitution provides enumerated powers, answered Miller. I guess my challenge is to anybody that asks, show me the enumerated power. And then look at the 10th amendment that says if it’s not done in the Constitution, it’s a power that belongs to the state and the people…When pressed on what he would do for the poor if elected, Miller struggled to provide details.” However, the controversy does not end there. If Miller has such an aversion to the social benefit that is unemployment insurance than why did he abide his wife’s reciept of unemployment compensation after she lost her job for violating nepotism rules?

Another area of federal spending that Miller publicly opposes is farm subsidies. But privately he was more than happy to be a recipient of the very benefits that he is now opposes. How you say? Well as it turns out Miller had received an agricultural subsidy on farmland he once owned in Kansas. Yet, true to form as with the situation surrounding his unauthorized computer use, Miller tried to dance around the farm subsidy issue until he gave up and came clean on this as well. To wit: “Until Monday night, the campaign had also dodged questions as to whether Miller had received federal farm subsidies for land in Kansas, where he once lived. After Alaska Dispatch received Miller’s farm subsidy records under the Freedom of Information Act and told the Miller campaign about them on Monday, Miller’s staff confirmed he received federal payments for 140 acres of cropland he owned in Kansas between 1990 and 1998. Like the vast majority of farmers in that region, Joe received payment from the USDA in exchange for managing his crops according to government standards,” said campaign spokesman Randy DeSoto in an e-mail Monday night.”

So, once again, what are the voters supposed to believe? They consistently hear Tea Party candidates preaching the virtues of fiscal rectitude, personal responsibility, smaller government, low taxes, ad infinitum while some of these same candidates are engaging in or have engaged in the very behaviours and activities that they so routinely oppose in their rhetoric. Miller is not the first member of the Tea Party Movement, nor is he likely the last, to be swept up in this type of controversy. The question that begs asking now is how many more of these revelations are going to surface after next Tuesday and then what are all of those who worked so hard for the movement supposed to do when they are stuck with having elected these political charlatans who where supposed to help them take their country back and make it a better place? We’ve already seen charges of hypocrisy levelled at Sharron Angle and Michele Bachmann related to their positions on government provided health care and their own families benefiting from these programs. That said, who should be surprised by the fact that Joe Miller is now revealed to be a serial hypocrite? The only remaining questions are who will be the next Tea Party personality found to be in the same quandary and just how many of these ticking time bombs presently exist within the movement? 

Steven J. Gulitti



Alaska Senate Candidate Once Disciplined for Computer Misuse;

Joe Miller maintains unemployment benefits are unconstitutional;

Joe Miller’s Wife Collected Unemployment Benefits;

Alaska’s Joe Miller states opposition to federal minimum wage

Senate candidate Joe Miller admits taking farm subsidies;

Joe Miller Admits Reaping Federal Farm Subsidies Despite Railing Against Taking Government Funds;

The Health Care Hypocrisy of a Tea Party Candidate;