Ventura vs Hasselbeck – Call a spade a spade

You may or may not know that I watch The View. It’s kind of like watching Morning Joe, Golden Girls ( I mean no disrespect to that classic), and a Real Housewives reunion show all at the same time. Yesterday, Jesse “The Ex-Governing Body” Ventura appeared with the ladies to talk recent politics. When Ventura was governor of Minnesota I wrote him off as a joke. It appears, in my youth, I was a bit quick in my judgement. Here’s a clip from the show.

Ventura 1 Hasselbeck 0

Ventura embarrassed Hasselbeck in this clip. This really shows why I don’t like Hasselbeck, which I have addressed before. Having nothing to do with her politics, Hasselbeck just spouts of talking points without ever giving any real thought or insight to what she is saying or the actual facts behind them. Ventura called Hasselbeck on her BS and she crumpled like paper. A commenter at Donklephant articulates their dislike for Hasselbeck. It was so spot on I had to repost it.

from Donklephant:

Justin, as someone who is constantly on your @ss about being biased against conservatives, let me say this.

Hasselbeck IS a right wing idiot.

She is in no respect a thoughtful person, at least not on the air. She demonstrates ZERO in the way of strong-sense critical thinking. What VERY little critical thinking she does perform is limited to weak-sense critical thinking. That’s what you get when you begin by assuming that your premise is correct, and then you defend that premise only by marshaling whatever justifications you can find. You do your best to make the available facts fit the interpretation that you have already taken on faith to be true.

Enough Hassel-bashing, on to the main thrust of the clip: does the US torture?

Ventura’s point is one that right-wing parrot (Hasselbeck) could not avoid. I could start referring to DDT as “happy sunshine spray”, but that wont make it any less carcinogenic. You can call water boarding an “enhanced interrogation technique”, but that doesn’t change what it fundamentally is. If you want to try to defend water boarding call a spade a spade. Don’t do a thesaurus dance to try to make it more palatable. If it were so easy to defend it on it’s description alone one wouldn’t need to rename it. Just a move from the Karl Rove playbook.

Hasselbeck and water boarding defenders cannot ignore history either. The Japanese and Germans both used water boarding during WWII. During war crimes trials a member of the Doolittle Raid testified that his Japanese captors used water boarding during interrogation. Those who used water boarding were considered torturers and hanged.

As Ventura mentions, during the Vietnam War the North Vietnamese regularly used water boarding, and other torture methods, to interrogate POWS in the infamous Hanoi Hilton. The US military court-martialled a soldier in 1968 after the Washington Post ran a picture showing the soldier and two South Vietnamese performing water boarding.

These are just two instances where we have said water boarding was torture. We have recognized that water boarding is unacceptable, to put it mildly. Remember your history. Ditch the propaganda. If we are going to assume the moral high ground then we must walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Terrorists will see through the BS and we will provide them with yet another recruitment tool. Do we really want to do that?

Ventura vs Hasselbeck – Call a spade a spade

You may or may not know that I watch The View. It’s kind of like watching Morning Joe, Golden Girls ( I mean no disrespect to that classic), and a Real Housewives reunion show all at the same time. Yesterday, Jesse “The Ex-Governing Body” Ventura appeared with the ladies to talk recent politics. When Ventura was governor of Minnesota I wrote him off as a joke. It appears, in my youth, I was a bit quick in my judgement. Here’s a clip from the show.

Ventura 1 Hasselbeck 0

Ventura embarrassed Hasselbeck in this clip. This really shows why I don’t like Hasselbeck, which I have addressed before. Having nothing to do with her politics, Hasselbeck just spouts of talking points without ever giving any real thought or insight to what she is saying or the actual facts behind them. Ventura called Hasselbeck on her BS and she crumpled like paper. A commenter at Donklephant articulates their dislike for Hasselbeck. It was so spot on I had to repost it.

from Donklephant:

Justin, as someone who is constantly on your @ss about being biased against conservatives, let me say this.

Hasselbeck IS a right wing idiot.

She is in no respect a thoughtful person, at least not on the air. She demonstrates ZERO in the way of strong-sense critical thinking. What VERY little critical thinking she does perform is limited to weak-sense critical thinking. That’s what you get when you begin by assuming that your premise is correct, and then you defend that premise only by marshaling whatever justifications you can find. You do your best to make the available facts fit the interpretation that you have already taken on faith to be true.

Enough Hassel-bashing, on to the main thrust of the clip: does the US torture?

Ventura’s point is one that right-wing parrot (Hasselbeck) could not avoid. I could start referring to DDT as “happy sunshine spray”, but that wont make it any less carcinogenic. You can call water boarding an “enhanced interrogation technique”, but that doesn’t change what it fundamentally is. If you want to try to defend water boarding call a spade a spade. Don’t do a thesaurus dance to try to make it more palatable. If it were so easy to defend it on it’s description alone one wouldn’t need to rename it. Just a move from the Karl Rove playbook.

Hasselbeck and water boarding defenders cannot ignore history either. The Japanese and Germans both used water boarding during WWII. During war crimes trials a member of the Doolittle Raid testified that his Japanese captors used water boarding during interrogation. Those who used water boarding were considered torturers and hanged.

As Ventura mentions, during the Vietnam War the North Vietnamese regularly used water boarding, and other torture methods, to interrogate POWS in the infamous Hanoi Hilton. The US military court-martialled a soldier in 1968 after the Washington Post ran a picture showing the soldier and two South Vietnamese performing water boarding.

These are just two instances where we have said water boarding was torture. We have recognized that water boarding is unacceptable, to put it mildly. Remember your history. Ditch the propaganda. If we are going to assume the moral high ground then we must walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Terrorists will see through the BS and we will provide them with yet another recruitment tool. Do we really want to do that?

Get Well Mrs. Bush

I just watched George Bush talk about his wife Barbara’s surgery. He was really touching. I honestly got a little misty.

Barbara reminds me a little of my gram: an unapologetic bitch who, while often inappropriate, you can’t help but love. Barbara has done a great deal of good here in Maine. The Children’s Hospital at Maine Med that bares her name would not exist without her aid.

Doctors performed heart surgery on Mrs. Bush to replace an aortic valve this week. Barbara is making an excellent recovery according to doctors. For former president Bush to say this was “one of the more stressful experiences” of his life just shows you how in love the couple still is.

Best wishes to Mrs. Bush. Speedy recovery!

A full report from ABC News

One day after undergoing open-heart surgery to replace a hardened aortic valve, former first lady Barbara Bush is making “remarkably good progress,” according to her doctor.

“She’s really made an excellent recovery,” said Dr. Gerald Lawrie, the surgeon who performed the operation.

The aorta, the body’s largest artery, is the main path that the heart uses to pump blood to the body. The hardening of the valve is typical of normal wear and tear on the heart of someone Bush’s age.

A spokesman for President George H.W. Bush told ABC News that the 83-year-old former first lady took the procedure so lightly at first, she didn’t even want to tell her children.

“This was a very calm, pleasant atmosphere that she created actually, by not bringing in her whole family,” Lawrie said.

But according to the hospital statement, “a hardened aortic valve needs to be replaced because, when left untreated, it can result in heart failure or sudden cardiac death.”

Dr. Tim Johnson, ABC News’ medical editor, told “Good Morning America” today that Bush’s complaint of shortness of breath is the most common symptom for people suffering with this type of heart disease.

“This is a very major valve,” he said. “When it gets old and hardened and calcified & it doesn’t work as well.”

Johnson said a new surgery is being studied that could revolutionize this process and make for a much faster recovery. The surgery, he said, uses a catheter, inserted in the groin, to reach the heart.

If Barbara Bush had needed her surgery eight or nine months down the road, he said, she could possibly have been a candidate and wouldn’t have had her chest opened.

Bush appeared to be in good health when she was last seen publicly at President Obama’s inauguration in January.

This is the second time in four months she has been hospitalized. In November, she had surgery for a perforated ulcer after doctors said she described experiencing the worst pain of her life.

Bush Was ‘Alert and Funny’

Bush was resting comfortably at a Houston hospital with her husband, former President George H.W. Bush, by her side, Bush spokesman Jim McGrath told ABC News.

“I am very impressed with and grateful to the wonderful team of doctors and nurses at Methodist Hospital who have helped Barbara,” the former president said in a prepared statement. “We have every confidence she is in the best hands.”

The former president’s chief of staff, Jean Becker, described Mrs. Bush, 83, as “alert and funny” after the surgery.

Bush should be discharged in seven to 10 days, the hospital said.

In addition to the ulcer last year, Bush has sought medical attention in the past for a number of other issues, as well. In 1989, a thyroid condition known as Graves disease reportedly caused her to lose 18 pounds in three months. She later began taking medication and, in 1990, received radiation therapy for her eyes as part of her treatment for this condition. Earlier, she had received steroids to treat the condition, though her doctor later pulled her off the medication. Long-term use of steroids has been linked to the development of stomach ulcers.

Was He Really That Bad? – Dubya was not the worst president

His name alone is enough to make some cringe. George W Bush elicits some of the strongest negative reactions of any president in my lifetime, which, granted, has not been that long. My father is a die-hard Democrat and I haven’t seen him get so red-faced angry since the Reagan years. The Rolling Stone declared Bush the worst president back in 2006. In a History News Network poll 61% of historians ranks Dubya in last place. There is even an entire website dedicated to promoting the “fact” that George W Bush is the worst president ever.

Is this a far assessment of poor ol Dub? According to Thomas Fleming it isn’t. There have been many greats (not that Bush necessarily belongs with them either) who have made some huge missteps.

from Wall Street Journal

Is Mr. Bush worse than John Adams? When a shooting war at sea started between the United States and revolutionary France in 1798, Honest John wrote a letter to George Washington, offering to resign so that George could resume the job. How’s that for presidential leadership? Meanwhile, Adams had kept Washington’s cabinet officers on the job, although he loathed them. He finally fired them in a fit of hysteria, which made them wonder if he had lost his mind.

Is Mr. Bush worse than Thomas Jefferson in his second term? Rather than build a decent navy to deal with the British — who had a habit of boarding American ships on the high seas and forcing kidnapped sailors into semislavery — Jefferson declared an embargo on all trade with England and the rest of Europe. The American economy came to a horrific standstill; smuggling became New England’s chief industry. Someone described the embargo as “cutting a man’s throat to cure a nosebleed.” Nonplussed, Jefferson quit, telling only James Madison, his secretary of state, who was de facto acting president for the last year of Tom’s term.

James Madison, who officially succeeded Jefferson in 1808, made presidential passivity into an art form. “Little Jemmy,” as they called him in New England, watched while 4,500 British troops disembarked from their ships, marched to Washington, D.C., and burned the White House, the Capitol and almost everything else worth torching. You can’t do much worse as a war leader than that performance.

Woodrow Wilson? When World War I exploded, Irish-Americans objected to his pro-British tilt. Wilson responded that ethnics like these loudmouthed micks were “pouring poison into the veins of our national life,” alienating the largest voting bloc in the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, as a Southern-born pol to his wingtips, he segregated almost all employees of the federal government.

Next, Wilson talked Congress into declaring war on Germany on the assumption that we would not have to send a single soldier to France. Before the war ended, we had 2,000,000 troops overseas, and in three months of fighting lost 144,000 men.

Elected by seven million votes thanks to the electorate’s loathing for Wilson, Warren G. Harding confessed to reporters that he was not up to the job. He told one newsman that he wanted to make the U.S. tariff higher than the Rocky Mountains to help Europe’s industries recover from World War I. The appalled reporter realized the president had one of the biggest issues of the era exactly backward.

Harding had a concealed box at the Gayety Burlesque Theater where he spent many afternoons and nights. In the leftover hours he concentrated on poker and trysts with a blonde named Nan Britton — reputedly in a closet off the Oval Office — while his appointees looted the federal government.

Is Mr. Bush worse than Roosevelt in his second term? Re-elected by a massive majority, FDR wanted to pack the Supreme Court with Democrats. Congress, dominated by members of his own party, wasted a year wrangling over the bill and ultimately rejected it. Meanwhile, FDR’s intemperate remarks about greedy businessmen wrecked confidence and triggered a semireplay of the Great Depression in 1937. The Republicans made massive gains in the 1938 midterm elections. FDR was rescued from an exit even more humiliating than Jefferson’s by World War II, which he used as an excuse to run for a third term.

Worse than Jimmy Carter, the self- proclaimed Washington “outsider” who presided over the most horrendous stagflation in our history? As his poll numbers sank, Mr. Carter had the temerity to lecture citizens on their “crisis of spirit.” His approval rating had plummeted to 22% when Ronald Reagan defeated him. Let us skip Bill Clinton. He and Bush are too contiguous; proximity makes comparisons inevitably rancorous.

Jefferson also pursued the idiotic policy of employing unseaworthy gunboats to defend our shores. John Adams much debated Alien and Sedition Acts could be seen as worse than the Patriot Act. Of course we shouldn’t forget the 100,000 plus American citizens of Japanese, German, and Italian descent interned in camps by order of FDR during WWII. Let us not forget Woodrow Wilson’s blatantly racist presidency. The KKK did march in his inaugural parade.

Of course all of these presidents I’ve mentioned are generally considered some of the most successful. What about the bottom of the pack? Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan should be recognized for their limp administrations. Both presidents attempted to placate the slave south, Pierce with the Kansas-Nebraska Act and Buchanan with his doughfaced actions made war between the states unavoidable.

In my opinion, one of the most ineffective presidents has to be Andrew Johnson. He eeks out ahead, or behind, Grant who failed to act during the Panic of 1873 and who’s administration was racked with scandals. The hard line with the ex-Confederacy, maybe a bit too harsh, taken by Lincoln was reversed by Johnson. Johnson pardoned former plantation owners and returned their lands. This led to the effective continuation of slavery in share cropping. Johnson’s refusal to negotiate a more moderate settlement with Radical Republicans gutted the Reconstruction of its teeth. Johnson’s stubbornness put race relations in a pit they would not begin to climb out of until the 1960s. Jim Crow laws, disfranchisement of legal voters, horrible numbers of lynchings, the rise of the Klu Klux Klan, and other crimes happened because of Andrew Johnson’s atrocious management.

George W Bush’s actions are hard to compare with things some past presidents have done. I’m not saying history will vindicate Bush, but we should really look at all the facts before we label him the worst. Bush was mediocre at best and at worst the best of the inferior presidents.

The Dreaded S Word – Are the writers of Newsweek insane

Those writers over at Newsweek have lost their marbles. First they said that Somalian immigrants have “saved” Lewiston Maine from crumbling. Now “we are all socialists“.

from Newsweek

All of this is unfolding in an economy that can no longer be understood, even in passing, as the Great Society vs. the Gipper. Whether we like it or not—or even whether many people have thought much about it or not—the numbers clearly suggest that we are headed in a more European direction. A decade ago U.S. government spending was 34.3 percent of GDP, compared with 48.2 percent in the euro zone—a roughly 14-point gap, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In 2010 U.S. spending is expected to be 39.9 percent of GDP, compared with 47.1 percent in the euro zone—a gap of less than 8 points. As entitlement spending rises over the next decade, we will become even more French.

Ok, I admit I’m taking the title does not represent the article. The Newsweek article simply stated that as more and more babyboomers reach retirement age our entitlement spending will grow. As other problems arise, health care or fuel for example, the government will be forced to spend again. The article suggests we should just except this fact and move on. Does that sound right to you? It shouldn’t.

I don’t mind the government spending if it is smart spending. Newsweek seems to be advocating a spend spend spend government. I give you this analogy. Newsweek has a car. nearly every other month the car is in the shop. $200 here $400 there. They keep going through these small patches until finally the car craps out. Unfortunately for Newsweek, because they were spending to keep fixing the car they never saved enough to afford a new one. That is what they would have us to with our government. Just keep tossing cash around instead of truly fixing problems.

Bush tried it with his bailout and other spending during his administration. I think it’s clear how that turned out. We thrown money at our education system for years. Still our children are not meeting standards and districts still have their hands out. Pension payouts helped tank the big three auto makers. Putting more money into Social Security will not stop the looming shortage.

We need reform and strategic spending not blanket spending. Even Sweden has partly privatized it’s social security. Common sense and cool heads are what we need now. At the end of the Newsweek piece they say, “the catch is that more government intrusion in the economy will almost surely limit growth (as it has in Europe, where a big welfare state has caused chronic high unemployment). Growth has always been America’s birthright and saving grace.”

This is why we are not, and will never be, a socialist state, or even a welfare state like France. We will not be limited. Our individual ambitions will not be stifled. Americans don’t just break glass ceilings. We obliterate them. That is what gets us ahead.

I think de Tocqueville said it best

Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.

The Dreaded S Word – Are the writers of Newsweek insane

Those writers over at Newsweek have lost their marbles. First they said that Somalian immigrants have “saved” Lewiston Maine from crumbling. Now “we are all socialists“.

from Newsweek

All of this is unfolding in an economy that can no longer be understood, even in passing, as the Great Society vs. the Gipper. Whether we like it or not—or even whether many people have thought much about it or not—the numbers clearly suggest that we are headed in a more European direction. A decade ago U.S. government spending was 34.3 percent of GDP, compared with 48.2 percent in the euro zone—a roughly 14-point gap, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In 2010 U.S. spending is expected to be 39.9 percent of GDP, compared with 47.1 percent in the euro zone—a gap of less than 8 points. As entitlement spending rises over the next decade, we will become even more French.

Ok, I admit I’m taking the title does not represent the article. The Newsweek article simply stated that as more and more babyboomers reach retirement age our entitlement spending will grow. As other problems arise, health care or fuel for example, the government will be forced to spend again. The article suggests we should just except this fact and move on. Does that sound right to you? It shouldn’t.

I don’t mind the government spending if it is smart spending. Newsweek seems to be advocating a spend spend spend government. I give you this analogy. Newsweek has a car. nearly every other month the car is in the shop. $200 here $400 there. They keep going through these small patches until finally the car craps out. Unfortunately for Newsweek, because they were spending to keep fixing the car they never saved enough to afford a new one. That is what they would have us to with our government. Just keep tossing cash around instead of truly fixing problems.

Bush tried it with his bailout and other spending during his administration. I think it’s clear how that turned out. We thrown money at our education system for years. Still our children are not meeting standards and districts still have their hands out. Pension payouts helped tank the big three auto makers. Putting more money into Social Security will not stop the looming shortage.

We need reform and strategic spending not blanket spending. Even Sweden has partly privatized it’s social security. Common sense and cool heads are what we need now. At the end of the Newsweek piece they say, “the catch is that more government intrusion in the economy will almost surely limit growth (as it has in Europe, where a big welfare state has caused chronic high unemployment). Growth has always been America’s birthright and saving grace.”

This is why we are not, and will never be, a socialist state, or even a welfare state like France. We will not be limited. Our individual ambitions will not be stifled. Americans don’t just break glass ceilings. We obliterate them. That is what gets us ahead.

I think de Tocqueville said it best

Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.

Sunday Editorial on Editorials – Bush War Crimes Trial?

Sometime around George W Bush’s third year in office, it became fashionable to take a shot at the man. He gave detractors plenty of fodder. Iraq, Katrina, torture, No Child Left Behind, and the Patriot Act were just a few the controversial elements of the Bush Presidency. Whole sites were built around Dubya’s fuddled speeches called “Bushism“. Late night television and Saturday Night Live churned out endless jokes and parodies of the Ex-President. Then change came.

Bush is out. Obama is in. Change came. Yet some on the far left still feel the need to persecute George Bush.

In this morning’s Kennebec Journal one letter writer said: I think it’s time that the hate-filled left-wing loonies get a grip on reality. All they can say is investigate Bush for this or that. I’d like to know just one right or privilege they have lost in the past eight years.

While we can debate whether or not Bush encroached on our civil liberties or not, does the man deserve to be on trial for war crimes? Probably not. Launching a poorly planned preemptive war in which civilian lives are lost does not add up to a war crime. By those standards, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, and Bill Clinton could all have been brought to trial for war crimes. The total civilian deaths in Iraq are still less than the Japanese killed at Hiroshima

The last eight years are over. Now we are on to at least the next four. There are bigger fish to fry than Bush. Will bringing Bush and his cronies to trial create more jobs? Will the trial raise the market? Boost the economy? Increase consumer confidence? The answer to all those questions is no. We have an imminent crisis to attend to. I want this economy back on track, and I think the majority of Americans agree, before anything like this is pursued.

One look at Bush’s face on inauguration day and you can tell he is tired and defeated. There will be books and documentaries to come praising and bashing Bush. History will give the man his due. Focusing on that depressing time wont uplift anyone. Let him be and focus on the real task at hand.