erik lundegaard

Politics posts

Tuesday May 21, 2013


If I were the I.R.S., I would be investigating Tea Party claims, too. From Jeffrey Toobin's post, “The Real I.R.S. Scandal,” on the New Yorker site:

It’s important to review why the Tea Party groups were petitioning the I.R.S. anyway. They were seeking approval to operate under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. This would require them to be “social welfare,” not political, operations. There are significant advantages to being a 501(c)(4). These groups don’t pay taxes; they don’t have to disclose their donors—unlike traditional political organizations, such as political-action committees. In return for the tax advantage and the secrecy, the 501(c)(4) organizations must refrain from traditional partisan political activity, like endorsing candidates.

I don't get why this isn't the story.

On the other hand, this may be a boon: a call to visit your local Tea Party office if you're ever in need of social welfare. I'm sure, as a social welfare organization, they'd be willing to help.

Posted at 06:37 AM on May 21, 2013 in category Politics
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Saturday April 27, 2013

White House Correspondents Dinner: Obama with an Edge

I'm generally not a fan of this thing, at least not since Stephen Colbert skewered both George W. Bush and the press corps back in ... was it 2006? ... but Pres. Obama rocked it tonight with an edge. My favorite line:

I know Republicans are still sorting out what happened in 2012, but one thing they all agree on is they need to do a better job reaching out to minorities. And look, call me self-centered, but I can think of one minority they could start with. (Laughter.) Hello? Think of me as a trial run, you know? See how it goes.

My second-favorite came after this joke about the edifice Obama is building next to the George W. Bush Presidential Library:

The Blame Bush Presidential Library

That's good. But this is the one that stuck in it in there. It's not the easy joke. It's the sharp joke that follows the easy joke:

I'm also hard at work on plans for the Obama Library. And some have suggested that we put it in my birthplace but I'd rather keep it in the United States. (Laughter.) Did anybody not see that joke coming? Show of hands? Only Gallup? Maybe Dick Morris?

I wish they'd cut to Nate Silver at that point. If he was there.

I haven't even gotten into the whole Daniel Day-Lewis starring in Steven Spielberg's “Obama,” or the beautifully serious way with which he ended it, but the whole thing made me think, once again, I'm glad I'm living in a country where Barack Hussein Obama is my president.

Here's the whole deal:

Posted at 10:36 PM on Apr 27, 2013 in category Politics
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Saturday April 06, 2013

Remaining Stationary is the New Freedom

Did you see this story the other day?

With the Senate set to debate gun control this month, a National Rifle Association task force released a 225-page report on Tuesday that called for armed police officers, security guards or staff members in every American school, and urged states to loosen gun restrictions to allow trained teachers and administrators to carry weapons.

The report is fodder for Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert. But the second graf became fodder for me:

Asa Hutchinson, a former Republican congressman from Arkansas who led the task force, unveiled the report at a packed news conference with unusually heavy security, including a bomb-sniffing yellow Labrador retriever. A dozen officers in plain clothes and uniforms stood watch as he spoke; one warned photographers to “remain stationary” during the event. (Italics mine.)

It immediately sparked this idea for a Tom Toles-like editorial cartoon:

  • Panel 1: Show the news conference, use Hutchison's quote, and have one of the armed security officers telling the photographers: “Remain stationary.” Include: “*Actual quote.” Photogs look scared.
  • Panel 2: Similar scene in our new, NRA-approved schools, where an armed guard tells students: “Remain stationary.” Students and teacher look scared.
  • Panel 3: Similar scene at mall. Armed guards telling shoppers, “Remain stationary.” Shoppers look scared.
  • Panel 4: Then in Congress during arm-control legislation debate. NRA to Congress: “Remain stationary.”
  • Panel 5: Then in front of the thousands who have died because of gun violence since Newtown. NRA to the dead: “Remain stationary.”
  • Denouement: Little Oliphant or Toles figure at bottom with hands raised before NRA guard. Oliphant figure says: “Remaining stationary is the new freedom.”

WANTED: Cartoonist.

Houston gun show

Guns guns guns.

Posted at 11:52 AM on Apr 06, 2013 in category Politics
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Wednesday March 20, 2013

Henny Penny, When the Sky Fell: 'No End in Sight' and the 10th Anniversary of the Iraq Invasion

Yesterday, the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, pissed me off more than I'd anticipated.

I think what set me off was this piece by Alex Pareene on Joe Scarborough, and the realization that the bastards got away with it, got away with calling us names, too, and now blame us for flag-waving our way into war when I was sickened by it all. Pareene dissects Scarborough well but you almost want a body blow. I remember seeing MSNBC at the time, and the American flag waving behind triumphant music and the Bush administration's chosen phrase, OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM, up front, and thinking, “This is a cable news show?” I was naive at the time. I'm so much older than that now.

I remember a few years later, in 2005 or '06, arguing with a conservative friend about Iraq, and he trotted out the usual right-wing line about whether I would put Saddam back in place if I could. I gave him a look. I said:

Would I put him back in place? Does that mean we get back all of the American soldiers killed and wounded in Iraq, and all of the Iraqis killed and wounded in Iraq? We get back the money we spent, and the prestige we lost, and the focus we lost, and we're able to spend that money and put that focus elsewhere? On our more immediate concerns and enemies? Is that what you're asking me? Would I make that trade? In a fucking second.

How did you celebrate the 10th? I got drunk and watched “No End in Sight,” Charles Ferguson's 2007 documentary, which is the best thing I've seen on our early involvement there. It's about all of the fuckups that led to present-day Iraq, which we no longer pay attention to.

What gets me each time I watch this? It's not the lies and misrepresentations that led us into war. It's not the fact that we spent a few months, rather than years, prepping for a post-war Iraq. It's not that we didn't send the troop levels the miltary wanted but sent the troop levels Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld thought we needed (SPOILER ALERT: he was wrong), and it's not the fact that ORHA, the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, the organization designed to stabilize Iraq, reported to Rumsfeld and not, say, Secretary of State Colin Powell. We could have gotten away with all of those fuckups. But then the Bushies disbanded Jay Garner's ORHA and replaced it, and him, with L. Paul Bremer's CPA, the Coalition Provisional Authority, and Bremer ordered de-Ba'athification and the disbanding of the Iraqi military. And that was that.

A few quotes from last night's viewing, which I subsequently drunk-tweeted (see what you're missing by not following me on Twitter?):

  • “We're a platoon of Marines. We could certainly stop looting if that's our assigned task.” — Lt. Seth Moulton.
  • “It was just henny penny the sky is falling.” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on media reports about the postwar looting in Baghdad.
  • “My goodness, were there that many vases?” --Donald Rumsfield, implying that U.S. media reports on looting were greatly exaggerated; followed by laughter from the press corp.
  • “Whether you were Sunni or Shiite, you were outraged about the looting.” --Nir Rosen, Iraqui journalist.
  • “And what followed was this pervasive sense of lawlessness that Iraq never recovered from. Guys with guns took over.”
  • “The Iraqi army was essentially standing there, waiting. They were waiting for an overture. ... No one did that.”
  • “I thought we had just created a problem. We had a lot of out-of-work soldiers.”
  • “I don't do quagmires.” --Donald Rumsfeld.

If you're looking for a gift for Rumsfeld, Cheney, etc., 10th anniversaries are traditionally associated with tin.

L. Paul Bremer, Jay Garner, in Charles Ferguson's documentary "No End in Sight"

Bremer (left), taking over from Garner (right).

Posted at 08:39 AM on Mar 20, 2013 in category Politics
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Tuesday March 19, 2013

Email to Jake: March 9, 2003

I sent this email to a group of friends on March 9, 2003:

Anyone been reading about the celebrity commercial wars? Martin Sheen & Co.? Liberal media articles mocking liberals. “Those know-nothing celebrities know nothing” is the gist. I've yet to hear much about the conservative response, led by former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, who, in his commerical (which I haven't seen), says the following in support of a possible war with Iraq:

When people ask, “What has Saddam done to us?” I ask, “What had the 9-11 hijackers done to us before 9-11?”

 So true! We're all guilty until proven invaded.

Jake responded. Same day:

Amen Erik.

The conservatives, whose recent ascendance was led by a B-movie actor turned president, have no business complaining about “know nothing celebrities.” Same for the liberal media complaining about fellow liberals. The reason the actors are making such noise about the war has a lot to do with the shameful absence of noise coming from the democrats in Congress. My senator Hillary Clinton, for her part, went out of her way last week to reaffirm her support of Bush's war plans.

And the fact that the media themselves accept the myth of the liberal media only tilts their coverage further to the right. According to polls, a majority of Americans believe Saddam was a 9/11 co-conspirator. No evidence has been produced, but who needs evidence when a steady barrage of slanted coverage will do?

Apologies that we were all so, so right, and the others were all so, so wrong.

Posted at 07:17 PM on Mar 19, 2013 in category Politics
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