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  • August 20, 2014
    Jim Jeffords Provided a Window into Bush's Soul

    Former Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords passed away Monday at the age of 80. President Obama eulogized Jeffords, whose departure from the GOP briefly handed control of the Senate to the Democrats. "Whatever the issue - whether it was protecting the environment, supporting Americans with disabilities, or whether to authorize the war in Iraq - Jim voted his principles," the President recalled, "Even if it sometimes meant taking a lonely or unpopular stance." Or a stance for which President George W. Bush effectively banished him from the Republican Party.

    In November 2000, the 26 year Congressional veteran was reelected with 65 percent of the vote in the Democratic stronghold of Vermont. But in early 2001, Jeffords signaled his opposition to President Bush's $1.6 trillion tax cut plan, which as predicted produced (and is still producing) red ink as far as the eye can see. And for that, the payback from the Bush White House was swift and severe. As I noted back in 2004:

    An early indication of the vindictiveness of this administration came with the saga of Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords' defection from the GOP in 2001. This is a tale of double-retribution. First, Jeffords refused to back the Bush tax cut plan in 2001. As The New Republic reported in June 2001, the White House responded by gutting special education programs supported by Jeffords and by threatening the Northeast Interstate Dairy Compact critical to the Vermont milk industry. To add insult to injury, the Bush team took the unprecedented step of not inviting Jeffords to a White House event honoring a teacher from Vermont. They even denied Jeffords' office White House tour passes for his constituents. His departure from the GOP seemed understandable then and now; his one-time colleagues of course are making his tenure as an independent a lonely one.

    Lonely, indeed. Along with John Ashcroft (R-MO), Larry Craig (R-ID) and Trent Lott (R-MS), Jim Jeffords for years had been one of the "Singing Senators." But after President Bush essentially forced Jeffords to leave the GOP, his colleagues gave him the heave ho as well.

    Of course, it wasn't just Jim Jeffords who became a victim of President Bush's politics of payback. General Erik Shinseki, counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, Medicare Actuary Richard Foster, covert CIA operative Valerie Plame and Ambassador Joe Wilson are just some of the public servants who paid the price for crossing Dubya. As Ryan Lizza summed up the sad affair in 2001, "Although the conservative press has lambasted Jeffords, most Republican pols have blamed the Bush administration instead." Apparently, Jim Jeffords looked into George W. Bush's soul, and knew he was not a man with whom he could work.

    Perrspective 7:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

    August 19, 2014
    National Guard Should "Take a Knee" in Ferguson

    With tensions still running very high in Ferguson, Missouri, Governor Jay Nixon ordered National Guard units to the area in an effort to restore calm--and confidence--in the community. It would be hard for the Guardsmen to do worse than the local police, whose heavy-handed, confrontational tactics and shocking insensitivity only served to incite conflict. And if the Missouri National Guard wants to do better, it could try taking a page from the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division. In April 2003, the 101st's quick thinking, incredible restraint and a profound show of respect helped prevent a massacre in the Iraqi city of Najaf.

    On April 3rd, 2003, Lt. Col. Chris Hughes, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, led his troops into Najaf to pursue Fedayeen fighters. But as they approached the Imam Ali mosque, one of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam, angry crowds took to the streets. Many feared that the mosque would be destroyed and that the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, under house arrest for 20 years by Saddam Hussein, would be captured or killed.

    What happened next wasn't a massacre, but among the finest moments for the United States in the entire war. As the New Yorker reported:

    At that moment, an American officer stepped through the crowd holding his rifle high over his head with the barrel pointed to the ground. Against the backdrop of the seething crowd, it was a striking gesture--almost Biblical. "Take a knee," the officer said, impassive behind surfer sunglasses. The soldiers looked at him as if he were crazy. Then, one after another, swaying in their bulky body armor and gear, they knelt before the boiling crowd and pointed their guns at the ground. The Iraqis fell silent, and their anger subsided. The officer ordered his men to withdraw.

    CNN described the scene of Hughes' cultural empathy and heroic restraint that won over the crowd and prevented what seemed like a certain loss of life on a large scale:

    He yelled to his troops: "Smile, relax." Then he commanded his soldiers to take a knee and point their weapons to the ground. Some Iraqis backed off and sat down. But many more continued to yell and block the road.

    "We're going to withdraw out of this situation and let them defuse it themselves," he told his troops through a loudspeaker. "All vehicles turn around."

    "In terms of scale of significance, that is the mosque that would have probably not just have caused every Shia in that country to rise up against the coalition," Hughes told CBS News three years later. "It probably would have at least brought in the Syrians, if not the Iranians."

    That conflict with the Shiites of Najaf did not happen, at least not until the summer of 2004. With Iraq having descended into sectarian conflict in which American forces battled both Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias, U.S. Marines took on the Mahdi Army of cleric Moqtada Al Sadr that August.

    But that is a different story with lessons of its own. In April 2003, the headlines from USA Today ("At last, smiles greet U.S. troops as they enter holy city in Iraq"), the Telegraph ("Americans bow before holy shrine to deter protesters") and the Los Angeles Times ("Shrine Spared, Troops Hailed") told the tale of how Americans troops decided to take a knee so they didn't have to take casualties in Najaf.

    The Missouri National Guard might consider doing the same in Ferguson.

    Perrspective 11:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

    August 18, 2014
    Feds Can't Sell Booby-Trapped Property of Terrorist Tax-Evaders

    These things happened in the United States this year. An unarmed man was killed by police, supposedly for stealing some cigars. Those who took to the streets simply seeking truth, among them some looters, were denounced by some conservatives and an entire news network as "thugs" and "lynch mobs." Just months earlier, a Nevada tax cheat owing the federal government a million dollars welcomed dozens of heavily armed militia members who threatened to murder government officials. An entire news network and a Republican United States Senator called them "patriots" and "freedom riders." (The FBI suffers from no such confusion: the Bureau under the last three presidents has labelled Cliven Bundy's ilk "domestic terrorists.")

    But while all eyes have been focused on Ferguson, Missouri, the latest chapter in the saga of another terrorist tax-evader was quietly being written in New Hampshire. There, federal officials were unable to sell the properties confiscated from Ed and Elaine Brown because prospective buyers the lands and buildings might be booby-trapped.

    As the AP reported:

    The auction of Ed and Elaine Brown's fortress-like home on 100 acres in Plainfield was held at U.S. District Court in Concord on Friday. The minimum bid was $250,000.

    Elaine Brown's dental office in a prime Lebanon commercial zone also was being auctioned with a minimum bid of $507,500, but it too attracted no bidders.

    Federal marshals had arranged 16 folding chairs in a courtroom at the federal courthouse in Concord. They remained empty, serving as a stark reminder of the lack of interest as Deputy Chief U.S. Marshal Brenda Mikelson went through the motions of asking for minimum bids on both properties before the auction ended two minutes later.

    Prospective bidders were not allowed to tour the properties, in part because the U.S. Marshals Service raised the possibility that explosives or other booby traps could be buried on the residential property.

    They also cited the hordes of Brown supporters the 2007 standoff attracted.

    That's right. Years before militia members with automatic weapons descended on Cliven Bundy's ranch to enable him to continue to collect "food stamps" for cows, Ed and Elaine Brown were threatening federal marshals simply trying to collect what the tax deadbeats owed Uncle Sam.

    In that 2007 New Hampshire episode, another million-dollar tax cheater turned terrorist when Uncle Sam came for his money. That June, Ed Brown and his wife Elaine, already sentenced to 63 months in absentia for failing to pay his $1 million tab, vowed "that he and his wife would fight U.S. marshals to the death if they tried to capture them." As ABC News reported at the time, the Browns had support from many of the usual suspects:

    The couple, however, insists that there is no law that requires citizens to pay income tax.

    "There is no law. We looked and looked," Brown told the press.

    Brown and his supporters, including Randy Weaver, leader of the 1992 standoff with ATF agents at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, told the press that the government has unlawfully tricked people into believing they have to pay income tax, knowing full well that such a law would be unconstitutional.

    "We will defend it to the death. This is 1776 all over again. You cannot tax someone's labor because that is slavery," Brown said.

    Ultimately, Ed and his dentist wife ended up in prison for a lot longer than five years after they bunkered down in their 100-acre compound stocked with weapons:

    At trial, the couple was found guilty of numerous charges including plotting to kill federal agents during the 2007 standoff; conspiring to prevent federal officers from performing their duties; conspiring to assault, resist or impede federal officers; using or carrying a firearm or destructive device during a violent crime; possessing a firearm or destructive device, being a felon in possession of a firearm; obstruction of justice; failing to appear at sentencing. Mr. Brown was also charged with failing to appear at trial.

    Edward Brown was sentence to 37 years, and Elaine Brown, 35 years.

    For the FBI, the Browns represent the dictionary definition of domestic terrorists. But for libertarians like former GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul now denouncing "police initiated violence" in Ferguson, they represent something else: modern day versions of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Perrspective 11:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

    August 17, 2014
    Memo to Chuck Todd: Your Job is the Thing You Think Isn't Your Job

    With the word that NBC correspondent Chuck Todd will replace David Gregory as the host of the withered carcass that is Meet the Press, the chattering classes left and right are offering their advice on reanimating the corpse of the once-proud Sunday talk show. Ultimately, though, there is only piece of guidance for the Beltway's new goateed gatekeeper. Simply seek the truth. Unfortunately, that is precisely the task Chuck Todd has argued is not part of his job description as a journalist.

    Todd's acknowledgement that the media's role is to merely amplify the sound bites of political partisans came during a discussion of the Affordable Care Act last September. Almost four years after Politifact named "death panels" its 2009 Lie of the Year and three years since "government takeover of health care" won its 2010 crown, the future Meet the Press talking point purveyor explained to viewers that unearthing and communicating objective truth is not the media's job. When Ed Rendell lamented that Americans were misinformed about Obamacare, Todd protested:

    "But more importantly, it's stuff that Republicans successfully messaged against it and they wouldn't have heard...they don't repeat other stuff because they haven't even heard the Democratic message. What I always love is people say 'it's your fault in the media.' No, it's the President of the United States' fault for not selling it."

    That same day, Todd took to Twitter to repeat his point:

    Somebody decided to troll w/mislding headline: point I actually made was folks shouldn't expect media to do job WH has FAILED to do re: ACA

    But after eight hours of absorbing a pounding online, he returned to Twitter to clarify his clarification:

    I was NOT saying it isn't job of journos to call out lies, I said it was not job of media to sell WH's health care message, it is WH's job

    Despite that embarrassing episode, Chuck Todd hasn't always represented a net subtraction from the sum of human knowledge. He has, in fact, committed acts of journalism. As the GOP's "Defund Obamacare" campaign ramped up over the summer of 2013, Todd used his NBC "First Read" column to actively illuminate rather than passively mislead. As he put it on July 9:

    Here's a thought exercise on this summer morning: Imagine that after the controversial Medicare prescription-drug legislation was passed into law in 2003, Democrats did everything they could to thwart one of George W. Bush's top domestic achievements. They launched Senate filibusters to block essential HHS appointees from administering the law; they warned the sports and entertainment industries from participating in any public service announcements to help seniors understand how the law works; and, after taking control of the House of Representatives in 2007, they used the power of the purse to prohibit any more federal funds from being used to implement the law. As it turns out, none of that happened.

    That's exactly right. Despite their opposition to the Part D legislation, Democrats didn't just refuse to obstruct Bush's wildly unpopular and completely unfunded $400 billion windfall for insurers and pharmaceutical firms. In Washington and in the states, Democrats helped ensure the successful implementation of a Republican program whose 2006 launch even John Boehner acknowledged was "horrendous."

    Todd was right to highlight the polar opposite partisan responses to President Bush's Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 and President Obama's Affordable Care Act of 2010 to provide Americans with context for the unprecedented Republican obstruction of Obamacare. The truth, it turns out, will set you free.

    And seeking the truth-- not fluffing John McCain's pillow--is exactly what "junkie" Chuck Todd the "virtual vacuum sweeper when it comes to political facts, figures and analysis" should do every Sunday morning.

    Perrspective 9:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

    August 15, 2014

    "Israel has no better friend than the U.S.," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proclaimed to a joint session of Congress in 2011, "and the U.S. has no better friend than Israel." As recent events have once again confirmed, Bibi is only half-right. As the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, Netanyahu's government not only worked around the White House to secure American arms during its campaign in Gaza, but deliberately undermined Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts to secure a cease-fire. As it turns out, word of this latest insult to Israel's best friend came just days after Netanyahu asked the U.S. to protect his country from potential war crimes charges before the International Criminal Court.

    As the Journal explained, "White House and State Department officials who were leading U.S. efforts to rein in Israel's military campaign in the Gaza Strip were caught off guard last month when they learned that the Israeli military had been quietly securing supplies of ammunition from the Pentagon without their approval. " But even more galling are the unprecedented steps Prime Minister Netanyahu took to blow up the American effort to halt the carnage in Gaza:

    While the military-to-military relationship between Israel and the U.S. was operating normally, ties on the diplomatic front were imploding. For the Americans, they worsened dramatically on July 25, when aides to Secretary of State John Kerry sent a draft of a confidential cease-fire paper to Mr. Netanyahu's advisers for feedback.

    The Americans wanted the Israelis to propose changes. The U.S. didn't intend or expect the draft paper to be presented to the Israeli cabinet, but that was what Mr. Netanyahu did. U.S. officials say Mr. Netanyahu's office breached protocol by sending back no comments and presenting the paper to the cabinet for a vote.

    The paper was also leaked to the Israeli media. U.S. officials say they believe the Israeli government publicly mischaracterized Mr. Kerry's ideas with the intent of buying more time to prosecute the fight against Hamas because Israeli officials were angry over outreach by Mr. Kerry to Qatar and Turkey.

    Whatever the merits of Kerry's draft (which was blasted as a "betrayal" in the Israeli press), Bibi's treatment of the American Secretary of State has been appalling. The Israeli government eavesdropped on his phone calls. When Kerry was pushing a peace process not unlike that the Bush administration sought with Netanyahu's Kadima predecessor, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon accused him of "acting out of misplaced obsession and messianic fervor." (This from a coalition government whose members largely believe God gave all of the land of Israel to the Jewish people.) Kerry was savaged for saying in private what Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert previously said in public: without a two-state agreement with the Palestinians, Israel risks becoming an "apartheid state." While conservative Knesset members call Kerry anti-Semitic, the government-funded Yesha Council of settlements produced a video mocking the Secretary for, among other things, telling Israelis to wipe their asses with a porcupine.

    Kerry hasn't been the only target for Netanyahu. On the very day of Vice President Joe Biden's arrival in Israel in March 2010, Bibi announced another major expansion of settlements in the West Bank, a policy opposed by the last three American administrations. Politico described the the stark warning Vice President Biden delivered to the Israelis after their public humiliation of him:

    People who heard what Biden said were stunned. "This is starting to get dangerous for us," Biden castigated his interlocutors. "What you're doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us and it endangers regional peace."

    The vice president told his Israeli hosts that since many people in the Muslim world perceived a connection between Israel's actions and US policy, any decision about construction that undermines Palestinian rights in East Jerusalem could have an impact on the personal safety of American troops fighting against Islamic terrorism.

    America's best friend may think a perpetual occupation of the West Bank may be vital to its national security interests, but Biden wasn't alone in making the case that U.S. interests require a different policy. As Foreign Policy detailed at the time, then-CENTCOM commander and conservative idol General David Petraeus made stressed that very point to the U.S. Joint Chiefs. Chairman Michael Mullen was apparently stunned by what he heard:

    The 33-slide, 45-minute PowerPoint briefing stunned Mullen. The briefers reported that there was a growing perception among Arab leaders that the U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel, that CENTCOM's mostly Arab constituency was losing faith in American promises, [and] that Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region.

    That's not all. Petraeus requested, though was later denied, the addition of the West Bank and Gaza into his theater of command. As FP reported, "Petraeus's reason was straightforward: with U.S. troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military had to be perceived by Arab leaders as engaged in the region's most troublesome conflict."

    Benjamin Netanyahu delivered his insults on U.S. soil as well. Two months after that dust-up, Bibi lectured the President of the United States in front of cameras at the White House. At the United Nations and ever since, Netanyahu has demanded a "red line" ruling out an Iranian nuclear capability and has worked tireless to undermine the six-party negotiations still ongoing. While most experts believe a unilateral Israeli strike against Tehran's nuclear facilities would trigger a regional conflict almost certain to spread to American targets, the Netanyahu government has signaled it may not notify Washington in advance. And while Bibi's allies in Congress like Illinois Senator Mark Kirk stand ready to blow up the delicate nuclear talks with Iran, others like Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have offered a resolution requiring the U.S. to come to Israel's defense if it chooses to begin blowing up Iranians.

    To be sure, the United States and Israel are close friends and allies. The cultural and social bonds between the American and Israeli people are, as President Obama likes to say, unbreakable. The U.S. has benefitted from the booming Israeli economy and its innovative tech sector now tightly integrated with Silicon Valley. And even when the countries have not seen eye-to-eye (as with Suez in 1956 and Secretary of State James Baker's "f**k the Jews" comment over Israeli settlements and loan guarantees), America has been with Israel in its moment of need. In June 1967, President Lyndon Johnson gave his OK to Israel's preemptive strike against Egypt and Syria, telling Foreign Minister Abba Eban, "You will whip hell out of them." And when Israel's catastrophic losses in the 1973 Yom Kippur War raised the specter of nuclear war, a massive American resupply airlift (and Defcon 3 worldwide military alert) helped stave off disaster for the Jewish State. Today, the two nations collaborate on the Iron Dome anti-missile system, close intelligence sharing and, as we recently learned, Israeli participation in the NSA's signal gathering programs throughout the Middle East.

    But increasingly, Americans are asking what benefits the United States gets by being Israel's BFF. While the U.S. provides $3 billion in aid each year (aid some conservatives in both countries would like to end), Israel is near the top of the list of cyber espionage threats faced by America, as a Bush administration National Intelligence Estimate warned. Nevertheless, Netanyahu's is just the latest Israeli government to press for the release of its American spy, Jonathan Pollard, even as a condition of concessions to the Palestinians. (There's even a play about Pollard in New York right now.) And while its military assistance makes the United States complicit in Israeli policies that often run counter to American interests in the region, unlike Australia, Canada or the United Kingdom Israel's power can never be brought to bear in support of the United States. As the experience of the First Gulf War showed to the chagrin of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, justifiable Israeli retaliation against Iraqi Scud missile strikes would have shattered the allied coalition that ejected Saddam Hussein from Kuwait.

    Still, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scolded the Obama administration again, telling Secretary Kerry and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro "not to ever second guess me again" on how to deal with Hamas. That's no way to talk to your best friend. It might be time for the United States to respond using the kind of language that Tom Friedman suggested after Netanyahu's disgraceful treatment of Biden back in 2010:

    "Message from America to the Israeli government: Friends don't let friends drive drunk. And right now, you're driving drunk. You think you can embarrass your only true ally in the world, to satisfy some domestic political need, with no consequences? You have lost total contact with reality. Call us when you're serious."

    (If that sounds familiar, it should. Back in the early 1990's, President George H.W. Bush's Secretary of State James Baker publicly recited the White House switchboard's phone number and declared to Israel, "When you are serious about peace, call us!")

    Given the united bipartisan support for Israel in Congress, that kind of message won't be coming from the White House any time soon. But until it does, the United States will remain Israel's greatest friend, a friend without benefits.

    Perrspective 3:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

    August 14, 2014
    What If Tea Party, NRA "Patriots" Supported Ferguson Protesters?

    Over just the last few weeks, three unarmed African-American men have been killed by police. After the Michael Brown was gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri, President Obama urged all Americans to "remember this young man through reflection and understanding" and to "comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds."

    But some Americans have had enough of the "lawless, tyrannical police," and are taking matters into their own hands.

    Among the first to speak up was William Kostric, who repeated Thomas Jefferson's credo that "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of tyrants and patriots." Kostric has plenty of company. Rep. Michele Bachmann agreed, declaring "I want people in Missouri armed and dangerous on this issue." Glenn Beck warned that "violence will come" and with it, "rivers of blood." As Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) explained how he would keep rogue cops in line:

    "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

    A chorus of voices has echoed LaPierre's call for the good guys in the African-American community to take arms against a sea of troubles, and, by opposing, end them. Gun Appreciation Day founder Larry Ward lamented:

    "I think Martin Luther King, Jr. would agree with me if he were alive today that if African Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country's founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history."

    Tea Party enthusiast and one-time Congressional candidate Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher concurred with Ward's diagnosis. "Well, blacks weren't allowed to own guns in the south, that's a historical fact as well," he argued about the fates of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, "So, it would seem that the argument would apply there as well." Radio host Rush Limbaugh put the needless tragedy in Ferguson in its full historical context:

    "If a lot of African-Americans back in the '60s had guns and the legal right to use them for self-defense, you think they would have needed Selma? If John Lewis, who says he was beat upside the head, if John Lewis had had a gun, would he have been beat upside the head on the bridge?"

    Meanwhile in Nevada, rancher and freedom fighter Cliven Bundy urged his supporters to back the Show Me State protesters in Ferguson. Bundy, who identifies himself as "a citizen of Nevada and not a citizen of the territory of the United States," had some advice for the demonstrators facing off against the police in Missouri. "Let me tell you one more thing about the Negro," he said. "They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton." And carry guns. One of Bundy's well-armed allies, already on the ground in Ferguson, was "overheard boasting that he had two agent[s] in his gun sight and could 'take them down.'" For his part, Bundy warned that African-Americans will have to make a stand against the militarized police force in Missouri:

    "If we don't solve this problem this way, we will face these same guns in a civil war.' "

    Top Republicans in Nevada agreed. GOP Senator Dean Heller said of the demonstrators, "What others may call domestic terrorists, I call patriots." Sharron Angle, who almost joined Heller in the Senate, hoped the seeming epidemic of unjustified police violence towards African-American men could be halted before there is more bloodshed:

    "I'm hoping that we're not getting to Second Amendment remedies. I hope the vote will be the cure for the problems in Ferguson."

    Spoken like a true patriot.

    Perrspective 5:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

    August 13, 2014
    Rick Perry Steals Bill Clinton's 2004 "Send Me" Riff

    Watching Rick Perry 2.0 get Biblical on his audience this weekend in Iowa has some conservatives seeing starbursts again. "Dressed all in black, Governor Rick Perry took the podium at the Family Leadership Summit and quoted the book of Isaiah," Breitbart News gushed. "Here am I, send me!" he said.

    Now, if this riff sounds familiar, it should. And not just because Perry delivered an almost identical exhortation to Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition during the Texas governor's aborted White House run in 2012. As it turns out, Bill Clinton made the "send me" refrain from Isaiah 6:8 the centerpiece of his 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention.

    Of course, Bill Clinton (around the 18:00 minute mark above) asked Americans to "remember the scripture" on John Kerry's behalf, not his own:

    Now let me tell you what I know about John Kerry. I've been seeing all the Republican ads about him. Let me tell you what I know about him.

    During the Vietnam War, many young men, including the current president, the vice president and me, could have gone to Vietnam and didn't. John Kerry came from a privileged background. He could have avoided going, too. But instead he said, "Send me." (Cheers, applause.)

    When -- when they sent those swift boats up the river in Vietnam, and they told them their job was to draw hostile fire, to wave the American flag and bait the enemy to come out and fight, John Kerry said, "Send me."

    Five times Clinton preached it, "Send me." Soon, the audience was responding in kind, giving the DNC the feel of an old time revival.

    Which is no doubt why Governor Rick Perry, once again hoping to out-God his rivals among the Iowa GOP's evangelical voters, made the no-brainer decision to appropriate Bill Clinton's rhetorical device for his own purposes. As Breitbart summed up his performance this weekend:

    "We've all been called to perform, we've all been called to duty, you've been called to make your community, your state, your country better," he reminded the activists.

    Perry reminded them of secular leftists, who would demand that they keep their faith out of the public arena.

    "I don't believe that, I don't believe that at all," he said. "I think that you were called to be involved in the public arena," he said. "We are all called ... to stand in the gap and cry 'Here am I, Send me!'"

    Their values were fundamental to the fabric of America, Perry explained, and it was clear that they were under attack.

    "I tell you, somebody's values are going to get legislated - the question is whose values are going to get legislated," he said.

    As it turns out, it didn't take Perry 10 years to pilfer Bill Clinton's formula. At least as far back as 2011, he was repackaging the same pitch for the religious right voters who dominate the Republican primary process:
    I just want to challenge you tonight that the values that are going to be decided in Washington DC and in our state capitals, somebody's values are going to be what are used to put legislation in place. I think the question is: whose values? And are people of faith going to stand in the gap for the unborn and for the traditional values that America was founded upon? Or are we going to continue to cede more ground to the secular left because of their threatening to sue us or the ACLU or the various, sundry groups. I think we don't have a choice. If we're going to get our country back, we have to stand in the gap; we have to be the ones that will stand up. As it says in Isaiah, in chapter 6:8, "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I; send me!'"

    Picasso is said to have remarked, "Good artists copy; great artists steal." Unfortunately for Rick Perry, the same does not go for politicians, especially when the thief is a cro-magnon conservative stealing from the likes of Bill Clinton. Or to put in language even Rick Perry could understand: "Oops."

    Perrspective 8:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

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    Jim Jeffords Provided a Window into Bush's Soul
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