Limbaugh: “Waterboarding Just Like Kiteboarding with Richard Branson!”

In his ongoing effort to defend the Bush administration’s “enhanced interrogation” methods, Rush Limbaugh on his radio show today, compared techniques involving nudity and stress positions, as well as being repeatedly doused with water while clinging to safety from a forced supine position, to recent photos of Sir Richard Branson kiteboarding near his private island.

“How are the so-called torture pictures at Abu Ghraib all that different from what this supermodel is happily doing during her little island vacation with Richard Branson?” Limbaugh railed.

“These liberals,” he said, “are soooo outraged about what they call ‘torture’ that they forget the fact that a slap or two on a choice part of the body is just what many people desperately crave.” At which point, he demonstrated by slapping himself several times (in an unidentified, but loudly resonating and likely jiggling, location) and crying out “There, I’m torturing myself!”* – presumably while ogling the Branson pictures and reminiscing about his Viagra-fueled Dominican adventure spent with the fellow torture buffs who happen to produce Fox Television’s 24*.



Jonathan Turley is a Stand-Up Guy, but He May Want to Sit Down Regarding Obama’s Response to Torture.

For many months, George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley has been a leading voice for the rule of law and the importance of prosecuting war crimes related to torture. He’s very compelling, clearly a man of principle, and probably someone I would be proud to see some day sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court.

But when talking about President Obama’s response to Bush era torture, Turley seems quite prone to slipping into spin, rather than fact. Here’s Turley talking to David Schuster about Obama’s decision to release the memos used to justify torture and simultaneously announce that CIA agents who followed the memos in good faith would not be prosecuted. Turley’s conclusion, that Obama is “blocking” an investigation, seems to be a pretty clear example of stretching to find the worst possible interpretation of a mixed set of facts.

While Turley has the luxury of focusing on only one, admittedly noble, goal – holding the perpetrators accountable for war crimes – President Obama has a couple of other goals as well. He needs to avoid the appearance of an overtly partisan investigation that might further incite the racist, gun toting, loonies associated with the recent teabagging phenomena from moving even closer to irrational violence. Second, he needs to maximize his ability to “shake the trees” and get good witnesses who can provide iron-clad evidence that results in irrefutable convictions that have widespread public acceptance (in order to achieve the desired “cleansing effect” on the soul of the nation).

So look at what Obama has actually done:

1) He released a set of memos that he knew would stir public outrage and increase the demand for accountability.

2) He announced that any agents who conducted torture while following orders in good faith would be immune from prosecution.

That’s it! Since we are already starting to see reports of evidence showing that some torture activities exceeded what was authorized by the newly released memos, even Turley would have to admit the likelihood that Obama knew he wasn’t offering immunity to everyone involved in torture.

Now, rather than calling for an investigation of whether or not what occurred was torture, the investigation can be centered on whether activities were conducted “in good faith” according to the rules promulgated in the memos. Even conservatives who insist that the methods currently identified as torture were necessary and justified, would have to condemn those who acted outside of the rules authorized by Bush’s legal “yes men.”

In addition, with those following the “rules” already being given immunity, for those who acted outside of those rules, the natural defense will be to try to argue that whatever they are charged with doing was sanctioned by superiors and thus was “in good faith!” In other words, Obama’s statement of immunity increases the incentive for anyone charged with acting outside of the rules authorized by the torture memos to give up the leaders who authorized them to stretch the rules or act outside of them!

My guess is that Obama knows there are such leaders, and may well be setting up the chess board so that they can eventually be prosecuted in a non-partisan fashion with the widespread public acceptance necessary to avoid derailing the rest of his policy goals.

Sacramento Tea-Bagging! [Updated]

I took a few minutes at lunch today to walk through the crowd at today’s Sacramento “Tea-bag” Tax protest. All I can say is WOW what a bunch of Crazy F-ing Nuts! So glad my tax dollars help pay for all of the CHP security to protect us from these angry mobs!! Here are a few pics:

Where were all these folks during the Bush administration’s piling up of debt? Anyone want to take a guess as to how many of these folks will actually get a tax cut from Obama’s plan?

[Update by seenos] Just had to add a few of my favorite tea-bagging pics from the day, with editorial comments:

Um, isn’t that what we just did?

If we cut taxes to zero, perhaps these ladies will volunteer to defend the country for free! And what does the “No Turn On Red” sign have to do with taxes?

At least one teabagger seems to be having some reservations about joining the party!

Methinks thou protest too much!

Unlike the last president, who wanted to send your entire generation to war! In case you can’t read it, the sign in the background says “Capitalism is NOT the Problem. Retarded Elitist Ivy League Lying Politicians Are!” Could you be a little more specific? Who isn’t a retarded elitist ivy league lying politician these days?

One of the signs distributed by former GOP congressman, Mark Foley.

The media even found time to conduct interviews at a San Francisco tea party that had nothing to do with taxes!

And the moral of the story is that I can finally retire this image as the quintessential conservative protest photo, because the free market just produced a whole lot of new competition:

Lawrence O’Donnell Speaks for Me!

Here Lawrence destroys Pat Buchanon in their argument over President Obama and his upcoming speech at Notre Dame. Enjoy!

Left-Over: The Next Phase.

It’s hard to believe that this blog has been around for nearly 3 ½ years!

It started on October 24, 2005, with Left-Over’s expression of excitement at the possibility that members of the Bush administration might be held accountable (for anything!) as Patrick Fitzgerald prepared to announce indictments in the Valerie Plame CIA leak investigation.

I quickly joined the party by comparing the Republicans of that era, quite unfavorably, to even those of the Nixon-Watergate era, with this eerily accurate prediction:

Unlike Watergate, when the sheer stupidity of the break-in and subsequent cover up led both parties to insist on investigations that drove out a corrupt administration, these Republicans are going to stick with Bush to the end, fueling a fire that will burn the party to the ground, and then keep scorching the earth beneath them for so long that nothing will ever come back!

And with that start, we were off and running, through what now tallies 888 889 posts, during a time when some amazing things have happened:

• The Chief of Staff for the Vice President of the United States was convicted of multiple felonies.

• A major U.S. city was nearly lost to Hurricane Katrina.

• Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan surpassed the length of the Vietnam war, and continue with no apparent end in sight.

• The 2006 elections marked a decisive turn against Republican leadership.

• During the primary season leading up to the 2008 elections, an establishment candidate with an aura of inevitability was defeated by a newcomer backed largely by ordinary people.

• The 2008 elections continued the wave of anti-GOP sentiment and gave us the country’s first African-American President.

• The many failures of the Bush presidency – which served as an incubator for greed and corruption – culminated in the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression.

While all of this happened, we were actively engaged in the task of absorbing each day’s developments and reflecting them back to readers in a way that was, perhaps, entertaining, sometimes informative, and at the very least, always therapeutic for us as writers.

Along the way, there were some memorable posts such as the ones listed below that I think best reflect what we’ve tried to do in this forum:

Vaccinate Against What?

The Last Commercial Break of the Bush Presidency.

Increasing Irrelevancy? Now That’s Something Bush Can Actually Achieve!

But all good things must come to an end! Writing a political blog is both a blessing and a curse, because accumulated momentum adds the weight of responsibility to keep that momentum from stalling. Writing sometimes shifts from being a joyous expression of ideas, to being a chore that must be done even in the absence of inspiration, made harder still by a dwindling amount of feedback from readers who are pulled in many directions from the sheer volume of information available on the Internet.

So it’s time to pull the plug and let it die.

Actually, let me rephrase that, since the nature of blogs is that they don’t really have to die completely. The words remain, always available to be discovered by an accidental tourist, even though new posts aren’t being generated.

That will be the new state of Left-Over, at least for a while. Who knows? It might even become a zombie blog that will occasionally lurch forward, if one of us has an irresistible urge to add a new chapter. Or maybe not!

Perhaps another way to look at the demise/hiatus of Left-Over is to take a lesson from artist Vincent Van Gogh, poet Emily Dickinson, and singer Billie Holiday – all of whom found widespread acceptance and critical acclaim after their deaths, despite toiling for years in relative obscurity.

I think it can clearly be stated that we’ve conquered the “toiling in relative obscurity” phase! There is nothing more to achieve in the art of “toiling in relative obscurity,” so now it’s time to move on to the next phase in the strategic marketing of this blog: We will now begin the stage centered on achieving posthumous notoriety!



PS: Damn! I just finished writing this, and was dawdling before preparing to hit the “upload” button, when I stumbled across an article that hints at one of the few things that would compel me to come out of retirement and resurrect this blog (or begin a new one), as I read that Arnold Schwarzenegger is signaling the possibility of running for the U.S. Senate against Barbara Boxer.

How could I miss being on the scene to make fun of that on a daily basis?

AIG Just Forced President Obama to Become a Populist!

Despite his amazing success at raising campaign funds through small donations from individual citizens, Barack Obama never campaigned as a populist. He promised “change,” but his rhetoric always suggested a pragmatic approach to achieving goals that left plenty of room for working within existing corporate and political structures, rather than adopting the “throw the bums out” attitude of true populists like John Edwards and Ron Paul.

Obama also took plenty of money from Wall Street in order to get his campaign up and running; and his cabinet choices (Geithner, Gates, Clinton, etc.) certainly seemed to indicate a desire to reassure the traditional forces of power that change wouldn’t happen too fast!

Of course, it could be argued that he really had no choice if he wanted to overcome the formidable obstacles that would stand in the way of his ascension to the presidency. Had he not taken a somewhat moderate, non-frightening, approach to achieving change, he may never have had the opportunity to begin his primary run on an arc that looked viable enough to overcome the “inevitability” of Hillary Clinton. And he may never have had the chance to attract the large and committed donor base that helped push him over the top!

Although Obama seems to have a sincere desire to promote broad-based opportunity for ordinary people, and to hold even corporations accountable for helping to solve the countries’ real problems, it could be argued that he did what he had to do to get in the position of moving the country in the right direction, while accepting that he had to do it in a way that was tolerable to the already rich and powerful.

In other words, he had to give them some slack.

And it seems that AIG has just taken that slack and tied its own noose. Perhaps a noose large enough to squeeze in the heads of all the Wall Street fat cats who have bled the economy dry to feed their own desire for personal wealth and aggrandizement!

Obama is now in the position where if he does not take a harsh populist stand against corporate interests trying to fleece the American taxpayer, he may not have a chance at a second term! He may lose the dedicated support of the millions of ordinary people whom he has relied upon to give momentum to his policy goals.

While it wasn’t Obama’s preferred path at the beginning, at this point, being a populist may be the pragmatic choice; particularly since, as an incumbent in 2012, he no longer needs Wall Street money to propel him into viability. He needs people – ordinary people – to continue to support him.

As one of those early supporters who is still yearning for a counterbalance to the greed and corporate excesses of the Bush years, I can only hope that this was Obama’s plan all along – that he knew, even as he promised change, that some things never change!

Perhaps AIG just proved him right!

Let Me Spare the Washington Post From Its Own “Mea Crama!”

I’ve read lots of commentary on John Stewart’s public spanking of CNBC’s Jim Cramer, but nothing more fitting than Glenn Greenwald’s point that Cramer isn’t all that different from the rest of the traditional media in his willingness to pass on lies and then claim innocence when they turned out to be wrong.

Jim Cramer isn’t an aberration. What he did and the excuses he offered are ones that are embraced as gospel to this day by most of our establishment press corps, and to know that this is true, just look at what they do and say about their roles. But at least Cramer wants to appear to be contrite for the complicit role he played in disseminating incredibly destructive and false claims from the politically powerful. That stands in stark contrast to David Gregory, Charlie Gibson, Brian Williams, David Ignatius and most of their friends, who continue to be defiantly and pompously proud of the exact same role they play.

Then sure enough, as if on cue, I find this Washington Post “report” suggesting that Barack Obama risks being seen as “too partisan” if he mentions the fact that he inherited a failing economy from George Bush.

Give me a break! Didn’t we just have an election in which John McCain’s last hope of prevailing went up in flames at the precise moment he suggested that “the fundamentals of our economy (were) strong, while everyone knew that they weren’t? I believe George Bush was still President at that time, so don’t give me Ari Fleischer suggesting that Obama’s credibility is at risk if he points out the obvious:

“There’s a fascinating behind-the-scenes trend taking place for someone who remains a very popular president,” said Ari Fleischer, a former Bush press secretary, describing the decline in Obama’s approval ratings and an increase in disapproval numbers. “His response to that trend is to turn up the blame on George Bush and everything that came before him. And he was the one who talked about getting past partisanship.”

Jim Cramer just went on The Daily Show and had to apologize profusely because he had been (gasp!) “lied to by CEOs” hoping to boost the value of their stocks despite horribly overvalued assets. Unable to muster even a token rationale for his willingness to pass on such misleading information, Cramer had no choice but to bend over and take his punishment, while meekly wishing he had tried harder to expose the lies, and promising to do better.

So let me spare the Washington Post the same indignity that Cramer was forced to endure at the hands of John Stewart:

When Ari Fleischer is talking to you about Obama’s extreme partisanship, he’s lying!

When anyone tells you that the American people want the new President to shield George Bush from the undeniable fact that his policies sent the economy into a downward spiral, he’s lying!

They are lying just like the CEOs who so “painfully” lied to Jim Cramer, who then did nothing to correct those lies but actually gave them weight by letting them be aired on his show.

When the Washington Post presents lies as fact, they spread the same kind of bullshit that Cramer just had to eat in front of millions!

If the good folks at the Washington Post really want to be considered respected purveyors of news, instead of easily manipulated, misleading clowns like Cramer, I’d suggest they take the opportunity now to “try harder and do better,” rather than waiting for someone like John Stewart to tar and feather them in front of the whole world!