Swift Boat This

The Right is already engaged in the swift boating of Coretta Scott King’s funeral. Or, as John Aravosis puts it, “Get ready for the white men of the Republican Party to lecture black leaders about not knowing their place.”

Apparently it was a white woman, Kate O’Beirne, who led the charge. Digby says “Kate O’Beirne isn’t fit to wipe Coretta Scott King’s shoes.” Digby is being genteel.

But y’know what, children? I don’t think they’ll get away with it. Oh, the hard right Bush base will be outraged. But there is no way they can do to Coretta Scott King’s funeral what they did to Paul Wellstone’s funeral without coming across as a bunch of racist windbags. Oh, they’ll bloviate and bellyache, but it’s not 2002 any more.

Bush Budget Follies

Once again it’s time for the Bush Fantasy Budget. Here’s a roundup of commentary, starting with Eric Alterman:

You can skip “The Note” today, and almost every article written about the Bush “budget.” Typical of Bush, it’s a lie from start to finish. The Times notes “omissions include any costs for the war in Iraq after 2007, any additional reconstruction costs for New Orleans after 2006 and any plan for preventing a huge expansion in the alternative minimum tax after the end of this year,” and that’s just for starters, here. Bush has done to the country’s fiscal sanity what he’s done to Iraq’s physical infrastructure. We are talking shortfalls of trillions of dollars, all to no useful purpose. Congrats to all his enablers on all fronts, including the Washington Post’s Kool-Aid drinking Amy Goldstein who writes, with a straight-face that this phony-baloney budget is aimed “taming the deficit to satisfy conservatives, who complain that Bush has presided over a rapid expansion of federal spending.” Here. This is the kind of MSM reporting that backed up Bush on claims like “You can’t talk about Saddam Hussein without talking about Al-Qaida.”

New York Times

President Bush’s $2.77 trillion budget is fiction masquerading as fact, a governmental version of the made-up memoirs that have been denounced up and down the continent lately. The spending proposal is built around the pretense that the same House and Senate that are set to consider a record deficit of $423 billion will now impose a virtual freeze on everything other than Pentagon and homeland security outlays. The budget writers even fantasized an end to Social Security’s lump-sum death benefit — a whopping $255 per recipient — as if Congress would dare to do something so heartless and easy to exploit in an election year.

The point of all these imaginary financial projections is to give the president leeway to cement in place hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts the nation can ill afford and does not need. The cuts were made temporary in the first place because there was no way to even pretend that budgets could be balanced in the future with such an enormous loss of revenue.

Scot Lehigh, Boston Globe

IF GEORGE W. BUSH had been candid when he stood in the House chamber last week to report to the nation, here’s one thing he would have said: ”My fellow Americans, we are steadily squandering our children’s future.” …

…Although they favor very different remedies, a remarkable consensus exists among fiscal experts, regardless of where they fall on the ideological spectrum, about the magnitude of our budgetary problems.

”I just came from a panel with [former OMB director] Alice Rivlin of Brookings and Bob Bixby from the Concord Coalition, and we couldn’t stop agreeing on the long-term budget danger,” Brian Riedl, chief budget analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said on Friday. ”We may disagree on the solution, but among economists and think tanks, there is not much disagreement that the budget deficits within the next five, 10, or 20 years will reach levels that are practically unheard of.”

E.J. Dionne, Washington Post:

The roots of our fiscal madness, on display once again yesterday with the unveiling of President Bush’s new budget and its deficit in excess of $350 billion, were planted on Oct. 27, 1990. …

… Ever since Bush 41’s defeat in 1992, Republicans — especially Bush 43 — have committed themselves to the proposition that they will never, ever cross the tax-cutting Republican right. Taxes will be cut in good times and in bad. They will not be raised, no matter how much the government decides to spend. If preserving Republican unity requires throwing the entire cost of the war in Iraq onto the next generation, go for it. Does the Pentagon need big spending increases? Fine, but don’t even think about paying for them with new taxes.

Tax cutting is now the idol of the Republican shrine.

Jonathan Weisman, Washington Post

The president’s budget acknowledges the cost of Bush’s call to make his tax cuts permanent — $1.35 trillion over the next decade and nearly $120 billion in 2011 alone. But beyond 2007, the budget assumes no military expenditures in Iraq or Afghanistan and no effort to address the unintended effects of the alternative minimum tax, a parallel income tax system that was designed to hit the rich but has instead increasingly pinched the middle class. It also assumes Congress will cut domestic spending every year after 2007.

Those factors led Goldman Sachs economists to tell clients yesterday that the deficit forecasts are “unrealistic.” …

… “This budget is not going to happen,” said Stanley E. Collender, a federal budget analyst at Financial Dynamics Business Communications. “Of all the budgets I’ve seen recently, this is the one going nowhere the fastest.”

Hale Stewart, BOP News:

The logic here is baffling at best. Bush has continually stated he wants to half the deficit (which he created — he inherited a surplus and three consecutive balanced budgets). Yet, he continually proposes spending cuts that are disproportionate to his revenue decreases. According to the CBO, overall revenues have increased 8.16% since 2001 while overall spending has increased 32.68%. … They continually use special appropriations for Afghanistan and Iraq. As a result, the budget does not contain the cost of both campaigns. This allows the administration to play hide the ball regarding the overall cost.

Max Sawicky, TPM Cafe:

There will be many more shoes to drop regarding the Bush Administration’s budget for Fiscal Year 2007, to be released today. I want to hit a quick one. By now it is pretty widely understood that the destabilizing element in the budget in the long run is health care, which means Medicare and Medicaid. All cuts proposed today and performed thus far have completely neglected this elementary fact. Worse, the Administration substantially worsened Medicare funding by adding a drug benefit with no accompanying revenue.

Otherwise, it’s a great budget. (sarcasm off)

Yeah, I Gotta Problem With That

I can’t help myself; sometimes I just have to take a peek at what the righties are up to. Part of my fascination with social pathology, I suppose. Anyway, after checking some rightie blogs for commentary on the Senate Judiciary Committee NSA hearings, I can report that the most compelling arguments put forth on the Right in defense of the programs are:

1. Democrats are helping the terrorists.
2. The President is right.
3. You gotta problem with that?

Truly, this controversy is less about security than it is about faith. I offer this example from Right Wing Nut House [emphasis added]:

AG Gonzalez acquitted himself well but was at a huge disadvantage. Because of the secrecy of the program, he was unable to reveal details that could have buttressed his case that the Administration’s warrantless interception of American citizen’s communications was inherently legal based on both exceptions to the FISA statute and the authority granted by the President by Congress when that body authorized the use of military force after 9/11.

Such a beautifully pure faith makes one want to weep. If only it weren’t so misplaced.

Not everyone on the Right is a true believer. Via Daou Report, there’s at least one rightie Doubting Thomas, The Lonewacko. See also “Conservative Scholars Argue Bush’s Wiretapping Is An Impeachable Offense” at Think Progress.

Chalres Babington of the Washington Post reports that “activists” of the right and the GOP are splintering on the NSA issue.

GOP lawmakers and political activists were nearly unanimous in backing Bush on his Supreme Court nominations

Um, are we forgetting the Harriet Miers flap?

and Iraq war policy, but they are divided on how to resolve the tension between two principles they hold dear: avoiding government intrusion into private lives, and combating terrorism. The rift became evident at yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing into the surveillance program, and it may reemerge at Thursday’s intelligence committee hearing.

Babington mentions Arlen Specter , Lindsey Graham, and the Cato Institute as among those breaking ranks with the Bush Administration. On the other hand …

Democrats making similar arguments [against the NSA program] have fallen under scathing attacks from some GOP lawmakers. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, put himself at odds with Specter last week after his panel questioned the director of national intelligence and the CIA director about the NSA program.

“I am concerned that some of my Democrat colleagues used this unique public forum to make clear that they believe the gravest threat we face is not Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, but rather the president of the United States,” Roberts said.

The argument could be made. Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda can knock down buildings and kill people, but they can’t destroy the United States itself. The Bush Administration, on the other hand, is destroying our democratic institutions from the inside.

And the White House must be worried. Moonie Times auxiliary publication Insight says that Karl himself is making offers GOP politicians can’t refuse:

The White House has been twisting arms to ensure that no Republican member votes against President Bush in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation of the administration’s unauthorized wiretapping.

Congressional sources said Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove has threatened to blacklist any Republican who votes against the president. The sources said the blacklist would mean a halt in any White House political or financial support of senators running for re-election in November.

Makes you wonder what they’re afraid of, huh?

Mr. Rove is leading the White House campaign to help the GOP in November’s congressional elections. The sources said the White House has offered to help loyalists with money and free publicity, such as appearances and photo-ops with the president.

Those deemed disloyal to Mr. Rove would appear on his blacklist. The sources said dozens of GOP members in the House and Senate are on that list.

So far, only a handful of GOP senators have questioned Mr. Rove’s tactics.

How much political capital does Bush really have, though? Some congresspersons facing re-election this year might think it smarter to establish some distance between themselves and the White House.

See also — Today at 2:10 EST Glenn Greenwald of Unclaimed Territory will be debating John Hinderaker of Power Tool on NPR’s “To the Point.”Should be good. Also recommended, Audio clip: Comments by Michael Isikoff at Newsweek.

See “What We Heard from the Attorney General” by Senator Russ Feingold at TPM Cafe.