Surber on bin Laden’s death

I don’t often find much to agree with on Don Surber’s extreme right-wing blog, but he called this one right:

Give credit where it is due.

President Obama gave the order to just shoot the SOB in the head — and apparently the man and woman who Laden tried to use as human shields.

Good.

I am reading on some other blogs the political nonsense.

My message is to conservatives is Stop it.

There is good and evil in this world. I weigh it every night at 5 PM on my Daily Scoreboard.

But I weigh the events, not the men — or women. I am not God. There are very few evil people in history. Barack Obama is so far from that list that it is laughable to even think of him as “evil.”

Come on, do I have to post the photo of him on the tricycle again?

Osama bin Laden was evil.

Was.

Getting rid of him — dumping his body in the ocean — was a very good thing.

Let’s celebrate.

Let’s not waste this glorious, wondrous day that God has given us — deliverance from an evil and cowardly man — on petty partisanship.

The downfall of a blogger

Don Surber’s firing (or forced resignation, or whatever it was) is a shame. Not that it wasn’t deserved. The Daily Mail was doing the right thing by distancing itself from Surber’s caustic commentary that culminated in him referring to Michael Brown as an “animal” who “deserved to be put down” on his personal blog.

I say it’s a shame because Surber used to be a decent human being. I knew him years ago when I worked for The Charleston Gazette. We were competing editorial writers, and I rarely agreed with what he wrote, but he had a sense of humor and we got along pretty well, in a distant sort of way.

Then he started blogging. It pretty much went downhill from there. He earned the attention of some popular national right-wing bloggers, and, I think, began writing more for them than for his West Virginia audience. His point of view became more and more radical, and he was rewarded with the currency of the blogging realm: hits and visitors. I commented occasionally on his blog, at least until he banned me.

At some point, The Daily Mail shut down his official blog. The line he gave was that he was too busy for it. But I noticed that he had time to put as many items up on Facebook as he had been on the blog. I wondered (and still do) if his editors had become wary of his radicalization. The Daily Mail was always a conservative counterweight to the Gazette’s liberal editorial page, but it was far more moderate than Surber had become.

I hope this is a wake-up call for Surber. I don’t know if he actually believed half the crap he wrote on his blog, at least in the beginning, but I know he used to be a better person. Maybe losing his job will make realize he had already lost his journalistic soul.

This is just sad

I think I’m going to leave Don Surber alone from now on. The poor guy has gone over the edge. This morning, he’s ranting about how $4 a gallon gas is a conspiracy theory designed to herd Americans into cities where they’ll be easier to control. He appears to be serious. (Though, who knows, he said he was serious when he said the IRS, in an attempt to enforce tax laws was sending “Mafia-like letters.” That must have been a joke. Right?)

I’d look through his blog archives, but something tells me Don didn’t push such screw-ball theories the last time gas was this high and a Republican was in the White House.

Surber used to be a fairly decent editorial writer. I disagreed with much of what he wrote, of course. But he wrote with passion and wit, and he wasn’t silly.

Now he spends most of his day writing ludicrous blog posts based on right-wing talking points and misinformation. He has no interest in reasoned discussion or debate. He’s a right-wing caricature. But, after reading that last post, I almost feel sorry for him. If he’s serious, he needs advice from a mental health professional. If he’s just playing a part, then he’s nothing but a shill who isn’t worth anyone’s time or attention.

For some reason, this line from the original Toy Story keeps going through my head: “You are a sad, strange little man, and you have my pity.”

The fizzling Tea Party

Who recently made the ridiculous comment, “The Tea Party is now most Americans”? Oh, yeah. Him.

I wonder if pictures like the one below, from a recent Tea Party rally in South Carolina featuring rising star Gov. Nikki Haley make him feel as silly as he should:

I’m guessing not.

They were expecting a crowd of 3,000. About 30 showed up. Most Americans? Hardly.

Increase the damn limit

Republicans continue to play with fire on the U.S. debt limit, and the results could be catastrophic. Today, the United States hit its debt limit. To keep government running and our obligations met, the U.S. Treasury Department is now juggling books and taking “extraordinary measures” to avoid the global economic meltdown that would occur if the United States doesn’t keep up with its debt payments.

While a few voices who are either very partisan, very stupid or both want Congress to reject an increase on the debt limit, most people who understand the situation know that failure to do so would result in complete disaster:

To understand the danger posed by the debt ceiling, it helps to understand the financial crisis. A lot of banks and investors held assets based on mortgages they thought were safe. They weren’t. That meant that no one knew how much money they really had, or how much money anyone else really had. So the market did what woodland creatures do when they get confused and scared: It froze. And so, too, did the economy. As the unemployment rate shows, we’re still not completely thawed out.

If Congress fails to lift the debt ceiling beyond its current limit of $14.29 trillion — or even waits too long — the chain of events will be similar, but the asset under question will be America itself, not some newfangled Frankenstein bond made out of mortgages from the Reno suburbs. Which would mean the aftermath would be much, much worse.

“The cornerstone of the global financial system is that the United States will make good on its debt payments,” says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “If we don’t, we’ve just knocked out the cornerstone, and the system will collapse into turmoil.”

Republicans know this.They just don’t care. If they can make progress on their ideological agenda by risking economic collapse – well, their base would crucify them if they didn’t push it to the limit.

Which says much about the Republican base.

It is time for Republicans to govern. They must act like grown-ups. They must put the good of the country – and, indeed, the global economy – ahead of ideology.

Increase. The. Damn. Limit.

Then debate spending cuts and Medicare vouchers and everything else between now and 2012. Let the public make a rational, informed judgement about the direction this nation should go in. If Republicans win big in 2012, then they can put their agenda in place.

Ransoming the future of the global economy in exchange for forcing through that agenda is undemocratic and irresponsible.

I think the Mafia might be just a little tougher

Extreme right-wing blogger Don Surber has another winner of a post up today: He’s up in arms because the IRS is enforcing the law. Specifically, they are sending letters to people who make cash gifts to 501 (c)4 organizations – you know, the shadowy groups that spent millions upon millions of dollars helping elect Republicans last year after the disastrous Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court – to let them know that such gifts are taxable.

Surber is outraged by this:

The Obama IRS is sending Mafia-style letters to donors to these groups. I’m serious. Benn Smith reported the letters begin: “The Internal Revenue Service has received information that you donated cash to [REDACTED], an IRC Section 501(c) (4) organization. Donations to 501(c) (4) organizations are taxable gifts and your contribution in 2008 should have been reported on your 2008 Federal Gift Tax Return (Form 709).”

Mafia-style letters? He’s serious? Please. First of all, I don’t think the Mafia sends letters. Second, if they did, I don’t imagine they would be quite so polite. They might even mention the possibility of broken legs.

Just to be clear, such gifts are taxable. That’s the law. It’s the IRS’s job to enforce tax law – and if America is as desperately broke as conservatives say (it’s not), then Surber ought to applaud the effort to collect every dime of taxes owed under the law.

Surber finishes with this: “Those letters will be sent to conservatives only.” He offers no proof for that assertion. I doubt he has any.

He’s serious? Surber hasn’t been serious for years, sadly.

Linked by Steve Benen. Thanks!

Justifying torture

I guess it’s no surprise that someone who would authorize torture would lie about what that torture accomplished.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney has done this before, claiming that the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed led to the foiling of a plot to fly an airliner into the Library Tower in Los Angeles. One small problem: The plot was foiled before KSM was captured or tortured.

Cheney is at it again, this time claiming that the waterboarding of KSM provided the intel that led to the identification of the courier whose movements helped us locate Osama bin Laden. Others are predictably jumping on any justification for torture. Again, though, there’s a little problem with chronology. KSM was subjected to waterboarding 183 times the first month of his capture, but none after that. The CIA quit the use of waterboarding completely in 2006.

According to reports, KSM didn’t reveal the alias of the “trusted courier” until years into his captivity – in other words, years after he was waterboarded.

Many on the right are scrambling for ways to credit George W. Bush rather than President Obama for bin Laden’s demise. This “KSM’s torture provided the key intel” is likely to be embraced, because it both gives Bush credit and justifies one of his darkest decisions. But it is no more credible than the notion that torture conducted in 2003 could disrupt a plot foiled in 2002.

Update: The Associated Press specifically confirms that KSM didn’t give up the courier’s name while being waterboarded: “Mohammed did not reveal the names while being subjected to the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, former officials said. He identified them many months later under standard interrogation, they said, leaving it once again up for debate as to whether the harsh technique was a valuable tool or an unnecessarily violent tactic.”

Once more, advocating Armageddon

Extreme right-wing blogger Don Surber doubled down on Armageddon this morning, once more urging congressional Republicans to refuse to increase the debt limit, even though rational economic experts predict such action would have enormous global ramifications that would make the 2008 financial crisis look like a walk in the park:

To understand the danger posed by the debt ceiling, it helps to understand the financial crisis. A lot of banks and investors held assets based on mortgages they thought were safe. They weren’t. That meant that no one knew how much money they really had, or how much money anyone else really had. So the market did what woodland creatures do when they get confused and scared: It froze. And so, too, did the economy. As the unemployment rate shows, we’re still not completely thawed out.

If Congress fails to lift the debt ceiling beyond its current limit of $14.29 trillion — or even waits too long — the chain of events will be similar, but the asset under question will be America itself, not some newfangled Frankenstein bond made out of mortgages from the Reno suburbs. Which would mean the aftermath would be much, much worse.

“The cornerstone of the global financial system is that the United States will make good on its debt payments,” says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “If we don’t, we’ve just knocked out the cornerstone, and the system will collapse into turmoil.”

Surber says make my day:

We are up the creek. Republicans must not raise the debt ceiling.

Force Obama to make cuts.

Immediately.

He had his chance. He does not deserve another dime. He has wasted too much money already.

To rationalize this truly ignorant and irresponsible advice, Surber tries to argue that Obama’s policies have been a failure. Oh, really? This informative graphic from Ezra Klein refutes that argument rather nicely. The fact is that the economy began to turn around almost immediately after the stimulus was passed. Multiple independent economists have confirmed that, without the stimulus, the recession would have lasted longer and unemployment would have been far worse than it was.

The recovery has not been speedy, by any means. But no one should have expected the nation to recover from the worst recession in 60 years overnight.

Without a doubt, though, Obama’s policies helped. More proof: Check out this chart from Steve Benen showing private sector job changes since the recession took hold:

Note anything about when the dramatic turnaround began? The month after the stimulus act was signed. I’m sure Surber and his fellow Republicans could come up with a reason for that: It must have been because employers realized that Republicans would use passage of the stimulus to retake control of the House in 2010 and fail to pass any economic policies.

The most ludicrous segment in Surber’s post was this, though: “President Obama is a fool. He has been given everything in life and never had to earn it and so he is ignorant about how the financial world operates — and is blissfully incurious about the subject.”

Oh, yes. The biracial son of a single mother was surely born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He never had to work for anything – which is how he became a millionaire before he ever ran for office.

There are many presidents about whom Surber’s critique could accurately be applied – George W. Bush, for instance. Obama is not one of them.

Republicans must not listen to irresponsible voices such as Surber. Too much is at stake.

Sadly, some readers may take him seriously

Even most Republican leaders know that failing to increase the debt ceiling would be a calamity. As Speaker of the House John Boehner said after the November elections, “We’re going to have to deal with it as adults. Whether we like it or not, the federal government has obligations and we have obligations on our part.”

Republican leaders appear so ready to abandon the role of grownups to play to the extreme tea party wing of their party, as exemplified, shamefully, by The Charleston Daily Mail’s far-right blogger Don Surber, who’s throwing a hissy because spending cuts reached in the recent budget deal were offset by defense increases:

This is why no congressman shouldd vote to increase the federal debt ceiling when it comes up for a vote.

None.

America gave them their chance to take their time reducing spending.

They did not use a scalpel.

OK, it is Machete Time.

Make them cut $1.6 Trillion immediately. Not in 10 years. Not in 12 years. Now.

Now.

Now.

Now.

Temper tantrum and typos aside, that’s as irresponsible a position as I’ve ever seen someone who claimed to be a responsible journalist take.

Cut $1.6 trillion from the budget right now? Even if you could do that – and you could not – it wouldn’t stop the need for continued borrowing for the United States to make debt and interest payments.

Surber is calling for the United States to default on its obligations. Doing so would have massive global ramifications. The White House is not exaggerating when it calls the economic consequences of such a grossly irresponsible action “Armaggedon-like.”

Republicans who play games with this are, by Boehner’s own admission, acting like children. I cannot express deeply enough my contempt for a journalist who would purposefully attempt to fan the flames of such absurd behavior. Both should be treated like children throwing tantrums: completely ignored until they calm down and learn to recognize the consequences of their actions.

He doesn’t even have a clue that he doesn’t have a clue

OK, I promised not to spend all my time picking on Don Surber’s ridiculously right-wing blog, but this post requires some ridicule. Surber picks up on an article from The California Institute of Technology that discusses why New York is so much colder than Portugal, even though they’re at the same latitude. The article explains that for a long time this was thought to be because the Gulf current carried heat from warmer waters toward Europe, but research found that could only be responsible for 10 percent of the difference. What Cal Tech researchers recently discovered is that the Gulf current is responsible, but not because it warms Europe. Instead, the warm water off the coast of the United States creates conditions that cool the Eastern coast:

Using computer simulations of the atmosphere, the researchers found that the warm water off an eastern coast will heat the air above it and lead to the formation of atmospheric waves, drawing cold air from the northern polar region. The cold air forms a plume just to the west of the warm water. In the case of the Atlantic Ocean, this means the frigid air ends up right over the northeastern United States and eastern Canada.

Surber completely misses this. “No one in California has heard of the Gulf Stream? No one?” he asks. Uh, yeah. They’ve heard of it, Don. But scientific research proved the current wasn’t warming Europe.

He then goes on to criticize the researchers for accepting funding from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the the National Science Foundation, claiming that somehow the researchers are “repackaging the Gulf Stream as proof of global warming to advance a socialistic agenda,” even though, at least from the Cal Tech article, the researchers don’t appear to be linking this to global warming at all.

Don completely misconstrued the point of the research, and left his readers with a totally false impression. Sadly, that is what he often does.