October 11, 2015

Jack Kelly Sunday

Wherein we learn in today's Post-Gazette of Jack Kelly's absolutely nightmarish vision of the future (nightmarish for us, of course).  Here's Jack:
An outsider president could compensate for his or her lack of experience in government by assembling a Cabinet for the ages. My dream Cabinet would consist of...
He then goes on to extol the virtues of a number of Bush-era war criminals (alleged) and other incompetents.  Remember this is his list of people with experience who if a non-experienced president were to:
...take advantage of the enormous pool of talent available, he or she would have a successful administration despite his or her lack of experience in government.
The list starts:
Condoleeza Rice or John Bolton as secretary of state. Ms. Rice was a disappointment the first time around, chiefly because she’s a lousy administrator. But she’s a brilliant woman, a Russian expert and an attractive spokeswoman for America.

Mr. Bolton is brilliant, too, and tough as nails. He has the administrative skills Ms. Rice lacks. My preference would be to have Ms. Rice out front and Mr. Bolton as deputy secretary actually running the place.
Wait, isn't this list about people with good job experience?  Then why does he start the list with someone he admits to being "lousy" at at least part of her job?  En passant, you'll note the quiet sexism of Jack's next sentence.  Condy's wicked smart and as an added bonus, she's easy on the eyes!  A double plus good!

But let's look at how well Rice and Bolton did in their jobs.

Condoleeza Rice.  From the BBC:
As national security adviser, Ms Rice consented to the harsh interrogation
 of al-Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah, the Senate Intelligence Committee
Waterboarding is a war crime.  Enough said.  She should have been prosecuted for it long ago.  Shame on the current administration for letting the previous administration get away with war crimes.  Shame. On. Them.

John Bolton.  Again with the BBC:
John Bolton, United States Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, today said the US is "confident" Iraq has hidden weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons, and production facilities.
And yet those pesky WMD just didn't exist.  Heckuva job, Johnny!

Jack goes on with his list:
Duncan Hunter Sr. as secretary of defense. The former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and former Army Ranger is just the guy to restore order, direction and morale to a bloated Pentagon that has gone badly awry.
So who's Duncan Hunter?  He's the guy who said this:
The inmates of Guantanamo have never been treated better and they've never been more comfortable in their lives. And the idea that somehow we are torturing people in Guantanamo is absolutely not true, unless you consider having to eat chicken three times a week is torture.
When it was absolutely not true. From CNN:
The U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay drew fresh criticism Sunday following a Time magazine report on a logbook tracing the treatment of a detainee who officials believe was intended to take part in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
And a little while later:
During the period covered by the logbook, Time reported, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved 16 additional interrogation techniques for use on certain detainees.

Afterward, interrogators began their sessions with al-Qahtani at midnight and awakened him with dripping water or Christina Aguilera music if he dozed off, the magazine article reported.

The magazine said the techniques approved by Rumsfeld included "standing for prolonged periods, isolation for as long as 30 days, removal of clothing, forced shaving of facial hair" and hanging "pictures of scantily clad women around his neck."
And Time had this:
The first break in al-Qahtani ‘s facade comes with a long-delayed call of nature. When a hunger strike he has launched fizzles, he starts refusing water. That becomes a battle of wills — and teeth. Al-Qahtani quickly becomes so dehydrated that medical corpsmen forcibly administer fluids by IV drip. He tries to fight them off with his hands and is restrained. Another time, al-Qahtani tries to rip the IV needle out; when he is cuffed to his chair, he turns his head and bites the IV line completely in two. He is then strapped down and given an undisclosed amount of fluids. An hour or so later, around 9:40 a.m., al-Qahtani tells his guards that he would be willing to talk if he is allowed to urinate. The log notes he is given 3 1/2 bags of IV fluid. He starts to moan and asks again to be allowed to relieve himself. Yes, but first he must answer questions:

Interrogator: Who do you work for?

Al-Qahtani: Al-Qaeda

Interrogator: Who was your leader?

Al-Qahtani: Osama bin Laden

Interrogator: Why did you go to Orlando?

Al-Qahtani: I wasn’t told the mission

Interrogator: Who was with you on the plane?

Al-Qahtani: I was by myself

That answer frustrates the interrogator — You’re wasting my time, he says — and when al-Qahtani requests his promised bathroom break, he is told to go in his pants. Humiliatingly, he does. The log notes 30 minutes later, “He is beginning to understand the futility of his situation … He is much closer to compliance and cooperation than at the beginning of the operation.”
But they were treated well and not tortured (or humiliated), they were fed chicken! - thus spake Jack's dream choice for Defense Secretary.

Then there's Jack's choice for Homeland Security, Texas Governor Rick Perry.  Who's under indictment in Texas:
A grand jury indicted Gov. Rick Perry on two felony counts on Friday, charging that he abused his power last year when he tried to pressure the district attorney here, a Democrat, to step down by threatening to cut off state financing to her office.

The indictment left Mr. Perry, a Republican, the first Texas governor in nearly 100 years to face criminal charges and presented a major roadblock to his presidential ambitions at the very time that he had been showing signs of making a comeback.

Grand jurors in Travis County charged Mr. Perry with abusing his official capacity and coercing a public servant, according to Michael McCrum, the special prosecutor assigned to the case.
You'll remember, of course, that in July one of those charges was dismissed.  The "abuse of power" charge still stands.  Does Jack even know this?

I could go on but I want to end with a special reference to another of Jack's dream secretaries:
Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, a former Indiana governor and Reagan budget director. We’ve got to clamp a lid on wasteful federal spending. No one could do this better than Mr. Daniels.
Do I need to point out (ARE YOU WATCHING P-G FACT-CHEKERS???) that Mitch Daniels was NOT a "Budget Director" under Ronald Reagan (the head of the Office of Management and Budget is usually the one described as the president's "budget director").  The three OMB directors under Reagan were David Stockman, James Miller and Joseph Wright Jr.  Daniels was, in fact, OBM director under George W Bush (from 2001 to 2003) and during that time...well let me let the Indystar describe the budget back then:
When George W. Bush became president in 2001, Daniels returned to Washington to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget. Bush gave Daniels the nickname "The Blade," but the administration's tax cuts combined with an economic downturn put Daniels in the awkward position of watching a $236 billion annual surplus turn into a $400 billion deficit during his 29-month tenure. [Emphasis added.]
That's the guy Jack Kelly wants the next inexperienced Republican president to watch over the budget.  And another thing, does Jack know that CNN reported last year that:
As a share of the economy, spending on domestic and defense programs has been on the decline since 2010, and is on track to reach the lowest level in more than 50 years by 2023.

At its height in 2010, "discretionary spending" under Obama reached 9.1% of GDP. That was largely due to the stimulus law intended to dig the country out of a deep recession. But even at that high level, it wasn't that much higher than the 40-year average of 8.4% and was still below the 40-year peak of 10% reached in 1983.

Today, levels are well below the long-term average. And the Congressional Budget Office projects that by 2023 discretionary spending will fall to 5.3% of GDP, the lowest since 1962.
Please, please, Post-Gazette.  Someone needs to rein in Jack Kelly.  With every column like this that's published your reputation as a worthwhile source of news and information is degraded just a little more.

Oh, and you let Jack make another factual error with that "Reagan budget director" thing.  Do I need to start a petition demanding that you guys fact-check Jack Kelly?

I can you know.  You know I can.

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