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Steele Stumps Stephanopoulos on 'Make Work' vs. Jobs --2/9/2009


1. Steele Stumps Stephanopoulos on 'Make Work' vs. Jobs
ABC's George Stephanopoulos was puzzled on Sunday's This Week when new Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele saw a difference between government-created temporary "make work" jobs and jobs created by the private sector: "I guess I don't really understand that distinction." When Steele charged that "what this administration is talking about is making work," Stephanopoulos interjected, "But that's a job," leading Steele to explain: "No, it's not a job. A job is something that a business owner creates. It's going to be long term. What he's [Obama's] creating" are projects that "have an end point." Answering Stephanopoulos' confusion, Steele elaborated: "Well, the difference, the distinction is this. If you got a government contract that's a fixed period of time it goes away. The work may go away. There's no guarantee that there's going to be more work when you're done that job." To which, Stephanopoulos retorted: "But we've seen millions and millions of jobs going away in the private sector just in the last year." Steele tried again: "Yes, but they come back though, George. That's the point. They've gone away before and they come back."

2. NBC Thrills Over 'Brand Obama': 'The Messiah of Madison Avenue'
On a day when Barack Obama was struggling to push through a stimulus bill in Congress, journalists on Friday's Today show decided to fawn over the branding of the new President, even referring to the Commander in Chief as the "messiah of Madison Avenue." NBC correspondent Jamie Gangel highlighted a batch of new Obama merchandise and enthused: "And the whole world is apparently going Obama." Speaking of the various products and worldwide commercials featuring the first family, Gangel raved: "Everyone wants to be like Barack. He's being called the messiah of Madison Avenue." As video of the Obama children appeared onscreen, the reporter continued, "They're the 'It girls.' Together, welcome brand Obama." After discussing the new brand of Obama-flavored ice cream ("Yes Pecan") and Michelle Obama-inspired fashion, Gangel extolled, "America has embraced the Obama family and a new sense of chic."

3. Stephanopoulos Links Obama's Islamo Dictatorship Metaphor to GOP
On Friday's Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos turned a statement that Barack Obama made about corrupt Islamic dictatorships and made it into a metaphor on congressional Republican opposition to the President's stimulus bill. Speaking of the difficulty Obama has had with passing his multi-billion dollar spending bill, Stephanopoulos instructed, "And to borrow a metaphor from the President's inaugural address, he might have to replace his open hand with a clenched fist." In comparison, during the President's inaugural address on January 20, Obama spoke to the Muslim world and asserted, "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." GMA news anchor Chris Cuomo seemed to understand Stephanopoulos' linkage. He complained: "Who knew that the clenched fist would be about Congress? We thought he was talking about foreign people, foreign countries, then."

4. Olbermann: Time for 'Dick' Cheney to 'Shove It' & 'Leave Country'
Now that America has a liberal President, it is apparently no longer acceptable for a private citizen to express disagreement with the White House in Keith Olbermann's world. On Thursday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Olbermann delivered his latest "Special Comment" rant, this time calling for former Vice President Cheney to "leave this country," and made a suggestion that Cheney, who recently criticized President Obama's plans for handling counterterrorism, should somehow be "made to desist" from such criticism: "You, Mr. Cheney, you terrified more Americans than did any terrorist in the last seven years, and now it is time for you to desist, or to be made to desist." The Countdown host, who never showed any concern that his tirades against the Bush administration would "undermine" the war on terrorism, accused Cheney of "trying to sabotage" Obama's "efforts against terrorism," and made a number of vulgar implications in attacking Cheney -- including twice pronouncing the former Vice President's first name with emphasis as if to call him by a vulgar word; saying that he would tell Cheney to "shove it"; and asking which "orifice" Cheney was pulling numbers from about the recidivism rate of former Guantanamo detainees.


Steele Stumps Stephanopoulos on 'Make
Work' vs. Jobs

ABC's George Stephanopoulos was puzzled on Sunday's This Week when new Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele saw a difference between government-created temporary "make work" jobs and jobs created by the private sector: "I guess I don't really understand that distinction." When Steele charged that "what this administration is talking about is making work," Stephanopoulos interjected, "But that's a job," leading Steele to explain: "No, it's not a job. A job is something that a business owner creates. It's going to be long term. What he's [Obama's] creating" are projects that "have an end point."

Answering Stephanopoulos' confusion, Steele elaborated: "Well, the difference, the distinction is this. If you got a government contract that's a fixed period of time it goes away. The work may go away. There's no guarantee that there's going to be more work when you're done that job." To which, Stephanopoulos retorted: "But we've seen millions and millions of jobs going away in the private sector just in the last year." Steele tried again: "Yes, but they come back though, George. That's the point. They've gone away before and they come back."

An incredulous Stephanopoulos characterized Steele's plan as "simply" to incentivize small business: "So your plan would simply be more incentives to small businesses?"

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Monday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

From ABC's This Week on Sunday, February 8:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But outside of Washington, some strong Republican voices have said the stimulus package is needed now. Governor Schwarzenegger, Governor Charlie Crist of Florida, he supports the package.
GOVERNOR CRIST ON MSNBC: This program will help us with education, health care, Medicaid specifically, infrastructure. These are the kinds of things that produce job. It could mean $13 billion to the Sunshine state. It comes at a time when we need it. People need jobs. It's about jobs, jobs, jobs.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He suggested you and Republican Party leaders here in Washington are on the wrong side of the biggest issue, jobs.
MICHAEL STEELE: You know, with all due respect to the Governor, I understand where he's coming from, having been a state official I know what it means to get those dollars when you're in tight times. But you've got to look at the entire package. You've got to look at what's going to create sustainable jobs. What this administration is talking about is making work. It is creating work.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's a job.
STEELE: No, it's not a job. A job is something that a business owner creates. It's going to be long term. What he's creating-
STEPHANOPOULOS: So a job doesn't count if it's a government job?
STEELE: Let me finish. That is a contract. It ends at a certain point, George. You know that. These road projects that we're talking about have an end point. As a small business owner, I'm looking to grow my business, expand my business. I want to reach further. I want to be international, I want to be national. It's a whole different perspective on how you create a job, versus how you create work. Either way, the bottom line is-
STEPHANOPOULOS: I guess I don't really understand that distinction.
STEELE: Well, the difference, the distinction is this. If you got a government contract that's a fixed period of time it goes away. The work may go away. There's no guarantee that there's going to be more work when you're done that job.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But we've seen millions and millions of jobs going away in the private sector just in the last year.
STEELE: Yes, but they come back though, George. That's the point. They've gone away before and they come back. The point is, the small business owners take the risks. They're the ones out there in the morning, putting that second mortgage on the house, taking the risk necessary so they can employ your kids and my kids and future generations. That's sustainable long-term growth. Otherwise, why do we need the small business community? Why don't we all just get a government job and call it a day?
STEPHANOPOULOS: So your plan would simply be more incentives to small businesses?
STEELE: Pardon me?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Your plan would simply be more incentives to small businesses?
STEELE: More incentives to small businesses. At the same time, correcting those rules in the markets that have hindered and frustrated the banking process that have lent themselves to drying up the credit markets as we see them...

NBC Thrills Over 'Brand Obama': 'The
Messiah of Madison Avenue'

On a day when Barack Obama was struggling to push through a stimulus bill in Congress, journalists on Friday's Today show decided to fawn over the branding of the new President, even referring to the Commander in Chief as the "messiah of Madison Avenue." NBC correspondent Jamie Gangel highlighted a batch of new Obama merchandise and enthused: "And the whole world is apparently going Obama."

Speaking of the various products and worldwide commercials featuring the first family, Gangel raved: "Everyone wants to be like Barack. He's being called the messiah of Madison Avenue." As video of the Obama children appeared onscreen, the reporter continued, "They're the 'It girls.' Together, welcome brand Obama." After discussing the new brand of Obama-flavored ice cream ("Yes Pecan") and Michelle Obama-inspired fashion, Gangel extolled, "America has embraced the Obama family and a new sense of chic."

[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The segment also featured sound bites from Esquire magazine's John Ridley. He continued the gushing by proclaiming, "Barack Obama is young. He's good looking. He's got a message of hope that transcends most racial and ethnic divides, and he's Madison Avenue's ideal pitch man. He's perfect."

Gangel did acknowledge that it had been a "miserable week" for the President. But most of the piece was given over to marveling at the new Obama-related products.

(Thanks to MRC intern Mike Sargent for finding and transcribing the segment.)

A transcript of the February 6 segment, which aired at 8:36am:

MATT LAUER: From cabinet appointments to the stimulus package, it's been a very tough political start to Barack Obama's presidency. But he has found unprecedented success in other areas. "Today's" national correspondent Jamie Gangel explains that. Jamie, good morning to you.
JAMIE GANGEL: Good morning, Matt. By all accounts, this has been miserable week for Barack Obama. The charm offensive is gone. But in the midst of it all, there is good news in one place. Madison Avenue is apparently mad for the Obamas. Everyone wants to be like Barack. He's being called the messiah of Madison Avenue. [Video of Obama daughters.] They're the "It girls." Together, welcome brand Obama.
JOHN RIDLEY (Esquire Magazine): Barack Obama is young. He's good looking. He's got a message of hope that transcends most racial and ethnic divides, and he's Madison Avenue's ideal pitch man. He's perfect.
GANGEL: So perfect, whether you're selling cars, couches or coffee, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon.
DANNY DEUTSCH (DEUTSCH, INC.) Madison Avenue holds up a mirror to who we are, and you know, really smart advertising tries to glom on to where the world is going.
GANGEL: And the whole world is apparently going Obama. In France, the new cognac is 44. In Nigeria, it's mattresses.
OBAMA LOOK-ALIKE: All right.
GANGEL: In the Philippines, antacid. [Video of Obama look-alike.] For the record, that is a look-alike who no doubt will be in high demand.
DEUTSCH: Who doesn't want to be associated with him, wherever you are on this planet?
GANGEL: Blackberry couldn't be happier. They don't even have to pay for advertising.
LAUER: The Blackberry, all right? You got to keep it.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I did.
LAUER: Can I see it? Do you have it?
OBAMA: It's like Inspector Gadget. If you touch it, it might blow up.
GANGEL: And in fairness, some branding is a true compliment. Any President would be honored to inspire this.
SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR: Good morning, Barack Obama Elementary School.
GANGEL: But if imitation is the highest form of flattery, Obama's message is getting a workout, from hope to change to that perennial favorite-
CROWD SHOUTING: Yes, we can!
GANGEL: Now immortalized as "Yes Pecan." [Ben and Jerry's ice cream flavor onscreen] And then there are the clothes. Not since you know who [Jacqueline Kennedy onscreen] has 7th Avenue been so excited. Michelle is being called a one-woman tarp for fashion.
ACCESS HOLLYWOOD HOST: And here they are, the first family on inauguration day.
GANGEL: The knock-offs, look-alikes, and the runway of Access Hollywood.
ACCESS HOLLYWOOD HOST: Oh, can a family look any better?
GANGEL: America has embraced the Obama family and a new sense of chic.
RIDLEY: What Michelle and the girls have done in terms of just brand identity in a short amount of time has been absolutely amazing. It's about being realistic with people's money. Hey, you know, times are tough, but we can go out and get J. Crew. We can go out and get Gap kind of clothing. That's a big plus for the Obama image.
GANGEL: For the most part, the Obamas appear to be taking it all in stride.
LAUER: Not only did you just become president, but you have achieved a certain rock star status outside of that.
OBAMA: Outside of my house.
GANGEL: But in the end, will all this lead to the scariest word in advertising, overexposure? Perhaps. But for the moment, Obama mania is still growing, and any president who can sell this-
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The Chia Obama handmade decorative planter.
GANGEL: -Can sell anything. Well, Matt, let's say almost anything. He still has to sell his economic stimulus package. If he doesn't, Madison Avenue is notoriously fickle. Brand Obama may have had its 15 minutes or he could ask Miss Piggy for some advice. Matt.
LAUER: We could do that for him in just a couple of minutes. Jamie Gangel, Jamie, thanks very much.

Stephanopoulos Links Obama's Islamo Dictatorship
Metaphor to GOP

On Friday's Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos turned a statement that Barack Obama made about corrupt Islamic dictatorships and made it into a metaphor on congressional Republican opposition to the President's stimulus bill. Speaking of the difficulty Obama has had with passing his multi-billion dollar spending bill, Stephanopoulos instructed, "And to borrow a metaphor from the President's inaugural address, he might have to replace his open hand with a clenched fist."

In comparison, during the President's inaugural address on January 20, Obama spoke to the Muslim world and asserted, "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." GMA news anchor Chris Cuomo seemed to understand Stephanopoulos' linkage. He complained: "Who knew that the clenched fist would be about Congress? We thought he was talking about foreign people, foreign countries, then."

[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Earlier in the segment, Cuomo introduced the discussion of the stalled stimulus bill and Republican opposition by fretting, "So, simply put, where is the love? This was supposed to be about bipartisanship. Seems more bitter than ever down there."

A transcript of the February 6 segment, which aired at 7:16am, follows:

CHRIS CUOMO: Congress met late into the night, arguing over that economic stimulus bill. A much bigger and more bitter battle than President Obama ever expected. So, let's bring in ABC's chief Washington correspondent, and, of course, host of "This Week," Mr. George Stephanopoulos, with the bottom line." Good morning, George. How are you?
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Hey, Chris. Good, thanks.
CUOMO: So, simply put, where is the love? This was supposed to be about bipartisanship. Seems more bitter than ever down there.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It sure is, Chris. We've seen nothing but partly-line votes so far in both the House and the Senate. But as you said, the Senate was working late into the night last night. And there's a bipartisan group, led by Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, Democratic Senator, Ben Nelson, of Nebraska. They worked into the night. They're going to meet again this morning. And White House and Senate sources from both parties that I talked to, just this morning, are holding out some hope that this group is going to come together with an agreement today, to cut about $100 billion or so out of the President's package. Bring it to about $800 billion. If they reach that agreement, you will see the bill pass with bipartisan support some time later today. If not, we are going to be in for much more pitch battles.
CUOMO: So, and the question is, it does seem to be so fundamentally about ideology. The Republicans don't want to spend this kind of money. The Democrats seem totally insistent on it. Can President Obama go to the people? Can he use that as his trump card here?
STEPHANOPOULOS: It might be what he has to do, Chris. You're starting to see elements of that just in the last couple days. The President's gotten much tougher in his speeches. Now, the President's package has actually been losing public support. But the President remains very popular. And to borrow a metaphor from the President's inaugural address, he might have to replace his open hand with a clenched fist. If this bipartisan agreement doesn't come today, you'll see the President making more public pitches, going out after these unemployment numbers come today. And he's also planning a primetime press conference on Monday night. And you can expect a tough pitch, if this bipartisan deal doesn't come together today.
CUOMO: Who knew that the clenched fist would be about Congress? We thought he was talking about foreign people, foreign countries, then. Let me ask you, any chance that the 13th, you say that this weekend is very important- do you think they can get it done by February 13, which is what Boehner said to us on the show.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, it's what the President is hoping for. He wants to sign the bill on President's Day, February 16. It all depends on this deal today. If they come together today, then the bill will likely go to a conference between the House and the Senate next week. And they likely can come together by the 16. If not, it's going to be very, very difficult.
CUOMO: President says crisis could turn to catastrophe. George, thank you very much for the bottom line. Appreciate it.

Olbermann: Time for 'Dick' Cheney to
'Shove It' & 'Leave Country'

Now that America has a liberal President, it is apparently no longer acceptable for a private citizen to express disagreement with the White House in Keith Olbermann's world. On Thursday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Olbermann delivered his latest "Special Comment" rant, this time calling for former Vice President Cheney to "leave this country," and made a suggestion that Cheney, who recently criticized President Obama's plans for handling counterterrorism, should somehow be "made to desist" from such criticism: "You, Mr. Cheney, you terrified more Americans than did any terrorist in the last seven years, and now it is time for you to desist, or to be made to desist."

The Countdown host, who never showed any concern that his tirades against the Bush administration would "undermine" the war on terrorism, accused Cheney of "trying to sabotage" Obama's "efforts against terrorism," and made a number of vulgar implications in attacking Cheney -- including twice pronouncing the former Vice President's first name with emphasis as if to call him by a vulgar word; saying that he would tell Cheney to "shove it"; and asking which "orifice" Cheney was pulling numbers from about the recidivism rate of former Guantanamo detainees.

[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth was posted Sunday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

As if the MSNBC host had a history of restraining himself when he disagreed with Cheney while the former Vice President was still in office, Olbermann teased Thursday's show: "When he was in office, we kind of had to take this from him. He is in office no longer, so we don't. He has caused far more terror in this country in the last seven years than any terrorist."

After several plugs, during which he claimed that "his [Cheney's] policies contributed to the worst attack ever on American soil," and said he would tell Cheney to "shove it," Olbermann began his "Special Comment":
"Flatly, it may be time for Mr. Cheney to leave this country. The partisanship, divisiveness, and naiviete to which he ascribed every single criticism of his and President Bush's delusional policies of the last eight years have now roared forth in a destructive and uninformed diatribe from Mr. Cheney that can only serve to undermine the nation's new President, undermine the nation's effort to thwart terrorism and undermine the nation itself."

The MSNBC host soon read a quote from Cheney's interview remarking that "When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an al-Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry." Olbermann shot back: "More concern, Mr. Cheney? What delusion of grandeur makes you think you have the right to say anything like that?"

Audio of Cheney's comments can be found here: www.politico.com

The MSNBC host also alluded to his recently expressed theory that those former Guantanamo detainees who committed terrorist acts after their release may have been innocent when they were captured, but converted to terrorism because of mistreatment in captivity by the Bush administration. Olbermann: "Of course, Mr. Cheney, it is also possible, impossible, rather, to prove that any of those released detainees actually were terrorists before we captured them because you never presented any evidence against them, sir, and they were released."

For more details on Olbermann's theory, presented on the January 26, Countdown show, that a former Guantanamo detainee was inspired to become an al-Qaeda leader because of mistreatment at Guantanamo, go to the January 27, 2009, CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

Back to the February 5 show, the Countdown host also blamed inaction by the Bush administration for the 9/11 attacks as he accused Cheney of not reading the now-famous Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) from August 6, 2001, because he was too busy "stalking" Saddam Hussein, as if the former Iraqi dictator were a victim of the Bush administration. Referring to Ahmed Ressam, who was convicted of the Millennium bomb plot, Olbermann lambasted Cheney:

Oh, but he [Ressam] did cooperate long enough to tell his prosecutors who didn't beat the hell out of him about al-Qaeda cells in this country. That was his info they stuck in the President's Daily President's Briefing August 6, 2001. That's probably news to you since, obviously, you and Mr. Bush did not read it -- stalking Saddam Hussein, as you were. Of course, none of that mattered to Mr. Cheney just as none of this matters to Mr. Cheney because, at heart, Mr. Cheney is not interested foremost in protecting this country. He is interested foremost in protecting Mr. Cheney and the business of being Dick Cheney, of rationalizing one's own existence after one of the most reprehensible, myopic, unprincipled, and even un-American careers in the history of our government, depends on continuing to convince the gullible among us to live in abject fear and not with vigilance and common sense and principles.

But, as recounted in the April 12, 2004, CyberAlert, former Republican Governor James Thompson of Illinois, a member of the September 11th Commission, dismissed the PDB's relevance to the 9/11 attacks in an interview on the April 10, 2004, CNN Saturday Night with anchor Carol Lin. Thompson contended that much of what was in the report "relates to things that were three years old," and pointed out that the "suspicious activity in New York with people surveilling federal buildings" turned out to be tourists from Yemen. Thompson saw the report as not having "anything to do with September 11."

For more details, see the April 12, 2004, CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

Returning to Thursday's "Special Comment," as he invoked Oliver Cromwell's fight against the English parliament -- not British, as Olbermann incorrectly claimed, as Scotland and England did not join into the Kingdom of Great Britain until 1707 -- that "attempted to govern after its term had expired," Olbermann concluded: "More than 400 years ago, when a British parliament attempted to govern after its term had expired, it was dispersed by the actions and the words of Oliver Cromwell: 'You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately,' he told them, exactly as, Mr. Cheney, exactly as this nation now tells you. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go! Good night and good luck."

Below is a complete transcript of Olbermann's "Special Comment" from the Thursday, February 5, Countdown show on MSNBC:

KEITH OLBERMANN, IN OPENING TEASER: And tonight, former Vice President Dick Cheney on the prospects of future terrorism here. When he was in office, we kind of had to take this from him. He is in office no longer, so we don't. He has caused far more terror in this country in the last seven years than any terrorist. Tonight's "Special Comment."

...

OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:14 P.M.: And when people dared to criticize the counterterrorism policies he and his President advocated, he branded them naive, Nazi appeasers, un-American, divisive, uninformed, words that can't be repeated on TV, even though his policies contributed to the worst attack ever on American soil. Now, Dick Cheney with his own attack on America, blindly lashing out at a new administration's counterterrorism policies, a new administration in only its seventeenth day. Tonight, a "Special Comment." We've heard enough from you -- Dick. [SPOKEN WITH EMPHASIS ON "DICK"]

...

OLBERMANN, DURING COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:15 P.M.: And he's a private citizen now, so there is no reason for anybody to take the nonsense Dick Cheney hands out about counterterrorism without telling him where to shove it, which we will do tonight in a "Special Comment."

...

OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:29 P.M.: And he helped ruin the last eight years in this country. What kind of American is Dick Cheney to try to sabotage a new administration's efforts against terrorism when that new administration is not yet three weeks old? Tonight, a "Special Comment."

...

OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:39 P.M.: Gone but refusing to be forgotten, Dick Cheney rationalizes his administration's failures in counterterrorism by predicting mayhem if his policies of repression, brutality and lying are not continued by this President. My "Special Comment" tonight.

...

OLBERMANN, DURING COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:41 P.M.: Dick Cheney rightly attacked tonight by Democrats protesting his paranoia and his presumptuousness in attacking the Obama approach to counterterror just 17 days into a new administration when he and George Bush failed so utterly eight months into theirs. Tonight, a "Special Comment" on Mr. Cheney's tone deaf comments.

...

OLBERMANN, AT 8:49 P.M.: Finally tonight, as promised, a "Special Comment" on former Vice President Cheney's remarks about the prospects of future terrorist attacks in this country.
Flatly, it may be time for Mr. Cheney to leave this country. The partisanship, divisiveness, and naiviete to which he ascribed every single criticism of his and President Bush's delusional policies of the last eight years have now roared forth in a destructive and uninformed diatribe from Mr. Cheney that can only serve to undermine the nation's new President, undermine the nation's effort to thwart terrorism and undermine the nation itself. Mr. Cheney's remarks were posted yesterday at Politico.com. They are a reiteration of all the manias of his vice presidency. Only they now come without the authority of office.
They insist, he insists on the imminence of attack, of the maintenance of Gitmo, of the necessity of waterboarding, of the efficacy of torture.
Time does not stale nor custom wither your infinite variety, Mr. Cheney. You will say it and be wrong, and you will still say it anew. You will say it and undercut a President's 17 days on the job, and you will still say it anew. You will say it and help terrorists and you will still say it anew.
"The United States needs to be not so much loved as it needs to be respected. Sometimes that requires us to take actions that generate controversy. I'm not at all sure that that's what the Obama administration believes."
The first glimmer in years of sanity in any of your remarks, sir. That's not at all what the Obama administration appears to believe. It seems to be ready to use all avenues and all emotions, seeking love, respect, fear, diplomacy, shared experience, education, principle, and, yes, even rational thought. This President, unlike yours, Mr. Cheney, seems intent on living in the real world rather than trying to reshape an imaginary one by force.
"When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an al-Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry."
More concern, Mr. Cheney? What delusion of grandeur makes you think you have the right to say anything like that? Because a President or an ordinary American demands that we act as Americans and not as bullies, demands that we play by our rules, that we preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. You believe we have chosen the one and not the other. We can be Americans, or we can be what you call "safe," but not both.
"If it hadn't been for what we did -- with respect to the terrorist surveillance program, or enhanced interrogation techniques for high-value detainees, the Patriot Act, and so forth '€" then we would have been attacked again. Those policies we put in place, in my opinion, were absolutely crucial to getting us through the last seven-plus years without a major-casualty attack on the U.S."
Mr. Cheney, you're lying. As the cloud of fear you deliberately fostered in this good-hearted and courageous nation finally begins to dissipate, the nonsense that you and Mr. Bush presented as evidence of that childish claim, as perverse example of wishful nightmare thinking has become apparent, and it should shame you. The major casualty attacks on the U.S. you think you stopped involved would-be hijackers who were under constant surveillance by at least two nations and had neither passports nor plane tickets. They involved feeble-minded braggarts, so clueless as to even the most obvious steps of organization that they believed they could enter Fort Dix in New Jersey disguised as pizza deliverymen, kill hordes of Americans, and get out alive, even though Fort Dix teems with soldiers who have an almost inexhaustible supply of weapons. They involved embittered ex-airport employees so uninformed about where they used to work that they thought dropping a match in a fuel supply line 30 miles away would cause the airport to explode.
These are the plots that, by your own proud, strutting, crazy admissions, were the ones you got us through. You and Mr. Bush, sir, you are the old men who cried wolf.
The Politico story continues: "Citing intelligence reports, Cheney said at least 61 of the inmates who were released from Guantanamo during the Bush administration -- "that's about 11 or 12 percent" -- have "gone back into the business of being terrorists."
Mr. Cheney, you made this statistic up. Perhaps not you personally, but your people made this statistic up. As the new reality-based administration has discovered, there are not enough records of the detainees still at Gitmo to suggest that there is any reliable database on those who have been released. That McCarthy-esque number, sir, is also as fluid as the infamous Senator's was.
As Professor Mark Denbeaux of Seton Hall University noted on this network last month:
"The government has given its 43rd attempt to describe the number of people who have left Guantanamo and returned to the battlefield. Forty-one times they have done it orally as they have this last time. And their numbers have changed from 20 to 12 to seven to more than five to two to a couple to a few '€" 25, 29, 12 to 24. Every time, the number has been different. In fact, every time they give a number, they don't identify a date, a place, a time, a name or an incident to support their claim."
Mr. Cheney, which orifice are you pulling these numbers from? You know, in the movie, The Manchurian Candidate, the character based loosely on Joe McCarthy had trouble remembering all the different numbers. His Lady MacBeth-like wife pointed out to him that the reason she kept changing the number of purported communists in the State Department was so that people would no longer be asking, "Are there communists in the State Department?" but would begin only asking, "How many communists are there?" Eventually, she picked one number that her husband could remember '€" 57. She found it on the bottle of catsup on the room service tray.
Of course, Mr. Cheney, it is also possible, impossible, rather, to prove that any of those released detainees actually were terrorists before we captured them because you never presented any evidence against them, sir, and they were released. Which makes something else you said seem almost the product of a split personality:
"If you release the hard-core al-Qaeda terrorists that are held at Guantanamo, I think they go back into the business of trying to kill more Americans and mount further mass-casualty attacks. If you turn'em loose and they go kill more Americans, who's responsible for that?"
Well, right now, that'd be you and Mr. Bush. You released those supposed repeat terrorists -- all 61 of them -- or 12. You. If Gitmo really worked so well and you really had the devils in the cage, why did you release them without trial, without any second effort at proving their guilt? You just released them. If you turn them loose and they go kill more Americans, who's responsible for that -- Dick? And six years and more since General Powell and Dr. Rice and all the rest played the trump card of terrorizing this nation, the mighty cream of mushroom cloud soup, you played it again -- nuclear weapon, biological agent, deaths of perhaps hundreds of thousands.
"I think there's a high probability of such an attempt. Whether or not they can pull it off depends whether or not we keep in place policies that have allowed us to defeat all further attempts, since 9/11, to launch mass-casualty attacks against the United States."
The Bush system, as John Yu so aptly re-christened the other day, start the wrong war, detain the wrong people, employ the wrong methods, pursue the wrong leads, utilize the wrong emotions, beat'em up first, ask questions later. You know, just like al-Qaeda does, or Iran. Save this nation from the terrorists by doing the terrorists' work for them, Mr. Cheney. To your credit, sir, you have added a new monster under a new bed to try to continue to foment a national policy of panic. It's the terrorists on our streets ploy.
"Is that really a good idea to take hardened al-Qaeda terrorists who've already killed thousands of Americans and put'em in San Quentin or some other prison facility where they can spread their venom even more widely than it already is?"
As opposed to keeping them in an extra-legal facility mixed in with some unknown number of innocents mistaken for terrorists. Who's likely to be more influenced by terrorist venom, Mr. Cheney, the characters from the TV series Oz? Or a bunch of guys who we're holding in chains without trial and without even some token attempt at rehabilitation.
And, by the way, what about Ahmed Ressam, sir? Benny Norris, if you prefer? The Millennium bomber, caught at a ferry crossing from Canada to Washington state, in December 1999, on his way to go blow up Los Angeles International Airport. He had a car, a legit passport, nitroglycerine and timing devices.
And what did we do to him, Mr. Cheney? Did we send him to Gitmo or pre-Gitmo? As high a value terrorist as we've ever caught in this country, trained by Abu Zubaydah, days away from his target, and ready to go. We tried him in U.S. courts with U.S. lawyers. Part of the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court and he got 22 years in U.S. prison. No torture, no gulag, no stories of him proselytizing fellow prisoners. Oh, but he did cooperate long enough to tell his prosecutors who didn't beat the hell out of him about al-Qaeda cells in this country. That was his info they stuck in the President's Daily President's Briefing August 6, 2001. That's probably news to you since, obviously, you and Mr. Bush did not read it -- stalking Saddam Hussein, as you were. Of course, none of that mattered to Mr. Cheney just as none of this matters to Mr. Cheney because, at heart, Mr. Cheney is not interested foremost in protecting this country. He is interested foremost in protecting Mr. Cheney and the business of being Dick Cheney, of rationalizing one's own existence after one of the most reprehensible, myopic, unprincipled, and even un-American careers in the history of our government, depends on continuing to convince the gullible among us to live in abject fear and not with vigilance and common sense and principles.
We, sir, will most completely assure our security not by maintaining the endless demoralizing, draining. life-denying blind fear and blind hatred, which you so thoroughly embody. We will most easily purchase our safety by repudiating the Bush system. We will reserve the violence for which you are so eager, sir, for any battlefield to which we truly must take and not for unconscionable wars which people like you goad and scare and lie us into. You, Mr. Cheney, you terrified more Americans than did any terrorist in the last seven years, and now it is time for you to desist, or to be made to desist. With damnable words like these, sir, you help no American, you protect no American, you serve no American. You only aid and abet those who would destroy this nation from within or without.
More than 400 years ago, when a British parliament attempted to govern after its term had expired, it was dispersed by the actions and the words of Oliver Cromwell: "You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately," he told them, exactly as, Mr. Cheney, exactly as this nation now tells you. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go! Good night and good luck.

-- Brent Baker