By Peter Galuszkablog_reality_budget_deficit

I can’t help but being amused every time I see another chart showing the plummeting U.S. federal deficit.

In June, it was 4 percent of GDP, well down from 10 percent ($1.4 trillion) at the start of the Great Recession in 2009.

Where are all the scary stories you used to read in Bacon’s Rebellion?  Whatever happened to the Baconauts who were disciples of “Boomergeddon,” the book that showed the lawn chair on a tropical island facing a nuclear bomb detonation. That was a very frightening image.

The problem, according to Paul Krugman, one of my favorite columnists, is that people  still believe deficits are dramatically out of whack because politicians still tell them that.

He notes: “Thus Eric Cantor, the third-ranking Republican in the House, declared on Fox News that we have a ‘growing deficit,” while Senator Rand Paul told Bloomberg Businessweek that we’re running a ‘trillion dollar deficit’ every year.”

I can’t speak for Paul but I do remember interview Cantor a few years ago during the financial crisis and he actually told me that “we have to get the government out of the capital markets.” I asked him why, then, did he vote for TARP, which put the feds directly in those markets. There was a pause of about 20 seconds and then he said, “Well, it was a crisis.”

Just like the deficit, you Baconauts out there!

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40 responses to “The Big, Bad Federal Deficit”

  1. It’s a simple problem Peter. The basic strategy of the right these days is to lie their ass off … and see how much “sticks”.

    and if you call them on it – they then start calling your a “progressive” or a lefty liberal or worse.

    To be sure – we still are in the hole by 17 trillion (the debt) and adding to it each year (the deficit) but what the GOP has determined is that many who lean right don’t really care about facts in the first place as long as it “sounds” “plausible”.

    We are in the midst of the biggest propaganda/misinformation/disinformation campaign in the history of the country.

    The “truth” is whatever can be constructed. You start with something that is true then add dollops of things that are not to reach the narrative you want to promote.

    Thus you get people like Cantor and Rand telling outright lies because they’re speaking to their base and their base believes if Cantor/Rand say something, it has to be the truth and if CBO says something, it’s a dang govt lie.

    this is how folks think and vote now days and this is how someone like Cucinelli is a shoo-in, in Red Va.

  2. Thank God for the sequester! It’s rough medicine, but it is restraining spending growth. The problem is that people like Peter will look at the declining deficit — “only” $640 billion this year (far more than the $400 billion deemed catastrophic when W. was president) — and declare there’s nothing much to worry about. Deficit whupped. Let’s go back to the old ways.

    Just remember, we’re five years into the business cycle. We’ve raised taxes and we’ve imposed the sequester…. and the deficit is still running above half a trillion dollars a year.

    Also remember, it looked like W. was on the verge of getting the budget back into balance back in 2006. What happened next? Let me think… Oh, yeah, along came the 2007 financial collapse. So much for the forecast!

    Maybe we’ll get luckier this time. Maybe we won’t. There is still a lot of risk baked into the system. We always get bushwhacked by something. Everything looks great… until it doesn’t.

  3. Breckinridge Avatar

    Over the past twenty years I’ve run up an annual credit card debt. Each year it was just portion of my annual income, and I’ve stayed current on the interest payments, but now my balance is about – oh, let’s say ten times my annual income. The interest payments alone take up 20 percent of my annual income.

    I do not rush out and celebrate because this year my income is up and I’m only having to borrow half as much or a third as much as I have in recent years. I’m still making huge interest payments and the debt is not going away.

    It is you folks who are the outright liars. The problem is the debt, and the fact that every year we add to the debt and add to the required annual interest payments. One of these days the interest rates will be back to 5-6 percent.

    It is unsustainable and if you didn’t have to check in your brains to be Democrats you’d still be able to recognize it.

  4. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    But I thought some of you said that Obama was a free-spending socialist who would bring financial ruin to the Republic! You mean it wasn’t so?

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      I don’t know what country you’re living in. It’s been 5 – 6 years since the recession hit and we’re still mired in 7+% unemployment. Even that doesn’t tell the whole story since people who have given up looking for a job don’t count as unemployed. The better statistic is employment. The labor-force participation rate, which measures the percentage of working-age Americans who are working or looking for work, fell to 63.4 percent in July, near a 35-year low. Payroll growth is anemic, wages are dropping and more discouraged workers are headed for the sidelines, continuing the slowest job-market recovery since World War II.

      Even the government numbers are suspect. Employers added just 162,000 jobs to non-farm payrolls in July, down from 188,000 in June, which was revised lower from an initial reading of 195,000. Together, revisions to May and June figures subtracted 26,000 jobs from payrolls, another sign of weakness.

      If there is any propaganda being spewed it is from the Obama camp. His supposedly lean and mean current year deficit is still 50% bigger than during the Bush Administration.

      Most of the left can’t seem to remember that W inherited a recession when he came into office. Lax enforcement of pretty much all regulations by the Clinton Administration along with artificially low interest rates resulted in the dot com / telecom meltdown at the start of the Bush Administration. However, Bush did two things that Obama can’t seem to do – he guided the economy to an honest – to – goodness recovery and he prosecuted the miscreants who broke the law and caused the asset inflation. Bernie Ebbers, Jeffrey Skilling and Joe Naccio are among the many executives prosecuted by the Bush Administration. All three are still in prison.

      Where is Obama’s prosecution of the miscreants who caused “the great recession”? Where is his recovery?

      1. Bush also inherited a balanced budget.

        but we also know from WWII that if you ramp up spending on National Defense, you can cure a recession damn quick – but it will increase your debt.

        and why do you stop at the Bush “recovery” and not go to what was going on at the end of his term?

        do you give him credit for the TARP and auto bailouts?

        did Bush go after the “miscreants” that crashed the economy?

        shame. shame. DJ. yet another example of revisionist history.

        Bush was an idiot… no question about it… he essentially advocated doubling our spending on National Defense.. Medicare Part D, was asleep at the switch when banks starting screwing around with sub-prime loans… and looked especially bewildered when he stood at the podium explaining why the banks had to be bailed out – someone told him they had do – so he did it…

        good GAWD… what is so wrong with remembering the facts?

        1. DJRippert Avatar

          Bush prosecuted the offenders from the dot com meltdown that came out of the Clinton Administration. Obama has done nothing meaningful about the criminal banksters who plunged the world economy into recession. I am sorry LarryG but those are the facts.

          Obama is a far in the pockets of the big banks as any president in US history. His administration has done more to hurt the middle class than any president in the last 100 years.

          The lowest labor participation rate in 35 years? And that’s years into a supposed recovery? Are you kidding me?

          The man is a failure who is mollycoddled by a pliant national media.

          1. tell me exactly what Bush did….

            and tell me what this means:

            “Obama administration goes after top banks for alleged fraud”

            DOJ Sues Bank Of America Over Mortgage-Backed Securities

            there are lots more…

            labor participation rate – in the age of globalization it may well be the new normal.

            not sure exactly what you’d expect a POTUS to do about that especially when the GOP has sworn to not pass any bill that would give him credit for anything.

            you know this DJ… the GOP is committed to damaging this POTUS as much as they can…

  5. Keep in mind that the POTUS does not determine spending.. yet another inconvenient fact that gets ignored when accusing Obama of creating the deficit and debt.

    It’s true that the deficit was 400B under Bush – but it’s also true that the increased spending in the budget – for National Defense and Medicare Part D was approved by Congress and signed by Bush.

    and let’s also recognize that the GOP has continued to approve CRs at the previous budget spending levels when they could have made cuts – sent it to the POTUS to sign or veto.

    so we know that not a single budget has been sent to the POTUS to sign much less one that has spending cuts in it.

    and keep this in mind also – the GOP refuses to cut DOD/National Defense – which pretty much eats our entire income tax revenue stream before we ever get to entitlements.

    the problem with the right is they can’t deal with the truth.

    the truth is that Obama did not create the deficit nor the debt and he can only spend what Congress approves.

    but if you listen to the right – you get stuff like this:

    ” Obama Has Now Increased Debt More than All Presidents from George Washington Through George H.W. Bush Combined”

    this is the kind of thing that comes from the right..

  6. DJRippert Avatar

    Not long ago Peter was writing about Obama’s undeniable foreign policy successes –

    That’s a case of premature pontification if I ever saw one!

    Let’s see, “Despite Republican complaints, Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton followed a thoughtful and patient course that supported insurgents in Libya and select NATO airstrikes.”. I wonder what the families of the four Americans killed in Benghazi think about Hillary’s thoughtful and patient course.

    Let’s see, “The U.S. did not stand in the way of the twitter movements in other countries such as Tunisia and Egypt.”. Yes, well played. Now there is civil war in Egypt with thousands dead and Christian churches and homes being burned to the ground. Twitter movements indeed.

    Iraq is slipping into Civil War and becoming a haven for al Queda. 1,057 Iraqis were killed in sectarian violence last month.

    Syria is a bloodbath with the government rumored to be using gas on its own citizens.

    Meanwhile, Obama is playing golf in Massachusetts.

    Trust me – within two years all of the pap about Obama’s wonderful handling of the economy will be proven as false as the pap from 2011 about his brilliant foreign policy.

    The guy is a disaster.

  7. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Most of what I wrote in 2011 is still true today. I didn’t bring up Syria and I am not responsible that an aging dictator is hanging on to power.
    I am not responsible for the carnage in Cairo in 2013. I don’t see exactly what Obama could have done to prevent it, any more than I could have seen what Clinton could have done to prevent the carnage (albeit on a smaller scale) on the streets of Moscow in 1993, which I witnessed in person.
    Maybe you don’t understand that the Arab Spring was beyond the control of western leaders.
    Re: Benghazi, what would YOU have done? My experience is that Foreign Service officers and spooks are often in harms way. Part of the job. I have seen it personally. During Reagan’s term you had terrorist killings galore in Beirut, Greece, etc.Your point?
    Despite the turmoil in some countries of the Middle East, you do not have the level of terrorism you did just a few years ago.
    And BTW, what does this have to do with the deficit?


    1. Heh! Heh! When Bush was president, according to liberals, every foreign policy setback was HIS fault. He was a cowboy, a gunslinger, an anti-intellectual, in over his head, etc. etc. etc. America’s declining popularity in the world was entirely his fault.

      Now that Obama is president, we’re hearing a very different tune. America is, in fact, just an unpopular as ever — even MORE so in the Middle East. Suddenly, we’re hearing about how complex the world is, and how limited the president’s powers are, and how things are “beyond the control of western leaders.”

      Actually, I happen to believe that a lot of things are outside the U.S.’s control. I also believe that Obama faces a lot of policy choices in which he must choose between the least-bad options — just like Bush did. I’d just like to see a little more humility out of the Obama camp, a little recognition that liberal “soft power” bromides aren’t any more effective than the neo-con bromides they criticize.

      1. No. Bush was a NeoCon interventionist who also seemed to like to kidnap people, hold them in secret and torture them and oh by the way tell the SCOTUS that because this was done on foreign soil it was out of their jurisdiction.

        When you look at the NEOCON geezers like Cheney and Rumsfeld – both well into their 60’s and compare their approach to foreign policy to Obama – yes there is a difference – but would you really want them deciding policy now rather than Obama?

        yes the world is a complicated place but Bush and his idiot advisers did not make it better by a long shot.

        what you can say – in criticism – about Obama – is that he is unsure what to do … given the unraveling of the Arab world … but he does know what
        was done by Bush is not the right answer.

        but why did we get on to this from the “hit” on Obama about the deficit and debt?

        did Obama create the deficit and debt or not?

        fess up – you and Breckinridge and DJ were all over this – then you ran away to talk about something different -… why?

    2. DJRippert Avatar

      Nobody said you are responsible for the carnage in Cairo in 2013. However, your complimentary comments about Obama’s management of relations with Egypt are proving quite wrong. What can Obama do? Well, he could suspend the $1.5B in foreign aid we send to Egypt each year – $1.3B of that aid is to the very Egyptian military that is causing the carnage. Of course, Obama might have to skip a tee time to do this.

      As far as the deficit – it is premature to grant Obama kudos on anything having to do with the economy just like it was premature to give Obama kudos for his foreign affairs “accomplishments”.

      I wrote a long comment to your post on foreign policy from 2011. Here are the first two sentences:

      “Remember “Mission Accomplished”?

      I’d be very careful about claiming success too early.”

      Bacon is right. Obama could be facing another recession while he is still in office. This would be a recession that never really had a recovery preceding it. Yikes!

      When Obama reverses the falling labor participation rate, when he gets median wages rising again, when he stops the printing presses and lets interest rates rise to their natural level – then, and only then, should he be given any credit for the economy.

  8. Seems like I remember Bush cutting brush while 18 years olds were getting sliced and diced in Iraq and Afghanistan…

    and we have these wonderful quotes :

    ” Deficits don’t Matter”

    ” Mission Accomplished”

    “Heckuva job Brownie”

    yes if Bush and Cheney were still around, we’d not only be continuing to
    slice and dice our young people in Iraq and Afghanistan but we’d be giving even more opportunities in Libya, Syria, Egypt, Iran.. and we’d doubled our national defense spending even more to pay for it.

    yes indeed… Bush and Cheney and the NeoCons sure would have saved our Bacon…pun intended…

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      “The labor-force participation rate, which measures the percentage of working-age Americans who are working or looking for work, fell to 63.4 percent in July, near a 35-year low.”.

      Let’s see, 35 years … that includes the following administrations:

      1. Obama
      2. Bush II
      3. Clinton
      4. Bush I
      5. Reagan
      6. Carter

      35 years ago it was 1978. We have to go all the way back to the Carter Administration to find a president mis-managing the economy as badly as Obama is mis-managing the economy.

      Barack Hussein Carter – it has a certain ring to it.

  9. how about putting the numbers next to the POTUS?

    and as stated before. ANYTHING this POTUS would propose to help the economy, the GOP would kill it deader than a dead skunk in the middle of the road.

    anytime you have folks like the GOP saying things like this:

    ” Obama Has Now Increased Debt More than All Presidents from George Washington Through George H.W. Bush Combined”

    you know what’s going on….

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      Labor participation rate and median wages are the equivalent of breathing and heartbeat. Those two statistics tell you whether people are working and whether they are earning. Deficits are more like cholesterol measures. Big deficits over a prolonged period are dangerous just like high cholesterol over a long time.

      When a person is gasping for air and suffering from a very faint heartbeat you don’t lecture him about the benefits of Lipitor.

      The Obama Administration and its apologists are so concerned with trying to make him look good so that Hillary has a chance in 2016 they will stare right past the hideous labor participation rate and root around for any bit of pseudo-news that might be spun into sounding good.

      Finally, giving Obama credit for reducing the size of his own bloated deficits is just like calling Chris Christie svelte because he doesn’t weigh as much as he did a year ago. The deficits are still way too big and Christie is still obese.

      1. so you punted on comparing the participation rates, eh?

        I don’t give Obama credit for reducing deficits except he did manage to get a tax increase to help buy it down a bit.

        but I DO point out that NO POTUS can increase or decrease spending or taxes without the explicit approval of BOTH houses of Congress.

        when you say this:

        ” Obama Has Now Increased Debt More than All Presidents from George Washington Through George H.W. Bush Combined”

        why should I believe anything else you say?

      2. here’s a chart of labor participation rates under modern POTUS:

        it tells (no surprise) a big of a different story that DJ was relating…

  10. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    The posting you quote was something I wrote on October 21, 2011, nearly TWO YEARS AGO. All I said about Egypt was that the Administration was correct in not getting involved in the twitter revolution in EGYPT UP TO THAT TIME.
    That’s all I said. I did not deal with defunding the Egyptian military.
    So, it might be good if you don’t back in time, imply things I didn’t write and then trash me for it.
    I was write about not getting involved. What would you have Obama do in 2011? Send in the Marines? The Seals? The 82nd Airborne?

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      When you claim someone is enjoying foreign policy success one would think that you must believe that the success will be long lasting. I mean, at least for two years. In 2011 Obama was enjoying the illusion of foreign policy success. However, he was really enjoying no such success. His stupid intervention in Libya left a country in chaos and an American ambassador tortured and murdered. His simple minded belief that the Egyptian matter would be resolved by Twitter has left a country in ruins. His excessively fast withdrawal from Iraq has left that country in civil war and provided a haven for Al Quaeda.

      Your article was entitled, “Obama’s Undeniable Foreign Policy Successes”. That clearly says that you thought Obama was doing the right things in foreign policy. Hell, it was undeniable. Less than two years later those so-called successes seem very deniable. Perhaps you should have entitled your article, “Obama can’t doing anything about foreign policy so don’t blame him when it goes to hell in a handbag.”.

  11. I consider getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan to be “successes”

    I consider NOT getting into other quagmires to be ‘successes”

    I consider getting Bin Laden and “droning” other Al Qaeda no matter what country they are in – to be “successes”.

    I consider ALL the things that Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld did to be a disaster
    that has directly affected our credibility to be a legitimate broker in the Middle East.

    and most of all – I consider NOT sending our young people to be sliced and diced over little more than a NEOCON pissing contest to be priceless.

  12. keep in mind – our deficit and debt is directly related to our spending on National Defense.

    and all of this was decided before Obama became POTUS.

    each year, Congress has to agree on a Continuing Resolution that included the increased spending on national defense established in the Bush years – and not a single time – has that spending been reduced in the CRs until the sequester.

    The GOP Congress has ALWAYS had the option to propose BOTH – cuts in entitlements AND National Defense and to this time – they will only propose cuts in entitlements.

    that’s your problem – not Obama.

  13. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Once again, what would you have done in Libya? In Egypt?
    Could it be that the U.S. cannot affect bottom-up revolutions sparked by new technology like cell phones?
    Would you have sent in U.S. troops? Marked insurgents for death-by-drone? If so, who?
    You really don’t have an argument here.
    Compare this to Bush. Yes it did a lot to stem the very real terrorist threat. Did he need to go into Iraq?. Hell no. Afghanistan is complicated.
    But after all that, sending troops to North Africa would have been insane.
    And I love how you types are so Benghazi-obssessed. Shit happens. Look at the Marine barracks in Beirut under Reagan. If you want to bitch, bitch about that.You put assault troops for no good reason in a static position and ask to be bombed.

    Give me a break, DJR!

    1. No question, Beirut was a screw-up. But we know what happened. There aren’t a lot of lingering questions. We still don’t have the story about Benghazi, other than “mistakes were made.” The O Team doesn’t want to tell us. It’s pretty clear to me that they’re hiding something. I’m surprised your B.S. detector hasn’t been sounding off!

      1. Jim – you don’t know what has happened with the kidnapping, waterboarding, etc.

        Reagan famously said about Iran-Contra – “I was out of the loop”.

        I can go on but there were dozens, hundreds of killings in Iraq and Afghanistan that went largely uninvestigated and were said to be soldiers
        on their own and not under command, etc.

        People made mistakes in Benghazi but not the POTUS nor the State dept. It was a CIA operation that for some reason one State Dept guy chose to go to – without adequate security and without adequate backup because he surely knew it was not a safe place.

        not the first time and not the last time we’ll see this kind of thing happen. As long as people are put into situations like that – mistakes are going to be made.

        Why in the world would you make that about Clinton and Obama?

        what in the world could they be hiding? what’s the worse thing they could have personally done anyhow?

        it’s pure partisan BS – that’s what the BS detector says. It’s a triple load of partisan BS. No one but folks on the right give a rats behind about it and that includes most in the middle. this is like insisting that there be more investigations of waterboarding to find out who did it and who ordered them to do it, etc… it’s over… move on…

    2. DJRippert Avatar

      Libya – I would have had rapid response troops ready to assist the CIA gun running operation in Benghazi. And don’t fool yourself – there is much yet to come out about the Benghazi operation. If I couldn’t back up the CIA outposts with troops I wouldn’t have established one. Then, after the fiasco I’d admit the truth of what happened to the American people.

      Egypt – I would have cut off all foreign aid months ago. I would be in quiet talks with Saudi Arabia to do the same.

      There now, that wasn’t so hard – was it.

  14. Benghazi – what happens when you put up a CIA field operation in a country in civil war…

    Beirut – ditto except Reagan’s military advisors warned him that it was a dumb thing to do… no matter… it was only Marines that were slaughtered..

    ditto the USS Cole, the Embassy in Nairobi and the USS Stark.

    not to mention Abu Ghraib.

    when bad stuff happens under the GOP – it’s our “heros” have given their lives for the country.

    when it happens under Dems – it’s bad foreign policy…

    List of attacks on diplomatic missions:

    Map of worst terrorist attacks worldwide: 100 or more fatalities

  15. interesting how we got here from the “big bad deficit”, eh?

    If you can’t blame Obama for that – then move on to another thing.

    sounds like an hour with Hannity or Limbaugh!

    1. Obama had a chance to make a difference but didn’t. He chose to play partisan politics instead. I didn’t vote for the guy but he’s my president nonetheless. I find that he’s as disappointing a president as Bush was but for different reasons. BTW, I don’t think any of our presidents, past or present, are idiots, but they sure have been flawed. I think if you were in the same room with Bush you wouldn’t call him an idiot to his face so why here? And regarding Benghazi, the one thing that stands out that’s different than the USS Cole and the other contemporary incidents you list is that we didn’t have the ability to send any firepower to the region. I served 30 years in the Army, and several of those years attached or assigned to diplomatic missions, and I assure you DoD has assets all over the world that can react in very little time to any incident. It’s called contingency planning and we have staff upon staff at all levels doing it. Yet we did nothing for our ambassador and others that died at that consulate. Someone was asleep at the switch and won’t own up to it.

  16. I’ll take the criticism of the “idiot” comment. I still think between the wars and the bank meltdown that that administration was asleep at the switch.

    in terms of Benghazi and military assets if you just look at the other terrorism incidents from Beirut to Nairobi and the Cole – it does not hold water.

    we have CIA outposts around the world and they are “hanging out there” in terms of being able to put DOD assets on their location in a short enough timeframe.

    the problem in Benghazi was the same problem in Beirut and the Cole. we put those assets at risk and we had no way to immediately protect them and subsequent forces would be late and irrelevant.

    bad shit happens in all administrations – from Obama to Bush to Clinton.

    to make this a partisan issue is just … well partisan… used by people who did not vote for Obama to start with.

    You have to ask yourself Viper – what was an ambassador doing NOT at a well-protected Embassy but instead at a skeleton-staffed CIA outpost in a place where insurgents were well known to be about?

    Somebody made a decision to do that. I doubt seriously it was Obama yet once the bad stuff happened he was supposed to fix it.

    that’s just not reasonable…even for a partisan attack.

  17. I think Benghazi/Beirut/Cole share one thing: intelligence failure to predict the attack and/or an underestimation of the threat. Beirut and the Cole were not under sustained attack preceded by a growing hostile crowd. Beirut was a bomb and the Cole was a quick attack practicing deception. Once it was done, we did expeditiously go in with evac and security (although belated). As I understand it our on-the-ground security force at Benghazi did mount a sustained defense, providing some amount of time to put some assets/firepower to provide a window of time to evac the ambassador and others. In the case of “assets at risk,” that’s why we have these people. They are willing (and paid) for those risks. There are political or career risks for the decision-makers–if it goes south then they are usually the ones blamed. Why was our ambassador there in the first place? You’d have to ask the State Dept. I don’t hold Obama personally responsible, but I certainly hold his Administration responsible. He is the commander-in-chief and he is our chief diplomat. Bad stuff does happen, we can’t be everywhere every time and we can’t know everything ahead of the fact (although we do a damn good job of this, regardless of who is president), but we can expect accountability. As for being partisan, really? You’re as partisan as I am! And is that a bad thing? I see it as we don’t share the same opinion on the matter.

  18. I don’t hold Reagan totally responsible for Beirut nor Clinton responsible for the Cole nor Obama responsible for Benghazi.

    we do have contingency operations but there are many situations where they just cannot be there in time.

    I take their word on this – all administrations word on it.

    I’m not there and cannot know and neither can you or other partisans but that does not prevent them from putting ignorant blame on something – just for partisan reasons.

    I do NOT think Obama is a wonderful POTUS but I did not think that about Clinton nor Bush either.

    they have their good points and bad points. they are what they are.

    but I strenuously object to assigning deficit and debt to only the POTUS as this is clearly false.

    you can check wiki for the dozens and dozens of terrorist incidents that occurred under all POTUS. why would you select one of them over something like Benghazi? Did you hammer Bush over Abu Ghraib or Reagan over Iran-Contra?

    I think under ALL of the POTUS – bad stuff happened – and NONE of them could have fixed it after the fact.

    Partisan? I’m far, far less partisan than the folks going after Benghazi. That’s just loony tunes… that’s like blaming Clinton for the Cole or Reagan over Beirut. All of them were failures of the administration but not the POTUS directly. I do not recall a similar call for “accountability” for the other two POTUS- not near the current GOP outcry over Benghazi which is just totally off the wall partisan blather.

  19. You’re less partisan because you say or think so? Did I hammer Bush over Abu Ghraib? You bet I did. Feel better? As a military officer I was also deeply ashamed for my Service that something like that occurred. Did someone in DoD get held accountable for it? You bet they did. Reagan over Iran-Contra? Too young or too occupied to care at the time but you never can really believe that people at that level cannot remember things. As I stated previously, I don’t hold Obama personally responsible but someone is, in either DoD, State or both. Ambassadors carry the same level of rank as a four-star general. Would we have left someone like that hanging? I don’t think so (whether he should have been there or not). Attacks on our diplomatic missions are essentially acts of war. Do you expect us to say couldn’t get there in time? That we, a country that can read a license plate from outer space, that can put a missile through your dryer vent, that has the widest array of weapons/systems/personnel known to mankind (and that are combat-proven!), could not get anything to Benghazi and extract those folks? If you want to continue to believe Ms. Clinton’s blather, then be my guest. As for the deficit, I concur blaming Obama for the growing deficit is a bit unfair but all presidents have been blamed for same–comes with the job. What goes around, comes around (right Ms. Pelosi?)

  20. re; who is responsible. this is a Fox-news created issue to tag the POTUS – nothing more.

    re: attacks on diplomatic facilities .. oh I agree.. but this was a CIA outpost not a a real diplomatic facility, in name only, a cover for the CIA outpost.

    it was a CIA outpost in an area that was known to be insecure – they knew that from the get go and they still went in … AND they did NOT have backup…. the nearest backup was hours away and not pre-tasked to respond.

    re: missile through a window.. I know this is hard to admit but there are limits to even what we could do but again – you’re saying that some military guy made a decision that you do not agree with but you really want to blame the POTUS – that’s all this is really about. It’s partisan politics, nothing more.

    every administration has these issues. every one. and we move on because we know they were screwups that do happen – until this POTUS.

    everyone who is not partisan knows this was a CIA operation gone sideways and that the POTUS did not order it .. yet the partisans cannot let it go. They are not after the military / CIA guys who made the decisions. What would they do once they found out? Have a big trial to punish the guys who screwed up? What’s the real purpose? The only purpose is a thinly veiled escuse to go after the POTUS. The ONLY people interested in it is FOX News and NEOCONS like Lindsay Graham and partisans like Darryl Issa.

    no one else cares because they know what this is really about.

  21. re: ” If you want to continue to believe Ms. Clinton’s blather, then be my guest.”

    she likely had nothing at all to do with it other than be the Secretary of the State Department that allows the CIA to use the State Department as a front for their activities. They were _not_ “diplomatic personnel”, they were CIA operatives.

    surely you know this. what would you expect Clinton to know about a CIA operation? Do you think the State Dept and Clinton is responsible for CIA personnel and operations?

    The Ambassador was not killed by gunfire from insurgents. He died from of smoke inhalation by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He had met earlier with the Benghazi City Council and made the mistake of trying to spend the night at a CIA outpost.

    Much of this is easily found out from the public record. Why he put himself at risk is anyone’s guess but he had a reputation for not staying behind guarded Embassy compounds where a contingent of Marines would have given the insurgents all they could handle and have backup.

    It would have been his responsibility to have a security team accompany him and for that team to arrange for backup. It appears he went there – by himself with no one else and then tried to spend the night in the CIA compound that was an Embassy in name only – it had no other personnel normally found at Embassies much less the typical contingent of Marines.

    you must know this.

  22. Right, it’s all the fault of Fox news. Here’s what I know: An ambassador is the president’s personal representative in the country to which appointed. Every American and American agency in a country is subordinate to the ambassador, to include the CIA. The ambassador is responsible for everything and all U.S. government personnel assigned to his/her country.

    You make it sound like the ambassador deserved his fate. I beg to differ. He, his fellow diplomats, and other U.S. personnel deserved to be evac’d. Once back, he could have been chastised or whatever. A diplomatic mission is a diplomatic mission, I don’t really care if it’s a tent, especially if the ambassador, the presidents personal representative, is in that tent. This guy deserved better, and so did the CIA types. And even if the ambassador wasn’t there, the Americans who were there deserved something other than “we can’t do it.” He and others were let down by their leadership (and the next level after ambassador is Clinton). Did I expect Clinton to know? You bet. This wasn’t some quiet Mission in the middle of Europe. This was front-burner. Some heads should have rolled. I see being a leader, especially a senior leader, as taking responsibility for your failures as well as your successes (actually you take the failures and give the successes to your subordinates).

    Really, I know nothing. I did know how things were organized and worked when I was on active duty and I can’t imagine it has changed all that much. I don’t watch Fox News (or MSNBC). I’m not a fan of anyone presently in Congress, regardless of party, who are more interested in themselves and keeping themselves in office than doing what is right. What my experience tells me is that these folks were left to die, with no attempt to help them. That’s a failure of senior leadership. And that is what will always stick in mind on this issue. If I were an ambassador right now I might be thinking I’m not quite as important as I think I am, being the President’s personal representative and all that.

    Rogue ambassador, known for doing risky stuff? Unauthorized CIA operatives and missions? Leadership doesn’t know what’s going on? And hey, it was Sep 11 and most people in this line of work know that around anniversaries of major attacks it’s especially cool if you can do something dramatic. Appears to me to be a pretty loose ship (and that in itself deserves a critical look).

    You have the last word. This horse is flogged pretty good. I’ll do nothing to change your view, nor you, mine. Good evening.

  23. He did not deserve his fate. It was a tragedy but it was brought on by going to a CIA outpost operating in a dangerous place with opposition insurgents in and around the compound. People knew that.

    As is often the case with many tragedies of this kind – something obviously went foobar…. but almost surely NOT at the State Dept or POTUS level. Errors in judgement were made and consequences occurred.

    this kind of thing happened all the time in Iraq and Afghanistan… there were errors of judgement and people died… and some were court martialed, some were held to account in other ways, some discharged and some escaped any accounting.

    I could not begin to tell you who was held responsible for the Cole or Abu Ghraib or Fort Hood or the NSA, etc. But I’m pretty sure that investigations were held and things identified that went sideways that should not have.

    and don’t get me wrong. The POTUS DID seem to know about the NSA and ultimately he may be wearing some of the dirt and maybe should. The folks who gave the FISA court unchallenged power should also be held accountable but in both cases it’s ALSO going to be a bunch of Congressman who will “swear” they were not “told”.. I’m betting..

    But when things like this become partisan – you essentially destroy any hope of actually getting an honest inquiry as people choose up sides and that’s the effective end of honest inquiry.

    I respect your point of view but I disagree with it strongly. Just about everything that happens these days becomes a partisan affair. The POTUS cannot go on vacation.. cannot stay in a motel… cannot do anything without someone turning it into a partisan issue and race seems to be part of it at times. The cartoons with the POTUS in it are about as racist as it can get and I’ve never seen anything like it for prior POTUS.

    and I’ll finish once more – saying that this POTUS does have his problems and I do not defend him personally… he’s made mistakes.. no question about it. He’s about the worst I have seen in making personal relationships with members of both aisles in the Congress – he cannot himself get beyond the partisan atmosphere and rancor and that’s a failure of leadership but to be honest, the rancor is also about as bad as I’ve seen.

  24. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    “Egypt – I would have cut off all foreign aid months ago. I would be in quiet talks with Saudi Arabia to do the same.

    There now, that wasn’t so hard – was it.”

    Actually, the NY Times has an analysis this morning noting that two words make Egypt so important: Suez Canal.

    During the Iraq and Afghan wars, U.S. ties with Egypt, namely military aid, meant that U.S.warships got priority passing through the Suez, saving them crucial time on a Round the Horn trip.

    Egypt also gave U.S. aircraft priority in crossing.

    U.S. involvement in Egypt since the 1970s and Sadat led to a peace with Israel. Part of that deal involved a buildup of Egyptian forces to give them stability vis a vis Israel and other neighbors.
    So, Don, it might be a little harder than you think to completely drop military aid.What the military has done is horrible but just dropping them might be far worse.

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