The Bookworm Beat 12/15/14 — The truth and only the truth edition, and Open Thread

Woman writingI finally got my Christmas cards out, which is always such a Herculean task. It shouldn’t be, since I do the whole thing online. Moreover, I actually like sending out cards. The reason I delay is because I always hope that I’ll find that perfect picture of the children. At a certain point, though, I realize it’s not going to happen, and I just go with what I’ve got.

And speaking of what I’ve got, I’ve got links!!

The lying-est administration ever

I’ve been harping on Obama’s pathological lies since he was on the campaign trail in 2007 and 2008. Since institutions tend to rot from the top down, it shouldn’t be a surprise, therefore, that the entire administration is riddled with lies. Indeed, the entire Democrat party is, thanks in part to a great head start with the Clinton administration. While this rank, pervasive dishonesty is nothing new, I particularly like how Daniel Greenfield puts it:

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Is Joe Biden actually Obama’s brain?

Joe Biden

You all remember from the Bush-era how we were told repeatedly that Dick Cheney was George Bush’s brain.  That notion arose when the Left couldn’t square Bush’s effectiveness as an executive (never mind his years of executive experience) with their certainty that he was, in fact, an idiot.  They were so relieved when they decided that Cheney was Bush’s puppet master.  I won’t debate the truth of that.  Suffice to say that I believe that George Bush was fully capable of handling the job.

Seth Mandel, however, floats the interesting notion — with actual facts supporting it — that Joe Biden has become Obama’s brain:

In October 2008, in a highly publicized and eagerly anticipated vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, Biden said something that would have been notable were it not for his reputation for bluster and braggadocio. When moderator Gwen Ifill asked the candidates about the job description and value of the vice presidency of the United States, Biden said this:

With regard to the role of vice president, I had a long talk, as I’m sure the governor did with her principal, in my case with Barack. Let me tell you what Barack asked me to do. I have a history of getting things done in the United States Senate. John McCain would acknowledge that. My record shows that on controversial issues. I would be the point person for the legislative initiatives in the United States Congress for our administration. I would also, when asked if I wanted a portfolio, my response was, no. But Barack Obama indicated to me he wanted me with him to help him govern. So every major decision he’ll be making, I’ll be sitting in the room to give my best advice. He’s president, not me, I’ll give my best advice.

This was Biden promising–and on the heels of the tenure of Dick Cheney, criticized volubly by the left for his active role in the White House–that he would be an unusually powerful vice president. And it was Biden’s way of reassuring those who were concerned about Obama’s inexperience. Obama may not be ready for all the challenges of the presidency, Biden was saying, but don’t worry: I’ll be in the room. And Obama may not have the kind of relationships with Congress that can get difficult legislation passed, but don’t worry: Uncle Joe will get it done.

It’s striking just how correct Biden was. Obama has bungled one negotiation with Congress after another, and Biden has stepped in. And when it comes to national security decision making, Biden has, in fact, been in the room.

[snip]

And Biden’s success in this White House has raised another uncomfortable truth: that President Obama so often needs to be saved from himself. As Pete wrote yesterday, Obama’s press conference on the debt ceiling was filled with reprehensible, shameful slanders about Obama’s political opponents. Such was the case when Obama called that absurd rally/standup comedy routine to taunt Republicans while a deal on the fiscal cliff was still being hammered out by those who were working instead of kicking dirt at their opponents. Obama’s behavior should embarrass both the president and the Democrats, but it’s also the result of a moral hazard: Obama can refuse to engage intellectually with is opponents because someone else will do it for him. And he can work to destroy any progress on the problem solving others are conducting because Biden will clean up his mess.

If this doesn’t scare you, it should.  It’s like the movie Dumb and Dumber, with Dumber pulling the strings.  Or maybe it’s a movie called Evil and Dumber, and we should just be grateful that it’s Dumber who’s in charge.

Puppet on a string

Mandel notes that Biden’s increasing power makes him a good candidate for the 2016 presidential race.  Biden’s problem is is toxic public statements that manage to offend one and all.  However, he’s always been liked in D.C., and he now (finally) has a resume.

As with so many things shaping up this year, I don’t like where this is going.

Colin Powell — backstabber (and frontstabber)

I’ve never liked Colin Powell.  I always viewed him as a political hack, despite his military chops.  My dislike for him increased exponentially when I read one of Bob Woodward’s hatchet jobs on George W. Bush and quickly realized that Powell was Woodward’s main source.  Although Woodward didn’t say that, it didn’t take a genius to figure out that all the passages lambasting Bush and highlighting Powell’s brilliance and prescience came from Powell himself.  He’s a sneaky bastard, and I don’t say that as a backhanded compliment.

Powell’s sneaky bastardness continues unabated in his current attack on Cheney.  Aside from being a full frontal attack, it turns out, as Jennifer Rubin explains, that it’s predicated entirely on lies and, worse, on lies that are meant to obscure Powell’s own reprehensible behavior.

Maybe living in a target city helps the reality checks

Richard Cohen, after an opening paragraph in which he basically begs Leftist bloggers not to attack him (“I hate Cheney more than you do”) goes on to do a pretty honest evaluation of the merits of Cheney’s claim that “enhanced interrogation techniques” save lives (and throws in a nice little attack on Pelosi’s embarrassing efforts to avoid her own past):

Still, every dog has his day, and Cheney is barking up a storm on the efficacy of what can colloquially be called torture. He says he knows of two CIA memos that support his contention that the harsh interrogation methods worked and that many lives were saved. “That’s what’s in those memos,” he told Schieffer. They talk “specifically about different attack planning that was underway and how it was stopped.”

Cheney says he once had the memos in his files and has since asked that they be released. He’s got a point. After all, this is not merely some political catfight conducted by bloggers, although it is a bit of that, too. Inescapably, it is about life and death — not ideology, but people hurling themselves from the burning World Trade Center. If Cheney is right, then let the debate begin: What to do about enhanced interrogation methods? Should they be banned across the board, always and forever? Can we talk about what is and not just what ought to be?

In a similar vein, can we also find out what Nancy Pelosi knew and when she knew it? If she did indeed know about waterboarding back in 2003, that would hardly make her a war criminal. But if she knew and insists otherwise, that would make her one of those people who will not acknowledge that the immediate post-Sept. 11 atmosphere allowed for methods that now seem abhorrent. Certain Democratic politicians remind me of what Oscar Levant supposedly said of Doris Day: “I knew [her] before she was a virgin.” They have no memory of who they used to be.

I’m impressed that Cohen was able to rise against both his own personal and political biases.  I’m not inclined to believe, though, that he was motivated purely by high-mindedness. I assume Cohen lives in either New York or Washington.  I therefore wonder if his sudden willingness to reexamine the whole “torture” thing is because he lives in cities that, to terrorists’ eyes, have big targets painted on them.

It’s easy to whine about the immorality of torture when you’re pretty sure that, despite your whining, your government is going to use a certain amount of bullying against the bad guys to protect you.  It becomes less easy to support that high-minded stance when you’re suddenly faced with the specter of a government that promises to take you seriously, even if that means it helps paint even brighter colors on the target currently decorating your backside.