While regular readers know that I personally despise Obama as an intellectual lightweight and an incompetent leader, he alone is not responsible for the current economic and foreign policy mess. He’s just helping exacerbate things. Truth is, Obama’s problems were created by George W. Bush and the Republicans. I am pissed at everyone.

I was reminded of this the other day while listening to John McCain agitate for more US military intervention in Syria. He did the same stupid shit with respect to Libya. So, it is not just Obama who is advocating dangerous interventionist policies with respect to Syria.

As we approach the fiscal cliff, Republicans are wanting to protect the so-called “Bush tax cuts.” What this discussion ignores is the role that Bush spending played in worsening the deficit. Bush, with the backing of Republicans, authorized going to war in Iraq without the means to pay for it. Remember the insane claims of Josh Bolten and Paul Wolfowitz?

If Republicans want to claim the mantle of being fiscally responsible then they need to repent of this grievous sin.

The costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are significant. Rumsfeld insisted we could do Iraq for $60 billion. Actual cost? Close to 1 Trillion. Vanity Fair provided a thorough analysis of this:

In the run-up to the war there were few public discussions of the likely price tag. When Lawrence Lindsey, President Bush’s economic adviser, suggested that it might reach $200 billion all told, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld dismissed the estimate as “baloney.” Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz went as far as to suggest that Iraq’s postwar reconstruction would pay for itself through increased oil revenues. Rumsfeld and Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels estimated the total cost of the war in the range of $50 to $60 billion, some of which they believed would be financed by other countries.

For fiscal year 2008 the administration has asked for nearly $200 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If Congress provides the money, as it almost certainly will, then the total appropriated for direct operations in these two countries (including reconstruction, embassy costs, enhanced base security, and foreign aid) since the wars began will come to roughly $800 billion. It is extremely difficult to disentangle the Iraq and Afghanistan numbers, but Iraq is by far the larger endeavor and accounts for about three-fourths of the total. By the administration’s own reckoning, then, the cost of the Iraq war, counting only the money officially appropriated, will soon be some $600 billion, or more than 10 times Rumsfeld’s original number.

Then there was the matter of the prescription drug benefit. Remember how the Republicans behaved back then?

Here are some things that happened on the night the GOP pushed the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit through the House of Representatives:

A 15-minute vote was scheduled, and at the end of 15 minutes, the Democrats had won. The Republican leadership froze the clock for three hours while they desperately whipped defectors. This had never been done before. The closest was a 15-minute extension in 1987 that then-congressman Dick Cheney called “the most arrogant, heavy-handed abuse of power I’ve ever seen in the 10 years that I’ve been here.”

Tom DeLay bribed Rep. Nick Smith to vote for the legislation, using the political future of Smith’s son for leverage. DeLay was later reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee.

The leadership told Rep. Jim DeMint that they would cut off funding for his Senate race in South Carolina if he didn’t vote for the bill.

The chief actuary of Medicare, Rick Foster, had scored the legislation as costing more than $500 billion. The Bush administration suppressed his report, in a move the Government Accounting Office later judged “illegal.”

Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, a “no” vote, spent the night “hiding on the Democratic side of the floor, crouching down to avoid eye contact with the Republican search team.”

Rep. Butch Otter, who provided one of the final votes after hours of arm-twisting from the Republican leadership, said, “I thought there was a chance I would get sick on the floor.”

Let’s not kid ourselves that the Democrats are the only ones that have behaved recklessly when it comes to managing Federal Government expenditures.

Just because Republicans did it does not make it right for Democrats to do it. The actions of the Republicans were detrimental to the security and financial stability of the United States. The Democrats are now perpetuating that madness. Curse them all.

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Larry C. Johnson is a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who moved subsequently in 1989 to the U.S. Department of State, where he served four years as the deputy director for transportation security, antiterrorism assistance training, and special operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism. He left government service in October 1993 and set up a consulting business. He currently is the co-owner and CEO of BERG Associates, LLC (Business Exposure Reduction Group) and is an expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, and crisis and risk management, and money laundering investigations. Johnson is the founder and main author of No Quarter, a weblog that addresses issues of terrorism and intelligence and politics. NoQuarterUSA was nominated as Best Political Blog of 2008.
  • Bobby Filmor

    My god! Larry Johnson is trying to be a little fair and balanced. Almost the first time in the last 4 to 5 years.

    The truth is that the GOP has never been fiscally responsible. Their endless unpaid for tax cuts have only ever pushed the country into larger deficits and debt. If you look at the history and the numbers, it is clear that the Democrats have been far more fiscally responsible for over many Presidents.

    If John McCain was President and not Obama, the deficit and debt would look very much the same today. There was no way McCain would have been able to cut spending during an economic downturn. He might have done another unpaid for tax cut by now, which might have made the deficit actually worse. And if McCain was President we certainly would still be in Iraq, have a bigger presence in Afghanistan and been much more militarily involved right across the Middle East, including in Syria. There would be no chance under John “endless war” McCain that we would cut military spending.

    If you think Obama is an intellectual lightweight, then what do you think of McCain, Romney and Bush? Obama towers over those clowns.

    • Popsmoke

      Yep Bobby! The doctor most certainly slapped your mother when you were born…

  • akaPatience

    There were many on the left who supported the war in Iraq, and for several years. Bush got more than just Republican backing for his folly. Thomas Friedman of the NYT was a long-time apologist for it. And in 2008 The Left characterized the war in Afghanistan as “The Right War”. So I don’t think Bush and the Republicans deserve total blame when it comes to warfare expenditures. The ONLY good thing I can say about McCain’s “stupid shit” is at least his stance is upfront and transparent, something the Obama administration seems incapable of. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate likes to have it both ways.

    I don’t begrudge seniors help with prescription medications since drug prices are a major driver of rising healthcare costs. I can’t believe anyone on The Left has the nerve to comment about its cost though, considering how profligately they spend otherwise. I’m much more bothered by the expansion of food stamps, SSI, SS Disability, and other welfare-type eligibility when it comes to the cost of “entitlement” spending.


    might as well laugh now, we will be crying later



    politicians are always looking to their legacies. Any one want to remind Boehner of the legacy of Neville Chamberlain?? he kept giving in and look what happened.

    Get some guts, just a reminder YOU hold the purse strings unless you give them up to backtrack



    how about this trifecta

    bush – backtrack – holder??????

    would the republicans get the balls to stop it????

  • Justine00

    Romney’s comment shortly before the election re: US intervention in Syria cooled me on enthusiasm for Romney, tho I did, of course, vote ABO (Romney). I totally agree with your “despise Obama” characterization, Larry!

  • no_longer_a_democrat

    I found this on zerohedge on just how in debt we are, and there is really no way out, well, there is a way out, a growing private economy and less entitlements, until the debt is more sustainable… but this will never happen, so there is no way out.


  • no_longer_a_democrat

    my 2 cents, let it go over the “fiscal cliff”, most of that money is borrowed anyways…repubs just get the hell out of the way, you and any sane americans who want fiscal sanity will be blamed for every single damn thing anyways…

    the country is headed towards 20 trillion, and that trajectory is only going to accelerate as interest payments on the debt will start massively going up.

    just step on the accelerator, we are already off the cliff, the rest of the world knows it…

  • no_longer_a_democrat

    “Curse them all” is right.

    I will admit, I am partial to tea party people, many of whom I’ve met are former democrats like me as well as many independents and fiscal conservative repubs; all of them go after repubs and dems.

    I find it so amusing all these dimocrats are bitching and moaning about the mean ol’ repubs going after Soetero. The only repubs who seem to be doing that are the same fiscal cons ( NOT neocons) who went Bush for his excessive spending and his wars, etc.

    this country is headed for a crash, there is really no way around it, all these policies on all sorts of topics, healthcare, illegal immigration, etc etc, none of that matters when the debt is approaching 20+ trillion. The only thing to see is will China take over as the world’s largest economy before America wakes up and tries to turn this around, my 2 cents, the trajectory is set, this country is in decline, we had wars we couldn’t pay for, we have crappy social programs like Obama”care” that no one wanted and we can’t pay for and the economy is shrinking, so the revenues that the private sector gives is shrinking, govt spending is massively expanding, and revenues are plummeting — the difference made up either 1) printing up the difference or 2) putting the debt on the next generation 16.5+ trillion

    Same stuff happened in Rome, when it went from a republic to an empire, same happened to the British, and the dutch before them.

  • HARP2


    The White House has the power to temporarily protect taxpayers from middle-class tax hikes even as upper income rates rise if Congress does nothing and all of the Bush-era tax rates expire in January.

    Experts and lawmakers alike agree that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has the power to adjust how much is withheld from paychecks for tax purposes — for all taxpayers or just for some.

    By doing so, Geithner could ensure paychecks reflect the White House position that wealthier taxpayers with annual income higher than $250,000 see their taxes rise. Geithner at the same time could leave withholding tables where they are for the middle class, ensuring those workers don’t see a higher cut from their paychecks.


  • buzzlatte3

    I don’t know if I’m more pissed off about the fiscal cliff or the Agenda 21 mess or the Executive Orders Obama keeps making.

  • elizabethrc

    Isn’t this a reason to impose term limits? Too much power in too few (a majority of which are intellectually limited and haven’t a clue that this money is not theirs, but ours, and have no idea now economics works) and this is what you get.
    Time for a change. Bring in a new generation with the proved ability to balance a checkbook, think for themselves, have a demonstrated history of running a successful business, and be fully open about their past history…what they’ve done, what they’ve said, all of it!
    The bubble is vast indeed, and the only ones who are able to see outside of that bubble are those of us who live the lives imposed on us every day by people who simply do not have our best interest anywhere close to the surface of their thinking. Better start really asking the tough questions of our future candidates or we’ll never get out of this mess.
    This goes for both parties!

    • buzzlatte3

      But as a dem “friend” told me. Paul Ryan is “EEEVIL!!!”

  • HARP2

    None of them will advocate a flat tax with NO exemptions. That would put the lobbyists out to pasture and they all want to get on that revolving door gravy train.

  • foxyladi14

    Happy Hanukkah to all celebrating the festival of lights!

  • getfitnow

    The DC crowd has wrecked the country. We have no leadership of any kind anymore. We’re already off the cliff. It’s a matter of when we hit

    BTW, I saw that POTUS will be “campaigning,” (agitate against the right-to-work legislation on behalf of his peeps), in Michigan tomorrow. Yeah, he’s focused, like a laser, on working with the GOP.

  • DianaLC

    Thanks, Larry, for writing this. I am truly sick of the politicians in this country. When I do my personal finances, I do it by using MATH. I figure out how much I have on hand, then add up what I MUST pay to keep my credit rating where I want it to be, then whatever is left I get to choose to buy something I want but don’t need (since I have more than I need) or to give to the charities I like and to help my kids (my personal, non tax deductibe charity).

    I do not use my political agenda at all in figuring my budget.

    I watched the McCain rant that you mention and just shook my head. Here are the Republicans and the Democrats again yelling about WMD, and I’m left with wondering how good the intel is on this sarin gas crisis. I’m wondering how many of our fine young Americans are going to die for this current “crisis.”

    I worry about Israel there in the midst of it all and the innocent children and women, but I’m at the point of letting all those Middle Eastern lunatics just kill themselves off.

    When I taught junior high (as it was then called), we teachers used to joke that the only thing that could be done with regard to the 8th graders whose brains had shut down while their hormones were raging was to ship them all to a deserted island and then finally take the survivors back into civilization.

    I no longer give a rat’s patooty whether it’s sunni, shia, moderate, or whatever fundamentalist organization that is causing the uproar. Just make our country energy independent, and forget about them until they enter the twenty-first century (though by they time they do, the rest of the world may all be in the twenty-second century and my New Age friends will be in the fifth dimension).

    • buzzlatte3

      I’m sick of splinter group victimhood. That goes for all of them.

  • Popsmoke

    Ditto…Ditto and DITTO!

  • KenoshaMarge

    I certainly do curse them all! I loathed the Republicans for what they did when they had the power and I loathe the Dems for what they are doing now.

    Neither side gives a rat’s ass about the country. Neither side has any integrity or honesty.

    I loathe the Dems worse because they are now the party with the most power and because I was once stupid enough to be a Democrat.

    But most of all I loathe the complicit media that refuses to investigate or report on Dem misdeeds as they so gleefully reported and investigated on the misdeeds of the Republicans.

    We are in deep enough shit with corrupt, stupid and 2 power-hungry parties. When you add a corrupt and biased press we are so screwed!

    • foxyladi14


    • buzzlatte3

      You got it! The dems are blatantly destructive and I’m sorry I ever voted for one – including Clinton.

  • Hokma

    Right on the money, although when it comes to spending you have to go much farther back than just GW Bush.

    Regarding Syria, what sense does it make to support any side in this civil war since both sides wiil be our enemy. And there is certainly sufficient evidence that the Assad would be the lesser of evils for the U.S. in the region.

  • driguana

    Yep…curse them all, for they are all to blame but neither of them will get us out of this mess either….so we have a serious dilemma. They will clearly not compromise in a way that will actually solve problems, so any proposed solutions will only and entirely be political. What we need is “leadership” and right now this country is both rudderless and leaderless. Obama is definitely not a leader but where will a leader come from who will guide us out of this socioeconomic quagmire????