Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Friday, May 30, 2014

Joe the Plumber Says a Really Weird Thing About Guns

I have a weird soft spot in my heart for people who get plucked up out of obscurity and find themselves accidental spokespeople for random things because it just seems like whatever it is that makes "good tv to watch" happen, is all over them. So I try not to really judge Joe the Plumber (AKA Samuel Wurzelbacher) the way I do elected officials with a real political job to do, because really--he kind of became the mascot of the McCampaign in a flash of that campaign's need to associate with the "Everyman".  But he blossomed into a real political fringe figure.  So, if mainstream news orgs pay attention to him like he's an actual politician, I sort of feel like I have to do the same.

So it happened that I ignored it when he said that the dead kids of UCSB didn't trump his 2nd Amendment rights; I winced, but let it go. Ever since Charlton Heston gravely intoned that he would relinquish his guns when they were taken from his cold, dead hands (which shows at least, some acceptance of what it might mean to be outgunned, no?) firearms enthusiasts have articulated some form of "over my dead body!" to describe their reluctance to relinquish any license to keep and bear their arms. It just seemed especially tacky to take an "over your kid's dead body!" stand. But so what? Into every life, some tackiness must fall.

But I really must remark upon the thing he said so very lately:

Wurzelbacher lists several reasons for owning a gun (home invasion, etc.) but says the best reason for owning a gun is to keep politicians from trying to take said gun. 
“Guns are mostly for hunting down politicians who would actively seek to take your freedoms and liberty away from you. Google ‘Hitler, Mao, Kim Jung-il, Castro, Stalin’ just for starters,” he suggests. 
“Whistles don’t protect women from rape – a Glock does!” he added. “When armed men come into your house to steal, a baseball bat doesn’t cut it. Unless you have an automatic-baseball bat. I want one of those – email me. 
“When a nut-job decides to go on a killing spree and the cops are 5 to 15 minutes away, you are screwed unless you are carrying a Colt.”

Eric Shinseki Steps Down From VA Post

There is something inevitable about the resignation of Eric Shinseki from his position as Secretary of Veterans Affairs.  It isn't a sign of wrongdoing at all--rather, a recognition that at this point, new leadership is called for in order to make more effective changes at the agency. For one thing, it means a shake-up in the system that the folks who deliberately fudged numbers were gaming. For another, it means an opportunity to bring in people who will be highly motivated to get results--Eric Shinseki was a dedicated and honest man whose ouster is possibly in part politically-motivated, but there will be real motivations for some other officials at troubled VA facilities to lose their posts also. They do say "A new broom sweeps clean."

The systemic problems within a bureaucracy are usually linked--you can try and tackle the Mother Trouble, and still have a nest of baby Troubles to deal with. What I think would be key for the incoming VA Secretary to concentrate on isn't benchmarks--but getting a good accounting of what real wait-times and backlogs are like, and a better reckoning of what is needed to rectify these issues.

All that being said, if there was a scandal in the VA problems having gone unresolved for all this time (problems as far as we know, having  reached back for decades) , I think it would be a real scandal if there was also a delay in approval of a new Secretary for the office. We're positively counting on the President to find a suitable replacement, but I think it would be wise, in light of the seriousness of VA business being done, that no partisan games are played in delaying such an appointment for any reason other than real unsuitability,

Missing So Many Signs

Reading more about the period leading up to USBC killer Elliot Rodger's murderous spree is profoundly saddening, because it just looks to me like there were so many missed signs, in part I think because a certain kind of violent strain in our discourse has become sort of expected. It really seems like this could have been avoided somehow.

But just as far as procedural matters go, it strikes me as inadequate that officers who performed a wellness check on Rodgers were aware of his videos, but didn't think to view them before seeing Rodgers himself. The videos are chilling in their hostility towards women (and pretty much anyone who gets on with them...) and pretty explicit as to his eventual criminal intent--because he made those videos feeling at liberty to say what was on his mind. In the presence of authority, is it really to be expected that he'd behave in a genuine fashion--as in, tipping off that he's very much thinking of being a danger to himself and others? Also, in a slight rebuke to those who think being on a list means gungrabbers will be out to get you--the fact that California has a database of gun purchasers apparently isn't useful for sorting out who might be a danger in using them, if such a list is not checked at all. 

This sort of thing bothers me. I think rationally, whenever anything particularly horrible happens, we want to try and see how it can be prevented from happening again. When I read something in the aftermath of these murders, like this distinctly sickening account of what sorts of things are openly contemplated at one of the little digital Boys' Only clubhouses, I can definitely see where there is a real problem in trying to separate the mere fantasists, from the thoroughgoing fanatics.

I think it also bears saying that Rodgers' own accounting of himself and the comments of others who knew him point to episodes of rage that were dramatically and inappropriately acted upon. It really seems like this human timebomb had been ticking for awhile, and people were in a way, trying not to hear.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Still Maya Angelou Rises

If it is true that a person will be remembered for how they made people feel, then let me tell you, Maya Angelou was positivity unrestrained, a force of optimism and a boon to the human spirit, a person who in words made it clear that words themselves mattered because they were how the human mind expressed itself even to a contrary world. Her experience and eloquence touched many people and she will live on in fierce words and kind words, in powerful words and soft words that turned away wrath, in wisdom and with the affection of many to whom she was a voice of inspiration. As many writers do, she wrote her epitaph again and again, in her case, with no false words and also with acts of grace.

She remains a uniquely American treasure.

Ed Snowden Gave An Interview to Brian Williams.

And Brian Williams has freely taken. I'm not any kind of big old national security blogger, and I've never fully made up my mind where to stand on the subject of Ed Snowden, because he is just sui generis.  It is exactly true that his exploits have raised a conversation hitherto unthinkable--and I might add that what we will do exactly about it remains unthinkable, also. But I think the thing that everyone gasped about when it was dropped as a come-on to the rest of the interview was his claim that he is a "spy"--like, having worked for the CIA. NSA, and DOD under cover, what else would you even call him?

I don't know. Since he got treed in an airport after his passport was burned with no alternative but somehow to go to Russia, I'm thinking other terms might apply. I've called him the "Spy who Came in from the Warm" because "spy" is the only thing that makes sense, whether in the old-fashioned "working for a nation-state" sense or even in the less-conventional corporate-spy sense.

After all this, I'm giving it even odds that he's still a limited hang-out for US spy programs that were getting outed anyway and and doing modest and even overlooked tasks as "Our Man in Moscow" currently.

Or whatever. I've read way too many spy novels as a kid and am way too warped by the Cold War mentality now to think anyone is ever a straight-dealer where cloak, dagger, and digital data are concerned. Which is why I can't really appreciate whether this interview actually provided "information" per se.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Climate Tuesday--Fire and Water

Wildfires are raging in the west, with one in Alaska currently about the size of the entire city of Chicago. That isn't necessarily out of line for a wildfire in that area, but it is coming early, as conditions make it dry and warm enough to spark a conflagration sooner--and if that dry and warm pattern endures for a little longer it will make future wildfires for the season likely.   What we know is that wildfires are liable to increase under climate change, as some areas become drier and more drought-prone, but the sad kicker to that is that wildfires themselves contribute to the conditions that spur climate change. Some areas are going to be drier because they will lack the snow pack that once lent much needed-moisture to the otherwise combustible terrain. In any event, we've a situation where fires will happen--and forest management in terms of controlled burns comes with risks.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

For those who served under imperfect conditions, who served an imperfect nation, who experienced imperfect freedoms but considered the promise of this country and the potential of a more perfect and free life for our nation worth paying their lives for, the only reasonable pledge is to continue building a more-perfect union, and to honor the service and uphold the promises made to those who yet live, and also served. Words don't do a whole lot--they mark memorials adequately and sometimes comfort. In the memory of those who gave all, though, words are best consecrated to a promise not to waste life and to always remember what has been lost and can not be returned. And to honor the living for the sake of the fallen, to appreciate what their sacrifice was for.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Men Who Hate Women

There is something that is real hard-going about watching this video of Elliot Rodgers, who killed six other people besides himself all, apparently, due to his hatred of women. This is a person with delusions of grandeur about his "nice guy", "good catch" qualities, and a palpable hatred of women, that he feels are rejecting him because they are some kind of evil bitches--and not because there is something about him that happens to be be screaming "potential really bad guy".

It's hard to watch, because even if you can write this killer of people off as very obviously not right in his mind, he is saying things that people on YouTube comments, on Reddit, on pretty much any social forum, have basically tried to say--shouldn't women be dead if they don't submit to men?  Aren't they there to give their bodies up for sex and reproduction? What other point than their biology do they even have?

So something like this:

Isn't necessarily worrying to that many people. It is not a warning sign that he doesn't see women as people that he doesn't think they really should decide who to have sex with.

When feminists talk about "rape culture", this is pretty much the worst-case scenario guy. He believes he is so entitled to women's bodies that they should die if they don't submit. When the truth of the matter is, this is the very last person any thinking woman would want in her bed, because he specifically does not see her as a person to respect and work with and more germane to all of our concerns--not harm. Men are often stronger than we are physically. We very much do try to shield ourselves from harm. Not all men harm women--this so true that not one of us who has a lover, husband, brother, or father who has been by our side in a crisis needs to be told, but there is also not one of us who does not know a woman who was harmed by a man. We all do. We have all heard stories of friends or sisters or mothers who were brutalized. And many of us have been victims or nearly victims ourselves.We have all the evidence we could ever want of this image of men who just seem to hate women. He is not alone in the world of men who hate women. He even found a community, whilst he was alive, where his hatred of us could be expressed. He could even envision concentration camps of women being starved to death, while a handful were retained for reproduction.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Of Smoking Guns and Squirt Pistols

An interesting development has taken place regarding the whole Benghazi mishegas: there has been an email uncovered like you never--wait--I will tell it to you from Jonathan Karl who got a hold of it you don't know how (no, you do) but you could think he's on to something:

A still-classified State Department e-mail says that one of the first responses from the White House to the Benghazi attack was to contact YouTube to warn of the "ramifications" of allowing the posting of an anti-Islamic video, according to Rep. Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The subject line of the e-mail, which was sent at 9:11 p.m. Eastern Time on the night of the attack, is "Update on Response to actions - Libya." The was written hours before the attack was over. 
Issa has asked the White House to declassify and release the document. In the meantime he has inserted a sentence from the e-mail in the Congressional Record. 
"White House is reaching out to U-Tube [sic] to advice ramification of the posting of the Pastor Jon video," the e-mail reads, according to Issa.
Wait, wait, what?  Is this email saying that the people in the government who realized that there was an attack going on in Benghazi concurrent with protests in Tripoli, in Cairo, in wherever, might have thought these things were related, and this was how to stop them, precisely as if there was no cover-up of anything at all, and the related interests at the government level were just covering their bases like grown-ups do? Because that was the intelligence, and that was what the White House said?

Wow. It's like almost the written record just about never solicits anything like the cover-up narrative.  I wonder if the lack of a cover-up has anything to do with that.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Joe Scarborough Hears No Evil

Joe Scarborough has never heard anyone object to Obamacare over race? Not ever? That doesn't seem right. It seems to me he may be misremembering some things. Did he somehow miss that some opponents of Obamacare were referring to it as "reparations"? Did he miss the Civil War flair with which some people were hyperventilating about "states' rights" and giving "free stuff" to "some people"?   Did he miss the uglier tone of some of the Tea Party rhetoric? (Or perhaps, a picture is worth a thousand words?)

It would be impossible for someone to miss that the issue of race is simply there whenever a program is proposed that might help the "blah people".  Can you think of another reason that Obama might, for example, be called a "food stamp president" when more people signed up for benefits--in part due to a recession which Obama did not create and because people, as a point of biological fact, are dependent--on food, to live? Or for that matter, does it take any special stretch of the imagination to see why someone might think it fine to cut food benefits--for "urban" children, but not "rural" children, and realize that it's tied up with the same sort of mentality that decries the "lazy inner-city men"?

If he has managed to not catch that particular drift, I can only marvel at what a very well-insulated head Mr. Scarborough must have!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Just Putting Things Out There: The Perfidy of Karl Rove

I have long had a sense that the term "karma" was a spiritual way of stating the scientific fact that any action has an equal and opposite reaction. Or sometimes it only means the much more simple aphorism, "What comes around, goes around."

And so I think it goes with Karl Rove. I'm not sure but that he's on borrowed air, having courted enough billionaires' cash for his Crossroads venture that didn't pay-off with "the math" in the 2012 election that I still can't fathom why he hasn't become some flavor of spinmeister-jerky in a Nevada desert. But regardless, it still does my dark, grudge-prone heart good to hear that Meghan McCain blasted the bejaysus out of Turdblossom's crapulent hide. She quite properly related his comments about the mental health of former SOS Clinton regarding her fall to those very unfortunate and Rovian calls that took place in SC during the 2000 GOP primary bid.

It reveals something very true about Rove's modus operandi, that, once you've understood it, makes him fairly pathetic. His version of oppo is actually a dumb brute-force technique you could call "putting shit out there". It doesn't have to have the ring of truth essential and simon-pure--it just has to be basically plausible to the mouthbreathers. So some shit gets thrown out there that a darker-skinned member of the McCain household is Sen. McCain's biracial lovechild, when Meghan McCain's sister was adopted by her mother in an act of real love, but why would the truth matter--truth takes time to get out. But you can throw a lie at lightning speed, right? And then it just splashes down and ripples out.

Just like Hillary Clinton's head wound is supposed to splash down and ripple out into suppositions about whether she was wearing head trauma kinds of glasses instead of the kind of glasses middle-aged ladies sometimes wear to read like my mom does. It simply doesn't have to be true--it just gets out there. Like, somehow, maybe, bad "math" about the electability of certain candidates gets out there?  You want skewed polls? You want a prince of projectionism, whose oppo also kind of points back at the failings of the kinds of politicians he'd serve, and voila, you have your Rover. He's pathological and he's toxic.He will probably even fuck over the people who hire him or do business with him, because he can just go on FOX News or whatever and make it okay for himself--he thinks.

Does that sound a little harsh? I dunno. I'm just putting it out there.

There Really is a Scandal Regarding the VA

I think there has been significant awareness that Veterans' Affairs hasn't necessarily been able to meet the needs of the people this agency is supposed to serve, and while in some ways, it is trying to come up to some degree of efficiency, such as processing disability claims in a more timely manner, we've known since 2007 with the Walter Reed scandal that there was a genuine problem with neglect of our servicemembers and vets. That seven years later and with a change in the White House, we're hearing that the Phoenix VA Health Care System was not just unable to meet the needs of the people relying on them for care, but had the temerity to cover it up, is breath-taking in that these facilities should have been looked at first thing to see what was needed. That it's just now we're auditing them seems to suggest that we only realize stock must be taken of a situation once it has deteriorated to the point where people are dying--

And yet it does seem like we can easily ignore taking stock of the situation when the time comes to fund veterans' services, doesn't it?  I mean, by "we" I mean Republicans, because I think if there are manpower and facility-related costs to be addressed in the system--that would probably be something we could fix by trying to match costs to needs as opposed to making funding contingent on other matters like foreign policy questions that should be irrelevant to whether promised services are delivered.  I don't think Dems can be accused of wanting to starve government programs and I don't think people like Senator John McCain, who has voted against properly funding the VA many times, should be in such a hurry to point fingers. (It's no new story, but maybe a little ironic that someone who is so eager to send our folks to battle gives so few shits what happens to them when they get home.)

I will freely admit there is a real scandal here--I will only also submit that responsibility is very much shared.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Of Course Alan Grayson Isn't On the Benghazi Committee

I'm sympathetic to the idea that Alan Grayson, as an experienced trial lawyer who is, shall we say, not at all shy about punching back in response to GOP claims, would have been a good pick for the Benghazi committee, but I understand why Pelosi appointed the folks that she did. It would be a boost to the Democratic base to see one of our own slugging back, but the Republican base already dislikes Grayson and see him as a bombastic boob. He could be completely brilliant, and it wouldn't matter. He would serve as a lightning rod for GOP anger--and keep attention focused on "Benghazi, Benghazi, BENGHAZI!"

How is that strategic? The way I see it, Benghazi has been kept at the forefront because it lights a fire under the GOP base. There were three ways Democrats could go with this committee: they could deny it oxygen by not participating at all, they could throw cold water on it by putting some sober-sided individuals on the committee to keep things balanced--which I endorsed, or they could throw kerosene on it by making it the Trey Gowdy/Alan Grayson Partisan Wish Fulfilment Dance Party. Call me cynical, but the potential for spectacle does far more for the Fox News fans than it does for us. Sure it might feel like this is another case of "Beltway Dems Give Up, Again", but no. The Dem House leadership is just looking at the big picture.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Giving it up for Judge Jones--He's a Hero

Another really interesting thing happened here in PA today--there was a ruling that threw out our ban against gay marriage.  And the justice presiding is the same guy who ruled against intelligent design in Kitzmiller v Dover.  It's Judge John E. Jones III. I like him, you guys.

See, I tend to really be an empiricist. Facts speak for themselves to me. I like the idea of impartiality, I like people who just read what's there. Just like the Kitzmiller case involved obvious science vs some religious proselytizing dressing up in a labcoat, the case against marriage equality in PA basically had to do with the evidence that gay couples are not treated equally to straight couples under the law vs the trumped up idea that there were meaningful reasons why they should not be treated equally. Once again, there was an ipse dixit tilt o' the cap to SCOTUS Justice Scalia.

Just like the Utah or Oregon or Idaho cases, I don't know if this one will get bumped up onto the SCOTUS docket for us to see whether we can get something a little better than "why not?" But for the time being, I am happy for all my LGBT friends in PA who have this opportunity to have their union recognized just like mine is. Best of luck to you.

Sen. McConnell Will Still Get No Respect, And Other Election Things

Among other things, my state was one of those having a big primary day, and it looks like us ABCD's (Anybody But Corbett Democrats) will be getting behind Tom Wolf to take down the hopefully very vulnerable Republican governor. (I've just about gotten over thinking "the Bonfire of the Vanities/Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test writer?" when I hear Wolf's name. I read a lot. I've sorted myself.) I think the choice of Wolf makes sense as the guy with the best shot to take Corbett down. Us Dems--we don't like Corbett, and Wolf has a lot of charm, money, and smarts. We will see. Also, the young man (well, he's 37, but you tell me he doesn't still get carded) above is Brendan Boyle, who beat out Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, etc. to very probably be my next US Rep. I was in favor of him because he has hustle, he's bright, and I don't care about Chelsea Clinton's mother-in-law. I just want good representation. I don't know--Margolies-Mezvinky isn't bad--I just want someone who will consider being a Congressman a full-time job (my District leans left--Boyle is likely to get the seat).

But my local politics is still about Mitch McConnell coming out on top over Matt Bevin? I think this was basically to be expected--he had the incumbency, being the Senate Minority Leader, and a financial advantage behind him, but it looks like there is some ambivalence within the GOP base at large (not just in KY) about his success as a part of the party leadership.  This is a year where it has been supposed that the Senate Minority Leader could find himself a Majority leader.That transition may have something to do with McConnell's success against Democratic challenger Allison Lundergan Grimes.  And I think she will give him a real fight. He might not be leader of much if she beats him.

And in another US Senate primary match--it looks like a run-off for GA at the moment. But it looks like establishment has edged out crazy there, so. Such an interesting day!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Cecily McMillan Sentenced to 90 days, time served, 5 yrs probation.

I really don't know what to make of sentencing where the thing I think is--I'm happy it wasn't worse, where, in another part of my mind, I am also thinking--how did she even get charged in the first place?

See, in my mind she was just reacting to being handled roughly by the police. And I don't know that just reacting is a criminal offense. But she did hit the cop, so...uh.

Shit, I wonder what the guys harassing people down at Bundy Ranch might get charged with if they start hassling "the man" physically.

Just saying.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Climate Sunday: A Link Round-Up

Here are a few really good reads for this Climate Sunday:

AUDIO: Why Oklahoma Lawmakers Don't Want Kids To Learn About Climate

Read, reflect, discuss, act. 

This McDaniels Stuff is Pure Teabagger Tacky

I'll leave it to Tengrain to give the run-down, but to make it short and sweet, it kind of is beginning to look like the wild-ass notion of a pro-Chris McDaniels blogger to violate the privacy of Sen. Cochran's invalid wife might have been coordinated with the campaign. I think this is possible based on the reaction the McDaniels campaign is having that they are terribly shocked that circumstantial evidence tying their campaign to the unfortunate intrusion is being exploited by the Cochran folks.

Yep. The McDaniels campaign is the real victim here.

Clearly, I have no sympathy for a right-wing radio neo-confederate bottom feeder who decides to perform a pick-off of a long-time office-holder whose politics shouldn't really even offend him--but the idea that a vulnerable family member was targeted strikes me as going beyond political difference to something like malice. Now, if the point of this was to introduce people to the idea that the Senator was having some kind of personal relationship with one of his staff while his desperately ill spouse was still with us, I'm not sure it's relevant to the job he's doing as senator, and given that he's still a human being with emotional needs, I'm not even sure he'd be begrudged wanting companionship since his wife is truly lost to him by her disability.

I'm not sure what revealing the condition of the wife would add to the story--actually, all of this seems to make Cochran a more sympathetic figure, don't you think? If the McDaniels campaign was exploiting his private, personal life, regardless of what Cochran's relationship was--that's just cheap.

But if this turns out to be a rat-fucking to make the McDaniels' campaign look like heels, I'd have to stand back and admire the work, you know? That sort of thing would make Macchiavelli start up in the coffin and shake off the dirt.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Former Senator Scott Brown--He Never Fails, Except When He Does.

I'll admit, I have a lazy-political blogger tendency to follow the paths of politicians I think are naturally going to give me good material. That was why I was actually pretty happy to see former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown hop on back into the ring with a run against Jeanne Shaheen--not because I have a thing against Shaheen, who is probably walking away with this win, but because I am a lazy political blogger, and Scott Brown always gives me something to work with.  Always. He just brings it.

So can I talk about this NH campaign just a little?

One of the things I will give him credit for is to not ever not be punching--even if it's his own face:

Speaking to the Nashua Republican City Committee Thursday night, Brown accused Shaheen of voting for “every debt ceiling increase,” according to Friday's edition of theNashua Telegraph. He also pledged he would get the debt and deficit “under control,” the paper reported. 
But there was something he left out of his remarks to the Republicans: He also voted for raising the debt limit every time it came up. To be sure, Brown spoke out a lot about the need to cut spending and deficits during his three years in the Senate. But in 2011, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was trying to cut a deal to raise the limit, unlike other Republicans, Brown was the only one to cross the aisle and support Reid. He also slammed the greater intransigence of Republicans in the House, calling it "kind of pathetic."

Now, you know me, and you know the special place I have in my heart for the damn dumb foolishness of political fuckery over the debt ceiling--the full faith and credit of the United States, people--even being up for debate. So you know I was okay with the "blasphemy" of his aisle-crossing, being right on this, and really question the hell out of why he'd be using  the same issue now against his opponent--unless he thinks the "R" that shows up after his name means "Re-Do".

Friday, May 16, 2014

Red State Folks, I AM Terribly Sorry About This

See, from my pinched position as a coastal leftie who wants to shed my impression of the red states being chock full o'characters, I realize there must be some of youse (that is our Philly version of "y'all") that cringe when people are exactly the stereotype. Although that Harley guy isn't even like a stereotype. I think he's a Saturday Night Live Skit. But really, to my people, when "Butch Otter" isn't even the punchline, we have a thing to play with.  But I guess I won't. I'm just...sorry. These are Idaho's GOP candidates. I don't know what the fix for this is.

Also marriage equality happened in this state, so, uh, that was another thing I think maybe...nah. Not sorry.

In Which I Can Not Help Myself, Because...Tengrain.

Okay, I don't like to pick on Ann Coulter because I don't think she is actually well and picking on the unwell is not my scene, but, when the rabid Electra of the tragic Right mourns for an entire nation laboring under the tyranny of hashtags, there really is no answer but to slink to her Slitherin level.

It seems like Ann Coulter was not quite the figure of fun she is now, once upon a memory of mine, but I am old enough to remember K-tel music compilations and learned to crawl on a textured carpet. Anyway, I am old enough to remember that her slide towards random trollhood is not so new.  And continues to be sad. This may have everything to do with her copy-pasta-ing the same refrain "libs commies bad, me like guns, mens" with new footnotes, which naturally challenge the dedicated reader to test her veracity/reading comprehension.

Her social media fail is hardly a surprise; it's only a surprise it went viral because who knew so many people still recognized Coulter as a force once to be dealt with, let alone one so necessary to flick at, as one would a fly, to this day.

And yet it must be said--we see you, dear. Yes, we do.

Comparisons are Odorous, But Operation American Spring was Pretty Small, Is All

I can't help but give a moment to the thing that was supposed to happen today, because it isn't just every day that you get to roll your eyes at claims that, like, 10 million people will show up to overthrow a bipartisan bunch of the semi fascist powers that be (I don't know how long that link will stay valid). For comparison's sake, the crowd that occupied Tienanmen Square in Beijing back in 1989 was about a million at its height in a much more populous country. About that same number attended Barack Obama's 2008 inauguration on a pretty cold day. So that the resulting crowd today actually only looked like an average night's attendance at OWS  is kind of anticlimactic at best for the organizers, isn't it?  And not in a way that can only be blamed on the weather, which was, regrettably, pissing down rain. Keep your powder dry, right?

I know there is a claim that a lot of the patriots that might have come weren't available because they were down at the Bundy Ranch, but surely President Obama's nefarious weather machine also played a role, no?

Just raising questions, people. Just raising questions.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tucker Carlson does Not Understand Poor Nutrition

Remember these commercials?

Of course you do. The idea is that acquiring good nutrition from a poor source would require absurd amounts of it to meet one's needs. And it makes perfect sense--you don't want to eat too much, you want to eat smart. You want good food that fills you up and makes you healthy.

So here is where Carlson got all this so wrong.

“All of us should be happy about one thing, and it’s that for the first time in human history you have a country whose poor people are fat. So this does show this sort of amazing abundance,” he opined. 
“What?” Faulkner gasped. 
“For the last however many millennia, poor people starved to death,” Carlson explained. “And this is a country that’s so rich, whose agriculture sector is so vibrant and at the cutting edge technologically, that our food is so cheap, poor people are fat! I mean, I don’t know. We shouldn’t take that for granted.” 
“The cheaper foods tend to have the more fattening and artificial ingredients,” Faulkner pointed out. 
“I just saying, up until about 20 minutes ago — historically speaking — people just wanted enough calories,” Carlson replied. “And we’ve certainly achieved that.”

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

George Will Just Seems Extra-Insufferable Lately

I've commented on George Will before, but usually having to do with climate change--his denialism, for a supposedly smart person, is tiresome in its sheer repetitive belief that science somehow works like politics does. But to be pretty honest, on any forum he's been on, he has a habit of talking down as if he's a guy who knows things, so listen to his plausible bullshit, okay?

I think of it as "Willsplaining" for obvious reasons.

So I shrugged off his kind of "Hey, kid president, get off my White House lawn"  column of a few weeks back because--why yes, I did think it was pretty insulting to basically call the president childish, but on the other hand, I don't yet know what it's like to have a president who is younger than me, and I guess that might feel weird, huh? I mean, if Marco Rubio became president, he'd still be a whole year and a half older than me.  Maybe that is kind of a mindscrew. Who is this punk who uses the slang and has smoked the marijuana and thinks he is the boss of the country anyway, the whippersnapper? It's a generation gap thing. Maybe Will can't, like, relate.

But this thing here about putting down hashtag activism is pretty awkward in more than a few ways:

CHRIS WALLACE: I want to turn back to the kidnapping, the terrible kidnapping of these Nigerian schoolgirls in the little bit of time we have left in this segment. Because this week Michelle Obama and Malala Yousafzai joined the Bring Back Our Girls movement. More than 2 million people have now tweeted the hash tag. And George, I'm just curious. Because I'm not saying I was that familiar with this phenomenon. It's even got a name, #activism. And I'm curious what you make of it. Do you think that this is significant and helpful? And can make progress? Or do you think it's really about helping the people who tweet the hash tag feel better about themselves? 

GEORGE WILL: Exactly that. It's an exercise in self-esteem. I do not know how adults stand there facing a camera and say, bring back our girls. Are these barbarians in the wild of Nigeria are supposed to check their Twitter accounts and say, oh, Michelle Obama is very crossed with us, we better change our behavior. 

WALLACE: It's trending on Twitter. 

WILL: Power is the ability to achieve intended effects. And this is not intended to have any effect on the real world. It's a little bit like environmentalism has become. But the incandescent light bulb becomes the enemy. It has no effect whatever on the planet, but it makes people feel good about themselves.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Climate Sunday: Climate Change Denialism is the New Red-Baiters

With a new climate assessment released by the White House, it sure does seem like there has been a lot of denialism hitting the airwaves. It struck me that as recently as six or seven years ago, you could still find conservatives who supported things like cap and trade, or acknowledged that global warming was real, at least, but it just doesn't seem to be the case anymore. The position on the right seems to have devolved somewhat,  And it's really bloody boring, because I feel like I have seen this kind of thing before.

Take Charles Krauthammer, who thinks climate science is a religion or a superstition, or like rain dances. So either he wants to denigrate religion (nice work, fella!) or he simply has no earthly idea how science works (and please don't bug me with his having been educated as a doctor, because just go and watch Youtubes of Paul Broun or Phil Gingrey and ask yourself if that means someone understands a daggone thing about science).  This is patently absurd because science is driven by observation and experimentation--not faith. Science either works, or it doesn't. Results can be reproduced, or they can't. He's been on this nonsense for a while now,  but it has never made sense. No--if Krauthammer thinks there is evidence that refutes the current consensus regarding climate change, he needn't speculate abut whether the science world or the environmentalist world would change--he just needs to bring it. But he hasn't got any, and it makes him feel bad. So he mouths some shit about rain dances, because naturally, you can't be snotty and denigrating about environmentalism without also putting down Native American culture, because, I presume, if you're an ass, you're an ass all the way....

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Watching the Sports World Wake up to History

See, the thing is, I don't really follow sports, but I totally get what is it to not only realize you are acheiving one of your life's ambitions, but having someone who is currently sharing your life's ambitions with you enjoy your successes with you. This isn't a thing about Michael Sam being gay--this is about seeing this athlete break some ground in a sport where hypermasculinism was supposedly the rule--but maybe, it isn't going to be, going forward. And played-out ideas of masculinity aren't what we attribute to the skills people bring to the field. An athlete isn't a great athlete because of his sexuality, but because of what he does in the game.

Sure, it remains to be seen whether Sam is a player who excells in an elite group where he is regularly judged because of his skills--but that he is here to just be judged on the basis of those things alone--is meaningful. And I wish him well. So long as he is just judged because of his skills.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

I Don't Have a Charitable Light for This, Glenn Greenwald.

When I consult even my most cynical side, and I have a very cynical side, there is still no part of me that thinks wanting to intervene on the behalf of a couple hundred adolescent women who might otherwise be sold into the very worst of slavery (because what, after all, does anyone suppose the market is for adolescent girls?) could be anything but appropriately intentioned.

I think a lot of non-interventionism is founded in the sense that nations can and should be responsible to settle their own shit as a kind of test of whether they've earned the stripes of their sovereignty, but it is also true that in the absence of law, atrocities occur. I can't buy an argument that what happens to these young ladies, because it isn't happening in my country, doesn't affect me at all. Those girls palpably affect me. They could be my own daughters, and were they, I would scour the earth and burn the obstacles between myself and my blood. That is not some idealistic sterile "Next Western Intervention". That is a human convention at work under the assertion that the selling of flesh and blood young women into a life of rape is disgusting. We might not be able to recover all the girls ever sold into bondage by barbarous straits, but we can do something, maybe, I hope, about these.

Although as an aside, I am not keen on the allegation that that our US State Dept had a duty to preempt anything of this sort. That, I think, is the real invitation to get things wrong. But now that we have this group of terrorists and kidnappers in an admitted wide scale plot, I am greatly in favor of sparing them in no regard in the hopes of recovering these lost girls.

But what if they believe in witches?

Does it?  Witches? Not Wiccans or pagans, or generally troublesome women, but, erm.

There must be witches. 

Which would explain the magical thinking?

I dunno, does Pete Sessions look like a man who believes brooms can fly? I'm sure he thinks all kinds of things can fly. Actually, I think he believes his belief is contagious. Funny old thing, witch hunts. They work whether witches exist or not. They get someone, after all.

I still think there is something weird about Lois Lerner's silence...

Look, I am a deeply cynical person in some ways. That's why my hobby is politics and not, you know, charity and good works. So even though I have a tendency to understand the institutional reasons that the EO unit of IRS overreached with respects to 501(c)4 groups (and yes, I will insist in pointing out that, contra the original IG report, the overreach included progressive groups), I still think there is something weird and scandal-baity about how Lois Lerner has behaved during this whole thing. You know, like someone trying to act normal by tapping "E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g-i-s-o-k-n-o-t-h-i-n-g-t-o-h-i-d-e-h-e-r-e" in Morse code on a desk with their shoe over and over.

You know, from the planted question at the ABA panel to her taking the Fifth even though I don't even know what she thinks about all this is even "self-incriminating" unless not being a really good department manager has become a crime. Which almost makes me wonder if she's sticking to silence because, uh, it's just better to retire from this one job and shut up (because the Fifth really is a good deal for beating a contempt rap) than admitting her bailiwick was a cluster.

I don't know. I'm not trying to throw her under the bus, I'm just implying she saw the bus coming and lay down. And I am still pretty much side-eying Rep. Issa for not granting her immunity since she's obviously squirrelly, because if he did happen to think she had imput from someone above her, that would probably have been the ticket to getting her to roll. So I either think Issa is incompetent himself and intentionally decided to do something that did not serve the investigation, or he doesn't really think there was any political reason for the targeting, anyway, and just wanted to serve up somebody because he's a rotten example of a human being.

For partisan reasons, I am utterly cool with accepting the latter interpretation.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Far be it from me to call this a partisan circle jerk, but...

You know, when the Speaker of the House goes to the trouble to have a nice graphic posted on his website, and the National Republican Congressional Committee goes to the trouble of making a nice fund-raising website that also sells swag, albeit blissfully not any that actually advertises the 9/11/12 tragedy, and when Congressmen decide they also might want to fund-raise or campaign based on it, well, I have a hard time following along with prosecutor Committee Chairperson Trey Gowdy's claim that this investigation is above partisan fundraising and other bullshit.

Me, I am basically certain that if Democrats decided to withdraw from participation in this particular investigation and claim it was on principle and because this is a partisan circle jerk, they would be called out as "not taking the deaths of four Americans" seriously with hoarse voices and trembling pointy-fingers from people who have not ever had a qualm about ditching responsibility about people who die from stuff like poor access to health care, income inequality, pollution, or insanely permissive attitudes regarding guns. And yes, I am calling it a "partisan circle jerk". I genuinely think that the ideal scenario for the Benghazi-beaters would be an absence of Democrat interference and the fantasy-killing fact-checking thing.  Nah. I think this happy-fun-times really needs a wet blanket thrown over it, and well, wet-blanket is a thing Democrats can do.  I think it's a responsibility.

See, otherwise, the fantasy of the kind of slack-jawed Fox News purveying half-wit that believes Obama smoked a doob rolled in pages of the Bible while watching the attack unfold in the Situation Room with his Commie buddies because he had drone footage and whatnot and followed the carnage with high fives and a trip to Taco Bell would end up being the dominant message. And the end result of the planned circle jerk would be a general bukkake on a handful of Obama Administration officials.

Nope. I say Democrats should just nest right in there like a handful of homely Buzz Killingtons to inject a little saltpeter in the salacity. "Always be cockblocking", or something. I dunno. Let's just not let this farce be fully farcical.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

This Wasn't Ever Going To Not Happen

There might be people who would question whether there's anything just too coincidental about Monica Lewinsky penning her memoirs and a possible Hilary Clinton presidential run.

I wouldn't be one of them. I've always had a soft place in my heart, in a way, for Lewinsky. I think it's maybe because we aren't so different in age, and I just feel entirely sympathetic to the idea that the media and the instant, sick and sometimes anonymous, gratification culture of the internet and the 24 hour news cycle violated her personal life in a virtually irreparable way that I don't think she or President Clinton could have ever fathomed. I don't think Clinton ever understood that his private business would ever be anything but private because he imagined it inconsequential in the grander scheme of things. And as for Monica Lewinsky, imagine you find a companionship and intimacy with the president of the US--I don't know what to call that relationship. But I understand how she got caught in it, and I think we all get in retrospect, how it might have always been doomed to be eternally spun.

And it had to follow, like night the day, that the signal jibber-jabber gossip mongering that became the defining scandal of the Clinton years had to be revived. This was not ever not going to happen.

No conspiracy needed. And I can not even blame Lewinsky for deciding the iron was hot. What Hillary Clinton chooses to do with this thing, if it even becomes a thing, when she runs (if she chooses to run) is so up to her.

But all agita aside, this was exactly what was going to be.

Does Church and State Separation Have a Prayer?

All things considered, I've never really taken public prayer that personally, myself. I don't believe or make a habit of prayer, but I have no problem with enjoying a moment of reflection. If something gets too preachy, I just engage in a moment of impure thoughts and I'm fine. But that doesn't mean I'm fully on board with the SCOTUS decision regarding public prayer, if only because I feel like it might be heading past mere acceptance of expressions of spirituality (which I don't mind and even endorse--let a thousand flowers bloom!) to an imposition of a custom on others. I don't feel that it's right to dragoon people into sentiments with which they are not copacetic.

It seems that "coercion" was the test used, and they determined that public prayer wasn't specifically coercive, because, as in my personal example, one could simply tolerate it, so long as it contained no abusive or derogatory components. But I can see where this can set a precedent for prayer or religious proselytizing in other spheres where, because of institutional hierarchy, the boundary between coercion and endorsement becomes blurred.  It could set  a bad precedent.  I'm thinking of things like school or workplace impositions of at least tacit endorsement of spirituality.

(Not that the justices of the future should feel themselves bound to stare decisis anymore than, say, Justice Scalia does--even for his own previous decisions. Whosoever would be a man, must be a non-conformist, and consistency is the hobgoblin of etc. And also, what is the sense of looking for original principles if you then have to apply them consistently? Vide Whitman--does he contradict himself? Well then he contradicts himself; his head is large and it contains multitudes.)

But anyway, I just want to point out the really screwed-up part--Justice Thomas' opinion regarding state sanctioning of establishments of religion such as prayer as not being subject because the 1st Amendment should only pertain to Federal, not state activity just strikes me as wrong, although I'm not really a Constitutional scholar, as such. I thought the supremacy clause would pertain here?  And what would that even mean for other Bill of Rights protections like the Fourth or Fifth Amendment--are they sunk in state prosecutions because it isn't a "federal case"?  I don't even know--it just seems like he's out on a limb of the law that should be struck off.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Lara Logan Consulted with Sen. Lindsey Graham? Huh.

Welp, the idea that Lara Logan got help from Senator Graham, who, as I may have noted, has made Benghazi his white whale, for her very flawed 60 Minutes story, which he in turn promoted as proving him right, is just...breathtaking.  Man, when politicians manipulate the media to force a narrative they find politically advantageous--that's just the worst, isn't it?

The New York Magazine  piece on Logan is a fascinating read, although I wonder if it isn't being a bit unfair about Logan's using her sex appeal to get ahead. Far more troubling to me is the idea that she doesn't scruple at bending stories to her angle on them, not so much to reveal the truth, but the truth as she wants to reveal it. I'm not very sure that a reliable old firm like 60 Minutes  needs someone who combines ambition with gullibility in quite the way she's done. I think they'd very nearly be better served by picking up someone like Jeremy Scahill or Greg Palast.  (I snickered, leftistly. Although seriously.)

Making an Example of Cecily McMillan

A jury has found Occupy Wall Street protester Cecily McMillan guilty of assaulting an officer, but did they get the full story?

It seems that they hadn't.  Actually, it looks to me like the trial was conducted in a very one-sided way. The prosecution was able to present their entire case against her, including prejudicial information regarding a later, unrelated incident to discredit her,  while the defense was unable to bring forward information regarding any previous excessive force allegations against the officer that McMillan alleges, with photographic proof, grabbed her breast with enough force to create a roughly hand-sized bruise. (Which is a tactic that has been used by law enforcement in their harrassment of protesters in other cases.) Having been found guilty of a felony, Ms. McMillan's future (employment opportunities, etc.) are very negatively impacted.

In the several decisions associated with this trial--denying bail, the dismissal of information that would have added context to her actions, the being held until sentencing, all look to me like she is being made an example of. But what a lousy example this sets.

What it all seems to say is that people exercizing their right to peaceful protest have no expectation of peace from "keepers of the peace." It's saying that law enforcement has the right to physically molest individuals, and they may not attempt, even reflexively, to defend their personal space. And it says that, while you may have a right to a jury trial, you might not always get to have the defense you need. Like...the full truth presented.

It is deeply disappointing.

I'll Have you Know My Mother Voted

It sort of seems like, based on some incoherent burbling from semi-literate non-historian David Barton, like the mostly religious-wrong-based war on women might have the goal of...revoking the franchise of women to vote?

Because supposedly the Bible says so.

But you know, I am more influenced by science than the kind of things people pull out of their butt folks decide because they were inspired by fasting, prayer, and malicious sanctimony. And I have some empirical data to dispense--my mother voted, and my family unit was okay.

That really happened. My mom would read newspapers and look at the news on tv and when election day rolled around, she and my dad would go to the polling place, and they were back in like 20 minutes or so, and the whole family unit was in no way disturbed. I even vote to this day, and have blessedly been married for like, over a decade. It really doesn't screw anything up at all, except, you know, my dad is a labor Democrat and my mom is an economic liberal and well, me and the spouse are godless social liberals so maybe Barton's real problem is that , if spouses are what they call "unequally yoked", liberal wives might cancel out the votes of conservative husbands. Huh. So in which case wives shouldn't get concerned.


Is it just me, or does it seem like Barton just selected some Bible nonsense to pretend like there is a reason for women to not vote to benefit a particular party? Because that is what it looks like to me. How very like he tried to make the Bible be the tool of his preconceptions. I'm not sure that Book should mean whatever people think it should, you know? I also don't know what is stopping the Bible from meaning just anything, anyway, so there's another thing.

Climate Sunday: What is happening here?

Should it surprise anyone that the kinds of people who want fracking solution to be proprietary and plump for sealed settlements for whenever they actually do get caught poisoning people, should decide to work on a state level to weaken the effort of the EPA whenever they try to make sure we have breathable air and drinkable water?

There's a reason they work on the state level--they might win a round where local players might see a payoff. And the people who would be stuck with the pollution, the spent land, the air quality repercussions, are presumed to be the folks who would never pay attention anyway. So if you kind of wonder what is happening around you and why--here it is: really smart people were drafted to propagandize a situation in which it was totally permissible to poison you, and called it "job-creation". And they were so good at it that it worked. And if you live in a rural area or a coal, gas, oil mining/drilling area, you are probably a little bit poisoned. And the people you think are saving you from socialism are the people who basically poisoned you by working to zone that shit.

Mad yet? Wanna try? Because collective effort called voting could mean getting people who care about the environment to work for you--not against you. And that might be worthwhile, a little, no?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Of Scumbags and Other RW Medical Devices

I don't actually think that the sole reason that Senator Lindsey Graham gravitates to the supposed Benghazi scandal is because he is a scumbag with several Tea Party opponents. I actually think if he wants to examine why he even has several Tea Partiers primarying him, that might be more useful to him in the long run than trying to gauge why Obama supporters might find his investigation of a cover-up (of a terrorist attack about which a good timeline already exists or possibly about a cover-up of--the process by which White House offcials tried to convey what they knew or thought they knew at any given time--which kind of isn't even a criminal thing, is it?) sort of scummy.

The thing is, if Sen. Graham is curious, that we on the left have a natural suspicion of one of the people who just wouldn't let the Clinton impeachment go.  We might be prone to thinking that someone like Graham doesn't hesitate to pull out the stops to create an impression that might not even be true . If we suspect him if a being a bandwagon basic b, that might have to do with his history. I've mentioned his happy talk over buying rugs but that is the tip of a spinny little iceberg in a camera-grabbing world.

I'm not shocked he called the White House "scumbags". Oh hell no. Is that what he has to do? Well then Sen. Graham, you got your work cut out for you, don't you?

In other news, there's some special committee the Once and Probably Not Forever Weaker Speaker of the House John Boehner has set up because he might just be FOX News' tool.  Like that won't be a transparently partisan engine running on the vapors of burning bullshit.

Friday, May 2, 2014

I Believe Ralph Nader is Trolling

I respected Ralph Nader when I was growing up as being a kind of "on our side" guy. You know, a friend of consumers and regular folks. A trier, a doer, a person whose heart was in the right place most of the time.  That was why I kind of looked at his quixotic 2000 Presidential run as sort of like what someone might do if one were having a mid-life crisis, but, being Ralph-freaking-Nader, one were quite incapable of getting the flashy sportscar. Why wouldn't a person try running for president to get an airing of issues one cared about?

Unless you were a Nader supporter in 2000, you probably can't remember what Nader was running on. If you were a regular, just kind of politically-involved person, you probably remember he didn't think there was a dime's worth of difference between Bush and Gore--well, I looked at the same thing, but "O! the difference to me!" But anyhow, I could respect Nader on the policy issues--I am no fan of corporate personhood, I believe in a living wage, I am for universal healthcare, affordable education, and so on. I might have even found his views more in line with my own than Al Gore's, but I am a funny old thing, and was then--I tend to vote for the least obnoxious and most electable person I can find.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Little Reminder This International Workers' Day

 There are people who do not think that a day's work should be necessarily compensated by anything above a miserable subsistence.

Actually, I can't say for certain that Sen. Coburn actually thinks anything. Free market principles would drive down costs in a buyers' market, unless I'm mistaken, which means that the labor of a human being could be had for food and a straw mat on the floor to rest on once the system has worked its merry way on to the floor. And there have been people working under just those very conditions. That is why people have marched and fought for the basic respect and dignity of their work--to be compensated enough to actually live on. If this is a vision that Sen. Coburn thinks is fine and dandy for the mass of humanity then I would say he has the outlook of a slaver to go along with the morals of a pimp.

I can not fathom the kind of audacious idiocy that might suppose having no floor on wages would somehow result in a better quality of life for anyone but the masters job creators.

But maybe he just worries that the American worker could become too dependent upon the idea that anything should be invested in keeping his or her body and soul together and make ridiculous demands for such basics as food and water. As if we were animals. As if even working human animals deserved enough to eat.  Hah!

The lowest bid for a worker's day labor would be a hole in the ground, and not even another person's labor to cover one. This is the pernicious philosophy that people have to organize or at least be on guard against.

Today was the 11th Anniversary of "Mission Accomplished" Day

Amazing how it once happened, in a simpler time, when people in the White House never, never spun foreign policy, that some people could have made what, in retrospect, kind of seemed like a miscalculation as soon as a year out,  And then the spin only started seeming more cringingly hollow with each passing year.

But no, really. No one has ever done spin like the Obama Administration. Because Benghazi.

Of course.