I’m generally not a fan of dancing on newly dug graves, but I’ll make an exception for Jesse Helms. It seems fitting since his former allies aren’t content with uttering a bromide or two over his carcass but are instead building a myth:
GEORGE W. BUSH: “Throughout his long public career, Sen. Jesse Helms was a tireless advocate for the people of North Carolina, a stalwart defender of limited government and free enterprise, a fearless defender of a culture of life, and an unwavering champion of those struggling for liberty.
“Under his leadership, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was a powerful force for freedom. And today, from Central America to Central Europe and beyond, people remember—in the dark days when the forces of tyranny seemed on the rise, Jesse Helms took their side.”
What a pack of offensive, bald-faced lies. Helms was no “unwavering champion of those struggling for liberty”—he was an avid bigot who sought to oppress minorities and gay people at every turn. He didn’t advocate freedom—he funded death squads and helped prop up fascist regimes.
ELIZABETH DOLE: “In succeeding Jesse to represent North Carolina in the United States Senate, I knew I could never replace him, but I continue to strive each day to provide the dedicated constituent service he provided the people of our state for 30 years. As my father would say, Jesse was indeed a watchdog — for North Carolina and for the nation.”
A mangy, rabid pit bull is more like it. That Dole could utter such falsehoods about a racist, homophobic creep like Helms with a straight face is all the more reason to hope she gets kicked out on her ass in the next election (and all the more reason to throw some bucks to the campaign of Dole’s Dem opponent, Kay Hagan).
BILLY GRAHAM: “In the tradition of Presidents Jefferson, Adams and Monroe — who also passed on July Fourth — it is fitting that such a patriot who fought for free markets and free people would die on Independence Day. As we celebrate the birth of our nation, I thank God for the blessings we enjoy, which Senator Helms worked so hard to preserve.”
Christ on a Triscuit. That anti-Semitic old fraud is another dinosaur lumbering toward the pit, but he’ll leave a whelp behind to carry on God’s work, so we can look forward to more stupefying nonsense from the Graham clan well into the future.
The truth is Helms was a vicious racist, homophobe, despot-enabler and tool of the tobacco companies. I’m sure his death is a sad event for his family, but its sole meaning for US politics should be as an occasion to mark how far we’ve come since he was a leading figure in it. The collective mewling over Helms’ carcass from people like Bush, Dole and Graham shows that they don’t get that and never will.
The most fitting way I can think of to mark the occasion is for Barack Obama to carry Helms’ home state of North Carolina in the upcoming general election. That the race is even close in that state is a welcome signal that the Helms era is over.
On the June evening in St. Paul when he captured the Democratic nomination, in between shout-outs to his daughters and his grandmother, Barack Obama paid tribute to a political operative most Americans have never heard of. “Thank you to our campaign manager, David Plouffe,” Obama said, “who never gets any credit but has built the best political organization in the country.”
Obama’s top advisers outmaneuvered Hillary Clinton’s organization with no leaks, no nasty infighting and virtually no public credit for their efforts. By all rights, Plouffe and the other chief architects of Obama’s machine should be household names on par with James Carville and Karl Rove. And yet, with the exception of chief strategist David Axelrod, who has emerged as an affably low-key spokesman for the campaign, Obama’s brain trust works in near anonymity from the campaign’s headquarters on the 11th floor of a smoked-glass skyscraper two blocks south of the Chicago River.
That obscurity is by design ... As senior adviser Valerie Jarrett puts it, “We aim for you to not know about the inner workings of the campaign because there’s not much to know other than: It works.”
The drama-free approach proved to be in sharp contrast to the Clinton campaign, which was beset by leaks and infighting among factions of overbearing strategists (Mark Penn), know-it-all advisers (Harold Ickes), egotistical flacks (Howard Wolfson) and self-important campaign managers (Patti Solis Doyle) who battled noisily — and publicly — over message, budget, access to the candidate and prestige.
The article describes how the numbers man Plouffe crafted a successful turning point after the set back in New Hampshire and reveals how Obama’s leadership style allowed Plouffe’s engineering to work. Quite a contrast to what was going on in the opponent’s camp.
A totally crazy Saturday-morning thought: Wouldn’t George W. Bush make an awesome high-school government teacher? Wouldn’t it be something if his post-presidential life would up being that kind of post-service service? How’s that for a model? Who needs Harvard visiting chairs and high-end lectures? How about Crawford High? (Or wherever?) Reach out and touch the young before they are jaded, or break them of the cynicism pop culture and possibly their parents have passed down to them. Whatever you think of President Bush, he’s a likable guy in love with his country with some history and experience to share.
Like I said, crazy. Saturday. Have a good one.
Here are a few other zany thoughts on classroom topics and instructors for Crawford High (or wherever):
Running a Day Care Operation—Michael Jackson
Piloting Oil Tankers through Prince William Sound—Capt. J. Hazelwood
Preventing Domestic Violence—O.J. Simpson
The Bush advance team must be losing its edge. They used to be pretty good at vetting crowds. The occasional protester might sneak in; however, thanks to Bush’s crack team of screeners, most are corralled in Orwellian “free speech zones” far away from the event. But yesterday at Monticello, Bush was interrupted by several individuals who called for his impeachment, accused him of war crimes and observed that he has brought fascism to our shores. As security dragged one of them away, Bush remarked—apparently without irony—that we believe in free speech here in America.
Underscoring his complete lack of self-awareness, Bush used the setting to pimp his own supposed contributions to the spread of democracy:
“We honor Jefferson’s legacy by aiding the rise of liberty in lands that do not know the blessings of freedom.”
The opposite is true, of course. Bush defiled the legacy of the man who built Monticello and drafted the Declaration of Independence. He lied us into a pointless war. He used the cudgel of terrorism to squash dissent and undermine the very foundations of freedom Jefferson laid. Bush sullied the nation’s prestige and depleted its moral authority, convincing the rest of the world that the US is as arrogant, incompetent and feckless as he himself is.
January 20, 2009 should be a day of worldwide rejoicing, with the biggest party taking place right here in the US. But even if Bush’s exit from the world stage were celebrated on a global scale, would he feel the smallest pang of shame? I honestly don’t think so. He appears to lack the necessary self-awareness. He’ll go back to Crawford—and eventually to his grave—without the smallest chink in the armor of his self-righteousness. But at least he’ll go. And that’s worth celebrating.
In an age when every fucking utterance is digitized and published in a matter of seconds, you’d think someone as smart as Backtrack Obama would avoid backtracking in front of every human on earth. Such is the type of deception usually made by dumbasses from McCain’s generation, who never understood digital recording and distribution.
Introducing the Democratic nominee: Senator Backtrack Obama
(Back off—- I can give him shit and still vote fer ‘im.)
“I certainly hope no one intends to disrupt or disrespect anyone who’s becoming a citizen, but I would like becoming a citizen to mean something; I would like it to continue to be a citizen of a democracy, not a citizen of a dictatorship,” said protester David Swanson.
“The president has come to honor their sacrifice to become U.S. citizens, and I think it’s important that we respect the day of these new naturalized citizens and not try to ruin what is probably the greatest day of their lives by petty political protesting,” said Christian Schoenewald with the Albemarle Republican Committee.
Let me explain something to you, while we’re here huddled up together. The Constitution says I can’t take the right to something like habeas corpus away from you. But it never says you had it in the first place. Think about that. That’s like saying I can’t steal a house from a homeless bum. So you may be thinking you’ll have all sorts of rights by lunchtime. Let me tell you, that depends on how well you cook the lunch.
Another concept mentioned in the oath is laws. I write those. I use something called a signing statement, or an executive order, or I just put the law inside my head, where if you think about it is the safest place possible. How can the evildoers possibly determine what our laws are if they only exist inside my head? And I’ll tell you another little secret: the trick to keeping a lot of laws in your head - and this was even true for Moses - is to sometimes wear a crown.
Thomas Jefferson must be rolling in his grave puking.
It’s got commie zombies, scantily-clad women, cool Rodchenko-style graphics, Twinkies raining from the sky and a muscle-bound Gorby running around slaying the undead. In other words, it just may be the best music video ever.
Like most wives, Kevin’s wife Chris is 100% correct about Wes Clark’s supposed “attack” on John McCain’s service record. Clark was merely parroting Bob Schieffer’s line back to him and making a wholly reasonable statement of fact.
Of course, a little detail like that didn’t stop McCain from milking the non-incident for all it’s worth. But if I were a Fox News body language analyst, I’d propose the following theory: McCain has trouble playing the victim card. Why? Because he’s a hothead; displays of stoic, self-serving dignity in the face of a (manufactured) insult come about as naturally to McCain as delivering a prepared speech. Before he can deliver a wounded victim line, he has to tamp down the snarling rage. While watching an example of this phenomenom (below), I finally figured out who McCain reminds me of when he’s struggling to contain the urge to go all batshit rage-o-holic—it’s Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest. Check her out right at the beginning, when her eyes first light on the wire hanger:
Now watch McCain, when a member of his base feeds him the line about Clark’s non-attack—the same blinky, disbelieving, bug-eyed reaction, followed by a stammering rebuke:
To McCain’s credit, he masters the urge to rip the microphone off its stand and thrash the nearest reporter with it. But you can tell it’s not easy, even though it was undoubtedly rehearsed. I say Obama should choose General Clark for VP and instruct him to continue to subtly question whether getting shot down in Vietnam is an automatic qualification for president. McCain would be sure to go all Daddie Dearest eventually in the face of such impertinent attacks on his sacred honor.
My primary reason for supporting Obama is that his considerable organizational skills and his resonance with younger voters could bring about a political realignment and a shift in political culture that progressivism can build on in the years to come. I keep saying I don’t think he’s liberal Jesus and that I expect him to make mistakes and take wrong turns. I am less interested in what I think he will do than in what I think he might help to enable, which is an America in which progressive ideas at least can get a fair hearing.
Some of his recent turns are disappointing, particularly his stand on the FISA bill. I’m not making excuses for that. I realize he’s probably doing it for political expediency to help him win the election in November, but I still don’t like it.
But does that make McCain the better alternative? Hardly.
One of the frustrations I had during the Endless Primary was that so many Clinton supporters clearly were operating on some level of fanaticism even as they screamed about Obamabots. You couldn’t talk to them. They’d literally get wild-eyed and dredge up dark suspicions about Obama’s motivations and possible ties to right-wing extremism, suspicions based on nothing but their own overheated imaginations. And I do think the Clinton campaign cultivated this fanaticism to some extent, particularly as time went on and it was about the only thing the campaign had going for it.
But, ultimately, fanaticism is about projecting. Fanatical Clinton supporters were not fixated on the real Senator Clinton, but on a Hillary Clinton who lived only in their own heads. This is part of the nature of fanaticism.
Jason Bateman never really got the credit he deserved for his work in the exceptionally funny Arrested Development (he was overshadowed by “zanier” co-stars like David Cross and Will Arnett), but the show never would have jelled without him. This video of Bateman (sorry, no embed) being interviewed by Rolling Stone‘s Peter Travers for the upcoming movie Hancock is worth a watch if you were a fan of his work in AD or the movie Juno. He’s an underrated master of dry humor and it really comes out during this chat.