Monday, December 15, 2014
Dick Cheney is Living Like It’s 2003
That former VP Dick Cheney goes on the slowly sinking media vessel called Meet the Press to try and air out his recently exposed dirty laundry seems less surprising when one just gives in and accepts that in Cheney’s mind, it is always February 2003, and we are in the business of selling the Iraq War. In the Cheneyverse, 9/11 has happened so recently that no one really questions whether the government is meaningfully pursuing the people responsible, and leeway has been ever-so-fraughtfully-given. Because a lot of people trusted the intelligence given out by the Bush/Cheney administration at the time as being meaningful in a post 9/11 context.
Does former VP Cheney wonder where Tim Russert has gone (RIP)? Does he wonder why he himself isn’t trolling down to the West Wing anymore, and why his access to intelligence has dried up? I can’t imagine, but mentally, he seems to be living in the first handful of months prior to the invasion of Iraq, because he’s still selling that piece hard. And all the tactics that bought that sweet lying trash that made that war plausible. Here’s some of that:
In fact, he seemed to suggest that if some innocent people were tortured, it doesn’t matter, because the program still overall has had what he believes to be a successful result. “It worked. It worked now for 15 years,” he explained. “We’ve avoided another mass-casualty attack against the United States. We did capture bin Laden. We did capture an awful lot of the senior guys who were responsible for that attack on 9/11. I’d do it again in a minute.”
Todd pointed out that the intelligence reports that the White House was receiving about the effectiveness of the torture techniques were coming from the same intelligence sources that were wrong about the presence of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq. But Cheney defended the entire process: “I know what they were asked to do and I know what they did,” he assured. “And I’m perfectly comfortable that they deserve our praise. They deserve to be decorated. They don’t deserve to be harassed.”
“If” innocent people were tortured, like the 20% of the people who were swept up and had no reason to be interrogated or held, let alone tortured. It worked for 15 years—if the program of torture started after 9/11/2001, then that would be 13 years—unless we started fucking up people before 9/11 (you know, the way warrantless wiretapping started before 9/11). When he says “we” captured Bin Laden, I am saddened to think he might believe he was still in office at the time—what does he mean by “we”? The “guys who were responsible” for 9/11 mostly went down with the planes. The masterminds got picked up haphazardly. But we know now that torture, like waterboarding, which Cheney is so proud of, did not stop any “ticking time bombs”. The interrogators asked about al-Qaeda links with Saddam Hussein. And that wasn’t connected. It was bullshit. And thousands of US servicemembers and contractors died or were maimed, or were so profoundly altered by what they’d seen they suicided because of our war there—and how is Iraq doing today?
It’s been eleven years since this idiot administration tried to sell us on a yellowcake fraud, aluminum tubes and a diorama of doom. We’ve had plenty of time to figure out that so much of this was fake. And here is Cheney, stuck in 2003, telling us it was all real and necessary. Acting as if he believed all of it, then and now. Either he is a brutally stupid incompetent gullible shit for brains, or he is the most brazen fraud that has ever strutted across the Sunday chat-show stage. In either event, I do not see why he pollutes our airwaves. If anyone thinks he’ll say one thing new, they are foolish. He’s hanging with his lie.
He ought to be hanged by it. (Figuratively—I’ll say “figuratively”.)
(X-posted at Strangely Blogged)
Posted by Vixen Strangely on 12/15/14 at 12:29 AM
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014
This is Not What “Exceptional” Means
The release of the Senate Select Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program reveals things we basically already knew or should have known about the CIA program—it was worse than reported, it yielded little to no useful information, and it was run by liars who repeatedly tried to project that they were not performing acts of torture when they were in all actuality, textbook acts of torture.
There are people who seem to believe that releasing this information somehow endangers Americans here and abroad. Since this report details things that actually happened, I would say that the actual program of torture run by an agency of the United States government is what was actually harmful. Much of the information had already been reported in news publications; this report is just filing in the blanks. For that matter, this is just what was unclassified after certain details had been scrubbed, leaving the possibility that there are things yet worse that we don’t know—but what is here is pretty starkly disgusting.
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Posted by Vixen Strangely on 12/10/14 at 12:13 AM
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Tuesday, December 02, 2014
Not Sure How Phineas Priesthood Escaped My Attention
The 1990’s were weird times to develop ones political persona. I was left-leaning since becoming thoroughly disillusioned when the Iran-Contra clusterfuck came to light, which was only driven home by a 1988 election that turned into a referendum on whether ACLU-card-carrying l-words could ever quite love Mom, the flag, and apple pie, enough for the estimation of real he-man Uncle Sam types who supported an “out of the loop” “wimp”.
But I think my opinion got hardened by my understanding of the existence of right-wing militias and my ever-lowering opinion of the Christian right. See, I started noticing that the right-wing religious freaks like Falwell and Swaggart and Robertson always supported Republicans. But the PTL scandals that erupted in 1987 made it pretty clear to me that these types of people were basically carnies making a dime off of people’s thirst for gnosis. So why wouldn’t they superciliously shill on behalf of the team of law and order and no fun with your fun parts? I watched the OKC bombing by Christian Identity white supremacist Timothy McVeigh. I noticed that Ruby Ridge and Waco had a strong religious/anti-government paranoia aspect. I tracked with interest the long story of the capture of Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph, who had more than a little help from his friends.
These people were out where the buses don’t run. That wacky militia-tinged disinfo game is why I don’t actually find the nonsense, unreality-based burblings of Steve Stockman or Louie Gohmert as hilarious as some people do—I get that there are real people for whom the possibility of being secretly micro-chipped with the number of the beast by the government is a real thing. And I mostly just think it’s sort of like ignorance on steroids, you know? The reality for people raised in movements that tell them that everyone outside of the movement is a liar, is that it produces brains exceptionally good at finding lies in all the things regular people, schools, universities, scientists, government figures, mainstream news reporters, and so on, say. It would be exhausting for me to counter that much countervailing evidence. But they can deny it outright and feel really satisfied that they did. You can’t hardly argue with people like that. They have to step on the rake and slap their selves upside the head on their own to come around.
I saw the story of Larry McQuilliams originally as just kind of a sad case of someone simply losing their shit in a pretty flagrant way—firing more than a hundred rounds at various buildings and so very fortunately, not harming actual people (other than giving them one hell of a scare). Understanding now that he might have viewed himself as a kind of soldier/martyr—not unlike a al-Qaeda shahid, genuinely unsettles me. Somehow, even if such terrorists were active in the 90’s, I never came across that term—Phineas Priesthood—before. But I think I might want to pay attention to that current, now, especially as racial tensions and distrust in government seem to be on the rise.
(X-posted at Strangely Blogged.)
Posted by Vixen Strangely on 12/02/14 at 12:41 AM
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Darren Wilson Would Do it Again
One of the things that bothers me about a vigorous defense in cases like the shooting of Michael Brown is that there is a line. Call it a “thin, white line”, where a slight amount of untruth might be tolerated because everyone is entitled to a defense and facts can be slippery in fast-moving judgment calls, but there is an area beyond that line. And I think this is where we’ve been taken with Mr. Wilson’s defense. Because when we got to see his supposedly battered puss in photos released shortly after the non-verdict, the only thing I could think was:
“Shit. Even George Zimmerman looked more jacked up than this guy.”
I don’t know what to make of it, except to think he visited a hospital to have a bruise looked at and a prescription for the OTC pain remedy Naprosyn ordered to create a very-needed paper trail.
Then there’s this little bit of testimony:
Wilson told Brown to “get the f— back,” but Brown allegedly hit Wilson in the side of his face “with a fist…. There was a significant amount of contact that was made to my face,” Wilson testified.
Wilson, who weighs more than 200 pounds, said he grabbed the 6-foot-4-inch Brown. “When I grabbed him, the only way I can describe it is I felt like a five-year-old* holding onto Hulk Hogan.” Thoughts raced through Wilson’s head, he said. “What do I do not to get beaten inside my car?” he said he thought.
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Posted by Vixen Strangely on 11/26/14 at 12:19 AM
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Coburn Predicts Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs Over Weekend
The Senate’s redoubtable Dr. No, aka Tom Coburn (R-Planet Xanax), took himself off to USA Today’s Capitol Download to warn his fellow Americans that President Obama’s planned executive action on immigration will not only set Republican hair afire but could very well bring down the Republic, to boot:
The country’s going to go nuts, because they’re going to see it as a move outside the authority of the president, and it’s going to be a very serious situation. You’re going to see — hopefully not — but you could see instances of anarchy. ... You could see violence.
And none of us really want that, do we?
Coburn accuses Obama of acting like “an autocratic leader that’s going to disregard what the Constitution says and make law anyway.” He says changes in immigration policy require passage by Congress, not just the president’s signature.
Well, not really, but nobody seriously expects a US senator to know all of the ins and outs of our legal system, do we?
“Instead of having the rule of law handling in our country today, now we’re starting to have the rule of rulers, and that’s the total antithesis of what this country was founded on,”
Cassius Coburn says. “Here’s how people think: Well, if the law doesn’t apply to the president ... then why should it apply to me?”
Evidently Coburn anticipates citizen activists teaching a lawless president a lesson by acting out lawlessly . . . ??
Of course, Coburn’s prediction is solidly rooted in historical precedent . . . the memories of blood in the streets, rioting and insurrection following President Reagan‘s imperious executive over-reach on immigration, as well as the constitutional crisis precipitated by George W Bush‘s immigration-reform-by-fiat are still fresh in the wounded psyche of liberty-loving Americans.
As Coburn seems to know, nothing else—not poverty, injustice, inequality—sets off American civic indignation like perceived encroachment on the legislative branch by the executive. God knows Congress has done everything in its considerable power to advance immigration reform via standard practice. Testimony to that are the stacks of comprehensive immigration reform bills brought by Congress to the president’s desk, over the last few years, only to be subjected to the “terrible, swift sword” of Obama’s veto pen.
I know that Republicans really, really hate being outsmarted by this uppity, unAmerican president that was somehow elected, then inexplicably re-elected despite all of the built-in societal safeguards to prevent such an unlikely event but, seriously, folks? you’re needlessly embarrassing yourselves before you even get a crack at demonstrating your mad governance skills.
Maybe you all ought to contemplate Dr Coburn’s “if I ruled the world” advice to the President and, if the shoe fits . . .
If I were in his office, I’d say, if you want to have a successful second term, dig down, swallow your pride, get what you can get, compromise on everything you can for the best interests of the country. Bring us back together.
Meanwhile, my plan for weathering the dark and stormy aftermath of executive apocalypse? I think, I’ll let a smile be my umbrella and trust to the paralyzing indifference that the vast majority of Americans feel toward the cacophonous background noise of American political theater.
That, and college football, should effectively stem the revolution.
Posted by Bette Noir on 11/20/14 at 12:21 PM
Friday, November 14, 2014
A Pipeline Too Far
Well. our old friend Keystone Pipeline XL is back in the news lately because both Republicans and Democrats need a legislative low hurdle to make it look like they know what they’re doing. Both parties seem to have agreed in a back room, somewhere, that Keystone XL might fill that bill nicely and they are now fighting over bragging rights for its long-awaited passage.
As usual, Republicans are touting the pipeline as the ‘key to America’s energy independence’ and monster job creator; Democrats are hoping to use it to help Sen Mary Landrieu limp across the finish line in Louisiana. Sen Landrieu (D-LA) is heading toward a runoff election, next month, against Rep Bill Cassidy (R-LA).
Both have sponsored separate bills to pass the Keystone Pipeline. Landrieu announced today that she’ll be seeking congressional approval for her bill in the near future. Shortly after her announcement House Republican leaders scheduled a vote on Cassidy’s bill for tomorrow.
And Sen Mitch McConnell (R-KY) sweetened the pot for Cassidy by adding that:
I’m excited to announce that when elected, Dr. Cassidy will be a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. I’m confident Cassidy will use this position to succeed where Sen. Landrieu failed.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 11/14/14 at 12:44 PM
Sunday, November 09, 2014
Food Fight In The Old Family Dining Room
Anxious to hit the ground running with the newly-elected 114th Congress, President Obama invited leaders from both houses to join him in the White House’ Old Family Dining Room for a post-election lunch of herb-crusted sea bass and endive salad served up on the Truman china.
The idea, I’m sure, was to map out some common ground between the executive and legislative branches, moving into the final two years of Obama’s term, in the hope of getting something—anything, actually—done by 2016.
The gathering opened with some public comments, by Obama, on the importance of cooperation and breaking the partisan gridlock that has effectively hog-tied his administration. The president stated that he would be open to ideas from both sides of the aisle with the caveat that he would judge ideas based on whether they are likely to work or not.
Obama cited three measures—emergency funds to fight Ebola, approval of a federal budget, and appropriations to increase troops in Iraq—that he believes he and Congress could work on, together, before the end of the year.
Once the press was dismissed, however, the tone changed according to the usual anonymous leaks by the usual anonymous aides.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 11/09/14 at 06:59 AM
Friday, November 07, 2014
Republican Victory Anthem: Second Verse? Same As The First.
So. It’s all over but the howling. One-third of America’s registered voters bestirred themselves to get to the polls and offer up a vote of confidence for the worst Congress in US history—approval rating? 14%. Fortunately, for Republicans, that dismal turnout included two of their biggest fans: the Brothers Koch.
House Speaker, John Boehner, of course, sees that as a “mandate.” Not really. He can’t actually be that deluded, but he’ll take it and run with it even though it means his tour in legislative hell has just been extended [unless, of course, the crazy caucus writes in Allen West to replace him].
John Boehner, himself, enjoys only a 20% approval rating among voters in his own state. A majority—59%—disapprove of his work in Congress. Even Republicans are only lukewarm on Boehner: 37% approve, 34% disapprove.
When the 114th Congress is seated, in January 2015, Republicans will choose their House speaker, so times like these inspire Boehner to rear up on his hind legs and let out a Speaker-ish bellow.
He did not disappoint:
I’ve made clear to the President if he acts unilaterally on his own outside of his authority he will poison the well and there will be no chance for immigration reform moving forward in this Congress. It’s as simple as that.
When you play with matches, you take the risk of burning yourself and he’s going to burn himself if he continues to go down that path.
That Obama! just like a naughty child disobeying his betters. Look for the “poisoned well” to become a Republican meme.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 11/07/14 at 10:17 AM
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Gremlin Fighter Anthony Culler Aims To Put The “Con” In Congress
Texas Tony Culler
SC Candidate TonyCuller
Well, it’s been quite a week for Anthony P Culler. Culler, a Republican, is challenging Rep Jim Clyburn (D-SC) for South Carolina’s District 6 seat . . .
Clyburn, a popular Democrat in a deep blue district has been serving in Congress since 1993, and as the Assistant Democratic Leader since 2011. He was previously House Majority Whip, serving in that post from 2007 to 2011.
Mr Culler has admitted that this is a David and Goliath match-up. He is a white male Republican running in a district that was—
defined, in the early 1990s, in a deal between state Republicans (mostly white) and Democrats (mostly black) in the South Carolina General Assembly to ensure a majority-black population, known as a majority-minority district. The rural counties of the historical black belt in South Carolina make up much of the district, but it sweeps south to include most of the black precincts in Charleston, and west to include most of the black precincts in Columbia.
Despite the odds, though, Mr Culler has figured out an attention-getting angle to try to juice his chances when the district goes to the polls:
“This is our minority majority district,” Culler said. “It’s the black district. That’s what some people call it. … I’ve got another description for this district, it’s a Christian district.”
“We believe in the way that it’s always been,” Culler continued.
Culler urged voters to turn out on election day and vote for him.
“No matter how many Gremlins there are across this country, we here in the sixth district will stand against it,” Culler said.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 10/23/14 at 06:29 AM
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Could Ebola Teach US Americans Geography?
The late journalist Ambrose Bierce commented that “War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.” Yeah. As if Americans ever learn geography. Truth of the matter is, that picture to the left probably is where a disturbing number of Americans (well, nortemericanos, anyway) stand with respects to understanding our planet and how she is laid out. (More knucklehead geography is on view at Buzzfeed.)
Basically, even our most elite Americans are totally having Caitlin Upton moments—but particularly about the whole Africa and ebola thing.
For instance, at a school in New Burlington, New Jersey, two Rwandan students are staying at home due to other parents’ fear that they will infect other children with Ebola. Rwanda is as close to the Ebola outbreak as New York City is to Seattle.
In Hazlehurst, Mississippi, a school principal’s recent visit to Zambia has led to a lot of parents choosing to keep their kids at home. But Zambia is in Southern Africa, over 3,000 miles away from the Ebola outbreak — the same distance between New Hampshire and Los Angeles.
A school bus driver in Poplarville, Mississippi who recently visited Ghana is being prevented from returning to work. Meanwhile, in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, some parents kept their kids home when their school hosted two visitors from Uganda.
Seriously? People aren’t even Google-mapping where people are from? Can’t even do the most basic Wiki research into where folks are and how ebola works and then front that they are concerned? They have the maps—because they have the cell phones. Maps are even on cell phones, now. They have the gateway to non-stupid in their pockets.
So I am thinking the answer is “Nope.” Americans will learn geography when the stupid is pried from their cold, dead hands. Or possibly in the case of zombie apocalypse.
(X-posted at Strangely Blogged.)
Posted by Vixen Strangely on 10/21/14 at 11:19 PM
Saturday, October 18, 2014
Legislator Proposes Imaginary Solution For Imaginary Problem
Rep Dennis Ross (R-Round the Bend) is a man of action. And he has the toolbox to make things happen. So, the minute this here election is over, he’s returning to Congress with an emergency bill in his briefcase to save Americans from Ebola.
Rep Ross agrees with his colleagues that a travel ban is the way to go (because a big plastic bubble over the country would take too much time to roll out). Doctors, epidemiologists and international experts have traveled to Congress to give their advice—that travel bans won’t help and could make things worse—but, Republicans, being Republicans aren’t buying it because . . . . well, aren’t doctors and experts usually elites trained in liberal universities? and doesn’t Obama hope that we’re all too sick to stop his world conquest?
For whatever reason, Republicans have decided that they know best and should therefore take charge. So, they wrote a letter to the President to apprise him of the fact that they are taking the lead on Ebola—as soon as the election is over. So far, 53 Republicans and six Democrats, who might as well be, have joined up.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 10/18/14 at 07:51 AM
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Schadenfreude: Not Just For Winners Anymore
Heads are exploding all over the Conserva-sphere, today. Mostly because the owners of those heads don’t read very carefully.
CJ Chivers broke a story, in The New York Times, exposing a Bush administration and Pentagon coverup of the fact that US military troops were, with some frequency, stumbling upon, and in some cases being wounded by, chemical agents while deployed in Iraq.
Just the media source and a little bit of introductory information were enough to get the Right cackling with glee and spewing out delirious Bush Vindication blurbs. They were not all that troubled by the fact that some US soldiers have been damaged for life by their exposure to chemicals, or that those soldiers were sent into harm’s way without adequate training and protection against what the military knew was there. They were just so danged delighted to be able to say “See! Libtards, this is your own lamestream media spilling the story that our princeling was right all along. So bite me!”
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Posted by Bette Noir on 10/16/14 at 07:04 AM
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Stumping Through Arkansas With Tom Terrific
As others before me have noted, Tom Cotton (R-AR) is just about the perfect Republican candidate for the 21st century, which should put us sane people on guard. Cotton’s a telegenic “aw, shucks” Arkansas farmboy, an Iraq-Afghanistan military vet, with a Harvard Law degree on top, who is more than willing to make an utter fool of himself saying any damned ignorant thing that will keep the GOP’s fun-house audience in a state of arousal.
Guys like this (looking at you, Ted Cruz) always fascinate me because they are, by all standards, smart, disciplined and well-educated. So how is it that they can allow themselves to be completely sucked in by crackpot gibberish that wouldn’t fool most twelve year olds? Where is their self-respect, if nothing else, when they stand up and soberly spout completely unfounded gibberish that 80% of the world is tittering over?
So far, during his brief tenure in Congress, Cotton has signed on with the “Hell, No! caucus” and shared these pearls of legislative wisdom:
“I don’t think Arkansas needs to bail out the Northeast,” Cotton once said of his vote against the Hurricane Sandy relief bill.
He has dismissed the potential for default if the debt ceiling was not raised as a desirable “short-term market correction.”
He said food stamps should be cut because too many recipients live high on the hog: “They have steak in their basket, and they have a brand-new iPhone, and they have a brand-new SUV.”
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Posted by Bette Noir on 10/14/14 at 08:54 AM
Thursday, October 09, 2014
ISIS Gonna Get You If You Don’t Watch Out
It’s apropos that Rep Duncan Hunter’s (R-Hell, Yeah!) official website banner features a California skyscape dotted with hot air balloons . . . just sayin’.
In case you’re not that familiar with Hunter he’s the son of Duncan L Hunter (R-CA), former US congressman (1981-2009) and Republican presidential hopeful, for about two straw polls, in 2008. Hunter, Sr., a former Army Ranger who served in Vietnam, rose to chairman of the House Armed Services Committee during the 108th and 109th Congress.
Hunter, Jr. slid right into Dad’s seat, in 2009—House Armed Services Committee assignment and all—and has taken up many of Dad’s causes, as well—things like fetal person-hood, walling in the southern border, voting down international trade agreements and keeping the Military-Industrial Complex humming.
Hunter, Jr. has only been in Congress for five years but recognizes the value of the sound byte and appears to be Fox News’ Megyn Kelly’s go-to-guy on things military or national security-ish. Hunter is equally comfortable, though, with others much further to the right like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. Hunter has had quite a few chinwags with Perkins over issues homosexual like the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and marriage equality.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 10/09/14 at 04:55 PM
Monday, October 06, 2014
Anatomy Of A Pedagogical Clustrf*k
By now, most news-watchers are at least aware of a bit of Americana being played out in the streets of Jefferson County Colorado, an affluent collection of bedroom communities adjacent to the Denver metro area and home of the Coors Brewing Company.
Jeffco, as it’s known to locals, is probably one of the least likely spots in the country to be host to large student protests, citizen activism and civil disobedience but America is nothing if not unpredictable. News coverage has focused on students’ complaints that the county school board intends to tinker with the content of their Advanced Placement History courses to de-emphasize critical thinking and debate and better prepare them to be Exceptional Americans if not necessarily competitive college entrance candidates.
After weeks of news coverage, there are miles of references on Google to fill in the “who, what, when, where and why” of what’s going down in Jeffco but most are missing, by a mile, the most timely and relevant object lesson embedded in the Jeffco kerfuffle—the importance of voting, always and whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Students, parents and teachers in Jeffco are up in arms because things threaten to go terribly awry with the quality of their children’s education and future success. It is commendable that they have recognized the threat and mobilized, effectively, against it. On the other hand, it might all have been avoided if the good people of Jeffco understood that elections—even at the most local level—have consequences. Something tells me that they will, going forward.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 10/06/14 at 09:40 AM