Wednesday, March 26, 2014
The Banality of Evil: Rumsfeld Edition
Seems like a lifetime ago, in the 1960s, philosopher Hannah Arendt gave us the phrase “the banality of evil” to describe Nazi Adolf Eichmann’s demeanor during his war crimes trial in Jerusalem.
Despite all the efforts of the prosecution, everybody could see that this man was not a “monster,” but it was difficult indeed not to suspect that he was a clown. And since this suspicion would have been fatal to the entire enterprise [his trial], and was also rather hard to sustain in view of the sufferings he and his like had caused to millions of people, his worst clowneries were hardly noticed and almost never reported (p. 55).
Arendt has always had critics of her thesis about Eichmann’s “ordinariness.” Still, I find her ironic notion of the “banality of evil” a very useful device for characterizing some of the inexplicable nuttiness afoot in 21st century America.
read the whole post »
Posted by Bette Noir on 03/26/14 at 12:36 PM
Friday, February 28, 2014
Noonan Haz A Sad, Channels Ophelia
Apparently Peggy Noonan took to her fainting couch recently, suffering from a touch of SAD, and found herself scribbling away and projecting her depression on all of America. I tend to avoid conservative propaganda outlets, such as Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, mainly because of their insalubrious effect on my blood pressure.
But this communique from the inimitable Nooners exploded across my desktop like a multi-car accident and I just had to become a gaper.
She had me by the first sentence, which reads:
The constant mischief of the progressive left is hurting the nation’s morale.
A bold premise but deftly supported by citing those experts on the American psyche—Gallup, of Gallup polls. Gallup found, in December, that a record number of Americans, 72% to be exact, feel that big government is a bigger threat to the future than big business and big labor.
This probably came as no surprise to the good folks of Gallup because so it has been, every single time that they have asked that question since the first time, in 1965. Indeed, Noonan, herself, points out that this is a fairly predictable data point.
None of these numbers are new, exactly, as they reflect long-term trends.
read the whole post »
Posted by Bette Noir on 02/28/14 at 04:24 PM
Monday, February 24, 2014
Tears Of A Clown
You know, I could run for governor and all this but I’m basically a media creation. I’ve never really done anything. I’ve worked for my dad. I worked in the oil industry. But that’s not the kind of profile you have to have to get elected to public office.
In an interview with the Midland Reporter Telegram on July 4, 1989, quoted in Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential (John Wiley and Sons, 2003) by James Moore and Wayne Slater, p. 161.
The man above is either a) a sociopath, b) a masochist, c) dumb as a bag of hammers or d) all of the above.
Despite the fact that my life has spanned the 1960’s civil rights movement, America’s open season for assassins, the Vietnam War and the Nixon administration, I must admit that I have never seen anything on national television quite as nauseatingly abhorrent as the spectacle of George W. Bush shedding a gentlemanly tear over the thousands of lives he wrecked to remedy his Daddy Complex.
This is how “sad” Dubya’s “mistakes” made him in 2012:
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Posted by Bette Noir on 02/24/14 at 12:15 PM
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
C’mon Truth, Get Your Damn Shoes On!
“A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
This quote has been attributed to Mark Twain, but it has never been verified as originating with Twain. This quote may have originated with Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92) who attributed it to an old proverb in a sermon delivered on Sunday morning, April 1, 1855. Spurgeon was a celebrated English fundamentalist Baptist preacher. His words were: “A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.”
Brace yourselves, Roasters, it’s starting early this time around. You know what I mean, right? that goofy quadrennial American reality show called The Making of The President, in which a gang of nattering political nabobs join in a rousing cacophonous chorus of Me! ME!! Look at meeeee!
One of the talking points that seems to be developing legs, on the Right, is the Lawless Obama meme. Rallying round that notion, I expect the pundits of the courtier press to be donning their little amateur constitutionalist thinking caps, any minute now, and letting us in on what their “gut” tells them is unconstitutional. And we the people will commence quivering with fear because . . . ASSAULT ON LIBERTY!!!
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Posted by Bette Noir on 02/18/14 at 10:57 AM
Wednesday, January 08, 2014
Dispassionate Conservatism On the Move
So. That sneaky Democrat-led Senate has forced the House to go on defense and produce a new installment in its efforts to put on a happy face and win some elections, dammit!
House Republican leadership issued a new talking points memo, this week, in its series The Rebranding: How To Be. Close on the heels of their “How To Handle a Woman” memo, this latest one is directed at helping members to sound compassionate about the plight of the unemployed while denying a long-term unemployment benefit extension. Maybe the GOP will merge the two to create a separate memo for dealing with the “female unemployed”?
The hope is that a demonstration of caring will persuade the long-term unemployed to get out of their “safety net hammock” and get a job. Once that occurs, the newly employed person’s self-esteem will skyrocket and, in a show of gratitude, s/he will vote Republican.
The Washington Post, bless their hearts, obtained a copy of the actual memo which is every bit as odious as you might expect.
Read it and weep:
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Posted by Bette Noir on 01/08/14 at 10:50 AM
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Bienvenue au Canada, Grand Dick
Now that Dick Cheney has a new heart, he’s ready to resume his role of international power-broker who leaps tall buildings in a single bound. As such, he’s taking his act on the road to renew old acquaintances with the global moneyed elite who might come in handy when La Lizzie starts campaigning hard in Wyoming.
It’s not easy, though, for a convicted war criminal to globe-trot. You are forgiven if you spend most of your time in America the Beautiful and that little-known factoid escaped your attention. But, actually yes, this all happened, last year.
Per Foreign Policy Journal:
In what is the first ever conviction of its kind anywhere in the world, the former US President and seven key members of his administration were yesterday (Fri) found guilty of war crimes.
Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their legal advisers Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, William Haynes, Jay Bybee and John Yoo were tried in absentia in Malaysia.
The trial held in Kuala Lumpur heard harrowing witness accounts from victims of torture who suffered at the hands of US soldiers and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.
They included testimony from British man Moazzam Begg, an ex-Guantanamo detainee and Iraqi woman Jameelah Abbas Hameedi who was tortured in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.
At the end of the week-long hearing, the five-panel tribunal unanimously delivered guilty verdicts against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their key legal advisors who were all convicted as war criminals for torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.
read the whole post »
Posted by Bette Noir on 10/30/13 at 11:07 AM
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
There are worse things than forgetting.
Via Gawker, here’s a candidate for the most crass corporate co-opting of 9/11 ever. With the exception of the event’s hostile takeover by Bush, Inc., of course.
As I was dropping my teenager off at school this morning, the radio announcer spoke the date, September 11th. The kiddo groaned, “Oh god, is it 9/11 today? That means we’ll have to watch boring movies and talk about 9/11 in every class. Again.”
She doesn’t remember 9/11, of course. She was a toddler at the time, and now she’s a lanky high schooler. 9/11 feels like a dim artifact of history to her, like the Kennedy assassination felt to us Gen Xers—an event that scarred our parents but was experienced by us kids as an iconic video. Maybe this is a good thing.
[X-posted at Balloon Juice]
Posted by Betty Cracker on 09/11/13 at 02:52 PM
Friday, July 19, 2013
Rubin Endorsement Dooms Cheney Senate Bid
It took a little over 24 hours for Jennifer Rubin to catch her breath, after the conservo-gastic news broke that the Cheney Dynasty lives and plans to run for public office. It was then, that a reborn Rubin tapped out her homage: Liz Cheney How Do I Love Thee, Let Me Count the Ways to grace the pages of The Washington Post.
And what a load of fluffy crap it is. Rubin settled on the lazy journalist’s friend, the listicle-format, to sketch in her Top Ten Reasons that Liz Cheney is a great Senate candidate—and it’s pretty obvious that she ran out of steam (and nice things to say about Cheney) somewhere around Item #4. If these are her top ten, we really don’t want to see the rest of the list.
Also, I should note that Rubin knows she’s somewhat out on a limb with this particular viewpoint, here’s how she opens her
The clubby Senate and many in the press already are snickering at Liz Cheney’s run for the Senate.
But, of course, Rubin sometimes likes to be all maverick-y, despite her past slavish devotion to Willard Romney, the Wonder Bread of the GOP.
read the whole post »
Posted by Bette Noir on 07/19/13 at 09:46 AM
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Just Sayin’ . . .
When you look at the dark side, careful you must be.
For the dark side looks back.
Posted by Bette Noir on 07/10/13 at 03:07 PM
Friday, April 26, 2013
Too soon? Yep. Too soon.
As the push to rehabilitate the worst president in living memory proceeds apace, former Bushies are crawling out the woodwork to beg us to take another bite of the shit taco and experience anew the tasty goodness.
In a post entitled “George W. Bush is smarter than you,” someone named Keith Hennessey, the former director of the George W. Bush National Economics Council (which is like being the Emeritus Chair of the Sarah Palin Center for Teen Pregnancy Prevention—discuss!) invites citizens to “test your own assumptions and thinking about our former President” through a series of questions:
This is a hard one, for liberals only. Do you assume that he is unintelligent because he made policy choices with which you disagree?
Nope. I assume he is unintelligent (or evil, but I suspect mostly dumb because I’m charitable that way) because he made policy choices that predictably resulted in a series of world-historical clusterfucks which killed or maimed hundreds of thousands of people, looted the national treasury, subverted our moral authority, undermined our global standing and widened the wealth inequality chasm. Next?
If so, your logic may be backwards. “I disagree with choice X that President Bush made. No intelligent person could conclude X, therefore President Bush is unintelligent.”
Kind of surprising that the George W. Bush National Economics Council would appoint an eighth-grader fresh from an introduction to logic class as director. Oh wait…
Might it be possible that an intelligent, thoughtful conservative with different values and priorities than your own might have reached a different conclusion than you? Do you really think your policy views derive only from your intellect?
Uh-oh—Iooks like someone didn’t comprehend the straw man logical fallacy lesson! But let’s play along: The thing is that the aforementioned world-historical clusterfucks were predictable—and were in fact predicted in real time by many people.
It doesn’t matter if Bush’s policy views were derived from his “intellect,” Cheney’s colon or a Magic Eight Ball; they were not only wrong, they were disastrously and measurably so on virtually every important front – domestic, international, financial and social.
So a hearty “fuck off” to you, Mr. Hennessey, for having the effrontery to peddle what is demonstrably shit as Shinola while we are still digging ourselves from the reeking pile. It’s too soon for a rehab tour.
With a bit of luck, you might be able to sell this stinking load of horseshit to my great-great-grandchildren. But I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.
[X-posted at Balloon Juice]
Posted by Betty Cracker on 04/26/13 at 10:45 AM
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
The Commander in Chief Does Not Get a Mulligan
Charlie Pierce has a great piece up detailing the efforts of the right to use the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library as an occasion to give Dubya a mulligan on 9/11 by repeating the mantra that “he kept us safe” afterwards.
Thus do we confront what we can call The Great Mulligan, which is granted by the dimmer lights in the chandelier to the president and to the national security team — Hi, Condi! — who presided over the most massive intelligence failure in American history, and over the greatest loss of life to an enemy attack on American soil since everybody hugged it out at Appomattox. This has popped up from time to time in the years since it became obvious what a complete and utter failure the Bush presidency really was. Sorry we lied you into a war, but we kept you safe. Sorry we demolished American values, and just about every shred of American moral credibility in the world, but we kept you safe. Sorry we let New Orleans drown, but we kept you safe. Sorry we allowed the national economy to blow up, but we kept you safe. In fact, if you sent C-Plus Augustus into his own museum, and had him take that interactive quiz, and provided he didn’t break a thumb trying to get a Diet Coke out of the exhibit, his answer to everything would be I kept you safe.
Go read the rest. You’ll be glad you did.
Posted by marindenver on 04/24/13 at 03:30 PM
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Jeb, This is Awkward
You know, I really don’t want to be back talking about 2016, but Jeb was all over the Sunday shows, and it was hard not to look at it as being possibly just as much about 2016 as about peddling his book. And yes, maybe it’s a little bit like being a “crack addict” to speculate about this—but really? Are we going to shrug off the legacy of big bro’ as “not baggage”?
Heavy sigh. The last quarter-century is all about Bushes. There is no escape here. How to explain?
That outsider artist reinventing himself as a premier puppy painter? Is forever linked with an Administration that oversaw a war in Iraq that will always be associated with gross abuse. (I wonder if there isn’t something in W that makes him uniquely suited to capturing the soul of puppies. They, too, are scolded for making messes they don’t entirely understand and aren’t sure what they should do to fix.)
But Jeb himself isn’t quite ready to articulate a vision for the future, at odds with his book, at odds with interviews of mere days ago. He can invoke the Reagan Administration of which his own father was a part as a time of less partisanship—but it doesn’t help him begin to explain how to arrive at a less-partisan future—anymore than his brother’s “compassionate conservatism” did. Not when the 1988 campaign of his father against Dukakis was one of the most wedge-issue-tainted smear-jobs. Not when the first Gulf War has so much to do with a very specific vision of power and patriotism. That is what W inherited—and it’s Jeb’s legacy, too, like it or not. Which is why he’s spinning like a tire in a damp rut over immigration. Does he, like his father, supposedly lack “the vision thing”? Or has he only seen too much?
No matter. Na’gonna happen. Not even if folks in the Beltway bubble want to make it happen.
(X-Posted at Strangely Blogged)
Posted by Vixen Strangely on 03/10/13 at 10:24 PM
Friday, February 08, 2013
A Portrait of the Artist as a Man of Decent Hygiene
It appears that the Bush Family (yes, that one) got hacked recently, causing several personal emails and pictures to come floating out where people can see them. I don’t endorse this kind of thing, myself. I think everyone should be entitled to some privacy. However, I can’t resist commenting on the two works of the hand of former president George W. Bush because there’s something so solitary and bath-centered about them.
I’ve tried not to read other art criticism regarding the pieces because I like to keep my impressions fresh, and I’m sure there will be no small amount of speculation over the subliminal “coming clean” motif due to the pictures both involving Bush in the state of, well, becoming clean. It should be noted that as these are self-portraits, one might expect the painting to reveal something about the artist—I don’t know that it does. The bath portrait reveals legs mostly submerged in water. The shower portrait is more oddly composed, giving the viewer the perspective of gazing over the subject’s shoulder, yet being able to glimpse his face at an odd angle in the reflection of a shaving mirror. It is hard to refrain from speculating about what this says regarding the psychological state of the artist, himself. I will note that the bathroom is the one place where people can find themselves truly alone, the bath or shower where one finds oneself naked. It is a place where one performs daily rituals of hygiene, but it is also a place of vulnerability.
But the choice of the bath or shower for the settings of Bush’s self-portraits could also mean no more than that, in retirement, he’s simply taking a heck of a lot more showers and baths. He has the time to be clean now. The inner self of the artist remains a puzzle. If it exists, at all.
I’m sure our Roasters can derive more insight into what is here than I have, however, so I’ll leave it to you.
Posted by Vixen Strangely on 02/08/13 at 11:45 PM
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Separated at Birth? (Open Thread)
If this Treasury Secretary thing doesn’t work out for Jack Lew, he can always play Grandpa Harry Potter in an unauthorized sequel to the series. Or maybe Lew really IS a wizard and can take care of the debt ceiling nonsense with a clever spell. “Republicanus Embrainiamo” or something…
I’m taking the teen to see a matinee showing of “Zero Dark Thirty” today. We’ll see for ourselves how the torture issue is handled and discuss the truth (as we know it) and politics of it afterward. What are y’all up to this fine Sunday morning?
[X-posted at Balloon Juice]
Posted by Betty Cracker on 01/13/13 at 08:37 AM
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Somebody Remind John McCain That He Lost in 2008
This morning, I thought it might be fun to start with a little guessing game: I call it Identify the Bitter Old Senatorial Bloviator. Let’s go!
Guess who said this, and when:
__________________ is a great American success story. This is what America is all about. A young woman who grew up in a segregated part of America where Americans were not treated equally, to rise to the position of secretary of state. We should have been celebrating, I believe, this remarkable American success story.
Also, I thought that some of the remarks — and I’m not going to mention my colleagues’ names — some of the remarks aimed at her during the hearings challenged her integrity. We can disagree on policy and we disagree on a lot of things, but I think it is very clear that _______________ is a person of integrity. And yes, I see this, some lingering bitterness over a very tough campaign. I hope it dissipates soon.
I can only conclude we’re doing this for no other reason than because of lingering bitterness at the outcome of the elections.
If you guessed Sen. John McCain, “Bingo!” That was Senator McCain waxing all “America, Land of Opportunity” over the confirmation of Condoleezza Rice back in 2005. McCain seemed quite impressed with the other Rice’s indisputable “integrity” despite the fact that, as National Security Advisor to George W. Bush, she lied through her teeth about Saddam Hussein’s WMDS, resulting in the deaths of thousands of American troops and countless Iraqi civilians over ten years in Iraq.
In light of those glowing accolades, as opposed to Sen. McCain’s current character assassination of Susan Rice, I can only conclude that he’s doing this for no other reason than because of lingering bitterness at the outcome of the elections.
Here’s another one—who said this and when?
We need an ambassador who has the trust of the president and the secretary of State . . . elections have consequences, and one consequence of President ________ re-election is that he has the right to appoint officials of his choice.
A president has a right to put into place the team that he believes will serve him best.
Wow! that McCain has a silver tongue, doesn’t he? That was 2005 again, when McCain spoke up for Dubya’s nomination of John Bolton for Ambassador to the UN. At the time, Bolton’s opponents said he was unfit for the job because, among other things, he allegedly tried to get a State Department analyst to change an intelligence finding to support his own world view. But John McCain said “Fiddlesticks!”
Of course, McCain has had a terrible decade: he was beaten by a landslide by a black man who refuses to kiss McCain’s ring. The little trolls in McCain’s head keep telling him “It should be ME! in that Oval Office, and commanding SEAL teams from the SitRoom! And I have to stomach this “uppity pretender” strutting his stuff and being Friended all over FaceBook and, and IT. SHOULD. BE. ME! (and Caribou Barbie) running things.
If you think “hell hath no fury like a Senate Minority Leader scorned,” wait’ll you see how long McCain can hold his breath.
As Charles Pierce, of Esquire, so poetically put it:
Yes, because when you’re as concerned as McCain assures us he is that the foreign policy of the United States is coming unraveled, the best patriotic solution is to work as hard as you can to keep the State Department leaderless until the fires of your personal tantrum cool. It’s hard to believe Hank Paulson didn’t listen to him back in 2008.
It is eating Republicans alive that Benghazi didn’t “Watergate” Obama. They have lost the presidential election, some of their heft in the House (202 Democrats - 234 Republicans), the fever dream of a Senate majority and a lot of their credibility as the go-to party for national security matters.
Now that Romeo Petraeus has testified and the whole Susan Rice incident is quickly shriveling up into a nothingness, Republicans are doing their version of political strategizing to keep the story alive (despite the fact that events in the Mid-East keep stealing their news cycles).
Now McCain is demanding a public apology from Susan Rice to the American people for misleading them (ahhh! the Irony) and 97 House Republicans have signed a letter saying, among lots of other derogatory BS, that Rice is “widely viewed” as incompetent or dishonest, not only at home but “around the world.”
Notice that more than half of House Republicans figure they have better things to do, especially since the House has no role in confirming presidential nominees.
As Michael Crowley, of Time Magazine’s “Swampland” blog points out:
Whether Rice would fail to win a hearing at, say, the Saudi king’s palace because of this one trip around the talk show circuit is hard enough to swallow. But when you think about it, the letter also entails a certain chutzpah. If being “widely viewed” as incompetent or dishonest is such a problem, shouldn’t most of the people who signed that letter, being members of Congress and all, themselves be out of a job?
But, in politics, there’s always a hidden agenda, isn’t there? The hidden agenda here is that Republicans are guessing that if Obama doesn’t want to go through one of their signature fili-blustery confirmation hearings, he would nominate John Kerry (D-Mass), who would most likely cruise unimpeded into the SoS position. BUT—that would mean vacating his Senate seat, setting up a special election for a Massachussetts senate seat that Scott Brown would almost certainly run for and win thus diminishing Democratic power in the Senate at a time when each of those seats were hard-won.
There you have it, business as usual. Obviously, the GOP would rather lumber into a tar pit than change anything about their winning ways. Meanwhile, if you care about Susan Rice’s career, hop on over to whitehouse.gov where I’ve put up a petition calling for John McCain to issue a public apology to her for defaming her character.
Posted by Bette Noir on 11/20/12 at 09:48 AM