MEDEAMEDEAMEDEA! You are so vocal and full-throated, that even the guy at the podium has to admire you, even though you want him to close Gitmo and he—uh, wants to close Gitmo. And now he says it’s important to pay attention to you, so congratulations, conveniently formerly Susan B, inconveniently non-all-powerful Barry O has just endorsed you! You are now tainted, co-opted meat. I’m sure it was his diabolical plan all along.
In other news besides Medea Benjamin, the Guardian live blog, as usual, has a wonderfully succinct rundown of the President’s speech today. Perfect for Dana Perino-length attention spans!
This speech is so long. How long was it? Longer than the state of the union address.
Here’s Mr. Obama on his way to the senior prom (Time, via Gawker). Considering that he graduated in the late 70s, the outfits are far less embarrassing than one could have hoped. My husband is only a bit younger than the president, and the suit he wore to the prom once prompted someone who saw his prom photo to laugh and ask if it was a Halloween costume.
In his first major speech on counterterrorism of his second term, Mr. Obama hopes to refocus the epic conflict that has defined American priorities since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and even foresees an unspecified day when the so-called war on terror might all but end, according to people briefed on White House plans.
Could the war on a noun really end? The report says Obama will announce new limits on the use of drone strikes and launch a new effort to close Gitmo. I expect the reaction will range from “worse than Bush” to “worse than Neville Chamberlain.”
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.
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.
As more information comes to light about the Beantown Bombers, it becomes increasingly clear that Uncle Ruslan was right all along: The brothers were / are a pair of not-too-bright losers. Mother Jones offers a list of odd and stupid things the Boom-Boom Bros did that directly resulted in their death and/or capture. These items include leaving their carjacked hostage alone in the vehicle while they went into a convenience store for Red Bull and then failing to toss their escaped victim’s mobile phone, enabling the cops to track their every move.
They’re murderers, sure, but sophisticated terror kingpins? Please. And yet the very lawmakers who most frequently have to pause to wring the accumulated ball-sweat out of their much-humped personal copies of the US Constitution are now ready to torch that document because of the supposed existential threat posed by clowns like the Boom-Boom Bros.
Senator Lindsey Graham, perpetually trying to butch up sufficiently to head off a possible tea party primary challenge, took to the Senate floor yesterday to baldly declare a thought-crime and ethnic-caste standard that would eliminate due process for certain American citizens:
“Here’s what we’re suggesting, that the surviving suspect—due to the ties that these two have to radical Islamic thought and the ties to Chechnya, one of most radical countries in the world—that the president declare preliminarily that the evidence suggests that this man should be treated as an enemy combatant.”
The “we” in that first clause includes Senator John McCain, the Hanoi Hilton survivor who is apparently transformed into a squealing candy ass at the sight of a teenage jihadi-wannabe’s wispy moustache. Senator Kelly Ayotte rounds out the new neocon triumvirate in lieu of the departed Joe Lieberman. She’s an improvement over her predecessor only in that her mouth isn’t bracketed by alarming skin-pleats and she doesn’t have a mewling voice that tempts listeners to drive chopsticks through their own eardrums to escape its range. But on foreign policy, she’s pretty much Joe in a dress.
In the interest of civility, let’s assume that these three and their fellow Republicans aren’t corrupt, cynical hucksters who are attempting to transform the blood of innocent people into political gain. So they must be cowards instead, sniveling, bed-wetting chicken-shits who are ready to toss our national experiment with free speech and equality before the law into the toilet and hide under the nearest rock—and not before the very real and powerful threats arrayed against it from within and without, but before a pair of moronic clowns like the Boom-Booms. Some “Daddy Party.”
I don’t really want to prolong the picking over the bones of the Thatcher legacy, but since the American right seems desperate to exploit her passing to defend its post-Thatcherite concensus, as embodied in Reaganomics and all the other worldwide fallout from her time in office, I wanted to post this song, written by Elvis Costello and Clive Langer in response to the Falklands War, and sung by a one-time member of the Communist Party with the voice of a weary angel.
A lot of very vibrant, overtly angry music and art came out of the Thatcher years—along with a lot of biting satire. There’s plenty of anger and despair behind this song, but it proves that if you have the heart and you’re skilled enough, you can transmute those emotions into wry, timeless, deeply human beauty that stands on its own.
If you like, you can use this thread to continue boggling at the ludicrous claims being made about Maggie’s Farm by those who never experienced it in real life, suggest some other songs or clips from that era (and I’ll post them if they can be embedded), or talk about anything else whatever.
Update: New Youtubidity from the comments after the fold!
It is true that as far as flippant jackassery goes, Sen. McCain’s Tweet implying that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a simian astronaut probably isn’t as purely awful as his improvised song parody, “Bomb, Bomb Iran”, but it is up there, even drawing criticism from fellow Republican, MI Rep. Justin Amash, who Tweeted in return: “Maybe you should wisen up & not make racist jokes.”
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?
Noam Scheiber at TNR relates the sad but true story of how Mitt and his advisers relied on the results of flawed internal polling almost exclusively in the waning days of the campaign to confidently predict that Romney would win by a comfortable margin.
Scheiber charts out the predicted outcomes in swing states from the internal polls, which were composed of 2 day averages taken over the weekend before the election, compared to the actual results in those states. The contrast is head shaking. The polls underestimated Obama’s vote totals from 2 points to as many as 7 points in these states, all of which were won by Obama and not, as the campaign expected, by Romney.
It really begs the question of whether they ever even wondered why their poll results were so out of line compared to other polls being taken over the same periods by independent sources. The differences appear to be misguided assumptions about the demographic make-up of voters who would turn out combined with a belief that Romney was experiencing a surge of momentum in several of the states (helped on, no doubt, by all the people clapping hard for it to be true).
But before you schedule the fireworks display and invite all your big donors to fly their private jets in and help celebrate (to the extent that the airport was apparently in danger of running out of plutocrat jet parking spots) and decide to forego the concession speech, wouldn’t you want to, you know, nail down your figures a little more? Take a hard look at the assumptions and reconcile them to the assumptions being made by the pollsters who weren’t projecting a Romney landslide? Question things just a leeetle bit more? So poor Tagg didn’t have to melt down and Egg didn’t need to cry? No stiff upper lips for the gob smacked after all.
Not if you do things Mitt Romney Style I guess. Which brings me to the central point. What a bullet we dodged! Someone who is so ready to believe in the complete veracity of their polls when all the other polls are saying “no, no” (well, not all, exactly; Faux News was still out there, but still) wouldn’t even have to try and fake the WMD stuff to take us to war with Iran. He’d just send the troops in with that smirk on his face.
It’s starting to really shape up that the criticism of the Obama Administration regarding the attack on the consulate at Benghazi is a lot of outrage about….the Obama Administration even existing. I was astonished that then-Republican candidate for the presidency, Mitt Romney, chose to opportunistically seize on the deaths of four Americans because it was the sort of flail a losing campaign with a candidate who neither seemed to know or care to understand much about foreign policy might launch. Astonished that no one called it off—not astonished that it occured. The point being—I could remember exactly that sort of fail-flail occuring with a candidate who attempted to grandstand on an issue—the economy, which was not his known strong point, in exactly the same point in his campaign;
The candidate was Senator John McCain, and the event was the nonsensical suspension of his campaign and the further subsequent flail of calling together a group of his peers to try and hash out a plan. From then Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s version of the events:
It was brilliant political theater that was about to degenerate into farce. Skipping protocol, the president turned to McCain to offer him a chance to respond: “I think it’s fair that I give you the chance to speak next.”
But McCain demurred. “I’ll wait my turn,” he said. It was an incredible moment, in every sense. This was supposed to be McCain’s meeting—he’d called it, not the president, who had simply accommodated the Republican candidate’s wishes. Now it looked as if McCain had no plan at all—his idea had been to suspend his campaign and summon us all to this meeting. It was not a strategy, it was a political gambit, and the Democrats had matched it with one of their own.
Finally, raising his voice over the din, Obama said loudly, “I’d like to hear what Senator McCain has to say, since we haven’t heard from him yet.”
The room went silent and all eyes shifted to McCain, who sat quietly in his chair, holding a single note card. He glanced at it quickly and proceeded to make a few general points. He said that many members had legitimate concerns and that I had begun to head in the right direction on executive pay and oversight. He mentioned that Boehner was trying to move his caucus the best he could and that we ought to give him the space to do that. He added he had confidence the consensus could be reached quickly.
As he spoke, I could see Obama chuckling.
McCain had nothing, then, and got called on it, just like Mitt Romney had nothing when, during the second debate, he stepped into the trap (“Please proceed, Governor”) that invited the moderator to actually perform an act of journalism and check the factual record, acknowledging that Obama from day one did consider the Benghazi assault an act of terror.
How is it then, that right after Mitt Romney’s notable shellacking in the election, that Senator John McCain decides to jump on the Benghazi bandwagon with both feet, so eager to publically smear Obama that he calls a potential nominee for Hillary Clinton’s replacement as Secretary of State “none too bright” whilst he is literally blowing off a briefing to potentially get the kind of answers that he was seeking?
How does one shriveled human actually contain so much bitterness? I don’t even know. In his wake, the wingnuts who were in mid-flock are caught spouting gibberish by journalists who smell a rat.
This leaves me with the happy thought, espoused by Booman, that just like this was a non-story, maybe this means John McCain is finally persona non grata. I, too, have longed for the time when McCain inserted his platinum card to draw from the old Bank of American Trust, and finds it declined (hell, he should get a bill with penalties for being well and truly overdrawn). But I treat this non-story as a bloggable event in much the way a doctor is interested in symptoms—“He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts.” I’d like to see the symptoms abate—and yet, I am watchful in the event that the screamers on the right will try to actually get their “Watergate-style” hearings—facts be damned! They see the ghosts.
They need them. Or they would have to face the idea that maybe, just maybe, the Obama Administration’s greatest success is in not really being fuck-ups.
If Eric Cantor stabbed David Petraeus in the back in an attempt to embarrass President Obama, it would not be the first time that he stuck it to a fellow Republican. During last year’s debt ceiling negotiations, Cantor bucked Boehner’s authority as Speaker of the House. Eric Cantor is a false-friend worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy or a mafia movie. Part of me thinks that he might be engaged in a deep-cover Alinskyite plot to undermine the GOP from within (and then I come to my senses). It would be fun to spread this rumor in order to undermine Cantor, the man who single handedly prevented David Petraeus from rebuilding the Republican Party and taking it to victory (bonus hilarity at the link- d00d thinks Scott Brown should run in a 2013 special election if John Kerry becomes Secretary of State).
Let me open this by saying that I have nothing in particular against Charles Krauthammer. Indeed, I have a lot of respect for his career achievements—the man has racked up most of the “serious journalist” credentials that any writer can. But, Mr. K is human and, as such, subject to emotion and occasional error and, apparently, the results of the 2012 Presidential Election were shocking enough to derail even a “serious man” like Charles Krauthammer.
Krauthammer’s first foray into the post-election “light” was to reassure Republicans that they had gotten nothing wrong outside of subtlety, perhaps, and that their candidate, Mr Willard Romney was a generally swell fellow who would have made a generally swell Chief Executive. Seriously? Mr. K has also hastened to reassure the GOP that President Obama’s win means nothing, in the grand scheme of things. Obama has no mandate, he has no plan and he’ll be over before they know it. SNAP!
Close on the heels of that nugget of political “good advice,” came Mr Krauthammer’s rather patronizing opinion that Hispanics are just a big happy crowd of wanna-be-Republicans in brown-face who will follow you anywhere if you shout “Amnesty” at them. The basis for Mr. Krauthammer’s estimation that Hispanics are “natural Republicans” is that they are hardworking, family oriented people with “traditional” values, unlike the rest of us. His conceit is that the Republican Party holds the moral high ground in the country and therefore should be the tent that “all the best people” flock to.
One might expect that Krauthammer could have worked out most of his Obama-animus with those screeds and exited with a portion of dignity still intact, but he wasn’t finished with Obama by a long shot, because his nose for a “BIG story” led him right to the Petraeus Affair—and his absurd little conspiracy theory about how the Obama administration blackmailed and then sacrificed the god-like Petraeus to cover up Obama’s “incompetent” handling of the Benghazi attack.
Semi-related to Bernard’s post on Petraeus below, I’m wondering if y’all can explain to me how this Obama conspiracy to blackmail Petraeus to give false testimony to Congress on Benghazi is supposed to work. The theory was put forth by Charles Krauthammer yesterday and eagerly taken up by the usual suspects today. Here are the underlying suppositions:
1. The Benghazi affair is more politically consequential than Watergate, Whitewater, Iran-Contra, Chappaquiddick, the Keating Five and the Teapot Dome scandals all rolled into one, and Romney totally would have won the election if it had been covered properly.
2. President Obama must’ve ignored warnings infinitely clearer than the 8/6/01 Presidential Daily Briefing entitled “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US,” which was obviously not worth investigating after 3K civilians were killed on Bush the Lesser’s watch.
4. Obama further used Jedi mind-tricks to silence noted political opportunist Eric Cantor after Cantor was briefed on the scandal before the election, thanks to the aforementioned wingnut FBI agent.
5. Petraeus is either, A) such a dummy that he was willing to lie to Congress on 9/13 to buy a short reprieve from the announcement of the scandal, which he knows will then engulf him and destroy his career, or B) such a dupe that he will keep lying about Benghazi even after Obama has betrayed him and destroyed his career.
I don’t believe wingnut conspiracy theories since I’m not deranged, but I can usually at least follow their logic down whichever rabbit holes it leads. Not this time. Am I missing something? In what universe does any of this shit make sense? I don’t get it.
I felt a little blind-sided yesterday by the news that General David Petraeus resigned in a fast hurry when it was it was going to be revealed (because his resignation was the first I heard about it, how about you?) that he had an extra-marital affair with his biographer, whose book was fascinatingly enough titled All In: The Education of General David Petraeus—and if you can’t write your own joke about that book title, I will not help you. After all, it is inappropriate to make an off-color sexual joke about another person’s personal indiscretions, and also—duh, she is pre-wrote, the joke. No, really, the breach of two marriages, the ignominious capper to a pretty legendary military career, and a sex scandal are all a bit sad and personal—
For which reason this story is journamilism gold. I’m pretty sure the ship on this not becoming grist for a number of very high-volume mills has sailed, and the results of that voyage will be a mixed as my metaphor. I know that if I were a more serious person, I would concentrate on how Petraeus’s sudden resignation appears with respects to the Obama Administration’s transition to the second term, or the degree to which the individual most responsible for the Bush-era story about mobile biowarfare trailers in Iraq and was a major proponent of the not-especially successful surge in Afghanistan strategy because it had apparently worked so well in Iraq, but why kick a neocon in the slats when he’s down, except to guarantee he never rises again, am I right?
Here’s the main scoop: the guy who got promoted to a highly critical and sensitive position in US intelligence was susceptible enough to flattery to let an admiring biographer get skin-close to him and possible compromised his communications. She, in turn, was caught out because she used email to threaten some other woman (or was it women?) to harass her (them) in the event that they would a) spill or b) hone in on her territory. And also, he used email to literally try and contact her thousands of times. Oh, and did I mention she might have had access to his emails? Because that’s a possible security breach.
I don’t even want to get into the whole “and now he doesn’t have to testify about Benghazi” thing, because—seriously? The small, nasty gossip-monger side of me is like “thousands”? He emailed her “thousands” of times? Is that twoo wuv or did she have hold of some information he was all desperate about no one finding out, like something other than her nickname for him being “Peaches”?
I’ve been taking some time out from blogging in this last week or so before the Poll To End All Polls.
This was partly out of deference to the savage storms whose aftermath some of you folks are going to have a hard enough time living through without some anonymous smartarse from Scotland looking out his window and muttering, “60 m.p.h. winds and horizontal rain—barbie weather!”
It also took a while for Ms. YAFB to rev up on the runway at Glasgow airport through one canceled flight and eventually jet stateside to visit her own version of Republican Mom/Lefty Daughter Hell, with Thanksgiving and eventual escape a long, LONG way away when you’ve the prospect of no heating, phone, Internet, or lights. She’s now safely landed, picked her way over of the NY State relics of the storm and people’s livelihoods and dreams, and miraculously somehow managed to have power restored to her mom’s house within an hour of arriving, so some of our Brit can-do stiff upper lip has obviously rubbed off over the years. If you get a GOTV phonebank call from an excitable jetlagged woman with a faint Scottish burr, a tendency to profanity, and a pathological distaste for Mitt Romney, treat her kindly.
I’ve also been wary of reenacting the Guardian‘s infamous Clark County Project of 2004. This predictably disastrous experiment in transatlantic diplomacy rallied well-meaning lefty readers to write to undecideds in Ohio in the hopes of drumming some British common sense into them along the lines of “Quit voting for Bush, WTH are you thinking?!”, garnering reactions ranging from “Have you not noticed that Americans don’t give two shits what Europeans think of us?” through “Please be advised that I have forwarded this to the CIA and FBI,” to “KEEP YOUR FUCKIN’ LIMEY HANDS OFF OUR ELECTION. HEY, SHITHEADS, REMEMBER THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR? REMEMBER THE WAR OF 1812? WE DIDN’T WANT YOU, OR YOUR POLITICS HERE, THAT’S WHY WE KICKED YOUR ASSES OUT. FOR THE 47% OF YOU WHO DON’T WANT PRESIDENT BUSH, I SAY THIS ... TOUGH SHIT!” and beyond.
Oh, I’ve still been keeping apace with what I can glean from various online resources, and from what I can see from that limited perspective, Mitt & Co. look like they’re resignedly scaling the first steps of the Kübler-Ross model. But a lot of what’s been cooked up in the way of late gamechangers from the Mittens camp and hangers-on is just desperate replays we already covered a month or more ago, like Fox news’s Benghazigate drive, all of which have been overshadowed by meteorology and President Obama opportunistically acting all presidential and competent and hanging out with his BFF Chris Christie. Indeed, other than a few flurries of stupidity that have leaked out from some public speeches, it looks like Romney and Ryan have largely been trying to keep their heads down, presumably for fear of forgetting which of the policy positions they once proclaimed they’re now abandoning because they’re running for election, for Pete’s sake.
In among all this, I’ve been marveling at what a total damp squib Ryan’s been on the stump, given the rapturous welcome that greeted his pick as the HAWTNESS on the ticket. Last I looked, even Free Republic was back to revolting against the Yoke of Mittness. With just a few longer-form interviews as support from his running mate, Mitt’s been driven to serve as his own attack dog throughout, slinging zingers and recycled lies from his windy vantage point on the roof, and ostentatiously dispatching stocks of his own hot Groundhog Day fudge to the needy in New Jersey and points west where echoes from his denunciation of FEMA are drowning out his recent sudden change of heart. If I compared being attacked by Ryan or Romney to being savaged by a dead sheep, I’d not only risk angering flyover country, I’d be underestimating the viciousness of zombie sheep (not to mention ripping off one Denis Healey).
It’s probably been a frustrating few months for Ryan, doomed to beta male groupie status and hampered by a near total lack of charisma in trying to shake off the utter rout that was his VP debate performance. He’s been seeking succor by doodling on napkins what the future might hold if his prayers are answered and he finally escapes the deadend daily drudgery of serving as the Republican Party’s fiscal boy wonder among the grizzled congressional rabble, as the gloriously named Trip Gabriel at the NYT managed to shake out of nameless gabby “aides” yesterday:
... if the Republican ticket prevails, Mr. Ryan plans to come back roaring, establishing an activist vice presidency that he said would look like Dick Cheney’s under President George W. Bush.
Now THAT’s what I call a lede! They’re going to be hiring White House caterers, by the sound of it:
Mr. Ryan would dedicate most evenings to dinners with senators and House members of both parties, aides said, as he steps into the role Mr. Romney promised: architect of a Romney administration’s drive to enact a budget that shrinks the government and overhauls programs like Medicare.
In Lundtspeak, of course, “shrink” translates as “render totally inoperable and thus irrelevant” and the “overhaul” is likely to resemble my babyhood tendency not to consider any toy truly played with till I’d reverse-engineered it into a messy pile of component parts destined for the trash. But where did that Dick Cheney comparison come from? Are we in HuffPo headline territory here?