Archive for the 'Politics' Category

Dec 17 2014

Turns out I was right all along……

I have been saving my comment on the revelations of last week for a while. I wanted to think through my thoughts and also to read other peoples take on them. Probably what is most disturbing out of all the reactions are the statements from the really callous people who actual support the practice of torturing people. Of course Dick Cheney is unrepentant, that’s to be expected. As Jon Stewart quipped: “Dick Cheney is so mean, his own heart ran away from him.”  What’s truly depressing for me though, is to hear the ringing endorsements of the practice from the same people who will lecture me again and again on how the United States of America is “exceptional”.

I went back and looked through some of my old posts and I found one I wrote in June of 2008 right after the Supreme Court ruled that the US had to bring charges against GTMO detainees. At the time, the denizens of the zoo known as Lex’s commenting section went positively berserk at the notion that the United States should somehow have to abide by its own laws, if it is to have any credibility in the world.  I wrote this paragraph.

The contention that the prisoners in GTMO have no rights because they are persons without status, so called “unlawful combatants” is weak. If they have no rights why bother to bring them to GTMO? Shoot them on sight. We don’t do that because we want to show ourselves to the world as being above that type of brute force justice and in so doing prove ourselves better than those we fight-and who attacked the US in 2001. The people coming unglued because the Supreme Court agreed with that premise hang that whole thread on the fact that they are not worthy of legal considerations because they are not fighting on behalf of a state.

And they call me naive? GTMO as currently set up makes for bad law and for bad PR. Given that we claim we have extracted lots of intel from these guys-then we have probably more than enough evidence to convict-the argument that it will expose intelligence is just flawed from the start, we have ways to get that out with selling the farm. The situation at GTMO makes a hell of a publicity problem even with our allies. Even if people are not being tortured there, a significant portion of the world believes they are-and so our moral authority is undermined, even with those who agree with us. Furthermore when exposed to deep scrutiny-most of the claims that valuable intel has been compromised in terrorist trials has later been proven to be a false claim.

I wrote that back in June of 2008. Now, six and one half years later it has become readily apparent how right I was then. And it convinces me even more that I was right to condemn the reactionary positions then and take the side of those who criticize our actions now.

Consider how much damage we have done to ourselves and our arguments that we are of a higher “moral authority”.

In a civilized society, there really would be no debate over this. And before 9/11, there wasn’t. Ever since, this country has slid and then fallen out of the civilized world and out of the core American traditions of humanity and legal warfare. Krauthammer can be seen as emblematic of that slide – someone whose early abhorrence at torture and defense of it only in its mildest and rarest forms has slowly succumbed to a full-fledged defense of a program that violated every rule he said should be in place to protect us from the abyss. This is not surprising. When you start to torture, the sheer evil of what you are doing requires that you believe ever more in its value. You can never admit error, because it would mean you have committed crimes against humanity without even the defense of acquiring any useful intelligence. You are revealed as monsters – and you cannot accept that of yourself or of those you know. And so you insist – with ever-rising certainty – that the torture worked – even though that’s irrelevant as a matter of morality and of law, and even though your own internal documents prove that it didn’t.

And so you become the monster you were supposed to be fighting. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.

One final point too. The people who have seized upon the idea that Diane Feinstein was some sort of renegade who had no business publishing the report is itself, a flawed conclusion. The report need to be published for one reason-the US needs to start the process of recognizing its complicity and guilt in the shameful episode in our history.

The torture report is simply the latest and most graphic incarnation of an existential leadership crisis that has eaten through Washington’s moral authority and ability to govern, in the way road salt and rust eat through car mufflers in a Buffalo winter. “America is great because she is good,” wrote Tocqueville back in the day. “If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” We’ve got a lot of explaining to do, not just to the rest of the world but to ourselves. How much longer will we countenance the post-9/11 national security state, which Edward Snowden’s ongoing revelations remind us are constantly mutating into new forms and outrages?


2 responses so far

Nov 26 2014

The Hagel mess……

Listen up boys and girls, because contrary to the opinion of some ( and you know you are), I can , in fact, be critical of the President of the United States. And today is a good day to be critical of Mr. Obama, since just two days ago-he made a rather large blunder:

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel resigned under pressure on Monday after President Obama determined that he had to shake up his national security team in the face of escalating conflicts overseas and hawkish Republicans reasserting themselves on Capitol Hill.

It was a striking reversal for a president who chose Mr. Hagel two years ago in part to limit the power of Pentagon officials who had repeatedly pushed for more troops in Afghanistan and a slower drawdown of American forces from Iraq. But in the end, Mr. Hagel’s passivity and lack of support in Mr. Obama’s inner circle proved too much for an administration that found itself back on a war footing.

Aides said Mr. Obama made the decision to remove his defense secretary on Friday after weeks of rising tension over a variety of issues, including what administration officials said were Mr. Hagel’s delays in transferring detainees from the military prison in Guantánamo Bay and a dispute with Susan E. Rice, the national security adviser, over Syria policy.

This is to put it as nicely as I can and to paraphrase Joe Biden, is "a big fucking mistake".

Lets start with the fact that, after the mid-terms where your party took a thumping in the mid-terms, it is a huge proclamation of weakness to chuck your SECDEF overboard and head into a new Congress spoiling for now 2, not 1 nasty confirmation fights. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

Hagel could not seem to win. He has been both condemned as being too hawkish and not hawkish enough. Which is it? Plus how about acknowledging that protracted wars in the Middle East are an express ticket to nowhere.

 He was never a good fit as defense secretary, a fact that White House officials have belatedly discovered.But if those White House aides really want to know who to blame for recent stumbles in national security, they should look in the mirror. This administration's problems begin with its packing the White House staff with Hill rats and political hacks-one of the least intellectually diverse groups ever to lead the executive branch. They think the problem is what they say, not what they do. They are wrong. 

Meantime, there is going also to be a new head of the House Armed Services Committee. This doesn't matter. Congress has failed to ask serious questions about defense for the last 15 years or so. So reporters writing about the two Armed Services committees, please feel free to use your time more wisely. Here is a link for that.


Firing Hagel is not a solution, it is a symptom of a bigger problem-namely an inability to :1) communicate a strategy and get people behind it and 2) understand that the biggest threats to the US are not in the Middle East or from ISIS, they are from the guys who spent the last years sitting out the conflicts in the Middle East and getting stronger in the meantime. That's right. The Bear and the Dragon are still not our friends. The Grey Hair did not recognize it, and I am afraid the current White House does not either. And its just not smart not to have a relief lined up right away. Even when Rumsfeld went away-they already had Gates on tap. Doubly stupid.  Not that I am a fan of Flournoy because I am not. Mainly because she never served in uniform and that is an automatic disqualification as far as I am concerned.  It is troubling that the President has some good former flags that could be tapped. ( Stavirdis or Mattis come to mind)-but then we get back to that problem of too much stuff not being delegated down to Cabinet heads.

And thus we get this:


I have already pointed out how President Barack Obama's decision to replace Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel differs from the superficially similar decision by President George W. Bush to replace Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in 2006: Bush coupled the personnel shift with a thoroughgoing self-assessment and a resulting strategic shift. Bush's move was not just a change in personalities but a change in direction. (Bush also made other crucial personnel changes, most notably selecting General David Petraeus to lead the Iraq war effort, whereas the Obama administration has gone to some lengths to emphasize that there will be no other personnel changes on the national security team.)

Yet Obama's current personnel shuffle is different in another way that could prove almost as consequential: evidently President Obama fired Hagel without having a replacement lined up. When President Bush announced Rumsfeld's departure, he announced the nomination of Bob Gates at the same time. Obama has not yet named the replacement, and two of the most obvious front-runners, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy and Sen. Jack Reed, have already pulled their names out of contention. The failure to nominate someone is not necessarily proof that the talent pool is shallow, but it is proof that the removal of Hagel was poorly planned and not well coordinated.


This a self created mess and it is a bad way to start 2015. GRRRRR!

One response so far

Nov 03 2014

Again it comes down to how many bother to show up

Published by under Hypocrites,Politics

Tomorrow is election day in the United States. Since I will be on my 5 year pilgrimage to the sacred soil in Charleston, I have already submitted my ballot via absentee. Fat lot of good it will do me, since my Senator is running unopposed ( thank you Citizens United and the inability of the state to have a two party system anymore). My worthless excuse for a Congressman is going to win in a walk thanks to his continuous sucking up to the demented folks in the tea party and and the governor has ensured that only he will be the guy to vote for in the election. This is what passes for constitutional governance in parts of the South today.  ( Meanwhile in New York, the GOP incumbent is under indictment, but is expected to win anyway).

Regardless,  be sure to vote. If nothing else it gives you a right to bitch.

By all odds the GOP will take control of the Senate which means the prediction I made way back in April of this year will start coming true. it ought to be a fun time to be one of the 10-15% of American citizenry that actually is sane and understands that the world we live in is changing. Sadly most of us understood too that the country was killing itself slowly a long time ago and began exploring other options.

But, for those of you stuck in the whining states of America next year ( as I may in fact be as well-at least for a couple of years) here is preview of the fun and games ahead:

In Kansas recently, Republican Senator Pat Roberts, who’s in a tough race for reelection, made a statement that left me puzzled. “A vote for me is a vote to change the Senate back to a Republican majority, and we’ll get things done,” he said. “And it means a stop to the Obama agenda.”

Wait a minute, I thought. Which is it—ending the status quo of Washington gridlock? Or ratcheting up the gridlock by obstructing President Obama? You can't "get things done" in Washington without the president's signature, and no matter what happens in this year's elections, he's not going anywhere for another two years.

Yet these two seemingly contradictory messages are at the heart of Republican Senate campaigns across the country. I’ve heard them from candidate after candidate. And the paradox behind them gets to the question political watchers are increasingly pondering: If, as seems likely, Republicans take the Senate, what then? Will the GOP see its takeover as a mandate for ever more extreme partisanship? Or will the party suddenly turn conciliatory, ushering in a new age of progress? A new Republican Senate majority will put the party at a crossroads as it tries to reconcile these two competing promises.



I'm a total pessimist-I expect a war of vetoes and override battles to ensue and nothing will get done in 2015. I fully expect to be victimized by another government shut down, and my stocks to take a beating when we default on bond obligations.  There are those who think things may be different, I think they are fools:

But with control of both houses of Congress, Republicans would be on the hook for Congress’s actions. They alone would get the blame if Congress remained dysfunctional—and they alone could claim credit if Congress actually passed bills with popular support. If Republicans passed such moderate, constructive legislation, Obama would be hard pressed to simply veto everything they put on his desk.

And of course we can never underestimate the desire to go "legacy shopping" on the part of Obama. " What scares me also is what Obama will agree to".

At least in the abstract, however, there are a number of bills a Republican majority could pass that Obama would agree to sign. Obama—the real Obama, not the left-wing warrior of conservative fever dreams—loves the idea of bipartisanship and has been frustrated by a GOP he sees as unwilling to come to the table. He has agreed in principle, in the past, to ideas like the grand bargain, which his base loathes. Liberals also suspect Obama is willing to allow the Keystone pipeline, a decision on which he has delayed in the face of intense pressure from environmentalists. Most liberals contemplating a GOP Senate majority have focused their preemptive ire on the image of a vengeful McConnell threatening more brinksmanship and shutdowns. But perhaps it’s the dealmaking McConnell they should fear more.

Some, in fact, are already worried about this. I recently asked a top Democratic strategist why he worried about a Republican Senate takeover when, after all, McConnell would still need Democratic votes to pass legislation and Obama could still block bills with a veto. “What scares me the most,” he said, “is what Obama will agree to."

In the meantime, your country will fall further and further behind in global competition that the rising multi-polar world will create.

This is your democracy America, the one your own stupidity created.

3 responses so far

Jun 12 2014

The real winner on Tuesday night.

Apathy, hypocrisy, laziness, sloth, selfishness, and greed. They are all still hung over from celebrating their victory on Tuesday night.

 Another election season in the United States has come and gone. This previous Tuesday, a series of primaries in the most reactionary,   southern states produced a variety of results. It is my purpose today, to set the rest some of the most ridiculous commentary from the thugs of the blogosphere. They of the “Tut tut-I am so superior” set, think they can take the opportunity to lecture the rest of us on how we don’t get it, along with the usual notes about limited government is better, and power should be returned to the states. There will be a cite of James Madison to prove this-even though when you actually research it, Mr. Madison had no use for any of their philosophy.

Let us start with the expected result. Lindsey Graham trounced 6 Teabag loons all of whom thought that it somehow made sense for South Carolina to jettison a Senator with a great deal of seniority, because they don’t think he is crazy enough. Of course this is South Carolina, a state that has not been in the mainstream of American thought since before 1861. The GOP voters there actually showed some sense by voting for Graham-and against my fellow wearer of the ring sending her packing as she so richly deserved.

Of course Nancy Mace was never in it to win-rather it was build a campaign organization, test the waters to see how many Citadel alumni really remember the true circumstances of her being the “first” woman to graduate the Citadel, and build contacts for a her real ambition:  to run for a Congressional seat in some back water district in Georgia or South Carolina where the deluded Teabag folks she so casually allied herself with reside.

Moving on, the shocker of the night was, of course, the loss of Eric Cantor in the Virginia 7th district. Now some of the usual hacks are out proclaiming how this proves the public is fed up with Washington ways somehow this shows that Cantor was out of touch with the American people. If so, then its hard to see how the guy that beat him is much of an improvement. David Brat is hardly a worthy person to be elected to a school board-much less to the United States Congress.  Despite his assertions that his victory was a “gift from God”, trust me I can assure that God had nothing to do with it. ( And if he did, it just shows how much God really hates the United States.).

I mean really, its not like Eric Cantor was some sort of beacon of moderation in American politics. By tossing him out the voters in Virginia basically said that, “we don’t really care about being able to accomplish anything, we just want someone who will reaffirm our intrinsic selfishness and stupidity. Phib says it is because Cantor became to aligned with “Washington”. I say, that is utter and complete nonsense.

You know why Cantor lost? Dollars and lazy, stupid, American voting habits. Let’s start with the latter first.

The 7th district in Virginia has 758,000 people in it. In 2012 about 381,000 of them voted, 223,000 of them voting for Cantor. (And probably for the Mittster too, who after all represents the same kind of elitism that both Cantor and Brat are examples of). Now fast forward to 2014. Only about 65000 people, out of a population over 10 times that number voted. And only 36000 voted for this religious , Ayn Rand loving whack job. That is barely 5% of the district’s population and certainly less than 10% of the districts total GOP registered population.

Now in today’s America, where 27% percent of the voting age population would vote for Satan if he were to actively campaign against Obama-aided and abetted by a set of media organizations that prey on the weak minded. (Glenn Beck supported Brat after all) it probably is not that hard to get 36000 motivated idiots    voters to get out and vote for a certified whack job.

The second set of numbers is the dollars that media rabble rousers spent to make sure the faithful voted against their own self interest. Worthless people like Hugh Hewitt, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, and the ever hate able Mark Levin. Drudge of course was right there-egging on its completely clueless readership.  The Teabag front group , Americans for Prosperity gave Mark Levin ( he really needs to be run over by a bus) 800,000 dollars to get the word out. And Brat himself appears to to owe his job to Cato Institute president John Allison.

Dave Brat, the guy who won yesterday, may have had a lower profile than Cantor, but as Salon's Jim Newell pointed out, prominent members of the right-wing demagogue community pulled out all the stops for Brat:

… it was hard not to notice this morning that Drudge, in the prime upper-left real estate of his site, had listed a full 14 links regarding immigration and a supposed impending push for "amnesty" among the House Republican leadership….

What gives on this sleepy Tuesday? …

Hmmm … maybe something about Tuesday … primary season … it's a Tuesday during primary season … Ohhhhhhhh, we get it: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's primary is today!

… The [Cantor-Brat] race hasn't gotten that much national media coverage, but it’s sure grabbed the attention of the prominent right-wingers who devote their entire lives to stopping comprehensive immigration reform. There's Drudge, of course. And Ann Coulter. And radio/TV personality Laura Ingraham, who recently suggested that the United States should have traded Eric Cantor to the Taliban for Bowe Bergdahl. And the writings and tweets of Mickey Kaus, now of the Daily Caller, have been indistinguishable from those of a Brat staffer in recent months.

Glenn Beck also backed Brat.

Taken together it paints a much different set of reasons for Cantors defeat. Lazy Americans, most of whom are too stupid to understand the seriousness of the issues at play, who can’t be bothered to get out and fulfill their one and only civic duty, combined with a relentless , agenda driven propaganda machine epitomized by my least favorite Canadian , Mark Steyn, and conspired to create a set of circumstances that have foisted this rancid sack of human excrement, David Brat,  on the government of the United States.

This is how low your democracy has fallen America.  This is what passes for “principles”  in the brave new world of our Gaultian overlords.

A note of clarification: This is not to debate, by the way, Phib's assertion that there are people who spend too many tours in DC. He's clearly right about that. But that's a simplistic explanation at its heart.  We have to ask ourselves why that is-a Navy gets what it rewards. And a Congress gets what it legislates. The Congress, your Congress,  has essentially been useless for the last 6 years, primarily, "[because] the primary bona fides for Republican members of the House of Representatives is how thoroughly you can refuse to do the job of governing, especially in the area of immigration, but also as regards the critical elements of the national economy. " The Navy can fix its DC problem anytime it wants to by setting board precepts that reward operational excellence. Congress could fix a lot of the Navy's problems by voting for straightforward revenue increases and supporting the effort to leave the wars behind us.

However, its not DC-or the fact that there are a lot of foreigners who want to live the American dream working there-that are at the heart of the American problem of today, nor is it a reason Cantor lost. The real problem dear Brutus is our American selves-and how lazy and stupid our populace chooses to be. Aided and abetted by some really evil people ( yes that's you Messer's Steyn and Hanson) who prey on that selfishness, that laziness and overall lack of comprehension-the results are not surprising.

5 responses so far

May 31 2014

TV worth watching

It took the S.O. and I a long time to get Internet connectivity to the house , besides our cell phones and a stick for the computer. While I was away, it was installed-but our bandwidth is severely limited due to the lack of fiber (and cable) to our little village. So we get a whopping 3MB/s download speed.

So it was with trepidation when she went off to work today, that I tried our Apple TV box. Suprisingly it worked very well with no ( almost no) interruptions for buffering. Sitting down to play with the box and sharing via WiFi with my computer. I can access my entire I-tunes library-so that is a good thing.

In channel surfing though-I stumbled upon the PBS channel, which in our previous abode had been one of my staples. And I started watching, The United States of Secrets. Its a Frontline documentary about the NSA's warrantless surveillance program, through which, the boys and girls in Ft. Meade got to violate every American's rights under the Constitution. Now, it is not suprising that in the days after 9-11, the goverment went seeking broader authorities to violate these rights. What is jarring, and has you saying "WTF?" about every 15 minutes is the ease with which the sworn guardians of those rights just gave them away with no moral convictions. And your second "WTF?" moment comes when you see honest civil servants , who realized the government was screwing the pooch, made attempts to set things right "though the system", only to be stymied at every turn. And, like it or not, a lot of the blame or that lies with Dick Cheney.

Watch for yourself how innocently your government can turn to be as evil as that with which it seeks to protect you from:



The whole show is 4 hours in two parts-long to be sure-but worth every second of your time. If you are an American who cares about the rights of your fellow citizens under the Constitution, you will be astounded at what it discusses. (Even if you support Bush). The real revelation is not that they usurped the rights under 1st , 4th, and 5th amendments-but the ease at which they brushed aside concerns about those incredibly important issue. The precedents it created are scary.

2 responses so far

Apr 08 2014

Catching up

What with the move and all there has been a lot going on. The travails of getting ready for the move kept me from commenting on some of the really stupid things that have happened in the last month. So this will be a post aimed at catching up-if only just for a bit.


Starting with the most recent abomination is the US Supreme Court’s hideous ruling the case of McCutcheon vs FEC.  Not content to f*ck up American politics by allowing Citizens United, Justice Roberts decides to compound the damage. James Fallows had a couple of pretty good articles pointing out just how cynical Roberts’ position is:

Humility. Modesty. Restraint. Deference to precedent. "We're just calling balls and strikes."

That guy sounded so great. Really, watch this minute-long video and think what it would be like to have a person like that on the bench.

Instead we have a chief justice who:

?In the "Obamacare" ruling two years ago, apparently decided that the institutional risk to the Court of blatantly coming across as just another branch of party politics outweighed the objections implicit in his prior rulings to the healthcare plan. So he found a way not to overturn the main legislative accomplishment of a president's first term, with all the hubbub that would ensue. As it happens, I was glad that the politics added up that way for him. But …

?In this week's McCutcheon ruling, following Citizens United, he made up out of nowhere his own interpretation of how electoral politics and favor-trading works—trumping that of Congress, composed 100 percent of elected members. Plus he invented his own post-Founders, no-input-from-Congress, precedent-be-damned theory of what "corruption" means. As it happens, I disagree with the results of this one. But the main point is that in their activist political sensibility neither this judgment nor the Obamacare one had the slightest connection to the person who so self-effacingly presented himself for confirmation nine years ago.

Fallows correctly points out that Roberts is dangerous for two reasons, 1) he is overtly partisan and has infected his judicial understanding with that partisanship and 2) he will be on the Court for a long time to come. “The man who, at age 50, presented himself for lifetime tenure as chief justice said that he conceived of his role as a minimalist "balls and strikes" umpire. No one who has observed him in office could plausibly describe him that way. He has been as precedent-disregarding as they come. So was he naive in saying what he did nine years ago? Or was he cynical? To me those seem to be the options.”

So. To review-money is not speech, corporations are not people,  my friend.


About the MH370 situation I have nothing of substance to add. Clearly an enormous tragedy has occurred-and it was compounded by the incompetence of the Malaysian government.  It will be interesting to see if they actually find anything like the “black box”.


And finally I am astounded the by the hi tech lynching of Brendan Eich. Who was CEO of Mozilla which creates the Firefox browser. The reason he was forced out? Because he gave money back in 2008 to support proposition 8 in California.

As I have noted before-this business of firing people for Facebook and Twitter postings is getting out of hand. It is ludicrous to suggest that Eich should have been fired over this-and all of the lame justifications that as CEO he should be held to a “higher standard” get no sympathy from me. He is not just a CEO he is also a private citizen. And he has a right to donate to whatever causes he wants.

Eich's abrupt departure has stirred the debate over the fairness of forcing out a highly qualified technology executive over his personal views and a single campaign contribution six years ago. And it raises questions about how far corporate leaders are allowed to go in expressing their political views.

Some are also questioning whether the episode undercuts the well-groomed image of Silicon Valley as a marketplace of ideas and diversity of thought, and whether, in this case, the tech world surrendered to political correctness enforced through a public shaming on social media.

OkCupid never demanded Eich resign, and after discussing the issue with Mozilla, Yagun ended the call for a Firefox boycott Wednesday afternoon.

In retrospect, however, Yagun said he wished he had framed the Firefox boycott in a slightly different light.

"I would have loved to have engaged in a debate over what happens when freedoms collide," Yagun said. "We have freedom of speech, which I would defend to the end. And we have what I believe is a fundamental liberty of people to marry and love whoever they want. We took a stand that matters to us personally and as a business — and I think the world will be a better place because of it."

Eich's departure didn't end the controversy, it just changed it.

 This is a bad thing for a whole lot of reasons and it will come back to bite those who organized this excursion into political correctness in the ass. Andrew Sullivan, who I tend to disagree with most of the time is on the right side here when he warns that this will have unintended consequences:

"You want to squander the real gains we have made by argument and engagement by becoming just as intolerant of others' views as the Christians?," he asked. "You've just found a great way to do this. It's a bad, self-inflicted blow. And all of us will come to regret it."


Furthermore, it creates a double standard. Brendan Eich was regarded as someone whose political beliefs and activities rendered him unsuitable for his job. In California, if an employer had fired an employee for these reasons, he would be breaking the law. Now some folks try to hold up that this is a market based decision. If that’s the case, then market is way too sensitive.

Mozilla could have let this pass-and it probably would have passed by in a few days. But now its actually going to hurt Firefox I think in the long run.  The market is much more elastic than that.

And before the inevitable Chick-Fil –A reference is made. Remember, there are some really big differences, not the least of which is that Chick-Fil-A was talking about actually not hiring people who are gay.

Eich begged for mercy; he asked to be given a fair shot to prove he wasn’t David Duke; he directly interacted with those he had hurt. He expressed sorrow. He had not the slightest blemish in his professional record. He had invented JavaScript. He was a hero. He pledged to do all he could to make amends. But none of this is ever enough for Inquisitions – and it wasn’t enough in this case. His mind and conscience were the problem. He had to change them or leave.

A civil rights movement without toleration is not a civil rights movement; it is a cultural campaign to expunge and destroy its opponents. A moral movement without mercy is not moral; it is, when push comes to shove, cruel.


4 responses so far

Feb 10 2014

Why the Navy is horribly wrong.

Published by under Politics

This has always been a stupid idea on the part of the US Navy. I experienced it in 1975-when-in order to win a scholarship I had to Major in Mathematics, a field of study I hated, so as to become a Naval Officer. The only benefit therein to doing so was that, it allowed me to study History and Political Science; then my true love-as a Minor. Thus I was allowed to experience Liberal Larry's Constitutional Law class-one of the highlights of my educational career.

At the Naval Academy, the academic program is focused especially on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), in order to meet the current and future highly technical needs of the Navy. Graduates who are proficient in scientific inquiry, logical reasoning and problem solving will provide an officer corps ready to lead in each warfare community of the Navy and Marine Corps.


F*cking blow me!  As a future Naval Officer, STEM classes were required. I had to take Physics, Chemistry, E&M Theory ( and no, that does not mean erotic and masturbation theory). All of those classes sucked and I exited with the requisite "C" and or "B" in these courses. I did however enjoy the wonders of History of Western Civilization, Major British Writers and as I mentioned before Constitutional Law. Not to mention learning the basics of a language now that I use ever day going to work. ( God rest your soul, Col Gundel).

The Navy does a fine job teaching the technical details. They were able to teach me radar, were they not? So much so that I could teach to other people? But it did a lousy job of helping me to understand why I was being asked to risk getting killed off the catapult at night in the North Atlantic. Or in the Persian Gulf.  Or any one of a 100 other places.

They certainly did not teach me about the "why's" o being asked to make such a sacrifice-all they were concerned about was how to actually do it. And nothing in their educational program prepared me for the idea of having to be shoved off to nothing at all of value, solely to fill an Army requirement in such hell holes as Iraq and Afghanistan.

So here is a  little reminder of what it is really all about. Fans of Ross Douthat should take note.


The purpose of life is not to work till you die-it is to savor the adventure of being in a sensual, physical, beautiful world.


3 responses so far

Aug 28 2013

She needs more than just a ring on her finger.

A lot of Alumni from my alma mater are going all out to convince other graduates of a certain distinguished military college-that one should support the primary efforts of Nancy Mace to unseat Senator Lindsey Graham in 2014. Now I am not a South Carolina resident, so in theory I have no dog in the fight, but at the same time I am interested in the race-for what it says about the sad state of Republican politics in the United States today.

Nancy Mace has the distinguishing feature of being the first female graduate of the Citadel, a feat obtained by being a transfer student and therefore not having to complete a full four years at the fortress of learning. ( to be fair she did complete a full plebe year as did many other women). Her association with the college is neither here nor there in my humble opinion-but it is important to use it as a backdrop to provide some context on why her candidacy is a really bad idea.

Contrary to what some Alumni believe-Citadel graduates can back the wrong side politically sometimes and have. It is for this reason and not the reason of being a graduate-that smart thinking South Carolinians should spurn her candidacy.

First of all, the idea of replacing a sitting Senator, who by all accounts, has served the State of South Carolina well and is a problem solver,  is pretty stupid. Its generally never a good idea to trade someone of that amount of seniority in the Senate for an inexperienced new comer. Furthermore, Graham-while not my favorite Senator by any stretch of the imagination-is a part of a dying breed in the Republican party. A moderate Republican who votes issues on their merits-not some screwed up conservative ideology. He's criticized the Tea Party-deservedly so-which in the screwy world of tea loving aficionados is tantamount to an unforgivable sin. Add to that the fact that he has worked to compromise on a red button issue such as immigration. ( He's right on that issue by the way-and no amount of head in the sand whining by Americanus Teabaggerus is going to change that).

Which leads us back to Ms Mace. To mount this challenge, she is allying herself with some very unsavory people. People who really don't care about her per se-but do care about destroying what is left of the Republican party. Their goal is change it over from Ronald Reagan's "big tent" to the brain dead organization we have today, producing such paragons of national leadership such as Paul "Zombie Eyed Granny Starver" Ryan, Eric Cantor, Aqua Buddha Rand Paul as well as the dumbest Congressman on earth ( a title formerly held by the poster child, but he got beat) Louie Gohmert.Freeeeeedoooooommmmmmm!

Taking on an established candidate like Graham is a big effort, and Ms Mace is cozying up to the folks who have all the dollars and the bad ideas. She has boarded the Tea Party Express train to hell-no local stops-even getting kind wordsfrom  that wise old man Glenn Beck. Yea-there's an endorsement for you.

She even attended a "Faith and Freedom" event held by Congressman Jeff Duncan, who's still a fking birther.

She is being backed by PAC's that are led by Jim DeMint as well as others led by equally whacked out people.

These people are destroying the Republican party, and in choosing to ally herself with Tea Party cause, Ms Mace gives lie to her statement that she is running to bring sanity back to Washington. The people supporting her and the tea party are anything but sane.

When you associate with scum-a lot of it sticks to your clothes. And the smell takes a long time to wash out.

Personally I think this is all part of carefully orchestrated Public Relations strategy on her part. She knows she will lose to Graham-and if it were any normal state she would never have even attempted such a candidacy. This is South Carolina however-the same state that elected such bastions of intellectual integrity as Nikki Haley. So by running and making noise now-she can establish a name for herself, scare Graham and force him to veer to the right into areas he has no business going into, and build up a war chest for her real aim, some Congressional seat in South Carolina or Georgia.

I find that more than a bit disturbing and for that reason, not her college diploma, she is undeserving of any support from any alumni.



9 responses so far

Jul 12 2013


I love the writing of Charles Pierce.

First of all,he is not afraid of all the conservative concern trolls who get all bent out of shape when one calls one of the Representatives from Wisconisn , the "zombie eyed granny starver" he truly is. Nor does he fall apart when they whine about the supposed injustice on calling them out on their selfishness and cruelty. You know who you are trolls-please go fuck yourselves.

But the other reason I like him is he has a way with the words. This is sheer prosaic beauty:

Our Congress is now a cut-rate circus with nothing but eunuchs as performers. Some of these people, like Stutzman and his colleagues in the flying-monkey caucus, become eunuchs by choice. Some of them, like John Boehner, are drafted into the position. Their job is to be forcibly impotent so that the government itself becomes forcibly impotent. They are proud of what they do. They consider it a higher calling to public service that they decline to serve the public. They sing a soprano dirge for democracy in Jesus's name, amen.

Or this:

Do we need to mention that Mr. Stutzman is a member of the Class of '10, when the country decided with malice aforethought to elect the worst Congress in the history of the Republic? Do we need to mention that this bill has no chance of passing the Senate, or of being signed by the president, or of ever becoming law in this country? Of course, we don't. That isn't what this brutal act of maladministration was about. That isn't what this House is about any more. We've made jokes about how Eric Cantor has Boehner's balls buried in a Mason jar in his backyard. As far as governing the country goes, the rest of the House is more along the lines of Origen of Alexandria who, when he found himself tempted by the sins of the flesh, seized a knife and, as Flann O'Brien's vision of St, Augustine puts it, deprived himself in one swipe of his personality. Whenever the House majority feels itself tempted by the sin of actually governing, out comes the blade and all of them sing soprano harmonies.


They do this to demonstrate that government cannot work. They do this so that they can go home and talk at all the town halls and bean suppers to audiences choking on the venom that pours out of their radios and off their television screens about how government doesn't work, and how they stood tall against it, and against Those People who don't want to work for a living. (When Stutzman says he's a "fourth-generation farmer" who doesn't want the Farm Bill to be a "welfare bill," the folks back in LaGrange County don't need an Enigma machine to decode what he's saying.) They do this out of the bent notion, central to their party's presidential campaign last fall, that anyone on any kind of government assistance is less entitled to the benefits of the political commonwealth. And they all believe that; the only difference between Paul Ryan and Marlin Stutzman is that Ryan has been a nuisance for a longer period of time. That the country rose up and rejected that notion in a thundering manner is irrelevant. What does the country matter in the Third Congressional District of Indiana? There, they believe government cannot work, and they elect Marlin Stutzman to the Congress to demonstrate to the world that it cannot.

As James Fallows reminds this-it would be funny if it were not entirely true. Unfortunately it is, so it is nothing short of terrifying and crazy.


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May 17 2013

Summing it up very well…..

Published by under Bush Buffoonery,Politics

John Cole has a great post up summing up the way those of us who used to be in the GOP camp have been abandoned completly by the party we grew up with. I liked it so much I wanted to quote his statement of belief right here. It is excellent.

What’s on my mind, Facebook? I will tell you. For decades I was a Republican, but they lost their shit, and I left the party in 2005. I was always pro gay rights and pro-choice and anti death penalty as a Republican, but they decided I did not belong, so I left.

And now, I am happy to say I am a proud liberal who will stand up to right-wing douchebags who have decided that 2/3 of America doesn’t deserve the right to exist.

I support gay rights and the ability for gay people to marry.

I am pro-choice. Not pro-abortion, but pro-choice.

I am against the death penalty. This used to be a libertarian position, but they are so corrupted by right wing money that they no longer are worried about the state executing the citizenry. Because, you know, freedom.

I think marijuana should be legal and taxed. Obviously, alcoholics like Orange John Boehner think this is crazy as he leads the House with a BAC of .20 every day.

I think religion can be a good thing, but I think religious people should respect that many people do not share their faith nor need lists of commandments to understand they shouldn’t fuck their neighbor’s wife or murder or steal. Some of us kinda figured that shit out on our own.

I don’t think video games or movies make people kill people.

I do think easy access to guns makes it really easy to kill people.

I think gay people should be able to adopt. In fact, I think we should stop calling them gay people and just call them, well, people.

I don’t think taxes are a punishment. I think they are what gives us roads and part of a great societal pact; an obligation for all of us to fulfill so we can be so lucky to live in this country.

I don’t think people who are poor are evil, stupid, or lazy. I just think they have no money and could use some help from me.

I think that this world is basically lacking in human compassion and empathy, and that bothers me. “I got mine” seems to be a refrain that is repeated too often.

I could go on, but these are the basics.

11 responses so far

Mar 05 2013

Let the whining continue…….

Mitt Romney seems to be having trouble adjusting to life as a worthless piece of shit an also ran.

First, here's Willard, reminding us again that he only lost because he wouldn't give the Poors all the nice things, like the things he gave all of us here in Massachusetts, when he was pretending that he wasn't such a privileged, entitled dick.

The president had the power of incumbency. ObamaCare was very attractive, particularly to those without health insurance. And they came out in large numbers to vote. So that was part of a successful campaign.

You bet. It was going to be the part of your successful 2008 campaign, too, until the entire Republican party decided that it would rather inject itself with Ebola than spend eight years listening to you.

"It kills me not to be there, not to be in the White House doing what needs to be done," Romney told Fox News in an interview broadcast on Sunday, his first since losing to President Barack Obama last November."

Yeah…..sure….asshole-whatever helps you sleep at night in your gold covered bed.

Take it away, Charles Pierce:  "Somebody's still got the baaaaad butt-sting. The country decided you were a walking lump of cream cheese that it wouldn't sit next to on the last cattle car to Hell. Go away again now."

Nonetheless it always humorous to watch Rmoney try to pull off the common touch.:

The one thing I can say for absolute certainty, after watching Willard Romney try to impersonate a carbon-based life-form for over a year, is that "people" got as good a look at who he really is as they have of any candidate in the past 20 years. His problem was that he couldn't even fake being a fake well enough. I look forward to many more appearances from America's Fun Couple in the weeks and months to come, as they keep digging that hole with both hands.

Rmoney arriving for his Fox interview.


No responses yet

Feb 28 2013

More data to hit morons over the head with.

Tomorrow night I plan on getting really loaded after I go to Hebrew class. I should have been on a plane to Tel Aviv tomorrow-there to look at nice Israeli women with big knockers and drink Goldstone beer, but thanks to the lunacy known as the sequester-and the impending layoff I am expecting to receive because of it, it was decided they could not afford to send me. Even though there is a lot of work to be done on my project-that cannot be thrashed out by that bane of my existence-the video teleconference. ( If I could uninvent that abomination, believe me I would.).

So as we count down the hours to yet another fiscal disaster our GOP Galtian overlords have put upon us-I thought it would be a great time to point out that most of what they are telling you about the "problem" is wrong. If they are not outright lying-they are leaving out important bits of context and detail out that change the picture rather dramatically.

Lets start with Lie # 1: Obama was the father of the sequester. It is a complete and utter untruth to say that because it ignores the background and the context. What the House Republicans fail to tell you are that Republicans had threatened to crash the economy on purpose unless their debt-ceiling demands were met, and in the hopes of resolving the crisis, President Obama offered Republicans an overly-generous, $4 trillion "Grand Bargain," which included entitlement cuts and new revenue. Boehner was inclined to accept it, but his caucus balked, forcing the Speaker to walk away from the table. Eric Cantor has admitted this, twice. Instead of a Grand Bargain, Cantor and the House Republicans made a grand bet. The bet failed spectacularly. Obama won the election.

Now lets move on to lie number #2-under President Obama, federal spending has exploded and as a result he has added 1 trillion a year to the deficit. "Its the spending stupid-we have to cut spending! We are robbing from our children".

Well, first of all, "Your children are going to be just fine", and second-its not true. Either on the spending side or the deficit side. Oh there was a President that exploded federal spending-most of it for stupid wars for worthless Arabs and for a lot of things we didn't need, but his name began with a B, and not an O. Consider the fact that for the last several years, federal spending has actually declined.



Now if that were not enough to refute the critics-then consider this little tidbit, federal hiring has also declined significantly too:



And of course there is always my favorite-which shows definitive that it is the tax cuts-combined with the recession and the wars that have ballooned the deficit. Not that deficit scolds like the evil man himself-Paul Ryan-have been paying attention.

One response so far

Jan 06 2013

Starting off the new year.

Published by under Beer and Babes,Politics

Always hit the "save drafts" button! Other wise you do what I do, inadvertently hit the back button and all your work just quietly goes away. There is probably an analogy for this year in their somewhere.

So, to start again-have been busy getting ready for a busy January. I am also more than happy to see the holidays wind down, because now I can see my travel schedule start again. With a new year comes a new total of Frequent Flyer miles to get. I'm only 100K away from Million Miler status with United. Time to get cracking!

The saga of the car continues. As I expected, Volkswagon did not honor the repair of the windshield under the warranty, so I had to file for it under my insurance. They are taking care of it-and the car is scheduled to be repaired next week. The only problem is I will be in a training class next week-so the S.O. has to take the car over to the repair shop-which is way over towards Esslingen. She is having kittens. She doesn't like to drive in the city. I put it to her simply-she has to do this. She acquiesced but it was long and painful to get her to do so.

Which is probably a good analogy for other things with her.


Back in the land of my birth, Congress has yet again "averted" a disaster it created, by finally voting to restore taxes on some folks to their proper levels. Myself I would have preferred all the Bush tax cuts to go away-but their is some merit to the argument that the effect on the markets would have been too bad. What is disturbing, however is that in their petulant manner and strong desire not to compromise with the black guy, the did not come up with any long term solutions. So in two months the same tea sniffing assholes will put a gun to our collective heads again.

Professor Krugman is tired of trying to reason with you people:


The fight over the fiscal cliff was just one battle in that war. It ended, arguably, in a tactical victory for Democrats. The question is whether it was a Pyrrhic victory that set the stage for a larger defeat.

Why do I say that it was a tactical victory? Mainly because of what didn’t happen: There were no benefit cuts. This was by no means a foregone conclusion…

There were also some actual positives from a progressive point of view. Expanded unemployment benefits were given another year… Other benefits to lower-income families were given another five years… Oh, and not only did Republicans vote for a tax increase for the first time in decades, the overall result of the tax changes … will be a significant reduction in income inequality…

So why are many progressives — myself included — feeling very apprehensive? Because … the G.O.P. retains the power to destroy, in particular by refusing to raise the debt limit — which could cause a financial crisis. And Republicans have made it clear that they plan to use their destructive power to extract major policy concessions.

Now, the president has said that he won’t negotiate on that basis, and rightly so. Threatening to hurt tens of millions of innocent victims unless you get your way … shouldn’t be treated as a legitimate political tactic.


Of course it will be used as a tactic by our Galtian overlords, and on my Facebook page I will be subjected to the usual lectures on "stealing money" and "socialism".  God,  I do tire of people passing around the same lies, month after month. And when you try to disabuse them of the lies? They just turn around and attack you personally. Probably what is most disturbing about that is the unwritten idea that they are putting forth that gutting these programs somehow won't hurt them-when in fact they will. Quite badly. But the lectures continue-and in a demonstration of the really corrosive affect that Fox News has had over the last few years-one hears over and over the "47%" mantra. It is indeed troublesome-because its just not true.:


According to the normal rules of politics, Republicans should have very little bargaining power at this point. With Democrats holding the White House and the Senate, the G.O.P. can’t pass legislation; and since the biggest progressive policy priority of recent years, health reform, is already law, Republicans wouldn’t seem to have many bargaining chips.

But the G.O.P. retains the power to destroy, in particular by refusing to raise the debt limit — which could cause a financial crisis. And Republicans have made it clear that they plan to use their destructive power to extract major policy concessions.

Rather than do anything long term-egged on by the spoiled children who make up the GOP today the Congress condescended to only do the minimum required of it. Sometimes I wonder if the US would not be better off with a Parliamentary system where at least the Parliament can be dismissed when it is non productive. But in our current times that would happen so often it would be worse than Italy in the 1960's or France in the 1950's.

Which is kind of a good description for our current government anyway. Until the spoiled children that are the average American citizen, is made to understand that you cannot tax cut your way to prosperity-nothing of substance will get done.


On Saturdays, in downtown Stuttgart there is an outdoor antiques market at the plaza next to the Markt Halle. It's a good way to spend an afternoon. The S.O. loves to walk through the stands and pick and turn over each and every piece of china, I usually just wander off to a stand that has old books. These are almost always in German, of course, but they are really remakable in many cases. Found a picture book about World War I entitled "Ein Welt gegen Uns" ( A world against us is what it translates to -which pretty much summarizes the German view of that period and the one that followed). The book was really interesting with lots and lots of pictures from all four years of the war. It also had pictures of the war against Russia and other actions in Italy , for example. The stall owner wanted 35 Euro for it. That was too much and my efforts to negotiate with him failed-so the book was left on his table as we finally left. I really wanted to buy it-but not at that price.

Following the S.O.'s 2 and 1/2 hour ordeal of looking and looking at the same pieces of china over and over again. We adjouorned into the Markt Halle. Which is the Stuttgart Market Hall and has stands selling fish, vegatables, meats, olives, national specialtties from France, Greece, Italy, Hungary, and Turkey. Their Asian spice stands are pretty interesting too. They had one stand selling nothing but Hungarian Wine and I was tempted to buy some-but we still had many other places to go to, and did not want to lug three bottles around in the back pack forever and a day.


NPR ran a rather interesting story about the "stand your ground laws" that gun nuts have used as one of the hat racks to hang their absurd desire to have an arsenal of all kinds of weaponry at their disposal. They discovered something obvious-that discerning the "good guy" from the "bad guy" is not as clear cut as they thought it would be. Shocker:

If a stranger attacks you inside your own home, the law has always permitted you to defend yourself. On the other hand, if an altercation breaks out in public, the law requires you to try to retreat. At least, that’s what it used to do.

In 2005, Florida became the first of nearly two-dozen states to pass a “stand your ground” law that removed the requirement to retreat. If you felt at risk of harm in a park or on the street, you could use lethal force to defend yourself. The shooting of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., drew national attention to these laws.

Now, researchers who’ve studied the effect of the laws have found that states with a stand your ground law have more homicides than states without such laws.

Hoekstra recently decided to analyze national crime statistics to see what happens in states that pass stand your ground laws. He found the laws are having a measurable effect on the homicide rate.

“Our study finds that, that homicides go up by 7 to 9 percent in states that pass the laws, relative to states that didn’t pass the laws over the same time period,” he says.

As to whether the laws reduce crime — by creating a deterrence for criminals — he says, “we find no evidence of any deterrence effect over that same time period.”

Hoekstra obtained this result by comparing the homicide rate in states before and after they passed the laws. He also compared states with the laws to states without the laws.

Still, based on the available data, it appears that crafters of these laws sought to give good guys more latitude to defend themselves against bad guys. But what Hoekstra’s data suggest is that in real-life conflicts, both sides think of the other guy as the bad guy. Both believe the law gives them the right to shoot.

In a separate analysis of death certificates before and after stand your ground laws were passed in different states, economists at Georgia State University also found that states that passed the laws ended up with a higher homicide rate.

That study also tracked the increased homicides by race. In contrast to the narrative established by the Trayvon Martin shooting — many people believe black men are more likely to be the victims of stand your ground laws — this analysis found the additional deaths caused by the laws were largely concentrated among white men.

“The imperfect but growing evidence seems to suggest that the consequences of adopting stand your ground laws are pernicious, in that they may lead to a greater number of homicides — thus going against the notion that they are serving some sort of protective function for society,” he says.

Que the "black people just want free stuff" chorus.


Over the Christmas season, I gave myself a gift of 4 seasons of the The Big Bang Theory. I had not paid the show any attention when I was in the States living-but now I have gone back and given it another look. I saw several episodes on a Comedy Channel in Israel when I was there this past fall. I really came to like it. So I have watched Seasons 1 and 2 and 5 and in the middle of watching Season 6 now. I also found a nifty little drinking game to go along with it:


The S.O. and I watched "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" on Friday night. I had wanted to see the movie for a long time. I was suprised the S.O. hung with me to watch it-she does not usually like English movies that rely on a lot of dialogue. But we both enjoyed this one. I liked it a lot. The scene where Bill Nighy tells off his obnoxious wife really spoke to me. ( I got a very curious eye from the S.O. as I leaned forward to watch it closer). I had figured it would just be light entertainment, but in the end it was a more powerful movie than I expected. ( Young Indian actresses are pretty hot too).

This is Tena Desae:



And finally, I am still with out my cell phone. In the end I had to send it back to Samsung so that they can fix the damn thing. It seemed to be suffering from "Sudden Death Syndrome".


There has been a common issues with many Galaxy S3 devices around the world that has started to bother a lot of people. The problems is this: Galaxy S3 is suddenly dies and doesn’t turn on again until you take it to be repaired.

All around the world people are bringing their devices in service because they will not turn on again. This problem has been named a “sudden death” for Galaxy S3. It’s like the phone is “committing suicide” out of nowhere. The issue with this problem is the fact that it doesn’t have a common pattern. The Galaxy S3 dies after charging, during charging over night, after turning the screen off it will not turn on again. As far as I can see it is a pretty scary problem.

The most common situation with the Galaxy S3 dying is when charging the phone over night. When you try to turn on the screen, it will not respond. You will not be able to turn on the phone with the power button. Pulling the battery off and on again also doesn’t help. It seems that the only resolution for this problem is to take your phone to be repaired in a specialized store.

The good this is that Samsung is responding well to this issue, meaning that they repair all the phones that are brought to them with this problem, or more likely they will give you a new one.

There is no official statement regarding this issue, but seeing how more and moreGalaxy S3 owners are complaining about this, we can conclude that there are some real hardware issues with the Galaxy S3.



As I said-I hope its not a harbinger of things to come.:/

6 responses so far

Nov 08 2012

After action report.

Its Thursday now, and after 13 hours of sleep last night-I went to bed at 6:15 PM- I feel much better.

Meanwhile, the post mortems on the election have begun. And as I expected, some people are learning all the wrong lessons. Writing off the results of the election to a bunch of parasites doesn't get you any friends. Giving your pompous speeches on self sufficiency won't either. I already work hard as does just about every member of the 60,000,000 who voted for Obama. The more you guys delude yourself about this misguided idea of "dependency"-the more it makes the rest of the country want to kick your ass. People don't want handouts-they want a level playing field. They want the incredibly rich to understand that decently compensating and benefiting one's employees is not an act of kindness-its an obligation of being part of the civilized world. And they don't want pompous bastards telling them what to do with their bodies-and what they should do if they are raped.

John Cole has it right, "  when you insult folks and dismiss them, they tend to get mad and they tend to want to kick your ass.". That had a lot to do with my feelings on the election-the more I heard that because I felt strongly about decent benefits and wanting what I was entitled to, that I was a "moocher" the more emotionally invested in Obama's victory I became. Well played wingnuts-well played. 

So what are the lessons learned here?

First for the Democrats, they should heed Jon Chait's warning:

Democrats will not keep winning forever. (In particular, their heavy reliance on young and non-white voters, who vote more sporadically, will subject the party to regular drubbings in midterm elections, when only the hardiest voters turn out.) Eventually, the Republican Party will recast and reform itself, and the Democratic Party’s disparate constituencies will eat each other alive, as they tend to do when they lack the binding force of imminent peril. But conservatives have lost their best chance to strike down the Obama legacy and mold the government in the Paul Ryan image.

Which of course begs two important questions. 1) How effectively will the Democrats use that time they have before the day of defeat comes? And 2) How well will they be prepared to persevere when the day of defeat comes? More importantly, will they heed the message that came from the stridency of the folks who didn't vote for Obama? The unspoken message is that admit it or not-steps will need to be taken to get America's financial house in order. The real challenge will be to do so in a responsible fashion that does not resort the Draconian-and quite evil-methods of Romney's running mate, the "zombie eyed granny starver" Ryan. Spending cuts are going to have to come-as is the repeal of the Bush tax cuts. Finding a good middle ground will be hard. And much as he might rightly be able to point to the immensity of the damage done by the idiot who preceded him, in the second term, Obama will own everything that happens, for good or bad.

For the Republicans the lessons are more stark: "Being in bed with extremism doesn't work-it just pisses people off".

Alas I fear that the GOP won't learn this lesson but will learn exactly opposite. The forces of lunacy, who say that the party should be even more conservative are already gearing up their efforts.  The slime is already starting to crawl out of the woodwork, like Herman Cain advocating the creation of a third party. I find this more than a little amusing-since its clear that the GOP could probably have won this election, just as they could have won in 2008,  if they had not gotten so off the deep end groveling to people who are not worthy of anything but utter contempt. The Teabag wing has to be put out of its misery, like Old Yeller,  taken out back and dispatched quickly with aid of a loaded shotgun.

Will the Republican Party mature, reach out, and bring in the old guard centrists who were/are the adult voices in the room so that they can be competitive and work for the Common Good? Or will the Tea Party GOP dig in, become even more extreme, and further obstruct the Common Good in order to advance their increasingly narrow partisan agenda? Does Romney's defeat lead to a more reasonable Republican Party or one that is even more extreme and intransigent? 



The answer should be a definitive yes-the party has to go back to its roots. Unfortunately this requires and honest understanding of the facts and the truth-and the information machine of conservative American is quite ill equipped to do this. Connor Friedsdorf, writing at The Atlantic points out very well how the right is not served well by its insistence on living in an echo chamber. One big reason that so many conservatives are disappointed today-is that they had no one telling them the honest truth. They believed they could live in a world where they made up the "facts"-and they bought those lies hook line and sinker. In a proper world, it should lead to a massive loss of revenue for Fox and a decline in readership for  Hinderaker and the rest of the swine like William Jacobsen who inhabit the Liars Club. But it won't:

Barack Obama just trounced a Republican opponent for the second time. But unlike four years ago, when most conservatives saw it coming, Tuesday's result was, for them, an unpleasant surprise. So many on the right had predicted a Mitt Romney victory, or even a blowout — Dick Morris, George Will, and Michael Barone all predicted the GOP would break 300 electoral votes. Joe Scarborough scoffed at the notion that the election was anything other than a toss-up. Peggy Noonan insisted that those predicting an Obama victory were ignoring the world around them. Even Karl Rove, supposed political genius, missed the bulls-eye. These voices drove the coverage on Fox News, talk radio, the Drudge Report, and conservative blogs. 

Those audiences were misinformed.

Outside the conservative media, the narrative was completely different. Its driving force was Nate Silver, whose performance forecasting Election '08 gave him credibility as he daily explained why his model showed that President Obama enjoyed a very good chance of being reelected. Other experts echoed his findings. Readers of The New York TimesThe Atlantic, and other "mainstream media" sites besides knew the expert predictions, which have been largely born out. The conclusions of experts are not sacrosanct. But Silver's expertise was always a better bet than relying on ideological hacks like Morris or the anecdotal impressions of Noonan. 

Sure, Silver could've wound up wrong. But people who rejected the possibility of his being right? They were operating at a self-imposed information disadvantage.

Conservatives should be familiar with its contours. For years, they've been arguing that liberal control of media and academia confers one advantage: Folks on the right can't help but be familiar with the thinking of liberals, whereas leftists can operate entirely within a liberal cocoon. This analysis was offered to explain why liberal ideas were growing weaker and would be defeated.

For all the conservative whining about the "main stream media" they missed the main point-those folks understand the profession of journalism far better than their conservative counterparts. Jon Stewart pointed this out a couple of times last year when interviewed by Fox. The media as a whole is not biased politically-it is biased towards sensationalism .Still, even with that handicap they for the most part kicked the right wing news media's ass:

In conservative fantasy-land, Richard Nixon was a champion of ideological conservatism, tax cuts are the only way to raise revenue, adding neoconservatives to a foreign-policy team reassures American voters, Benghazi was a winning campaign issue, Clint Eastwood's convention speech was a brilliant triumph, and Obama's America is a place where black kids can beat up white kids with impunity. Most conservative pundits know better than this nonsense — not that they speak up against it. They see criticizing their own side as a sign of disloyalty. I see a coalition that has lost all perspective, partly because there's no cost to broadcasting or publishing inane bullshit. In fact, it's often very profitable. A lot of cynical people have gotten rich broadcasting and publishing red meat for movement conservative consumption. On the biggest political story of the year, the conservative media just got its ass handed to it by the mainstream media. And movement conservatives, who believe the MSM is more biased and less rigorous than their alternatives, have no way to explain how their trusted outlets got it wrong, while the New York Times got it right. Hint: The Times hired the most rigorous forecaster it could find. It ought to be an eye-opening moment.

It would be nice if folks would learn the right lessons from this and move back to a more balanced seeking of information-but they won't. And ass rockets like the National Review and Michael Barone are determined not to let them. Which leads to one final point, this cycle of self destruction cannot continue. Americans have to figure out how to have political conversations without them devolving into a shouting match. I tried to have one at work today with my incredibly still pissed off co-workers. It failed miserably. The Economist writing in a post yesterday points out I am not alone in this dilemma.


AFTER a panel discussion on the US elections hosted by a Dutch radio station the other night, I got to talking to a fellow American who's looking for work stateside. His Dutch government-funded job had been eliminated by austerity measures, so he was trying to convince his wife of the virtues of moving back to America. The main reason he was hesitating was the mood of vicious and increasingly entrenched political animosity. "Do you get the feeling," he asked, "that it could get violent?"

I said I didn't know. But it's certainly not a silly question. A recent broadcast of "This American Life", which focused on people who have lost close friends in recent years over politics, seemed to capture the mood pretty accurately. One sequence portrayed a student with a life-threatening pre-existing condition that until recently rendered him uninsurable, who has stopped talking to a conservative friend who refuses to support ObamaCare because he said it felt as though the friend didn't value his life. A conservative man describes being unable to continue talking to a former friend who supports a president he is convinced is destroying the country. Two sisters can't agree on who is being rude and condescending to whom after a furious falling-out over political philosophy.

Barack Obama has just won re-election, but America remains a country bitterly divided, as it has been for well over a decade. The divide is simultaneously very narrow in numerical terms, and gaping in ideological or partisan terms. This is what strikes one most strongly looking back at America from across an ocean: the country seems repeatedly embroiled in savage 51-49 electoral campaigns, and it seems to be increasingly paralyzed by irresolvable rancor between right and left.

And think about it for a second: this is bizarre. If Americans are in fact divided between two extremely different political ideologies, it would be an extraordinary coincidence if each of those philosophies were to hold the allegiance of nearly equal blocs of support. That situation ought not to be stable. Adherence to these two ideologies ought to shift enough just due to demographics that the 50-50 split should deteriorate. And yet the even split seems to be stable. What's going on?


I'm not sure-but I blame a part of it on my tea sniffing friends who have decided that there are moral absolutes in politics. There are not, and it would be better if we stopped pretending that there were. Realistic arguments over policy don't happen any more especially in places that are rather backward to begin with,  like it was in Alabama. After enough bad starts you quickly learn to avoid politics altogether, since it is impossible to have a political conversation. Every conversation one tries to have risks a descent into Republican talking point hell. When I try to refute those points with facts, it falls on deaf ears. This has to change.

Setting aside the policy issues we're facing over the next four years, I think the most immediate need is for Americans to find a way to live civilly with each other. "This American Life" brought on a pair of writers, liberal Phil Neisser and conservative Jacob Hess, who've written a book ("You're Not as Crazy as I Thought (But You're Still Wrong)") about their efforts to find a way to talk to each other and agree to disagree on fundamental philosophical and moral issues. There need to be a lot more similar efforts along these lines. This election has put Barack Obama back in office, and returned him a Democratic Senate and a Republican House. Over the next four years, legislative battles are going to continue to be savage and hard-fought. Neither conservatives nor liberals are going to change their minds en masse about fundamental issues of political philosophy. The top priority is for Americans to figure out a way to keep these divisions from dividing the country into two hostile armed camps that are incapable of talking to each other.

The extremes have gotten too much influence on both sides of the aisle. The biggest lesson learned is that the center has to come back to the fore and the extremists have to be marginalized so we can go back to having the national conversation that must be had-what kind of a nation does the citizenry want to build and how do we work together to achieve it?

That's a lesson we all should be able to learn. But, alas, I fear the US just won't want to.

9 responses so far

Nov 06 2012

It all comes down to today.

And don't kid yourself sports fans-the entire world is watching the US election. One of the things that has always amazed me now-through 11 years of living overseas, is how much of the rest of the world watches and gets swept up in the madness that is American electoral politics. The US election has been topic number 1 on both the German and BBC newscasts I watch.

Might have something to with the fact that when the US sneezes-the rest of the world catches a cold. Or gets stuck with a war in (fill in the blank).

If you are an American in the US right now. GET OFF YOUR ASS AND VOTE! In 2008, only 56.8% of Americans bothered to vote. Even less did in 2010. That is a disgrace. Americans jingoistically boast they have the greatest democracy in the world-but they are complete hypocrites about doing what it takes to keep that democracy working.

On a lighter note, here is the Romney campaign summed up in three panels:

The last Nate Silver projection can be found here. The pundits at Fox News and the members of the Liars Club, hate it-and they hate Silver too. I sure hope he is right. I really don't want to have to go out and ask my bartender for a quart of antifreeze.

If Romney wins-I am staying drunk for a week. And as a head start for this-I plan on staying up tonight to watch the returns come in. They should start around 2AM German time. I'm stocking up on Pilsner-if they go south I'll switch to Scotch.

24 hours from now we should know how it went.

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