Archive for the 'Why Fox news blows' Category

Jun 12 2016

It is not always black and white. Mostly its complex and gray.

Jeffrey Goldberg ( the good Goldberg in contrast to the evil Jonah) makes a point that needs to be remembered:


Just because the guy was of Afghan descent and may have been radicalized, does not give a segment of the population a "get out of jail free card" on other issues.

Issues like this:


And this:



The need to fix America's incredibly bad gun laws and the need to protect against violent extremists is not ( and never will be) mutually exclusive.





COMMENTS ARE CLOSED ON THIS POST. I am not in the mood for a discussion here.

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Apr 28 2016

Running with the devil…….

If you have been following my sparse postings lately ( and judging by the hit counter, you haven't) you will know that I am no fan of the junior Senator from the less than great state of Texas, Ted Cruz. In my lifetime, I have seldom seem an individual more vile, self serving, selfish bastard in American politics-and that is saying a lot. Especially when consider the long history of vile, self serving bastards we have had in American politics over the last 240 years.

Ted Cruz

myopic self-righteous, power hungry asshole who won't listen to anyone or change his views no matter the circumstances.

That guy you're dating is a total Ted Cruz. Run for the hills before he defunds your abortion savings account.

by wonkette2016 October 01, 2013

If a bus ran him over on the road, I would really have to think hard about running over to help him, or giving the bus driver a 100 dollars for performing a public service. Even the father of the underworld is wondering about this guy:


My Canadian Counterpart, whose writing I dearly miss ( and I wish was commenting on this election) had him sized up pretty well back in 2013:

I've never met Ted Cruz, so I can't say as an absolute certainty that he's a psychopathic retard. But because he's a Republican and a Tea Partier, he can't honestly object to either characterization, since both are such a central part of his political base. 

Republicans and Teapers get awfully pissy when I say things like that, but I'm hardly the one that's been in the trenches finding new and ever more self-defeating ways to turn superstition and stupidity into conservative virtues. 

Even before the advent of the Tea Party, supposedly conservative politicians have equated self-promoting ignorance as folksiness, which explains the non-sexual appeal of Sarah Palin perfectly. Christ, when I try to explain to reasonable, intelligent people why I hold conservative positions, I have to bend over backwards to demonstrate that I'm not a fucking yahoo. And that's exhausting because people like Ted Cruz have made it their life's mission to make it exhausting. ………….

But people with normal cognitive functions – including most rational Republicans – have come to loathe Cruz with the power of a thousand suns.

I don't want to see Cruz turned into Robert Taft, the serious conservative that wasn't given a chance. He needs to be Alf Landon, the guy who got beaten within an inch of his fucking life.



And those are just the printable sentiments I have for him. Under the influence of Scotch I have a whole different view point.

So imagine my surprise when I read that even people who are supposed to be on his side, truly hate the guy. And he really may be spending his summers in the 7th circle of hell:

Much of the discussion – and laughs – focused on Boehner’s views on the current presidential candidates. Segueing into the topic, Kennedy asked Boehner to be frank given that the event was not being broadcasted, and the former Speaker responded in kind. When specifically asked his opinions on Ted Cruz, Boehner made a face, drawing laughter from the crowd.

“Lucifer in the flesh,” the former speaker said. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”

On which, Mr Boehner and I are in complete agreement. Wow. Vindication from an very unlikely source.

So given that Satan's image picked a running mate, just the day after he was mathematically eliminated from having a realistic shot at enough delegates to win the nomination, what does Mr. Boehner's pronouncement make Carly Fiorina?


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Apr 02 2016

An unintentional April Fool’s Joke

A traveling man is a happy man. Or should be anyway. Normally I would be happy to be on the road again-even if the trip is back to the Whining States of America. But not this time. Thanks to the machinations of the little psychopath, the meetings I am heading to will be filled with unnecessary conflict. That I do not like. After all:


Ah, but such is life. After all those frequent flier miles are not going to earn themselves you know-and I am within 20K of making 1 million.

It was with considerable bemusement that I noted this post, which documented a welcome development-namely a desire to have Universities return to teaching history of Western Civilization ( a staple class for many majors at my beloved alma mater) back in the day. Now, that I will admit is a welcome development and as I have argued before should be a fundamental part of a proper education , regardless of your field of specialization.

In 1964, 15 of the 50 premier universities in America — including Stanford — required students to take a survey of Western civilization. All 50 offered the course, and nearly all of them (41) offered it as a way to satisfy some requirement.

But in the 1980s, minority students and faculty at Stanford asserted that requiring students to take the Western civ survey was implicitly racist. Jesse Jackson marched with an army of protesters chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, Western culture’s got to go.”

In 1988, away it went. Stanford then began requiring a course on a non-Western culture. By 2010, none of the 50 top universities required Western civilization, and 34 didn’t even offer the course.

Stanford students want it back. And they don’t simply want to dust off a shelved syllabus.

The Review writers, led by editor-in-chief Harry Elliott, seek a new way to study old ideas. Students want to know the good — the legacies of reason, freedom and innovation. But they also want to know the bad — the skeletons of wars, slavery and the Holocaust.

They also recognize that we seek equal rights and individual choice because we have inherited Western ideas about freedom and human dignity.

Why study Western civilization? As these students argue in their manifesto, by knowing the West we can understand how knowledge has grown over time; how dictatorships rise and fall; how ideas we now presuppose took many years and much struggle to gain traction; and why these ideas matter. Without such knowledge, students will take the heritage of their civilization for granted and be unable, or unwilling, to defend it.


For now we will set aside the fact that this article comes from the New York Post, not exactly a beacon of intellectual integrity, and focus on the conclusions drawn from the development.

Phib, like many conservative "scholars", takes an admirable development and twists it to his own devious purposes. A knowledge of Western Civilization is a good thing, but its is a worthless development if leads you to draw conclusions like this:

The war against what binds us together is trans-generational. The kids of the Progressive Era used the children of the Greatest Generation, the Baby Boomers, as their foot soldiers. Gen X saw the fruits up close when they were in college in the 80s and 90s. Though advancing in some areas, the Diversity Industry has seen a few setbacks as the Boomers approach their dotage and Gen Y gets a footing – good news for all of us.

That last statement is as full of bias as anything the diversity bullies might have said, and in another news flash, most of them do not hate themselves, no matter how much you want them to. The Baby Boomers, of which I am proud to be one, are not to blame for your twisted interpretation of history. You might want to go back and check your bias at the door-there is another conclusion, you know.

The misdeeds of our current economic system are trans- generational. They screw millennials  and boomers alike. And as the parade of Western Civilization proves, when people are deprived of basic necessities and dignity, there is a only so far they will allow it to go. If your cherished vision of American political commonwealth is under attack, it is because the inherent selfishness that underpins your vision of economic justice and "structure to be bound by ideas and principals" is not sustainable in the long term. Government is not, as so many of today's "principled conservatives" believe, transactional in nature. The history of Western Civilization teaches us that.

Or it would teach us that if you had bothered to actually do the homework. At the end of the post, Phib seems to show us,  by his failure to comment on it, that he needs to go back to school.

No matter what field students enter, they are well-served throughout their lives if they know how we got here. They can understand Donald Trump more clearly if they’ve read Machiavelli. They can see why it matters that Bernie Sanders is an intellectual descendent of Karl Marx.

I am afraid you flunked the final exam sir, and will need to retake the course.

This is what happens when people read too much Victor Davis Hanson and Mark Steyn and therefore fancy themselves as "learned" on Western values. Bernie Sanders is nothing like Karl Marx, just as Trump is really not Machiavellian at all. That would be Ted Cruz. If Sanders does owe anything to Mr. Marx, it is his anger at the blatant unfairness that our pursuit of obscene wealth creates. I hate to break it to you, but plenty of other non-communist authors had equal disgust with that unfairness. The Enlightenment is built on it.

Sanders has more in common with Otto von Bismark and FDR than Karl Marx, and much of the ideas he champions had their start economically in the late 1700's and 1848. Sure, he believes in regulated and  taxed private enterprise, but he does not seem to want the state to own banks and make cars. He believes in social benefits for the same reason Bismark did-because they build a stable society. The Germans were also not the first to draw this conclusion. As for Trump, well you should be looking to Wendell Wilkie, not Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli for a historical example.

Stupid study starts tomorrow afternoon.



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Mar 14 2016

News you can’t use

Yes, I was going to do a post today about getting good news outlets to you. But just as I was ready to start showing you how to be an informed news consumer, over in the fact free world that is Wingnuttia, this happened:

Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields and editor-at-large Ben Shapiro are resigning from the company over the site’s handling of Donald Trump’s campaign manager’s alleged assault on Fields, BuzzFeed News has learned.

Fields and Shapiro informed Breitbart News chair Steve Bannon of their decision Sunday night.

“Today I informed the management at Breitbart News of my immediate resignation,” Fields said in a statement sent to BuzzFeed News. “I do not believe Breitbart News has adequately stood by me during the events of the past week and because of that I believe it is now best for us to part ways.”

In his own statement, Shapiro said the episode was emblematic of how he believes the site’s management had sold out the legacy of its founder and namesake, the late Andrew Breitbart.

For Ben Shapiro to have a sudden out break of scruples is, as the girls at Wonkette put it,  "not such a surprise; Fields simply escaped before her literal-minded Brietbart bosses could obtain an actual bus to throw her under." This is the right wing blog equivalent of this:



And at that CAPT Renault had more ethics than Ben Shapiro does.

Now, long time readers here will recognize that even in life, Andrew Breitbart never found a warm welcome here at Skippy-san HQ.  Early on we recognized him as the vile slug that he was. You can refresh yourself on his lack of decency, journalistic integrity and overall allegiance to stupidity here and here. The man was truly vile and his "news" outlets reflected his complete lack of class and integrity.Never forget:

The guy was a hack, at best. More importantly, a steadily increasing number of conservative voices were willing to publicly say so over the last couple of years…………..When you get down to it, Andrew Breitbart was a guy who defamed a lady and trafficked in congressional cock shots. Those are the things that he was most famous for, and likely the things that he was proudest of.

 He was hardly a champion of conservatism, as evidenced by the fact that he almost never talked about its virtues. To be sure, he devoted the last years of his life to berating and humiliating liberals but that, in and of itself, is hardly championing anything, let alone a political philosophy. Having said that, Breitbart's well-documented fascination with Hebrew beef – and he did carry the only known picture of the fully exposed Weiner weiner on his phone to show off to disc jockeys – displayed an underlying support of Israel. So there is that, I guess. 

Indeed, his taking the likes of James O'Keefe to his bosom, engaging in highly selective editing to make some kind of a point, and calling entire popular movements rapists probably hurt conservatism far more than it helped.  As each of his stunts were ultimately discredited, he became harder and harder for serious people to defend. And because he identified himself so closely with the movement brand, the brand itself became identified with him when it refused to denounce those stunts. 

Poor old Ben Shapiro, he leaves because he thinks Breitbart's legacy was being betrayed. Too bad he forgot what Breitbart's legacy really was. 

Yep, that would be Andrew Breitbart, the guy who used deceptively-edited video to bring down that huge bully Shirley Sherrod from a minor position in the Department of Agriculture, thus defeating the racist NAACP forever. He also unleashed great investigative journalist and serial liar James O’Keefe upon the world, bringing an end to ACORN and its bullying of white America by registering black voters. Such a hero. Shapiro continues, explaining his disgust at the organization’s turn from good bullying to bad bullying. 

That would also be the same ethically challenged Breitbart that did this:

But I guess no homage is complete without a celebration of the whole man, and the whole man in this case was not just a guy who once said, “It’s all about a good laugh,” but also someone who liked to publish peoples’ personal information on the internet, hack into private web sitestell lies in an attempt to get his enemies fired, and incite readers to threats against his targets and their families, including death threats. I left all of that stuff out of my obit, but now, thanks to you readers, that’s all in there as well, leaving, for posterity, a much more complete picture of the man.


And as bad as Breitbart's "life's work" was, Shapiro actually made it worse. When Breitbart died I did not think that was possible. But I was wrong. Shapiro took that low bar and made it even lower after his mentor passed on to his reward. As senior editor-at-large he had a responsibility to set a journalistic tone, one at which he failed miserably. He is, if anything, even worse at providing fact based commentary then his mentor was.

There are many examples of Shapiro's shoddy brand of journalism. The most famous of which occurred here

Basically, what happened is that a Hill staffer repeated a reporter's question as fact to Shapiro and Shapiro published it as fact. 

Not only did Ben Shapiro not bother to get multiple sources, he didn't even Google "Friends of Hamas," which would have pretty conclusively proved that they don't exist. 

I get that there are honest disagreements about Hagel's views on foreign policy, and I'm not against an honest about them. But selective reporting – if Shapiro's "Friends of Hamas" story can even be called that – is something else altogether.

In a proper world, a guy like Shapiro would never find work on journalism's street again-even working to sweep it. But we both know that won't happen. He is already finding himself on Wingnut Welfare with the other hacks.

But the Breitbart "empire" is falling apart and that's a start. So to use one of his mentor's favorite words: "Good riddance, cocksucker.* Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.".

* From the Rolling Stone post: "See the following Breitbart quote: “I like to call someone a raving cunt every now and then, when it’s appropriate, for effect… ‘You cocksucker.’ I love that kind of language.”"

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Mar 13 2016

A convenient dodge

The forces of He, Trump conspired to tear apart a piece of Chicago, last night. Never mind that Trump has spent months and months stoking up his crazed supporters to be just this violent-somehow in the minds of many Americans it is the media's fault. Which is how we get such brilliant tidbits of local wisdom like this:

yeah, it's Chicago. Thug City

Not that the Democrats would instigate anything. Chicago politics. A Rahm & BHO special.

If the MSM can inflame it they will.

The media gave rise to Donald Trump simply because he's interesting. The news media have been forced into a 24 hour news cycle that needs to entertain as much or more than provide information. It’s all about ratings and advertising… Nothing better than a cat fight no??


It's an interesting point of view and I am quite sure the writers of those phrases have gotten a lot of mileage out of trite little sentences like those. At a minimum, it makes them feel better and it gives them someone to blame. There is just one major problem.

That point of view is 100 percent wrong.

It's wrong for a bunch of reasons and when one gives voice to it, they are showing a real lack of understanding of how news works in the 21st Century. It also shows a complete disregard for the history of journalism and how we got here to where we are today. As I said, its really a convenient dodge to avoid having to admit the truth. Namely, that it was people just like themselves that gave rise to Trump and the sooner they accept responsibility for that societal failure, the better off the rest of us will be. To borrow a phrase from 2012-you built this.

There is no Main Stream Media. Let me repeat that for the learning impaired, THERE IS NO MAIN STREAM MEDIA and there has not been for about 20 years. The term main stream media is just plain flawed. Lets replace it with a more accurate terms. 1) News outlets, 2) crossover outlets and 3) opinion outlets.  The marketplace of news expanded and enabled by the internet, is an immensely diverse place.  Its more like a giant COSTCO. You can get anything in this market. Its up to you the shopper to make intelligent choices. Or not so intelligent choices. Each news product being sold or posted has its strengths and its weaknesses.  Some outlets have quality. Many do not.

Since the dawn of the television age there have been three developments that have forever destroyed the idea of a monolithic news media, liberally biased. The first major development was the tearing down of the "firewall" that existed between News directorates and the corporate end of the broadcasting business. Now in the 50's and 60's there were a limited number of channels and there was a clear division between news and entertainment. The three broadcast networks did news because they understood that as custodians of publicly granted airwaves they owed a public service. Also too-there was still a great number of news reporters who had cut their teeth in print and radio and were committed to a certain set of journalistic standards. Even then there were outliers such as Hearst Papers, but they were few and far between and public opinion combined with a lawsuit or two could usually put them in their place. The key element of journalism, on the whole,  in the period from the 50's to the end of the 70's was the recognition of the idea that producing quality reporting was end to itself-regardless of cost. The quality of the story was what mattered, not the company bottom line or the audience level which, it was assumed would come if you produced a quality product.

This viewpoint began dying in the late 70's and the sickness spread in the 80's due to a number of reasons. One was the deregulation fever that swept the country under Reagan. The number of broadcast outlets increased as cable came online. A key development was the beginning of 24 hour cable news, which meant that speed to the screen became one of the key benchmarks by which is news outlet was judged. It had been that way earlier in TV, however technology, prior to the 80's had kind of acted as an "editor" if you will. The time lag also allowed real editors to correct misinformation and get copy right. All that went out the window in the age of CNN.

The final nail in the journalistic coffin was the advent of the internet, smartphones and the world wide web.  The latter gave rise to blogs and to social media. Suddenly, anyone could be a reporter or an opinion maker. Special training in the skills of writing and editing were no longer required.Coupled with that development was the creation of a news network that was "news" in name only. Its real mission, as Jon Stewart later pointed out to his audience and anyone else who would listen,  was to be a 24 hour a day propaganda delivery system. Thus the "crossover" outlet was created. A network whose business model was to lure advertisers, and to espouse a particular point of view. After a shaky start in 1996, the network took off in the administration of George Bush and pretty much left the "news" part of the business behind.  Because Fox was successful from a money standpoint, other networks like MSNBC followed their business model.

One other point about technology. Smartphones and social media meant that people took in their news in smaller and smaller chunks. The goal for many outlets was click bait.  Reading for content became to many Americans, something they no longer had time for-or they were no longer smart enough to do. Another ugly development in the early 2000's was the advent of news fabricators like Andrew Breitbart. Now it was acceptable to make up the news if it did not meet the criteria of what one wished to report. 

By the end of 2010 the whole mess had become a sad shadow of the journalistic world Edward R. Murrow had created.

So what does all of this have to do with the advent of Trump?

I'm glad you asked. While it is true that the quality of journalism has declined due to technology and the rise of a certain category of fact free blogs, mostly on the conservative side-but also on the left, and it has created a less discerning electorate; it would be wrong to cite that as a reason for Trump's rise to demagogic heights. The role of certain media outlets is merely a symptom of a much bigger disease.

First of all, the "blame it on the media" crowd ignores the reality of the Trump phenomenon. Like it or not-the fact that Trump has been able to make the hideous statements that he has made-and pay no political price for it at the ballot box- is news. And this turn of events has long term implications for the American political system. The news outlets have an obligation to report it. Some outlets do it well and a lot of others do it poorly. Some fan like Fox  the flames.

But the news media is not the ones making Trump successful. They don't have that power. Only voters do and when they vote for Trump they are squandering that power in a manner the Republican party has been fostering for a very long time. A very specific subset of the American people created Trump and they have no one to blame but themselves. They laid the foundations of Trump's no nothing beliefs back during the Bush administration with the "dissent is treason" lines regarding opposition to the Iraq war. They amplified in 2008 when many of them behaved like thugs at Sarah Palin's rallies and not one person in a leadership position stood up to brand it as the criminality it was.

From that point in time, it just went careening over a cliff. As John Cole pointed out in a rebuke to a National Review  worthless piece of shit columnist Charles Cooke:

Either they are too stupid to recognize it, or they don’t want to take the blame, or some combination of both, but they built Trump. It was decades of these stupid mother fuckers shouting about Obama being a secret Muslim or Hillary murdered Vince Foster and Dan Burton shooting a fucking watermelon to prove it to another melon based theory about Mexicans having calves the size of cantaloupes and women wanting to abort babies for shits and giggles and sending rock salt to Olympia Snowe and claiming there is no global climate change because LOOK RIGHT FUCKING HERE I HAVE A SNOWBALL IN FEBRUARY or convincing America that welfare and food stamps only go to young bucks buying t-bone steaks or welfare queens with big screen tv’s or that public transportation is totalitarianism or that the main cost cutting technique of health care reform will be Death Panels or that prison makes you gay or that man and dinosaurs lived together in harmony or that women can magically abort pregnancies created by rape or that scientists are genetically creating human/mice superbrains or that agribusiness is using aborted fetuses in soda or that if gay people marry pretty soon people will be marrying dogs or that Presidents Lincoln and Washington used electronic surveillance and actually writing, promoting, and believing a fucking book that said liberalism is fascism and running this person as a Vice Presidential candidate to claiming with no scientific evidence that vaccines cause autism.

My bad. That last one is a Democrat. Fuck you, Robert Kennedy, you fucking stain on our party and your family name.

But that list is real. I didn’t make any of it up. And that’s just a list of things they BELIEVE IN, and not a comprehensive list of the stupid shit they’ve actually done or the vile things they have said. That’s just too depressing to actually tabulate.


That, despite its profanity ( which I actually think helps make the point), is a pretty good summary of the descent of the modern GOP into madness over the last 20 years. And again, these points would never have gotten as much traction as they did, had there not been fertile ground to plant the seed in. The seeds of anti-intellectualism found purchase because a great many people stopped learning.

I am always amazed, that for people who claim to love the free market so much, conservatives never understand this particular reality. If the stupidities put forth by outlets like Fox News, the reprehensible dregs of the Liars Club-assholes like the not so dearly departed Breitbart, John Hinderaker, William Jacobsonworthless whore Michelle Malkin and the rest were not well received by a large audience, they would stop publishing them. If one or two of them actually got nailed in a multi-million dollar lawsuit ( as the estate of Breitbart has) it might make them think twice. One has only to read the slime that passes for their comment sections to know that is not the case. The media, with the exception of Fox is biased towards sensationalism and scandal-but it is the consumer ( yes that is you) who makes that possible.  A large number of people have joined the anti-intellectual bandwagon that the GOP has used to propel itself to electoral victories in areas where stupid people tend to thrive.

Could the "media" be better as a whole? Sure it can-but it does not have to be now because it's doing perfectly fine in the garbage pit that is American electoral discourse. That doesn't mean there are not quality news outlets still out there-but one has to be diligent about finding them. And few Americans these days  seem to have the knowledge or abilities to do so.

What about MSNBC or Daily Kos? It happens on the left too!

When someone says that, I know they have no real curiosity whatsoever. The facts just don't support the statement. Only one party is jumping like lemmings over the side of a cliff:

Yes, both parties have become more polarized, but one more than the other. Republicans are more conservative than they have been in over 100 years, have fewer moderates than Democrats, and have changed more, political science research shows — and it’s only getting worse.

While 54 percent of Republicans told Pew last month that their party’s leaders in Washington should be more conservative, most Democrats — 57 percent — say their leaders should be more moderate. Just 35 percent of Democrats say the party should be more liberal.

“While the Democrats may have moved from their 40-yard line to their 25, the Republicans have gone from their 40 to somewhere behind their goal post,” Norm Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute and Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution wrote in a Washington Post Op-Ed on congressional dysfunction titled “Let’s Just Say It: The Republicans Are the Problem.”

The current GOP is now well to the right of George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and even Richard Nixon.


Blaming the "media" is not just cop out by the folks who do it, it is a failure of people to accept responsibilities for their own actions. We The People-we created Trump by not participating in our democracy and by not being more selective in our choice of elected officials. In the aggregate, The United States of America has a selfish and ill-informed electorate that makes bad choices. And the results are on display this year for all the world to see.

The media didn't do it.

We did.

As the news industry evolves toward a new era, we could do far worse than looking to Ed Murrow again for guidance. Murrow believed that "to be persuasive, we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful." The hard fact is that truth doesn't come tailor-made for any one ideology or political party. More examples of independence and character might be what it takes for the news industry to again be trusted as the honest brokers of American politics.


Tomorrow: How to be a better news consumer like me. laugh

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Feb 26 2016

Something everyone can use

After last night's Rethuglican slugfest. My takeaways:

Trump does not have as much game as he thinks he does, and needs to put Super Tuesday away quickly. Time is not on his side. That said, he is right about Rubio and Cruz, they have never led anyone or hired anyone. ( Besides hacks like them).

Both Cruz and Rubio are entitled, arrogant pricks. Rubio will make the GOP more inclusive?  I don't think so-especially when the consequences of his tax and economic policies come home to roost. And stop talking about Reagan you worthless piece of shit. You don't know the first thing about the real Ronald Reagan. Chupar una polla culo.

It is a shame Kasich's record is at odds with his rhetoric. He is the only one who looked sane on the stage.His answer on why business is business and vendors don't get to make value judgments on their customers is one I very much agreed with. But then you remember he just defunded planned parenthood. Since he is from Pittsburgh this makes him a:


Oh and by the way, one reason you know he was a bit right is that the real douchbags at National Review came after him immediately.

Or the response from this bag de la douche:


The bible has a word for men like these: Pharisee.


Evangelicals are constantly bellowing about America's moral decay. They could stand to take a look in the mirror

And then there is poor Dr. Carson. 


Every time I think the GOP of 2016 has hit rock bottom, someone takes out a pick ax and digs a new sub-basement. Only one thing to do, and that is drink! Forget beer we need to move straight to the hard stuff:



And after that? Well It's time to get laid!




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Feb 24 2016

Pouring gasoline on an open fire

So, it would appear a portion of America really wants to prove to the rest of the world how ignorant they really are. Donald Trump won Nevada. Yet another shameful moment that is the United States election of 2016.

Now the media is all over Mr. Trump, calling him unstoppable. Which is interesting since he has not yet broken the threshold of 100 delegates. If I was not seeing the land of my birth self destruct before my eyes, I simply would not believe it.

And probably what is more shocking is that people are pretending to that they did not see this coming.

The truth is Trump has been a long time coming. The rise of the sense of victimhood among a certain percentage of Americans aided by a certain "news" network and a blogosphere that made it its life's mission to vilify both a democratically elected president and the processes that got him there, and here we are.




Now personally I don't think the Trump bandwagon is moving as fast as the Pundits say it is-especially since , in theory, Super Tuesday could change the balance. So too,  could a late entry in California by Rmoney, trying to force a brokered convention.

But if Trump does become the Republican nominee, the party will have no one to blame but itself. They created this monster, starting in 2008 when Caribou Barbie let her adoring fans get out of control, and no one in the Republican party had the decency to call them out as they thugs they were. Or again in 2009 when hordes of tea swilling freaks took over parks and other venues. Year after year it got worse. 

And now the party elders are trying to pretend they had nothing to do with creating the mess.

Well, over in Israel, they know better. Chemi Shalev wrote in Haaretz today:

In the seven and a half years since they lost the White House in 2008, Republican leaders have been wary of their voters’ rage and have thus tried to stoke it in their favor. With the assistance of the all-powerful broadcasters of right-wing media, they have savaged the evil administration, stirred resentment, incited against minorities and immigrants and portrayed an enfeebled America that has been brought to its knees. They poured more and more fuel on the fire, until Donald Trump came in to spread the flames, in their direction as well. Dumbstruck, they are now helpless as he burns down their house.


And now it would appear, like Doctor Frankenstein, they are upset that the monster escaped the laboratory:

But the voters’ wrath isn’t directed only at President Barack Obama and the Democrats, but at their own party leaders as well. They want fresh blood, someone new, an “outsider,” as the polls phrase it. Trump promises them to stick it to one and all, with no holds barred, and they, like the children of Hamelin, follow his tune in ever increasing numbers.

Trump handily broke the 35 percent ceiling that experts had imposed on him, based on his previous performances, and reached 45 percent instead. He beat Marco Rubio by a whopping twenty points, in the fourth consecutive state that the so-called savior Florida senator has now lost. Republican bigwigs who had been pressing Ohio Governor John Kasich to suspend his campaign in order to join forces with Rubio against Trump could have saved their breath: based on Tuesday’s results, it wouldn’t have made the slightest difference.

Cruz, who was once again losing his fight with Rubio over second place, was in an even greater bind in advance of next week’s Super Tuesday battle royale. Cruz, whose position as the GOP’s angry prophet has been usurped by Trump’s all-out tirades, had hoped to win at least a few of Southern Evangelical states that are participating in next week’s face-off. Now Trump’s momentum is threatening to erase Cruz’s lead in his home state of Texas as well. That’s a blow from which he would not recover.

I genuiely fear I watching the democracy of America self-destruct right in front of me.Six years ago I wrote a post based on an article in the New York Book Review that pointed out :

Americans have not caught up yet with the changes that are going on in the world. They are two slow witted, for the most part,  to recognize them. The 20% or so of us who do recognize it-are castigated for having the gall to point it out. As I have pointed out before-the Tea Bag revolution bears little resemblance to the American revolution and a lot of resemblance to the French one.


Welcome back Monsieur Robspierre, your table is waiting.

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Feb 13 2016

As if things were not screwed up enough.

God decided to play a cruel joke on American politics by holding a recall election of His own. The winner was Justice Antonin Scalia.

The loser will be the rest of the United States, that is left behind to watch the Constitutional farce that will be the nomination of his successor. More on that in a bit.

If you search the archives of this blog, you will find that there was a time when I actually defended Antonin Scalia. It was in this post here. For the record, I have not changed my mind, The Citadel should still be all male and Justice Scalia performed a service by eloquently pointing out why the arguments of the plaintiffs were flawed from both a legal and educational standpoint.

But the larger picture, as I have recognized some 8 years later, is that , by and large, the majority of the American people no longer care about the validity of mine and Justice Scalia's viewpoint. The court made that obvious in VMI, when only one justice voted no. Sadly, it did not recognize that in cases that were far more important to the national polity.

Consider his key role in Heller, Citizens United, and Bush vs Gore. Not to mention voting to gut the Voting Rights act. 

And then there is this:

This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is "actually" innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged "actual innocence" is constitutionally cognizable.

That, is among many of his dissents-a head slapper. How can anyone argue that way-even from a strictly legal standpoint?

Antonin Scalia was a brilliant legal mind and definitely worthy enough to be a Supreme Court Justice. Unfortunately, his brilliance was so often squandered on ideas that were just flat out bad. Charles Pierce sums it up well:

I believe the United States would be a better country if none of these remarks ever were made.

So now we will have the national mourning, and the lying-in-state, and the state funeral, all of which Antonin Scalia deserves. Giving 30 years of your life to public service at the highest level is something worthy of respect, even if it was largely in service of a political philosophy that derides public service at almost every other level of government. And his death on Saturday certainly is a seismic event in our politics. It raises the stakes in the upcoming election to almost unimaginable levels. How do we know this? Because Mitch McConnell, the majority leader of the United States Senate, already has thrown the Constitution out the window for purely political purposes.

That a sitting Senator, much less the Majority Leader of the Senate, could make such a bold statement, in direct opposition to the requirements of the Constitution is really astounding. It is really a sad commentary of  the damage our tea sniffing fellow citizens, aided by the lazy 50% who can't even be bothered to exercise their civic rights to vote; the damage that having really lousy legislators causes.

McConnell and by extension the two children, Cruz and Rubio who echoed it, don't have a leg to stand on.

Of course, this is all my bollocks. In 2012, the "American people" decided that Barack Obama should appoint justices to the Supreme Court to fill any vacancies that occurred between January of 2013 and January of 2017. Period. Just because Mitch McConnell is a complete chickenshit in the face of his caucus doesn't obviate that fact. The 36 percent of eligible voters who showed up for the 2014 midterms, the lowest percentage in 72 years, don't get to cancel out the expressed wishes of the majority of the 57.5 percent of eligible voters who turned out to re-elect the president in 2012. And before this meme really picks up steam, 17 justices have been confirmed during election years, including Roger Taney, which sucks, in 1836, Lewis Powell and William Rehnquist, who were appointed in 1972, and Anthony Kennedy, who was appointed in 1988.

(And it should not be necessary to point out that any argument made by this Congress on the basis of political tradition or legislative politesse inevitably will cause Irony to shoot itself in the head.)


If you weren't thinking about voting before, you have a really good reason to now. I know I will vote the hell out of this election and I will be supporting someone who does not endorse the legacy of cruelty and selfishness that the current GOP has wrapped its loving arms around.

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Sep 13 2015

Recent Reading

Besides the volume of recent work, I have been deeply involved in several books recently. Not really an excuse for my lack of steady posting, but it did provide a different sort of diversion. Below are my reviews of three of the best of the group. ( I have finished 7 in all since mid-July).

The first book was an oldie,  but goody. It is from the 1970's and it is Saul Bellow's, To Jerusalem and Back, A Personal Account. Published in 1976, the book is a fascinating series of anecdotes and stories about all aspects of the experience of Israel during that decade and the decades before. Bellow writes of a discussion with Jean Paul Sartre published many years earlier. He has a brief view of the power ( or lack thereof) of the United States Sixth fleet, back during the time that the US Navy actually put ships in the Mediterranean ( of which I was a part in the late 1970's). The book is a report of the authors personal experiences but it is much, much more than that-it is a series of vignettes that show the complexity of modern Israeli life. What is amazing to me is just how forward looking Bellow was. He was writing in 1976, but his observations still hold true today.  As one critic said, " Forty years later, it's like reading last week's news analysis from the Middle East. If he hadn't been one of the great novelists of the 20th century, Bellow might have been one of its greatest journalists." That's a pretty good summation of the book.



Along the same lines, and as an adjunct to my job, I try to read a lot of background material on Israel. I had stumbled on Bellow's book in the library and I am glad I did. Interestingly enough, I tried to add it to my Kindle library and Amazon said it is not available to readers in the US, due to copyright restrictions. I found that interesting, if not a trifle disappointing. 

For the reason I listed above, I also completed reading a newer book that does the same thing as Bellows book-provide unique insights into the complex puzzle that is Israel.  The book is by Ari Shavit, who is a writer for Haaretz newspaper, and it is called, My Promised Land. The book is a series of interviews and retelling of specific pieces of Israel's history staring with the first waves of Aliyah ( emigration to Israel) that began in the 1890's and moving up to present day ( 2012).

We meet Shavit’s great-grandfather, a British Zionist who in 1897 visited the Holy Land on a Thomas Cook tour and understood that it was the way of the future for his people; the idealist young farmer who bought land from his Arab neighbor in the 1920s to grow the Jaffa oranges that would create Palestine’s booming economy; the visionary youth group leader who, in the 1940s, transformed Masada from the neglected ruins of an extremist sect into a powerful symbol for Zionism; the Palestinian who as a young man in 1948 was driven with his family from his home during the expulsion from Lydda; the immigrant orphans of Europe’s Holocaust, who took on menial work and focused on raising their children to become the leaders of the new state; the pragmatic engineer who was instrumental in developing Israel’s nuclear program in the 1960s, in the only interview he ever gave; the zealous religious Zionists who started the settler movement in the 1970s; the dot-com entrepreneurs and young men and women behind Tel-Aviv’s booming club scene; and today’s architects of Israel’s foreign policy with Iran, whose nuclear threat looms ominously over the tiny country.

As it examines the complexities and contradictions of the Israeli condition, My Promised Land asks difficult but important questions: Why did Israel come to be? How did it come to be? Can Israel survive? Culminating with an analysis of the issues and threats that Israel is currently facing, My Promised Land uses the defining events of the past to shed new light on the present. The result is a landmark portrait of a small, vibrant country living on the edge, whose identity and presence play a crucial role in today’s global political landscape.


In reading the book I was struck by two of the main points that he raised. First, he points out that both the Israeli right and the Israeli left have yet to come to grips with a central fact that lies at the heart of Zionism-namely that whether they realized it or not, the movement was built on the foundational idea of dispossessing the current occupants of Palestine, in favor of a group of people who had no modern historical ties to that particular chunk of real estate. They only have a thousands year old religious mystery to cling on to that underpinned the reason why Palestine and only Palestine could be the Jewish State. Shavit very skillfully points out that one cannot duck that particular fact, and it is at odds with the narrative of Israel as a benign civilizing force in the region.

The second issue, and its one I had not given much thought to before, is the idea that the Holocaust changed the demographics of the Zionist movement dramatically. It is important to remember that Herzl's vision of Zionism was essentially a European one. The Jewish State he envisioned was to be a a modern, sophisticated and technologically advanced and Europeanized society. Herzl was aware of the Sephardic Jews ( Oriental or non-European Jews) but he tended to discount that.

Herzl completely rejected the race theories of Israel Zangwill. He became increasingly aware of the existence of Sephardic Jewry, but he envisioned the Jewish State as a state of Europeans, who might speak German. In his diaries he wrote:

"I believe German will be our principal language…I draw this conclusion from our most widespread jargon, 'Judeo-German.' But over there we shall wean ourselves from this ghetto language, too, which used to be the stealthy tongue of prisoners. Our teachers will see to that." (June 15, 1895, Diaries, 1: 171)

In The Jewish State, Herzl envisioned the government of the new state to be an "Aristocratic Republic," apparently modeled on contemporary Austria or Germany. In 1902, Herzl published a utopian novel about the Jewish state,  Altneuland (old-new land) a vision complete with monorails and modern industry.  Altneuland envisioned a multipluralistic democracy in which Arabs and Jews had equal rights. The novel concludes, "If you will, it is no legend."

Der Judenstaat and  Altneuland were visions of a Jewish state to be populated by European Jewry, who in 1900 were far more numerous than the tiny remnant of oriental and Sephardic Jews in Muslim lands and the Balkans. Herzl himself was no doubt aware of Zionist yearnings among Sephardic Jews. His grandfather was a friend of RabbiYehudah Alkalai, a Zionist precursor. But Herzl addressed his vision to the Jews of Europe.

Shavit points out that the Holocaust destroyed that vision and changed the planned demographics of the new state of Israel. A lot of the initial immigration to Israel came from the Sephradi population, especially as the Arabs turned away from toleration to outright hostility. Those population numbers had a distinct impact on Israel's politics and societal views and Shavit points out that those effects are still present.

Shavit is a great writer and the book is very readable and fascinating to immerse yourself into. For non-Israelis, and Americans in particular I would recommend this book as a must read. It shatters a lot of myths-and that is a good thing. Americans need to understand Israel as it really is, not as they think it it is.




The final book I have been reading off and on is a return to one of my favorite writers and historians, Arthur Schlesinger. A while back I read his collection of letters and posted a review.  Subsequently his journals have been published. They are much more candid than his letters and his insights into many of today's political figures when they were younger are amazing to read.Schelsinger is a great writer and I particularly got some great satisfaction out of his description of Charles Krauthammer. It is simply priceless as it points out what a slug Krauthammer really is, long before the rest of us really knew about him:

Last night I appeared on ABC's Nightline (Ted Koppel), leaving an entertaining dinner party given by Ahmed and Mica Ertegun for Irving Lazar. My combatant on the show was a fellow named Charles Krauthammer who writes particularly obnoxious neo-conservative trash for the New Republic and other right wing journals. His special line is that a mature power must understand the vital need for an imperial policy and for unfettered executive secrecy in the conduct of foreign affairs. He argues this line with boundless self-righteousness and sublime ignorance of American history. He is also, alas, a paraplegic, having dived into a waterless swimming pool. The joy of dealing with Krauthammer perhaps tempted me into undue vehemence. I have been trying to establish a new and more benign television personality. His performance was surprisingly feeble, and I was unnecessarily testy. Still, it gave me much satisfaction. [Political cartoonist] Jules Feiffer called this morning and said, "If Krauthammer were not already in a wheelchair, he certainly would be now after the pounding you gave him last night.

The puzzle is that there are people who take Krauthammer seriously as a deep thinker.

Those lines were written in 1986, long before Krauthammer sold his soul to the devil that is Fox News.  They remain as true today as they were then. Schlesinger saw his mediocrity long before the rest of us. 

Its a fantastic insight into a half century of history and well worth the time to read. The best part is, that because it is a journal, you can leave it and come back to it. That is what I have done for the last month. Whenever I have extra time, my old friend Arthur Schlesinger is there-thanks to the modern innovation that is Kindle.


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Jul 18 2015

The wrong people are winning

Well, now that really bad things are going on, its probably time for me to get back to work. I have a lot to say about a lot of things-but just can't seem to either find the time or the volition to address them. But I just wanted to point out a fact that most educated readers of the remaining sane blogs on the internet already knew:



My 10 years of blogging have proven that point back to me time and time again. Its been especially disheartening to watch the decline of so called "front running" milblogs become the kind of conservative cesspool that the Breitbart enterprise is known for. Ellen Pao is right to be jumping ship over at Reddit:

The Internet started as a bastion for free expression. It encouraged broad engagement and a diversity of ideas. Over time, however, that openness has enabled the harassment of people for their views, experiences, appearances or demographic backgrounds. Balancing free expression with privacy and the protection of participants has always been a challenge for open-content platforms on the Internet. But that balancing act is getting harder. The trolls are winning.

My own experience validates that , I can assure you. I like to think its been reasonably ok over here at my little place but we have had our run ins with moron set. It's been nothing to compare with some of the displays of lunacy that we have seen elsewhere though.

Take the tragic events of this weekend. Charles Pierce over at Esquire magazine, a real magazine with real editors and management, (something Tom Johnson has probably never had to deal with-more on that later), published a pretty reasoned piece on the shootings in Chattanooga. Pierce pointed out quite correctly that whatever the motive of the shooter, the insanely easy effort required to get guns in the United States did not help matters much.

Because he wrote eloquently and did not immediately jump in the cesspool of hatred, all the demons came swarming out of hell. 

As a regular reader at his place, I can assure you that the comments you see-especially in the last day are not typical of the kind of discussion that normally goes on at his place. There is a reason for that. In the general atmosphere of insanity that is prevailing in America after the horrific events in Chattanooga, it seems a certain percentage of our citizenry takes offense if you say anything but, "Kill Muslims! Kill more Muslims! Arms for every citizen"

And that is where a stellar specimen of humanity such as Tom Johnson comes in. 

Don't stay too long over there-just reading the comments will make you despair of humanity, or the fact that so many of my fellow citizens of the land of my birth are really tha f*cking stupid. 

He did accomplish his goal though. If you follow the link over to the Esquire piece you will see the hoards of really useless and stupid people commenting in a variety of useless and stupid ways. As Charles Pierce would say, "These people really are mole people".  For a minute there, I thought I had clicked the wrong link and had actually stumbled onto the useless idiots who write at The Federalist.

(When it comes to an overall level of douchbaggery, the folks at The Federalist are hard to beat. They take the conservative culture of victimhood to a whole new level. They, support Scott Walker after all-which is essentially the same as supporting Satan himself).

But the simple truth is that it gets worse. One cannot have a dissenting viewpoint anymore-and you can be certain that no one , even if they disagree with you will talk about the specifics of an issue. If there is one legacy of Fox News and its tenure during the 21st Century, that is it.  You are not even allowed to get angry at them any more-although the President did try:




The President had the correct response to Major Garrett. "That's nonsense and you should know better!"

One reason I have not been writing as much as I used to, is my overall level of disgust at my fellow citizens who should know better, but throw themselves willy nilly into the lanes of stupidity. It's barely been 48 hours since the horrific events in Chattanooga, and the swill that passes for commentary on the internet is , to put it honestly, appalling. I lalready showed you some from the Town Hall Harlot, but actually if you peruse either Facebook or Twitter, its even worse. The level of ignorance and stupidity in the land of my birth is appalling. Digby provides some really bad examples for all the rest of us to see.




As Digby points out, "Sadly, that thinking represents a majority of the Republican Party."

And indeed it does. She then goes on to point out an annoying little fact that bears repeating just like Pierce did:

If we were to compare our most recent mass murders (we have so many) and the reactions to them, ask yourself whether or not anyone was clamoring to punish Dylan Roof's family. Or round up all the white supremacists and put them in jail. No, there was a clamoring among some Americans to pull down the confederate flag from official buildings. And it's astonishing, when you think about it, that such a flag was even flying or that people were defending it — the same people, no doubt, who are clamoring for this family to be deported (or worse.) 

I noticed that while we don't know at this point the motives of the Chattanooga shooter, it's crystal clear what Dylan Roof's were — to start a race war. And yet the media is having no trouble calling Chattanooga suspected terrorism. The head of the FBI says he's just not sure about Dylan Roof. It seems too obvious now, if it didn't before, that the term is only applied to Muslims. 

Charlie Pierce has it right — this is about America and our love affair with violence.   I had been under the impression that the right had made its peace with that as the price we pay for the freedom to be armed to the teeth at all times.  But that's not true.  They are very philosophical about the consequence of violence when it's perpetrated by white people, to be sure. It's just a fact of life like summer storms and earthquakes.  But they get very, very angry when a racial or ethnic minority does it. There's some sick white privilege for you.



This is your democracy America. Enjoy it while you still can.

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