Tuesday, May 31, 2011

GOP Self-destruction Derby

Eugene Robinson tells it like it is. Money quote:

Let’s see, Newt Gingrich is still in the race, though it’s doubtful the party will ever forgive him for being right about the “radical” Ryan plan for Medicare. There’s businessman Herman Cain, who’s now polling better than Pawlenty. There’s Rick Santorum and Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman and ... Hello? Did you nod off?

This bleak panorama boosts the chances of Mitt Romney, who now has to be considered the clear front-runner. He has the money, the experience, the hair, the smile—he looks and sounds like a presidential candidate, which is more than can be said of the competition.

Yeah, but he'll have a lot of 'splainin' to do, and if he's the nominee, you can kiss a large part of the evangelical vote goodbye. In fact, if he look more and more like the nominee, that puts a lot of pressure on Huckabee to reconsider not running, and it gives a fair amount of credence to Palin's eventual third-party rogue run. I rub my hands together with glee!

Keep It Up, Sarah!

Palin's bus tour is as "rogue" as she proclaims herself to be. Seeming to lead the press on a wild-goose chase, not telling them where she'll be and at what time, she makes them look stupid and ineffective. In any event, she does not engender support from anyone who might be disaffected with Obama's presidency, because what she's doing is not leading anything. It looks like juvenile game-playing.

Still, it hasn't kept the blogosphere from speculating. Politico's Ben Smith doesn't think she has anything resembling a plan. Time's Jay-Newton Small sees a greater level of craftiness:

I would say Palin’s goal is to torture the “lame stream media,” but there may be more going through her mind. In many ways, it’s a smart ploy. The frustration and time spent looking for Palin, only to have her say next to nothing, is driving the press wild. Even if it yields few stories, Palin still controls her own message by blogging the trip herself, and forcing everyone to check her website to see what she’s saying and where she’s going.
But it's P.M. Carpenter who caught my attention:

If there are any politics here, they may relate to a formal Tea Party creation down the road, certainly by 2016, perhaps by the intervening midterms. For what we're watching now is the customary kind of sharp thinking and precise planning that precede the creation of foreordained calamities of the third-party breed.

Like Carpenter, I think that she's serious about a possible third-party bid in 2016. But let her overestimate herself, as she always does, and run in 2012. Even an announcement of a candidacy would send Romney and Pawlenty into seclusion as they try to come up with a credible rebuttal to her very existence without alienating the GOP wingnut base. With every establishment Republican from Karl Rove to (Palin's former champion) Bill Kristol now saying that she's not qualified to be President, the GOP will go through paroxysms of cognitive dissonance as they try to figure out how to discredit her without disaffecting her legions of idiot followers.

It gets better before it gets worse.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Not an Onion Headline


Michele Bachmann Brain Trust Looks To 2012

This is your brain on drugs.

Tea Party Inflicted with Cognitive Dissonance

How else to explain the fact that so many Tea Party-backed candidates swept into office last fall in an anti-Wall Street fervor are now backing legislation to deregulate Wall Street? In fact, there are 10 Republican freshmen congressmen who have taken nearly $600,000 in donations from the financial industry since Election Day.

There is simply no logic in politics, only money and power.

Worst. Prediction. Ever.

Every one of the Republican presidential candidates are vulnerable to this boneheaded prediction made by Mitt Romney about the government bailouts of GM and Chrysler.

Thousands of new jobs in America, loans paid back early, resurgent sales. Now, there were those pesky little things like the Toyota brake problem and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan to put a dent in the Japanese auto industry, but even with that, the bailouts kept the companies afloat long enough and strong enough to take advantage of that unfortunate market interruption.

Love the end of this commercial, with the graphic showing what the headline would have been had the GOP gotten its way and prevented the bailouts.

2012 GOP Field = 1992 Dem Field?

It's been going around in some pundit circles that the weak field Republican hopefuls for 2012 are similar to the famously weak field of Democratic candidates in 1992. Let's parse that, shall we?

In the Democratic field, we had Bill Clinton, already a rock star in the party with a memorable keynote address at the 1988 convention, a Rhodes Scholar and former two-term Arkansas governor with a Yale law degree; Paul Tsongas, a liberal spoiler with a Dartmouth, Yale and Harvard pedigree who went from city council to congressman to senator within 10 years; Jerry Brown, a former successful two-term governor of the most populous state in the country with a Cal Berkeley and Yale education; Bob Kerrey, a former governor of Nebraska and sitting US Senator, a former Navy SEAL and Vietnam War veteran; Tom Harkin, sitting senator from Iowa, JD from Columbus School of Law, and former Navy jet pilot; and Doug Wilder, the first African American governor of Virginia, a Howard University law school grad, and a Korean War veteran who earned a Bronze Star for heroism.

In the current GOP field, we have: Newt Gingrich, former congressman and disgraced House Speaker, who has a PhD in history from Tulane University and divorced his first two wives while they were in the hospital being treated for cancer; Tim Pawlenty, former two-term governor and five-term congressman of Minnesota, with Minnesota undergrad and law degrees; Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and businessman with a Harvard law degree and three military deferments, who turned around the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City from a loser to a profitable one; Herman Cain, successful pizza businessman and radio talk-show host, with a Master's Degree from Purdue University, and a less-than-basic understanding of the US Constitution; Gary Johnson, libertarian former New Mexico governor, BS from U of NM, and former construction entrepreneur; Fred Karger, the first openly gay candidate for the GOP nomination; Tom Miller, flight attendant; Ron Paul, 75-year-old congressman from Texas, who said he would have voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because of its impact on businessmen, and a former obstetrician; Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania senator with a Penn State and Dickinson School of Law education, who has earned the dubious distinction of being the namesake of a particularly disgusting by-product of anal sex; and Vern Wuensche, Texas businessman. And the field promises to get wider, with potential candidates Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Jon Huntsman, and perhaps even Rudy Giuliani thinking about jumping into the fray.

Yeah, they're exactly the same, don't you think?

I'm frankly sick of the false equivalencies. The 1992 Dem field was full of honored war veterans, seasoned politicians, and success stories. The Republican field is mainly about business and political wonks, with some doses of religious wingnuttery, libertarian extremism, and anonymity thrown in for good measure. God help them if the reigning Queen and Princess of batshit crazy get involved.

No Doofuses, OK?

Herman Cain is a candidate for the Republican nomination for President in 2012. He founded Godfather's Pizza. He's African-American. He's very wealthy. He's very conservative, so much so that he's very well-regarded by Republican voters.

And he's a fucking retard. Here's a little fat to chew on:

We don’t need to rewrite the Constitution of the United States of America, we need to reread the Constitution and enforce the Constitution. … And I know that there are some people that are not going to do that, so for the benefit of those who are not going to read it because they don’t want us to go by the Constitution, there’s a little section in there that talks about “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. You know, those ideals that we live by, we believe in, your parents believed in, they instilled in you. When you get to the part about “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” don’t stop there, keep reading. Cause that’s when it says “when any form of government becomes destructive of those ideals, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.” We’ve got some altering and some abolishing to do!”
So, in lecturing us about reading the Constitution, he quotes the Declaration of Independence. Like I said... he's a fucking retard.

Let's please agree now, America, that anyone who wants to run for President from now on cannot be a doofus like Herman Cain. He must be able to pass the citizenship exam, know the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and be able to identify every single amendment to the Constitution.

To illustrate why I propose this agreement, allow this seemingly brief tangent: Back in 2005, I was working for a financial institution, selling construction financing to builders who were putting up homes for resale. I was one of the only loan officers at the company specializing in this type of risky financing, and I knew my stuff. And I was making a lot of money. Some of the other loan officers, who were less experienced than I was, complained earlier in the year and told management they wanted to be able to sell these loans too. And management, not wanting to caved in. Within six months, management got a loan submission from one of these other loan officers. It was an application for financing to build four homes side-by-side, somewhere in the southern US. The applicant had good credit, decent income, and a fair amount of liquidity. The trouble was, he'd never built a home in his life. He owned a number of fast-food franchises, and wanted to cash in on the housing boom. So management, upon seeing this application from the burger guy, not only shut down financing for anyone who didn't have enough builder experience, but shut down financing for anyone who wasn't a licensed general contractor. Suddenly, my loan pipeline went from fantastic to dismal. All because some doofus didn't understand the nuances of construction financing.

We do not want to put the presidency in the hands of someone who does not understand governance, does not understand the benefits of diplomatic political rhetoric, and does not even understand our basic government documents. Herman Cain needs to go back to making pizza. If he doesn't like what his government is doing, he should NOT run for public office. He should donate his money to someone who knows how to govern and has a basic understanding of how our country works.

No doofuses, please!

Monday, May 23, 2011

AIPAC's Logic

"In a world which is demonstrably on the side of the Palestinians and Arabs - where Israel stands virtually alone - the United States has a special role to play," said the AIPAC director [Howard Kohr]. "When the United States is even-handed, Israel is automatically at a disadvantage, tilting the diplomatic playing field overwhelmingly toward the Palestinians and Arabs."

Kohr says that Obama's honesty about the Israeli/Palestinian situation creates an advantage for the Arabs because Israel's foes would perceive daylight between the US and Israel.

Um, sorry to break it to you, Howie, but Israel has done a fine job all by itself to create opportunities for Arab states to "shun peace with the Jewish state." I'm not referring to military incursions in the name of self-defense, although Israel can call and has called almost any military action it takes defensive, even the offensive ones. I'm referring to the almost apartheid-like way Israel has treated ALL Palestinians. Women, children, the elderly. They are all second-class citizens because they have chosen to rebel against what they perceive to be persecution. Like any persecuted class of people, some of that has to be brought on by the people who are rebelling. Firing rockets into Israel or sending suicide bombers into crowded shopping areas does not endear one to the people who are doing the persecuting. But, as we all know, Israel can hardly be credited for exacting measured responses to their threats. When two rockets fall in Israel, fifty tanks roll into Gaza and thousands of people get displaced. It's also clear that Israel does not realize that Israel's policies are more of an existential threat to Israel than Palestinians.

The argument always falls at this point on the idea that there are no Arabs who will ever recognize Israel's right to exist, that they all want Israel to disappear and the Jews to die violent deaths. But, just suppose that that idea is false; that, in fact, Palestinians don't want to wage war, Palestinians want peace for themselves, and Palestinians want their own country, even if it means living next to Jews. That they're willing to recognize Israel so long as tanks and bulldozers don't roll into their country every time one of their people says or does something wrong. What the hell would Israel do with itself? Can this country, which has lived for 63 years defending its existence, handle peace? Based on my last post, one has to wonder.

But, for AIPAC's chief to suggest that the US has to -- has to -- be less than even-handed when dealing with Israel's Arab neighbors because to do so would threaten Israel's existence? Well, that happens to be true. Bibi's middle finger in Obama's face does nothing to prevent that from happening. In fact, Bibi's hope to outlast Obama is a huge political gamble. The president will be re-elected, and in 2016, there is a chance that a Republican president with Apocalyptic visions of the Second Coming may roll out the red carpet to anything Israel does. But five years is a very long time to wait when the screws are tightening.

It's Pathological

Sullivan posts a great quote from Ha'aretz's Merav Michaeli:

The reality, Mr. President, is that change - thanks to which you were elected,
and in which you believe - is the thing that Israel in general and Netanyahu in
particular fear most. The reality is that the State of Israel has become
accustomed to the present situation and does not recognize itself without it.
Israel has existed longer with the occupation than without it; it has existed
for most of its years with no border and is deathly afraid of change.

I never thought of this before. Like the homeless man who's lived on the street for so long he can't handle four walls and a bed. Or the guy in The Shawshank Redemption who gets released after 50 years in prison and is so afraid of freedom that he kills himself rather than adapting to making one's own decisions.

The whole post is worth reading.

RIP Pawlenty '12

Before it even began.

Seems Pawlenty has decided, one day after declaring his candidacy for the GOP nomination in 2012, to fall on his sword by publicly stating -- in Iowa, no less -- his opposition to ethanol subsidies. He believes in a gradual phase-out, and that no program is sacred anymore.

This type of major gaffe would be like publicly stating in South Carolina that a candidate's religion has nothing to do with his ability to serve in any public office, let alone President of the United States.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

"Keeping the Knife in Your Belly"

Josh Marshall at TPM underscores what the existential threat to Israel really is:
I've had so many conversations with American and Israeli hardliners who say essentially, why give up this land as long as the Palestinians won't do this or that thing? Such folly. As though the settlements of the West Bank were a thing of great value as opposed to a lethal threat. Like you insist on keeping the knife in your belly as opposed to removing it at the first opportunity because someone else you're negotiating with won't do what you want.
As Obama reiterated to AIPAC today, US support for Israel remains "ironclad." Addressing the firestorm of "controversy" that erupted on the extreme right, he said:
If there’s a controversy, then, it’s not based in substance. What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately. I have done so because we cannot afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades, to achieve peace. The world is moving too fast. The extraordinary challenges facing Israel would only grow. Delay will undermine Israel’s security and the peace that the Israeli people deserve.
And yet, despite Netanyahu's assurances that his disagreement with Obama is "among friends," he has the gall to "expect" Obama reaffirm US commitments made to Israel in 2004. It's not like the US depends on Israel for its survival, while the inverse is certainly true. So for the Prime Minister to thumb his nose at the US President, simply assuming that Israel can do what it wants, when it wants, and how it wants, and the US will be obliged to go along -- I'm just not sure I agree that children don't sometimes need a backhand across the buttocks to get them in line.

Friday, May 20, 2011

My Final Blog Post??

Just in case the hysterics are right and tomorrow will be Rapture Day, I want to thank all of you for reading this blog. I've been honored to maintain this labor of love for the last four-plus years, and feel confident that I've been right most of the time. To those I've pissed off, well, just know that I'll be in eternal excruciating pain as I suffer the non-believers' fate in the company of Hitler, Saddam, and George Burns.

I leave you with snippets "Apocalypse in 9/8 (featuring the delicious talents of Gabble Ratchet)" and "As Sure as Eggs is Eggs (Aching Men's Feet)", by Genesis:

Six six six is no longer alone
He's getting out the marrow in your backbone
And the seven trumpets blowing sweet rock and roll
Gonna blow right down inside your soul
Pythagoras with the looking glass, reflects the full moon
In blood, he's writing the lyrics of a brand new tune.


There's an angel standing in the sun
And he's crying in a loud voice, "This is the supper of the Mighty One"
Lord of Lords
King of Kings
Has returned to lead His children home
To take them to the new Jerusalem.

The Gathering Storm

Lots of bad news for lots of politicians and citizens today.

  • In Florida and Wisconsin, the GOP governors there signed into law controversial measures requiring photo identification to vote, joining eight other states who have done the same thing. In Wisconsin, the Republican-led state Senate cut off voting before all members could actually vote. In Florida, the law prohibits voter registration work by independent third parties, like the Boy Scouts or the League of Women Voters. Expect lawsuits to be filed across the country by the ACLU.

  • In South Carolina, Kansas, Arizona, New Hampshire, and (again) Florida, Republican governors have slashed or entirely eliminated funding for the arts. Kansas governor Sam Brownback and South Carolina governor Nikki Haley also are expected to line-item veto proposed budgets for public and educational broadcasting in their states.

  • In Texas, Republican Governor Rick Perry signed a controversial bill into law that requires any woman seeking an abortion first to get a sonogram and then wait 24 hours before having the procedure. Women may decline to look at the screen and/or hear heartbeat sounds, but doctors are required to describe the condition of the embryo or fetus to their patients (and women have to sit through that description unless they are victims of rape or incest or if the developing baby has serious fetal abnormalities). The Texas legislature also plans to slash funding for the state agency that has been fighting the horrible wildfires in that state which have burned nearly 2.5 million acres.
But while these state-level Republican efforts will cause serious harm to citizens in their states and elsewhere, they do not come without some cost to the politicians. Newly-elected Republican governors across the country, many of whom were heavily backed by the Tea Party movement, are seeing their job approval ratings plummet:

  • Florida Governor Rick Scott took less than 100 days to see his approval rating drop into the low 30s, while his disapproval rating has climbed to a whopping 55 percent.

  • "Genial" Governor John Kasich of Ohio has approval numbers at only 38 percent, while disapproval is near 50 percent. Among women in Ohio, there is an 18 percent margin between disapproval (51 percent) and approval (33 percent).

  • Maine governor Paul LePage, who won election by only 7,500 votes last year, has approval ratings of only 30 percent. This is the guy who dismissed the dangers of the chemical BPA by saying, "The worst case is some women may have little beards."

  • Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who earlier this year signed a bill into law that greatly reduced the collective bargaining rights of public employee union workers, and who recently is trying to rescind a law granting hospital visitation rights to same-sex partners, will have trouble winning over that state's large bloc of independent voters.

  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was loudly booed today during his commencement speech at his alma mater, Seton Hall University. One graduate yelled at him to "Shut up." Christie has proposed huge budget cuts to New Jersey's education system.

We are definitely witnessing a backlash backlash, as voters across the country experience buyer's remorse for having elected unqualified, polarizing figures to run their state and local governments. To say the least, it will be interesting to see how things play out later this year and next year on the national level.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Fiscal Dishonesty of the GOP

All through budget talks late last year and into this year, Republicans were flirting with a government shutdown unless there were major changes and big cuts made. The whole exercise was a big dog-and-pony show so that the Republicans could appear tough on fiscal policy.

Well, according to the Congressional Budget Office, they were about as tough as a downy pillow. Seems that big spending cut bill passed by Congress and signed by the President, which was advertised to have cut spending by $38 billion, actually increased discretionary spending by $3 billion over the remainder of the fiscal year. Had Congress done nothing, they would have spent $3 billion less by the end of September.

How is this possible? Well, when spending was shifted away from defense into more immediate activities, it forced the government to spend money on items that were billed sooner rather than later.

In fairness, this finding depends on a narrower vision of what the original bill intended to do. But in the final analysis, our government will spend more in this fiscal year than it needed to do.

Do I believe that the Democrats and Obama saw this coming? No. But I do believe that if they don't exploit this, they'll miss an opportunity to paint the Republicans, who brought pitchforks and torches to the bargaining table, screaming about getting our fiscal house in order, as the party of fiscal dishonesty. The GOP are political assholes, pure and simple.

The "Third Culture Kid" and the Impotence of the "Incurious"

In a short thread discussing the intellectual shortcomings and failings of liberal professor, civil rights activist, and frequent Bill Maher panelist Cornell West, Andrew Sullivan posts an email from a reader who writes the most cogent description of President Obama that I've ever read. Money quote:

The liberal label doesn’t fit Obama either. As you have pointed out, like Reagan or Thatcher, at his heart he is a pragmatist. Like a true TCK, he doesn’t romanticize any one culture or ideology. He understands that there is good or bad in everything. Yet another reason why he can also be called the anti-Bush who along with Cheney is trapped in a juvenile Manichaeism.

Look closely at Sarah Palin and George W. Bush. They are not just anti-intellectual but they are deeply provincial people [who] made sure not to expose themselves to much outside of their comfort zone. Sarah bounced from college to college unable to really fit in anywhere but Wasilla. Not even the Governor’s mansion felt like home to her so she left that too. Bush grew up in the upper crust East Coast and found his identity as a simple, “aw’ shucks” Texan who just knows what to do in his gut. He can be detached from the real world when necessary. TCK’s have no choice. They must engage the world.

I strongly identify with this description: as a Jew, who grew up on the largely Italian/Irish Catholic Jersey Shore; who moved as a teenager to the transplanted Okie world of Long Beach, CA; who attended college at the gigantic UCLA (University of Caucasians Lost among Asians); who has lived a large part of my adult life among Latinos and other immigrant populations; and who has stood side by side with people from all walks of life and in all socio-economic strata, I have had to engage fully with all these different levels of society in order to survive. It was not a choice for me to retreat into that with which I could easily identify, mostly because I identified with so little. Those in America who have spent the bulk of their lives among people just like them would easily identify more with a George Bush than a Barack Obama. That is, of course, unless that "George Bush" type were so egregiously daft that he couldn't even attract the similarly intellectually Incurious.

One reason, perhaps, why John McCain didn't prevail against Obama was because he could not be a representative choice of the Incurious. He was a soldier, to be sure, but he was a silver-spoon fed soldier who'd had no amount of difficulty in the armed forces until he succeeded in getting himself shot down. He lived his life as a millionaire. He did not legislate unequivocally (in fact, I think the "maverick" label hurt him because the Incurious typically identify with those who fall into lock-step behind their rigid, theocracy-infused ideology). Even with the Queen of the Incurious as his running mate, he couldn't overcome those shortcomings because he'd alienated the intellectually curious in his party who could not grant power to the one who represented the antithesis of intellect itself.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Predictable Story of the Day

Donald Trump is not running for President.

He fired off his considerably large mouth about the birth certificate, he dropped a series of F-bombs at various events when speaking falsely about the Chinese (when much of the clothing on which he affixes his name was made in China), and he did more to aggrandize himself than put forth any concrete ideas about, well, anything.

When Obama produced his birth certificate, and when Obama, our commander-in-chief, successfully located and killed Osama bin Laden, Donald Trump was done, as evidenced by his depth-charge-like drop in Republican polls.

Reminds me of a scene in the political murder mystery Murder at 1600, when Alan Alda, who plays the crazy national security adviser, says to the detective played by Wesley Snipes, "I'm the United States government; who the fuck are you?"

Thursday, May 12, 2011

"I'm a Physician"

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) spoke at a recent hearing for the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee, where he said:

With regard to the idea of whether you have a right to health care, you have realize what that implies. It’s not an abstraction. I’m a physician. That means you have a right to come to my house and conscript me. It means you believe in slavery. It means that you’re going to enslave not only me, but the janitor at my hospital, the person who cleans my office, the assistants who work in my office, the nurses.... I’m a physician in your community and you say you have a right to health care. You have a right to beat down my door with the police, escort me away and force me to take care of you? That’s ultimately what the right to free health care would be.
Uh, yeah right. Is it possible he's being hyperbolic? Is it just possible, maybe, that anyone who would behave in such a manner as to beat a doctor's door down and have the police escort him to his own office to provide medical care to that person, might himself be escorted by the police... to fucking jail?

Just asking.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Belly Laugh of the Day

Courtesy of Alex Knapp.

Consider this an open thread for developing slogans for Newt Gingrich's campaign.

I'll start:

"Gingrich 2012: He will always love America. Unless it gets cancer."

In the comments of Knapp's post: "Newt 2012: I Know, But Look at the Competition!"

Definitive Story for This Blog

If ever there were a story published on the internet that perfectly embodied the name of this blog, this one is a very good candidate.

Republicans in the House and Senate have decided that the best way to combat the federal government's "tyranny" over the economy and other areas is to pass a constitutional amendment giving states the ability to repeal any federal law or regulation they decide is "abhorrent or misguided."


Of course, there isn't a single Republican in either house of Congress who seriously believes that a constitutional amendment like this can pass. Remember, to pass an amendment to the Constitution, two-thirds of each House of Congress must pass the amendment, or two-thirds of the state legislatures can apply to Congress for a Constitutional convention, or the Congress can require ratification by special convention (only used once in 1933). Then, three-fourths of the states (38 states) must ratify the amendment. This is so rare an occurrence that there have been only 17 amendments in the past 216 years. The last amendment was 19 years ago, and had to do with limiting congressional pay raises. An amendment like this, which pits the rights of states against the rights of the federal government to enact laws it deems necessary to govern the country, has literally zero chance of passing. It's just another political ploy in an election cycle to fire up the base and rally voters around their candidates. Not a tactic reserved exclusively for the GOP, of course (see Healthcare Reform), but the GOP is certainly the only party brazen/stupid/cynical/nihilistic enough to toss outrageous ideas like this into the ring. It is a sure sign that the party has sunk into the intellctual morass that is the Tea Party.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Minister's Secret is Revealed

A Pennsylvania pastor found out last week that when one lies, it's difficult to keep tabs on everyone he's fooled. For five years, Rev. Jim Moats told his congregants at the Christian Bible Fellowship Church that he used to be a Navy SEAL, and while he did serve in the Navy for four years, he was never a member of that elite unit. It was only after a local newspaper, who thought they'd been getting local perspective on the SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden, ran a story featuring Moats that his tale began to unravel.

The published story got the attention of one of Moats's sons, who called him to ask why he'd told people he'd been a SEAL. Moats, in his embarrassment, decided to go back to the paper and confess his lie. Also turns out that his gold Trident medal, which is given to those who complete SEAL training, was bought at a military surplus store. And the story of his SEAL service was cribbed from Steven Seagal and Demi Moore movies.

Even though he gave a partial admission of wrongdoing this past Sunday, he plans to go into more detail this Wednesday when he takes to the pulpit to explain fully his actions to his congregation. Should be fun. If anything, maybe it ought to serve as an example to others not to keep secrets.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Stay Classy, Alabama!

You'd think that after nearly 200 people get killed in some of the worst tornadoes in modern history, the people of Alabama would find some humility and act in way that approximates human, wouldn't you?

Think again.
[U]nder a bill that recently passed the Alabama state senate, undocumented teens might not be able to attend [prom]. SB 256, the "Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act," takes steps to block employers from hiring illegal immigrants, gives law enforcement more authority to check immigration status, requires voters to bring proof of citizenship with them to the polls—and prohibits "participation in any extracurricular activity outside of the basic course of study" for K-12 students who aren't legal residents. In other words, no chess club or drama society for the kids; football might be a religion in Alabama, but that's off-limits too.
So, Arizona's immigration law on steroids. All under the guise of what the bill's sponsor calls "a jobs bill." In February, the state senator urged his fellow Alabama Republicans to "empty the clip" on illegal immigration.

What's next? Illegal immigrant pool cleaners can't swim in the water?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Trump, Party of One, Your Table is Ready

The Atlantic's Josh Green shows that any hope Donald Trump had of becoming president is fucking over.

Couldn't happen to a nicer ass-munch.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Health Care Repeal "Dead"

So says the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Dave Camp (R-MI). Uh, why is that news? There would be no way the House could get the Senate to vote for repeal, and absolutely no way Obama would not veto it if it made it to his desk, so the bill was dead even before it was written.

Now the House will focus on overturning the most controversial part of the Affordable Care Act: namely, the requirement that each individual buy health insurance, either privately or through the insurance exchange. Already a couple of courts in Republican states have ruled the mandate unconstitutional, so there may be an opening there. Still, I'm finding it hard to believe an extremely popular idea (albeit one couched in an extremely complicated and cumbersome law) would go down in defeat because of the mandate.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"History's Waste Bin"

A Sullivan reader disagrees with what Christopher Hitchens writes about the death of Osama bin Laden:

Has there ever been a more contemptible leader from behind, or a commander who authorized more blanket death sentences on bystanders?

Well, yes, writes the reader, how about Josef Stalin?

Leaving that question alone, the reader brings up another very good point:

In the end, what is true about Bin Laden is not the vastness of his vision nor the horror of his occasional strategic successes, it is the smallness of the man. He lit fires in small minds. He inhabited a small world. His global vision was to propagate that small world and impose it on all. Rather than a grandiose visionary, he was a small man with a small plan. He was relentless but, ultimately, the smallness of his vision relegates him to history's waste bin.

Exactly right, which immediately brings to my mind this short clip from Season 3 of The West Wing, where Sam, Toby and Josh are in a high school cafeteria discussing terrorism with a group of students.

I bring up this clip not to spotlight Israel (more on that in a moment), but to highlight the idea that the smallness of vision that inflicts terrorism is what results in a "100% failure rate" which only strengthens the resolve of the people it targets to combat it. In that way, Osama bin Laden was a complete failure, a small man who, unfortunately, had enough money and influence and resources to spread his smallness of vision around the world. Emblematic of bin Laden's smallness were the facts that 1) his Abbottabad compound had neither telephone nor internet; and 2) the technological muscle of the US military, with highly trained commandos, night vision gear, Blackhawk helicopters that could elude radar, and communication equipment that could transmit their operation into the White House Situation Room in real time, took him down.

On a tangent about Israel, blogger Freddie deBoer has a choice tidbit about Egypt's impending relaxation of its border with Gaza:

Israel has been, for over forty years, perpetuating one of the great humanitarian and democratic crises in the world; amid all of this talk of the democratization of the Arab world, precious little has pointed out that the United States is the major (and moving towards sole) underwriter of an Israeli regime that keeps millions of Palestinian Arabs in a state of permanent dispossession. If the greater Middle East is indeed being swept up in a new spirit of freedom, Israel will find its position more and more uncomfortable. I pray that this new geopolitical situation in the Middle East never results in military action against Israel. But if they are truly surrounded by a newly empowered and engaged Arab people, Israel will come to find their position untenable, as well they should. Because the status quo for the Palestinian people is indefensible.
Agreed. With the recent wave of Arab revolution spreading across the Middle East, promising, at least, the possibility that dictatorships will be replaced by faith-based Islamic democracies, time is not on Israel's side. At some point, the UN will want to pass a resolution recognizing the Palestinian state, and the US will veto it, but if Obama and/or the US wants to have real alliances with the Arab/Muslim world, the US will not be able to veto such resolutions ad infinitum. Perhaps Obama's long game is to reduce our dependency on Arab oil in order to avoid such a Sophie's Choice dilemma in the UN. Given our country's inner conflict about the costs and/or benefits of a greener America, I think that's a risky gamble. But if oil and gas prices don't soften anytime soon, Obama might find us more willing to go along, in which case he can approach Arab states, leverage a strong relationship on the heels of his actions in Abbottabad, while warning them to make nice with Israel. Now, if only Israel's government and people would stop hating Obama long enough to see that truly he has their back, because the alternative is simply more isolation and violence.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Liberals With Balls

Bob Cesca lists them.

Let's also not forget that a liberal (if you use today's criteria as espoused by today's GOP) brought the USSR to her knees and ended the Cold War.