Browsing the blog archives for October, 2015.


Clueless!

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Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

It takes a pathological degree of self-obliviousness to be a white conservative guy like Jonah Goldberg and write this:

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson took a plausible stab at why Carson is popular. “They like him, they like him,” he repeated, referring to conservatives in Iowa and elsewhere who admire Carson’s dignified and soft-spoken demeanor.

True enough; Carson has the highest favorables of any candidate in the GOP field.

But what’s remarkable is that at no point in this conversation did anyone call attention to the fact that Carson is an African-American. Indeed, most analysis of Carson’s popularity from pundits focuses on his likable personality and his sincere Christian faith. But it’s intriguingly rare to hear people talk about the fact that he’s black.

One could argue that he’s even more authentically African-American than Barack Obama, given that Obama’s mother was white and he was raised in part by his white grandparents. In his autobiography, Obama writes at length about how he grew up outside the traditional African-American experience — in Hawaii and Indonesia — and how he consciously chose to adopt a black identity when he was in college.

Meanwhile, Carson grew up in Detroit, the son of a very poor, very hard-working single mother. His tale of rising from poverty to become the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital is one of the most inspiring rags-to-riches stories of the last half-century. (Cuba Gooding Jr. played Carson in the movie about his life.) He was a towering figure in the black community in Baltimore and nationally — at least, until he became a Republican politician.

Like I said, it takes a pathological degree of self-obliviousness for Goldberg to assume he is in any way qualified to judge “authentic” African-Americanism. But note what Goldberg is saying here — he’s complaining that the world isn’t perpetually commenting on Ben Carson’s blackness.

It gets better. Goldberg then descends into the Usual Whining about how everybody picks on Republicans, and if a Democrat were to be treated as shabbily in media as Carson is being treated — the New York Times has stopped calling him “Dr.” — “charges of racism would be thick in the air.”

Then there’s the crowing about Hey, liberals — we got us a black politician, too! How do you like them apples?

How strange it must be for people who comfort themselves with the slander that the GOP is a cult of organized racial hatred that the most popular politician among conservatives is a black man. Better to ignore the elephant in the room than account for such an inconvenient fact. The race card is just too valuable politically and psychologically for liberals who need to believe that their political opponents are evil.

Carson’s popularity isn’t solely derived from his race, but it is a factor. The vast majority of conservatives resent the fact that Democrats glibly and shamelessly accuse Republicans of bigotry — against blacks, Hispanics, and women — simply because they disagree with liberal policies (which most conservatives believe hurt minorities). Yet conservatives also refuse to adopt those liberal policies just to prove they aren’t bigots. Carson — not to mention Carly Fiorina and Hispanics Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio — demonstrates that there’s no inherent contradiction between being a minority (or a woman) and supporting conservative principles. And that fact is just too terrible for some liberals to contemplate.

Of course, that depends on what “conservative principles” one is talking about, but never mind.

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Toast!

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The Smarter Brother

I can’t watch the debates here, but the overwhelming consensus after last night is that Jeb! is now Toast! Even Nate Silver says so.

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No Excuses

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Obama Administration

This. Is. Not. Acceptable.

As you may have heard, the police officer assaulting a South Carolina high school student in this video has been fired.

And, predictably, the wingnuts are sad. Yes, that’s right. The teen-age girl being assaulted in this video had it coming, they tell us, because the nice Officer Man had asked her nicely to leave the classroom, and she refused. So the Officer Man had no choice but to make her hurt.  Because a great big man couldn’t possibly have taken a 90-pound girl into hand and escorted her from the classroom otherwise.  (sarcasm off)

Some vile excrement named David French actually wrote:

This is what happens when a person resists a lawful order from a police officer to move (UPDATE: CNN is now reporting that a third video shows the student hitting the officer in the face when he initially put his hands on her). Unless the school is willing to have one student commandeer the classroom indefinitely, the officer has few options beyond physical force — and the use of physical force is rarely pretty to see. In this instance, the use of force was decisive, brief, and did not physically harm the student.

If in fact this assault did not harm the student, then the student, the policeman and the school are lucky. Because he could have snapped her neck or twisted her spine.

I don’t know if David French has children, but I suspect his tune would be very different if one of his offspring were manhandled like this, for any reason. And, for the record, I’m not accepting on face value anyone’s story of what this teenager was doing in the moments before the assault.

This is so obviously outrageous you’d have to be blind not to see the wrong here. But there are lots of blind people on this planet.  Indeed, the Dumbest Man on the Internet sees a double standard because a white principal was slammed to the floor by a black student (who was subsequently arrested and charged), and to him this is just the same thing as a large, and white, and male, police officer and Public Employee and Authority Figure violently assaulting a black teenage girl. And merely getting fired.

Yep, righties are whining that this is just the Liberal Media making a big Politically Correct deal out of nothing.

But this is not acceptable. There is no excuse for what the officer, Ben Fields, did in that video. I don’t care if she was not following directions. I don’t care if she punched him with her girlie little fist or spat at him or insulted his mother. He’s supposed to be an adult in charge. He’s supposed to be trained to handle situations like this in a professional and competent manner.

Oh, and the student who shot the video is still facing charges for shooting the video.

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The Passion of Marco

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Republican Party

Marco Rubio hates his Senate job, he says. This is why he’s not doing it. He has missed nearly 60 votes while he’s been off running for president.

Now the Miami Sun-Sentinel is telling him to resign. The Sun-Sentinel is behind a subscription firewall, but here’s the editorial from Balloon Juice:

Rubio has missed more votes than any other senator this year. His seat is regularly empty for floor votes, committee meetings and intelligence briefings. He says he’s MIA from his J-O-B because he finds it frustrating and wants to be president, instead.

“I’m not missing votes because I’m on vacation,” he told CNN on Sunday. “I’m running for president so that the votes they take in the Senate are actually meaningful again.”

Sorry, senator, but Floridians sent you to Washington to do a job. We’ve got serious problems with clogged highways, eroding beaches, flat Social Security checks and people who want to shut down the government.

If you hate your job, senator, follow the honorable lead of House Speaker John Boehner and resign it.

Let us elect someone who wants to be there and earn an honest dollar for an honest day’s work. Don’t leave us without one of our two representatives in the Senate for the next 15 months or so.

You are paid $174,000 per year to represent us, to fight for us, to solve our problems. Plus you take a $10,000 federal subsidy — declined by some in the Senate — to participate in one of the Obamacare health plans, though you are a big critic of Obamacare.

You are ripping us off, senator.

That’ll turn up in a campaign ad sooner or later.

The most recent national poll of Republican primary voters has Dr. Dementia in first place and Trump  second, followed by Rubio. Jeb! is fourth, followed by the rest of the mutts in no important order. I have heard Jeb! is more worried by Rubio than by Dr. D or Mr. T, reasoning that the two outsider candidates will crash and burn sooner or later. Rubio is doing well in the betting market right now in the assumption that he’s in the best position to move into Number One when that happens.

However, neither Jeb! nor Rubio look that strong:

Mr. Rubio may be broadly acceptable, but his fund-raising tallies and overall campaign effort have been surprisingly limited. Mr. Kasich may be unacceptable to much of the party’s conservative wing, and his fund-raising isn’t impressive either. Mr. Bush has healthier fund-raising tallies — though apparently not healthy enough to forestall big cuts in his campaign operation — but very weak favorability ratings.

Jeb!’s campaign is arguing that Rubio is the GOP’s Obama — inexperienced senators who are running on charm and ethnic appeal rather than substance. But Brian Beutler argues that he’s really the GOP’s John Edwards, in the sense that he looks like a strong candidate but doesn’t really connect with voters as well as predicted.

Obama’s charisma was key to his appeal in 2008, but so too was the fact that he—as a young, African-American liberal who opposed the war in Iraq—reflected his party’s base better than Hillary Clinton, the anointed front-runner. By this more appropriate standard, the GOP’s Obama will be charismatic, yes—but old and white and nativist instead of young and ethnic and cosmopolitan. That’s Trump….

… Rubio is also making the most shallow appeal of any Republican in the field. The undisguised promise of his candidacy is that his youth and background will allow him to herald an orthodox Republican policy agenda as somehow distinct and visionary.

A Democrat would have to be caught eating live puppies to lose to this guy. Maybe not even then.

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Sideshow Nation

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Republican Party

Ben Carson is leading polls in Iowa and is second after Trump everywhere else. What’s the appeal?

Part of the appeal may be his gentle, even soporific, persona:

That smile and his soft voice makes people very comforted,” said Miriam Greenfield, a farmer in Jewell, Iowa.

“He is kind when he speaks, and he doesn’t have an agenda to set himself up as wonderful,” said Donna Christiansen, a retiree in Ames.

Retiree Donna Christiansen might want to notice this:

Yesterday in Ames, Iowa, in the course of suggesting raising the retirement age for Social Security and asking people to voluntarily give up their monthly checks, Ben Carson said

Ben Carson called for “groupthink” to combat the looming funding crisis in the country’s Social Security program at a campaign rally in Ames on Saturday.

“We have to start thinking, have groupthink in this country,” Carson said in response to a question from the crowd about unfunded entitlement liabilities.

“We need to maximize the potential of all our people if we’re going to be able to compete in the future. So we have to start thinking corporately as an entity.”

Carson also promises to abolish Medicare and Medicaid and replace them with savings accounts. And he’s ahead of Jeb! and Rubio in the polls.

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Heart of Darkness

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Obama Administration

Lots of good commentary on the Benghazi! hearings, but this may be the best:

In the 21st century, we see the paranoid style honed to near-perfection among a significant cadre of Americans – predominantly male and Southern, and almost entirely white – who are ideologically and geographically exiled from their own society but who see themselves, paradoxically or otherwise, as its spiritual inheritors and most ardent defenders. They perceive themselves surrounded on all sides, at home as around the world, by murderous, treasonous and corrosive anti-Americanism and anti-capitalism (and in many cases also by anti-white racism and anti-Christian bigotry). They discern those forces at work in the Democratic Party and the big cities and multiculturalism and Planned Parenthood and “political correctness”; in the spread of mosques and taco trucks and ambiguous gender assignments; in Black Lives Matter and the still-baffling black president with the funny name, in the stagnant or declining real incomes of the last several decades and the fact that the mightiest military superpower in the history of the world has not conclusively won a war since 1945.

What Benghazi promised the paranoid faithful, or still promises – we can’t presume that one embarrassing hearing will bring an end to this charade – was a chance to turn the tide, to strip the scales from the eyes of their benighted and deluded fellow countrymen and reveal the scope of the hideous plot to destroy America. For the conspiratorial right-wing hive mind, Benghazi is the gate and the key to the gate, like H.P. Lovecraft’s ancient and indescribable entity Yog-Sothoth. But as with the One-in-All and All-in-One of the Lovecraftian universe, opening that gate leads only to madness and oblivion: What lies beyond is the “amorphous blight of nethermost confusion which blasphemes and bubbles at the center of all infinity,” otherwise known as the legislative agenda of the House Freedom Caucus.

Yet there’s more — here’s Krugman:

 As Rick Perlstein pointed out several years ago, the modern conservative movement is in large part a “strategic alliance of snake-oil vendors and conservative true believers” with “a cast of mind that makes it hard for either them or us to discern where the ideological con ended and the money con began.”

So goldbuggism, for example, is intimately tied to direct-marketing schemes for gold coins and gold certificates. I’ve been getting mail from the American Seniors Association, which bills itself as a conservative alternative to the AARP; sure enough, it’s a for-profit enterprise whose goal is to sell me insurance. And so on.

This is surely a much more important part of our political story than almost anyone acknowledges. I don’t think you can understand the depth of Obama- and Hillary-hatred without understanding just how much of it is generated by scammers out to make a buck off the racism and misogyny of some — sad to say, fairly many — older white men.

Avarice and paranoia, perfect together.

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The Grift That Keeps On Grifting

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Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Conservative PACs raise millions … for conservative PACs.

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Benghazi Blumenthal Bust

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Obama Administration

The eleven-hour Benghazi! marathon revealed that the wingnuts have a weird obsession about Sydney Blumenthal:

Time and time again, Republicans returned to Hillary Clinton’s relationship with Blumenthal, who has never been in Libya nor served in Clinton’s Department of State. On numerous times they brought up the emails that he sent her, the influence of his advice, where his missives were passed along and whether his communications were truly unsolicited.

Their justification for their focus on a side character in Clinton’s universe seemed Clinton emailed Blumenthal — a personal friend of the Clintons– more than she did Ambassador Christopher Stevens, one of the four Americans killed in the attack. The name Sidney Blumenthal has become something of a dog whistle in right-wing circles — for Clinton cronyism, rank politicization, and self-dealing — but it remained unclear after hours of testimony how his emails further implicated Clinton in the Benghazi tragedy.

Blumenthal sent HRC lots of witty and snarky emails about stuff going on in politics and international affairs. It appears to be mostly gossip. Blumenthal is a long-time friend of the Clintons going back to their Arkansas days. Clearly, anybody with such a long association with the Clintons must be the boogyman. As near as I can tell, the entire eleven hours was a probe into why HRC got so many emails from Blumenthal and none from the late Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. (Um, because ambassadors don’t contact the State Department via email?)

See also:

On the Frenzy Over Sidney Blumenthal by James Fallows and (from last May) The Fake Clinton Scandals Are Back by Joe Conason.

Charles Pierce explains it all:

Did she hand them their own asses? Of course she did. She was cool and she was poised and, by the end of the day, she was even out-arguing them about the role of the video in the attacks across the Muslim world, which was the ur-point of this fiasco in the first place.

This whole thing started because of a ginned-up controversy about what Susan Rice had said about the attacks on​ Meet The Press in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. (Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio is still howling about this.) Responding to a question from Cummings, HRC actually got to explain that the video at least was partly responsible for the rage that broke out from Indonesia to Tunisia. That, alas, was beside the point. So also was Congressman Adam Schiff’s boot in the ass in which he pretty much demonstrated that Blumenthal’s appearance before this committee—the transcript of which Gowdy refuses to release—​was a fishing expedition after material about the Clintons that could be used for future ratfcking purposes.And not even Hillary Rodham Clinton’s ability to stand up against the gales of innuendo and fakery will make it less so.​

This was a performance piece for the people residing within the conservative media bubble—​who already are hip to the lies of the lamestream media, and who already are too smart to be fooled by the Hildebeast and her alleged facts because Mark Levin has told them that they are too smart to be so fooled, and who watch their favorite TV news stars every night, where there is always Another Question, or Another E-Mail, or, for all I know, Another Witness who saw the ghost of Vince Foster wandering through the Mena Airport with Kathleen Willey’s cat in his mouth. The people out in the world are one problem, but now they’re pretty plainly electing each other to the national legislature. That makes it our problem.

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What’s Happening Now

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Obama Administration

I’m not watching Hillary Clinton’s testimony in front of the Benghazi! committee, but Josh Marshall is watching it closely and cataloging the derp. Apparently Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) pulled ” the most moronic thing I’ve seen in the long history of moronic congressional committee stunts,” according to J.M. What did she do?

According to the New York Times,

In the first demonstration of political theater, Representative Susan W. Brooks, Republican of Indiana, presented Mrs. Clinton with two giant stacks of her emails as she launched into a round of questions about her attention to the situation in Benghazi.

One pile, from 2011, had nearly 800 emails. The other, from the following year, had 67. Mrs. Brooks suggested that the difference represented a lack of interest in what was happening there at the time Ambassador Stevens was killed.

Mrs. Clinton responded by saying the job of secretary of state was not conducted entirely by email.

“I did not do the vast majority of my work by email,” she said, explaining that she had private meetings and secure phone calls with aides. “I don’t want you to have a mistaken impression about what I did and how I did it.”

Yes, I’d say that qualifies as derp. Now let’s go to the video —

In other news, it appears Paul Ryan may be running for the Speaker position after all.

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Canada, Explained

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Canada

Steve M has a nice explanation of what’s been going on in Canadian politics in recent years.

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