Stop Biden Your Time

Americans like decisiveness in presidential candidates. While I’m sure we’d all claim to admire and respect Biden’s decision to consult his family in the wake of his son’s death, decisiveness is what’s needed.

There are a lot of reasons why Biden hasn’t been a great candidate in the past and unlike Hillary he has to run largely on the Obama administration’s record, where Hillary, at least implicitly, gets some 90s nostalgia. Many of these can be overcome, but waffling on a decision to run can’t.

This is a critical election. Perhaps not as critical as 2008, but still more critical than most. The balance of power on the Supreme Court for a generation is at stake. If Biden was the best candidate for the Dems if he was in last summer, he won’t be the best if he doesn’t get ASAP.

Question About Refugees

Famous White House Press Corps journalist Helen Thomas fell from grace for this exchange:

After a visit to the White House, David Nesenoff, a rabbi and independent filmmaker, asked Thomas on May 27, 2010, whether she had any comments on Israel. “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine,” she replied. “Remember, these people are occupied and it’s their land. It’s not Germany, it’s not Poland,” she continued. Asked where they should go, she answered, “They should go home.” When asked where’s home, Thomas replied: “Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else.”

Jews who were refugees from Europe had managed to survive the Holocaust. Those who did would find that they had nothing to go back to because the reward for denouncing them was their property, especially in Poland. Germany had more slowly dispossessed its Jews prior to the outbreak of war. So, they fled to Palestine in the Levant where a small rump of their kinsman were doing okay.

Let’s leave aside the question of the almost one million Jews that were exiled from Arab lands after the founding of Israel and just ask this: if it was illegitimate for the Jews of Europe to flee and take root in the Levant, how can it be legitimate for the Arabs of the Levant to flee and take root in Europe as they are doing by the hundreds of thousands today?

Would any of the leftists who are shaming anyone who wonders about accepting refugees even in these numbers shame a Palestinian for saying what Thomas said? Most of the same are in varying degrees antisemitic, anti-Israel, or antagonistic to Israeli policy.

Ironically, this same policy of importing massive numbers of Muslims into Europe is creating a huge increase in the Jewish population of Israel through emigration. If not for Israel, these folks would have to figure out a way to get into the United States or else have ride it out the way they did before for millennia.

The Sundering of American Jewry

J.J. Goldberg wonders “Why Does Everybody Sound So Anti-Semitic All of a Sudden?” Without conceding the premise, I agree with his conclusion that the leadership of major Jewish institutions having plunged everyone into a hopeless battle to get utterly defeated, knowing that it would cause a breach in the community and not caring, is to blame. The blowback would have been worse if they had succeeded, but maybe the internal acrimony would have at least been somewhat more justified.

It’s a fine line to walk between the singling out of Israel, the distortions, double standards, and general dislike of the Jewish state found in the media on the one hand and the legitimate criticism of things that it does that aren’t good for the Jews. Expecting John Q. Public to understand this distinction becomes more and more impossible the more this kind of thing happens.

I take a backseat to no one in terms of recognizing the malignancy of the Iranian regime and the need to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons and that has been documented in our archives here since 2002.

The Jewish community is divided, worn out, bitter, and confused in varying mixtures depending on where they stood on this issue. This is too bad, because I think we need to be on yellow alert for another Intifada.

If I were in charge of Iranian strategy right now, I would support another Intifada and be semi-open about it. Just enough to get the Jewish right to foam at the mouth that they told you so and divide the community further.

Mr. T and the Royalist Rumble

Thesis: Mr. T will remain in command of the GOP nomination until someone  out-alpha’s him in a direct confrontation. This will be made exceedingly difficult by the gargantuan field and the banality of his intellectually fallow opposition. Irrespective of that, we might as well analyze how any one of these folks could  alter the race as we await the next potential elimination ceremony  second GOP debate.

There are three broad categories of conservatrons running this year. The Establishmentarians, the Disestablishmentarians, and the “Who, Huh, Whas?”.

Lets start with the “Who, Huh, Whas?” in no particular order:

Rick Santorum — There’s no Mitt for this creeper to be a “non” to this year. Buh bye!

Lindzey Graham — Never recovered from getting pwned when Mr. T read his personal phone number out loud. Buh bye!

Jim Gilmore — ????????? Related to the Pink Floyd guitarist???????? Or the Hall of Fame hockey center????????

George Pataki — Didn’t know he was still alive. Seems like a nice guy.

“Bobby” Jindal — Failed Louisiana governor who disgraces himself by forcing his ethnic  “otherness” to lay behind a vapid persona that is half pill popping 50s housewife and half Beaver Cleaver. Proof positive that, outside of spelling bees, subcontinent Indians will never be the “new Jews”. Buh bye!

Rick Perry — Pinned and eliminated by Mr. T via the “smart glasses” wisecrack. No longer sullying the national image of perry, a delightful beverage made from fermented pear juice; perry is especially tasty if one can find rare perry pears that are no good to eat but have tons of tannins!

Now for the Establishmentarians, in no particular order:

Marco Polo — The thirsty, once upon a time GOP “savior” with a compelling personal story of being a first generation Cuban-American who, through hard work and perseverance, has become a Senator and is now working tirelessly to assure that no other poor children of immigrants will ever have the same opportunities that he had. Still waiting for him to do something.

dummScott Walker — Failed Governor of Wisconsin. Unfortunately, the brain that controls his lower extremities became out of sink with brain in his head when he hit the national stage. My pick for the next elimination. Even the Kochs aren’t yet willing to commit their posion-the-earth warbucks to this dunce no matter how ably he peed on Organized Labor in Madison.

Crisco Kremey — The Mayor of Tromaville, New Jersey whose bold leadership style (see him in action at 2:14 mark) backfired when he attempted to kill the Toxic Avenger (witness the mayhem at the 1:15:00 mark) against the wishes of his constituents, most of whom just wanted to get home on time. Kremey is bellyflopping in the polls, but is perhaps the only candidate that has the sense to know that he must be the bigger dog against Mr. T to have any chance of winning. Belligerence is Mayor Kremey’s strength and he has promised to “go nuclear” in the debate. One suspects CNN only gave him a mulligan to enter the varsity debate because a Crisco Kremey/Mr. T showdown would be the Bobby Bacala/Tony Soprano fist fight of politics, and CNN knows good infotainment when they see it. Mayor Kremey’s problem is that he’s an Angry Warrior and Mr. T is a Happy Warrior. There’s an old boxing truism: Never Hook with a Hooker. Indeed. But, Kremey has nothing to lose. Should be an interesting exchange.

John Kasich — ????? Third Baseman for the 1983 Cincinnati Reds????? Still waiting for him to do something.

Jeb!utante Bush — The Establishmentarian’s Establishmentarian that Mr. T has turned into an Antidisestablishmentarian. Jeb!utante is proving to be the “smart” Bush Bro to the same degree that Zeppo was the funny Marx Brother (Poppy is Chico, Barbara is Groucho and ‘Dubya is Harpo, by the way). Would this walking and talking mediocrity have ever been Governor of Florida if he wasn’t a Bush? Jeb!utante possesses this peevish, patrician angst as if he is just too good to be slinging mud with Mr. T or do any of the other workaday grime work that it takes to become President because he’s already used his daddy’s network to raise a bazillion dollars. As I wrote earlier, the “you’re not a real Conservative!” attack is a failure because real conservatives have done nothing but facilitate giveaways for the rich, and that is all Jeb!utante is proposing. If your ideas are stuck in the 80s, at least have the sense to learn from Hot Rod Roddy Piper if you wanna’ take on Mr. T. C’mon, dude! If I were one of his Money Guys I’d be worried. For the pertuative favorite this douche bag just doesn’t have it.

Randy Paul — This pseudo-intellectual carpet head’s libertarian “brand” should offer an effective opening against Mr. T. The gestapo tactics it would take to round up and deport eleven million illegals are horrifying, right? Randy’s Libertarianism isn’t about caressing the egos of basement dwelling trolls with skim milk-hued skin that want to feel they are nobly fighting some Big Brother that is surely watching them send boring e-mails, hack into porn sites and Beat the Meatles to those Jennifer Lawrence pics, right? It’s about the Constitution!, and the protections to privacy and property that it extends to everyone in this country, even those with brown skin who are here illegally, right?

Mike Hucksterbee — The folksy theofascist. This man has always terrified me. Getting most of his support eaten by his Disestablishmentarian doppleganger (see below).

Now for the Disestablismentarians:

Ted Cruise — Having been out A-Holed, now attempting a Forrest Gump strategy of “me tooing” with Mr. T (and even Hucksterbee when he is trolling for white resentment over the marrying of the homos in Kentucky) in hope that he can snag T’s support should Mr. T fizzle. A play not to lose strategy that will fail because Mr. T won’t fizzle on his own and, meanwhile, Theodore has made himself invisible. At least everybody in Congress still hates you the mostest, Teddy.

“Uncle” Ben Carson — The not-thinkingman’s Evangelical whacko. Cannot expand beyond the non-Hucksterbee evangelicals unless he can take on Mr. T and does not appear to have the vim to do it. Unlikely to go anywhere though, and he could gain the most if Hucksterbee is eliminated.

Karli Feeoria — The female Mitt Romney, only she was a failure as a businesswomen and a loser as a candidate. The liberal media is getting all goosebumpy over this insipid ad where she notes that she is proud of every wrinkle on her face. They think she is being clever by saying she is getting under Mr. T’s skin by raising in the polls. Really? She’s barely out of the “Who, Huh, Whas?” Part of Mr. T’s appeal is that he boasts that can take on vicious female board room commandos (AKA, stalking horses for Hillary). Karli has been telegrahing her punches all week, Mr. T will correctly point out her mammoth failures as a businesswoman and that will be that. It’s nice to know that a woman can be equally as much of a worthless, empty suit as a man. Bravo, Karli!

Mr. T — Still Master of His Domain.

Overall, I expect Crisco Kremey to have the best shot to take down Mr. T, but Kremey is so far behind in points at this stage that he is going to have to swing wildly. He may have a punchers chance; however, in the midst of any fight there is another wonderful boxing truism: Who would you rather be? In this case it’s Mr. T or Mayor Kremey. The answer is obvious: Mr. T!

 

The Most Retarded Thing I’ve Read Yet On The Iran Deal

Is this. I’ve had a lot of respect for Rabbi Weiss’s work with “Open Orthodoxy” but maybe he should stick to his wheelhouse.

His basic point is that by letting Iran gain billions through the lifting of sanctions it will develop suitcase nukes, provide them to terrorists and/or use them on New York. Therefore the deal is bad. He asks us to imagine 9/11 with suitcase nukes.

Let’s put to one side the whole issue that this deal will prevent Iran from developing the technical capability of developing suitcase nukes, something no other country except the USSR and US has done, even though other nuclear powers possess the technical and financial means to do so.

What’s left is a basic ignorance about nuclear weapons that pervades not just the debate over the Iran Deal, but almost all conversations about them in general. The basic idea is that all nuclear weapons are the same. They are not.

The smallest nuclear weapons tested are very small. So small that if they were detonated in the densest parts of New York City, they might only damage one building. At the other end of the spectrum is the largest bomb ever tested, which was 50 megatons, or over 1,000,000 times more powerful than the smallest weapons.[1] That is not a typo. 1 million times.

The Russian “suitcase nuke” was not really the size of suitcase like you’re being asked to picture, but was about 50 pounds. The American versions were human portable, but in huge packs. And their yields were either the same as the Davy Crockett on the low end, or 6 kilotons at the very highest. That’s about 1/3 of the yield that hit Hiroshima.

If they’re going to use a car, they can go bigger, but then we lose the scare factor of the “suitcase nuke.” A typical “suitcase nuke” detonated by a new nuclear power without sophisticated expertise (and, presumably without testing the device, since that would be detectable in numerous ways and breach even the permanent parts of the Iran deal) would struggle to do the damage that crashing planes into the World Trade Center did.

This is not to suggest that this is some kind of small inconvenience that can be brushed off, but that the scale of the damage we are talking about here is not the city-killing yield of ICBM launched thermonuclear devices. In other words, terrorists can inflict this much damage now without nuclear weapons.

Which leads to the problem with nuclear weapons. They are traceable. Isotope analysis would reveal where it came from. And if that analysis revealed Iran as the source, I very much doubt there would be an Iran for very much longer.[2] The United States still has its nuclear deterrent with much more powerful weapons than anyone except China and Russia with much more sophisticated delivery methods than anyone including China and Russia.

If the Iranians wanted to inflict 9/11-like damage on us, why not unleash terrorists with conventional means, do the same amount, and deny plausibility instead of simply stirring up a hornets nest? There’s no response to this that makes any sense and none that in any way is relevant to the “deal.”

If Iran were on the cusp on developing thermonuclear weapons mounted on ICBMs, I would be all for taking them out. But all nuclear weapons are not the same. And if they gave up their program, which is basically what’s happening here, I’d be all for that too.

The reason we don’t want Iran to have even small nuclear weapons has nothing to do with Rabbi Weiss’s idiotic scenario. It has to do with Israel and the Gulf States that are both closer to Iran and so small that even a small attack could cause their collapse. We also do not wish the different strategic dynamics that take place between nuclear states to constrain our actions and our allies actions in the Middle East.

The idea that Iran might deploy a small nuclear weapon on New York is vanishingly unlikely, magnificently stupid, and completely irrelevant to this deal. I think it’s far more likely that ISIS will launch another 9/11 style attack without nuclear weapons or that nuclear weapons are fired in South Asia, East Asia, or in the Middle East simply because the United States retains its powerful nuclear deterrent and the identity of the party who fires a nuclear weapon remains in its traces. There is no false-flagging it.

Maybe in Weiss’s mind the money flowing to Iran will let them develop megaton strength suitcase nukes, but that’s just bad science fiction.

[1] The “Davy Crockett” has a yield of 20 tons. The “Tsar Bomba” was 50 megatons as tested, but designed to be up to 100 megatons.

[2] Iran has a population of about 80 million today. A countervalue strike with just 5 of the US’s B-83s would reduce that population by 10% immediately and injure the same number. Lawlessness, starvation, poisoning, untreated illness, fallout, and other after effects would probably increase that total substantially. Just 5 of our weapons would probably cause Iran to collapse. This is a pretty effective deterrent. Now consider if we fired 50 such weapons.

We caused both Afghanistan and Iraq to collapse and suffer hundreds of thousands of casualties after 9/11 and we did it by conventional means. So, even leaving aside the moral right to respond with nuclear weapons we would gain, we have a conventional deterrent as well.

I Have Come Here to Chew Bubblegum and Kick Ass, and I’m all out of Bubblegum!

No! No! No! No! No, Jeb!utante Bush! You don’t take on Mr. T by making a silly commercial about how he isn’t a Real Conservative.™ The “real” conservatives haven’t outlawed abortion or stopped Obamacare, or really done much of anything besides cutting taxes for the rich and losing Iraq War II. And y’all lost the culture war too!

This is how you take on Mr. T.

Pay attention to Roddy Piper. How he mocks Mr. T for putting his name on everything, for his hair style, for his ridiculous name dropping. Witness how Mr. T gets all belligerent in the face of the Hot Rod’s taunts, loses his cool, and attacks widly; unable to bear Piper’s ridicule.

And, yeah, well sure, you could argue that Mr. Piper’s political philosophy is staged. Right. ‘Cuz there’s nothing staged about politics, or a presidential campaign. And you aren’t getting your ass handed to you by a smarmy Reality TV blowhard, who isn’t an improbable manifestation of some third-tier dadaist’s ‘Tussin chuggin’ hallucination.

Sigh.

I pity the fool.

European Suicide

People from Syria stop being refugees the minute they enter Turkey. There is no civil war in Turkey. Turkey is not in a state of emergency. Their choice to continue to Germany makes them economic migrants. I don’t blame them one bit for heading there. I would do the same. But the responsibilities of a paterfamilias of Syrian origin aren’t the responsibilities of the German government.

But at some point, such drastic, rapid immigration will create even more blowback, which, based on European history, may turn very nasty.

What’s more, the EU is privileging Syrian refugees over those from other war-torn places. Isn’t it strange that the same sympathy isn’t felt for Africans?

Most of these folks, I’m sure, are good people. But they are going to only increase Europe’s problems with Muslim integration and anyone who thinks that European antisemitism isn’t about to take yet another quantum leap is fooling themselves.

The US Must Reengage In Europe Now.

Most well informed citizens these days know quite a bit about the Middle East and perhaps even China. Some of it may come from superficial things like Thomas Friedman op-eds, but these are topics people talk about. Yuppie parents want their children to learn Mandarin.

But this is wrong. We’re taking Europe for granted. We think, at some level, that between World War II and the end of the Cold War that we’ve fixed Europe. Things like the crisis in Ukraine and the financial crisis make the news here, but they seem far away and aren’t met with much anxiety.  They should be.

It may come to nothing, but our level of concern about Europe isn’t high enough. There are three nuclear powers and one of the world’s largest economies (i.e., the EU as a whole) involved, which is the same justifications that we use to stoke yellow peril and all things China.

But Europe is in trouble. At least the post-Cold War Europe we know. Across Europe, politics has been destabilized by anti-immigration sentiment, with immigrants primarily arriving from culturally different societies. This isn’t to say that xenophobia should prevail, just that there is a threshold beyond which immigration always causes some political blowback in the native population, and, based on the votes, that threshold was passed long ago.

The tipping point on this issue may be something dramatic like Marine Le Pen winning the French presidency, but as recent events have shown, it could be as simple as a viral internet photo of a dead toddler.

A similar but related phenomenon is anti-EU sentiment. Eurosceptic parties have made major gains across Europe and today a poll shows that the UK is, for the first time, by a majority, ready to leave. This is probably also in part related to the Greek crisis which, either way you look at it, is bad for European integration. If you took the Greek side, it makes the EU look undemocratic and totalitarian. If you took the other side, it looks like the EU is a resource draining mechanism headed south.

If the UK does vote itself out, this would probably serve to reverse the sentiment in Scotland about independence enough to make a second referendum likely to succeed. That puts rump-England’s capabilities as a nuclear power in question, since its main nuclear force is based in Scotland.

A non-nuclear, fractured UK (ignoring what a rightist France under Le Pen might bring into the equation), certainly changes the NATO bargain. It also would certainly change Russia’s strategic calculus.

The worst-case scenario is a new fractured Europe divided between a xenophobic bloc and an integrationist one, with no clear “Iron Curtain,” but rather a balkanized patchwork of countries with differing views.

While Upper East Side kids are learning Mandarin and our naval aviators are playing chicken with the Chinese over a few uninhabited rocks jockeying for supremacy over the importation of poison dog food and shitty children’s toys, Europe is at risk of falling apart.

Joe Lieberman: The Asshole That Never Dies

“Since it looked like the administration was closing in on enough votes to sustain a presidential veto, we’ve been asking people, just in fairness, ‘Let this come to a vote,’” said former Democratic-turned-independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, who’s rallying opposition to the deal.

Reminder that this is the man who killed the public option and almost killed Obamacare by withholding his vote—the 60th vote.

Bibi’s Scorched Earth Politics

The philosophy of maneuver warfare is that you avoid a head-on engagement unless and until it is at a time and a place of your choosing. So it’s possible that Bibi’s many political enemies are simply waiting until they have a decisive advantage before they pounce. But it might be that most politicians’ strong reflex to preserve their freedom of action is akin to maneuver warfare, but in both cases, an aggressive foe can control the field for a long time.

Just look at the fate of Bibi’s domestic political “partners,” the Jewish Home. He stole their voters and their seats to barely preserve his party as the largest in the Knesset (which it was not previously, but of course once it became the largest that was all the excuse it needed to keep the mandate) and then tried to edge them out of their desired portfolios.

Then there’s this self-immolating charge to defeat the Iran deal. It never looked like he would be able to pull it off. There was never a clear pathway to victory. There was just a hope that 13 Democratic senators would turn their back on their President and their Presidential candidates. A fool’s hope.

Only in the very loud, very cloistered hyper-pro-Israel echo chamber of your Jewish grandfather’s e-mail forwards is this even a realistic approach worthy of the term “strategy.” Meanwhile, Bibi has driven a wedge of acrimony right through the middle of an already restless American Jewish community, clearly demonstrating that liberal American Jews are trash to the Israeli right. There’s a lot of proof to this.

To wit, the Netanyahu government has never taken a strong position on the recognition of American streams of Judaism within Israel, has never done much to force the government to honor the conversions of those not converted by the Ultra-Orthodox Israeli Chief Rabbinate. Yet when it’s time to shit on American politicians, every Jew is called to the ramparts. It’s not a two-way street.

Israel’s law of return recognizes that Israel’s status as a homeland for the Jewish people is best served when it is a refuge for people who are defined by antisemites as Jews, which is why it allows anyone who met the Nazi Nuremberg definition of a Jew to move to Israel, settle, and get citizenship on demand. If only Israel would embrace this definition more wholly.

Those, like Chuck Schumer, who stuck their necks out for Bibi and Israel in this Quixotic mission may find their own futures destroyed. While Schumer be the Minority Leader after Reid leaves now?

This bluster has allowed Bibi to survive, but it is not because he has great foresight or is playing 11-dimensional chess. Most of his predictions are garbage. He supported the Iraq war. He was sure Mitt Romney was going to win. And somehow he thinks blocking a US president’s foreign policy will improve Israel’s position. (Can you even imagine the blowback?)

Sure, this post might not have been written or writeable if he had won. But he didn’t and accountability is required.

State Building in Europe

Now with a few weeks passing, the heat of the moment gone, there’s a chance to put some perspective on the position of the European Union post-Greece. Politically, the problem is the aggressive nature of German bargaining and the demands it made on the Greeks. It may be unfair to compare it to the past, but in politics, this is how it goes.

But the real lasting damage comes from the fact that not much was done to improve the effectiveness of the Greek state. As far as I can tell, it was left to figure out how to implement the payments at the ground level within some parameters, but there was no help given in creating effective tax collection or reforming the bureaucracy to reduce corruption and patronage. Greece has, in the recent past, gone through a few cycles of political cleansing of its bureaucracy.

This is the kind of thing that can often only be done one bite at a time. Perhaps the taxing agencies need to be given some independence, civil service exams and protections, and so on. Maybe this means waiting to deal with other sectors, but it might be a good start.

I haven’t seen any suggestion, in other words, that the EU has offered to help Greece develop an effective state other than perhaps by osmosis. This is probably not going to be good enough in the long run and the remaining political challenges to European Unification won’t make it much better.

With centrifugal forces fracturing the UK, the Labour Party Naderizing itself, and an upcoming referendum on the UK’s membership (which if it gives an answer of “out” will almost certainly lead to another move towards Scottish independence) and the rise of anti-establishment parties everywhere include Sweden of all places, there are some immediate challenges and long-term trends endangering the situation from within—and this is before we get to the external threats of Russia, ISIS, mass migration from destabilized nations across the Mediterranean, and the increasing ambivalence of the United States (which spearheaded the efforts in the former Yugoslavia up until about 1999, but now has taken a very backseat role in the Ukraine issue a mere 15 years later).

I Pity the Fool!!

To understand Trump and Trumpism we must focus not on the why, or the what, but on the tactical how. For just as the invented persona of 80s icon Mr. T would take no guff so does the GOP’s 2015 Extreme! Mr. T out-alpha and out-anger anyone that takes his bait or challenges him.

Witness the obliteration of South Carolina’s plantation belle Lindsey Graham, who dared call Mr. T “jackass”. In response, Mr. T recited Lindsey’s personal phone number. To retaliate, Lindsey cut a commercial wherein he goofily breaks his own cellphone again and again. The ad was funny, but stupid because Lindsey responded to a punch in the face from the sandbox bully by doing a jester dance. It doesn’t get more beta than that.

The whole episode was infantile, but it was obvious who the strong one was: Mr. T! And thus the Graham Cracker crumbled.

Not all of Mr. T’s opponents are cowed as easily as Dim Lindsey. Sometimes, Mr. T wins ugly. Fox fox Megyn Kelly got treated to a Mr. T Twitter Troll roll of sexist blather for daring to point out Mr. T’s past sexist blather. Ultimately, Kelly didn’t respond to Mr. T’s assertion of Male Privilege (“… she had blood coming out of her wherever.”), but did skip town for ten days; I suspect, because the row caused her potentially serious threats. Similarly, difficult as it is to feel sympathy for a nimrod like Lindsey Graham, reciting his personal phone number was possibly dangerous for Lil’ Lindsey. When Kelly returned Mr. T re-opened fire (“The bimbo back in town…”). Memo to the chummy, self-obsessed press class: ask Mr. T tough questions and get harried and threatened.

Mr. T turned to White Guy Privilege to take down Jorge Ramos. Evicting Jorge from the press conference (“Go back to Mexico Univision!), letting him back in, and deflecting Ramos’ sensical point that many immigrants actual enter the USA by train thereby undermining the efficacy of Mr. T’s ballyhooed border wall. Was Mr. T’s orchestration of Ramos’ mini-‘Deportation and Re-Entry’ (Mr. T’s immigration plan writ small) a suicidal dick move for the general election? Sure! But Mr. T wins again!

Mr. T plays offense by exerting Rich Guy Privilege, usually by saying that he knows someone (a celebrity, a finance big wig, border guards, lawyers) that has special knowledge about something. YOU do not know these Masters of the Universe, but Mr. T does. YOU do not participate in multi-million dollar law suits or mega-real estate deals or mega-bankruptcies, but Mr. T does. So there!

I’m not underestimating Mr. T. Not at all. He is quicker on his feet, funnier, and more interesting than his fellow cavalcade of conservatron clowns. Many of his disses are soooo true. Jeb!utante Bush is low-watt silver spoon mediocrity, Rick Peary is a dunce wearing “smart” glasses, and the economy of dummScott Walker’s Wisconsin sucks. Mr. T’s support appears to be broad across the various groups of bitter, Epsom salt-oriented white people that make up the GOP base. I hazard that this is because those that feel that they are having what is Mine taken by Them favor a man that berates and beats down all of the Thems that They throw at Him because that proves that He will not back down to all of those Other Thems that are taking what is theirs.

In boxing parlance, Mr. T is a brawler fighting in a small ring. No one will outbrawl him; but the tactics for a boxer-puncher to beat him are already apparent. Pick your spots, be prepared to get hit in exchanges, but punch more effectively by sticking to reality (Ramos almost did this on immigration, but Ramos was way too shaky — and to Mr. T’s credit Mr. T parried well) and forcing Mr. T to respond to substance with substance. Step back as Mr. T gets furious and flails, then wallop him again with more verbal onslaughts that require a cleverer comeback than, “you’re a bimbo!” In other words, the rest of the conservatron Royal Rumble bukakke needs to fight Mr. T with robust, substantive and precise oration face-to-face to win. Good luck with that! They are all too insipid and too hamstrung by goofball reactionary politics that are not much different than Mr. T’s hammy jingoism. Able reporters could corner Mr. T in a similar manner… and risk personal danger like Megyn Kelly or shaming like Jorge Ramos. (Ah, that little extra-oomph of intimidation!)

Mr. T cannot be knocked out until the GOP field is winnowed enough for an opponent to truly engage him. Oh irony of ironies, that may not happen for many moons because Citizens United bequeathed the ability for a single ultra-rich asshole to keep any one of these flailing buffoons around crowding the stage long after he (or she) has flat lined, thereby maintaining Mr. T as the biggest bull trout in a shallow, heavily polluted river.

For now, I pity the fool who thinks that Mr. T is not the favorite to win the GOP nomination!

Reagan to Palin to Trump

Sarah Palin fit the bill a little better, but Reagan was not much a better icon for right-wing populism than Trump. And all three have said ridiculous things. Why did people support them?

For one—and liberals will be loathe to admit this—Trump isn’t letting the soap opera rules of the media shame him. He’s shamelessly promoting his policies, policies that many people support. Don’t we all want the elections to be about policy? Well, Trump’s campaign’s #1 issue is illegal immigration and that does, in fact, have a constituency.

I much prefer this than wondering whether I want to have a beer with him or whether his can fill out a flannel the right way.

Make no mistake, I fundamentally disagree with his policies, but I can say that without having to tattle on him that he broke the press’s rules. Elizabeth Warren and now Bernie Sanders are popular with the left because they appear to say what their audience wants to hear even if it’s “out of bounds” somewhat and liberals cheer them.

I’m not saying “both sides do it” but I am warning people not to dismiss Trump and sneering at him only makes him more popular.

Whether or not he stays in the race, his supporters aren’t going anywhere.

Why Jews Are Freaking Out About The Iran Deal

First, some background. Understanding the institutional Jewish world is beyond the scope of this post and requires more nuance than I can probably give it. On one level, there are so many Jewish organizations and so much fracture in this small community that it’s hard to certify anyone as a spokesperson for “the Jews.” But certain groups have or are given a large microphone. There are certain designated spokespeople and certain organizations like the ADL get a lot of coverage in the mainstream.

But inside the “Jewish world” most of the large organizations that have the capacity to mount campaigns are the children of/in the thrall of very large donors. On the national scale, this means billionaires. In small towns, this usually means upper middle class folks that write the big checks.

I’m not going to play armchair psychologist on these donors. Suffice it to say that they are very pro-Israel   not necessarily in the “Israel can do no wrong” sense, but in the “Israeli right is right about everything” sense. The problem here is that while Jews are generally very liberal, the Israeli right has been right about many big picture things, especially relating to security, over the last 25 years and the elections in Israel bear this out.

One can argue some of these points, but the generally accepted narrative in Israel is that Arafat was never serious about peace, the Oslo accords were an example of Israel’s good will being taken advantage of, that the Second Intifada was the reward for trying for peace, and that even pulling out of Gaza has resulted in wars—wars resulting in unfair international criticism—and that the same thing would result from granting the Palestinians recognition, even though Olmert tried too.

And of course, the major security threats to Israel are Hamas and Hezbollah who have been supplied and funded historically by Iran. So while we may think of Iran as a country at some distance from Israel, if you’re physically in Israel, you are more or less surrounded by terrorist agents of Iran that can rain missiles on almost the entire country.

In the United States, on the other hand, except for a brief spike of approval after 9/11, the Republicans have had a bad long-term success rate on security matters. The largest blot, of course, is the Iraq War, and the Iraq war was cheered by many of the same Israeli hawks that are opposing Obama here.

And let’s not forget that many of these same people loathe Obama for partisan reasons and for what they see as his weak approach to the Middle East. Now keeping in mind that the rest of the world, including most in the US, have close to zero credibility when it comes to Israeli security, the partisan hatred, and the different meanings of Iran to different countries, who have two different political cultures and immediate pasts, and you can see the problem.

Under these circumstances it’s easy to see why there is opposition to this deal, why it seems so virulent, why it seems such a big deal for Jews, and why Jews are so apt to listen to Netanyahu who, in the broader world, seems so hard to believe.

I’m not sure what Obama could do different. I don’t think the deal itself is bad, but there is not much trust that (a) it will be enforced to the letter and that (b) it’s not going to embolden a mortal enemy of Israel. Much of the criticism of Obama is unfair, but it’s there.

On the other hand, Netanyahu could have found a way to make a deal of some kind, any kind–even if not a final one–with the Palestinians over the last 6 years that might have strengthened the US’s hand with the other Sunni states. I suspect that on some level, after the last round of talks with Kerry broke down, Netanyahu’s opinion on this deal became unimportant to the US.

But while to an outside observer, Netanyahu may have no credibility on security matters, to Jews and Israelis, his views are more credible that what most of the rest of the world peddles, because of how unfair and incorrect they are on a daily basis regarding Israel.

GOP Nominee Candidates, Ranked

10. Ted Cruz – What do you think it feels like to spend your life being an asshole that no one likes, honing that image to perfection, only to have Donald Trump get bored one day, show up, and do it better?

9. Ben Carson – Has anyone seen him and Clarence Thomas in the same room, at the same time? He is literally only here so that Republicans can assure themselves that they aren’t racist.

8. Rand Paul – Outside of your cult, no one believes your bullshit.

7. John Kasich – Literally, who?

6. Chris Christie – This fat piece of shit is still around only because he’s a blue state governor and for no other reason.

5. Mike Huckabee – The evangelical vote isn’t as relevant in a presidential election as it used to be.

4. Marco Rubio – Le Token Man. We really don’t hate Messicans, believe us!

3. Scott Walker – All of his Koch money will keep him in this for a long, long time. If he can carry his home state, he has a shot.

2. Jeb Bush – Republicans still have a marginal sense of embarrassment, but only in mixed company. In private, they crave a Bush restoration because they don’t want effective government at all, they just want to fuck shit up in an ejaculation of conservatism.

1. Donald Trump – The only candidate who knows his audience. The media can shit all over him, but if you’re honest, everything he says fits his base perfectly. He makes everyone else seem like Al Gore rolling his eyes about lockboxes. Reality, schmeality. Smackdowns and bluster is what every real (no homo!!1!!) daddy loving Republican wants. A+

The GOP Needs A Different Kind of Candidate, But Rand Paul Isn’t It.

Rand Paul today says that the GOP’s “war first” brand sucks. But this is pretty much only relevant to the Iraq War. Lefties get wet for this because they hate all war even if it’s necessary or justified. But if you think that have two viable parties is good for the country, Paul’s kind of rebrand for the GOP won’t help you.

I figured after the wipeout in 2008, the national Republican party would do some soul searching and decide that, due to the electoral college map, they would have to start recruiting more moderates for their primaries and stop alienating people like Jim Jeffords, Arlen Spector, and Linc Chaffee. They did the reverse, of course, because it seems they are content to rely on gerrymandered control of the House and the occasional fluke to gain control of the senate for a while.

One could even argue that the Republican party is doing more of what it wants now than it could if the situation were reversed and Mitt Romney were President, the Democrats controlled Congress and most of the states. But are they really willing to admit they are giving up on the White House for the foreseeable future?

Of course not. But given who is running in 2016, they must think that their best shot is to get a “purer” candidate in 2020 and bet on voter fatigue with Democrats. But that seems almost conspiratorial. None of the candidates they have now are anything other than cartoons or also rans. There are a couple that might be tolerable, like George Pataki, but I think he might be running for 2020 in reality. Maybe, he thinks, they will finally be ready for a blue state Republican that gives them a punchers chance.

The problem isn’t that the electorate sees the Republicans as hawks, as Paul suggests. In fact, being hawkish is generally quite popular unless and until their current war fails. (This doesn’t make it good, but it makes it helpful to winning.) The next war is usually popular.

The problem with the Republicans isn’t that they are largely for the Patriot Act and mass surveillance. In general, that too is popular at least while people feel threatened and see terrorism still going on everywhere.

Also, the problem with Republicans isn’t that they are pro business. Most high level Democrats are pro business. The problem with the Republicans is that they hate the poor.

The problem with the Republicans is also that they are too aligned with the politics of white male resentment. Being mad about affirmative action, feminism, gay marriage, and everything else gives them little room not to look just plain “mean” when they try to argue that, say, hating the cops is a path that leads no where. Even if they are making a good point, all we hear is “down with darky.”

The problem with Republicans is that they ask us to suspend our disbelief on one too many things while being credulous on so many others. They don’t believe in climate change, evolution, vaccination, but they seem to have no such skepticism for any number of other things, like Clinton conspiracies, Benghazi, or Obama being born in Africa. You can ask us to be credulous or you can ask us to skeptical, but it’s hard for most people to selectively adapt to that.

This is because the Republicans have largely surrendered to the bases of their coalition. They won’t argue with the evangelicals, with certain industrialists, or with old white men.

The Democrats, for all of their innumerable flaws, are much better at at least extracting patience from their base, at least at the national level. (This is not how it used to be, before you drop CW on me.) The ACA is a great example. For many in the Democratic base, anything shy of single payer was a defeat, but the ACA was never in danger of being blocked from the left, to the point where the House, when given a choice between no bill and the Senate’s bill, chose the Senate’s bill.

Life can be tough on a Democrat who is not a creation of labor, or of the environmental movement, or of minority group politics, but they aren’t impossible and both Clintons, Obama, and all but a few senators are none of these.

If the Republicans could come up with a candidate that was at least somewhat moderate, they would have a chance. By “moderate” I don’t mean liberal. I mean, someone who is credibly moderate, even while being pro-business, pro-military, pro-cop or whatever. As long as they are willing to accept compromise and deal with reality from time to time. (You know, someone like Reagan!)

Things Sy Hersh needs to address

I’m not saying his article is bullshit, because all of this is just stuff I’m hearing from one person or another. But when he has insider Pakistani sources reframing the story in a way that makes the Pakistani government look much, much better, is there something besides an anonymous source he can give us to back it up?

Also, cui bono? No one cared about the details. Americans cared that Bin Laden was dead. We don’t care about how/where or whether he was properly buried at sea. Why lie? I mean, seriously, why did the White House do it?

So, there’s every reason in the world for the Pakistanis to tout this version, no reason for Americans to lie the way they allegedly lied—what’s the explanation?

Hersh has been right about a lot of things, so I won’t just dismiss what he writes, but we need more.

England just saved the UK

Canada has had the same political current sweep across it in the last many years. The rise of the Bloc Quebecois wiped out the centrist Liberal party in Quebec, which, coupled with a few scandals, led to its virtual wipeout. The once dominant party isn’t even the opposition anymore, with the left-wing NDP taking on that role in Ottawa.

Similarly, the Labour party in the UK was rolled back due to the rise of Scottish nationalism *after* an independence referendum failed.

The result in both cases was strengthening of the Tory party.

There are even parallels between the UK election and the recent Israeli one, where disaffected right-wing voters “came home” to Likud rather than risk a principled but loss-inducing vote for Libermann or Bennett. UKIP did not achieve the results the polls predicted either in seats or in votes.

What’s the message for the United States? Potential existential threats or radical changes will force people to vote against the rest of their interests, as perceived by a certain economic view.

Democrats lament the white working class’s perceived vote against its own interests by supporting the Republican party, but sometimes this would make sense, if the threat posed by the Democrats weren’t illusory. The threat of a Labour-SNP coalition, though, meant at least radical changes in the UK itself which seems much more immediate than renegotiating the relationship between the UK and the EU.

Democrats need to, more than Republicans, make it perceived that they have a handle on global events like Iran and events at home like Baltimore. The kinds of change Democrats want, and the kinds of conflict it invites with big money elites, cannot be waged by the college faculty class alone.

The UK would be better served by tightening its trade relationship with Canada and the US rather than being sucked into the nihilistic bureaucratic nightmare that is the post-crisis EU, a union of the Germans for the Germans and by the German bankers.

Gaming out the UK elections

As of today, with less than a week to go, there is no likely coalition capable of achieving a majority in the commons. On the other hand, no one seems to note that Sinn Fein is an abstentionist party and its MPs do not take their seats. Normally this doesn’t matter, but when we’re dealing with razor-thin margins, the fact that (probably) 5 MPs won’t be voting matters.

323 forms a working majority in the House of Commons.

It is vanishingly unlikely that the SNP and Tories, the only two-party combination that can reach 323, will cooperate.

Procedure is also important. Just as in Israel, the Queen gives the mandate with some discretion. It is not necessarily the person with the most MPs.

If today’s polling holds, the best the Tories can do is to keep the LibDems and appeal to the DUP.  But that’s only 313 votes. It’s possible that this combination will reach 323 due to polling errors.

Labour is in a better position. Ed Miliband has stated that he would not have SNP in government, but Labour+SNP is 321 at present (and I think some of the minor parties would affirm without much, if any, prodding). All SNP has to do is abstain on the Queen’s speech and motions of no confidence, and Ed Miliband is probably prime minister. Lib/Lab + SNP abstention is a more sure thing.

Labour ought to deeply probe the Scottish electorate and see what happens if the parliament is truly hung. Does Labour win some of the Scottish seats back in the follow on election? It will be interesting to see on a Scale of Canada to Israel how adapted UK politics is to coalition agreements. LibDems could ask a high price indeed despite their lower numbers.

If SNP won’t support anyone who doesn’t give in to their demands, and another election is held, I think, but don’t know, that Labour has the upper hand and will indeed get some of those seats back as people tire of the SNP’s repeated failures to deliver. But again, no one except both the Conservatives and Labour together, can form a government without at least an SNP abstention.

The LibDems wanted a referendum on a different voting system last time, a referendum that failed. With a seemingly more permanently hung parliament, does proportional representation get another shot? UKIP voters will think so, with their polling in the 10s and their likely seats in the 0-2 range.

Based on this polling, I think the British are about to being Ed Miliband to power either before or after another election.

Personally, I think this is a huge mistake. I would never be a Tory, but under Cameron on the big issues, the UK has been well served. Further integration in Europe, losing the pound, Scottish independence, and losing Trident would set the UK, or what’s left of it, into permanent third-rate power status and the results of the Napoleonic Wars, WWI, and WWII would, in effect, be reversed. This might help with certain wage and inequality issues, but I don’t think even the social democrats among the English are actually ready to have their world be so subordinated to Germany and France.

European integration’s primary raison d’être is to prevent future European wars, wars that the British did not start or cause but were affected by. If that weren’t the case, it would be hard to justify for the mainland countries, much less the British, after the performance during the economic crisis.

So, here are the possible results, barring a polling failure:

(1) Labour government w/ or w/o Libs on SNP abstentions. If SNP sees new elections as a reverse and can get some advertisable concession, maybe on taxes or Trident, without being in government, this is more likely.

(2) New election – seems the most likely

(3) Unity government – perhaps a Shamir/Peres type agreement, or something where the party with the most seats gets the premiership but with a very compromised agenda, perhaps only on Scotland and a few other issues with everything else being vote-by-vote coalitions.

Either way, I very much doubt that the next British election is May 2020.

Labor Will Save Us?

Both sides may do it, but I don’t care about sweeping Republican solutions to all of the world’s ills. Liberal solutions are different in that they are often based on empirical evidence rather than faith. Renewable energy and labor are supposed to save us; wealth inequality and carbon dioxide are going to kill us.

There is still this lingering hangover from Al Gore (and to a lesser extent John Kerry’s) presidential run that policies and programs are too boring, and we need to speak in values. That’s fine for political campaigns but we need policies and programs. Just saying “labor” and “renewable energy” are far from actual solutions, much less ones that are realistic. In a divisive political environment, each party waits for 9/11, Katrina, or a financial collapse for its “I told you so” moment and then and only then gets to implement anything.

This is a tough situation. There are other problems. It is inarguable that labor created the middle class. But it seems that it has failed to make much progress. Renewable energy is a great solution, but none has been presented that will actually keep the world powered—not yet, and how long can we wait?

In practice, “labor” has become a non-union movement that pushes for widely applicable laws (as it should) like minimum wage increases in legislatures instead of in collective bargaining. The sooner this is realized as the actual situation instead of a cognitive dissonance the better. Unions are easy to demonize and almost no one outside of old companies and the public sector is or has ever been a member. Getting everyone paid sick leave and $15 an hour leaves no one out.

The environmental movement, in thrall out not selling out to nuclear power, has sold out to all kinds of conservation sins in the name of renewable energy instead. It is inarguable that large corporations, especially Big Oil, has been the number one thing standing in the way of progress, but with nothing other than a Malthusian, Puritanical, punishing vision of the future as an alternative, it will take very big “I told you so” moment indeed to make progress on that agenda, even if we agree it should be pursued.

Specifying certain programs runs the risk of programs becoming ends in themselves. Failing to specify them fails to advance the interests. So, anyone with an interest in advancing more economic and environmental well-being should come up with as many different programs and policies as possible and forget about this bill or that one and remember the endgame.

People motivated by inequality should keep pushing things that provide for economic security, like the implementation of medicare expansion in every state, the increase of the minimum wage, and paid sick and family leave. People motivated by climate change should promote everything that takes carbon out of the air and watts in the grid.

The Soviet Union Was Not Necessary To Win World War II

This is a meme that won’t die.

Tracing it’s origins, we might suspect it came out as a sort of Cold War theme to show that the Russians really weren’t so bad even if it wasn’t actually communist propaganda or simply contrarian.

The argument goes something like this: without the eastern front and the huge numbers of casualties the Soviets took, the Germans wouldn’t have been defeated.

I’ve always argued that this is retrospectively false due to the simple fact of the atomic bomb. Even if the Normandy invasion had stalled or failed, the Allies were still capable of bombing Germany. The Allies had air superiority (thanks to American output) for most of the war.

A nuclear bomb dropped on Berlin would have ended the war even if the Soviets were never able to get through Kursk, even if we never got off the beach in Normandy.

Prospectively, this is also true, though I’ve never bothered to put together a cogent argument before. Here goes.

First, the Soviets actually weren’t in the war at first. Britain pretty much stood alone, because the Soviets and the Nazis had struck a bargain, remember? Once the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, they chose to open that second front. They also declared war on America (though the isolationists could have prevailed if earlier on we hadn’t more or less taken sides. I’m glad we did, but it’s not like we were sucked in unwillingly against Germany).

Second, we sent the Soviets lend-lease equipment. Without it, would they have been able to do what they did? Doubtful. The Germans got very close to taking European Russia. The lend-lease equipment was couple with Stalin’s constant demand that we launch a second front in Europe ASAP.

General Marshall almost resigned over FDR going along with the British and delaying that invasion as we did. The Soviets clearly didn’t think that the essential element to victory was their own arms. They knew America’s involvement was essential.

As I touched on, we very well could have stayed out of Europe and attacked the Japanese first. Yes, yes, Germany declared war on us, but that was a formality. We were neutral in name only. Still the choice to prioritize Germany was largely due to the simple fact that everyone knew at the time that Britain and the Soviet Union might not be able to stand alone even with American production to supply them.

The Japanese never stood much of a chance other than by tiring us out in a war of attrition. They simply lacked the manpower and resources to fight a 1940s war against the United States. Germany did not. Germany, if it had captured more oil, might have been able to force a stalemate with most of Europe in its hands.

That is, until the atomic bomb.

In sum, the political and military actors behaved as if the United States was the essential Allied party, the United States produced the materiel necessary for the victory, the United States also won by miles the race to the atomic bomb.

 

Scotland

Really, when you think about it neither independence nor a “no” vote is the worst answer for Scotland. What’s about to happen seems to be: a close vote. Current polls show just under 50% voting against independence, about 6% more than the yes vote with the remainder undecided. The late breakers seem to be going towards ‘yes’ which is odd in a referendum. Still, it’s unclear whether these are “likely voters” or not. Older folks are hugely against independence and are more likely to vote. 

Anything less than a 10% margin of victory for either side will be terrible for Scotland. Can you take such a major step with only 50% support? On the contrary, can you deny that many people’s wish for self-determination?

This isn’t to say that Westminster should have set the referendum up to requirer a supermajority, which probably would have only backfired. But one would have hoped that there would have been more clarity this late in the game. With so many undecideds and such a small margin (and perhaps not the gold-standard polling we are used to in American races of this magnitude) this late, it’s a recipe for chaos.

If Obama Really Followed The “Bush Doctrine” He Would Attack ISIS

Liberals from Rachel Maddow on down have accused President Obama of following the “Bush Doctrine.” This is wrong. Bush’s doctrine of “preemptive strikes” is both neither Bush’s in the sense that he didn’t invent it (The Six Day War comes to mind, but there are others) and in that he didn’t follow it.

International law does not require you to literally wait until the bombs are falling on you. It has to be real and unavoidable, then you may attack to defend. This is not all that controversial. Bush did neither. There was no threat from Iraq. The evidence was fraudulent. That is the real Bush doctrine: fraud.

So when people trot out this “hurr durr they’re the same” argument regarding Obama and Bush, what they really mean is that Obama (allegedly) is doing what Bush claimed he did. They are not claiming Obama is lying us into a war. But since what Bush claimed he did isn’t a bad thing just because Bush did it, it’s ridiculous to try and tar Obama this way.

Even still, it’s not true. Obama has never launched a pre-emptive war. 

If he were pre-disposed to do so, he would being broader scale, boots-on-the-ground, operations against ISIS now. This is not to say that he should or shouldn’t do so, but that if he were even with two logical steps of actually following the “Bush Doctrine” he would do so.

So far I think he’s unglamorously doing mostly the right thing with respect to ISIS, but needs a longer-term strategy.

Democracy and Diplomacy

Read an article about any of the current international crisis, be it Ukraine/Russia, Israel/Gaza, or anywhere else and it is not too hard to read what people think is the chess master play, but then things get in the way.

In Israel, there’s a lot of talk of the right-wing parties dominating the coalition and people wondering why Netanyahu won’t just “do the right thing” as they see it. To us, bringing down a government is not big thing in the face of “doing the right thing.”

It’s possible that while the crisis lasts, the Labor Party and Shas could compensate for a departure of one or both of the other coalition members, but it would mean new elections right after a war, which would probably mean even more right wing MKs.

But why?

Well, because of democracy. Thinking that something is awful doesn’t mean that it’s unlikely. Would we prefer than Bibi is a dictator? Maybe then he could do whatever he wants!

Similarly, in the US we like to think that politicians should fall on their swords for “the right thing.” Obamacare might have been the one thing in the last decade that fit the bill. For the most part, political suicide doesn’t mean turning over the reins to someone better, it means someone worse. Politicians believe if they can hold on, they can do lots more incremental change and calculate whether the one big thing they’re asked to blow themselves up for is worth it.

 

It’s the Supreme Court, stupid.

New rule: you can’t complain about Citizens United, Shelby County, Hobby Lobby and other Supreme Court cases that the Roberts court has engineered and not

(a) think Ginsburg should retire while Obama has a senate majority to replace her

(b) stop saying voting for Democrats is “the lesser of two evils.”

You can vote for what ever evil you want in the primaries. The general is basically a runoff. Get over it.

Disaster

So, about six months of posts were lost when ElectricByte, my hosting provider closed down my server without notice. After weeks of go around with whoever is manning their Facebook page, I’m giving up. I’ll try and use other ways of getting some of those posts back, but I am mad.

Why you can't fix education

Not everyone can be (or should be!) an astronaut. Society actually needs janitors, plumbers, construction workers, farmers–apparently more than some of the more prestigious jobs that have been offshored.

Sure, in a democracy, we need basic prerequisites for citizenship. But one oft hose might be, I dont know, making hard work pay enough to live above poverty on.

This is different than the whole “fix poverty and then everyone can go to college” sop. This is simply the recognition that we don’t need everyone to go to college and that’s ok.

I don't think Rob Ford will resign

I think the political conventional wisdom is that resigning closes the book on you and if you hold on, you have a chance however small it is. But I don’t think all scandals are created equal. Richard Nixon resigned. Bill Clinton didn’t.

Nixon’s malfeasance was directed at the state itself. He was trying to rig elections and attack political opponents and then blockading the state’s other agencies from investigating these things. You have to stretch further to get Clinton. He didn’t fuck Monica and never said he did, but everyone thought that the fact that he diddled her and she blew him meant he fucked her, so he must have been lying about saying he didn’t fuck her. But the cheating, such as it was, wasn’t directed at the government and there really wasn’t any lying. Clinton was impeached for diddling a fat chick.

Contrast Clinton with Mayor Filner in San Diego, who was a serial harasser of women. When we’re honest, we know that nothing Clinton did impacted his ability to do his job—in fact, he did a damn good job according to most people. But Filner bordered on the sociopathic with his harassing. Or Anthony Weiner, whose actual mental acuity seemed to be called into question by what he did. No one ever really though Clinton was stupid. That’s an important difference.

As they say, “it’s the lie that gets you.” But it depends on the lie. Many members of the Bush administration got away with grave lies and none were impeached. As Hitler knew and Clinton and Nixon can tell you, smaller lies, ones that are almost “white” in the minor scale of what they coverup seem to be reacted to the worst. You notice the glitches in the matrix, not the matrix itself, to use the standard Gen-X cliche.

In Rob Ford’s case, he seemed to have proved the CW by not resigning even after witnesses reported seeing his crack smoking video. He got away with it for the better part of a year. But when the other shoe dropped, it not only proved that he smoked crack (during a drinking binge no less) but that he lied about the whole thing. Everything else that has come to light has only made it worse.

So, as we speak, the mayor of Canada’s largest city cannot be removed from office unless convicted of a crime and the provincial government seems only to make veiled threats of doing anything (probably on the weak ass assumption that they should let their political enemy stew instead of immediately staunching the irredeemable damage this is doing to the city, province, and nation) the council is taking apparently illegal steps to curtail his power but it’s not clear they really can.

Ford’s crimes aren’t Nixonian (that we know of) but they are more than Clintonian. They show a marked lack of mental health and a literal inability to think clearly too often. They aren’t of the Bush character in that there is no massive edifice of bullshit for others that has come crashing down. Ford thinks he can weather this. He might be right.

I don’t think he’ll resign. I don’t think the province will boot him from office. I think his time will just run out. And instead of a more nuanced views, the next idiot to have a scandal in our country will just hang on further.

 

The 28th Amendment

The rights and liberties enumerated in this Constitution are the rights of human beings and are only guaranteed by this Constitution to human beings. Nothing in this Amendment shall be interpreted to deny Congress or the States to grant rights and responsibilities to legal entities, but such rights and responsibilities shall be statutory and not Constitutional.

Comment:

This would have the effect of repealing decisions going back about 150 years giving Constitutional rights to corporations. If Congress wants to give corporations the right to free speech, it can, but it can also take it away. This would take away from the Courts the power to find regulations on corporations unconstitutional except to the extent they interfere with some other Constitutional right enjoyed by a human being.

Callin' for scalps

I think Lara Logan should be fired if Dan Rather was fired and I think Richard Cohen should be fired because he seems like a horrible person and deserves it, but I’m not sure this really is all important.

What will happen to Lara Logan? She’ll end up on Fox News in no time. Cohen will either end up with Fox or some print equivalent in no time. Both will be received as martyrs of the war against the liberal media.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t continue to criticize them or their publication, but firing Cohen and Logan won’t make the media liberal again.

Nemesis

A former U.S. President speaks to a group whose mission is to destroy Judaism.

Is it President Carter speaking to Hamas in Gaza? If so, can you imagine the reaction from Commentary and “The Emergency Committee for Israel.” They thunder how giving legitimacy to this organization is highly dangerous. They skewer liberal groups that suggest that dialog is a good thing and demonstrate how this proves that liberals don’t take Israel seriously and are really just a bunch of self-hating Jews. The Nation issues a statement calling for Carter to not speak with terrorists but for concern with “those on the right not to use this incident as a weapon to delegitimize those Palenstinians who seek peace.”

Well, I’m not talking about Carter or Hamas, of course. I’m talking  about Bush II* and Jews for Jesus. And the fact that Ari Fleishcer and Bill Kristol haven’t been all over the Sunday shows pissing all over him shows just how full of shit they are.

The Reductio ad absurdum of the Jewish right in America:

At CommentaryHere’s their thundering condemnation:

But while I condemn Bush’s involvement with a group that seeks to target Jews for conversion, I am just as troubled by those on the left who would seek to use this unfortunate incident as a weapon to delegitimize all evangelical supporters of Israel and to disrupt the growing ties between Jews and their friends among the Christian right.

The fucking title of the post is “George W. Bush, Messianics, and the Left.” So, the most important thing is to shit on the left in the process. Can’t let that one pass. As for these “friends” on the Christian right—Bush was supposed to be one of them. The Times of Israel had only a wire story from JTA and the Neocon Jerusalem Post had nothing. These are both papers that report headlines on whether John Kerry’s tie had a dimple in it whenever he talks about Israel.

Well, you say, this group doesn’t shoot missiles, and they can say whatever hocus-pocus they want, they won’t convert me. To that I reply: if Israel is the Jewish homeland, should it be filled with Christians? Is that OK? There is more than one way to destroy the Jewish homeland and the Zionist project.  Just as a single qassam rocket is no existential threat, but is still to be taken seriously, the increase of one or two shades of grey of assimilation pressure by itself won’t hurt anyone. But we seem to know that often times there is smoke when there’s fire with the rockets.

The fact that Bush is doing this overtly and isn’t receiving strong condemnation from his former allies is, in diplomatic and security terms, actually much more dangerous than a single rocket. This means that a significant faction within one of the two major U.S. parties sees no problem with this and won’t act to defend the spiritual integrity of the Jewish people unless it fits with their messianic plans.

Obviously, this just proves that these largely secular Jews don’t care about their own religion. They must be self-hating. Shoe. Other foot. A bitch—ain’t it?

Not even this is going to stop us from another round of articles telling us that the Jews will vote Republican next time!

* He is Bush II. I don’t care that he doesn’t have the same exact name as his father (that would be “junior”.) Enough with this W. and H.W. nonsense. Many of the Popes whose name sequence continues the regnal numbering only have that one name. Many of the Kings who do were from different entire dynasties. He is Bush-fucking-II.

Lara Logan versus Dan Rather

Will Lara Logan be given the Dan Rather treatment? I doubt it. I would bet $20 that no. And even if she does get fired, she’ll be given a show on Fox in no time.

There are no career consequences for journalists who make shit up if it favors Republicans.

Make Bibi Pick

Netanyahu doesn’t want a sanctions-easing deal with the Iranians, which he sees as a Munich-like pact that will simply result in an uncontainable Iran later. But he also isn’t making a deal with the Palestinians happen, either.

Now, how do these seemingly separate issues fit together? Because Israel’s natural allies in the containment of Iran are the Sunni Gulf states that cannot make any overt alliance with Israel at the very least while it occupies the West Bank.

I am not one who thinks that concessions to create a Palestinian state will cure the ill will coming from the Islamic world, nor do I think it will reverse the purportedly “anti-Israel but not antisemitic” bent of so much of Europe. But I do think that compared with a nuclear Iran, a demilitarized Palestinian state is much less of a threat. I am also skeptical of whether Iran is truly trying to come back into the fold, or if this is just a deception.

But the United States can’t have it its own way on everything forever. If the other world powers want to deal with Iran, our filibustering might even be counterproductive. If we had a Palestinian deal in our pockets, we could all afford to take a much harder line on Iran.

Of course, there’s also the probability that the connection here from Netanyahu’s end is that he is trying to sabotage both the Palestinian deal and the Iranian deal and the Obama presidency. Time will tell.

If I was Obama, I might be willing to trade a lot for the elusive Palestine peace.

Right by accident

Former Vice President Al Gore stressed the significance of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks in remarks Tuesday at McGill university. Gore… went as far as to suggest that Snowden “has revealed evidence of what appears to be crimes against the Constitution of the United States.”

The only crime that appears in the Constitution is treason. I agree Snowden did that. In life as in hockey, it’s possible for a penalty to be committed and for the person who got hit to be diving. What Snowden did was a crime, and what he exposed wasn’t illegal. If you don’t like it, then you need to vote for different people who make different laws, not try and pretend the current laws are different than they are.

Most of us agree that marijuana shouldn’t be illegal, but tell that to the people sitting in prison for selling it. They’re there because breaking laws in a democracy can’t be an individual’s decision, no matter how Galtian of a superhero you are. We are then all at the mercy of a person who wants to break the law. If everyone feels they can violate laws they don’t like—and this is certainly part of the current right-wing zeitgeist: right-wing employers who hate Obama want to not have to provide insurance that provides birth control because it’s against their religious views (as of when Obama became president). There’s a term for this: nullification. At least the old nullification was a state doing it. Now we are starting to think that individuals can and should nullify.

Make no mistake: this is an attack on the direct foundations of our state, ones even more fundamental than the Constitution. And Snowden’s acts are largely defended on these nihilistic grounds.

None of that whitewashes what he revealed. The fact that someone like him even had access to that kind of information is deeply troubling. I don’t think spying on US citizens in America is good policy even if legal. But my imagination of whether it’s legal or not doesn’t make it so.

The NSA might be weakening our Constitution, but Snowden is weakening the very basis of our state.

A #slatepitch about #slatepitches

Almost anyone will tell you, it’s important to have “an open mind.” We all know the feeling of shame when something we thought was right wasn’t. At an early age, we learn the importance of care with things we think to be certain. At that same early age, in a related way, we learn about the importance of public discourse being open and honest.

The very people who tend to value this openness the most tend towards liberalism as a political philosophy for the very reason that liberalism, most of the time, is willing to go the extra mile for comity, doubt, and toleration. Combine that with the circumstances of the late 80s and early 90s where liberalism was dominated by an intellectual elite but at the same time had lost three presidential elections, including one involving a sitting president and one involving the loss of a 20 point late summer lead.

So, it’s not a shock that a guy like Michael Kinsley got famous by being contrarian. Obviously, at the time he got famous, someone needed to be a bit contrarian for liberalism. And combined with the likes of Bill Gates and the cult of elitism that grew up around him, it’s no surprise that the online site they founded, Slate, would be like this.

But this isn’t 1990. In fact, since then, Democrats have won the popular vote in every presidential election except one, 2004, which was one of the closest run elections that a sitting president has survived. Democrats even won off-year elections in 1998 and 2006. It’s fair to say that much of what was wrong with liberals in the Reagan-Bush era has passed and, except for a stolen election and then 9/11 and its effects, the party has been ascendant since then.

But there’s no doubt that polarization has increased since then. And this is the other side of the coin, here. Not only do liberals need less second guessing, it’s increasingly difficult to take any second guessing as coming in good faith.

Take for example, Social Security doomsaying. It can sound pretty bad and then you realize the people saying it’s bad don’t want it anyway. How can less workers support so many more retired people, they ask? The answer simply depends on our values. But reducing benefits might actually turn out to hurt the economy and thereby hurt the ability to fund the program. It’s not an easy answer.

It’s to the point that whenever I read a non-fiction book, I try to find out about the author. Is this ad hominem and fallacious reasoning? I’m afraid it isn’t. Arguments are only as good as the truth of their premises, no matter how logically valid they may be. I cannot know everything; I must rely on reliable sources.

This isn’t to say that I could never believe someone because they are politically right-wing, but if the book they write magically comes to the conclusion that global warming is a hoax, you can believe I won’t buy it hook line and sinker..

And so I think this is the other side of the coin. That there has to be an awful lot of skepticism associated with the second-guess agenda for the most part. Is it coming from someone trying to hurt the agenda that furthers our values, or from one who is willing to go to counter-productively radical ends to do so?

Then there’s the overall fact that Slate really isn’t a hotbed of actual expertise. We don’t get a transit administrator writing about the transit strike, we get a pinhead who has never worked in anything other than the media. He’s trying to arrogate to himself a polymath authority of everything, along with most others.

The trouble with such folks is that they really don’t understand the difficulties of implementation in a complex world, or, complexity at all for that matter. They think that people saying something is complex is really lazy or missing the broader point.

So, I’m trying to have an open mind about keeping an open mind, but between dilettantes and those with political agendas, it’s hard to see the need for this kind of thing at all.

BARTFFF

This is all well and good, but BART doesn’t serve Silicon Valley, so I’m not sure this person knows what they’re talking about. This is annoying as shit. Matthew Yglesias is the liberal Ross Douthat. He’s never done shit, he thinks he knows everything and even when he admits he doesn’t he’ll still tell you “how to think.”

Fuck you, Matt.

Unlike Matt, I have: lived in a small apartment (not in Manhattan like Girls, but in a medium-sized city); lived and gone to school in a gang-controlled neighborhood; had a family almost bankrupted by job loss and then medical expenses; had to move 100 miles away to an entirely different culture and town with no friends so one parent could work at a low-paying job at all; worked for 10 years at a profession that involves actually doing shit and being held accountable; raising 2 kids; and, not being a boiling pool of menses, AIDS cum, shit, and piss stirred by satan.

Obviously, it’s not easy to choose between adding more staff, cutting rates, and paying more money. That’s why they (ha ha) pay the managers the big bucks and they never seem to have to personally worry about those things.

But this isn’t a thought experiment at Harvard, Matt. It’s people’s lives. More lower paying jobs is not what’s indicated in this economy. The disgusting attempt (very Slate-like of course) to pit those poor transit users against the workers also fails. This is BART; it’s not the bus, the muni, etc. Matt doesn’t know that. He’s probably been to San Francisco a couple of times.

BART is extremely affordable and takes people up and down the East Bay and San Francisco (not North Bay, not Silicon Valley you fucking doofus) for less than a gallon of gas and less than the tolls on all of the local bridges. It is medium-range transit.

For people who choose to live further away from their jobs so they can have a bigger house, it is basically a subsidy. It is already mostly a middle class perk of the Bay Area in that regard. It does not get a single mother making less than $25k from her apartment in Oakland to her job a mile away like the bus.

Pay the fucking workers and shut up.

Why The Progressive Blog Movement Succeeded

I couldn’t disagree more with this whine about the alleged failure of progressive “netroots.” Here it is in a nutshell:

So progressives have no power, because they have no principles: they cannot be expected to actually vote for the most progressive candidate, to successfully primary candidates, to care about policy first and identity second, to not take scraps from the table and sell out other progressive’s interests.

The Tea Party, say what you will about them, gets a great deal of obeisance from Republicans for one simple reason: they will primary you if they don’t like how you’ve been voting, and they’ll probably win that primary.  They are feared.  Progressives are not feared, because they do not believe enough in their ostensible principles to act on them in an effective fashion.

That is why the progressive revolution of the early 2000s failed.  If you want the next left wing push to succeed, whatever it is called, learn the lessons of the last failure.

In other words, this writer is envious of the Tea Party which has stunningly low approval and has, according to most people, denied the GOP recapture of the Senate at least once through these very primaries.

I remember this story very differently. I remember the “netroots” being dedicated at the beginning to “the Democratic wing of the Democratic party” and being very conscious of the power of the gavels in committee chairpersons’ hands. That succeeded fantastically in 2006 when Democrats, led by Howard Dean who coined the “Democratic wing” party’s “50-state strategy,” regained control of both houses of Congress.

To Welsh, that doesn’t matter because neither Clark nor Dean (neither of whom were left-liberals) didn’t get the 2004 nomination and Joe Liebermann didn’t get ousted in 2006. And then he goes on some rant about paid Internet trolls taking over the Internet in 2008 for Obama. Huh? The failure to take a few scalps is irrelevant to, you know, actually doing good for people.

Where were the “progressives” supposed to go in 2008? They hated Hillary and not because she had an individual mandate in her health proposal and Obama didn’t. Some were for Edwards, but he didn’t last and thank god. No, this is a revisionist history of the worst kind.

The “progressive” movement fell head over heels for Obama because they simply didn’t believe what the man himself said. They convinced themselves if he was elected, he would make the United States into Sweden overnight. When he started actually doing what he said he was going to do, they felt betrayed. In fact, it started almost instantly upon his election. The “progressive” movement shat themselves when Rahm Emanuel got named his chief of staff. It just went from there. They cared more about Rahm than SCHIP.

And this continues today with the double-Hofstaedteresque paranoid style of the firebaggers who are convinced that if the Republicans are doing something and Democrats aren’t, it means Democrats are being weak. This is odd for a party that has won 3 out of the last 4 elections and retained the Senate in the election they lost. It was different in 2002 when it seemed as if Gephardt and Daschle were leading the party down the drain and wouldn’t stand up to Bush.

In fact, it seems to me that the progressive blog movement is owed some thanks for all of these victories. But apparently, the failure to enact Sweden makes it a failure for some. We are not going to turn America into Sweden, ever. Just like the Tea Party knows it has to rely on procedural tricks and not popular support to try and turn America into Galtland.

Being more concerned with the scalps of Joe Liebermann and Rahm Emanuel than in tangible policy victories is puerile, futile, stupid, and useless politics.

Why They Hate Krugman

It’s all in this post. Basically, he outs most economists and “serious” economic policy people as apologists and agents for wealth. Most of our high priests of the economy are only minimally concerned with growth and maximally concerned with wealth.

You can say this is a corruption of capitalism or whatever, but until it stops taking a depression to compensate for the differences, I fail to see how it’s a corruption and not just an inevitable outcome of a wealth-concentrating system.

Inflation makes people with tons of money and no debt a little bit less rich all the time, but it makes most of us—probably even close to the proverbial 99%—richer by putting upward pressure on wages, where we actually get our money, and reducing the real value of our debts, which most of us have.

It should go without saying that this isn’t a call for “hyperinflation” where we are using the money we earn before lunch to go buy toilet paper that ends up being worth more than the money we bought it with by dinner time according to the Weimar Republic myths. That would be a disaster too. But the whole point is that you have to tune this and not bias it one way or the other so far that you wreck things.

But doing so is the point of most Republican/Libertarian economics. But yet the fawning enabling media takes them seriously.

 

Spying.

Fine, Angela. Make Obama apologize for Bush spying on you. Maybe that shoulder grab incident was because he knew you liked that from staying up late nights with his iPod listening to your dirty cell phone calls. Eww. Cannot unimagine.

But, ok. Here’s the deal. “New Rule,” if you will: if you don’t want the United States to spy on you, then never ever ask us for any intelligence we get off of someone else. No dirt on Putin. No dirt on Egypt. Nada. Nichts. Rien.

It’s one thing for citizens to feel a bit weirded out that they are the subject of electronic intercepts. It’s another for Merkel and heads of state. Was she just talking on a regular cell phone?

Update: Heh, indeedy, Josh.

Greedy 2014

I’m all for pushing to regain the House, and the polling seems to suggest that may happen, but it’s easy to forget that that won’t solve all the problems if we lose the senate. That chamber still is the one that votes on nominations which makes it just a bit more significant. There are some tough races there too.

Pryor in Arkansas is toast. 54.
Landrieu in Louisiana is probably toast. 53.
Montana is going to be a tough hold. 52.
Kay Hagan in North Carolina is going to be a tough hold. 51.
We’re not holding South Dakota. 50.
We’re not holding West Virginia. 49.

I wouldn’t be so sure of Alaska either, but ok. Let’s say we need 1 or 2 pickups.

Pickup opportunities? Kentucky is a possibility if McConnell gets primaried out. I don’t think Maine wants rid of Susan Collins since she has them believing she’s really not so radical, and I guess she’s not, but she’s an enabler. The rest of the map is very, very red. We’re talking Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, two in South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming. Georgia and Nebraska have retiring incumbents, but there isn’t even a candidate in Nebraska yet for the Ds.

Basically, the strategy has to be to hold Landrieu and Hagan and pray for some kind of tea party disaster candidate in one of these red states and maybe finding a way to hold Montana and without Schweitzer who is apparently going to try to be the anti-Hillary in 2016. But it’s going to be tough. It’s worked the last two times, I guess.

And of course even if it’s 50-50, that’s awfully tough because senators tend to be old.

 

Cheney

I always thought that Cheney, not Bush, should have been impeached. Impeaching Bush would have put this even worse man in charge, to the extent that he already wasn’t. Having to play footsie with a Democratic Congress, Bush would have had to name a second Nelson Rockefeller to replace him or leave the office vacant.

With new revelations coming out this week, I’m even more convinced that was what should have happened.

Means Testing

Again, I don’t think pyrrhic victories really exist in politics. This deal is an unmitigated win for the President. But the one “concession” Reid granted on Obamacare is bad for two reasons (this isn’t to say they shouldn’t take it):

(1) It hits them where it should hit them, making implementation more difficult. Someone needs to think of a slick way to implement this or it’s going to suck. But this just underscores the point that they’re not interested in fixing the system, they just want to break it. If you can’t roll out a website, it gets tougher to argue this.

(2) Reid didn’t think there was time to get into an argument about this. It’s the same basic argument with Voter ID: people’s reaction tends to be “if you’re not lying, what’s the problem?” But, as Republicans are keenly aware when it comes to paying taxes or getting development permits, every form you have to fill out makes it that much more costly and tough. In fact, it probably will end up costing the system money in that more man-hours will be spent checking this verification than it would take to root out fraud. Of course, the trouble is, if you say this then people think it’s a green light to rip off the system, both the people who want to rip it off and its critics.

So, policy-wise this isn’t the best even though the broader policy of not letting a veto point be turned into a control point is good.

Politically, this appeared to drive a real wedge between the pro-business wing of the GOP and the tea-party arsonists. And then there are the poll numbers.

To the extent both of those things make it more likely that more progressive policies get implemented, it’s good.

I still don't believe in political pyrrhic victories, but…

It is the case that the teanuts will be able to say they fought the good fight and if they only had more people in Congress, they could have won this, so they can fundraise.

Of course the more money they raise the more people like Christine O’Donnell end up losing winnable elections for them and the grift continues. These are people who buy gold because of messages they hear on their talk radio telling them “inflation” is going to get them when there hasn’t been much inflation in 30 years.

They are going to send their money for freedom to these idjits and the cycle will continue.

I'd say we're gonna default

The Senate plan that was supposed to come together this morning was going to be blocked by feces demon Ted Cruz, apparently. The GOP’s tea-masters wouldn’t allow a vote on the leadership’s plan there, either.

But these were plans that would send things down the road a while. I suppose it’s still possible that a clean debt ceiling increase will pass in time.

So, what do I think will happen?

I think we might default. Because no matter what the ratings agencies say, the United States has the capacity to pay debts denominated in its own currency even without printing money, I don’t think a “default” for political reasons would necessarily cause as many of the consequences as the experts say.

I’m sure it would cause the rates to go up—but what’s the alternative to the dollar? The Euro, which faces actual default problems still? The pound, which is only independent of the Euro in name? There’s no real alternative reserve currency at this point unless this default lasts more than a little while.

So, if we’re a day or two off the mark, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. But too much longer and the default could cascade sending people who need the money back either from the coupons or the principal to make other payments. They would burn their own credit lines first. (This, I think, opens the door for some kind of Fed action: it could buy all of the bonds seconds before they mature, it could open the discount window to banks who don’t collect on people in this situation, etc. — more bailouts for the 1%.)

That’s not good stuff. The markets may be more than marginally shocked if it actually happens, but I don’t think it will scare people until it gets nearer a week.

The question is how long does the blame fix on the Republicans before the stink of loserdom not sealing it becomes a problem? In other words, where’s the dead-cat bounce in the polls? I worry about that.

The political calculation for the Democrats isn’t often looked at though. For all the talk about palace intrigue in the House, the consequences of this aren’t hard to game out on the other side.

If they capitulate, Obama’s presidency is over. Democratic voters will be alienated and show up in even lower numbers than they did in 2010 next fall. Plus, the GOP will know it can get concessions every time this comes up. He can’t fold. He has to veto at least the first attempt if the wind switches direction and let them fail at overriding.

The Republicans, on the other hand, can pass a “surrender” with only 17 votes right now and let this whip up their base for the next election, blaming their lack of enough of a majority in the house and a senate minority.

It would seem then that the dominant strategy is a GOP fold. But do we have rational actors here?

 

Some unfinished business on Syria.

When we left Syria for Ted Cruz’s conservagrifter side-show, which has helped the President’s numbers rebound and has increased support for Obamacare, the conversation was still stuck between two poles. The isolationist and pacifist coalition is made up of the usual combination of pacifist fundamentalists and troglodyte isolationists both of whom share in common a total inability to see things the way they are, joined by the politically opportunistic on both the right and left who use anything they can to smear the president and, thereby, draw attention to themselves.

On the other side, there is the sort of “bomb everything” alliance of people like John McCain.

This potion has completely stymied the press, who so inbred and stupid at this point, you’d think they were running for Holy Roman Emperor. They are incapable of seeing the international chess match going on here and seem to think this is just a question of whether daddy is going to spank a child for misbehaving.

Assuming we are not living in a world where there is total peace and where America is neck deep in affairs world-wide whether or not it “should” be, the question becomes: what to do?

Should we just say “why are these deaths from chemical weapons different than any other death?” and say, well, it’s an internal civil war? There’s that word again: should. In reality, most states consider chemical weapons to be weapons of mass destruction inviting retaliation in kind. While we might have a two second debate with Barbara Lee and Ralph Nader on one side and the other 300,000,000 Americans on the other side if this happened in our country, we are having it differently because it’s happening in Syria.

Is there anything about Syria that might flag our attention in this case? Hmm… Syria… oh, oh! It’s next to Iraq! No, that’s not it. If you guessed that two salient facts are that Syria (a) shares a disputed border with Israel and that (b) supplies and allows its ally Iran to supply weapons to its clients in Lebanon you would be right.

Oh, never fear tote bagger, I know you are tired of hearing about Israel! So let’s pretend for a minute that the US isn’t Israel’s ally because you have a sad when they bogart Jerusalem from the peace-loving and buddhist-monk-like Palestinians. Let’s just stick to the facts. Israel has at least 100 sophisticated nuclear weapons, many of which are submarine launched.

Are we getting a little more clarity here?

In 2007, Israel struck a hidden and North Korean designed nuclear reactor in eastern Syria. Publicly, no one is sure whether this reactor was designed to breed fissile material for Syria or whether it was “outsourcing” for Iran or North Korea, but the fact remains it was designed to create weapons grade fissile materials. Just in case you doubt the North Korean connection, North Korea was the only country to protest this incident to the UN and a North Korean ship docked in Syria the day before the strike.

So, let’s just suggest that the use of chemical weapons is brushed off by Obama as just another death in a sad world full of death but it is not treated as such by everyone else. And let’s just say that a country full of chemical weapons like Syria or Egypt—you didn’t know Egypt had chemical weapons did you—that is falling apart accidentally lets some of those weapons slip into some not nice people’s hands and those people decide to martyrdom themselves in Tel Aviv or Haifa.

Totebagger nation would all like to believe that the Jews do their usual thing and get murdered and make everyone else feel guilty, but what if they don’t? What if they do what probably every other country would do and retaliate? And what if someone else retaliates or goes to war?

The United States’s internal political battles, and European anti-Americanism, gave Assad a get out of jail card for one major use of chemical weapons and their patrons in Moscow came up smelling roses.

I repeat again: George Bush was the worst president in American history and everything he did turned to shit. But right now, one of the worst things he did was fraudulently use the pretext of chemical weapons to launch a full-scale invasion of Iraq.

Now when Obama wants to do a small strike against an actual use of chemical weapons, he’s “just like Bush.”

The stupid. It burns.

I'll say it again…

…but, when are the elected GOP members of Congress going to realize that by letting people like Erick Erickson call the tune, they are just disposable playthings for them? Erickson is already blaming everything on McConnell so he can be a hero and primary him in Kentucky.

Seriously, if my own base is going to primary me when the polling says I’m already in deep shit for listening to them, I might consider changing a few things.

Just 18 Republicans could easily create a coalition with the Dems—a sort of “confidence and supply” agreement that would still be able to block things that didn’t have bipartisan support, the way a filibuster in the Senate can, but would still let things function. A pledge not to fund a candidate against those 18, seniority, chairmanships, and a few pet projects all could easily be had. All they have to do is vote for a new speaker, and, perhaps, support the immigration bill.

Just sayin’

Republicans in disarray

And really it’s because, like I said earlier this morning, their stupid inbred teaparty base got under the impression that their taking welfare from niggers cutting entitlements agenda was more important than the corporate profit agenda. Stupid baggers, trix are for the 1%!

The sooner these people learn that the entire pseudo-intellectual edifice of “small government” is a post-hoc rationalization of the greed of the established rich and that they are worshiping false prophets of a false god, the sooner things will get back to normal.

This stories is a great example: teanut admitting defeat on Obamacare. Also McCain telling the tea party to get off his lawn is great too.