Category Archives: The Clown Show

When all you have is a hammer…

Jesus Christ.

(via Unqualified Offerings)

UPDATE:  Robert Farley at LGM has a slightly longer and more thoughtful response than I:

Long story short, it’s quite likely that an invasion would cause a lot more people to die than are likely to die sans intervention.

The idea of a threat of an invasion in order to force SLORC compliance with international aid efforts is a little bit better on its face, but collapses when subjected to scrutiny. The primary interest of the regime is survival; it cares more about survival than the lives of the Burmese people. Allowing itself to be forced at gunpoint to accept international assistance strikes me as considerably more dangerous to regime survival than to simply allow the disaster to run its course. The regime, undoubtedly, also has a strong sense of the difficulties that any invasion would face, especially one with a humanitarian objective. In other words, SLORC has a) reason to believe that the international community is bluffing, and b) strong incentive for calling that bluff. Again, the threat of military intervention in the short term is likely to lead to more, not fewer, dead Burmese.


As I hate war, it is with a heavy heart that I shall start a bunch of them.

I’ve heard a disturbing number of people, all of whom I know to be otherwise sane, tell me that they think John McCain would make a good President, or even tell me that they might vote for him. This is nuts. He would be an awful President. Of course, you wouldn’t know that by watching the news or reading the paper, because the narrative of John McCain among the political press is that of the Saga of Commander Maverick of the Straight Talk Brigade. Never mind that the guy has no coherent domestic policy, nor does he seem particularly interested in one. Never mind that his foreign policy, which is supposed to be a his strength, seems to be nothing more than Bush’s “Obey, or be destroyed,” applied even more widely.

I’ve been trying to figure out how I wanted to approach building my own little counternarrative for you, my audience, because I love all eight of you, and want you to be thoughtful, skeptical consumers of political media. If along the way I can convince you that the contemporary Republican Party is a cancer on the American body politic, so much the better.

Anyway, my quandary is solved: Ezra Klein reminded me that it’s McCain week at the American Prospect. The first article, by Matt Yglesias, is called “The Militarist.” Ezra comments, in part, thus:

He was humble. Bipartisan. A nice guy, liked by partisans on both sides of the aisle. An instinctual moderate who’d constrain America’s foreign policy ambitions and ably manage our finances. He was George W. Bush, and despite what the press said, he was none of those things. Rather, the truest understanding of Bush’s candidacy came from those who had read his policy plans. The shockingly regressive tax cuts, the dismissive attitude towards international treaties, the inattention to our unraveling health care system, the denial of our energy problems — it was all there. The press assured us that those plans were just election-year pandering. Turned out they were his governing agenda.

Similarly, John McCain, we’re told, is a moderate. A nice guy. Respected on both sides of the aisle. Conscious of the limits of American power and the constraints of our fiscal situation. His plans? That hugely regressive tax cut, radical dismantling of the health care system, appetite for endless war? Oh, you know how elections go.


Ezra’s own article is about McCain’s godawful health care plan.

Quote of the day

The only thing more annoying than Joe Lieberman himself is his conceit, which many people indulge out of habit, that he is some kind of “centrist.”  Perhaps if we think of the political spectrum as a series of rings surrounding a cavernous abyss (or perhaps a pit like the Sarlaac), then Lieberman and McCain can fairly be called “centrists.”

 –Daniel Larison in The American Conservative

Entire selection bitten from Matt Yglesias.

Without the white male vote, the Republicans aren’t a viable political party

Awesome post about Obama, Clinton, and South Carolina at Jack and Jill Politics.

The Media’s Three-Fifth’s Compromise

What upset me was the dismissiveness towards the South Carolina Primary.

A prevailing attitude comprised of, if Barack Obama wins South Carolina:
1. He only won because he’s Black
2. It doesn’t REALLY count as a win because of the sizeable Black population in South Carolina.

The press has not been subtle about what they think the real, true voter looks like. They’ll talk about Clinton automatically getting the women’s vote as though that’s an extra, marginal bit that gets added on to the real vote, and the same with Obama and the black vote. Bring up the fact that Ronald Reagan, say, couldn’t have won without the white, male vote, and prepare either for a blank look or to have it taken as a joke.

Just as an aside, I may have talked about privilege before, and I probably will again, and the above is an illustration of privilege – being the default, never having to think of yourself in terms of “the black vote” or “the woman vote,” you’re just a voter.

(via Spencer Ackerman)

Jay sees what you did there

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In which Jay Smooth at Ill Doctrine reveals that professional wresting is a more reliable source of news than CNN. Not a joke, and illustrative of a larger issue in civil society: you can’t trust the news. Not only will they slant what they report, they’ll straight out make shit up. That’s not a media issue, that’s a democracy issue, as far as I’m concerned.

A million monkeys at a million keyboards

Kevin Drum has announced the winners of the Golden Wingnut award, for the all-time wingnuttiest blogpost. N.B. that first place went to a guy who used to call himself “Hindrocket.” Since most of you don’t spend nearly as much time on the Internet as I do, you might be slightly perplexed by the whole enterprise, so in addition to following the links to the winners, you can gain some context here, and read some of the posts whose authors had to settle for being honored-just-to-be-nominated.

These are some of the finest examples of batshittery ever devised by a man or woman simultaneously afflicted by Right-affiliated politics and the need to post to a blog. They deserve your attention; they’ve earned your amused contempt.

UPDATE: I forgot to add – via Matt Yglesias, see also a discussion by d at Lawyers, Guns and Money of fifth-place-winner “The Pussification of the Western Male.”

If you don’t like the laws, ignore them. Failing that, buy some new ones.

Also via Avedon, Jay Rockefeller, Democratic Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman, lies to try to get the Get Out of Jail Free Act passed for the telecom companies who helped the Bush administration illegally spy on Americans without warrants, from its beginning (it turns out that the Bush administration – and this is true, I am not making this up – actually began on some date before September 11th, 2001*).

Anyway, Glenn Greenwald** has some thoughts on the matter:

And that really brings us to the heart of the matter. Rockefeller, Hiatt and their friends plainly see themselves — along with the telecom executives and lobbyists who flatter and feast them and are their peers and colleagues and friends — as our elite vanguard. They know best, and when they break the law, it is for our own good. “Laws” are for the masses, to keep social order, to ensure that the Rockefellers and Hiatts can rule in peace and telecom executives can develop their extremely profitable relationships with government agencies without being bothered by “unfair” disruptions, such as court proceedings when they break the law.

“Punishment” for lawbreaking is not for them. Rockefeller — with his wise and genetically implanted noblesse oblige — has looked at everything in Secret and knows that there was nothing wrong here. And that’s all we need to know. We should place faith in his Judgment that there need be no further examination of what his telecom contributors did. No court proceedings or judges need look at any of this because Jay Rockefeller has adjudged, in secret with Dick Cheney, that telecoms should be protected. Just marvel at these self-loving, patronizing assurances:

Over the past year, the Senate intelligence committee has examined this issue, along with the need to bring the warrantless surveillance program within the law. We closely studied the facts, the documents and the alternatives to liability for the companies. Ultimately, we concluded that if we subject companies to lawsuits when doing so is patently unfair, we will forfeit industry as a crucial tool in our national defense. . . .

Unfortunately, immunity for communications companies has become a cause celebre for opponents of the surveillance program as a whole, and that has led to widespread confusion.

The growing anger over efforts to protect lawbreaking telecoms is nothing more than a “cause celebre.” We’re just “confused,” misdirecting our unbridled, unsophisticated rage to the poor, innocent telecoms. It is up to the Serious Rulers — Rockefeller and Hiatt and Cheney and Jamie Gorelick — to protect these executives from the wild masses who are starting to become restless with their childish, confused ideas about how telecoms shouldn’t be given license to break what we used to call “the law.”

Now why would a legislator, of all people, argue in favor of selective disregard of the law?  I can’t think of any reason.

*Although it has not yet been disproved that 9/11/01 is the date that Rudy Giuliani sprang like Athena, fully-formed, from the end of a policeman’s baton.

**Humming to myself, “Oh, no!  There goes NRO!  Go, go Glennzilla!”

Bill O’Reilly makes a discovery

From Media Matters, via Atrios, whose excerpt I’m just going to copy:

O”REILLY: Now, how do we get to this point? Black people in this country understand that they’ve had a very, very tough go of it, and some of them can get past that, and some of them cannot. I don’t think there’s a black American who hasn’t had a personal insult that they’ve had to deal with because of the color of their skin. I don’t think there’s one in the country. So you’ve got to accept that as being the truth. People deal with that stuff in a variety of ways. Some get bitter. Some say, [unintelligible] “You call me that, I’m gonna be more successful.” OK, it depends on the personality.

So it’s there. It’s there, and I think it’s getting better. I think black Americans are starting to think more and more for themselves. They’re getting away from the Sharptons and the Jacksons and the people trying to lead them into a race-based culture. They’re just trying to figure it out: “Look, I can make it. If I work hard and get educated, I can make it.”

You know, I was up in Harlem a few weeks ago, and I actually had dinner with Al Sharpton, who is a very, very interesting guy. And he comes on The Factor a lot, and then I treated him to dinner, because he’s made himself available to us, and I felt that I wanted to take him up there. And we went to Sylvia’s, a very famous restaurant in Harlem. I had a great time, and all the people up there are tremendously respectful. They all watch The Factor. You know, when Sharpton and I walked in, it was like a big commotion and everything, but everybody was very nice.

And I couldn’t get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia’s restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it’s run by blacks, primarily black patronship. It was the same, and that’s really what this society’s all about now here in the U.S.A. There’s no difference. There’s no difference. There may be a cultural entertainment — people may gravitate toward different cultural entertainment, but you go down to Little Italy, and you’re gonna have that. It has nothing to do with the color of anybody’s skin.

O’REILLY: That’s right. That’s right. There wasn’t one person in Sylvia’s who was screaming, “M-Fer, I want more iced tea.”

WILLIAMS: Please —

O’REILLY: You know, I mean, everybody was — it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn’t any kind of craziness at all.

“There wasn’t one person in Sylvia’s who was screaming, ‘M-Fer, I want more iced tea,'” is my favorite line in the whole thing.

This reminds me of when I went up for show and tell during the third week of November in the fourth grade, and solemnly informed the class that next week, on Thursday, it was Thanksgiving. Hey, it was news to me.

I call for an end to the highly partisan practice of having any sense of historical perspective

What were the Democrats of Connecticut thinking when they voted against this man?

During last nights debate, Sen. Lieberman, noting Abraham Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, declared, “We’re in another time like that.”

Can America afford to have a Senate that lacks Joe Lieberman’s honesty and integrity?

(Extended) quotation of the day

From some guy on blogspot:

There’s this attitude out there where one’s foreign policy abilities are judged by whether you supported the right wars, with people like Peter Beinart checking off their little lists. The foreign policy hawks see supporting wars as courageous acts, as if sending other peoples’ kids off to die and voting for massive defense budget increases requires courage instead of a healthy possession of sociopathic tendencies.

Wars are failures. A primary purpose of sensible foreign policy is to stop them. When wars happen, our foreign policy has failed. That isn’t to say there’s never a point when they’re necessary or justified, but that point is simply an acknowledgment that the people in charge failed.

Even their *prose* is deadly

Kathryn Cramer is looking into the case of Joseph Cafasso, lately a Fox News consultant, whose military career turns out to have been a good deal less glory-saturated than he has claimed.

He claimed he was a SEAL, among other things. I will never, to my dying day, understand why someone would falsely, in public, claim to have been a SEAL. All that does is guarantee that you’ll eventually have a lot of SEALs pissed off at you. I can only speak for myself, but if I live my life having never pissed off a member of the Special Forces, I’ll consider that a success.

Here’s a link, found via Making Light, to a New York Times article about Cafasso, posted on the VeriSEAL website.

Under the article is an email Cafasso sent to VeriSEAL, which is classic. Whatever brain lesions cause a person to run around claiming to totally be a Super Secret Special Forces Karate Master must also doom him to write like a sugar-shocked thirteen-year-old.

Needless to say, the word “sic” appears quite frequently in the posted email, though not nearly as frequently as it could.

Beneath Cafasso’s note is the reason you’re reading this, the response email from a member of the VeriSEAL staff to which this post’s title refers.

I don’t think this many people have ever agreed with me about anything

It’s only one poll, but that’s a hell of a big number:

Mr. Bush’s job approval has slipped to 34 percent, one of the lowest levels of his presidency, posing a complication for the White House as it seeks to send him out on the road to rally base voters. Mr. Bush’s job approval rating has even slipped with his base: 75 percent of conservative Republicans approve of the way he has handled his job, compared with 96 percent in November 2004.

Mr. Bush clearly faces constraints as he seeks to address the public concerns about Iraq that have shrouded this midterm election: 83 percent of respondents thought that Mr. Bush was either hiding something or mostly lying when he discussed how the war in Iraq was going. [emphasis mine]

That blows past the crazification factor, and shatters the BTKWB barrier. If anyone was wondering about the effective limit of the “Fear treason fear treason gays gays gays” approach to U.S. electoral politics, it looks like the Republicans may have reached it.

(via AmericaBlog)

Useful metric

Henry at Crooked Timber has Dennis Cardinal Hastert’s Galbraith Score at three so far.  (“Anyone who says four times that he won’t resign, will.”)

Of course, the very first comment brought up Donald Rumsfeld, who must have a score well into the double digits by now, so make of these predictions what you will.