Sunday, November 30, 2014


As I imagine you already know, Elizabeth Lauten, a staffer for Congressman Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, has issued an apology for this Facebook attack on Malia and Sasha Obama, posted after they (understandably) responded to the pardoning of a ceremonial Thanksgiving turkey with eye-rolls.

The apology for what she said about the Obamas' daughters seems sincere:
I reacted to an article and quickly judged the two young ladies in a way that I would never have wanted to be judged myself as a teenager. After many hours of prayer, talking to my parents and re-reading my words online, I can see more clearly how hurtful my words were. Please know that these judgmental feelings truly have no pace in my heart. Furthermore, I'd like to apologize to all of those who I have hurt and offended with my words, and pledge to learn and grow (and I assure you I have) from this experience.
But I guess this congressional staffer doesn't feel any need to apologize for saying that the president and first lady "don't respect their positions that much, or the nation for that matter." I guess when there's a Democratic president it's not necessary for political opponents who work in the government to concede that, while people may disagree on policy, the president and first lady love their country and are trying to do what they think is best for it. I think it's safe to say that if a Democratic congressional staffer had said that about not just the Bush twins but George W. Bush and Laura, even at W's lowest point in popularity, it would have been conceded that the staffer went way over the line. Obama? No problem. (It wouldn't have been considered a problem in the Clinton years, either, I'd say.)

I don't know if Elizabeth Lauten is the sort of person who believes every Facebook post and email forward claiming that, say, Michelle Obama failed to put her hand over her heart during a salute to the flag on Veterans Day (not true), or that President Obama is uniquely disrespectful to his Oval Office desk (he isn't), but the notion that the president and first lady hate America and its institutions is widespread on the right, and is reinforced by a steady stream of assertions like this, big and small.

The mainstream press just shrugs. Ron Fournier probably thinks that Republicans wouldn't think Obama hates America if Obama would just lead more effectively.

And so a ridiculous, meaningless ceremony -- which became an annual ritual for presidents only in the past 25 years -- leads to claims that the president disrespects his office. And Lauter will get away with saying that.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


Did you see the Quinnipiac poll of the 2016 presidential race that was released earlier this week? Mitt Romney won among Republicans, with Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Dr. Ben Carson also running strong -- though that's not what interests me most.
Republican voters nationwide want 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney back in the game, giving him the top position at 19 percent in an early look at the 2016 presidential race in a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is next with 11 percent, followed by New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie and Dr. Ben Carson at 8 percent each. No other Republican tops 6 percent, with 16 percent undecided.

With Romney out of the race, Jeb Bush leads with 14 percent, followed by Christie at 11 percent, Carson at 9 percent and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky at 8 percent, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds. Another 19 percent are undecided.
I'm struck by which candidates do best against Hillary Clinton:
Romney runs best against Clinton in a general election, taking 45 percent to her 44 percent. In other matchups:
Clinton gets 43 percent to Christie's 42 percent;
Clinton tops Paul 46 - 41 percent;
She beats former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee 46 - 41 percent;
Clinton tops Jeb Bush 46 - 41 percent;
She gets 46 percent to 42 percent for U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin;
Clinton tops U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas 48 - 37 percent.
Romney wins. Christie nearly wins. Hillary beats the others fairly comfortably.

I know it's just one poll, and I can't say that the differences are all that significant when you take margin of error into account. Still, why these two? Why Romney and Christie?

I think it's because they're the ones who attack their opponents in the most engagingly trollish way these days. Christie has been very visible lately, and he really seems to be enjoying himself as he goes after people again. That's the key: the joy. Romney has it too. He's become a full-time troll since the 2012 campaign, and it suits him. Remember how people said in 2012 that he seemed uncomfortable in his own skin? When he's trolling President Obama, he seems really, really comfortable. This is who he is. He's a guy with a serious mean streak -- the guy who, as a kid, forcibly gave that fellow student a haircut. But there's a contagious glee in his angry attacks -- as, obviously, there is in Christie's. They're clearly having a lot of fun. Remember, this is what worked for Ronald Reagan -- he never stopped trash-talking Democrats and liberals, but everybody thought he was "genial" and "sunny." Romney, surprisingly, has a little bit of Reagan in him. Christie has this too, though we knew that.

If Romney and Christie really are the two guys doing best against Hillary, that rebuts both the right-wing narrative of 2016 and the mainstream-pundit narrative. Right-wingers think they'll win with a True Conservative -- but Christie and Romney are obviously not what they have in mind. And the mainstream idea is that what voters really want in 2016 is an agenda. Here's The New Republic's Brian Beutler, writing about why (in his view) it's good that the GOP took the Senate:
Obama's agenda is mostly tapped out. The [Democratic] party's broader agenda is pretty stale. Hillary Clinton doesn't have an agenda.

It's plausible that Democrats can hold on to the presidency even without addressing any of these problems -- that they can win by virtue of not being Republicans. But that's not a recipe for inspiring anyone....
But the Republicans who are the most successful right now at inspiring voters aren't doing it with an agenda -- they're doing it with happy-warrior trash talk.

But what about Ted Cruz? He's back in the pack, according to Quinnipiac -- he's not doing particularly well in the primary field and he's not posing a serious challenge to Hillary at all. Isn't he a trash-talker? Yes -- but I don't think he conveys the same sense of sheer, contagious enjoyment as Christie and post-2012 Romney. He comes off as smug and haughty in a way they don't.

Maybe all this is a pendulum swing away from Obama's low-key cool -- who knows? But I think happy Republican troll can win in 2016. I seriously think Christie or Romney would beat Hillary if either one could get the nomination.

Friday, November 28, 2014


There was a shooting incident overnight in Austin, Texas:
Austin police say a gunman suspected of opening fire on several downtown buildings and police headquarters has died after being shot.
USA Today has some additional information on the shooter's likely motive:
A white, middle-aged gunman, in what appears to be a politically motivated anti-government attack linked to immigration, fired more than a hundred rounds at buildings in downtown Austin early Friday and tried to set fire to the Mexican consulate before he died of a gunshot wound.

The unidentified suspect was described as white male in his 50s with a criminal record....

The police chief said the suspect not only shot up several buildings in downtown Austin, he tried to set the Mexican consulate on fire using several small propane cylinders. The fires were put out before the flames could spread, he said.

The police chief said the suspect's targets indicated that he might have had anti-government motives linked to immigration.

"If you look at the targets, it doesn't take a genius (to suggest) that that is the potential," Acevedo said.

"I would venture that political rhetoric might have fed into some of this, but that is speculation on my part," he added....
Paul Joseph Watson of Alex Jones's Infowars read this and had a sad:

... A man killed by police after he began shooting at buildings in downtown Austin, Texas targeted the Mexican Consulate, with media reports now suggesting one of the motives behind the attack may have been opposition to President Obama's amnesty program....
Those damn media reports! How dare the press report the shooter's motive accurately if doing so makes True Patriots look bad!

The correct thing to do is report what you want the shooter's motive to have bin, as Watson did initially:

In fact, the current Watson story still has a URL derived from the earlier headline, "Austin Shooter Linked to Ferguson Unrest?" Watson replaced the headline and the story when it became obvious that he was just blowing smoke. The original story is preserved here, however:
Austin Shooter Linked to Ferguson Unrest?

A man killed by police after he began shooting at buildings in downtown Austin, Texas targeted the Austin Police Department, suggesting one of the motives behind the attack may have been opposition to the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the Michael Brown shooting case.

Whether the suspect targeted the APD in retaliation for the Officer Darren Wilson verdict remains to be seen, although it must be noted that people involved in the Ferguson riots fired off multiple gunshots. Time Magazine subsequently published an article suggesting the rioters, who burned down stores which were mostly owned by minorities, were justified in their actions because they were rebelling against "white privilege"....
I'm sure the next step after "irresponsibly blame the left based on no evidence" followed by "blame the media for telling the truth" will be "hey, you know the whole incident was a false flag, don't you?" I'm amazed we're not there yet.

We were assured that this kind of thing wouldn't happen:
The big Republican gains in the November elections strengthened and enlarged the anti-abortion forces in the House and the Senate. But it's the GOP victories in the statehouses and governor's mansions that are priming the ground for another round of legal restrictions on abortion.

Arkansas, for instance, already has strict anti-abortion laws. But with a Republican governor succeeding a Democrat who had vetoed two measures that would have banned most abortions beyond a certain stage of pregnancy, lawmakers plan to seek more restrictions -- such as barring doctors from administering abortion drugs through telemedicine. Republican gains in the West Virginia Legislature will redouble pressure on Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to accept a ban on most abortions after 20 weeks, which he has previously deemed unconstitutional. And Tennessee voters approved a ballot initiative that removes a 15-year barrier to legislation limiting abortion legislation in that deeply conservative state....

"We came out of Nov. 4th with a lot of momentum," said Chuck Donovan, president of the research and education arm of Susan B. Anthony List, which is dedicated to electing candidates who oppose abortion. He expects the number of anti-abortion measures proposed in the states to reflect that. "I think we're about to get another uptick." ...
This has been happening, of course, since the last Republican wave election, in 2010. And I'm sure the mainstream media is just shocked -- after all, the MSM was certain that the tea party wing of the GOP, which dominated in 2010, wasn't the least bit interested in all those social issues, given its laser-like focus on taxes and spending. And then this year the MSM swore to us that the Establishment grown-ups were in charge, and they really didn't care about social issues at all.

So I guess abortion-zealot pod people were secretly substituted for all those socially moderate Republicans who've gotten elected since 2010, right?

Thursday, November 27, 2014


You probably know about this:
Howard Kurtz has accused the New York Times of a "reckless move" in identifying the street on which Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson resides. "Journalism is full of close calls. This is not one of them. The Times should apologize," writes Kurtz.

On Monday, the Times published a scoop by Julie Bosman and Campbell Robertson reporting that Wilson had married fellow officer Barbara Spradling in a "quiet wedding" last month. It noted that the two "own a home together" and identified the town and the name of the street....
The Times responded that the information it published had previously been made public.
Philip Corbett, the paper's associate managing editor for standards, tells the Erik Wemple Blog via e-mail: "The Times did not ‘reveal’ anything here. The name of the street was widely reported as far back as August, including in the Washington Post."

The Post on Aug. 15 published an article on Wilson shortly after his name surfaced as the officer who’d killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. It noted the presence of "[d]ark blue unmarked police cars were parked outside his house" and mentioned the street name. A number of other outlets also traded in information about Wilson’s residence and it has been circulated on the Internet, of course.
But Snopes says it's not even a current address:
Wilson, 28, and Spradling, 37, married on 24 October 2014 in St. Louis County. The Times coverage included the following text:
Both Officer Wilson and Officer Spradling were previously married, public records indicate. His divorce was finalized on Nov. 10, 2013.

Officer Wilson and Officer Spradling own a home together on Manda Lane in Crestwood, Mo., a St. Louis suburb about a half-hour drive from Ferguson.
According to the paper, Wilson and Spradling vacated the premises shortly after the 9 August 2014 shooting:
They have scarcely been seen there since Mr. Brown was killed on Aug. 9. Neighbors said that within a few days of the shooting, Officer Wilson and Officer Spradling abruptly left their home.
So it's not where they're living now, according to Snopes.

Snopes thinks some of the anger is based on a misunderstanding:
Along with the content of the article, the paper included a picture of Wilson and Spradling's marriage license. While the image included an address, that address was not the Crestwood house formerly occupied by the couple; it was the address of a law firm in nearby Clayton, Missouri.

When the article drew scrutiny, the Times removed the image of Wilson and Spradling's marriage license and appended the following editor's note:
An earlier version of this post included a photograph that contained information that should not have been made public. The image has been removed.
That redaction led many readers to mistakenly believe the Times had published Wilson's current address and then withdrawn that information due to public protest, but the address published by the paper in the since-edited article was for a law firm and not for Wilson's residence.
So the addresses revealed were a former residence and a lawyer's office, not the current address, according to Snopes. And the former address has been known for months.

(Via Nicholas Kristof on Twitter.)

This is something to be thankful for:
The first human trial of an experimental Ebola vaccine has produced promising results, U.S. scientists said, raising hopes that protection from the deadly disease may be on the horizon.

All 20 healthy adults who received the vaccine in a trial run by researchers from the National Institutes of Health in Maryland produced an immune response and developed anti-Ebola antibodies, the NIH said Wednesday.

None suffered serious side effects, although two people developed a brief fever within a day of vaccination.

The vaccine is being developed by the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline. The process has been fast-tracked in light of the current catastrophic Ebola outbreak in West Africa....
But ... but ... but right-wingers told me that President Obama wants Ebola to spread, and wants it to ultimately become epidemic in America, because allowing Ebola to spread in America is an act of reparations, a payback for slavery and colonialism! So why is Obama's NIH actually helping to curb the spread of the disease?

Maybe we'll be told that the president tried to start an Ebola epidemic in America, but the outrage of conservative governors and citizens, as well as the turnout of True Patriots at the ballot box in November, persuaded him that he had to abandon his fiendish plans for mass infection, and thus we had these new drug trials (which I'm sure took only a matter of days, and weren't the culmination of a long process that was accelerated when the African epidemic expanded months ago, right?).

Or maybe it will be argued that Obama is planning to give all the good drugs to the Africans, while letting Americans die (y'know like the -- checks notes -- zero Americans currently infected with Ebola).

But, in any case, this seems like good news -- or so the liberal media would like you to believe....

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


In his new Time op-ed on Ferguson, Rand Paul spends several paragraphs discussing the War on Drugs -- even though the War on Drugs is not at all relevant to the killing of Michael Brown. In fact, Paul writes as if he thought the War on Drugs actually was relevant to the Brown case, but, upon being informed that it wasn't, he decided he didn't want to edit out references to it because being a Republican who's kinda-sorta not 100% anti-drugs is his brand:
In the search for culpability for the tragedy in Ferguson, I mostly blame politicians. Michael Brown's death and the suffocation of Eric Garner in New York for selling untaxed cigarettes indicate something is wrong with criminal justice in America. The War on Drugs has created a culture of violence and put police in a nearly impossible situation.

In Ferguson, the precipitating crime was not drugs, but theft. But the War on Drugs has created a tension in some communities that too often results in tragedy.
Paul makes some reasonable points about disparities in the ways blacks and whites are treated by the justice system; liberals and moderates are all supposed to stand up and cheer at that. But it's all just a table-setter for this:
Reforming criminal justice to make it racially blind is imperative, but that won't lift up these young men from poverty. In fact, I don't believe any law will. For too long, we've attached some mythic notion to government solutions and yet, 40 years after we began the War on Poverty, poverty still abounds.

When you look at statistics for the white community alone, you see that we've become two separate worlds in which the successful are educated and wait to have children until they are married, and those in poverty are primarily those without higher education and with children outside of marriage.

This message is not a racial one. The link between poverty, lack of education, and children outside of marriage is staggering and cuts across all racial groups. Statistics uniformly show that waiting to have children in marriage and obtaining an education are an invaluable part of escaping poverty.

I have no intention to scold, but escaping the poverty and crime trap will require more than just criminal justice reform. Escaping the poverty trap will require all of us to relearn that not only are we our brother's keeper, we are our own keeper. While a hand-up can be part of the plan, if the plan doesn't include the self-discovery of education, work, and the self-esteem that comes with work, the cycle of poverty will continue.
So in what way is Paul different from any other Republican blaming the poor for their own poverty? Yes, he prefaces this with some hip talk about the drug war, and yes, he says that poor whites are also lazy, shiftless work-shirkers who can't keep it in their pants. How enlightened.

To Paul, the people who run the economy -- -- the haves and the politicians who do their bidding -- are utterly blameless when it comes to poor people's economic problems. It doesn't matter that blue-collar jobs have been rapidly disappearing and the overall middle class has been relentlessly shrinking. No one's to blame! It's that invisible hand!

Oh, and do you notice what else is missing from Paul's op-ed? Dave Weigel noticed:
Not mentioned, apart from an aside about an infamous case of police misconduct in Georgia, was the subject of Paul's first Ferguson op-ed, also published in Time. "We must demilitarize the police," wrote Paul in August....
Why? As Weigel notes, ever since we the Ferguson story went nationwide, the Fraternal Order of Police and National Sheriffs Association have lobbied furiously to keep the military gear flowing. And so Paul dropped the subject. A real profile in courage, that guy.

(Links via Reality Chex.)

Dr. Keith Ablow, a credentialed psychiatrist who does smug, trollish commentary at Fox News, was asked on the air this week to weigh in on the unrest in Ferguson. I'd embed the clip, but I've never been able to do that with any video from Fox -- I'm not sure why embedding at Blogger blogs is blocked, but maybe it's because Rupert Murdoch is still steamed about Google's market-share success relative to MySpace. In any case, here's what Ablow said, and yes, it's as offensive and patronizing as you'd expect:
Well, listen, I think as to the violence, you have to wonder whether among the explanations could be a kind of self-loathing, because people project their feelings outside of themselves. And if you think of kids, right, who feel like "Man, I did the wrong thing and I've been sent to my room," and then they bust the room up, they throw everything, that's a kind of analogy here, that the community, filled with a kind of feeling that they're not effective, that they wish that they could be doing better in life, maybe because they haven't been given enough full-time jobs, for example, are primed by leaders, the wrong leaders, to say, "You have justifiable rage." And it feels better to burn things down than to do any amount of introspection, like saying, "Hey, what's going on with our young men? Why is there a high rate of violence with our community? Why don't we have the kinds of jobs that we wish we did? Is it our leadership? Even our leadership in Washington. Is there leadership in the state house? Where is it?"
So, yes, we live in a society where it's no longer routine for white people to call black adult males "Boy," but a self-satisfied white commentator on thr most influential cable news channel in America will look at protesters outraged at the killing of an unarmed black teenager by a white cop and compare them to kids who have been sent to their room.

And no, don't imagine that the reference to economic issues is an acknowledgment by Ablow of ongoing racial inequities -- every Fox viewer knows the meme Ablow is invoking here, which is that Obama is the president who really hates black people, because look at the employment numbers in the black community (never mind the fact that the economic crash din't happen on Obama's watch, and the response to the crash in America, while inadequate, was better than in, say, the European Union, where there's plenty of persistent unemployment among non-black people).

Ablow's been asked a few times about real or imagined protests that turn violent, and he just makes stuff up and calls it the insight of a trained shrink. A couple of years ago, he told us that Obamacare would lead to riots, because, apparently, the cause of movements like Occupy Wall Street is fulsome government assistance:
... Ablow insisted that ObamaCare "takes control of your behavior in the way that a parent would of a child" with terrible psychological effects:
It absolutely infantilizes Americans because listen, even adolescents or younger kids -- they dream of the day when they're in charge of their own money. Why? Because we know that money has that significance... To treat the American public as though they are pre-adolescent slingshots them back that way psychologically so that they say to themselves, 'my decision-making capacity isn't so good.' ...What it does is deposits us back as children, when economically more than ever we need to be adult....

You think that Occupy Wall Street looked like a spectacle? Imagine tens of millions of adult children of Barack Obama deprived of their direction, of their monies, right? 99 weeks of unemployment, lots of food stamps, lots of bailouts… Guess what, when the piggy bank ain’t there, these are the people who’ll take to the streets with rocks. Trust me.
The unrest in September 2012 in response to the Innocence of Muslims video, including the Benghazi incident, was, according to Ablow, not the result of low self-esteem, not the result of protesters being treated like "pre-adolescent slingshot," but the result of some sort of non-specific insanity:
"To act in that fashion with murderous rage over a 17 minute film which is about free speech -- something we value in this country and have stood for and have died for -- isn't about practicing your religion, it's about not being well," said Ablow. "And if we have to define our enemies as not well, psychiatrically disordered, that confers a whole different level of risk in terms of what we are dealing with."

"They're not people, therefore, you can reason with because they are -- by definition then -- focused on a fixed and false belief system, when applied in this fashion, that people should die because they've been criticized," Ablow continued.

"If you’re not in your right mind, you can't weigh risks and benefits," Ablow said.

"Real insanity deprives people of their empathy for others. If these people are insane, you can't count on them to not blow themselves up, to not blow up your buildings and to not do other disastrous acts meant to destabilize everything we consider sane and civilized," Ablow concluded. "They're not just really upset, they're really not well."
These aren't even wrongheaded but well-intentioned analyses. They're just a bunch of psychiatry-esque assertions strung together for effect. But hey, it beats working, I guess.

I'll post the video later if I can find an embeddable version.


UPDATE: THe folks at Crooks & Liars were able to embed the video when they cross-posted this, so here goes:


On Sunday night, Ted Cruz attended a dinner in New York hosted by the Zionist Organization of America; also in attendance were Alan Dershowitz, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, former Michael Jackson confidant and Kosher Sex author Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, and John Hagee, a religious right minister whose assertion that the Holocaust was part of God's plan motivated John McCain to reject his endorsement in 2008, but who now presents himself as an ardent Christian Zionist.

Cruz received a warm reception at the dinner and tossed out a lot of rhetorical red meat:
The senator made his living litigating before the Supreme Court before heading to Washington. So he knew how to play to the room with appropriate outrage about the Obama administration's perceived deficits on the Jewish state. For example, he cited a case in which a Jewish family wants to list "Jerusalem, Israel" on its son's passport. Deploying a mindboggling analogy before the highest court, the Soliciter General likened Israel’s claim over Jerusalem to Russia's claim on Crimea.

... Mr. Cruz thundered, "That is a grotesque and offensive analogy. This administration has been the most antagonistic toward Israel in memory."
I'm not going to defend the analogy, but it's fallen to the Obama administration to defend a Jerusalem policy that dates back several decades. Yes, Congress passed a law in 2002 declaring it to be U.S. policy that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel -- the Obama administration is in court defending its refusal to abide by that law -- but George W. Bush defied the law before Obama did, signing the bill but refusing to enforce the provision regarding Jerusalem. Here's a New York Times story from October 2, 2002:
The Bush administration said today that it would ignore as unconstitutional new Congressional dictates that would require the United States to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel....

As a candidate for president, Mr. Bush backed Israel's claim to Jerusalem as its capital, but in office he fell back on the longstanding American position that Arabs and Israelis must settle the question together....

On Monday, rather than veto the bill, Mr. Bush signed it. But he said the provisions on Jerusalem "if construed as mandatory rather than advisory, impermissibly interfere with the president's constitutional authority to formulate the position of the United States, speak for the nation in international affairs and determine the terms on which recognition is given to foreign states." He added, "U.S. policy regarding Jerusalem has not changed."
Here's the signing statement in which Bush rejected the provision.

Even Saint Ronald Reagan resisted earlier efforts by Congress to move America's Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 1984:
... a bill introduced by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D) of New York proposes that the United States move its embassy from Israel's coastal city of Tel Aviv inland to Jerusalem. He argues that this would simply be a matter of recognizing reality....

The Reagan administration argues that the US has been and remains Israel's staunchest supporter but that it has been consistent American policy to keep the US embassy in Tel Aviv, where almost all embassies are located. To move the embassy would undercut the administration's ability to play a mediating role in the Arab-Israeli conflict, officials say. They contend that President Carter could not have negotiated the Camp David accords between Egypt and Israel if he had adopted the position of either party on the question of Jerusalem.
(Yes, it's true: the Reagan administration defended itself on this by citing the hated Jimmy Carter!)
Administration officials have privately warned senators and congressmen that a vote in favor of moving the embassy could trigger demonstrations, mob attacks, and terrorist assaults on American embassies not only in the Middle East but also in large Muslim nations as far-flung as Pakistan and Indonesia.

The Arabic name for Jerusalem is Al Quds, meaning "The Holy Place." Islamic tradition says it is the site from which the Prophet Muhammad ascended into heaven. The National Association of Arab Americans (NAAA) has argued that moving the US embassy to Jerusalem would be seen as a "deliberate affront," in both political and religious terms, to the Arab and Islamic worlds, which constitute almost one-sixth of the human race.
(Yes, the Reagan administration resisted this change out of sensitivity to the opinions of -- gasp -- Muslims!)
Moynihan has won the support of 37 co-sponsors for his bill. In the House of Representatives, Tom Lantos (D) of California and Benjamin Gilman (R) of New York have introduced a similar bill, which now has 213 co-sponsors.

Fearing an explosive reaction in the Middle East should the bills be approved , the Reagan administration has lobbied heavily against them. Last week, President Reagan told the New York Times that it would be "most unwise" for the US to move its Israel embassy to Jerusalem. Reagan suggested that if necessary he would veto the embassy legislation....
The Jerusalem Embassy Act finally passed in 1995, but it permitted the president to sign a waiver, good for six months, delaying enforcement of the provision. The provision has been waived every six months by every president since its passage.

But demagogues like Cruz want you to believe that failure to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital is a unique Obama-era act of anti-Semitism. This isn't the first time the right has tried to pull this stunt -- in July 2012, on the eve of a Mitt Romney trip to Israel, a reporter tried to compel White House press secretary Jay Carney to acknowledge that Jerusalem is Israel's capital, without success. Right-wingers made much of this. Romney went on to say that Jerusalem is Israel's capital -- just as candidate Barack Obama had done in June 2008. It's the standard dance for presidential candidates (see George W. Bush's flip-flop, above). But, of course, in Obama's case, and only in Obama's case, it's because he hates the Jews.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


I'm supposed to be furious at Chuck Schumer for what he just said, but I'm sorry, he has a point:
Democrats made a mistake by passing President Barack Obama's health-care law in 2010 instead of first focusing more directly on helping the middle class, third-ranking U.S. Senate Democrat Charles Schumer said today.

"Unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them" in electing Obama and a Democratic Congress in 2008 amid a recession, Schumer of New York said in a speech in Washington. "We took their mandate and put all our focus on the wrong problem -- health care reform."

Schumer said Democrats should have addressed issues aiding the middle class to build confidence among voters before turning to revamping the health-care system. He said he opposed the timing of the health-care vote and was overruled by other party members.

"Unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them."

"The plight of uninsured Americans and the hardships created by unfair insurance company practices certainly needed to be addressed," the senator said. "But it wasn't the change we were hired to make" in the 2008 election....
You can say the bill was a great progressive victory -- but what Schumer says is the truth:
"We were in the middle of a recession. People were hurting and saying, 'What about me? I'm losing my job. It's not health care that bothers me. What about me?' ... About 85 percent of all Americans were fine with their health care in 2009, mainly because it was paid for by either the government or their employer, private sector. So they weren't clamoring. The average middle-class voter, they weren't opposed to doing health care when it started out, but it wasn't at the top of the agenda."
What was at the top of the agenda was avoiding a huge hit from the economic meltdown. And far too many people did take a hit. The jobs programs were inadequate. The mortgage relief programs were abysmal.

Dave Weigel understands that this is a progressive argument, although he thinks it's absurd:
... the "shouldn't have done it first" critique is actually rooted on the left. The theory goes like this: Just as Franklin Roosevelt used his first two years in power to regulate big finance and engage in wild, stimulative deficit spending, Obama should have spent two years on banker-thrashing and redistribution. Roosevelt's 1934 midterm wins -- the last midterm wins for an incumbent president until 1998 -- allowed the party to become more ambitious in the second half of his first term, and to pass the Social Security Act.

There's an alternative history of the Obama years in which the administration, like some time traveller sent back to fight Skynet, prevented the Tea Party from ever being born. It governed from the populist left; it owned the fight against "Wall Street" and denied the right the ability to side with the proles by opposing TARP. It's a widely held belief on the left that this really could have been done, with smarter hires and less concern for the financial world that was going to turn against Obama anyway. Obama could have, like FDR, "welcomed their hatred."

The small problem with this argument is that it's bonkers. The Republican opposition to the new Obama presidency did not begin with the ACA. It began with the economic stimulus bill, which Democrats had hoped to get as many as 80 Senate votes for, and ended up scraping through with only three Republican votes in the Senate and none in the House.... There was just no evidence that the Republicans could be cowed, no matter how populist the Obama policy....
But Obama, even after the stimulus fight and the rise of the tea party, had enough juice to get the health care bill passed, because that's what he'd saved the rest of his political capital for. That was the make-or-break agenda item for him.

And of course he was going to prioritize that rather than a larger stimulus -- he was an ambitious president with an eye to the history books. A bigger stimulus wasn't going to be the accomplishment that made his name as a president -- for that he needed a big piece of legislation.

Except that what Obama is going to be known for is failing to help the middle class enough in the wake of the crash. I favor the health care law, but it's porous -- it doesn't help enough people, and there are many people it doesn't help at all.

What if stimulus and debt relief had gotten the make-or-break treatment from the White House? Weigel says the administration couldn't get more stimulus past the GOP, which put up tremendous resistance, but the GOP put up massive resistance to the health care law, and the White House pushed it through.

Would the health care law eventually have passed? Possibly not. But Obama would nevertheless be a president who'd delivered for a broad swath of the 99% -- a broader swath than those who've benefited from the health care law. I think it would have been a worthwhile tradeoff.


Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post looks at Ferguson and sees a failure of leadership in the weeks since Michael Brown was shot:
... Ever since that fateful Saturday afternoon, there have been protests about the way Brown was treated and the way African Americans in general have been treated in the St. Louis suburb. The most dramatic and revealing were those that erupted the evening of Aug. 13.... in the chaotic nighttime scene three people were missing: Gov. Jay Nixon (D), Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III and Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson.

As their city and state and their police forces ran roughshod over the First Amendment rights of demonstrators with the entire world watching, those three public officials were nowhere to be seen. Their inexcusable absence that night, the lack of leadership it exposed and the subsequent bumbling efforts to show control might explain why there was so much hysteria leading up to tonight’s announcement that Wilson will not be charged in Brown's death.

My view of their actions is certainly colored by my 16 years in New York City. Whenever anything big happened or was about to happen in the Big Apple or the Empire State (from snow storm to terrorist attack), you were guaranteed to see the mayor, the governor, the police commissioner and every relevant city and state commissioner squeezed behind a podium to give anxious New Yorkers an update. Both in word and presence, those public officials at least gave the impression that someone was in charge. Someone was accountable. Someone was speaking for them. Nixon, Knowles and Jackson (especially Jackson) have consistently failed that basic test of leadership....
Did they really fail a test of leadership? Or are they just running government the way Heartland America wants it to be run?

Capehart is right that we New Yorkers expect our elected officials to be responsive in situations like this. We may disagree, sometimes strongly, on what those responses should be, but up here we generally believe in the existence of government. We expect government officials to do what they can to make a troubling situation better.

Maybe that's not what elected officials in Missouri think -- Democratic or Republican -- because they're in a heartland state and they're being responsive to the majority population, which doesn't believe in government. Maybe the Gospel of Reagan holds sway -- government never makes anything better, though if there are undesirables to be violently confronted, then government absolutely has a role in that. But government as a real, proactive force for good? That's crazy talk.

Maybe this is just the government Missouri deserves. Maybe this is precisely the amount of government Missouri, or at least its majority population, thinks it wants.

Let's compare and contrast. Wilson, after what he describes as a physical fight with Michael Brown:

George W. Bush, after collapsing while choking on a pretzel in 2002:

Outgoing secretary of defense Chuck Hagel, after colliding with a cabinet door in his kitchen earlier this month:

If Wilson was ustified in using lethal force, then I think Hagel had every right to murder his kitchen cabinet in cold blood, while Bush should have launched an war to overthrow the pretzel manufacturer. Don't you think?

Monday, November 24, 2014


Chuck Hagel is resigning as defense secretary under pressure from the White House. As Dave Weigel notes, John McCain is vigorously defending Hagel:
In a morning interview with NewsTalk 550, McCain struck back at the idea that Hagel was incompetent, or that he was the problem with the administration.

"I just talked to him," said McCain. "They're gonna say, well, it was time for a change. Well, let me tell you. He was in my office last week. He was very frustrated. We have no strategy."

... "Believe me," said McCain, "he was up to the job."
This is not how McCain was talking about Hagel when Hagel was seeking confirmation in the Senate:
... Anyone who watched Hagel's confirmation hearings last January might be surprised to hear this. When Hagel was in his final term as a Nebraska senator, he vehemently opposed the Bush administration's Iraq strategy. He opposed McCain when the Arizonan argued, successfully, for a troop surge in Iraq. At the 2013 hearings, McCain lit into Hagel. "Were you correct or incorrect when he said the surge would be the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam?" asked McCain, as Hagel sputtered.
But I think Weigel is overthinking this, seeing it as a strategic tack Republicans didn't want to take at the time of Hagel's confirmation:
Now, McCain was separating Hagel from the Obama administration. You can see why. At the start of 2013, when Hagel was confirmed, Gallup could credibly run a story titled "Obama Rated Highest on Foreign Affairs, Lowest on Deficit." ...

In 2013 and 2014, public approval of the Obama administration's foreign policy tumbled and never recovered. In the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll it sunk under 50 percent in August 2013, and never recovered; it's currently at 38 percent....

So why would those Republicans let Obama turn Chuck Hagel into a fall guy?
So McCain is "separating Hagel from the Obama administration" now, after not doing so in 2013, because Obama now has low foreign policy ratings?

Nahhh. McCain hates everything Obama does. When Obama appointed Hagel, it was bad, and now that Obama has effectively canned Hagel, that's bad. Obama could have just killed the head of ISIS with his bare hands and McCain would still denounce him on foreign policy. (He and other Republicans certainly didn't defer to public approval of Obama on foreign policy in early 2013 -- only four Senate Republicans voted to confirm Hagel.)

To McCain, the enemy is not overseas. Obama is the enemy. Critics of Republican policy are the enemy. Obama could do everything McCain recommends, and he'd still be the enemy, because, well, he's the enemy.

The president thinks "everybody" understands the reasonableness of his decision to adjust America's immigration prosecution priorities:
President Barack Obama brushed off complaints levied by the GOP that his immigration actions are illegal in an ABC News interview that aired today, saying that the U.S. has 'limited resources' and it only makes sense for the government to prioritize the removal of 'felons, criminals and recent arrivals' over longtime residents and families.

'Everybody knows, including Republicans, that we're not going to deport 11 million people,' Obama told George Stephanopolous during a Friday interview for his Sunday morning program This Week.

'The reason that we have to do prosecutorial discretion in immigration is that we know that we are not even close to being able to deal with the folks who have been here a long time,' he said....
See, I don't believe this. It seems to me that Americans can never decide whether their government is maximally incompetent or, at least in theory, maximally supercompetent -- they think government screws everything up, but they also think government ought to be able to kill all the terrorists, stop all the illegal border-crossers, seal off the country to Ebola and other diseases (and, when they're in a benign mood, ensure that everyone has a job and no one goes without health care) -- all without raising taxes or altering arrangements people are currently comfortable with (every health plan remains as is, no one ever has to remove shoes at the airport). So, yes, I think a lot of American believe we absolutely could deport all the undocumented residents and hermetically seal the borders, and we haven't done so out of a failure of will.

Americans don't understand how expensive it would be to deport every undocumented person in America:
In 2010, researchers at the Center for American Progress (CAP) calculated the total costs of such a program by breaking down the deportation process into four parts: Apprehension, detention, legal proceedings and transportation....

After running the numbers, CAP estimated the cost for deporting 10.8 million undocumented immigrants in America would be $200 billion over five years. DHS would also need $17 billion each year thereafter for continued enforcement. But there are more undocumented immigrants currently in the United States than when CAP produced its report. The DHS’s most recent report, from January 2012, estimates there are 11.5 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Adjusting for that increases the costs to $216 billion.

Yet even that understates the cost, because those numbers are not adjusted for inflation. Doing so brings the five-year cost of a mass deportations program to $239 billion, before factoring in the money for sustained enforcement to ensure a new wave of undocumented immigrants does not enter the United States. To put that in perspective, the federal government spent $265 billion on Medicaid in 2013. The Department of Homeland Security’s annual budget is only around $60 billion. A mass deportations program would require a massive increase in funding.
And while we're on the subject, let's talk about the cost of building a border fence, as reported in 2007:
The cost of building and maintaining a double set of steel fences along 700 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border could be five to 25 times greater than congressional leaders forecast last year, or as much as $49 billion over the expected 25-year life span of the fence, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

A little-noticed study the research service released in December notes that even the $49 billion does not include the expense of acquiring private land along hundreds of miles of border or the cost of labor if the job is done by private contractors -- both of which could drive the price billions of dollars higher.
But I don't even think this would get through to the many Americans who just want the government to seal the borders and deport 'em all. Americans really don't process budget numbers in a rational way. If they don't like the sound of a program, they'll deem it highway robbery and a willful effort to send them to the poorhouse, even if it's a relatively tiny expenditure (say, a $100,000 study of methane emissions from cow flatulence -- it will never occur to them that their share of that $100,000, as one of 300 million U.S. citizens, is much less than a penny). On the other hand, if they're in favor of a program -- say, a war against swarthy Muslim evildoers -- then money is no object.

But the president could at least try to get some of this across. He shouldn't just airily say that we all know these numbers -- we don't. I think he often fails at communicating ideas like this because he lives in a world of government officials and experts who actually do know this stuff. Ordinary Americans don't.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


In a New York Times story about the Republican presidential field, there's this:
To date, Mrs. Clinton, 67, has been the target of the age-oriented attacks by the younger Republicans. But some of that fire is now from within, albeit subtly. After Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, 62, mentioned 1980s-era congressional doings, when he was in the House, at a news conference here, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, 47, shot back: "John talked about '86? That’s when I was in high school."
Walker has mocked Hillary Clinton's age on more than one occasion. He did so a couple of weeks ago:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), a possible 2016 presidential candidate, raised the subject of Hillary Clinton's age when discussing when he might run for president.

"Whether it’s two years, six years, 20 years from now, because at 47, I mean I think about Hillary Clinton, I could run 20 years from now for president and still be about the same age as the former secretary of State is right now," Walker said in an interview with the local Fox affiliate....
And shortly before that:
This is not the first time the potential 2016 candidate has taken a dig at Clinton's age. Shortly after the latest midterm elections, Walker told Fox News that Clinton, who recently turned 67, embodies "old" politics.

"I think the biggest loser (in the midterms) was Hillary Clinton," Walker said. "She embodies Washington. She embodies that old, tired top-down approach from the government. I think in the states as governors, we offer a much better alternative, and I think there's a number of us who would be good prospects out there."
Why is this especially creepy coming from the 47-year-old Walker? Because his wife, Tonette, is 59:
Tonette Marie Tarantino was born on October 19, 1955....

She married her first husband when she was 23, but he died of kidney disease by the time she was 30. Five years after her first husband's death, she was at a karaoke night at a barbecue restaurant when she first met Walker, 12 years her junior.... She and Walker wed in 1993....
Tonette Walker is eight years younger than Hillary Clinton -- but that means she's closer to Hillary's age than to her husband's. And Tonette Walker is only three years younger than John Kasich. (Scott Walker may have been in high school in 1986, but his wife was a 31-year-old widow.)

If Scott Walker is a 47-year-old man who mocks other people for being older when his own wife is twelve years older, how much respect can he possibly have for her?

Well, I told you Republicans weren't going to give up on Benghazi:
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday blasted a House GOP-led investigation that recently debunked myths about the 2012 Benghazi attack.

"I think the report is full of crap," Graham said on CNN's "State of the Union."

... Graham didn't clearly pinpoint why he dismissed the report's findings, but suggested its information was provided by people in the intelligence community who had previously lied to Congress about the attack.

... Host Gloria Borger said the report found no one lied.

"That's a bunch of garbage," Graham replied....
A leading Republican wants to expand the House investigation into the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack by adding a Senate probe....

Referring to the House Select committee Chairman, and the Democratic ranking member, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, said the current House investigation should be expanded.

"(Republican) Trey Gowdy and (Democrat) Elijah Cummings have done a good job," he said. "I can't imagine the U.S. Senate not wanting to be a part of a joint select committee. We'll bootstrap to what you've done, but we want to be part of discussion," Graham told Fox News. "What I would suggest to (incoming Senate majority leader) Mitch McConnell is to call up Speaker Boehner and say 'Listen, we want to be part of this'."
The preferred Beltway narrative is that responsible establishment Republicans make up the majority of the party, and all they really want to do is "show they can govern," but they have to keep fending off a few pesky extremists, and they occasionally have to make extremist noises themselves to fend off primary challenges from the right.

Oh, please. Lindsey Graham just got reelected; he's not going to have to worry about a primary challenge from the right for another six years. I know he's made noises about running for president, but he knows he's not going to get the nomination.

The reality is that the entire Republican Party is crazy -- the differences are just in degree. People like Lindsey Graham will support immigration reform (at least in theory) and might vote not to shut down the government or put the entire country into default, but that doesn't mean they aren't crazy about other things.

As the second story I quoted (from Fox News) makes clear, the crazies in this case are three of the most prominent establishmentarians in the Senate:
Graham, along with his two Republican colleagues, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, have been outspoken advocates of a special investigation, because they say then-acting director of the CIA Mike Morell misled them about his role in crafting the so-called media talking points that blamed an opportunistic protest gone awry for the assault....

The Obama White House did not move away from the protest explanation for the attack that killed four Americans - Ambassador Chris Stevens, State Department Foreign Service officer Sean Smith, and former Navy Seals and CIA contractors Ty Woods and Glenn Doherty - until September 20....
Just a reminder: the attack happened on September 11, 2012, and we've spent more than two years fixating on talking points that the administration stuck with for nine days. And three of the major poohbahs of the establishment want us to keep fixating on these talking points until...

... oh, November 2016, I imagine:
... When Morell retired from the CIA last year, he told The Wall Street Journal he hoped to advise a presidential campaign, with anonymous sources telling the paper Morell was close to Hillary Clinton. Morell now works as a counselor at Beacon Global Strategies, a Washington D.C. firm closely aligned with the former secretary of State.
And then there's this:
... The report also shed new light on the CIA operation in Benghazi. Morell said the CIA annex was in eastern Libya "collecting intelligence about foreign entities that were themselves collecting weapons in Libya and facilitating their passage to Syria. The Benghazi Annex was not itself collecting weapons."

Newly declassified testimony before the House Intelligence Committee attached to the House report from the Director of National intelligence, James Clapper, as well as Morell, confirmed to lawmakers that the weapons shipments were known at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

Rep. Devin Nunes: Are we aware of any arms that are leaving that area and going into Syria?

Mr. Morell: Yes, sir.

General Clapper: Yes

Nunes: And who was coordinating that?

Mr. Morell: I believe the (redacted) are coordinating that.

Nunes: And were the CIA folks that were there, were they helping to coordinate that, or were they watching it, were they gathering information about it?

Mr. Morell: Sir, the focus of my officers in Benghazi was (redacted) to try to penetrate terrorist groups that were there so we could learn their plans, intentions and capabilities (redacted.)

The discussion is cut short by Rogers, who says not all members present have sufficient security clearances to hear further details. Fox News was first to question in October 2012 the significance of weapons shipments from Libya to Syria via Turkey, and who in the administration was read in on the program.
So McCain, Graham, and Ayotte are angry about this report, which refrains from accusing Morell of slipping arms to Syrian rebels in 2012. What's odd about this is that McCain and Graham told us in 2012 that they wanted Syrian rebels armed. So they wanted arms to go to the rebels and they're angry about a report that fails to accuse Morell of sending arms to the rebels? Or are they just angry about the talking points while the right-wingers who regard McCain, Graham, and Ayotte as evil neocons are angry about the arms? And Benghazi has them locked in a rage-disorder marriage of convenience?

Well, that's the modern GOP for you. All that matters is that you arrive at the conclusion that Democrats are traitors who must be crushed. Conclusion: no, Benghazi isn't going away.

(Links via Crooks & Liars and Politicus USA.)

Saturday, November 22, 2014


The House Intelligence Committee has issued a report on Benghazi that rejects much of what the right-wing base believes about the incident. Shortly after I wrote about this, I found an old post of mine being linked in a right-winger's tweet:

That's going to be the reason that at least some righties dismiss this report: they don't trust Mike Rogers, the outgoing chair of the Intelligence Committee. He's made the list of "top ten RINOs" in the House, based on ratings from the American Conservative Union. He's specifically loathed by many on the right for past votes to raise the debt ceiling, and to renew the Patriot Act. The latter sticks in the craw of those conservatives who use "neocon" as a pejorative; the tweeter quoted above is one of those:

The old post of mine that this guy linked was from March of this year; in it I noted that Rogers was very much against Rand Paul's drone filibuster. I also noted that he was getting criticism for his work with regard to Benghazi -- a Free Republic thread at the time was titled "Joe diGenova tells WMAL GOP Congressman Mike Rogers (MI-8) is trying to kill Benghazi Investigation." And I quoted an interview Rogers gave to The Washington Post, in which he responded to criticism of his committee's work by saying,
Part of the problem has been that there are conspiracy theorists who wanted us to find conspiracy A, B, and C, and I ran a very aggressive fact-based investigation. I didn't go into it -- as an old FBI agent you don’t get into it with a conclusion, but a premise.
As I wrote,
If he's actually bragging about not working backward from the conclusion that Hillary Clinton is an anti-American Antichrist, no wonder the base hates him.
So now we have his report, and we can go to The Conservative Treehouse to get a sense of what has some right-wingers ticked off:
• Both Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger are members of the Congressional Gang of Eight....

• Both Rogers and Ruppersberger would have been briefed on the CIA operations in Benghazi during 2011/2012 as the covert operation began....

• Rogers, Ruppersberger along with Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, Saxby Chambliss and Diane Feinstein would have been notified of the presidential authorization. In 2011 they were the congressional Gang of Eight. Their lack of oversight reflected a willful blindness to the operation....
..."The committee also found no evidence that the CIA conducted unauthorized activities in Benghazi"...
...The word emphasized is "unauthorized", meaning all of the activity was known, active, and authorized....
The belief is that there's a cover-up of covert arms shipment from Libya to Syria, a cover-up of which Rogers is a part. He has been an advocate of arming Syrian rebels, for which some on the right despise him.

I'm just scratching the surface of anti-Rogers anger on the right. Some think he actually has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, citing the fact that he spoke at a dinner honoring Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who tried to establish the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" and who's believed on the Pam Geller right to be dangerously close to the Muslim Brotherhood.

So, long story short, some wingers aren't going to buy this report. For them, Benghazi will never truly die.

You'd think this would be the end of Benghazi, but don't count on it:
A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees.

Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, intelligence about who carried it out and why was contradictory, the report found. That led Susan Rice, then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to inaccurately assert that the attack had evolved from a protest, when in fact there had been no protest. But it was intelligence analysts, not political appointees, who made the wrong call, the committee found. The report did not conclude that Rice or any other government official acted in bad faith or intentionally misled the American people.

But as a couple of us noticed last night, at least one prominent right-winger isn't giving up the fight:

You remember Stephen Hayes, right? A longtime advocate for the belief that Saddam was in cahoots with Al Qaeda? And, not incidentally, the author of a Dick Cheney biography written with Cheney's extensive cooperation, after Cheney praised Hayes's work on the alleged Saddam/Al Qaeda connection?

Admittedly, the rest of the right is barely acknowledging the existence of this report. As I type this, there are 66 linked items at the Drudge Report, but nothing on Benghazi. There's nothing about Benghazi on the front page of Fox Nation (Lois Lerner is front an center), and there's just a terse item acknowledging the facts of the report at National Review's Corner.

Well, of course. They won't talk about it for the same reason they won't talk about the fact that America is now Ebola-free -- because it would require them to admit error. It would require them to tell people they've worked up into a frenzy that the frenzy was uncalled for. That would make their audiences angry at them. The audiences know Democrats are engaged in every possible variety of unspeakable evil, and are all-powerful in their wickedness. They won't stand for being told otherwise.

But the silence doesn't mean that prominent right-wingers now realize Benghazi mania is pointless. It means they'll return to the subject when they think it suits them. Trey Gowdy's House Select Committee on Benghazi is still at work, after all. And as Politico notes, the just-released report does give Republican haters something to work with:
The report is likely to spur criticism against the State Department over the shape of its security protocols as the agency knew it was unprepared to defend the outpost in case of a well-organized and heavily armed attack -- a high probability in highly volatile region.

The report said State Department agents felt "ill-equipped and ill-trained to contend with the threat environment in Benghazi.”
I know -- that's nothing new. But it mean that Benghazi crazies can focus less attention on Susan Rice and more on Hillary Clinton. Don't worry, folks, we haven't seen the last of breathless Fox Benghazi stories with Hillary's "What difference does it make?" clip on auto-repeat.

Friday, November 21, 2014


I think my favorite gloss on the Bill Cosby story comes from Steven Hayward at Power Line:
I'm skeptical this came out of nowhere, and it would be interesting to find out with whom Burress discussed this subject prior to including it in his act.
Right. I'm sure Buress put the bit into his act after lengthy discussions with ... um, George Soros? Valerie Jarrett? Yeah, must be Jarrett. I'm sure she personally wrote the bit, and she was probably the one sitting in the back of that comedy club in Philadelphia illegally taping Buress, because now was the time to deploy the bit (which Buress says he's been doing on and off for six months) in order to distract us all from ... what? Democratic losses in the midterms? Jonathan Gruber? Benghazi?

Hayward continues:
Writing in The New Republic yesterday, Rebecca Traister says the charges against Cosby, though previously reported, were willfully disregarded because Cosby made white people feel just too good about themselves:
One reason that we have collectively plugged our ears against a decade of dismal revelations about Bill Cosby is that he made lots of Americans feel good about two things we rarely have reason to feel good about: race and gender...

White people loved "The Cosby Show," especially liberal white people... Any suggestion that white people were culpable in the history of racism that the show addressed mostly through reference to mid-twentieth-century activism. White audiences were never made to feel bad about themselves or confront any hard questions about how they had benefitted from American systems from which black Americans had not benefitted..

But when Cosby began to do his moralizing on race and responsibility, some of the cracks in the show's gender politics were exposed. It became clear that he placed a lot of blame for racial inequality not just on black people, but on black women who were not like Clair Huxtable... This was a brutal language of misogyny, blaming women—women unattached to men—for the social disintegration of the family.
Message received and understood: depart from the liberal party line at your peril.
Um, let's ignore the fact that Traister is saying that liberals watched Cosby and got the false impression that racism was no longer a problem. She's criticizing liberals.

And then consider the timeline she lays out. Hayward wants you to think that Cosby deviated from the party line and then had to be made an unperson by the liberal-fascist Politburo. But when does Traister say Cosby began blaming blacks (and black women in particular) for problems in the black community?
Cosby's infamous "pound cake" speech, delivered in 2004 on the fiftieth anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, was about what he saw as the role of parental inattention in landing so many black young men in jail. He was officially addressing both mothers and fathers, but his gendered judgments got clearer as he demanded, "Where were you when he was two? Where were you when he was 12? Where were you when he was 18, and how come you didn't know that he had a pistol? And where is his father? And why don't you know where he is?" In the same speech, Cosby lamented, "No longer is a person embarrassed because they’re pregnant without a husband," and chided, "Five or six different children, same woman, eight, 10 different husbands or whatever. Pretty soon you're going to have to have DNA cards so you can tell who you're making love to." This was a brutal language of misogyny, blaming women -- women unattached to men -- for the social disintegration of the family.
And for this heresy, the left-fascist goon squad cracked down on him ... er, a decade later?

Because the jackbooted thugs of the lefty secret police had a chance to deal with him sooner:
Over the course of the past decade, charges that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted more than a dozen women have been reported in plenty of splashy venues: in Newsweek and Gawker, on-camera on "The Today Show" in 2005; in People magazine in 2006.
So: 2004, he sharply criticizes blacks, and black women in particular; 2005 and 2006, allegations of rape arise. Did we disappear him then?
Yet much of this stuff has remained unacknowledged in the context of Cosby celebration. He's received an NAACP Image Award and the Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Award; a year ago, Jon Stewart concluded an interview with Cosby by noting "This man is the best," and this year, upon presenting him with a Lifetime Achievement Award, Chris Rock called him "the greatest comedian to ever live."
Gee, I guess not.

I guess we responded to those attacks on Correct Thinking about race by letting him bask in adulation for another ten years, then bringing the hammer down. Because we're fascists, but we're slow fascists. Soros and Jarrett took a while to give us the go-ahead.


In her latest cry of despair at the supposed horrors of the Obama presidency -- this one's titled "The Nihilist in the White House" -- Peggy Noonan explains the real meaning of Keystone:
And there is the Keystone XL pipeline and the administration's apparent intent to veto a bill that allows it. There the issue is not only the jobs the pipeline would create, and not only the infrastructure element. It is something more. If it is done right, the people who build the pipeline could be pressed to take on young men -- skill-less, aimless -- and get them learning, as part of a crew, how things are built and what it is to be a man who builds them.

On top of that, the building of the pipeline would show the world that America is capable of coming back, that we’re not only aware of our good fortune and engineering genius, we are pushing it hard into the future. America's got her hard-hat on again. America is dynamic. "You ain't seen nothin' yet." Not just this endless talk of limits, restrictions, fears and "Oh, we're all going to melt in the warm global future!"

Which is sort of the spirit of this White House.
Where to begin? Well, I'm trying to be high-minded here so, in response to the notion of Keystone allowing laborers to "take on young men," I'll resist the temptation to post sexualized totalitarian shirtless-laborer propaganda. Instead, I'll say: We need to build this specific pipeline in order for laborers to be able to mentor other laborers? Hey, how 'bout we ask the American Society of Civil Engineers whether there are any other projects that need doing?

Are you telling me, Peggy, that you don't see anything we could build on this list that would show the world that "America's got her hard-hat on again"? It has to be Keystone?

And if you're looking for some sort of engineering marvel, well, is Keystone even what you're looking for? Isn't it just another pipeline, apart from the fraught nature of what it's supposed to carry?

Ahhh, but I guess that's the point -- it carries a payload that's utterly masculine in its viscous dangerousness. Build it and you're the boss of the beach, able to kick sand in the face of our 98-pound weakling of a president and his effeminate whining about climate change.

That's the message of the last bit I quoted, of course: that Barack Obama is a big girl because he worries about greenhouses gases, and because the thought of fossil fuels doesn't make his sap rise. Of course, when he tried to fund some actual cutting-edge manufacturing technology, in the alternative-fuels area, the program was vilified by the right, including Noonan herself, even though the overall program turned a profit for the U.S., and even though the world would probably be much more impressed by U.S. breakthroughs in alternative energy than by one more pipeline meant as a conduit for unusually dirty oil. But that wouldn't have the intended effect on Noonan, would it?