A WORD, If I May?

A word with Richard “The Dick” Cheney:

You recently made the following statement on the Sean Hannity Show:

“I watched Benghazi with great interest, Sean, and I think it is one of worst incidents, frankly, that I can recall in my career.”

Really, dick? Apparently your memory of the events you’ve seen over the span of your career is faulty at best, or you are yet again engaging in a deliberate, self-serving attempt to catapult the propaganda your administration was famous for.

I would think (as would most people, I’m sure) that lying a nation into war might stand out in one’s memory as one of the “worst incidents” to be recalled in one’s career – especially when one was actually the author of those lies.

Let me refresh your memory as to what YOU are responsible for – and maybe you can explain your faulty memory to the following:

Every soldier who lost his or her life fighting a war based on your lies.

Every child growing up without a mom or a dad, because a parent never made it home from their tour.

Every mother and father who grieves the loss of a son or daughter who died on a battlefield created for your political goals.

Every widow and widower who will never hold a beloved spouse again due to your malicious dishonesty.

Every man or woman who had to bury a cherished brother or sister, niece or nephew, cousin or friend, as a result of your blatant untruths.

Every community that lost a neighbor, a local merchant, a selfless firefighter, a dedicated teacher, a devoted healthcare practitioner, a skilled craftsman, an auto mechanic, a plumber, an electrician – and all of those who contributed to their community in ways great and small.

Every soldier who will spend his/her life in a wheelchair, or a hospital bed – every soldier who will never experience another peaceful night’s sleep due to the nightmares they came to know in the furtherance of your contrived “war.”

Add to the above every Iraqi mother who watched her child killed or maimed due to your lies, or cradles a baby born with horrific birth defects thanks to your endless pursuit of carnage at any cost.

Every Iraqi father who was made to stand helplessly as he saw his son dragged off to Abu Ghraib, or cried hopelessly as his traumatized daughter described the violence she witnessed and endured.

Every Iraqi citizen who saw their beautiful country systematically destroyed, their culture spat upon, their priceless art stolen, their invaluable archaeological treasures pillaged, their revered ancient sites reduced to rubble.

Every Iraqi child who was orphaned, every school that was leveled, every hospital that was blown out of existence, every business that was shuttered, every citizen who had his religious beliefs disgraced, every man, woman and child who watched their homeland decimated while you masturbated to the sounds of “shock and awe.”

Every man or woman who was imprisoned, every man or woman who was tortured; every potential ally who was turned into a potential terrorist, bent on revenge against all Americans for what was done to their people, under your direction, in America’s name.

Every world citizen who once revered the American way of life, and now despises it. Every global neighbor who once respected our nation, and now abhors it. Continue reading A WORD, If I May?

Take Five (Iron Lady Down edition)

ONE: The 5.8-Percent Solution

Who better to eulogize the execrable Margaret Thatcher than the abysmal Sarah Palin? And so she has, in 1,002 suspiciously articulate words that appeared under Palin’s byline Monday courtesy of virtual fishwrap National Review Online. As Bob Cesca’s very entertaining dissection of the eulogy makes clear, Palin (or whichever staffer wrote this C-minus boilerplate on her behalf) is essentially paying tribute to Palin here, with telling lines about media persecution, ceilings (both glass and class), and misty-eyed praise for Thatcher’s supposed populism, her superhuman imperviousness to “childish attacks” from her political foes, her noble fetish for liberty, her salt-of-the-earth leadership, and her general maverickitudinous maverickosity.

With Thatcher now en route to meet her Maker for a lengthy and probably awkward discussion about the destructive effects of her policies, Palin seems to be banking on the dubious notion that conservatives everywhere yearn for a new Iron Lady. If she really aspires to assume the mantle, she might want to rethink her PAC, a widening sinkhole for the misdirected dollars of the faithful.

While SarahPAC describes itself as “dedicated to building America’s future by supporting fresh ideas and candidates who share our vision for reform and innovation,” its parsimony in supporting Republican candidates stands in garish contrast to its lavish disbursements on consultants and ancillary expenses, all of which adds renewed resonance to Palin’s longstanding reputation of pronounced carefreedom with other people’s money.

The PAC’s FEC filings for 2012 show that it spent $5,186,777, of which $80,000 was donated to Senate candidates, $213,500 to candidates in House races (including $10,000 to Allen West’s failed reelection bid and $2,500 to an Ohio Democrat, convicted felon Jeffrey Johnson), along with another $5,000 to the Romney campaign. If you’re interested in where the remaining $4,888,277 went, John Avlon provides some helpful details, after quoting Palin’s high-minded, cast-out-the-moneychangers rhetoric at this year’s CPAC:

“Now is the time to furlough the consultants, and tune out the pollsters, send the focus groups home and throw out the political scripts, because if we truly know what we believe, we don’t need professionals to tell us…”

Palin’s chief PAC consultant, Tim Crawford, pocketed more than $321,000 this election cycle in direct payments alone… Aries Petra Consulting was taking in between $6,000 and $8,000 a month for speechwriting and “grassroots consulting”—something that sounds like an oxymoron, but ended up costing north of $160,000. C&M Transcontinental racked up $10,000 a month in management consulting, which is hard to imagine for a PAC whose job is simply to raise money and spend it on candidates.

I do have to take issue with that last point. Given that this is Sarah Palin’s political action committee, it’s hard to imagine that things could have gone any differently.

TWO: Hanging Party

The Alaska GOP’s Anchorage headquarters, a building with all the curb appeal of a bait shack or a three-for-the-price-of-one taqueria, last week became the epicenter of what one insider described as a “civil war for the soul of the Alaska Republican Party.”

Sweet.

The war actually began back in January when chair-elect Russ Millette was ousted by the party’s executive committee a day before he was due to begin his term. The position was then assumed by vice-chair-elect Debbie Brown, whose political skills seem to fall just a tad short of making friends and influencing people. Whatever the machinations over the span of the last weeks, Brown eventually alienated a sufficient proportion of the executive committee that she felt it necessary to have the locks at 1001 West Fireweed Lane changed, while she hightailed it out of the state. The committee then organized an impromptu meeting in the parking lot of the shuttered HQ before deciding they looked too ridiculous there. After moving the meeting to the boardroom of an engineering firm, they deliberated for nearly five hours and finally voted Brown out.

But this isn’t over yet. Failed GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller yesterday posted a scan of a letter from Alicé Leuchte, party secretary, affirming that Brown’s April 8 removal was invalid. Meanwhile, in her capacity as state party chair, Brown is attending the RNC’s spring meeting in California, as is Peter Goldberg, whom the executive committee installed in her place. The new locks at 1001 West Fireweed Lane are apparently still virgo intacta, and the Alaska Republican Party is still reeling.

Isn’t it obvious what they need to do? If she’s not at home in Wasilla or Scottsdale, the executive committee might find Governor Palin speeding down the wrong side of the road somewhere between Land’s End and John o’Groats, stumping to overthrow David Cameron. The Alaska Republican Party’s Iron Lady awaits, unless of course the British outbid them.

THREE: Far Out

In a week where President Obama, with apparent seriousness, described Margaret Thatcher as “one of the great champions of freedom and liberty” and unveiled a budget that calls for the implementation of a chained CPI framework for future Social Security increases, I suppose nothing else should seem shocking. Yet I was shocked just the same to see WND’s Joseph Farah offer up an alternative to war on the Korean peninsula:

I say forget about talking to Kim.

I say forget about considering plans for invading North Korea.

I say there’s an alternative to bombing the country’s nuclear installations to prevent a future holocaust.

Let’s try bombing the people with support.

Let’s try carpet-bombing North Korea with food, with small arms and munitions and the instructions they need to overthrow the little despot who keeps them in chains.

Let’s try extending our hands in love to the people of North Korea…

Holy crap! Farah had better watch his step; if he ever advocates carpet-bombing poor, hungry Americans with food, WND’s zero-information readership will overrun his offices, brand his buttocks with the words “Filthy Hippie” and push him out of a helicopter somewhere over Marin County. Continue reading Take Five (Iron Lady Down edition)

Take Five (Really, Really, Really Fuzzy Math edition)

ONE: Misunderestimations

This week marked the tenth anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq, illegal as in fraudulently undertaken, thereby invalidating any supposed sanction previously conferred either by Congress or the United Nations, and also incomprehensibly immoral, like all crimes against humanity.

There should be no surcease, ever, of denunciation of the criminal horror unleashed on Iraq by the Bush administration and those who helped enable it, the latter largely for shamefully political reasons. In a nation with such a bounteous supply of prisons, there’s plenty of room to house the guilty for the rest of their lamentably natural lives, and their accomplices for some fraction thereof.

I have no hope that either will ever happen.

This week, fifteen months after the last combat troops were withdrawn from Iraq, the anniversary was marked in George Bush’s “beacon of democracy in the Middle East” with a wave of lethal violence, tersely quantified by the New York Times:

… 57 dead and nearly 190 wounded in separate attacks that included 17 car bombs, 2 adhesive bombs stuck to cars, and a killing with a silenced gun.

This week, Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies released the results of a study conducted by its Cost of War Project. The study found:

The U.S. war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest…

The war has killed at least 134,000 Iraqi civilians and may have contributed to the deaths of as many as four times that number…

When security forces, insurgents, journalists and humanitarian workers were included, the war’s death toll rose to an estimated 176,000 to 189,000, the study said.

Yes, effecting mass death, destruction and chaos is more efficient than ever, yet it still doesn’t come cheap. Of course, that’s not how the Bush junta made its sales pitch. In the run-up to The Decider’s trigger finger getting intolerably itchy, Mitch Daniels, his OMB director, nudged up the saturation on the administration’s already over-saturated blue skies, to obscure what it would really cost in borrowed cash to dust off Saddam Hussein as one would a garden pest and install a compliant regime straight out of whatever remained of Dick Cheney’s wet dreams:

Mr. Daniels would not provide specific costs for either a long or a short military campaign against Saddam Hussein. But he said that the administration was budgeting for both, and that earlier estimates of $100 billion to $200 billion in Iraq war costs by Lawrence B. Lindsey, Mr. Bush’s former chief economic adviser, were too high.

And then he added a scabrous little grace note:

Mr. Daniels cautioned that his budget projections did not mean a war with Iraq was imminent, and that it was impossible to know what any military campaign against Iraq would ultimately cost.

The viciously, deliberately dishonest math behind all this has long been known, although it has constantly been revised upwards. Contrasts were drawn between prediction and reality almost from the outset, despite the best efforts of White House propagandists, supine but incessantly talkative members of Congress, and the jitterbugging marionettes of the mainstream media. The immense gap between the predicted and actual numbers probably still provokes gales of rheumy cackling whenever the old gang gathers around the fireplace for a snifter of brandy or human blood in whatever dank privy the original PNAC signatories still hold their unholy soirées.

TWO: With Fiends Like These…

Over and above the rancor they directed at Democrats, progressives and various other favorite scapegoats for the deleterious effects of their own wretched ideas, participants at CPAC ‘s 40th anniversary shindig last week were also remarkably splenetic toward each other.

Rick Perry brought a McCain/Romney dartboard:

“Now, the popular media narrative is that this country has shifted away from conservative ideals, as evidenced by the last two presidential elections… That is what they say. That might be true if Republicans had actually nominated conservative candidates in 2008 and 2012…”

Rand Paul was even more bluntly insolent to his elders:

“The GOP of old has grown stale and moss-covered… I don’t think we need to name any names here, do we?”

Donald Trump’s post-speech press conference featured another of the oafish magnate’s swipes at Karl Rove:

“This is the same mind that spent $400 million and didn’t win a race. He’s the most overrated person in politics…”

Louie Gohmert discharged a lot of indiscriminate buckshot, some of which winged the Nixon administration:

“Vietnam was winnable, but people in Washington decided we should not win it.”

Sarah Palin continued her lupercalian vendetta against sort-of-Republican Mike Bloomberg:

“Bloomberg’s not around,” Palin joked as she slurped on a giant soda, “our Big Gulps are safe.”

Brent Bozell dragged in a whole sack of grudges. Against, for example, Paul Ryan:

“… your proposed budget that has the federal government spending $41 TRILLION over the next ten years, with more and more and more spending increases every single year, and assumes all the oppressive Obamacare taxes. Congressman, that’s what liberal Democrats do, not us.

“This is not conservatism. It is, literally, Democrat Lite…”

Against Haley Barbour:

“… my friend, when you call for unity and on conservatives to ‘sing from the same hymnal’ and then publicly trash good conservative groups like Club for Growth for supporting good conservatives, you’re out of tune, and you’re out of line…”

Against the House leadership:

“John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Kevin McCarthy… you, like virtually every single other Republican elected to Congress solemnly vowed to rid us of Obamacare, which you can do simply by refusing to fund it. Why haven’t you done so?

“You’ve done nothing for over two years but give us excuses and more commitments that tomorrow, yes tomorrow, you’ll honor your promises. Gentlemen, where promises are concerned, you are not what you promised to be.”

With all the heated infighting, it’s a good thing attendees could buy a Marco Rubio water bottle in the exhibit hall.

THREE: Minority Report I

Desperate to garner votes from minority groups they mostly would prefer not to have anything to do with, Republicans still don’t seem to understand the difference between genuine outreach and simple smash-and-grab.

Take the CPAC breakout session called “Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?” chaired by K. Carl Smith, an African-American conservative. What could go wrong? Lots: Continue reading Take Five (Really, Really, Really Fuzzy Math edition)

Take Five (Cry If I Want To edition)

ONE: There’s Got to Be a Morning After

On November 7, the sun rose over a Republican Party in bleary-eyed disarray. Clearly, it was time for institutional soul searching, time to push the chair back from the immovable feast of civic ignorance, time to build bridges to women, blacks, Hispanics, the LGBT community, time to stop screeching and – politely, respectfully, humbly – rejoin the American conversation.

Naturally, none of this happened. Instead, the GOP nonchalantly brushed the cigarette butts off the pizza crusts, shook off its electoral hangover, and resumed its reckless bender. Compromise? Nope. Public interest? Don’t care. Policy proposals? Not a chance. Constitution? Screw it.

There’s no better (meaning worse) example of this than Louie Gohmert. The fifth-term Texas Congressman kicked off 2013 by joining with the equally loathsome Paul Broun to nominate Allen West for Speaker of the House, but quickly moved on to what Gohmert considers much more serious business, in this case the defense of the Republic from the grave and gathering threat of, uh… sharia law.

Gohmert used a recent appearance on a rightwing radio show to share his “thoughts” on the topic:

We – we’ve got some people that think Sharia Law ought to be the law of the land, forget the Constitution. But the guns are there, that Second Amendment is there, to make sure all the rest of the Amendments are followed.

Of course, this is the same guy who commented, following the Newtown massacre:

I wish to God [the principal] had had an M-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out and she didn’t have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands, but she takes him out, takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids.

If there’s a silver lining to having Gohmert sitting in the House of Representatives, it’s that he no longer presides as Chief Justice of the Texas 12th Court of Appeals, a position to which he was appointed in 2002 by fellow empty-headed loudmouth Rick Perry.

TWO: Michele Bachmann, Job Creator

Her presidential campaign never got past Iowa. She barely held on to her House seat despite outspending her Democratic opponent by a factor of 11. She’s currently embroiled in a sordid set-to with former campaign staffers over unpaid wages and various other alleged improprieties. Despite all that, Michele Bachmann is heartily pleased with herself.

In an appearance at Patrick Henry College the other day as part of the school’s Newsmakers interview series, Bachmann boasted:

“If you’re a conservative you can never get anything wrong and I was very proud of the fact that I didn’t get anything wrong that I said during the course of the debates… It forces a person to be better. You have to be a virtual Wikipedia.”

Or not. At all. As Raw Story points out:

During the Republican presidential primary debates, Bachmann claimed the HPV vaccine could cause mental retardation.

And in a later debate, Bachmann claimed she had never made the claim.

She also claimed President Barack Obama had “the lowest public approval ratings of any president in modern times,” accused former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney of implementing “socialized medicine,” and said the U.S. “will be paying for the entire People’s Liberation Army of China” by 2015.

In a November 2011 debate, Bachmann insisted that the Obama Administration had canceled the Keystone XL pipeline (it hadn’t) and the 20,000 jobs it would supposedly create (it won’t), and that the President had met, without preconditions, no less, with Iranian officials (he didn’t).

This is just the latest example of Bachmann vigorously and quite inappropriately patting herself on the back for veracity she doesn’t possess. In one of the debates, she went as far as asserting that PolitiFact backed her up:

“After the debate that we had last week, PolitiFact came out and said that everything I said was true.”

Of course, Politifact had done no such thing:

… in fact, Bachmann earned two ratings from us at that debate, a Mostly True for her claim that Newt Gingrich advocated for the individual mandate in health care and a Pants on Fire for her claim that Mitt Romney set up a health plan in Massachusetts that is “socialized medicine.”

And PolitiFact didn’t let it go at that:

… The fact that Bachmann would cite us was interesting given that her PolitiFact report card shows 60 percent of her ratings have been False or Pants on Fire.

In another debate, Bachmann hilariously claimed that raising the debt ceiling would be equivalent to handing Barack Obama a “blank check,” but I agree with John Avlon that a favorite hit from the Bachmann songbook of deceit is this:

“This is one thing we know about Barack Obama. He has essentially handed over our interrogation of terrorists to the ACLU. He’s outsourced it to them. Our CIA has no ability to have any form of interrogation for terrorists.”

Bachmann may consider herself a “virtual Wikipedia,” but I think Robert Schlesinger was a lot closer to the mark when he described her as:

… practically a walking, talking full-employment plan for journalistic fact-checkers.

THREE: Three of an Imperfect Pair

But a vibrant democracy needs more than just elected asshats; it also needs unelected ones. Enter Larry Pratt, Stan Solomon and Greg W. Howard.

Pratt is something of a Renaissance asshat. Yes, he did serve briefly in the Virginia House of Delegates, but he’s been far more active and effective since leaving office. He founded the xenophobic organization English First, served as a board member of ALEC, and currently helms Gun Owners of America, a group of firearms fetishists who consider the NRA a bunch of pinko sellouts.

Solomon is a broadcast hatemonger with a particular bent for homophobia, and is best known for his inability to shut up.

Howard is sort of a journeyman asshat. He considers Alan Keyes “eloquent” and Twitter a “haven for cyberbullying, pornography, racism,” he describes abortion in the African American community as “America’s Holocaust,” and he has a strange obsession with Saul Alinsky, in much the same way, I suppose, that some people are obsessed with Space Food Sticks or surreys with a fringe on top or The Buggles. Continue reading Take Five (Cry If I Want To edition)

From Here to Anonymity (Man of a Thousand Farces edition)

With a shudder, it occurred to me the other day that I’ve been writing about Willard Mitt Romney, off and on, for nineteen months. There are very few things I dream of spending nineteen months writing about, and he sure as hell isn’t one of them. Nevertheless, with Romney down to his final hours of pretending he can become President of the United States of America, the travail continues.

First, though, let me get Paul Ryan out of the way. Whatever he was thought, or hoped, to bring to the Republican ticket, what Ryan mostly brought was additional opportunities for ridicule, and even the shallow entertainment value thus provided got old fast. The vaunted conservative policy wonk – a “numbers guy” whose numbers (when he bothers to offer any) never add up, a “serious thinker” whose cherished political convictions are a bumper sticker pastiche of Ayn Rand’s Epistles to the Terminally Selfish, a small-government zealot whose entire life, pretty much, has consisted of feeding, if not gorging, at the public trough – has been surprisingly useless to the ticket. And I say “surprisingly” because I’d assumed that merely by naming a running mate, any running mate, the top of the ticket would receive a little less scrutiny, thereby benefiting the campaign. Happily, I stand corrected.

I was also convinced it was damn near impossible that a person could look more ludicrous than Ryan did in his now-infamous “Hey Girl” beefcake shoot, but I erred on that score, as well. In a world where Ryan could become the vice-presidential nominee of a major political party in the first place, not only was it possible, it was probably inevitable. When I saw the photos of the assistant-Commander-in-Chief-wannabe at a soup kitchen he was never invited to, stylin’ for the cameras as he scrubbed clean pots and pans, his grinning wife standing nearby, I experienced that vilest of emotions: feeling embarrassed for people too oblivious to be embarrassed for themselves. Mixed, of course, with newly refreshed loathing.

Yet even this sleazy perfidy pales beside the Romney/Ryan campaign’s crass exploitation of the Hurricane Sandy disaster, when a scheduled Dayton campaign rally was hastily converted into a “storm relief event.” BuzzFeed has a terrific piece on the debacle, brimming with ghastly details, but the short version is that Romney’s handlers rushed to Walmart, spent $5,000 on groceries and other items the Red Cross didn’t want, handed them out to attendees so that the attendees could then “donate” them back, and all the while were blithely unconcerned that the obviously phony event would be exposed as, well, obviously phony. Not quite as spectacularly phony as George Bush’s victory jig on an aircraft carrier, granted, but culled from the same Republican playbook. Not satisfied with this smarmy charade, Romney then embarked on some epic hurricane-driven flip-flopping over just what he would or wouldn’t do with FEMA were the country to lose its collective mind and elect him, and topped it all off Wednesday morning in Tampa by urging 2,000 perfervid supporters to dig, uh, not very deep:

“So please if you have an extra dollar or two, send them along and keep people who have been in harm’s way, who’ve been damaged either personally or through their property, keep them in your thoughts and prayers…”

As the media continued to stream horror stories from Sandy’s wake, Romney’s Thursday afternoon rally in Virginia Beach was interrupted by a protester, who asked:

What about climate? That’s what caused this monster storm! Climate change!

As the candidate silently watched with his trademark vacant leer, the crowd began the boorish “USA!” chant Republican mobs, weirdly, use to try and shut up people they disagree with, as the protester was hauled away. Stinky little scenes like this have been integral to the Romney campaign, rather than isolated, garish eruptions of excessive exuberance, as they tended to be characterized back when Sarah Palin – or Ryan 1.0, as I now think of her – incited GOP crowds by claiming that Barack Obama “palled around with terrorists.”

As the last day of this sordid, abysmal campaign crawls by, we can at least be grateful that a few heretofore-obscure details are becoming clearer. That sure beats having to wait for the impending slew of tell-all books by Romney/Ryan campaign insiders, most of which will be read all the way through only by reviewers (and only because they’ll be paid to do so).

The recent plague of plutocratic extortionists threatening their employees with dire consequences for failure to vote Romney comes to mind. In These Times helpfully connected the dots back to a June 6 conference call where the candidate himself urged such a course: Continue reading From Here to Anonymity (Man of a Thousand Farces edition)

Take Five (Aw, Shut Up edition)

ONE: Family Circus of Horrors

Among the persistent annoyances of modern life, like “smart” phones, white kids desperate to make the world think they just came straight outta Compton, and those infuriating micro-commercials that have started to crop up between batters in televised ballgames, one stands out as especially irksome. His name is Dick Cheney.

Everybody’s favorite scabrous, loathsome heap of lurid hell-spawn crawled out of the anus of Satan into the daylight last Tuesday (which, not at all incidentally, was September the 11th) to vomit forth a few sulfurous lies about the President before disappearing back up the Great Deceiver’s bunghole.

Actually, it was a little less dramatic than that. The retired war criminal simply had a spokesperson send an e-mail on his behalf to Tucker Carlson’s scurrilous website The Daily Caller, in which Cheney fulminated:

“If President Obama were participating in his intelligence briefings on a regular basis then perhaps he would understand why people are so offended at his efforts to take sole credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden…

“Those who deserve the credit are the men and women in our military and intelligence communities who worked for many years to track him down. They are the ones who deserve the thanks of a grateful nation.”

The dusty old vampire obviously based this bogus accusation on a recent Washington Post screed by noted imbecile and former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen, wherein the President was accused of “skipping more than half of his daily intelligence meetings.” (A day after Thiessen’s tripe ran, Jonathan Capehart, with reference to an earlier Post piece by Walter Pincus, calmly and thoroughly debunked it.)

Since President Obama has never made any effort to take “sole credit” for the killing of Osama bin Laden, it was difficult at first to understand why Cheney was so vigorously trash-talking him all of a sudden. Things became much clearer when I read Kurt Eichenwald’s New York Times article about the Bush Misadministration’s repeated failure to act on clear warnings throughout 2001 of an imminent terrorist attack. Turns out there was a hell of a lot more than just that infamous August 6th PDB that Cheney and friends turned a blind eye to. Imagine that. Better, then, to distract, deflect, and denounce Barack Obama rather than concede the obvious, which is that Cheney’s entire career in nominal public service has been obsessively devoted to damaging the nation he nominally served, along with as many others as expedience dictated.

For good measure, the bilious old fossil’s eldest daughter Liz weighed in with her own bullshit-based anti-Obama jeremiad in the benighted pages of the Wall Street Journal just a couple of days later. Its fifteen scandalously stupid paragraphs imply that the embassy attacks in Egypt and Libya were “the logical outcome of three-and-a-half years of Obama foreign policy,” and proffer the usual stale accusations of “apology” and “appeasement” and “rushing for the exits” in Iraq and Afghanistan and “leaking intelligence” and “slashing our military” and a whole bunch more aggressively offensive calumny and cant.

By the way, if you’re wondering what Ms. Cheney is doing with herself after serving as a wholly unqualified Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs back during daddy’s crime syndicate days, she’s chairing an organization called Keep America Safe, which also counts famed neocon nincompoop William Kristol as a board member. Feel the safety, America!

TWO: Starstruck

Republicans sure do love celebrities, except for all those really famous and talented ones who are Democrats, of course. And there’s nothing like an upcoming election to compel the Z-list, like freeze-dried action star Chuck Norris and clownish family embarrassment Hank Williams Jr., to add their voices to the national conversation.

Norris kicked off September bin Laden-style, with a video. With help from his granddaughter – sorry, wife, Gena, Norris wastes 2:15 of his and the viewer’s time, confiding earnestly:

“We know you love your family and your freedom as much as Gena and I do, and it is because of that we can no longer sit quietly or stand on the sidelines and watch our country go the way of socialism or something much worse.”

Gena urges us to register to vote. Chuck quotes Edmund Burke and Ronald Reagan. Gena ups the Reagan ante with that storied bit of Gipperspeak featuring, in the space of three portentous sentences, the clichés “rendezvous with destiny,” “last, best hope of man,” and “a thousand years of darkness.” The video was shot in what appears to be the cloakroom at a Klan meeting, albeit with the radiant light of God’s love, or maybe just the sun, streaming through an open doorway behind them. Old Glory stands watch over their left shoulders, presumably in case Obama and his fellow socialists try anything funny while the camera rolls, though we all know that Chuck would stop them in their tracks if they did.

The intent, as Gena makes clear elsewhere in the video, is to rouse evangelicals to get off their asses and vote out the President this November. Mitt Romney, a man many of those recalcitrant evangelicals consider a devil-worshipping cultist, is not mentioned.

Pretty thin soup, Mr. and Mrs. Norris. Next time, take a cue from Hank Williams Jr., who never lets his brain get between his mouth and a microphone. Williams enthralled a crowd at Fort Worth’s Stockyards Music Festival with an impromptu rant about, you guessed it, Barack Obama:

“We’ve got a Muslim for a President who hates cowboys, hates cowgirls, hates fishing, hates farming, loves gays, and we hate him!”

What’s next for Williams? I have no idea, but if it turns out to be recording an “unplugged” set on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, I for one won’t be shocked.

Barack Obama still has friends, though. One of them, the Most Interesting Man in the World, is hosting a fundraiser for the Obama campaign tomorrow.

THREE: Secession from Reality Narrowly Averted in Kansas

After all the ridicule, scorn and opprobrium directed at Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett over his brief public flirtation with birtherism in May, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach must have scratched his head and wondered: Hey, how do I get me some of that?

Courtesy of a guy named Joe Montgomery, Kobach’s wish has come true. The Secretary of State, a – surprise! – Republican, along with fellow State Objections Board members Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer and Attorney General Derek Schmidt, also – surprise! – Republicans, did Kansas proud on Thursday by deciding to request copies of the President’s birth records from Hawaii. Leaving no stone unturned, they also sent requests for information to Arizona for that state’s investigation results, to Mississippi for some birther litigation documents, and announced that they would defer a decision on whether to strike Barack Obama from the state’s ballot this fall until they had a chance to examine the requested documentation.

Montgomery, who works at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University, said Obama hadn’t provided valid documentary evidence to establish his birth in the United States.

In Montgomery’s written complaint, he declared “there is substantial evidence showing that much of Mr. Obama’s alleged birth certificates have been forged or doctored, and have not been confirmed as legally valid, true and accurate.”

Kobach, who is also – surprise! – an adviser to the Romney campaign, commented:

“I don’t think it’s a frivolous objection… I do think the factual record could be supplemented.”

The day after this momentous announcement, Montgomery had second “thoughts”:

The Manhattan Republican who posed a formal challenge to President Barack Obama’s place on the Kansas general election ballot Friday requested immediate withdrawal of the appeal due to an avalanche of criticism…

“There has been a great deal of animosity and intimidation directed not only at me, but at people around me,” Montgomery said in the formal request to Secretary of State Kris Kobach. ”I don’t wish to burden anyone with more of this negative reaction.”

Poor guy. Just what does a delusional closet racist have to do to get some respect these days? The board announced this morning that the Hawaii documents were found satisfactory and that Barack Obama will remain on this November’s ballot. Sounds pretty cut and dried, right? Wrong: Continue reading Take Five (Aw, Shut Up edition)

Slouching Towards Tampa (Big Mac Daddy edition)

Mitt Romney’s little reminiscence about poking around in his father’s sock drawer and discovering a free-McDonald’s-forever card signed by Ray Kroc himself was, amazingly, not quite the weirdest story from the right-hand side of the campaign trail last week. I’ll get to the weirdest one below, but I’m still fascinated by the runner-up.

Romney was speaking to a crowd at a Chicago fundraiser when an attendee mentioned having worked for McDonald’s, and its head honcho directly, for many years. The invocation of Ray Kroc apparently activated something in the candidate’s personal anecdote database, a database that has served Romney only fitfully to date as he oils his way around the nation in search of cash and votes:

“You know how boys liked to go through their dad’s top drawer, just to sort of see what he has in there, maybe find an old coin he might not miss?” Mr. Romney asked the audience…

“I found a little paper card, a little pink card, and it said this entitles George W. Romney to a lifetime of a hamburger, a shake and French fries at McDonald’s,” Mr. Romney said. “It was signed by the hand of Ray Kroc.”

Mr. Romney said that when “I saw this thing [I] was like, ‘This is a gold mine, Dad!’”

“So I had it laminated,” Mr. Romney said. “My dad, as you know, would go almost every day to a McDonald’s restaurant and get either a hamburger or a fish filet sandwich. And he would present this little card, and of course, the person behind the counter would look and say, ‘Well, what is that?’ They’d never seen something like that, but he said it was never turned down.

“They always honored it,” Mr. Romney said.

Let’s just consider this in context for a moment. Kroc bought McDonald’s in 1961 from the eponymous brothers who opened the first McDonald’s outlet, so that’s the earliest possible date for the drawer incident. Romney would have been about 14 at the time. George Romney, meanwhile, had been head of American Motors since 1954, had been named Man of the Year in Industry by the Associated Press four consecutive times by 1961, and was a millionaire on the strength of the astonishing rise in his company’s share price under his management.

Against this background, George Romney’s younger son was rifling through Dad’s dresser, looking for… well, let’s say maybe an old coin. And the famous auto tycoon, at least after the lamination his larcenous son generously arranged, didn’t pay for his many orders at the Golden Arches; instead, he simply flashed a card which none of the McDonald’s employees recognized, but which was nonetheless sufficient to prompt them to give him his grub for free.

It’s a measure of the overweening aura of strangeness of most of Romney’s personal anecdotes, I guess, that I can find this story completely believable. Peculiar, even vaguely creepy for reasons I can’t explain, but completely believable.

What I still find totally unbelievable, despite empirical evidence for it, was the hands-down weirdest Romney campaign story of the week. I’m referring, of course, to Paul Ryan being tapped as his running mate. While I’ll be disparaging everything there is to disparage about Paul Ryan in the next installment of this column, right now all that occurs to me that I should have seen this coming.

After all, Romney and Ryan had a chance to bond during their Wisconsin crime spree back in April, when the pair plied their audience with free eats at a Cousins Subs:

The Democratic Party obtained video of the luncheon from one of its staffers who attended the event. In the video, Romney says, “So bring your friends to the polls, get out and vote and if you want another sandwich, there are more back there.” Romney and Ryan interchangeably ask voters whether they want “turkey, ham or Italian” subs. The subs in question ranged from $4.49 to $4.99.

Naturally, in true GOP style, the Romney campaign treated the ensuing criminal complaint with juvenile derision:

WISN 12 News received a statement from the Romney campaign, which called the complaint laughable.

“This is a laughable stunt by the Democrats designed to distract from President Obama’s disastrous polices that have resulted in record job losses and skyrocketing gas prices. Democrats are willing to do and say anything to avoid a discussion about the president’s three years of failure in the White House.”

Sadly, the hoagie racketeers were cleared by Waukesha DA Brad Schimel, who is – if you’re not sitting down, please do so right now – a Republican. And far more significantly, Leopold had found his Loeb, Sacco his Vanzetti, Butch his Sundance. And now they want to take their crime spree national. Continue reading Slouching Towards Tampa (Big Mac Daddy edition)

Sunday Talks, 7/29/12

In an unusual twist, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor appear on this Sunday’s television talks shows — Scalia on “Fox News Sunday” and O’Connor on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

CBS also . . . → Read More: Sunday Talks, 7/29/12

Dick Cheney Launches ‘Occupy Iraq’ Movement

Boasting that from day one he expects to have at least 50,000 of the finest Americans onboard, former Vice President Dick Cheney today announced the formation of his new political movement, ‘Occupy Iraq’.

Speaking to reporters via conference call from an undisclosed location where he vows to remain as long as Iraq is occupied, the man with a heart shaped like a marching bunny beating a drum described the new movement as, “the most patriotic thing our millions of young people who have no jobs and no prospects can do to help keep our country safe and our largest, most strategically important corporations profitable.”

Expressing his belief that that the United States has “lost its way” in the nearly three years since President Obama took office, the unapologetic face hunter added, “When you look at when our nation has been its  most prosperous, it has always been the oil companies and the military industrial complex who led the way.  So it stands to reason that Americans occupying an oil rich nation is not only a great way to jumpstart the economy, but also the greatest thing I can think of for masses of frustrated, unemployed, displaced and disenfranchised patriots to blow off some steam – and believe me, we’ve got millions of them.” Continue reading Dick Cheney Launches ‘Occupy Iraq’ Movement

Fraud Allegations Taint al-Zawahiri Victory

ABBOTABAD, PAKISTAN (DBI) – Ayman al-Zawahiri is drawing fire, but not from U.S. Navy SEALS.

Shortly after it was announced that the long-time al Qaeda ‘Number 2’ had been named the international terrorist organization’s new leader, accusations of tampering, voter fraud, and illegal campaign contributions put a damper on the planned celebration festivities, scheduled to include a spectacular fireworks display set off by an ISI-supplied suicide ice-cream truck driving into a Pakistan Army ammunition depot.

Some of the more serious allegations came from Yemen, where supporters of Anwar al-Awlaki complained that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of absentee ballots were not counted, and accused Zawahiri supporters of trying to rig the election against their candidate because he was born, and until 2002 lived, in the United States. Said one Awlaki supporter, “There’s no room for anti-American prejudice in al Qaeda politics.”

According to election official Mustafa al Fiislamaj-Amah, who coincidentally once lived in Houston, Texas, the allegations regarding the absentee ballots are misguided.

“We did have a large number of absentee ballots, believed to have come from Yemen, that were declared invalid because they were not postmarked by the required date.  In fact, most were not postmarked at all,” Fiislamaj-Amah told Fox News.  “They should have thought of that before blowing up Sanaa’s (the Yemeni capital’s) main post office.”

He went on to add, “Personally, I think this is simply a case of ‘sour figs’ on the part of Awlaki’s supporters.  I honestly don’t think counting those ballots would have changed the outcome.  We need to be honest with ourselves – while people, myself included, like Anwar personally, and certainly appreciate his contributions to jihad, the simple truth of the matter is that al Qaeda is no more ready for an American leader than the American right wing is ready for a Black President.” Continue reading Fraud Allegations Taint al-Zawahiri Victory