History allows its observers to put ideas into motion, to see patterns; to discover and track how ideas adapt and change for different purposes and new environments. You cannot . . . → Read More: History: The Spyglass of Politics
History allows its observers to put ideas into motion, to see patterns; to discover and track how ideas adapt and change for different purposes and new environments. You cannot . . . → Read More: History: The Spyglass of Politics
On Saturday, Ames hosts the second annual “FAMiLY LEADERSHIP SUMMIT,” where you’ll be able to hear a variety of speakers each “address a ‘singular’ and ‘major’ threat to America and to America’s families, along with the opportunity for leadership solutions to these threats,” and maybe even find out why “The FAMilY LEADER” organization exempted the “i” from their all-caps name. For a mere $49, you can savor speakers such as washed-up actor Stephen Baldwin, washed-up politican Rick Santorum, and tufted pink windbag Donald J. Trump, and your boxed lunch is included. I have no inside info, but I’m guessing that the “singular” and “major” threats to America will include minorities, gay people, SNAP recipients, Girl Scouts and Democrats.
If that shindig seems insufficiently compelling, you might consider Tuesday’s fundraiser for New Hampshire Republicans in Wolfeboro, headlined by someone named Mitt Romney, who apparently has a summer home there. It seems not all fools and their money are soon parted; as of this writing, there are still $1,500 VIP tix available.
Deputy Secretary of State William Burns has just wrapped up another Cairo trip after discussions with various Egyptian politicians and interest groups, and conjoined twits Lindsey Graham and John McCain are likely to head there this week at the behest of the Obama Administration. If their efforts falter, I hope the President sees fit to send reinforcements, like maybe the other 44 members of the Senate Republican Conference. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 8/5/13
They nominated an entitled, anti-charismatic corporate raider whose positions change with the tides and whose religion is considered by much of the party’s base to be a cult, and they still can’t seem to shake off their amazement that they failed to regain the White House. Nevertheless, Republicans are already desperately rummaging around for their next presidential contender, and they might want to be careful what they wish for.
Donald Trump has apparently spent about a million bucks on “electoral research” in advance of a possible 2016 run. Although he routinely overstates his net worth, this kind of money is no big deal to Trump, and of course we’ve all seen this reality show before, when he hinted and flirted and teased about thwarting a second Obama term before finally endorsing Romney, so perhaps there’s nothing to this beyond typical Trumpian hot air. Or maybe this is how he gets revenge for being dumped from the program at the Republican National Convention. Or maybe he’s serious, in which case it’ll be a groove watching the party scramble to cut him off at the knees.
With no apparent awareness of the irony, Trump recently told a gathering of the Oakland County Republicans in Michigan:
TWO: Ventura Biway
But what if an even more egregiously self-aggrandizing blowhard came along instead? Former Minnesota Governor and inveterate clod Jesse Ventura was in Saint Paul last Friday to honor a retiring State Patrol sergeant, and mused about an independent run in 2016:
Or at least their first opportunity since 2012, when the last spate of deluded independents threw their hats in the ring to no avail. If a Ventura candidacy might worry The Donald at all, the Star Tribune has some reassuring words for him:
And if it ever does, Candidate Trump could just tap Gary Busey for his running mate, and the balance of kitschy weirdness would be instantly restored.
THREE: Yawn Top of the World
As for that entitled, anti-charismatic corporate raider I mentioned above, he and his arrogant, peevish, spectacularly insincere spouse are back in the news, because… well, frankly, I have no idea why. Perhaps they’re already tired of playing with their car elevator.
Mitt is currently hosting a two-day something-or-other in Park City, Utah, attended by Chris Christie and Paul Ryan, among others. Ann, meanwhile, recently talked to CBS, vaguely, about possible ’16 nominees:
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:
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:
And then he added a scabrous little grace note:
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:
Rand Paul was even more bluntly insolent to his elders:
Donald Trump’s post-speech press conference featured another of the oafish magnate’s swipes at Karl Rove:
Louie Gohmert discharged a lot of indiscriminate buckshot, some of which winged the Nixon administration:
Sarah Palin continued her lupercalian vendetta against sort-of-Republican Mike Bloomberg:
Brent Bozell dragged in a whole sack of grudges. Against, for example, Paul Ryan:
Against Haley Barbour:
Against the House leadership:
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)
The Conservative Political Action Conference turns 40 this year, but don’t expect maturity from a gathering where the speakers include Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, Artur Davis, Dick Morris, Wayne LaPierre, Rick Perry, Allen West and Donald Trump.
The coveted keynote slot will provide a generous 33 minutes for Cruz to prevaricate, obfuscate, fabricate, fulminate and regurgitate. Organizers have allotted the second and third longest slots to Palin and Trump, respectively, though why Palin needs 16 minutes and Trump 14 to recite “me, me, glorious me” is a mystery only slightly less mysterious than either of them being invited to begin with. I suppose The Donald and The Sarah deserve grudging credit for realizing that Fitzgerald’s dictum about American lives having no second acts is irrelevant now that first acts can simply be prolonged indefinitely.
Over and above her CPAC gig, Palin manages to keep busy just being Palin. She devoted at least part of Monday to crafting a tweet celebrating the overturning of New York City’s ban on sodas larger than 16 ounces:
Yes, because nothing says “liberty” like 17 ounces of carbonated water, HFCS, artificial color, artificial flavors and caffeine. But it’s not all freewheeling Twittery for Palin; her latest higher calling is nothing less than saving Christmas:
Wow! Only 48 years after A Charlie Brown Christmas definitively addressed the very same issues. And Palin’s so versatile that she even wrote the first review of the not-yet-written book:
That’s what cutting edge is all about, Charlie Brown. You betcha. As for Trump, he’s taking his cues from none other than Charlie Brown doppelganger Newt Gingrich, who last Friday tweeted his brainstorm to save White House tours recently suspended under sequestration:
This was followed two minutes later by:
Yeah, damn that obsma anyway! Two minutes later, Gingrich found some more meat on that bone:
Trump was nonplussed about all this until he joined Fox and Friends by phone on Monday:
Gingrich is also speaking at CPAC, so he and Trump have a readymade opportunity to discuss the idea in detail, assuming the Gaylord National Hotel has a room large enough to accommodate both their egos simultaneously.
TWO: In Through the Out Door
CPAC drew criticism recently for barring GOProud, an action that prompted the Log Cabin Republicans to withdraw from the event in solidarity. The groups have now gained some exceptionally unsavory company: notorious Islamophobe Pamela Geller.
Geller devoted a recent appearance with Christian radio host Janet Mefferd to throwing a tantrum about the CPAC snub:
Also joining GOProud and the Log Cabin Republicans, albeit voluntarily, is MSNBC’s resident purveyor of flapdoodle, SE Cupp. She recently tendered her regrets, publicly:
Cupp’s calmly reasoned position prompted a fretful rant from Mr. Unreason himself, Joseph Farah. Sensing the black helicopters of tolerance hovering over his pinched and pusillanimous reality, WND’s founding father lamented:
Farah went on to shake a querulous finger at Meg Whitman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Richard Hanna, Stephen Hadley, Carlos Gutierrez, James Comey, David Stockman and Deborah Pryce, noted conservatives all. Or not:
Ah. Good to know, I guess. Farah finished with a flourish of hyperbole worthy of a pilled-up teenager posting on a message board at 4:00 AM:
Keep it unreal, Joe.
THREE: Hot Air Apparent
CPAC 2013 will also feature John Ellis “Jeb” Bush, who recently stuck his head up out of the ground to find out whether he would see Mitt Romney’s shadow. Bush is ostensibly in the public eye these days because he’s hawking a new book, Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution, but of course what he’s really hawking is the idea that the GOP will be desperate enough to nominate him in 2016. To that end, Bush has been appearing on various talk shows, casually trying to convince conservatives of his viability with a string of inane observations. Continue reading Take Five (CPAC Up Your Troubles edition)
Suffused with bipartisan good vibes, Republicans greeted Barack Obama’s re-election with smiles and outstretched hands… firmly withheld. Grapes actually don’t get any sourer than the ones Republicans have been angrily stomping into whine – uh, wine, since the evening of November 6. The 2012 Grand Old Vintage will long be remembered for its pronounced acidity, robust historical revisionism and almost maddeningly insistent notes of cattle droppings.
The sheer volume (in both senses of the word) of Republican angst, anger and anxiety in the wake of the election has been a challenge to keep up with, but out of many dozens of conservative tantrums I’ve read and bookmarked over the past few weeks, here are some examples I thought worth highlighting.
It was no surprise that one of the first querulous voices raised was that of tufted pink windbag Donald J. Trump. Trump took to Twitter on election night and, as he is wont to do, made an utter jackass of himself:
Hinge-less commentary of a different sort was served up by William Murray, chair of the Religious Freedom Coalition. Murray is convinced that the President won a second term because he promised to put a chicken, or something, in every pot:
No question, Mr. Murray. Now that you mention it, I distinctly remember filling out my absentee ballot for Barack Obama and drooling at the idea that I’d just voted for a guy of mixed race. Take that, whitey!
Others, such as Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips, quelled their disappointment by adopting an activist approach. Phillips had the bright idea to advocate for a de facto Electoral College coup:
Except, of course, that Phillips is full of crap, as WorldNutDaily itself tersely acknowledged a day later:
Wow! Barack Obama hasn’t even begun his second term yet and somebody over at WND honest-to-God actually bothered to read at least part of one amendment to the Constitution. And yet there are still some who refuse to admit that this presidency is transformational.
Michael Reagan was equally stroppy about the election results, but took a road less traveled in his desperate search for a scapegoat:
Nobody with any credibility has ever accused Michael Reagan of being smart, but it’s a little stunning that even as witless an observer of current events as Reagan could be unaware of how George W. Bush was swept under the rug by the Republican Party long before Barack Obama was sworn into office. Bully sticks, indeed.
For some fretful scapegoat hunters, however, there’s no place like home:
But there’s taking it hard and then there’s taking it really hard, as the late Henry Hamilton did:
Super Mario doppelganger and chair of the Maine Republican Party, Charlie Webster, didn’t kill himself, unfortunately. Instead, he went on TV and angrily blamed the President’s garnering of the state’s four electoral votes on – gasp! – suspicious black people:
Within 48 hours, Webster was on the phone to Portland’s WSCH again, eager to clarify his remarks (“clarify” being the term conservatives like to use to describe the pathetic flailing around they do after people take offense at the objectionable things they say):
That same day, Webster cranked up the cringe-worthy in an interview with Talking Points Memo:
As it happens, however, Webster won’t be nipping any butts:
Webster’s term as chair ended on December 1. Where the Maine Republican Party will find someone with feet big enough to fill his clown shoes is anyone’s guess.
But Charlie Webster’s asshattery hardly begins to illustrate the virulence of the re-election variant of Obama Derangement Syndrome. Within days of the election, maniacs in Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, New York, New Jersey, Alabama, Colorado, Oregon, Georgia, Montana, Florida, Mississippi, North Dakota, North Carolina and Indiana had filed petitions at We the People to have their states secede from the Union. Petitions for all 50 states have since been posted, which begs the question of what these states – were they ever to successfully sever their ties with the nation – would collectively call themselves. The Disunited States of America? The Spoilsport States of America? We’re with Stupid?
The Oregon petition, created by a fellow named Kristopher W. Tillamook, is not only a splendid example of the “thought processes” of the secessionistas, but a solid contender for this year’s most egregious misuse of apostrophes in pointless furtherance of a lost cause:
As of this writing, 14,991 people, untroubled by the petition’s linguistic high crimes and misdemeanors, have signed it. Continue reading Take Five (Dave Brubeck memorial 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:
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:
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)
It has long been apparent that neither Mitt Romney nor his handlers have any idea what they’re doing, and since nothing says “helpful and fellow-feeling” like the Republican Party, a stampede of GOP deep thinkers has charged into the breach. The unsolicited advice began before the first balloon hit the floor at the end of the convention in Tampa, and has only increased in sound and fury since.
The clearest sign of the mess Mitt Romney finds himself in is that even perpetually ardent hyper-partisan Peggy Noonan is beginning to sound delirious with frustration. Her September 18 Wall Street Journal column – entitled “Time for an Intervention”! – excoriated Romney’s hamfisted attempt to exploit tensions in the Middle East:
Noonan was even more dismissive of Romney’s notorious Boca Raton fundraiser remarks:
Jeepers! Noonan hasn’t sounded this fretful since George W. Bush was nearly assassinated by a pretzel. She’s so pessimistic she believes the entire Republican Party is going to have to step in and save the candidate from himself. While her prescriptions for a campaign turnaround are comical, she depicts the urgency of Romney’s need for one rather eloquently:
As to the comical part, well, the Republican Party Noonan believes in ceased to exist decades ago, if indeed it ever existed at all:
Whee! On September 28, Noonan sounded no less frantic, although she’d managed to weave some silver linings out of whole cloth over the space of ten days:
Which, if Noonan were capable of being honest about it, is exactly the sort of bullshit narrative that America’s vigilant free press is ready to deploy, even if Romney kicks off the evening by accusing Jim Lehrer of not having written a decent song since “The Vatican Rag,” tries to bet the audience $10,000 that he’ll win the debate, throws up on himself, and finally collapses in an aspic of tears and flop sweat as Ann Romney comes running out from the wings, screaming, “Look what you people have done to him! I told you people I was worried about his mental well-being!”
Noonan goes on to paint a lovingly detailed picture of a Barack Obama who exists only in the fever swamps of the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation. At this point, I don’t think she’s trying to convince her readers as much as she’s trying to convince herself that Romney can win the debate and win the White House, and I don’t think she’s making any headway. In Noonan’s lush imaginings, the President is vulnerable because, A, everyone is too easy on him, B, he’s boring and pedantic, C, he doesn’t like to be questioned, D, he makes stuff up, and E, he acts like the biggest celebrity in the world, just as the McCain campaign alleged. Putting aside the fact that if her portrait of Barack Obama had any validity he wouldn’t now be the incumbent, it’s touching that Noonan retains enough vestigial faith in Romney to believe he could capitalize on these weaknesses even if they were real.
Others, in both the Republican squawkoscenti and among the hoi polloi, aren’t so sure. The recent Values Voter Summit featured a gratifying number of long faces, and no small amount of backseat driving: Continue reading From Here to Anonymity (Eve of Derision edition)