I’m Back!

Well, I’ve just returned from an exhilarating and eye-opening month of backpacking through Europe, and now I’m prepared with renewed vigor to confront the supposedly real world in which Donald Trump is considered a serious contender for president. In my absence, certain “militia” types in Oregon have demonstrated once again that guns are a very poor substitute for brains. Which is quite appropriate, since I left in the midst of a discussion about guns, which I will now resume. Stay tuned.

A Brief Hiatus

Just a note that I will be out of the country from Jan. 12 to Feb. 11. During this time, my Internet access may be limited. This means not only that there will be probably no new posts, but also that there may be a delay in moderating comments. Please be patient. Thanks.

A Reminder About Comments

Once again , it has become necessary to remind readers about the reluctantly adopted comments policy for this site. This is spelled out clearly on the Comments Policy page, but because it has been so blatantly ignored lately, I’ve felt it necessary to reiterate a couple of key points, and to adopt a stricter enforcement.

Basically, your comments probably won’t get published if they are rude, antagonistic or childish. Such remarks rarely offer anything of value, and are not worth my time or most readers’.  Likewise with comments that are just plain ignorant and/ or nutty. Don’t bother protesting that the Holocaust is a hoax, or global warming is fraudulent, or homosexuality can be cured, or Fox isn’t really right-wing.

There are plenty of places online where you can post such things. This isn’t one of them.

A Brief Break

This is just to let everyone know that I will be out of the country Jan. 18-22, and my Internet access may be limited. So there may be a delay in approving/ responding to comments.

Obama Haters + Benghazi + Iraq = More Spinning Than a Dervish on a Carnival Ride

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A couple of brief but worthwhile articles by Steve Benen at MSNBC highlight the dizzying heights of lunacy to which the cult of Obama hatred has ascended. One is about the capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala, the suspected terrorist mastermind behind the attack in Benghazi in 2012. Remember Benghazi? It’s one of the many “scandals” that the Obama Haters hoped would spell the end of the guy in “their” White House.  Terrorists attacked an American consulate in the Libyan city and killed 4 Americans, so somehow President Obama must have been to blame for something or other, right?

But now that the Obama administration has bagged the suspected mastermind of the assault, they’re all ready to give the president credit for at least trying to compensate for his (as yet unidentified) misdeeds, right?  Well, about the best they can come up with (Courtesy of fairandbalanced Fox)  is that the capture of Khattala is “good news, I guess”.  The rest of the radical wingers have kept piling onto their already massive heap of hatred, hyperventilation and hilarity, ever striving to come up with fresh and inventive ways to embarrass and humiliate themselves.

Benen’s piece lists a “top ten” of right-wing talking points on this development, including the claim that the whole thing is a publicity stunt to promote Hillary Clinton’s book tour. And an especially amusing twist is that, after frequently alleging that anything and everything the president does is a “distraction from Benghazi”, they’re now saying that his focus on Benghazi is a distraction from the (other) phony IRS “scandal”. You have to wonder at this point if there’s a limit to how far they’re willing to go, or if they’ll continue to “reach the bottom of the barrel,  (then) drill deeper.”

That phrase comes from another piece Benen wrote about Obama’s critics (and I use the term as an overwhelming understatement) on Iraq — quite often including many individuals who not only have  been themselves tragically and catastrophically wrong about Iraq in the past but, in at least one case, was among those responsible for creating the Iraqi nightmare that Obama is now trying to clean up. That would be one Richard Bruce Cheney, who for some reason is still not behind bars, and was, according to the Supreme Court at least, vice president for 8 years.

It’s a sort of unwritten rule of civility among members of former administrations that they don’t badmouth current administrations. For one thing, it generally just makes the former appear petty and puerile.  But Dick Cheney, as always, is the epitome of class, as witness his suggestion on the Senate floor that a colleague “fuck yourself”. Accordingly, he has made disparaging comments about the current president not just once but numerous times. That’s particularly galling from someone whose own ascension to his office was, to put it charitably, highly questionable.

And now he and his daughter Liz (who, one gathers, is another foreign policy expert of equal caliber) have co-written a diatribe in the Wall Street Journal about the Iraq quagmire which opines that

Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.

But ironically enough, it’s not a confession about the administration he served. It’s another sleazy attack on the current administration.  In Benen’s words:

Yes, the failed former vice president, a man whose catastrophic failures and misjudgments are the stuff of legend, has decided the president cleaning up Cheney’s messes has been wrong about everything – according to the man who was wrong about everything.

Just how much credibility has Mr. Cheney earned on Iraq? About as much as George W. Bush on the English language. Or Sarah Palin on American history. Or Bill Clinton on marital fidelity. Or Alex Jones on mental health. Not just because of his incompetence, which lord knows is considerable, but also because of his dishonesty, which he’s served up in equal doses. He and other members of his administration repeatedly lied and pushed fraudulent evidence to make a case for the invasion of Iraq.

My favorite instance of Cheney chutzpah was when he appeared on Meet The Press in 2002 and solemnly declared:

There’s a story in the New York Times this morning — this is — I don’t — and I want to attribute the Times,” said Cheney. “I don’t want to talk about, obviously, specific intelligence sources, but it’s now public that, in fact, he has been seeking to acquire, and we have been able to intercept and prevent him from acquiring through this particular channel, the kinds of tubes that are necessary to build a centrifuge.

Was he possibly referring to the “ultra-liberal” New York Times, the kingpin of the librulmedia cartel that controls what we see and hear, and is never to be trusted?  Well, it turns out a little skepticism would have been in order, because the article by Judith Miller turned out to have been based on phony intel — supplied by the administration itself. That’s right: the Cheney administration first supplied fraudulent information to a journalist, then cited that journalist’s obedient parroting of that phony information as justification for its plans to invade Iraq. Classier and classier. Somehow, this guy reminds me of the anecdote about the kid who killed his parents and then implored the court for leniency on the grounds that he was an orphan.

This man’s colossal blunders and duplicity have cost thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands) of lives, and trillions of dollars — but coincidentally have made a tidy profit for Halliburton. And he expects people to lend him an ear as he savages the current president. Don’t look now, but the media are doing just that.

At the conclusion of his essay about the Cheneys, Steve Benen asks,  “Is the nation comfortable with a degree of political madness this severe?” The answer, alas, appears to be yes.

The Media’s Love Affair With the Tea Party

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Quick Quiz: According to an ABC News/ Washington Post survey, what percentage of Americans are active in the Tea Party?
(A.) 10%
(B.) 20%
(C.) 30%
(D.) 40%
The correct answer is (E) 2%. Yes, that’s TWO, with zero zeroes, and not (as Fox “News” might have you believe) 200%.

I know, I know. You thought it was much larger, didn’t you? And certainly you can always quibble about the accuracy of this or any other poll. But the point is that the group is actually much smaller than you’re led to believe by its unceasing media (over)exposure.

Now it should be obvious that such a tiny faction, even if it had an army of the world’s mightiest propagandists at its disposal (which it does), wouldn’t be able to have much of an impact without the cooperation of a fairly large number of relatively normal people. And in fact, according to that same poll, 27% of the American public say they in some way identify with the Tea Party, whatever that means.

What it apparently means is that 27% approve of the group’s CLAIMED objectives, which primarily are (as stated on the Tea Party Patriots website) “fiscal responsibility, limited government and free market(s)”. Well hey, that’s pretty hard to argue with. Just about every politician CLAIMS to have goals similar to these. It’s like running on a platform of mom, apple pie and free oxygen. Only 27% support these goals??? Maybe too many people have listened to what else the teabaggers have said.

They’ve vowed to “take back our country” from the other 98%, and to apply “Second Amendment remedies” if they don’t get their way. They’ve called the president a “Niggar” (sic) and they’ve called him a racist. They’ve called him a Muslim and they’ve called him an atheist. They’ve called him a wimp and they’ve called him a bully. They’ve called him a communist and they’ve called him a Nazi. They’ve called him a foreigner, they’ve called him Hitler reborn, they’ve called him a terrorist sympathizer, they’ve called him the Anti-Christ, they’ve called him the love child of Malcolm X and Elvis. (Sorry, I just made up that last one. Guess I was overcome by the tea fumes myself for a moment.) And oh yes, they’ve called him hateful and divisive.

They’ve claimed he wants to take away our guns and hike up our taxes, that he wants to institute death panels to kill off our seniors, that he wants to destroy America and restrict free speech, and even “outlaw fishing”. (No no no, I did NOT make up that one.) And no, these are not just the actions and utterances of a few isolated elements of the group; even the leaders of the TP have been saying such things. These have included candidates for office, some of whom ran on a pledge to “shut down” the big bad guvmint they were campaigning to be a part of (presumably AFTER making sure it first ordered women to bear the babies of their rapists), but they somehow forgot to pledge they’d shut down the hefty paychecks they’d then be receiving for doing nothing.

Just for good measure, they’ve chanted in unison that “global warming is bullshit.” Now you may say that vilifying science for ideological reasons is an earmark of cult mentality, but these people just can’t be fooled. They know that scientists, including Nobel laureates, are all just a bunch of quacks, and the only place to get reliable info about science is from a trustworthy, totally honest expert like Glenn Beck.

But hey, these must be the sentiments of mainstream America, judging by the election results, right? Haven’t the media been telling us that the TP just pulled of a major revolution of cosmic proportions? Hmmm… Better hold the tea biscuits for a while. There are at least four reasons (which is a thousand by Fox math) to suspect that maybe the revolution was not quite so revolutionary as we’ve been repeatedly told.

First, voters rejected the nuttiest among the nutty of the TP candidates. It’s one thing to say you’ll eliminate Social Security and Medicare; and even if you babble about “socialized medicine” and “death panels” and birtherism, a lot of people might grimace but still vote for you anyway. But when you start advocating “Second Amendment remedies” and equating masturbation with adultery, most folks will start carefully backing away.

Second, California, which has a long tradition of being the crystal ball for how the rest of the nation will look a few years in the future, went as blue as ever if not more so.

Third, the Tea Party candidates really just won races that Republicanoids probably would have won anyway. Can you think of a single exception?

Fourth, and perhaps most significantly, they LOST several races that Republicanoids were clearly expected to win. This includes at least two Senate seats (Nevada and Delaware) where the Democratic candidates was presumed to be thoroughly dead donkey meat before being miraculously revived by someone else’s tea. In other words, it’s probably fair to conclude that because of the Tea Party, the GOP blew a golden opportunity to take the Senate. For what is being hailed by the media as a tea “tsunami”, that’s an awfully weak brew.

Back to that poll once more if we may. It also indicated that as people learn more about the Tea Party, they are more likely to oppose it than to support it. Thus, the TP propagandists have the unenviable task of trying to keep its real objectives concealed. They have had at least a degree of success so far, but it’s going to get harder as time goes on, particularly now that some of these characters are actually going to be governing. Not impossible, mind you, but harder.

It will be interesting to see how the propaganda plays two years from now when the tea has been drained from the cup and we are left with the leaves to read.