Saturday, February 20, 2010

Yoo and Bybee walk

By Creature

For a great distillation of why these two torture enablers walked see JB at Balkinization. What's really sad is that all we were hoping for out of this DOJ review was disbarment, and we couldn't even get that. If embarrassment were justice (the report itself is not flattering) then maybe we'd have some accountability here, but since these guys are unembarrassed--and are heroes to some--we are left with nothing.


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Toxic Tea

By Capt. Fogg

It's the "liberals" and the "lefties" that have destroyed the black family, says the absurdly right-wing man of color. The resident blogger agrees, as he always does when anyone ascribes yet another evil to his shooting gallery of straw targets -- or Commies, Marxists, far-left Liberals, "pussies" or Homosexuals as he terms them interchangeably.

They're both educated people, if you can grant any credibility to what passes for education in the United States, but of course these are Tea Party people, proclaiming articles of faith to one another and in protected sanctuaries where the comments of the reasonable, the informed, the sincere are not permitted to be heard and the vilification of the more or less innocent is the flesh and blood in their Psychotic sacrament. Only in America can someone long for a future of miraculous anarchy, concentration camps, forced deportations and even mass murder -- and insist he's not only speaking for everyone, but is a conservative.

No, Godot will arrive, spend his two week vacation at my house and depart before anyone can explain how the emancipation of slaves, the restoration of civil rights and integration of the schools was an insidious Liberal plot against "black families" regardless of the length of time it took, in part because of the political and sometimes the armed resistance from conservatives. The question of why the end of race-based housing and employment discrimination broke up families; why the end of restricted hotels, separate but unequal restaurants, swimming pools, beaches, bathrooms, drinking fountains and public transportation was a vicious act designed to harm African American families, can only be explained by people who can't tell a tax cut from an increase when seen through a tea bag.

No, I won't link to that blog, since I've had long experience with rabid death threats to me and my family. I've had many long tirades threatening Liberals with deportation to North Korea at gunpoint or even extermination after "the producer class" stages their armed revolution, when I've attempted reasonable, respectful and sincere communication with people like the college professor who runs the place, and I don't want to attract such things to The Reaction. But be aware, they're out there in both senses of the phrase. You may not know of them, you probably don't read them and odds are ten to one you don't agree with them, but from such ugly sores, horrible diseases grow - and they're out there believing that 2012 marks the end of our world and the beginning of theirs.

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Idiotic and paranoid: CPAC, the John Birch Society, and the state of American conservatism

One of the co-sponsors of this year's CPAC is the John Birch Society, a notorious right-wing organization founded during the Cold War.

While the JBS was ostensibly and primarily anti-communist from its inception, and while it remains ostensibly pro-liberty (according to its own perverted definition of liberty), it has been home to a number of leaders of the neo-Nazi, white supremacist right, according to the Anti-Defamation League, and it has always been essentially a front for extremism. ABC News's John Karl reports:

According to Ian Walters, a spokesman for CPAC, it's the first time the John Birch Society has sponsored the conference. That's not surprising, considering that the Birch Society has long been considered wacky and extreme by conservative leaders.

William F. Buckley famously denounced the John Birch Society and its founder Robert Welch in the early 1960s as "idiotic" and "paranoid." Buckley's condemnation effectively banishing the group from the mainstream conservative movement. Welch had called President Dwight D. Eisenhower a "conscious, dedicated agent of the communist conspiracy" and that the U.S. government was "under operational control of the Communist party." Buckley argued that such paranoid rantings had no place in the conservative movement or the Republican party. 

Two years after Buckley's death, the John Birch Society is no longer banished; it is listed as one of about 100 co-sponsors of the 2010 CPAC.

Why is the Birch Society a co-sponsor?

"They're a conservative organization," said Lisa Depasquale, the CPAC Director for the American Conservative Union, which runs CPAC. "Beyond that I have no comment."

Well, they are conservative, yes, in a paranoid anti-liberal, anti-government way, but where they were once on the fringe they are now, it would seem, very much a part of the mainstream of movement conservatism. (Is the "no comment" a sign of embarrassment, or of a refusal to acknowledge the truth publicly?)

And that says a lot about the state of American conservatism today.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Ellsworth in Indiana

Cillizza: "Indiana Rep. Brad Ellsworth announced today that he will seek the seat being vacated by Sen. Evan Bayh."

I still like John Mellencamp -- not that that was ever realistic -- but Ellsworth is a solid choice for Dems in a purple state that leans right:

Handsome, telegenic and with the sort of voting record during his two terms in the House that makes him a viable statewide candidate in conservative-minded Indiana, Ellsworth is rightly seen as a recruiting coup for a DSCC that was caught off guard by Bayh's decision (as was the rest of the Democratic political world) and had been badly bruised and battered by retirements and the special election victory of Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) in recent weeks.

That said, Ellsworth is not Bayh and starts out at a significant name identification disadvantage against former Sen. Dan Coats, the likely Republican nominee. Republican strategists also note that Ellsworth supported President Obama's health care bill last year, a vote they plan to use against him this fall.

It won't be easy, but at least the Democrats, with Ellsworth, would have a good shot at holding onto Bayh's seat.

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White House to introduce their own HCR plan

By Creature

And it will be reconciliation ready. Good news. And, while I highly doubt a public option will be in it, I'm pleased to see they could be open to it.

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Madness in the Insanitarium: Romney, Rubio, and CPAC

Well, the CPAC Insanitarium is in full swing in Washington, as it is this time every year, and the star of the first day, yesterday, was none other than Marco Rubio, the upstart right-wing darling who, now well out in front of Gov. Charlie Crist, is expected to be the Republican candidate in this year's Florida Senate race.

To rapturous applause, the Insanitarium boisterous in its unbridled enthusiasm, Rubio gave what the increasingly Republican-friendly Washington Post called "a keynote address about American exceptionalism and his own improbable journey" -- and it was full of the sort of hopped-up flag-waving and extremist Republican talking point-spewing we've come to expect from Rubio's ilk, which is to say, from the new mainstream of the GOP.

"It's sometimes easy to forget how special America really is," he said, up to his earlobes in banality, as if no other country is at all special, as if America is God's Land, which of course is what conservatives think it is. And he "enthralled the activists" with his take on national security:

We will do whatever it takes, for however long it takes, to defeat radical Islamic terrorism. We will punish their allies like Iran. We will stand with our allies like Israel. We will target and we will destroy terrorist cells and the leaders of those cells. The ones that survive, we will capture them. We will get useful information from them. And then we will bring them to justice in front of a military tribunal in Guantanamo -- not a civilian courtroom in Manhattan.

This is basically reductio ad Cheneyesque absurdum nonsense. For what does it mean to do "whatever it takes"? What does it mean to "punish" Iran? There's so little substance behind such rhetoric, so common on the right. It's neoconservative bullying with a penchant for torture and brutality, but, however nonsensical, it is dangerous and destructive in the wrong hands, as we witnessed over the course of two detestable terms of George W. Bush.

And it is what passes for serious thought in the Insanitarium, which is, by definition, insane. Just consider, for example, that one of the day's other major speakers, Mitt Romney, still trying to outdo himself sucking up to conservatives, called Democrats "liberal neo-monarchists," a slur that makes utterly no sense and that means nothing outside of the warped partisan vocabulary of today's reality-averse, truth-denying conservatives.

On a more humorous note, though, let's not overlook Rubio's teleprompter fixation (shared by many of Obama's shot-in-the-dark critics):

The Tea Party's choice in the Florida Republican primary, Marco Rubio, began his address to a crowd of conservative conventioneers by taking a shot at President Obama for reading from a teleprompter. He did it while standing in front of two easily visible teleprompters.

It was unclear whether the devices were placed there for him or for other speakers at the Conservative Political Action Committee conference, or CPAC, at which he was a keynote speaker. A HuffPost reporter, however, watched his speech from the front row and Rubio could clearly be seen looking intently and repeatedly at the teleprompters.

Yes, it's all quite worrying, what goes on in the Insanitarium, but at least it has its share of shameless hypocrisy and unintentional comedy.

Because you need a good laugh now and then when you spend time watching these delusional inmates plot to fuck up the world by trying to remake it in their own distorted image.

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"No one likes paying taxes obviously"

By Creature

Scott Brown makes Massachusetts proud. Nice to know our elected officials sympathize with murder.


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Quote of the Day: Orrin Hatch on Tea Parties and the GOP

Sen. Hatch, quoted in The Salt Lake Tribune:

If we fractionalize the Republican Party, we are going to see more liberals elected.

What Hatch wants is for the teabaggers to sign up with the GOP, that is, for the Tea Party "movement" to be, essentially, a subsidiary of the Republican Party.

Now, of course, the "movement" is generally Republican in outlook, if well out on the extremist right, but of course the Republican Party is increasingly extremist, with the right-wing fringe becoming more and more the mainstream. 

But there is also a good deal of independence among the teabaggers, and so, like Palin, what Hatch is doing is trying to boost his party's electoral fortunes by bringing the party and the movement together. The difference is that for Palin the match would be firmly one of like and like, and she's selling the GOP as a party the teabaggers can fully get with, as her GOP is a party in line with the Tea Party "movement," party and movement with common principles, whereas Hatch, the conservative but also establishment and somewhat realist Republican, seems to be threatening the teabaggers, blaming them for dividing the GOP and advising them to get with the party, and with its electoral objectives, or else, "else" meaning more liberals elected.

I'd say they're both right:

Palin is right that Republicans and teabaggers have a lot in common and that the latter should join up with the former.

Hatch is right that Republicans can't win, or won't win as much, if they're divided, that teabagger attacks on Republicans are weakening the party, and that, basically, teabaggers should put pragmatism before principle.

And yet I can't help but think that Hatch, however conservative he may be, is out of touch both with his own party and with what is happening more broadly on the right.

He propses, for example, that "extreme conservatives," to quote the Tribune, are to blame for Sen. Gordon Smith's defeat to Democrat Jeff Merkley in Oregon in 2008: "Hatch said if the Tea Party had not backed a constitutionalist candidate in that race, Smith wouldn't have lost."

Fair enough, but what Hatch doesn't seem to get, at least here, is that the teabaggers, or many of them, don't want to put the interests of the Republican Party before their own ideological objectives. They won't want to sell out, that is, even to a party that has embraced them, that seemingly will do anything for their support, and that clearly, to them, offers the much lesser of two evils. Remember what happened in NY-23 last year? This isn't a movement that wants to compromise, and, while it may eventually come to dominate the GOP, it won't give in and won't accept establishment calculation.

Even Palin seems to get that. And that's saying something.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Washington spins in his grave

By Carl 

I seriously doubt the father of our country would cotton to the whining underpants crowd:

[O]n the eve of the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference in Washington, more than 80 conservative leaders gathered on the grounds of George Washington's former Virginia estate to unveil a manifesto reaffirming the movement's beliefs.

The "Mount Vernon Statement," as they have dubbed the document, seeks to tether conservatism to constitutional principles at a time when Republicans and many independents have become outraged over what they view as governmental overreach. Its authors, a group of boldface names and Beltway veterans who have been among the movement's leaders for decades, have been working for months to hash out language that satisfies the party's often fractious factions. They cite the compact as a contemporary version of the Sharon Statement, a document named for William F. Buckley Jr.'s Connecticut hometown that helped shape the contours of conservatism for the past 50 years.

Bollocks, as they say. The "contours of conservatism" is what got us into this mess, and if you think one year of a moderate-to-right-centrist administration has undone the thirty years of greed embodied by the very corpse these asshats trot out anytime someone mentions how much nicer we can make this nation for its people, I got a bridge to sell ya.

Indeed, along with Geo. Wa­­ƒhington spinning in HIS grave, undoubtedly Adam Smith is likely spinning in his grave to see the rape of the average American that has been foisted upon this great nation in a bastardization of his economic principles.

To wit:

The joint stock companies (ed note: corporations) which are established for the public-spirited purpose of promoting some particular manufacture, over and above managing their own affairs ill, to the dimunition of the general stock of the society, can in other respects scarce ever fail to do more harm than good. Notwithstanding the most upright intentions, the unavoidable partiality of their directors to particular branches of the manufacture of which the undertakers mislead and impose upon them is a real discouragement to the rest, and necessarily breaks, more or less, that natural proportion which would otherwise establish itself between judicious industry and profit, and which, to the general industry of the country, is of all encouragements the greatest and the most effectual.


In the progress of the division of labour, the employment of the far greater part of those who live by labour, that is, of the great body of the people, comes to be confined to a few very simple operations, frequently to one or two. But the understandings of the greater part of men are necessarily formed by their ordinary employments. The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become. The torpor of his mind renders him not only incapable of relishing or bearing a part in any rational conversation, but of conceiving any generous, noble, or tender sentiment, and consequently of forming any just judgment concerning many even of the ordinary duties of private life. Of the great and extensive interests of his country he is altogether incapable of judging, and unless very particular pains have been taken to render him otherwise, he is equally incapable of defending his country in war. The uniformity of his stationary life naturally corrupts the courage of his mind, and makes him regard with abhorrence the irregular, uncertain, and adventurous life of a soldier. It corrupts even the activity of his body, and renders him incapable of exerting his strength with vigour and perseverance in any other employment than that to which he has been bred. His dexterity at his own particular trade seems, in this manner, to be acquired at the expence of his intellectual, social, and martial virtues. But in every improved and civilized society this is the state into which the labouring poor, that is, the great body of the people, must necessarily fall, unless government takes some pains to prevent it.


Not exactly the unfettered free market that conservatives go crazy over.

Indeed, Adam Smith was quite leery of business combinations that took human beings off the hook for their actions (like corporations). He understood that people are greedy, vain, selfish, and vicious asocial bastards who would gladly sell their fellow men into slavery for a bowl of porridge a la Esau.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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And then there were seventeen

By Creature

My other senator, Schumer, is now on board for the push to pass a public option through reconciliation. It was busy-signals all day today as I tried to call to urge him to sign. Now, I'll have to call and thank him instead. I still don't hold out much hope that this push will come to anything, but the building momentum sure feels good.

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Craziest Republican of the Day: Mike Pitts

South Carolina will no longer recognize U.S. currency as legal tender, if State Rep. Mike Pitts has his way.

Pitts, a fourth-term Republican from Laurens, introduced legislation earlier this month that would ban what he calls "the unconstitutional substitution of Federal Reserve Notes for silver and gold coin" in South Carolina.

If the bill were to become law, South Carolina would no longer accept or use anything other than silver and gold coins as a form of payment for any debt, meaning paper money would be out in the Palmetto State.

Pitts said the intent of the bill is to give South Carolina the ability to "function through gold and silver coinage" and give the state a "base of currency" in the event of a complete implosion of the U.S. economic system.

This is clearly insane, just as the proposed law would be clearly unconstitutional. Indeed, the whole think is just... impossible. Here's our friend Libby Spencer, who knows a think or two about South Carolina, given how close she is to it:

Forget about the legality, think about the practical aspects of this idea. How does Mr. Pitts suggest they make the transition? I'm assuming most people don't have gold and silver bars stashed in their junk drawer. How are they going to pay their electric bill. Haul some gold coins down to local office? Can't send a check because checking systems run on federally insured paper. How do they make change at the convenience store? Meaning just how big is one dollar's worth of gold by weight? And think of the fun the out of state tourists will have at Myrtle Beach, trying to find an exchange kiosk for their US dollars, that aren't legal tender in the state.

In a way I hope they go through with it. Any state that would re-elect this fool four times, deserves to go under, as they surely would if this hare-brained scheme actually became law.

And it's always nice when Republicans show us just how truly retrograde they really are. Generally, though, they prefer the 1950s, not the 1750s, which makes this all the more crazy.

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Virginia governor rescinds protections for gays and lesbians

Gay and lesbian state workers in Virginia are no longer specifically protected against discrimination, thanks to a little-noticed change made by new Gov. Bob McDonnell.

McDonnell (R) on Feb. 5 signed an executive order that prohibits discrimination "on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, political affiliation, or against otherwise qualified persons with disabilities," as well as veterans.

It rescinds the order that Gov. Tim Kaine signed Jan. 14, 2006 as one of his first actions. After promising a "fair and inclusive" administration in his inaugural address, Kaine (D) added veterans to the non-discrimination policy -- and sexual orientation.

I think Kaine's spokesperson, Hari Sevugan, is absolutely right:

It says a lot about the Republican party that they would anoint as their "rising star" someone who in 2010 is actually stripping away from Americans legal protections against discrimination. Bob McDonnell is proving his critics right. He said he'd focus on creating jobs, not social issues. But, one of his first acts as Governor was to make it easier for a fellow citizen to be denied a job and he did so as an adherent to a right-wing ideology that allows for such discriminatory behavior. McDonnell's decision is just plain wrong in any context, but especially so in this economic climate.

With a Republican in the Virginia governor's mansion, bigotry, unsurprisingly, is back with a vengeance.

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BREAKING: Teabag terrorism

By Carl 

Man crashes plane into IRS office in Austin, Texas.

To periphrase Sarah Failin'... "How's that Galty Teabaggy thing working out for ya?" (link borked by hosting service -- see update below):

So I moved, only to find out that this is a place with a highly inflated sense of self-importance and where damn little real engineering work is done. I’ve never experienced such a hard time finding work. The rates are 1/3 of what I was earning before the crash, because pay rates here are fixed by the three or four large companies in the area who are in collusion to drive down prices and wages...

UPDATE: Original link to website has been severed. Here's a transcription.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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Quote of the Day: Robert Gibbs on Obama, Stewart, and Colbert

Gibbs, quoted by Time's Michael Scherer:

I think the President would love to [do The Daily Show], just maybe not Colbert... I have yet to see a politician best Stephen Colbert in an interview on his show. I mean, he's really, really good.

Of course, they're very different, and Stewart is more than capable of doing a tough interview. With Colbert, it's not just about dealing with tough questions, it's about dealing with Colbert's brilliant act, and that's why no one has ever bested him.

Personally, I'd love to see Obama do both shows -- and regularly. In the meantime, at least Assistant Sports Psychologist Colbert has Shani Davis.

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Pakistan captures Taliban leader

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Newsweek: "Another leader of the Afghan Taliban has been captured by authorities in Pakistan working in partnership with U.S. intelligence officials. Taliban sources in the region and a counterterrorism officials [sic] in Washington have identified the detained insurgent leader as Mullah Abdul Salam, described as the Taliban movement's 'shadow governor' of Afghanistan's Kunduz province."

I assume this means conservatives across America, from the GOP to the FNC (Fox News Clan), will stand up and applaud President Obama's outstanding leadership and successful conduct of the war on terror.


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Re-branding the stimulus

By Creature

Any push is welcome. Keep it up and maybe perceptions will change.


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Hot Air sold to Salem Communications, sending conservative blogosphere into frenzy of righteous contentment

Congrats to my (conservative) friend Ed Morrissey. We disagree on pretty much everything, and I disagree with Michelle Malkin on even more, and even more strenuously, but he's a good man, and this seems to be a great opportunity.

Well done.

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Sarah Palin: Shadchan of the Right

Much of the Tea Party "movement" prides itself on its independence -- it's generally to the right of the GOP and often has not hesitated to spew its ire at Republicans -- but Sarah Palin, who is positioning herself as a bridge from the teabaggers to the GOP, wants these right-wing independents to pick a side already:

"Now the smart thing will be for independents who are such a part of this Tea Party movement to, I guess, kind of start picking a party," Palin said. "Which party reflects how that smaller, smarter government steps to be taken? Which party will best fit you? And then because the Tea Party movement is not a party, and we have a two-party system, they're going to have to pick a party and run one or the other: 'R' or 'D'."

Palin said that the Republican platform best meshed with the Tea Party's creed. However, she mentioned that her husband Todd was not a registered Republican and that the party should be open to embracing independents.

All together now... bullshit.

It's pretty clear which party the vast majority of teabaggers prefer, if not all of them, and that's Palin's party. And while Todd may formally be independent, it's pretty clear which party he prefers, too.

Okay, it's pretty clear which of America's two major parties he prefers, and that's his wife's.

Obviously, Republicans would like to co-opt the Tea Party "movement" in order to benefit electorally. And, indeed, the GOP's increasing right-wing extremism, its new mainstream, very much mirrors what's going on with the teabaggers.

And Palin's right that the teabaggers, those who insist on remaining genuinely independent, ultimately need to pick a party or end up in irrelevant oblivion.

Here's what I wrote a couple of weeks ago:

Yes, yes, there is still a good deal of genuine grassroots independence among the teabaggers, a good deal of anti-Republican sentiment, as much of the movement represents a far-right assault on both parties, and on the political establishment generally, but it's clear the hijacking is underway -- and it comes from both sides, with the GOP trying to hijack the tea party movement and the tea party movement, or some of it, trying to hijack the GOP.

Indeed, as HuffPo reported last year, the movement has "an honored place within the mainstream Republican party." And it makes sense that Republicans are eagerly trying to merge the two -- according to a Rasmussen poll conducted late last year, the "Tea Party" is significantly more popular than the "Republican Party."

So what now? The identity crisis will no doubt continue, with a good deal of soul-searching at this weekend's national convention, but so will the joint efforts of Republicans and teabaggers to pull the GOP even further to the right than it is already.

Consider Palin, carving out a niche from which to remain a major national player and eventually to launch a national campaign, the Shadchan of the Right.

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Best. Onion. Headline. Ever.

Read the whole thing. It's brilliant. Because, well, because it could very well be true. If only people would wake up and see just what sort of bizarre matrix they're living in.

(I'm looking at you, John Locke, among others. I get why money is necessary, but that doesn't make it any less of an illusion.)

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Quote of the Day

By Creature

"Watching this paper die a sad a sordid death as it gathers a gaggle of neocon sycophants and has-beens around a proud war criminal like Cheney is truly depressing." -- Andrew Sullivan, on the demise of The Washington Post.

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With one foot out the door, Bayh comes out in support of filibuster reform

By Creature

Strange. It's a little late for Bayh to be wooing liberals, but I'll take it.

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By Carl

Michelle Malkin: Sold into slavery


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Little pop

By Carl

While the Large Hadron Collider gets all the attention (it never hurts a physics experiment's street cred when rumors spread that it might create a mini black hole and swallow up the Earth), a lesser-known particle collider has been quietly making soup—quark soup. For the field of experimental particle physics, in which progress has been at a near-standstill since the glory days of the 1970s (yes, the top quark was discovered in an experiment at Fermilab in 1995, but really, everyone knew this last of the six quarks existed), this counts as the most notable achievement in years: a discovery that doesn't merely confirm what theory has long held, but points the way to new revelations about the creation and evolution of the universe.

The reason for that accolade is that quark soup was last seen when the universe was 1 microsecond old, physicists reported at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society. It was created at the 2.4-mile-around Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Lab on New York's Long Island, which smashes together gold ions traveling at nearly the speed of light. The result of the collisions is a tiny region of space so hot—4 trillion degrees Celsius—that protons and neutrons melt into a plasma of their constituent quarks and gluons, as Brookhaven describes here. The soup is 250,000 times hotter than the center of the sun, 40 times hotter than a typical supernova, and the hottest temperature in the universe today.

We note that nothing melted, no black holes were created and the air conditioning in the lab worked fine afterwards.

Interesting, things did not go according to prediction, thus proving that the universe is nowhere near the orderly, precisely designed place that so many people lackign imagination believe it to be.

Indeed, even at its most elemental level, the universe is chaotic and random.

Even more interesting developments, like a possible answer to why the universe even exists in the form it does, have been uncovered from this experiment (short answer: matter and anti-matter should theoretically exist in equal portions, but they obviously don't, since we're here).

This is Big Science, the kind of science we used to do regularly but have now ceded to the European and Asian scientific community.

Because, you know, tax cuts!

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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Nancy Elliott's anal fixation

(Sorry, I meant to post this several days ago, but, well, the weekend got in the way.)

New Hampshire legalized same-sex marriage in June 2009, but its opponents -- and the opponents of gay rights, not to mention homosexuality generally -- continue to push back. Take state Rep. Nancy Elliott, for example -- a Republican, of course -- who during a recent state House Judiciary Committee hearing (as it was considering repeal of the law, which it ultimately rejected) spoke out against... anal sex:

We're talking about taking the penis of a man and putting it in the rectum of another man and wriggling it around in excrement. And you have to think, would I want that to be done to me?

Yes, she seems to be against anal sex regardless of sex and regardless of orientation. She just doesn't like it. The whole idea freaks her out.

Watch the clip below. It's hilarious. Check out the people on either side of her, both of whom seem totally unphased by what she's saying. Check out her hand gestures (especially when she gets to "wriggling"). Check out the oh-so-serious look on her face when she asks, rhetorically, if she would want that done to her. Check out how she doesn't let up even when told to keep the discussion "directly to the bill."

Now, it's really not worth pushing back against Elliott's stupid comments. The fact that she equates same-sex marriage with anal sex, and presumably homosexuality generally with anal sex, shows her ignorance. The fact that she's such a prude shows her to be a fool. And the whole episode, including her ridiculous remark about schoolchildren learning how to do anal, shows her to be just the sort of terrified, angry right-wing bigot we've come to expect in the Republican Party.

Maybe she needs... no, I won't go there. Just use your imagination.

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Democrats, don't be afraid

By Creature

Poor polling is pushed by people who were never going vote for you anyway. Now dig in and pass things (please). Popularity will come with success.

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Former Bush speechwriter -- Obama too tough on terrorism?

Guest post by Peter Henne 

Peter S. Henne is a Security Fellow with the Truman National Security Project and a doctoral candidate at Georgetown University. This is his fifth guest post at The Reaction.


Of all the critiques that a Republican might level at President Obama, one would think that "you're killing too many terrorists" would not be one of them. But it is. Marc Thiessen, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, has been on the warpath against President Obama. He's written a book -- Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack -- that lambasts the administration's terrorism policies and is now going after the president's use of Predator drone strikes to eliminate al Qaeda-connected terrorist operatives overseas. Yet it's not for the reason you might think.

In the spirit of full disclosure, Thiessen and I share somewhat of an affinity -- we share an alma mater in Vassar College (he is the class of '89, I am '05). Its ultra-liberal reputation notwithstanding, Vassar seems adept at producing conservative politicos; my school's other political celebrity alum is Rick Lazio, who unsuccessfully challenged Hillary Clinton in the 2000 New York Senate race. Ever loyal to the beloved alma mater, I read Thiessen's piece, and found it wanting.

Thiessen is hardly the first person to criticize Obama's use of Predator drone strikes. Many liberal critiques of Obama's strategy involve the collateral damage and legal issues surrounding the covert use of force. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these arguments, and they deserve America's attention. But Thiessen links his critique of Obama's drone strikes to a critique of Obama's decision to end the use of torture. So Thiessen does not want to end the use drone strikes for humanitarian reasons, he wants to avoid killing terrorists so we can capture and... torture them.

The rationale is less than apparent at first. After reviewing Thiessen's work experience, however, it appears to be just another blatant politicization of national security issues by a GOP operative. There is nothing wrong with the attempt to moderate the use of force, as long as it is informed either by sound pragmatic or moral concerns. Connecting debates over the use of airstrikes to debates over the use of torture in order to score political points, however, does nothing but undermine the public conversation on national security.

There is also the potential hypocrisy here. Who has heard of a Republican arguing Obama is being too forceful in the fight against terrorism? While I am hesitant to attack Republicans for advancing a position besides knee-jerk militant triumphalism, I have a hard time believing that individuals like Thiessen would applaud similar calls for restraint from Democrats. During the Bush Administration, Democrats often criticized Bush's use of force on the grounds that it distracted us from the real threats, but they were pilloried by the GOP attack machine, possibly including some of Thiessen's speeches.

Again, it is alright to debate the moral and pragmatic issues behind the use of airstrikes to kill terrorists. And it would be admirable to see a conservative pundit make a principled stand on national security that breaks with the Republican Party line. Thiessen's arguments, however, appear to be a cynical political move, of the type that paralyzed the marketplace of ideas in the Bush Administration and contributed to the numerous foreign policy blunders of those years.

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Four Dems I can believe in

Four Democratic senators, including two facing potentially challenging election campaigns this year, are asking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to use reconciliation, a procedural maneuver requiring only 51 votes, to push for a public health insurance option.

Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Jeff Merkley (Ore.) signed a letter to Reid saying they support this plan for four reasons: the cost savings the public option is estimated to achieve, continued public support for the public option, the need for increased competition in the insurance market and the Senate's history of using the reconciliation process for health care reform.

"Put simply, including a strong public option is one of the best, most fiscally responsible ways to reform our health insurance system," the letter says. "Although we strongly support the important reforms made by the Senate-passed health reform package, including a strong public option would improve both its substance and the public's perception of it." 

I think that's exactly right. While polls show many Americans against the bills currently in Congress, with each house having passed a bill already -- and apparently in favour of starting over (which is really a non-starter, as doing so would be political suicide for Democrats), the opposition to reform has more to do with the ugliness of legislative sausage-making and the success of Republican propaganda than with the specifics of those bills, which remain widely popular.

Passing a bill, whether the compromise Senate bill (with no public option) or a broader, more significant bill with a "strong public option" would be a huge success for Democrats, one that would start to resonate with the American people once they understood more clearly what exactly has been achieved and that health-care reform isn't part of some left-wing socialist-fascist plot to take over the country but rather something all Americans would benefit from over time. (Of course, this would require a concerted communications effort on the part of the White House and Congressional Dems.)

In short, "the public's perception" of the reform effort would improve dramatically with passage, with success. For once, Democrats should do what is totally in their self-interest. Because in this case, what is totally in their self-interest is also totally in the best interests of the American people. And that isn't often the case in politics.

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Stimulus hate

By Creature

It's unfounded and represents the biggest messaging mistake Democrats (and especially the White House) have made. Spending was needed, spending is still needed, the stimulus worked, but the case was never hammered home.


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John Mellencamp for Senate (?)

Following up on my post from last night -- yes, seriously:

Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, has suggested a Mellencamp candidacy, as has Roger Ebert. A Facebook page has been put up for that purpose, with 238 members at present. 

Think about it. Makes sense, no? Certainly as much sense, or almost, as Al Franken, and he's turned out to be a great senator so far. (Seriously. He has. Consider his anti-rape bill, for example.)

Who's more Indiana than John Mellencamp?

He was born in a small town, you know, and he may just die in one, too. And he knows you've got to stand for somethin':
Well I've been to Harlem County
And I've seen Paris, Texas
And I've spent some time in Rome
I know a lot of funny people
In a lot of funny places
But the Midwest is my home
We've got to start respectin' this world
Or it's gonna turn around and bite off our face

You've got to stand for something
Or you're gonna fall for anything
You've gotta stand right up for somethin'
Or you're gonna fall... for anything...

So very true. And we know the Republicans love to get the American people to fall for their bullshit.

Read his lyrics. The man gets it. From "We Are the People":

If you're feelin' shut down
May my thoughts be with you
If you're a black man bein' beat down and shoved all around
May my thoughts be with you
If your world's gettin' a little to tough
You know our thoughts are with you
Hey, I know that it's crazy out there
And my thoughts are with you


If you are one of the homeless
May our thoughts be with you
If you are scared and alone
You know our thoughts are with you

If you are one of the fortunate ones
We all know it's lonely up there
We understand that nobody's got it made
So our thoughts are with you


You see yourself as a leader
May my thoughts be with you
If you try to divide and conquer
We'll rise up against you
We know only the strong will survive
But the meek will inherit
So if you've got a coat of arms, oh friend
I suggest we wear it

It's unlikely, sure, but how would he not be an asset in the Senate?

How would he not bring a different perspective, one far removed from the privileged, corporate centrism of the likes of Evan Bayh? 

How many on Capitol Hill have more compassion and humanitarianism?

Look, I'm not saying I buy it yet. But maybe.


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New life for the public option?

By Creature

If a letter counts as life, maybe. I need to call my senator today, Sen. Gillibrand and thank her. I realize a lot of this is politics to get my liberal vote come reelection time, but it's good politics for a good policy.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Did Evan Bayh screw his fellow Democrats?

I thought so, given the, shall we say, interesting timing of his retirement announcement, and that would have made some sense, given that Bayh has made a long political career out of being a thorn in the side of his own party, but it seems that it's Republicans, not Democrats, who are angry with him, or with the timing, and who may lose out:

Republicans are livid about the timing of Sen. Evan Bayh's (D-Ind.) retirement announcement.

They have at least four candidates in the upcoming primary while the Indiana Democratic Party will get to decide its nominee.

Indiana required nominating petitions to be filed by noon Tuesday. Bayh announced Monday he would not seek reelection, giving would-be candidates less than 24 hours to get on the ballot.

Republicans have four candidates who made the deadline and a fifth whose signatures are being validated. Democrats had no serious successor in position, given that Bayh had already his filed his nominating petitions and had $13 million in bank. 

Because no Democrat was able to gather the 4,500 nominating signatures -- 500 from each congressional district -- the party's executive committee will meet in the next six weeks to decide on a nominee.

Some big-name Republicans, like Rep. Mike Pence, stayed away, given that a run against Bayh was seen as a sure loss, and the favourite on the GOP side is now former Sen. Dan Coats. "Democratic strategists said the lack of a primary, while Republicans have a five-way battle raging, could be a boon." Indeed. The other four Republicans could pull out and let Coats have the nomination, but otherwise there is potential for some major infighting on the GOP side. 

Among the "losers" of Bayh's announcement, WaPo's Chris Cillizza lists "Democratic morale." That may be true, but Democratic morale is low already, and the possibility of putting up a strong candidate against Coats, or whomever the Republican nominee turns out to be, with the possibility of holding on to Bayh's seat, should boost Democratic spirits. Of course, that strong candidate could be Brad Ellsworth, whom Cillizza lists as a "winner," and Ellsworth's a devout Blue Dog who could turn out to be another Evan Bayh.

Yes, Democrats are understandably "scarred and demanding aggression," to quote HuffPo's Sam Stein, and I get that, and I tend to agree with those who argue that what the Democrats need to do now -- and this would certainly improve morale -- is move forward with their agenda, incluging passing health-care reform.

In Indiana, though, the key is keeping Bayh's seat, and that means going with a big-time candidate who can fill Bayh's big shoes and run competitively in what remains a fairly red state.

So how about John (Cougar) Mellencamp?

No, seriously. I'll get into it in a subsequent post.

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Quote of the Day

By Creature

"He wasn't sick of the problems of DC, he was the problem of DC." -- Cenk Uygur, on Evan Bayh.

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Nationalizing Wal-Mart

By Capt. Fogg

So let me get this straight, President Obama, or if you're a Republican, just plain Obama, is a dangerous leader because when someone tried to blow up a plane he took hours before mentioning the magic word "War." That was bad. Never ever talk of criminal activity when you can describe it as an act of war, unless of course it's our criminal activity. The non-sequitur correlate of this principle is that no rules apply when the words are coming from on official right wing spokesman, like Rush or Sarah. So it's OK for him to call people "retards" on the air, but just disgusting for Rahm to use it in private. Likewise it's OK for Rush to insist there's no war on while all the rest of his party continue to justify each and every contradiction. Actually no rules apply to Rush at all, since he can get away with such statements as insisting that the president has already dealt the U.S. a more devastating blow than we suffered in World War II without being called a liar, an ignoramus or the worst enemy Truth ever had.

But let's start at the beginning, Rush claimed yesterday that Wal-Mart was lobbying heavily to keep "Obama" from nationalizing the company. Lord knows they have lobbyists, but it takes a certain kind of person to broadcast that there is any likelihood of such an action and a really special kind of person to believe it. Now why would that be something awful you might ask Rush? Because there's no war on, says he, driving home the point that whether there is or isn't is situational and specific to any particular argument he's trying to make. There's a war when you can attack the president with it and there isn't when you can attack the president with it and both times Rush will be right.

The last time this happened was World War II, but that was because there was a war on and it made sense.

The last time what happened, Rush? It may make sense to him, but not only are we losing men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan, we did not nationalize Wal-Mart then or ever, nor is anyone contemplating it but Rush.

Country is under assault, more so than we were during World War II, other than the Japanese. But the Germans never attacked us, the Japanese did,

he continued and I'll leave it to you to figure out what alternate universe these "facts" come from. I suspect there are numbers of people who will simply accept that the current administration is more dangerous to our national security than what in the late 1930s was the most powerful military on Earth, will simply nod and accept that Germany didn't declare war on us and didn't over-run Europe and attack England and that we didn't lose almost half a million troops or that untold tens of millions of people didn't die -- Obama is dangerous and has already done us more harm than the Axis powers and without a doubt is going to nationalize Wal-Mart.

Does anyone reading this believe that Rush Limbaugh isn't stark raving mad with power, thinking he can invent alternate histories, create alternate realities and use them to attack the government and the people of the United States of America? There are millions who do and it may be that one or two of them will take it upon themselves to do Rush's bidding and rid us of the man who has already ruined everything for everyone.

Of course it's a United States of America where the president's imaginary "gun grab" has already taken place, where people who just got a tax cut are protesting an imaginary increase, where people who can't afford a check-up much less treatment for a serious illness are screaming about "Obama" taking away their ideal situation and somewhere, somebody is plotting acts of violence because after all, "Obama" is not only a Nazi, but a more dangerous one than Hitler. Thus spake Limbaugh.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Scientologists! Move over!

By Carl 

These guys are more certifiable than you!

They are frequently led by political neophytes who prize independence and tell strikingly similar stories of having been awakened by the recession. Their families upended by lost jobs, foreclosed homes and depleted retirement funds, they said they wanted to know why it happened and whom to blame.

That is often the point when Tea Party supporters say they began listening to Glenn Beck. With his guidance, they explored the Federalist Papers, exposés on the Federal Reserve, the work of Ayn Rand and George Orwell. Some went to constitutional seminars. Online, they discovered radical critiques of Washington on Web sites like ("Home of the Patriotic Resistance") and ("Because there is a war on for your mind.").

Some have gone so far as to stock up on ammunition, gold and survival food in anticipation of the worst.

Listening to Glenn Beck expostulate on the Founding Fathers is a little like letting Pee Wee Herman persuade you to watch a porn flick with him: you'll get nothing but the blowback while he gets to enjoy warping your mind. Glenn Beck's knowledge of the Founding Fathers seems to have been derived from the back of a Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap bottle... while on acid.

Local Tea Party groups are often loosely affiliated with one of several competing national Tea Party organizations. In the background, offering advice and organizational muscle, is an array of conservative lobbying groups, most notably FreedomWorks. Further complicating matters, Tea Party events have become a magnet for other groups and causes — including gun-rights activists, anti-tax crusaders, libertarians, militia organizers, the "birthers" who doubt Obama's citizenship, Lyndon LaRouche supporters and proponents of the sovereign states movement.

It is a sprawling rebellion, but running through it is a narrative of impending tyranny. It is a prominent theme of their favored media outlets and commentators, and it connects the disparate issues that preoccupy many Tea Party supporters — from a concern that the community organization ACORN is stealing elections to a belief that Obama is trying to control the Internet and restrict gun ownership.

Listen, when the far right aligns itself with Lyndon Larouche, we are just a few steps away from insanity.

Not anarchy. Not even disruption. We are talking about mass psychoses.

Fortunately, they're pissed at both parties, which ought to give people like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck some pause. After all, out of control is out of control and that works so long as you are not the target of the anger, but how long will it be before first Rush and then Beck are outted as corporatist tools working for the more egregious of the status quotidians??

Bottom-line, long term this is not a sector of the population we need to concern ourselves with: in-fighting among factions, disgruntlement with the movement in general, and the small grabs for power that reveal the corrupt nature of this astroturf movement will quickly melt the entire tea party away like a candle left on a stove.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Top Taliban commander detained

By Creature

Not bad for a dithering president who does not believe we are at war. Huh, Dick?

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Evan Bayh to retire

By Creature

I think Atrios has it right. With his ego no longer being stroked and his shot at the White House gone, Bayh's going the Sarah Palin route and cashing in. Actual governing is hard work (especially when there's private money to be made and you have no dedication to helping anyone other than your corporate constituents). That being said, the timing is still strange.


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Hypocritical stimulus check-cashers

By Creature

I wasn't going to watch Meet the Press yesterday until I saw that Rachel was going to be on. I'm glad I did. Here she is waging her lonely fight against GOP hypocrisy.

As Steven Benen said: "...I can't help but wonder, why is it that Rachel Maddow seems to be the only media professional calling out Republican hypocrisy on this? One of the reasons the clip generated so much attention was because it was something we see so rarely -- blatant GOP hypocrisy being called out on national television, accurately and fairly. It seems a little silly to make a fuss over what should be a common occurrence, but since it's not a common occurrence, moments like these are all the more satisfying."

Also all the more satisfying because it took place on national television, far beyond the liberal-choir Rachel usually preaches to.

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Family Day

I'm a bit slow getting started today, as it's Family Day, a fairly new civic holiday, here in Ontario, and both the Olympics and the long weekend have kept me from blogging much the past couple of days.

But stay tuned, we'll have some new posts coming up in the not-too-distant future.

Oh, and to all you Americans out there, Happy Presidents Day! I suppose you're all out buying cars from guys dressed up as Washington and Lincoln.

Have fun stimulating the economy, my friends! Apparently the world depends on your debt-fueled conspicuous consumption.

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You have the right to remain silent

By Capt. Fogg

Why is it that when Republicans only become creative when they run out of factual support? Lies, distortions, evasions, calumnies, falsehoods, fabrications, disinformation, distortions, propaganda, tall tales and slander; defamation, deceit, prevarications and mendacity: all kinds of colors in the "conservative" crayon box.

One lie I've heard far too much of from the Fox-poisoned Right, is how that lily-livered, limp-wristed, far-left Liberal and soft-on-crime Obama all but let Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab off the hook with his damned un-American insistence on justice and due process because he, having been read his Miranda Rights, immediately "clammed up." As is almost invariably true, the facts say otherwise.

The administration's timeline just released shows that the would-be murderer was removed to a hospital shortly after being arrested. There, he apparently began spilling the beans like a bratty one year old in a high chair until his medical condition deteriorated sharply - undoubtedly from having his genitals nearly burned off. The Miranda litany was recited only 9 hours after capture and after his condition was stabilized by four hours of surgery and questioning resumed but without response. How can you tell when the Republicans are lying? You don't need to, they always are.

Why is it that when Republicans only become creative when they run out of factual support? Sometimes they're so hard up for things to use to undermine our government, they just make them up from scratch or expand some minute and irrelevant mote into a universe of slime. If you haven't seen the latest chapter of Teleprompter Wars in your in-box yet, I'm sure you soon will. It's the one showing the President using two teleprompters to address a group of small children under the rubric of:

"Apparently there is no venue too small to require multiple teleprompters. I saw these pictures and first thought they were photo shopped, but it ends up they are actual pictures from Obama talking to an elementary school classroom. And they made fun of Bush's communication skills."

Well, no you didn't, the picture of the kids in the classroom and the President at a subsequent news conference in a different room do not show him using a teleprompter to address them and of course you know that. He was giving a speech to reporters who would be willing to use any misplaced word to attack him. One thing alone is true -- they did make fun of Bush's "skills" -- even school children[s]

You know that he writes well, speaks well and is very much more able to communicate than his babbling, blathering predecessor and that looks bad for you -- and so you butter it over with lies and serve it up to your dogs for breakfast with no sense of shame at all.

What do they hope to accomplish with such clumsy calumnies? Why are Republicans so desperate to believe anything that will make their visceral hatred of Democracy and uppity people of African descent seem to be less than the demented evil that it is? Why are they willing to sacrifice our country on some pagan altar of some bellicose god of war and conquest? Why do we sit by and let them do it?

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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