Saturday, July 02, 2011

Is Mark Halperin a dick?

As you may have heard, Mark Halperin, of Time and MSNBC fame, a bona fide Beltway insider (for better but usually for worse), said this about President Obama on Thursday (on Morning Joe):

I thought he was a dick yesterday.

Okay. Whatever. Big deal.

He apparently didn't think his words would hit the airwaves (given the seven-second delay).

Everyone's entitled to an opinion and this was hardly an egregious overstep. Everyone can be a "dick" now and then. Including the president. (Though I watched Obama's news conference and found him to be anything but.)

Halperin apologized, as he ought to have done -- as he had to: "Joking aside, this is an absolute apology. I shouldn't have said it. I apologize to the president and the viewers who heard me say that."

And yet was suspended by MSNBC. Perhaps understandably so.

The thing is, it's not what he said that's the problem, it's who he is, or, rather, what he represents, what sort of a "journalist" he is.

The Daily Caller's Michelle Goldberg hit the nail squarely on the head:

Here’s why Mark Halperin is a disgrace. It’s not because he used a mild obscenity to describe our president on Morning Joe, disrespectful as that was. Rather, it was the circumstances of the slur. Right now, the Republican Party is threatening to blow up the world economy unless Democrats agree to savage cuts in spending while refusing any of the revenue increases that all serious economists say are necessary to actually address the national debt. Obama, whose greatest fault in office has been a misplaced faith in the GOP’s capacity for reasonableness, went on television and chided the party for this stance. Apparently, this struck Halperin as unreasonable. His response embodies all that’s rotten and shallow about D.C.’s pundit class, which fetishizes bipartisanship even as it only demands it of one political party.


Halperin should be forgiven for insulting the president. He shouldn’t be forgiven, though, for his role in perpetuating the idiotic assumptions of the establishment clique that lefty bloggers sometimes call The Village.


He’s part of a political class that has become so cowed by conservative attacks that it makes anti-liberalism its lodestar, constantly imputing strength to the right and weakness to the left.


Because Halperin is so determined to bend over backward for the right, he can’t come to grips with the central fact of modern politics—the death of Republican moderation. Today’s GOP is a congeries of Birchers, fundamentalists, nativists, and gold bugs that considers longtime conservatives like Bob Bennett and Orrin Hatch unacceptably left-wing. Right now, it is playing a game of chicken with all of our financial futures, counting on the widespread fear that it really is crazy enough to unleash financial Armageddon, and the knowledge that the Democrats are not. The president tried, in a very mild way, to address his opponents’ dangerous intransigence. What kind of political journalist regards that as wildly inappropriate? Halperin has given us the answer.

I could not agree more. Shame on Mark Halperin. Shame on all those like him. Which is almost the entirety of the Beltway media establishment.

America suffers as a result of its distorted priorities, its willingness to play along with Republican bullshit, its inability to do its job properly.

Halperin is just part of the problem, one among many. But with his "dick" remark he encapsulated all that is wrong with this oh-so-influential corner of the media.

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Friday, July 01, 2011

Canada Day 2011

Happy Birthday, Canada!!!

We're 144 years old today.

To all my Canadian friends and family, have a safe and happy day. And to everyone else, to all of you from around the world, take a bit of time today to think of us. This is pretty wonderful country.

I posted this clip three years ago, and last year, and I'll post it again. It's one of the most stirring renditions of our national anthem I've ever heard, sung by the fans at Edmonton's Rexall Place before Game 3 of the NHL Western Conference playoff series between the Oilers and the Anaheim Ducks on May 23, 2006 (the Oilers won the series in five games before losing to the Carolina Hurricanes in the finals, 4-3).

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Into the abyss

And so the shutdown begins. The GOP controlling the Minnesota legislature has demanded complete capitulation to their agenda and if they don’t get it they’re perfectly willing to drive off the cliff. This should be viewed as educational given current goings on in Washington D.C. as things portend badly both for the ongoing debt limit discussions, and the next budgetary cycle in general.

Yesterday, Monica Davey wrote in The New York Times about how Minnesota may be ungovernable. University of Minnesota political scientist Lawrence Jacobs is quoted:

It’s a very sad day for Minnesota. It’s a state that had a well-earned reputation for being well governed where, at the end of the day, politics were done in a fair and efficient manner. And it’s now on the cusp of ungovernability. There’s a new ethic here that compromise is weakness.

Well… let’s be clear about a few things. The GOP has not come to govern, they have come to burn down the house. With billions of dollars separating the legislature from the governor in final budgetary negotiations, they offer $200 million in adjustments as a compromise while demanding it be deducted elsewhere, and pretend they have given up the keys to the ranch. Meanwhile Governor Dayton has reduced his budgetary request by over $2 billion and wisely refuses to go any lower.

MNPublius has a good graphic which shows what’s really going in with the respective negotiating positions and how much each side in the debate has offered. The Minnesota GOP refuses to allow even the smallest tax increase even upon those making over $1 million a year – despite the fact that the wealthiest pay a significantly smaller share of their income in state taxes than do the poor and middle class.

Republicans refuse to negotiate in good faith

As it became apparent a compromise would not be reached the “cone of silence” over negotiations collapsed and the details of competing offers are not pretty. The Star Tribune reports part of the GOP offerings included over $700 million in deferred payments to Minnesota school districts – this on top of the roughly $1.5 billion in “deferred” payments we know the schools will never see, and issuing “tobacco bonds”, adding to the state’s debt without clear benefit as with infrastructure, etc.

Talks also broke down because of Republican insistence on inserting policy provisions – voter ID requirements, abortion restrictions, etc. – into what should be clean budgetary bills.

Presidential wannabe Tim “hard times in the land of” Pawlenty presided over Minnesota’s desperate race to the bottom. He kicked the can down the road time and time again, unwilling to demonstrate the leadership and political courage necessary to undo the damage he initiated as majority leader in the Minnesota House. Minnesota used to be a national leader in health, education, job creation, innovation – now we’re middle of the pack, and only because the GOP hasn’t turned us into Mississippi. Yet. But they’re still trying.

Kudos to Governor Mark Dayton, who’s turning out to be a lot stronger and smarter than any of us anticipated, on standing firm and protecting Minnesota’s heritage of effective, responsible government.

The state government is now running with a skeleton crew – just a few essential services such as prisons and the state patrol are operating. It will be interesting to see how long this lasts, but let there be no confusion. Negotiation and compromise require two parties EQUALLY willing to participate. Thus far the GOP proposals have been a joke. They must do better. Minnesota demands no less.

(Cross-posted at Greg Prince's Blog.)

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Must See Nixonland TV

By J. Thomas Duffy

John Cook, over on Gawker, has a bombshell, of sorts, having unearthed documents from the Nixon Library that has Roger Ailes laying out the blueprint for Faux News, decades ahead of time.

Roger Ailes’ Secret Nixon-Era Blueprint for Fox News
Republican media strategist Roger Ailes launched Fox News Channel in 1996, ostensibly as a "fair and balanced" counterpoint to what he regarded as the liberal establishment media. But according to a remarkable document buried deep within the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, the intellectual forerunner for Fox News was a nakedly partisan 1970 plot by Ailes and other Nixon aides to circumvent the "prejudices of network news" and deliver "pro-administration" stories to heartland television viewers.

No doubt, with the dwarfs, finks, phonies and frauds of Nixonland, the corpulent liar didn't need the pikers, he just had to bid his time, and launch his own lie factory, were he was The King, and could listen to his lies bounce around, echoing all over the Right Wing Freak Show.

Go read Cook's post, it's overflowing with juicy tidbits

Bonus Riffs

The Ailes Files

Eric Hananoki - CRUISE SHIP CONFESSION: Top Fox News Executive Admits Lying On-Air About Obama

Eric Boehlert - FOX NEWS INSIDER: “Stuff Is Just Made Up”

The New Fox News Tagline

Cross posted on The Garlic: All The Cloves Fit To Peel

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It takes one to know one

By J. Thomas Duffy
As The Nation's Chris Hayes so perfectly put it: "Just when you think the news cycle can't get any stupider, Mark Halperin publishes a book."

This quote comes from Glenn Greenwald, talking about Mark Halperin and John Heilemann's new book, Game Change, back in 2010.

This was post-campaign, where Halperin openly inserted himself into the Stumblin' Bumblin' John McCain Campaign, giving McCain advise on how to beat Obama, of which the advice was openly racist.

Such so, that we wrote, in 'Some More Donuts, There, Mr. Halperin?' here on The Garlic, that;

About the only thing missing for Time Magazine's Mark Halperin, during his appearance yesterday on 'This Week with George Stephanopoulos', was having "McCain 08" tattooed on his forehead, and the Dead Campaign Express bus parked on set, behind him.


So, opening up the World Wide Web today, we were not, necessarily, surprised to see that Halperin, appearing on "The Morning Joke"program, called President Obama "a dick", which, naturally, has kicked up a dust storm of backlash, and hand-wringing.

Let's turn to Crooks and Liars for the replay;

Scarborough set Halperin up by asking him about yesterday's press conference where President Barack Obama "scolded" Republicans for not raising the debt ceiling.

"Are we on the seven-second delay?" Halperin asked.

"Yeah, sure," Scarborough said. "Come on. Take a chance."

"I thought he was kind of a dick yesterday," Halperin announced with smile.

Ha ... Ha ... Ha ...

Isn't that Mark Halperin a witty felllow ...

No, not really.

Merely staying true-to-form.

Steve Benen, over on 'The Washington Monthly' nails it;

If you can watch the video, note how Halperin, ostensibly one of the nation’s most influential pundits, was smiling, with a smug satisfaction. It wasn’t a word he just blurted out in the heat of a larger discussion — Halperin thought about it, asked about whether the broadcast was on a seven-second delay, and then took his shot.


There are a couple of angles to keep in mind here. The first is that Halperin’s credibility as an objective observer of political events has long been dubious, at best, but this morning’s little stunt should remove all doubt. In candor, I don’t much care that Halperin sides with the right over the left, and takes cheap shots at Democrats. I care that Halperin is presented to the public as a neutral, even-handed expert, when that’s plainly not the case.

To this extent, the “dick” comment only helps bring an end to a thin pretense.

The other point that’s worth remembering is the larger dynamic. Forget Halperin’s choice of words, and instead consider the argument he and his “Morning Joe” colleagues were pressing. They were annoyed, apparently, because President Obama wasn’t docile and conciliatory during his press conference. He showed some backbone, and this seems to have troubled the political establishment to no end.

If the president stays cool, he’s an emotionless Mr. Spock. If the president shows some fire in the belly, he’s “a dick.”

Maybe, Halperin was secretly auditioning for a job with Faux News.

Halperin was long been a dick, as Benen put it Halperin’s credibility as an objective observer of political events has long been dubious, and he as long been a sycophant for the PartyofNoicans.

From our "Assforwards, For Mark Halperin";

It's a wonder that Time Magazine's Mark Halperin doesn't have, permanently, the imprint of ass on his face, for his obsequious kissing (and, often, at times, firmly planted up) the PartyofNoican's behinds.

Check his cheeks, and puckered lips, today, there should be a fresh imprint.


Bonus Riffs

Alex Pareene:  Mark Halperin comes up with great excuse to fire Mark Halperin


DougJ in Damascus:  The mask slips

Scarecrow:  Breaking! Supreme Court Rules 9-0 It’s Okay to Call Mark Halperin an Adolescent “Dick”

Cross posted on The Garlic: All The Cloves Fit To Peel

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Governor Chris Christie should run for President, New Jersey doesn't want him anymore

I really dislike New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie. There is just something about the smugness of the man that drives me crazy. He's a shill for big business and the wealthy, he has no use for working people and yet he tries hard to put himself across as an "everyman," standing up for the average taxpayer. On top of that, he's a bully. Yeah, quite the guy.

As you might imagine, I was not at all troubled by news today of a poll reported by Bloomberg indicating that:
more than half of New Jersey resident's say they wouldn't back Governor Christie for a second term, disapproving of his choices on a range of policy and personal issues, from killing a commuter tunnel to using a state-police helicopter to attend his son's baseball game.

An absolutely delicious part of the poll was the finding that:
Teachers, whose union Christie has targeted on tenure, pay and benefits, received a far higher favorable rating, 76 percent, than the first term Republican. His favorable rating was 43 percent, according to a Bloomberg New Jersey poll conducted June 20-23.

The poll found that 58 percent of New Jersey residents disagree with Christie's decision not to extend a surcharge on the state's highest earning taxpayers and that 65 percent oppose eduction spending reductions. 68 percent said they believe that Christie stands with the business community compared to 22 percent who said that he sides with "ordinary New Jerseyans."

You get the drift.

As I wrote yesterday in a discussion about the poor approval rating of Florida's Republican Governor Rick Scott, the 2012 federal elections aren't just going to be a plebiscite on how well Obama is managing the economy. They will also be a plebiscite on the alternative that Republicans have to offer. Increasingly, it would seem that the newly elected class of GOP governors, with their executive authority, are giving people a pretty good idea of what they could expect from a Republican president, Senate and House. So far, it looks like voters might have concerns about that outcome.

Great to see Christie get a boot in the ass.

(Cross-posted to Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Can Michele Bachmann outrun her own mouth? Doubtful

Roll Call reported today that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) is using Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-Minn) presidential campaign to "fundraise, rally activists and mobilize supporters online."
Roll Call has learned the DSCC bought sponsored Google ads that
appear when viewers conduct various searches that include Bachmann's name. Clicking on the ad sends viewers to a petitiion page on the DSCC website that reads, "It's simple - Michele Bachmann is too extreme for America."

Search terms that trigger the ads include Bachmann's name, variations of her name - including misspellings - search terms to coincide with her presidential announcement this week and anything about her platform and key issues such as abortion. Other terms included are "John Wayne" and "lies."

The campaign wonk in me loves to see things like this - simple but clever organizing tools.

I also think that Bachmann will scare the hell out of not only true progressives but also independents once they fully understand what this woman is all about. At some level it appears that Bachmann gets this as she is currently working hard to soften the impact of the some of the crazier shit she has had to say over the past little while. Or, as a headline at TPM refered to it: "Michele Bachmann's Big Presidential Campaign Walkbacks."

Evan McMorris-Santoro wrote today:
Rep. Michele Bachmann is a firebreather. It's a significant part of her charm. But as polls show her to be a serious candidate in the Iowa caucuses - and, therefore, the race for the nomination - Bachmann's been up on TV rounding off some sharp edges.

No longer is President Obama "un-American," as Bachmann said in 2008. Nor is eliminating the minimum wage the top priority it was back in 2005. As she steps into the national spotlight - with the help of big-time campaign strategist Ed Rollins - Bachmann is presenting a kinder, gentler face.

As I wrote a few days ago, she is even moderating her typically homophobic views on gay marriage by talking about states' rights and how New York had the right to sanction gay marriage under the the 10th Amendment.

All of this is to say that she is going to try to reinvent herself as a more reasonable person, though I strongly suspect it's too late for that. I also think that the good folks at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee understand this point very well. Looks like they've got a strategy. It's called the truth.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Why Europeans Are Better Americans Than We Are

By Carl
Britain's biggest police force faced a staffing crisis today after 95 per cent of its 999 call handlers failed to turn up for work because of the national strike. [...]

It comes as hundreds of thousands of public sector workers have begun to strike across the country, closing or disrupting schools, colleges, courts, Government offices and job centres.

Port and airports are being affected, causing travel chaos for holidaymakers trying to head abroad. Anyone arriving in the UK today is likely to be among those facing long queues.

The impact of the strike began to be felt as early as last night as border control staff refused to turn up for work.

Early indications this morning were that the estimate of 750,000 strikers could prove to be accurate and some union officials said they expected "the best supported strike we have ever seen".

"National strike." What a lovely, progressive sentiment. Imagine, a government that listens to its people and when it stops listening to its people, it suffers a strike. And while some people complain, because so many of them end up on the picket lines, they all comprehend the reasons for the strike and support it.
We're Americans, yet we behave like scared little children, cowering about as the Corporatocracy eats our lunches, takes our retirement funds and pays us pennies for our sweat. We are satisfied for the crumbs that Scrooge will drop off his tables and we'll ravage each other in a fight for those scraps, when there are enough of us to stand up on our feet and take the feast for ourselves, our families, and our communities.
We let the Corporatocracy dictate the national dialogue, right up to where they've bought our courts to nod in unison, "Yes, your money entitles you to speak as if you were born here."
From now on, I want to see the long form birth certificate of any corporation that buys air time on any news program. "I got mine, go get your own," is simply not an option, and I say that as someone who actually does have his and wants his fellow Americans to get theirs too, and I don't give a rat's ass if that means they end up with more than me. I have enough...well, nearly, but I won't starve...and it's goddamned about time that people who work hard in this country ought not to live in terror of an automobile accident or a slip on an icy sidewalk.
It's goddamned about time that people in this country ought to be guaranteed more than a paycheck today. "Right-to-work" is a Newspeak of the most odious kind. The small percentage who would abuse the process of a union hearing are small potatoes compared to the tens of millions of people who would be protected like the millions of unions members already are, a number that's dwindling faster than the GOP chances in 2012.
It doesn't take much, you know. All it takes is a small act of defiance each day. It doesn't even have to be overt: just don't buy a product unless it has a union label on it. Don't shop at Starbucks for coffee, no matter how "fair trade" they tell you their coffee is or how cute the barista might be. Buy it from the guy who owns the corner coffee shop, the guy who probably quit a crappy job like yours to take his chances on his own. That kind of behavior ought to be encouraged and supported.
Educate someone. Educate ANYone, even the asshat down the block who's all Glenn Becked. You don't have to change his mind. All you have to do is plant a seed, a seed that will germinate when he wakes up one morning and realizes what a raw deal he's got from his corporate overlords.
It happened to David Brock! If it can happen to Brock, one of the most odious right wing minions ever, it can happen with your neighbor.
The American Revolution was not a populist idea. It was not a popular idea. But it was the right idea and it came at the right time, and it came after centuries of men and women waking up and realizing they could be responsible for their own governance. And if you don't think we don't face a royalist foe now in Corporate America, you haven't thought things through well. They own our "Parliament," not just our House of Lords (the Senate) but the Commons (Representatives). They own the courts. Hell, they probably own the churches too!
How much do you want the economic royalists to determine the direction of your life?
This weekend, we celebrate the Fourth of July: the 135th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Indepence which said with one voice that this nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, would no longer tolerate a royal class dictating our lives for us.
It's time we returned that favor.  
(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Top Ten Cloves: Other Pope Tweets

By J. Thomas Duffy

News Item: Pope sends first tweet, launching new Vatican site

10.  Can't wait to see Transformers 3 ...

  9.  Anybody know how to upload some pics to FB? ... Shitass things won't take ...

  8.  Don't know bout this writer, but we doin fabulous with deals from Groupon ... Got this badass iPad with bomb of a discount!

  7.  Who looks better in his shorts, me or that Weiner guy?

  6.  Tell the Egyptians to "Get A Life!"

  5.  Follow Me! ... I want to make a run at Lady Gaga this month, for tops!

  4.  WTF NY? ... We'll have to reach out to our boy Pat Robertson, see if he can conjure up a hurricane or tornado ...

  3.  Here's a "Shout Out" to my boys in Philly ... Hang tough, we'll all get thur this (and use the Woodstock thing, it's the bomb)

  2.  I don't know about you, but I would $$ to see Bachmann and Palin mud wrestle!

  1.  Hey ChrisF on Haypi Kingdom, I'm cummin' after U MFer! ... U stole my crops!

Bonus Riffs

Blessed be thy tweeters: Pope issues praise in fewer than 140 characters

Know Thy Pope

Retro Garlic: "We Got An Eight-Page Layout With Viceroy ... The New Pope Is A Thinking Man ..."

Vatican Discounts "Bonfire Pope"; Says Flames "Not Hunched Over Enough"

Top Ten Cloves: Things The Vatican Has Done To Make Good Friday Even Better

Cross posted on The Garlic: All The Cloves Fit To Peel

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Florida Governor Rick Scott's "tough love" not so popular - are we surprised?

Quick update here on the woeful performance of Republican Governor Rick Scott of Florida, at least by the standards of current approval ratings. Yes, the New York Times reported today that Scott has the lowest approval of any governor in the country. What a distinction!

Not surprisingly, when asked about his 29 percent approval rating in a Quinnipiac University poll conducted in May, he said, "I don't think about it." Well, he might want to start.

As the Times reports:
His negative rating has soared from 22 percent in February shortly after he entered office to 57 percent, suggesting that the more Floridians get to know him, the less they like him.

No matter how this may impact him whenever he has to face the voters again, the real issue could be what it does to federal races in Florida in 2012.

The Times story continues:
Mr. Scott's sinking popularity has Republican politicians and some strategists worried that his troubles could hamper their chances of tilting the state's 29 electoral votes back into their column in 2012. President Obama won Florida by 2.8 percentage points in 2008.
Republican Senate and House candidates are also worrying, strategists say, that the governor's rapidly declining popularity will affect their chances of winning election.
Mr. Scott's unpopularity is mostly rooted in his aggressive push for large cuts in the budget and pubic-sector work force, his decision to reject $2.4 billion in federal money for a high speed rail project, and the dismissive and even abrasive way he deals with those who disagree with him or ask a lot of questions.
He also promised to create many jobs, and it has been the mantra of his tenure so far. But the state's unemployment rate, down from a high of 11.9 percent, is still at 10.6 percent.

And, of course, the Republican push at the federal level to "re-tool" Medicare can't help politicians at the local level in a state with so many elderly residents.

Here's the thing. Karl Rove and other GOP spinners want to argue that unless the economy substantially improves by 2012, which now seems unlikely, Obama is toast. But it does seem to me that at the local level (props to Tip O'Neill), the Republican governors who are inflicting all the pain better have a lot to show for it by the time the polls open again, or voters could decide to go with the president and the party that have at least tried to help and haven't been such pricks about it.

Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan are all states with relatively new and precariously perched Republican governors. There are a lot of electoral votes there that could go either way and not a few interesting House and Senate races. We'll see who pays the most for a poor economy in 2012.

(Cross-posted to Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Shell Game

By Carl
My suspicion is Al Qaeda and their sympathisers are a lot more clever than we credit them for:

KABUL — Kamel Khan, 32, a businessman, was chatting with two friends on the poolside terrace of the hilltop Intercontinental Hotel Tuesday night when he heard a burst of gunfire and looked up. A man carrying a machine gun, with an ammunition belt across his chest and a knapsack on his back, was standing a few feet away.

“He stared at all of the guests like he wanted to kill us, and he had enough bullets to do it, but for some reason he just turned and kept going,” Khan said. After a moment of shock, Khan and dozens of other guests made a dash for the garden wall and fled downhill, while heavy shooting erupted behind them.

I don't think it's much of a coincidence that we announce a troop drawdown in Afhganistan and fighting begins to flare up again.

It seems that a strategy of trying to exhaust the resources of the greatest military in the history of the planet is underway. It's a smart strategy. Our armed forces are pretty regimented in terms of materiel and personnel. We don't really have a flexible strategy to keep our troops fresh and we certainly aren't about to start a draft at this point in time. We've got the forces we're going to fight with and can only hope they're up to the task over the long and difficult haul.

Thank you, George Bush. Sometimes, listening to Jesus means actually taking his advice and turning the other cheek. But I digress...

We've been at this war, on and off (because you sure can't call the first seven years anything more than lip service to accomplishing a goal) for almost eleven years now and will certainly surpass that mark before our troops come home.

By contrast, World War II took less than half that time, we beat the Nazis AND Japan in two theatres. By that measure, this Middle-South Asia adventure has been a debacle. We wars on three fronts (if you include Iraq and Pakistan) and are rumbling with Libya.

The paranoid in me believes there's more here than meets the eye. After spending nearly forty years in a cold war with the Soviet Union, perhaps its possible that the Chinese were taking notes. If they can get the US to dismantle our economy willingly in pursuit of ghosts and vapor trails, the Chinese can rather quietly declare checkmate on us and our economy.

We've certainly demonstrated our willingness to take our economy to the brink in order to beat a military rival. China doesn't even have to lift a finger except to fund the Taliban and Al Qaeda (as well as Hamas and Hezbollah, among others) to keep our military spending up, our debt purchases flowing and our military exhausted.

After all, would you send in American troops after a decade of fighting an exhausting and draining war into a dispute in the South China Sea?

(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

This day in history - June 28, 1894: Labor Day becomes an official US holiday

So, to which governor should I send a copy of Pete Seeger's Carry It On! The Story of Working People in America in Song and Picture? Should it be Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey or Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin? It is difficult to decide.

To which champion of working men and women everywhere should I make such a gift? I'm sure they would both cherish it.

(Cross-posted to Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Yes, Chris Wallace, Michele Bachmann is a flake. Thanks for asking

Okay, Michele Bachmann is certainly the flavor of the moment in American political discourse. Ever since the media decided that she won the New Hampshire GOP presidential nomination debate because she was disciplined enough not to betray her natural wackiness, we have all been talking about her a lot. Sometimes you just can't help talking about things like this. It's like what happens after going to a circus freak show when you're a kid.

The most interesting thing over the past few days, though, was the posing of a question to Bachmann by Fox News personality Chris Wallace, which has to be on the minds of many. You probably know that he asked her, no doubt based on so many of the nutty things she has said in the past, if she was a flake.

For some reason, she took exception, and still appears not to be ready to accept Wallace's apology, which someone in a position of authority at Fox must have suggested he offer. Or maybe Wallace realized himself that pissing off Fox Nation was not a good way to ensure long-term employment with the network.

That was fun.

What is also interesting is the consideration of that question to Bachmann in the context of an earlier comment made by Wallace in an interview with Jon Stewart.

In the interview, Stewart said the following:
The embarrassment is that I'm given credibility in this world because of the disappointment that the public has in what the news media does.

Wallace replied:
I don't think our viewers are the least bit disappointed with us. I think our viewers think, finally, they're getting somebody who tells the other side of the story.

By his comment, it seems obvious to me, as it did to Stewart, that Wallace was blowing the shit out of Fox's claim to be fair and balanced by arguing that it is Fox's job to counter what they see as the liberal bias in the media. Whether or not one thinks the media have a liberal bias, Fox likes to argue that they remain neutral in their presentation of the news, however much nonsense that actually is to most reasonable people.

No great surprise here. It was just nice to have someone at Fox admit that the fair and balanced thing is bullshit. Golly gee, they seem to be driven by an ideological agenda that colors everything they do. Well, duh.

So, when Wallace asked Bachmann if she was a flake, he was badly off script. There is a narrative that all Fox employees are required to embrace. Conservatives are good. Liberals are evil and there are no shades of gray. And that is the so-called "other side" as Wallace sees it.

On that side of things, conservatives are not flakes, and certainly not Michele Bachmann, though she consistently embarrasses herself with mind-blowing ignorance and frightening right-wing extremism.

It's a shame Wallace felt the need to apologize for this, because he accidentally asked a good question, even if he regrets it now. Societal norms apparently dictate that unhinged candidates who have no business running for president be shielded from such unpleasantness, but Michele Bachman is arguably the most ridiculous person in Washington. She proudly embraces bizarre conspiracy theories; she routinely says crazy things on national television; she pretends to grasp public policies she doesn't understand; and her worldview is comparable to someone who's suffered serious head trauma. Even as the Republican Party leaps off a right-wing cliff, Bachmann stands out for her unique brand of madness.

So, thank you, Mr. Wallace for asking a question for which very few of us didn't know the answer. I am so very sorry you got in trouble with your network for failing to remember job one at Fox, don't screw around with the pre-approved radical right-wing narrative.

But thank you most of all for putting the question directly to Bachman, on behalf of the non-crazy rest of us, and quite obviously pissing her off. She knew what to expect in an interview on your network. She got the memo from Fox News management. Why didn't you?

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Thank You, Lord!

By Carl
And she's started out so strong, too!

Bachmann was tagged Monday for referring to her home town of Waterloo, Iowa, where she made her formal run announcement, as the birthplace of movie actor John Wayne.

The actor actually was born in Winterset, Iowa, about 150 miles southwest of Waterloo. John Wayne Gacy, the notorious serial killer, made Waterloo his home for a few years in the 1960s.

It's going to be hard for her to capitalize and improve on a moment like that, you betcha! But I think she has it in her.

I have great hopes for her to hang on there, ignoring the sage advice of political pundits and technicians who will tell her "For God's sake, leave! You'll ruin it for the rest of us!" and instead pay close, egoistical attention to the panderings of the political popcorn pajandrums and stick it out, long and hard.

After all...

"Bachmann's strong rise shows the importance of message and connecting with a core constituency," says Soltis [ed. note: Kristen Soltis, policy research director at The Winston Group, which advises Republicans]. "She has exceeded expectations of those who thought she'd already falter in the bright lights."

"She's shown that she's willing to play ball," she says. "I would not count anybody out at this stage."

Now, she has one thing in abundance, and that's money. Her Congressional campaign took in eye-popping sums, money that may be transferred to her Presidential campaign. Likely, the only candidate with deeper pockets is Mitt Romney. The FEC reports due in July will tell a large tale here.

So we have an ignorant, self-involved popinjay with loads of cash. Of course she has to run as a Republican!

Working against her is a key element to any campaign: her temper. She's already gone through four chiefs of staff in the past year and a half, and that's before the bright spotlights of a presidential campaign have been turned on. Presumably, she wouldn't have jumped in if she was uncomfortable with the people she has on staff now.

Like campaign manager Ed Rollins, whose last successful national campaign was, um, Ronald Reagan's re-election in 1984, which basically could have been run by a chimpanzee with a typewriter, given the way the Democrats fumbled about that year.

The only real scenario where Bachmann has any say in the nomination in 2012 is this: she swipes Iowa from (presumably) TX governor Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. Mitt has negative ratings from Iowa Republicans in the 50% range, so a strong Bachmann showing, with former MN governor Tim Pawlenty ekeing out second place in the state (as the "not-Bach" candidate) could persuade Romney to stay out of deep red states, and shore up his bona fides in bluer states like New Hampshire and Arizona. This would allow Bachmann a run of the Midwest and mountain states, setting up a battle for Florida and the south, where Romney polls well, but not outrageously well, and would split votes with Rick Perry of Texas.
She can't get enough delegates in the primaries and caucuses, but she could conceivably grab enough superdelegates to make a run at the convention. It would still probably not be enough to get the nod, but it certainly puts her in the position of kingmaker.
All this presumes she can hang in that long. I'm not convinced she'll make it to Iowa. She seems about ready to flame out.
(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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