Monday, August 31, 2015

I Used To Be A Conservative Republican But I'm All Better Now, Thanks To Dick Cheney

I voted for George W. Bush. Twice.

I don't like admitting that. But it's true and important. Part of why I have become such a loud left-wing Democrat is that I am hoping we can develop time machine technology, so I can go back and find that Paul Bibeau guy before he starts screwing up. Maybe reading my blog will help him.

Anyway, fifteen years ago I was not only voting for GOP candidates, I actually gave money to the party, and I had a little card from them to carry in my wallet. I was literally a card-carrying Republican.

The story of how I got from there to here is kind of long and weird. It involves trying to join the CIA and discovering I was actually friends with an intelligence analyst who had turned into a bona fide 9/11 whistleblower. I wrote about her trip to Taliban-held Afghanistan here, and I will write about the entire tale in greater detail this week.

But I wanted to start with this: Dick Cheney saved me.

His dishonesty and immorality were so clear that they shook me up and made me reconsider everything I'd taken for granted - not just about the GOP, or about the conservative argument for a "strong defense," but about the nature of US foreign policy itself. The effect was that stark. Those of us who remember the Bush years know that what Cheney said and did, and their results, were undeniably awful on a scale we rarely see.

Cheney lied repeatedly about everything we were doing in the world. No, he didn't make mistakes from bad intelligence. No, he didn't make a lawyer's argument for his side. He lied to us... about the reasons we went to our wars, and about what we did in those wars. Millions of lives were ruined or destroyed as a result.

I bring it all up for two reasons:

The first is that Dick Cheney has just launched a book, and now he's doing the talk show circuit and writing op-eds for the Wall Street Journal. He clearly has a real audience out there. The second is that the GOP is going through a crack-up. Extreme conservatives like Ted Cruz and the people at sites like RedState and The Federalist are attacking the party establishment. And an even nastier and more extreme splinter group of racist Trump supporters are actually attacking the conservatives for not going far enough. The whole movement looks like it's ready to light itself on fire. And I know - I absolutely know - that these two things are related. Dick Cheney was such an obvious fraud and such a hideous warmonger that even very stupid people - like your faithful correspondent - could see it. Guys like me abandoned ship. And the people who remained? They are impervious to evidence and argument. They'd have to be.

I stopped being a Republican because there were just some things too terrible for me to consent to. But as for the rest... The conservative movement today is filled with the kind of people who still take Dick Cheney seriously.

And that explains everything.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Please Ask Your Senator To Support The Iran Deal

According to Politico the administration needs three more senators to support the Iran deal in order for it to pass. Tim Kaine, one of the good, stalwart leaders from my beloved commonwealth of Virginia, has already announced his support. My other senator, Mark Warner, though a decent man, is still undecided. I just emailed him to express my feeling that he'd better get off the goddamned dime. If you are a Virginian, please do likewise by contacting him here.

At issue is whether you want to take steps to cool down hostilities with one of the most powerful countries in the Gulf region, or whether you like this deal we've got going where we have a new war there every few years.

Do I like the Iranian government? No. But do I hate the Iranian people? No. Definitely not. And do I dislike their government enough to end the lives of a couple thousand of my countrymen and women and send their kids back those little folded triangle flags in place of parents?

No. You shouldn't either.

Politico lists the five most important remaining holdouts. Here they are, with links to contact pages:

Ben Cardin of Maryland
Cory Booker of New Jersey (Don't break our hearts, Cory. Don't you do that.)
Chris Coons of Delaware
Michael Bennet of Colorado
Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut

For the rest of you, here's the official webpage where you can find your Senator and his or her email.

Take a couple minutes and do it. It's important.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

This Is The Post Where I'd Be Mocking The Palin-Trump Interview

Above is where I'd put the video of Sarah Palin interviewing Donald Trump on that weird irregular bin TV news network, and then I'd make fun of it. I've made fun of Palin and Trump in the past, and I will completely do so again.

But I found I couldn't watch it. I saw five seconds of that garbage and just turned it off. I thought I had a strong stomach for idiot celebrity sociopaths - it's my gig, right? - but they got to me. God, those people...

They're awful. I don't have a joke to follow that up. No. They are just really awful. We should really all be on board with how terrible they are. The fact that we aren't is disturbing.

What the hell is wrong with this country? What the fuck is happening out there in Cleetusland?

Anyway, this video is the band Strand Of Oaks playing on KEXP. KEXP is a great radio station, and this version of the song "Shut In" might actually be better than the one on the album. I mean it.

Let's take a break and enjoy ourselves. Maybe a meteor will come. You can hope, right?

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE

Friday, August 28, 2015

Donald Trump Is The Ashley Madison Candidate

Let's say, just hypothetically, that you're a bored middle-aged white man in a long-term relationship with a major political party. How do I know you're white? Well, I know the party, and I know the kind of guys it's into. You definitely fit a type. Believe me.

Anyway, you two have been together for years, and you're just not getting your needs met. That's what you tell people. It's definitely what you tell yourself.

You want some excitement.

At first you try to make it work with this party. You try to spice things up.

"Tonight..." you whisper to it. "Can we be racist? We used to be racist all the time. We were sooo racist together."

It's true. You and this political party used to be completely, openly racist, and it was kind of a turn-on for you. You have decades of memories of saying and doing the most depraved, hot, sick, hideous stuff together. Now, everything has to be sanitized and safe and boring. Some coded language. Some redistricting. Maybe you pass a few voter ID laws. It's not that you're in a real dry spell. No one thinks that. You're still completely racist. But damnit, the racism is always with the lights off.

So you see an ad, and you respond. You start getting involved - fill out an online form and give your information. You tell a select group of people on Facebook about what you're doing.

Maybe loyalty crosses your mind. Maybe. On some level you know what you're doing could destroy the relationship you have with this political party. And that party might not ever recover. But you find that you don't care.

"The party hasn't been responding to me for a long, long time," you tell yourself. "I have a right to be happy." And what makes you most happy - let's admit it - is not limited government or some crap about capital gains tax. It's the racism. Yes. That's what always really pushed your buttons.

That guy on TV - the way he talks about Mexicans. Jesus, it's exciting. You used to talk about Mexicans that way - right out in public like that. This new thing promises to make you feel young again.

But let's admit something else: It will inevitably go bad. The whole thing will blow up, and it will turn out to be a scam. You won't get satisfaction. You want to explore the outer reaches of your fetish, and you'll just end up helping some rich guy you don't even know collect your money. So you'll torch your relationship with the party. And after it's done all your friends are going to find out that you were one of those guys. Also, everyone's going to say you deserved to get swindled and embarrassed. Because you had a crushing sense of entitlement. And also because you didn't know how good you had it.

You know it ends this way, too. Even now. And knowing it won't stop you.

You're a real asshole.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The New Q-Survey Actually Sampled 666 Republicans

I am not making that up. Here's the quote from the survey:

From August 20 – 25, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,563 registered voters nationwide
with a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell
phones. The survey includes 666 Republicans with a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percentage points and 647 Democrats with a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points.

Well played, laws of statistics and probability. Well played indeed.

Q-Poll Matchups Show A Continuing Weakness For Hillary Clinton Among White Women

Back in early August, Politico and the Wall Street Journal both reported on favorability problems Hillary Clinton had among white women. This was particularly disturbing, as the WSJ commented, if you were one of those Democrats who had hoped Clinton would expand Obama's coalition by drawing them in in greater numbers.

The new Quinnipiac poll showing general election matchups indicates the problem hasn't gone away. Clinton does worse among the demo against Bush and Trump than the other Democrats. She pulls even with Biden against Rubio and beats Bernie Sanders in that race by a whopping two points. Here are the numbers:

Clinton/Bush - 38/48  (+10 Bush)
Clinton/Rubio - 42/48 (+6 Rubio)
Clinton/Trump - 41/45 (+4 Trump)

Biden/Bush - 40/45 (+5 Bush)
Biden/Rubio - 40/46 (+6 Rubio)
Biden/Trump - 45/43 (+2 Biden)

Sanders/Bush - 39/44 (+5 Bush)
Sanders/Rubio - 36/44 (+8 Rubio)
Sanders/Trump - 43/43 (Tie)

Even when you run the matchup numbers for women overall, it's not clear that Hillary has an advantage. Biden is slightly more competitive against Bush, and he's equally competitive against Trump. Clinton beats Rubio by a slightly better margin than Biden and does significantly better than Sanders.

Quinnipiac also reports that Biden's general matchup numbers are a little better than that of Clinton's, and that the vice president "has the best favorability rating among top Republican and Democratic candidates."  But Clinton still leads the Democratic field at 45%, with 22% going to Sanders and 18% going to Biden. This number, however, represents a drop for her from 55% in late July.

It's early, most of the numbers are within the margin of error, and it's only one poll. Plus, this group is only a component of a successful Democratic campaign - we need a broad coalition. But still, it's worth noting.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Oshkosh Wins A Major Military Contract For Humvee-Replacements To Go To ISIS

The Washington Post reported that Oshkosh Defense scored a contract worth up to $30 billion to build more than 55,000 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles to give to the US Army and Marines, before eventually handing them over to ISIS.

The Wisconsin-based company competed against Lockheed Martin and AM General for an agreement that could provide manufacturing jobs through 2040. The new vehicle is intended to replace the aging fleet of Humvees, which are already deployed with the extremist group.

The Post reports that the vehicle improves armor and mobility over previous models, adding:

The new design is an acknowledgment of the kinds of wars the Pentagon has been fighting, conflicts that often don’t have frontlines, with often invisible enemies whose bombs can turn the most pedestrian roadway into a death trap.

Current US strategy is to use these vehicles in a series of interventions over the next few decades, where they will be abandoned and delivered to ISIS as the political and military situation spirals out of control. Of course, at some point ISIS itself may be replaced by a better-armored and more agile organization. But representatives at the defense company are confident the new vehicle will be up to the task:

In an interview, Oshkosh chief executive Charles Szews called the company’s offering “one extreme mobility vehicle” that could outrun both a Jeep and Humvee. “And it looks kind of mean, which is good for a military vehicle.”

ISIS executives could not be reached for comment.

(Photo by Oshkosh Defense)

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.
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