Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’

5 03 2014

It’s too soon for Barack Obama to say “fuck it”.

I know it’s too soon for Obama to say “fuck it”—midterm elections and all that—but is it too much to ask that he stiff-arms any Republican whinging about his “weakness” on Ukraine, and directs his press secretary to laugh at any and all questions regarding that whinging?

Yes, yes, there is a role for Congress to play in foreign policy, and Republicans have the right, even duty, to criticize the president if they think he’s going awry, but if these motherfuckers can’t be bothered to come up with anything better than Obama sux! , then fuck ‘em.

And if it’s too soon for that, then an eye roll will do.





They say the best things in life are free

6 02 2014

I am not a subscriber.

I expect that I’ll become one; I’m kinda surprised and I haven’t ponied up already.

The Daily Dish. I’m talkin’ ’bout Andrew Sullivan’s Dish.

I read it every day, and often click over to one of the sites Sullivan links to. I like very much that he pays his interns and that he provides health insurance to his workers. And given my general “fuck you-pay me” ethos (tho’ that doesn’t quite match the situation, here), it makes sense that when someone whose work I read asks that he be paid for that work, that I pay him.

But I haven’t.

A big part is that I’m still able to read the bulk of his posts without clicking through. I know he reduced the number of free hits from 10 to 5 in any given month, but there’s still a lot that’s free. If he were even stingier with the words, I’d probably already have cracked open my wallet.

There are other reasons for my procrastination. Every time this past year I was thinking, Yeah, I should sign up already, he’d offer up some bullshit post (What’s the big deal with expecting retail/hospitality workers to fawn all over me? I’m so so brave for publishing Charles Murray’s shit-work on race and IQ, etc.) and I’d think “Fuck if I’m rewarding that.”

It’s not that I won’t pay to disagree or that I have to like everything he publishes. I don’t care about beards and his posts on his religious beliefs could be nominated for his own Poseur Alerts, but, whatever. And I do like the shots of his beagles. No, it was more a specific response to a specific post, as if sending electronic cash his way just after he posted something terrible was a kind of reward for that specific terrible post.

That may not make sense, but when you’re lookin’ for reasons to say procrastinate, just about anything’ll do.

Which leads me to my next point: I don’t think he’s a very good political analyst. He can’t separate out his own concerns from those of the candidate or of the exigencies of either a campaign or governance. He kept banging on about the debt and deficit—which, fine: his blog—but in arguing that Obama could make great political gains by tackling D&D he was just. . . wrong.

And, of course, he’s by turns amusing and irritating with his semi-regular emotional collapses  (alternating with the “meep meep” nonsense) regarding the daily fortunes of this president.

Then there’s the–uck–Clinton-spazzing. Jesus Christ. He barely held it together while Hillary was Secretary of State, but now that she’s no longer a part of the Obama administration he’s reverted to Bill&HillAreSatan and already frothing about 2016. *Looooooong sigh*

Finally, I am still deeply, deeply angered over the fact that those who supported and exhorted and castigated on behalf of the Iraq war have paid no price whatsoever. They’ve kept their jobs,  their t.v. gigs, they’ve made money on books and in speaking fees, and they’re still available to opine on the next new thing.

They helped to shove us into disaster and the worst that has happened to any of them is that they’ve had to say “Sorry”.

Sullivan has, of course, said “sorry” and made a great show of repentance—but as you can tell by the way I worded that last phrase, I don’t fully believe him. He says he feels bad, and maybe he does, but that’s because he should. He was part of a terrible venture, and he should carry that until the end of his days.

Oddly, it is in part that anger over his Iraq war advocacy that will lead me to subscribing: I want to read his “Deep Dish” piece on how he got it all wrong. I generally don’t bother with contempt-reading (hence my drawing back from Dreher), but I expect the experience of reading the piece to be grim.

I’m angry just thinking about it.

Still. And so what. Whatever else I think of Sullivan, I do think he’s honest, or at least that he strives for honesty. I like a lot of what he does, dislike some, and skip past the rest with an “Eh”. I don’t know if I’d enjoy sitting down to a meal with him—maybe, maybe not—but I don’t need to be besties with someone to appreciate what they do.

And, for the most part, I do.

So I will—subscribe, that is.

Tomorrow. Yeah, tomorrow.





Did you hear the falling bombs

17 10 2013

Yet another genius pundit:

If he can split the Republicans in the House, essentially, he regains control of the two houses of Congress and he might be able to enact his agenda. I think that’s what he’s up to,” Krauthammer said.

He added, “I think Obama’s long game has always been, if he’s going to pass his agenda in the second term, where he doesn’t control the House, he has to fracture the Republicans in the House and by rubbing it in or by antagonizing conservatives, he’s going to help in doing that.”

To which I can only say: if only.

President Obama is a smart and able president, and one who certainly thinks beyond the electoral cycle (see: his work regarding nuclear weapons proliferation), but Krauthammer’s glowering take on Obama’s “long game” should be treated with the exact same seriousness as the Sully-dream of him as “eleventh-dimensional chess-master”, i.e., not at all.

What also should not be taken seriously: that the GOP will disappear and/or a nationally-viable third party will emerge in the next decade. Republicans continue to do well at the state level, and the Tea Party, while damaging in some ways at the national level, are unlikely either to get stronger (and thus more damaging) or to leave the Grand Old Party altogether (and if they would, that would likely mean the end of the TPers rather than the GOPpers). Insofar as they turn off independents from the party, they add a few bumps to the 2016 presidential electoral road, but to a deft politician (i.e., not Ted Cruz), they are merely bumps.

Republican puritans make politics more difficult—to say no negotiation, ever, is to repudiate a central function of politics—and thus inflict real harm on the country, but given that they’re unlikely to wreck the GOP, they’re certainly not going to wreck the US of A.

Which is why I have no problem encouraging ruthlessness on the part of the Dems. Politics does benefit from some degree of generosity, but when you know the other guy if given half a chance would stab you in the face, you’d be foolish to hand him a knife.

No, go ahead and twist your own blade. They can take it.





You’ll meet an army of me

16 10 2013

Remember this?

Image by Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

One of the reasons I like this photo is that, as I’ve mentioned before, it gives nightmares to all the right people.

I thought of this in response to this bit from the geniuses at NBC:

The GOP’s lost year: No matter the fallout, this is pretty clear: Almost a year removed from the Obama-Romney presidential election, 2013 has been a lost year for the Republican Party. Has it improved upon its image problem? Nope. Has it fixed its shortcomings with women and minority voters? Nope. Is it in a stronger place than it was in Oct. 2012? No way. Perhaps more than anything else, the GOP remains blinded by the health-care law — and by President Obama himself (who will never run for office again). Indeed, in some ways, you could see this entire shutdown/debt ceiling debate over the president’s health-care law as a replay of the House GOP’s impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998 — a last-ditch fight against the term-limited incumbent. The good news for the Republican Party is that the Clinton impeachment is a reminder that its problems can be fixed. After all, the GOP won the White House just after Clinton’s impeachment. (emph added)

Coupla’ things: One, while the GOP did take over the White House in 2000, its “win” was. . . arguable. It lost the popular vote and was greatly helped by both poor ballot design in Florida and a Supreme Court operating at less than peak wisdom.

Two, Al Gore ran away from Clinton, who, arguably, could have helped him. Gore was more freaked out by Clinton’s terrible behavior than the voters, a freak-out which prevented him from making use of Clinton’s considerable political skills.

Three (albeit a very minor point), Chuck Todd, et. al., overlook the fact that in the election after the shutdown, Clinton was re-elected. Yes, he probably would have been re-elected anyway—incumbency advantage—and the shutdown occurred much closer to the elections than this one, and I can see why they chose to compare the impeachment to the current debacle (GOPpers behaving badly), but still.

And four, a point which leads me to include the pic of thundering Hillary, the pundits seem to think that the GOP’s gibbering will end with the end of the Obama administration—not considering that another Democratic president—say, a female one—might not lead to what little brain matter remains to boil away completely.

The fever will not break; it can only be broken.

~~~

h/t Andrew Sullivan





They call it the streak

21 08 2013

Yes, because the absolute worst thing you can call a man is a “woman”.

Christ.

They’re not even trying anymore, are they?





‘Cause I told you once, you son of a bitch

1 05 2013

The Dems need some sons-of-bitches.

I’ve been mulling this ever since the presidents-are-assholes post (which, honestly, was the wrong word to use. I was thinking arrogant asshole when I wrote asshole, but since asshole is now more associated with thoughtlessness and jerkish behavior than an annoying overflow of self-confidence, I should have pulled another term out of the ol’ noggin. Prick, perhaps: presidents-are-pricks. Yes, that works, doesn’t it? And it has a minor alliterative bit going for it as well.). . .  and, um, yeah.

Okay, sons-of-bitches. Since US presidents have to appeal to citizens, there are limits as to how ruthless they may appear to be. I’m of the opinion that to become president you have to be one of the most ruthless people on the planet, but while you can—must—offer flashes of ruthlessness, you cannot be only ruthless.

Hence the need for sons-of-bitches.

Machiavelli is, unsurprisingly, my touchstone for this. Not everything he advises for would-be princes holds up in a democratic system, but even back in the day he recognized the value of a good hatchet man:

When he [Cesare Borgia] took Romagna, . . . the province was a prey to robbery, assaults, and every kind of disorder. He, therefore, judged it necessary to give them a good government in order to make them peaceful and obedient to his rule. For this purpose he appointed Messer Remirro de Orco, a cruel and able man, to whom he gave the fullest authority. This man, in a short time, was highly successful in rendering the country orderly and united, whereupon the duke, not deeming such excessive authority expedient, lest it should become hateful, appoint a civil court of justice in the centre of the province. . . .

Of course, Borgia was himself a son-of-a-bitch:

And as he knew the harshness of the past had engendered some amount of hatred, in order to purge the minds of the people and to win them over completely, he resolved to show that if any cruelty had taken place it was not by his orders, but through the harsh disposition of his minister [de Orco]. And having found the opportunity he had him cut in half and placed one morning in the public square at Cesena with a piece of wood and blood-stained knife by his side. The ferocity of this spectacle caused the people both satisfaction and amazement.

(My favorite part of this anecdote? He ends by saying “But to return where we left off.”)

No, I don’t recommend public body-choppings, but Machiavelli’s basic admonition holds:

a prudent ruler ought not to keep faith when by so doing it would be against his interest, and when the reasons which make him bind himself no longer exist. If men were all good, this precept would not be a good one; but as they are bad, and would not observe their faith with you, so you are not bound to keep faith with them.

Note that such faithlessness has less to do with the people than with other rulers and political actors.

Not that he has much respect for the people:

to possess [virtue] and always observe them is dangerous, but to appear to possess them is useful. Thus it is well to seem merciful, faithful, humane, sincere, religious, and also to be so; but you must have the mind so disposed that when it is needful to be otherwise you may be able to change to the opposite qualities. . . .

The people want to be well-ruled and to think well of those who rule them, so if you have to be faithless to maintain good order and lie about such faithlessness to maintain your reputation, well, that’s what effective leadership requires.

Given my antipathy toward moral consequentialism—the ends justify the means—you’d think I’d be appalled by Machiavelli, who is a consequentialist par excellence. And yet I am not, because the morality (if you will) of politics is not that of ethics; what is required for good governance of a state is distinct from that of good governance of a soul.

Anyway, the president-as-son-of-a-bitch wouldn’t work in contemporary American politics, not just because we want—Odin forbid—a “likable” president, but because he almost certainly couldn’t conceal his bad acts. No fingerprints, and all that.

Consider Nixon, a son-of-a-bitch if there ever was one, who was nonetheless dwarfed in his SOB-ness by his advisers. He could have survived Watergate had he been able to offload the responsibility on the execrable pack of hounds around him, but he couldn’t keep his beetle-brow out of it.

Compare that to Reagan. Does anyone truly believe that he knew nothing about the arms-for-hostages Iran-Contra clusterfuck? Sure, he was nodding off by the end of his term, but he wasn’t completely out of it when his henchmen were sending cakes to the ayatollah and offloading weapons to a scrum of fascists and opportunists camped in the hills of Nicaragua. His SOBs were colossally delusional, but they at least kept their duke out of it.

This is all getting away from me, isn’t it? “But to return where we left off.”

The Democrats need some sons-of-bitches because they are dealing with an opposition which leadership is itself too cowed to beat back the howling horde of feral paranoiacs which have overrun their party. The Dems—the Democratic president—needs their/his own pack of hounds (execrable or not) who are not only willing but positively gleeful at the thought of handcuffing the Republican party to the dead weight of the nutters and conspiracists, the young-Earthers and old birthers, the contraceptive-grabbers and ammo-clingers, and dragging the whole lot of them into the metaphorical sea. Only then will those Republicans who retain some faint memory of the necessity of good governance be scared into gnawing off their arms to preserve themselves and prevent their entire party from drowning in a roiling mass of incoherence and stupidity.

There’s another reason besides likability and  deniability to cultivate some SOBs: punishing the GOP will take time and real effort, and the president has his own shit to do. I always thought Rahm Emmanuel was overrated as an SOB—swearing a lot is no substitute for a well-cultivated ruthlessness—and while Anthony Weiner was a fine SOB in his own right, he had his own liabilities (besides the obvious ones) within his own caucus, and, in any case, couldn’t do it all by himself.

There are dangers to SOBs, of course, chief among them running off their leashes—which is why the president must himself retain his own ruthless streak and be willing either to yank them back into line or put ‘em (metaphorically) down.

But he must appear sincerely humane in doing so.





On and on, on and on, on and on

7 03 2013

For all the problems with his mention of Lochner and his unconcern about the use of lethal and surveillance techs on non-US-citizens and  his multitude of other shitty positions. . .

Rand Paul, after ending his filibuster.           Charles Dharapak/AP

. . . Senator Rand Paul did a solid in filibustering since-confirmed CIA chief John Brennan on the issue of presidential authority over the use of drones against American citizens.

And fie on those Democrats who didn’t support him. President Obama has been dreadful on drones, and there is not a little justification for those who claim that many Dems* who screamed about power grabs by President Bush are rather aggressively silent when it’s their guy doing the grabbing.

I’m not surprised by this silence, mind you, but goddamn Democrats, do you have to be so disappointingly and opportunistically predictable?

(*It is not fair to go after leftists and liberals in general, as this is among a number of issues about which various libs, commies, and other malcontents have excoriated Obama and the Dems.)

I’m sympathetic to (my old grad school colleague) Sarah Binder’s concern that “In an age of intense policy and political differences between the parties, no corner of Senate business is immune to filibusters.” And she notes that Paul’s talking filibuster overshadowed the threat-filibuster of the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the DC Court of Appeals, which meant her nomination was blocked.

I was among those who, back when the Democrats were in the minority in the Senate, believed that the filibuster ought to be reformed; that the old asses of the Democratic leadership knocked back any chance of real reform at the beginning of this session is an ongoing irritation. I believe in effective and accountable government, and the way the filibuster has been all-too-often deployed hinders responsible government.

Still, if ever the filibuster were to be justified, this is it. Given the expansion of presidential power in the ever-expanding national security state—with the acquiescence of the majority of the members of Congress—Senator Paul’s willingness to take a stand on the matter of a presidential perogative to assassinate citizens ought to be applauded.

And so I do.








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