Saturday, April 27

The Sound Of One Man Clapping

Charles "Merkwürdigeliebe" Krauthammer, "The Bush Legacy". April 25

YOU wanna know how awful the human condition is? While I was opening this I actually entertained a small notion that Chuckles here might let Dubya have it right between those close-set smirky eyes.

I mean, really, what did he have to lose? Karl Rove wouldn't return his calls for two days? He wouldn't get invited to Crawford? What? Like George Eff Will, Chuckles occasionally says something sane just to make it sound like he thinks things over. The Republican party, if there is such a thing, doesn't need Bush. It sure didn't for its last two conventions. Scoring a 5% increase in Bush "approval" ratings means squat. And in exchange you own two wars, a huge national disaster, one global economic meltdown facilitated by your core beliefs, and enough hapless decision making and malevolent intentions for twelve Trump reality programs.

The desire to palliate is strong. Especially when the disease is incurable. Ladies and Gentlemen, George W. Bush.
Clare Boothe Luce liked to say that “a great man is one sentence.” Presidents, in particular. The most common “one sentence” for George W. Bush is: “He kept us safe.”

Oh, fuck. I mean I thought it was "Oh, fuck."
Not quite right.

Okay, just for the record, this did not get my hopes up. Even in the salons of D.C., let alone Fred Hiatt's Petting Zoo, "Not quite right" is not a polite synonym for "Absolute fucking bullshit."
With Bush’s legacy being reassessed as his presidential library opens in Dallas, it’s important to note that he did not just keep us safe. He created the entire anti-terror infrastructure that continues to keep us safe.

It's a funny thing: the people most likely to tell you that "History" will decide a thing--usually a thing whose current reputation they don't like, or are responsible for in some small way--are also the first ones to tell you some PR spasm or transient tic on the face of public discourse represents a thoughtful reconsideration.

By the way, the "anti-terror infrastructure" has been in place, in various forms, at least since the FBI started hunting spies and Fifth Columnists in the 30s, and the umbrella placed over the damn business during the Reign of Error--namely, the Department of Security, Preparedness Drills, and Surplus Military Hardware Reallocation--was something Bush opposed when it was first thunk up.
That homage was paid, wordlessly, by Barack Obama, who vilified Bush’s anti-terror policies as a candidate, then continued them as president: indefinite detention, rendition, warrantless wiretaps, special forces and drone warfare, and, most notoriously, Guantanamo, which Obama so ostentatiously denounced — until he found it indispensable.

Yeah, to his eternal shame, at least once History gets ahold of him. Fact is, though, that Candidate Obama's anti-Bush terror policies stance always seemed more than just a little facile, more than a little forced, and conspicuously vaporous. He's also the candidate who wanted hot pursuit into Pakistan.
Quite a list. Which is why there was not one successful terror bombing on U.S. soil from 9/11 until last week.

And that's entirely correct, except for the part with words.

And how you play with them. There was the University of Oklahoma football stadium bombing in 2005, which killed the bomb maker. We decided after the fact that that wasn't terrorism, because the FBI couldn't find any Muslims to tie Joel Henry Hinrichs III, to. There were two bombings in 2008 that didn't kill anyone: the Times Square military recruitment station bombing, and the Fed Ex bombing in San Diego. Does that make them "unsuccessful"? "Non-teroristical"? Maybe we need a War on the Slightly Disturbing. That fall there was a bombing at a Dalton, GA, law firm, which injured four and killed the bomber. That one doesn't count because the perp was a white guy pissed at the judicial system? You're the guys who want to toss around "terrorist" when it suits you. Give us the definition that excludes those.

Oh, did you think we were done? We ain't. Leave alone the question of why our "anti-terror infrastructure" gets credit for stopping theoretical terror attacks and a pass for not stopping real ones when they aren't Muslim enough. Why do only bombs count? Several terrorific "successful" gun attacks in that same period. For that matter, thanks to George W. Bush's Anti-Terror Infrastructure ™, foreign terrorists didn't have to come here to kill Americans. We sent plenty to them.
The Boston Marathon attack was an obvious security failure, but there is a difference between 3,000 dead and three.

Except when it comes to generating political hysteria.
Moreover, Bush’s achievement was not just infrastructure. It was war. The Afghan campaign overthrew the Taliban, decimated al-Qaeda and expelled it from its haven. Yet that success is today derogated with the cheap and lazy catchphrase — “He got us into two wars” — intended to spread to Afghanistan the opprobrium associated with Iraq.

Wait, isn't that George Bush's One Sentence?

Difficulty one: as odious as the Taliban was, and is, it didn't have anything to do with International Terror, Inc. It happened to be a handy, barely functional location for al-Qaeda training, seeing as how that's where all the soldiers and weapons we bought in the 80s for fighting the Soviets were. Second, we can argue exactly what it was transpired in Afghanistan after the Invasion of the Willing, but you people will have to stop celebrating your imaginary victory first. Those two things were done quickly, because they were relatively easy. Yet we're still there, because the hidden portion of that particular iceberg was never planned for. It didn't exist.
As if Afghanistan was some unilateral Bush adventure foisted on the American people. As if Obama himself did not call it a “war of necessity” and Joe Biden, the most just war since World War II.

Which, frankly, was not exactly a difficult standard to reach. Once again, and absolutely, Barack Obama was an opportunistic politician on the issue of George Bush's Two Wars™. He couldn't be tied to either, unlike his primary opponents. He got to sneer at the unpopular one and keep his hands clean on the Just one. He got waaaay too much credit for making a single sidewalk denunciation of Iraq War II. Absolutely. Democrats in the US Congress were enthusiastic about invading Afghanistan. So was the country. In this their judgement was hasty, disingenuous, and filled with a roaring in the ears. And ultimately wrong. And there was one man in the country who could have spoken for Reason, and called for Somewhat Coolish heads to prevail, at least for a minute. And that man was George W. Bush. Instead, he gave the Taliban until sundown to turn over its national sovereignty to US. Instead, he played the television version of that President he wasn't elected to be. Tell that to his Interactive Decision Maker 2000™.

So let's be fair. That's all we could have expected from him, and do not tell me that a sizable percentage of the American public didn't realize that part of the reason it was shitting itself continuously was that George W. Bush, Dinner Theatre Lenny Small, was President. Do we know that we could have negotiated our way to getting bin-Laden turned over? Like, maybe, instead of spending a couple trillion over the next six years, we just slipped Two Large into the right hands, without waving our balls in public? No. We never will. What we do know is that Bush's public stance--once he was willing to show himself in public--was something no government in the world--even one as sketchy as the Taliban--would have agreed to. Unless we already owned them.

Is there any question that the American public was howling for blood? Nope. Could it have been reconciled to a President waiting a week to use military force? If he'd stood up and made the case, particularly when he was the leader of the Shoot First party. You think the public didn't want Hirohito on a platter on December 8, 1941? Roosevelt steered most of our military resources to Europe. What George Bush did in the aftermath of 9/11was to play out every right wing wargasm fantasy. And of course it worked. Sort of. It's the goddam poorest nation on earth. It's also one with a sterling history of resistance to international invaders (yet another lesson we'd steadfastly refused to learn in Vietnam). We were almost guaranteed to be able to scatter the "government" of Afghanistan (which, in the event, we didn't really have the stomach to do ourselves, and so when bombing didn't work immediately we had the Northern Alliance handle the dirty work); we were almost certain to face protracted resistance after that. It was guaranteed that much of that resistance would pour over the "border" into Pakistan. Which is exactly what happened.

Could it have been different? I don't know. Could it have gone any more predictably? No. George Bush took the popular, and the most painless route, and he announced ahead of time that the Battle for Civilization Herself wasn't going to cost any of his party's backers any tax dollars. I did not support the war as announced--which made me one of a half-dozen of my fellow citizens--but I can certainly understand how many who did came to feel that Bush had screwed the pooch, however just or necessary the cause.
The dilemma in Afghanistan was what to do after the brilliant, nine-week victory.

Like "terrorist", "victory" is a word you really need to define before you start slinging it around. "Brilliant" you're just fucking with.
There was no good answer. Even with the benefit of seven years’ grinding experience under his predecessor, Obama got it wrong. His Afghan “surge” cost hundreds of American lives without having changed the country’s prospects.

The Afghan "surge" was, if anything, considerably more popular--or at least recognized as necessary--than the "wildly successful" one in Iraq.
It turned out to be a land too primitive to democratize, too fractured to unify.

Guess there was no way of knowing that ahead of time.
The final withdrawal will come after Obama’s own six years of futility.

And while I'm in favor of him withdrawing American troops oh, four years ago, had he done so that's what you'd be complaining about today. He did stay there long enough to get bin-Laden, though, which I'm sure you celebrate as sincerely as if your boy had done it in his seven years of über-futility.
Iraq was, of course, far more problematic. Critics conveniently forget that the invasion had broad support from the public and Congress, including from those who became the highest-ranking foreign-policy figures in the Obama administration — Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Chuck Hagel and Biden.

No, we don't. But warfloggers and Bushfellators seem to conveniently have never noticed how much pure bullshit that administration put out in the year before. Yeah, Congress, foolishly (or intentionally) backed into a corner, took the easy route of believing the administration. Having done that, one is allowed to blame the administration when it turned out to have lied about shit. Thass how the game is played.
And they forget the context — crumbling sanctions that would, in short order, have restored Saddam Hussein to full economic and regional power, well positioning him, post-sanctions, to again threaten his neighbors and restart his WMD program.

Nope. Context: paranoid fiction as told by people who believe Israel is our most important state. Got it checked off right here.
The Iraq War had three parts. The initial toppling of the regime was a remarkable success — like Afghanistan, rapid and with relatively few U.S. casualties.

Well, slightly different, in that Iraq had once had a tenth-rate military, now reduced to Afghanistan levels.
The occupation was a disaster, rooted in the fundamental contradiction between means and ends, between the “light footprint” chosen by Gen. George Casey and the grand reformation attempted by Paul Bremer, who tried to change everything down to the coinage.

Hey, it's nice to see the underlings get some credit.

(As we've said here many a time, the "light footprint" bit is bullshit; we didn't have the troops to do the job without waiting too long for the Bush plan to segue into the 2004 elections. Ask Eric Shinseki. And Bremer was Bush's man. In fact, he was his fucking doppelgänger.)
Finally, the surge, a courageous Bush decision taken against near-universal opposition, that produced the greatest U.S. military turnaround since the Inchon landing. And inflicted the single most significant defeat for al-Qaeda (save Afghanistan) — a humiliating rout at the hands of Iraqi Sunnis fighting side-by-side with the American infidel.

That would make a great graphic novel. Or pile of ordnance for a buffalo chip-hurling contest.

We'll just see what the Surge really accomplished when Iraq is on its own. Getting the Press to stop covering the daily violence for the Duration is my bet.
As with Lincoln,

Just shut up.
Obama had one task: Conclude a status-of-forces agreement and thus secure Iraq as a major regional ally. He failed utterly. Iraq today is more fragile, sectarian and Iranian-influenced than it was when Bush left office — and than it had to be.

Bullshit. Iraq, strategic American ally? US troops there for a hundred years, like Korea? We didn't have enough troops to conduct the war in the first place, you twit.
Like Bush, Harry Truman left office widely scorned, largely because of the inconclusive war he left behind.

And, like Bush, being dumb as a bag of hair.
In time, however, Korea came to be seen as but one battle in a much larger Cold War

When did this happen?
that Truman was instrumental in winning.

When did this happen?
He established the institutional and policy infrastructure (CIA, NATO, the Truman Doctrine, etc.)

Thought Bush did that?
that made possible ultimate victory almost a half-century later.

Wait, the CIA "won" the Cold War? NATO "won" the Cold War? The Truman Doctrine did something else besides cost us trillions of post-war dollars on paranoid, nuclear-fueled fantasies? Oh, and opening new markets for Coca-Cola?

The Soviet Empire collapsed under the weight of economic and military hubris, dogmatic policy covering for petty thievery and mass murder, a profound, culture-based addiction to paranoia, and--maybe most importantly, in the modern age--an aversion to open scientific inquiry.

The Truman Doctrine, on the other hand, died a long time before that, if it wasn't stillborn in the first place. It didn't survive the "Who Lost China" debate, or the derisive laughter over Quemoy and Matsu. Unfortunately, a lot of people didn't get the joke for fifty years. In fact, some still don't get it.  Meanwhile, Chuck, if you'll have a look, we're still in fucking Korea.
I suspect history will similarly see Bush as the man who, by trial and error but also with prescience and principle, established the structures that will take us through another long twilight struggle and enable us to prevail.

Oh, maybe we might wait and see what History--not some David McCullough hagiography much beloved of people who want to pretend that Truman is "supposed to be" the standard bearer for the party they don't belong to--really thinks about ol' Give 'Em Hell.

The world doesn't follow your dreams, Chuckles, nor is it judged by how closely it resembles them. This is the best evidence for a belief in God I have yet found.

Thursday, April 25

Thursday Olio: Must Be The Contrails Edition

•Krishna H. Vishnu, Ed Rogers, "The Insider: Why do they hate Bush?"
All the vitriol directed at him bewilders me. Why all the personal animus? It wasn’t because of what he said. Bush never called anyone a name.

Not anyone who wasn't a major league asshole.
His most controversial decisions surrounding the invasion of Iraq were almost universally supported by Democrats at the time.

The majority who didn't believe a President would lie the country into a war, maybe.
Bush brought character to his decision-making. He must have believed what he was doing was right because so many of the decisions he made avoided taking the easy way out and were, at best, politically risky.

Class?  Anyone?
I don’t understand the level of contempt his critics have for him. The only thing I can see is that the left hates much of what he still stands for and how he has lived his life.

You hit the nail of the head there, Ed. Just not the one you were aiming for.
Bush went to church and he was not shy about his Christian faith.  He is a southerner, a Christian, a family man, a conservative and a white Texan, and he beat the Democrats at the ballot box — twice.

Oh, you mean in Texas. Had me goin' there for a minute.

No finer family than the Lawrence Coonrods.
Lawrence police were called to an apartment at 5766 Devers Drive on Saturday, where they were flagged down by Curtis Coonrod, 58. 
He told police he had been robbed at gunpoint by a man who kidnapped his girlfriend, Cheyenne Poole, 21, and stole his car. 
Coonrod said he and Poole were in the apartment, which he leases for her, when a man burst through the door with a gun, demanding money and saying, "I don't know you. I don't care about you. I will kill you," according to the police report. 
Coonrod told police the man taped him to a chair while forcing Poole to go to an ATM and withdraw $500 using his bank card. 
The man then left with the alarm code to Coonrod's house, taking Poole with him, Coonrod told police. 
Investigators traced Poole's cellphone to Indianapolis' south side, where they spotted her driving Coonrod's stolen car, according to the police report. Poole then led police on a high-speed chase, running stop lights before blowing a tire on stop sticks and eventually stopping, police said. 
Poole and her passenger, Ralph Lopez, 24, were taken into custody. 
Police said Poole then admitted to orchestrating the robbery and kidnapping plot with Lopez, her new boyfriend. 
Poole told police she had met Coonrod on a dating website, "something like," police said, and that he had been supporting her financially for about five months.
Time passes. Two days, anyway.
The woman accused of robbing former Marion County politician Curtis Coonrod plotted against him after feeling overwhelmed by his repeated sexual advances, she told The Indianapolis Star on Wednesday. 
“He wanted kissing and feeling, and that was something that did not interest me at all,” Cheyenne Poole, 21, said in an exclusive interview from the Marion County Jail. “But I never wanted to tell him that, just because I didn’t want him to be angry.” 
Poole confessed to organizing an armed robbery Friday against Coonrod, a former Marion County auditor and City-County Council member. Coonrod has insisted the two were just friends, but Poole said Coonrod wanted something more not long after meeting her on the “” dating website. Its motto is the “Elite Sugar Daddy Dating Site for those Seeking".
A gentleman never tells:
Coonrod, who is single, told The Star he could not recall having a profile on the dating site but did not deny meeting Poole there. 
“I’ve heard of that site, and I’ve seen it,” said Coonrod, 58, Lawrence. “So I just don’t remember if that’s where I met her. But she says it was, so I’m not disputing that.”… 
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about what we may or may not have done,” Coonrod said. “But I certainly never got the impression that we did anything that made her feel uncomfortable.”
True love waits:
But Coonrod remains convinced Poole is innocent, even saying he feels confident the charges will be dropped. He is furious, he said, that he hasn’t been able to speak to Poole since the robbery. That is because of an order of protection the court placed on Poole, which bans suspects from talking to victims. 
“They are bullies, the Lawrence police detectives,” Coonrod said. “I don’t detect that they are interested in justice. They are interested in proving themselves right, and they decided before there was any evidence that she was guilty.”
Curtis Coonrod is the former Marion country Auditor and two-term City/County councilman. I'll check on his party affiliation and get back to you.

•Damn. I've got me one a' them HD washing machines rotates like a turbojet, and it don't spin like that. Your Weekly Standard:
After being read Miranda rights, the Boston bombing suspect in custody, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, has stopped talking to authorities, officials tell the Associated Press. 
"The surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings acknowledged to the FBI his role in the attacks but did so before he was advised of his constitutional right to keep quiet and seek a lawyer, U.S. officials said Wednesday," reports the Associated Press.
Good thing he was goin' down anyway, huh? Though in fairness I think we have to admit that the Times We Live In do call for waving your balls around in public, rather than being 10% smarter than your average perp.

But, then, you didn't think I chose Bill Kristol's Monthly Hot Flash as a news source for nothin', did you?
But while it might not "matter in court," it will likely matter in the intelligence gathering process, which will likely be hampered.

And, somewhere, al-Qaeda's Latest #2 Man breathes a little easier.

Wednesday, April 24

It's Worse Than I Thought, Just Like I Always Thought

Joan Walsh, "Rand Paul’s missing spine: I thought he was a joke, but after he filibustered over drones, wondered if I'd been wrong. Nope." April 24

YE Gods and pygmy goats:
I was on vacation when Rand Paul staged his filibuster to get more answers about drones from the Obama administration, or else I probably would have embarrassed myself by praising him.

Were you on vacation, or taking leave of your senses? If the latter, did the airlines lose your luggage?
I’m concerned about drones and targeted assassinations and I think it’s a perfect place for a left-right alliance.

Stop it.
So I was glad to see Paul’s filibuster.

Which had nothing to do with targeted killings, and everything to do with making the Obama administration initial a piece of paper about targeting killing of Americans on American soil. Which some wiseasses on the Right thought was a big PR deal. And which has about as much to do with the US drone program as Sadam Hussein had to do with 9/11.

Bonus points one: the filibuster was actually about Benghazi!! Benghazi!!!! BENGHAZI!!!!1! and the urban legend behind Paul 2.0's concern about drones--there's an urban legend behind everything the man believes, Joan; look it up--was the idea that the Interior Department or Homeland Security or the US Department of Sharia Law is flying drones over federal waterways to snoop on Western ranchers and oil and mineral interests, aka, Sen. Rand Paul (Kook-Kentucky)'s natural constituency.

Bonus points two: assuming there's any earthly reason for any sentient voter to desire a left-right alliance on anything, "targeted killing of Americans on American soil" ain't it, and a signed policy statement is utterly worthless even if it was. There's plenty enough wiggle room under standard federal law enforcement powers to fly a fleet of drones through, on either side of the truck you are driving. Either the current President of the United States has no plan for the wholesale killing of Americans on American soil via Death Drone (just as the previous President of the United States did not mastermind the 9/11 attacks), or else the world is so fucking irredeemably insane there's nothing a piece of paper, forty days and nights of filibustering, and Protective Sponge Helmets for every citizen ("They're Just Like The One Rand Paul Wears!™") can do to protect us.

Bonus points three: somebody smarter than Rand Paul--yes, it is a large sample--came up with the "make Holder sign this" routine. Paul's "opposition" to drones, such as it was, was just one anti-fluoridationalist fantasy hitched to another-Benghazi!! Benghazi!!!! BENGHAZI!!!!1!--and I'm not quite sure how anybody managed to miss that, or think well of him for an instant. Even while on vacation.
Even though I disagree with Paul on virtually every other issue and generally consider him to be kind of a joke, I’d have been happy to be proven wrong. Maybe he had a conscience. Maybe he would become a much needed civil liberties leader on the right.

Just for the record, how can you consider someone a joke without actually realizing just what sort of joke he is?
Alas, I haven’t been proven wrong.

Except for that narrowly-avoided "Rand Paul, Much Needed Civil Libertarian on the Right!" column.
Mr. Filibuster, the tribune of civil liberties, now says that drones should have been used against the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston – not only that, he told Fox’s Neal Cavuto, they should even be used against someone robbing a liquor store. 
Strangely enough, Cavuto himself seemed a little spooked by the technology that was deployed in the hunt for 19-year-old Dzohkhar Tsarnaev, including the thermal imaging that was able to find him in a boat and even to get some sense of the extent of his wounds.
Okay, so now would be a good time not to imagine you saw signs of incipient humanity in Neil Cavuto just because he was standing next to Rand Paul.
“I have never argued against any technology being used against having an imminent threat, [or] an act of crime going on,” Paul replied. “If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and 50 dollars in cash I don’t care if a Drone kills him or a policeman kills him.” 
Wow. So Paul has gone from “your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court” to “If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and 50 dollars in cash I don’t care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him.”
Hey, I don't know if he's telling the truth, or if he even recognizes "truth" as a category, but so far as I know Paul avoided speaking of imminent threats. That was part of the charade. Professional wordsmithers are supposed to catch that sort of thing.
Back during his filibuster, I briefly thought Paul might prove a formidable 2016 GOP presidential candidate, if he channeled American discontent with the Obama administration’s drone policy and other national security excesses. I shouldn’t have worried.

Nor admitted it in public, Joan.

Monday, April 22

Worst Video Game Ever. Figures.

Peter Baker, "Rewinding History, Bush Museum Lets You Decide". April 20

UNIVERSITY PARK, Tex. — More than four years after leaving office, former President George W. Bush has a question for America: So what would you have done? 
In a new brick-and-limestone museum, visitors to an interactive theater will be presented with the stark choices that confronted the nation’s 43rd president: invade Iraq or leave Saddam Hussein in power? Deploy federal troops after Hurricane Katrina or rely on local forces? Bail out Wall Street or let the banks fail?

• Cruise through Yale as a drunken frat boy, or sober up long enough to take notice of the world's intellectual traditions?

• Attend all your required Texas Air National Guard duties, or call in sick?

• McDonald's coffee spoon or rolled-up hundred?

• Hit up daddy's pals for business investments, or hit up daddy's pals for business investments?

• Use your insider knowledge to get out from under Harken Oil just before the stock collapses and buy the Texas Rangers, or the Baltimore Colts?

• Build a new stadium with taxpayer money, or move the team to some other city that's built a new stadium with taxpayer money?

• Realize a 1242% profit when the team is sold, or hold out for a good deal?

• Run for governor of Texas, or move to an island and found your own colony of Jebus-mazed explosion fanciers?

• Fakey Texas drawl, or Cagney impression?

• Run for President, or do something for your country for once?

Wow, that was fun! Which way to the Laura Bush Interactive Driving Experience?

Sunday, April 21

Extremist Blows Up Fourteen, Including Nine First Responders; Cites Religious Worldview; Death Toll May Rise

WHERE'S the fucking manhunt? Where are the No Miranda arrests?
WEST, Texas, April 19, 2013 — Donald Adair, lifelong resident of the community of West, Texas and owner of Adair Grain Inc., today issued the following statement:
This has been a terrible week for everyone in West, Texas and I want to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt sympathy for those affected and my appreciation for those who responded.
As a lifelong resident, my heart is broken with grief for the tragic losses to so many families in our community. I know that everyone has been deeply affected by this incident. Loved ones have been injured or killed. Homes have been damaged or destroyed. Our hearts go out to everyone who has suffered.
The selfless sacrifice of first responders who died trying to protect all of us is something I will never get over. I was devastated to learn that we lost one of our employees in the explosion. He bravely responded to the fire at the facility as a volunteer firefighter. I will never forget his bravery and his sacrifice, or that of his colleagues who rushed to the trouble.
This tragedy will continue to hurt deeply for generations to come.
My family and I can't express enough our deep appreciation for the loving service and selfless sacrifice from within and around our community responding to the urgent needs of those affected. I am proud to be associated with West Church of Christ, which has opened its doors to the State of Texas to provide grief counseling services. My family and I will continue to assist in relief efforts through our church family.
The genuine kindness we have witnessed will be the hallmark for all of our children's children.
Going forward, the owners and employees of Adair Grain and West Fertilizer Co. are working closely with investigating agencies. We are presenting all employees for interviews and will assist in the fact finding to whatever degree possible. We pledge to do everything we can to understand what happened to ensure nothing like this ever happens again in any community.
While the investigation continues, and out of respect for the investigative process, we will limit our comments during the weeks and months ahead.
Thanks, really, for respecting the investigative process. Too bad you had no respect for the regulative process:
(Reuters) - The fertilizer plant that exploded on Wednesday, obliterating part of a small Texas town and killing at least 14 people, had last year been storing 1,350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that would normally trigger safety oversight by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Yet a person familiar with DHS operations said the company that owns the plant, West Fertilizer, did not tell the agency about the potentially explosive fertilizer as it is required to do, leaving one of the principal regulators of ammonium nitrate - which can also be used in bomb making - unaware of any danger there.
Fertilizer plants and depots must report to the DHS when they hold 400 lb (180 kg) or more of the substance. Filings this year with the Texas Department of State Health Services, which weren't shared with DHS, show the plant had 270 tons of it on hand last year.
By the way, who had "about ten fucking seconds" in the How Long Will It Take Bill Flores and "Tailgunner Ted" Cruz to do a Jim Rockford 180º on Federal disaster relief once it was their fat asses on fire?

The Federal government should take care of the immediate needs of private citizens affected by this act.* The state of Texas should pay for personal and business losses caused by its laissez-faire attitude towards zoning, and sue Donald Adair, lifelong resident of West, for the costs.


* Personally, I'd require the place to secede as a condition of our cutting the check, but maybe that's just me. Is there anything in the 10th amendment which says we can't at least require them to change the motto from "Lone Star State" to "There's So Much Shit in Texas You're Bound to Step in Some"?

Saturday, April 20

Weekend Olio: Buzzkill Edition

• Our Constitutional rights are currently being updated by having Jennifer Rubin moderate an imaginary debate between Lindsay Graham and Rand Paul.

• I neglected to copy the actual quotation, nor note who it was whose recent capsule description of Graham was something like "Least surprising rentboy scandal ever."

• Ditto writing down the actual source, or the actual quote, from whatever news babbler called the 12-hour search for the missing Boston bomber "the greatest manhunt in US history".

• And somewhere along the line someone mentioned something about "accomplices". Or something that sounded like "accomplice". Maybe someone asked for compliance. Or a compress. Anyway, that was on the fucking crawl for eight hours, and then, when the nets went wall-to-wall again after the evening news, they'd disappeared.

Really, really, really, John King can get a hundred stories wrong an hour and it doesn't begin to compare to the self-fulfilling fantasies about Terrism that color every last word out of every last commentator's mouth. It was interesting--by which I mean "predictable and depressing"--that the nets, especially, seemed to keep their powder dry for the first 48 hours, when it might've turned out to be Some Crazy White Dude. And the minute "ethnic Chechens" became part of the story they all stomped on the accelerator. Al-Qaeda affiliates!

• Dear Lord. Fred Hiatt's Petting Zoo gives space to Stephen F. Knott, the Victor Davis Hansen Chair of Applied Fertilizer at the U.S. Naval War College, for some ironclad reasoning from the deck of a lead submarine. It's one thing to claim that George W. Bush deserves a better place in History--or Hell--than the one most people want to assign him. It's another to do so by spending your 840 words insisting that it's all a matter of academic bias. Without, you know, actually demonstrating any. Aside from the fact that some people are negative about George W. Bush.

Bonus points, though, for working in "FDR called Republicans fascists".

Somehow it's not surprising that one avoids defending the idea that Dubya deserves a better place history by, oh, actually talking about his record.

Friday, April 19

I'm With Pierce, Vol. MMMCMLVII

But, for the moment, and from a distance, I will tell you what this looks as much to me as it does to anything else.
It looks like Columbine.
That portion of the morning I didn't spend vacuuming water in my basement was spent open-mouthed, watching Charley "Journamalism" Rose attempt, repeatedly, to get the message across to a skeptical nation that the two Boston bombing suspects were foreigners. Which, of course, leads to the inescapable conclusion that the bombing was part of a global anti-American terror campaign.

Further proof, where none was actually needed, was the incredible military precision of the attacks, the execution of MIT security officer Sean Collier, and the running gun battle with police, all indicative of some no doubt foreign training.

Except for, y'know, the fact that they were caught on every security camera in the Back Bay, were still in Boston three days later, made a break for it once their pictures were plastered all over creation, and tried to rob a 7-11 and/or an ATM for some getaway cash. I believe we can rule out any Mossad connections at this point.

For relief I switched over to NBC, and counted how many times Richard Engle could say "possible al-Qaeda affiliate" in sixty seconds.

I'd like to point out that, given the performance of cable teevee news this week, I'd like an offer of proof about that guy's really being their uncle.
A-fucking-men. Everytime these guys go wall-to-wall I hope to find some evidence of a slight improvement. Some tiny flicker of evidence that they've tried to learn from what is charitably described as past mistakes. Some small sense that, when everyone's covering the same story, a "scoop" is much less important than accuracy. Maybe a hint that national reporters have learned the difference between being arrested and being taken into custody.

And, y'know, not only am I disappointed every single time. It fucking just gets worse. Television news is the mutant rainforest amphibian of our national dialogue.

Dear CBS This Morning:

USING John McCain and Rudy Giuliani as "experts" on the Boston bombing suspects is like bringing in Howard Hughes as an expert on germ-borne disease. 

Thursday, April 18

Thursday Olio: Dark-Skinned Like Me Edition

• Explain to me how ABC let Jake Tapper get away.

I switched on CNN mid-afternoon yesterday, having just been alerted that the world record for running backwards was in danger of being broken. I got there in time to see 1) John "Scoop" King claim that everybody had been doing it, not just he; 2) another reporter insist that the "really important thing" was that the police make a solid case; and 3) King, again, noting that now, he emphasized now, the FBI was saying officially that no one had been arrested.

To which I may have shouted 1) "Not sure if everyone was claiming to have an exclusive, but you sure were"; 2) "Now you tell us"; and 3) "What was the official story all along, John?" The FBI certainly hadn't announced an arrest while you were scooping all the other idiots.

Speaking of which, this was followed by the Jake Tapper Goodtime Hour. Jake was joined by comedian Tom Ridge. This is a question:
We know, of course, Secretary Ridge, that the London marathon, they are now taking extra precautions because of what happened here, just a block or so away, uh, here in Boston, and in the very near future we're going to see huge crowds at the Indy 500, at the Kentucky Derby; how do we, as a society, and how does the Federal government keep people safe at these massive events?

I guess everybody's been asking that question. It's just that most of us used six or seven words, tops.

Here was the sign-off:
All right, former Pennsylvania governor, veteran, and Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, thanks so much for joining us.

I know, I suffer from buffo italic incontinence, but that's really the way he said "veteran". Th' hell was responsible for that? Do Ridge's people insist it be included in his litany of honoraria and sinecures? Is that just part of Tapper's oral sex technique? Were they too short to fit "member of the Home Depot Board of Directors" in there? A few glazing techniques for all those blown-out windows couldn't hurt, could it?

• When last we viewed the historic grain silo in Carmel, Indiana, Indianapolis' neighbor to the Great White North, it was a pile of rubble lying next to the Monon Trail, whence it had been knocked, in such a hurry (over fears that the local Save Our Silo movement might actually interfere with development) that no one bothered to notice the large quantity of pesticides that had once been stored inside, and now was stored, rather more randomly, in the vicinity. This put the ki-bosh on the development deal the mayor and his pals had made with some of his other pals, so they had to find some different pals to make a deal with, after cleaning the site up. Possibly.

The new deal is with Pedcor Development, which reportedly has done a lot of development work in Carmel over the last decade, but which, it turns out, might have a hint of the tar brush:
Pedcor, the city’s partner in much of its redevelopment over the past decade, is known to be a developer of Section 42 projects, which use tax credits to provide for rent-controlled, affordable housing.

Saying "affordable" in Carmel is a lot like saying "radioactive" elsewhere. So the City council, which, in fairness, does have a black friend, wants more information before signing off on Industrial Recovery Tax Credits, a state program that sluices the redevelopment of old industrial areas via local kingpins.

Such as, wonder of wonders, the  one piece of real estate along the Monon Trail that Carmel hasn't developed already.
[Councilwoman Lucy] Snyder [said] at a council meeting Monday night, “My concerns, for this or any other project in this area — just north of City Center and the Palladium, and south of the Arts and Design District — is that whatever is proposed is of high quality both in design and materials.

I guess it's lucky you built the water tower next door, and the adjacent Public Works sheds, a while back. Before the price of gold skyrocketed.
Snyder said she thinks a Section 42 proposal might be questionable, given the location. She said she is not opposed to such a project in Carmel but said it might be better suited for another area, such as the Old Meridian corridor.

Right. Or Dumptown. Or the Historic Lead Paint Quarter. Or Somewhere Th' Hell Out of Hamilton County. 
Tax support is best used, Snyder said, for major projects that will bring more jobs to the city. 
“You tell me,” she said. “How is a project like that considered a job-producing project?”
These are the same people who signed a blank check to build an Arts Palace, which so far has produced a half-million-a-year job for Michael Feinstein, some gainful, if temporary, employment for the former mistress of the former CEO, plus some ticket takers and concessionaires, who live god knows where. They're the same people who signed off on millions of dollars of roundabout construction, because stoplights are for little people. And "construction jobs" were part of the sales pitch. They're $250 million in debt, that they admit to, and the official position on that is "Who cares? We're rich!" I'm not making that up.

Didn't there used to be some sort of Federal regulation about housing discrimination?

• Speaking of things blowing up, West Fertilizer Co. did, taking West, Texas, with it, despite the fact that its EPA report said the greatest risk at the plant was a worker improperly refrigerating an egg salad sandwich.

This morning CBS had on Bill Flores, Texas Congressman, which is a nice way of saying "Insane". And Norah O'Donnell, which is a nice way of saying "Hairdo", sorta asked him about it, kinda. You know, leaving out that if it were up to Bill Flores there'd be no EPA, an' stuff:
Well, y'know, those estimates are based on systems operating as they should, and you never know, uh, what mechanical problem may have occurred or if there was a human mistake, a human error that caused, uh, some, uh, uh, mix of chemicals to get together to start this fire. Once the fire starts then uh, uh, any EP, any estimate made to the EPA is not gonna necessarily be valid.

Yes, estimates of potential risk assumes everything functioning perfectly. Tell us something we don't know.

Flores was generous enough to thank John Boehner for sending in FEMA, despite Texas' aversion to Federal assistance.

• Speaking of broadcasting pictures of your naked ass, it appears now that much hinges on who owns the ox, and who the pike:
Three Fairfax County high school students made cellphone videos of drunken sex acts with fellow teens and shared them among themselves, authorities said. When they go on trial Thursday, they face a charge usually reserved for adult predators: child pornography. 
The case is one of a number in Virginia where teens caught “sexting” have been charged with a felony that can carry a sentence of 20 years in prison and could require registry as a sex offender. 
In Virginia, Maryland and many other states, the law has not caught up with the combustible mix of teens, technology and sex that has made sexting an issue. Prosecutors must rely on a patchwork of laws created before the rise of smart­phones to handle such cases.
I'm sorry; caught up with?
Some parents and rights groups are calling for a new law that would distinguish sexting from child pornography, create lesser punishments and focus on educating teenagers, not punishing them. But they also acknowledge that young victims can be devastated when embarrassing photos or videos are spread among their peers.

Well, that's big of 'em. Especially since it's "parents and rights groups" which pushed for strict child pornography laws in the first place, because of the victims.

This is why we have a juvenile justice system. It's also why our laws are designed to protect the innocent. No judge should sentence a teen sexter to 20 years for something innocent and kid-foolish. But no 15 or 16 year-old doesn't understand that taking surreptitious nude photos, or broadcasting them all over, is wrong, and criminally so. Cell phones don't make it any different. A cell phone is not a defense. Its what the courts ought to make those parents eat. In public.

Wednesday, April 17


LOOK, first: would I be upset if the Boston bombings turn out to be the work of one of Roger Ailes' disgruntled minions, or some Sidewalk Second Amendment Expert, or the good Christians of Westboro? I'll be piling on, same as everybody. The major difference between my side and their side is that we didn't have anyone screaming Mooslems Mooslems Mooslems between the two blasts.

Well, that's one difference, anyway. Another is that the Right has to resurrect Bill Ayers to accuse the Left of domestic terrorism, while we need only harken back to the Murrah building. (Take a moment today to remember the nearly 900 victims of that one, including the 168 who never got out. I won't ask you to remember Bob Dole announcing immediately that the bombing had to be the work of "Arabs".  I won't mention which party resisted giving additional investigative powers to the FBI.)

We could (but won't) point out that interest in the Anthrax Attacks plummeted the minute it became obvious to everyone but Judith Miller that the source was domestic. Allah is Great! We could go further, if that was what we were up to, and point out that that's pretty much the direction of American law enforcement since the days when the Pinkertons were conducting it. Or point out that the US has been bombing women and children, on a regular basis and without a declaration of war, for seven decades now.

For that matter, someone in my little Midwestern burg might remember that two people died last year when the house next door exploded, in a plot to turn insurance payments into fucking Ferraris and fucking tokens for fucking slot machines.

I'm not gonna mention that any or all of that went through my head once the initial shock subsided.

I will tell you, though, that I examined all that in myself, and decided that none of it motivated me.

That is, that none of it motivates me to hope that Boston will be the lesson I'd hope it to be. Because I don't hope. It's senseless, stupid, ugly violence. It is, as Pierce says, a political act, and it has political ramifications we can't ignore. And like Zhou Enlai and the French Revolution, I guess someday we'll see. I'm glad for Patton Oswalt if he can find solace in human altruism. Humans are the only animals that will knowingly rush into a bombing site to help total strangers. They're also the only animal that needs to.

So lemme tell ya, for real: anyone who shed a tear for an eight-year-old boy who died waiting to see his Daddy finish a race should be reminded that eight-year-olds die all the time while we fucking dick around about gun violence. They should remember Fallujah, and the Christmas Bombings, and the torture that's been done in their names, right out in the open. Sorta. Not because they have any political axe to grind, but because senseless violence is senseless violence. And excusing any of it is a political act.

Me, I'll be satisfied if there's a closet in Hell somewhere where Chuck Todd gets to say "The President did not use the word 'Terrorism'" over and over, for Eternity, while he watches his paycheck shrink.

Monday, April 15

Glad I Can Help You Kids Out With This New Googling Technology

Edward McClelland, "The Other Kind of Moneyball: The grotesque rise of baseball salaries reveals everything that’s wrong with the American financial system. April 15
Over the past 40 years—the period of rising economic inequality that former Slate columnist Timothy Noah called “The Great Divergence”—Americans’ incomes have not grown at all, in real dollars. But baseball players’ incomes have increased twentyfold in real dollars: the average major-league salary in 2012 was $3,213,479. The income gap between ballplayers and their fans closely resembles the rising gap between CEOs and their employees, which grew during the same period from roughly 25-to-1 to 380-to-1.

UH, first: there is a large, relatively well-remunerated employee type in this country known as "sales personnel" whose salaries are largely contingent on how much money they bring in for their bosses. There's your comparison to what has happened to player salaries over the past thirty, forty, or sixty years. Media revenues exploded. The Reserve Clause was overturned. Cable television gained, with an assist from the Rehnquist Court, the same sort of anti-trust protection that Major League Baseball has had for over a century, so that a cable system has, say, a billion fucking dollars to throw at the Dodgers. In 1946 the average player's salary ($5000, 1946 dollars) was 0.2% of the value of his franchise. In 2011 it is 0.5%. That's not astonishing exponential growth. It's the power of collective bargaining, aided by a changing legal status (and blocked by collusion for most of the 80s) to gain a more equitable distribution of revenues which depend entirely on the players. Nobody goes to the ballpark to see an owner. Except maybe Slate writers. Well, and Reason.
I’m singling out professional athletes for my class envy because they’re the highest-profile beneficiaries of changes that have enriched those at the top of the economic order while impoverishing those at the bottom.

If you say so. Sounds more to me like you're singling them out because they earn "salaries", same as average joes, if they're lucky. Owners, on the other hand (increasingly conglomerates or major transglobal piracy concerns), have "earnings". Just like Justin Bieber, Heidi Klum, and the Estate of Elvis Presley, none of whom can hit the curve. Or have to field these sorts of complaints. It's a standard bleacher bum gripe, and it's been going on at least since Babe Ruth had a better year than Herbert Hoover. If you think Hank Aaron's $200,000 per is laughably minuscule these days, you should'a been around when people were talking about it in real time.

It's the song of everybody who volunteers $90 for a seat and $12 for 12 ounces of lukewarm Bud Light. C'mon, let's work a little Slate double reverse magic, huh?
The labor policies of the mid-20th century depressed the price of skilled labor while inflating the price of unskilled labor.

That's what I'm talkin' about.
Labor unions are cartels that increase their members’ salaries by bargaining collectively, thus winning a more lucrative contract than workers could negotiate on their own. Baseball players are entertainers with specialized skills. They didn’t start earning their true market value until they were allowed to negotiate individually with owners—the antithesis of collective bargaining.

Which right it took a union to defend when the owners responded by colluding.

This is the same way the various entertainment unions work, except movies don't have an antitrust exemption and they're not limited to 25 players per team. Their rules protect the guy making $6 million a picture--this is hardly the "antithesis" of trades unionism--as well as the extra who'd be spending half his life as an unpaid intern otherwise. Who's supposed to pocket all the "savings" from making player salaries more reasonable? The teams? The teevee networks? Who?
Paying to see a baseball game feels like paying to see a tax lawyer argue in federal court or a commodities trader work the floor of the Mercantile Exchange. They’re getting rich out there, but how am I profiting from the experience? I know we’re never going back to the days when Willie Mays lived in Harlem and sold cars in the offseason, but the market forces that have overvalued ballplayers’ skills while devaluing mine have made it impossible for me to just enjoy the damn game.

Then stick to the minors. Or college ball. There's a spot where antithesis-spouting guardians of athletic perspective have held sway. Great if you're a football factory, or a spewer of memorabilia; not so much if you're one of hundreds of Kevin Wares who don't have a national beacon shone on how your university treats you once you're no longer putting meat in the seats and gelt in the collection basket.

Look, trades unionism has a lot to answer for in the decline of average Americans' earnings over the past forty years. Go on, write that story. But first maybe we could put a little perspective on just what rich fucks like your average MLB owner have done in the meantime. 'Cause, yes, that, and not some cosmic Reversal of Thesis, is what baseball players are sharing in.

Sunday, April 14

Come Morning, Either The World Or Your Job Should Be Gone

I STARTED to say "Or your reputation should be gone" but I caught myself. 

And you've got the other problem that April 15th is Kim il-Sung's birthday. And they're going to want to do something spectacular for the birthday. 
Greta Van Susteren  

What is it with these fucks and anniversaries, anyway? 

Friday, April 12

The $100,000 Question

TOM Scocca reads that NAS Bowdoin vanity study so I don't have to:
A search of the report indicates that the National Association of Scholars included the words "sex" or "sexual" 244 times. "Western civilization" appears twice.
Also, no course in Spenser!  At great personal risk of an exploding aneurysm I am avoiding any Faerie Queene jokes, and will just ask if anyone would like to cover my bet that that Klingenstein guy couldn't pick Spenser out of a line-up that included Hulk Hogan, James Madison, and Dame May Whitty. 

Thursday, April 11

White Guy Gives Tap Dancing Lessons To Audience Familiar With The Nicholas Brothers

David Weigel, "Randsplaining: Rand Paul went to Howard University to find voters Republicans neglect. It wasn’t great, but he did better than most." April 10

BUT first, Alex Seitz-Wald:
Give Rand Paul some credit for attempting to do what several decades of elections have shown is a tall order: Get African-Americans to vote Republican.

Golly, no thanks. Not even if that had actually been what he was trying to do. It doesn't take near as much courage to speak Power to Truth. Especially when you know there's a considerable reward for doing so, and nobody's gonna make you eat your bullshit.

Incidentally, I'll give the man credit. After he makes his "Party of Lincoln" speech across Dixie in 2015.

But let's get to the real fictional adventures of Rand Paul:
It was all going fine

Maybe now would be a good time to define some terms.
until Rand Paul got stuck on a name.

Paul's problem was not a temporary memory lapse we all can relate to. It was, and is, selective amnesia, of a sort none of us should accept. And it had been on display for twenty minutes at this point.
He’d survived the inevitable civic demonstration, when Brian Menifee, a mechanical engineering senior, tried to unfurl a red and black and green banner reading “Howard University Doesn’t Support White Supremacy.”

The "inevitable" civic demonstration, says the guy who tried to downplay that whole Frederick Douglass Republican thing at CPAC.
Menifee, wearing dreadlocks and a He-Man and the Masters of the Universe T-shirt, was yanked out of the room by security as the senator looked on and the audience applauded.

Maybe they just didn't like the shirt.
“How many of you—if I’d said, who do you think the founders of the NAACP are,” asked Paul, “do you think they were Democrats or Republicans, would everybody here know they were all Republicans?” 
More shouting, more laughter. Yes! Every Howard student is required to “satisfy an African-American course requirement.” Of course they knew this.
Jeez Louise. Mutatis mutants, I could have satisfied Howard's African-American Cluster Requirement, and I don't recall anyone ever bothering to mention which political party W.E.B. Dubois belonged to. Maybe no one needs to tell a group of Howard students which political party Negroes in the first decades of the 20th century belonged to, assuming it was "any", assuming they were able to register to vote. Maybe they know the history a little better than the guy who came to school 'em. Maybe he could have expected that.

And, by the way, it's not like the nascent anti-Jim Crow movement was a joint effort of a few brave African-American educators and the entire Republican party.
The tension cooled, but it never fully thawed. Rand Paul possesses a monk’s confidence in his ability to convert skeptics with his words.

And a Pope's confidence in his own inerrancy.
He makes alliances more easily than some Republicans, finding the libertarian common ground with Democrats on drones, drug policy, or the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

Well, as Charlie says, maybe for the first five minutes he does. Otherwise, bosh. He's opposed to the domestic use of drones to "spy" on big agricultural and mining operations; this resonates with Democrats who don't read anything but headlines. His "drug policy" ("Return the issue to the states," which, now that I think of it, is his policy on everything) isn't simply carefully-parsed non-Libertarianism but full bull goose loony. And th' fuck needs his voice on Afghanistan? The whole country gave up on that years ago. President Rand Paul will be to Defense spending what President Ronald Reagan was to Deficit spending.
“When I think of how political enemies often twist and distort my positions,” he said, “I think [of T.S.] Eliot’s words: ‘When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall, how should I presume?’ And here I am today at Howard, a historically black college. Here I am, a guy who once presumed to discuss a section of the Civil Rights Act.” 
In 2010, Paul had made a spirited, libertarian critique of the Act's implementation, was swiftly accused of racism, and forever changed the way he talks about these things.
Yeah, he (and others) now portrays himself as the heroic Libertarian-critiquer who was unfairly accused of racism for daring to discuss the Civil Rights Act.
On Wednesday morning, he was talking past the audience. To a viewer at home—a Fox News viewer, maybe—it was enough that Paul was there and a bonus that he got heckled.

Did we mention the He-Man t-shirt?

BTW, I love it when Weigel simply wishes away the unpleasant faction ("Vast Majority") of his own party.
“Republicans do, indeed, still believe many rights remain with the people and states respectively,” said Paul. “When some people hear that, they tune us out and say: He’s just using code words for the state’s right to discriminate, for the state’s right to segregate and abuse. But that’s simply not true. Many Republicans do believe that decentralization of power is the best policy, that government is more efficient, more just, and more personal when it is smaller and more local.”

There's nothing quite like determining which policy leads to greater justice without ever considering the question of justice. A monk's confidence, I guess.
Republicans don’t understand why this message fails to grip black voters. It didn’t grip the crowd at Howard. Heckler aside,

Him again. I swear, Weigel wrote an entire column about the Frederick Douglass Republican Incident and gave less attention to "the heckler".
the room sat silent as Paul expounded on the Democrats’ pre-1964 record on race, from one obscure bigot to another. No one applauded until Paul got to some actual policy. “I am working with Democratic senators to make sure that kids who make bad decisions such as nonviolent possession of drugs are not imprisoned for lengthy sentences,” said Paul. “I am working to make sure that first time offenders are put into counseling and not imprisoned with hardened criminals.”

Why does everything this guy says sound like it's based on a sound principle he wants credit for while angling not to be held accountable? The great majority of drug arrests are state and local--those folks Rand wants to give complete decision-making power to, as a "solution"--and most people snagged by the Feds are involved in trafficking. To be sure, some may be "kids who make bad decisions", but if that's really the case the utterly draconian Federal laws already give judges an out. I've got nothing against compromise, as a concept, but if you're a United States Senator and a Libertarian, the real problem isn't locking up innocents. It's locking people away for five to ten years for non-violent offenses. Maybe you could at least make some effort in that direction?
Paul was on to something, but it didn’t last. “Some argue with evidence that our drug laws are biased—that they are the new Jim Crow,” he said. “But to simply be against them for that reason misses a larger point. They are unfair to everyone.”

Well, no, no they ain't. Major drug cartels are, generally speaking, really ugly, violent, criminal enterprises. Letting a few "kids" off isn't going to change that. We need the Feds to have a toolbox to fight them until such time as we decriminalize small-scale drug use, possession, and production, and take the profit out of it.

By the way, where'd the history lecture go? While the War on Drugs is probably the shining example of the benefits of Bipartisanship in contemporary America, which party is the real home of Zero Tolerance, Lawn Order, and Unfettered Private Drug Testing?
And here Paul, who wields hyperbole like a pro to campaign against spy drones, was telling people to stop invoking Jim Crow. Paul told one student who fretted about Republican voter ID bills that he “demean[ed] the horror” of poll tests.

Oh, that's where the history lecture went. Funny how demanding your papers before you can vote doesn't bother Mr. Freedom.
But this was savvy. When he left the campus, past the students still holding the “White Supremacy” banner and conducting interviews, Paul remained the Republican most likely to reform mandatory minimums. He remained the most prominent Republican supporter of drug law reform. He wouldn’t apologize for the Republican Party, or for libertarianism, or for that 2010 interview about the Civil Rights Act. “Should we limit speech from people we find abhorrent?” he said then. “Should we limit racists from speaking?” Now, he was offering African-Americans some accommodation, from time to time.

Okay, so never say Never. But call Bullshit at every opportunity. It's one thing to get away with the Filibuster game for a single news cycle. It's quite another to get away with it for two and a half years (or four) on the campaign trail. Not everyone is going to blow Rand Paul for Freedomz! Sooner or later he has to talk for more than five minutes. Just like, sooner or later, the Teabaggers revealed themselves as crackpot religious maniacs, and mainstream Republicans. Despite what hip young contrarian reporters tried to tell us.

Wednesday, April 10

Wednesday High-Speed Olio

• Our Betters, by which I mean The Republican Party in Indiana, has decided to hand Colts owner Jim Irsay two new skyboxes, wholly at taxpayer expense, because he asked nicely. The billion-dollar stadium we built for him five years ago is now insufficient. (Personally, I won't be surprised if we wind up jacking the thing up and rotating it 118º at his whim.)

This was accomplished by the Tax and Spend and Never Face the Voters subsidiary, the Capital Improvement Board, which found it had a little loose change at the bottom of the bag and decided to spend it now, while prices are low. This is the same CIB taxpayers had to bail out a couple years ago so they could continue bailing out wealthy sports franchise owners, and let the NFL host a Super Bowl without paying any taxes, which is, for some reason, how the NFL likes it.

The best thing about it is that the CIB sent its mouthpiece out to explain that taxpayers footing the bill "settles" a "dispute" over "leasing agreements". Which means that the Colts, who play in a stadium they paid nothing for, which replaced--defined as "adding skyboxes to the exact same number of seats for average people"--the early one they slunk off to in the dead of night and paid nothing for (replaced at their insistence, after they threatened to break a lease and leave town otherwise), found some language in the contract which allowed them to object to paying their half of the costs of operating concessions, when their "half" of the profits is roughly "100% of the first billion-dollars generated at every Barn event, whether or not it involves the Colts." I fully expect that when the time comes to explain why we're buying them four more (or six; forgive me, I got my information from local news) they're gonna be reduced to saying "Fuck you."

• Meanwhile, Mike Pence has been found. He put the Temporary Ki-bosh on a deal that was going to hand Mainstreet Properties, a real estate development firm run by the son of Indiana House Speaker Pro-Tem Eric Turner, something between $350 and $500K to move from the north of Republican Hamilton county to the tonier outskirts of Carmel. Again, apologies that I can't be more specific, but the information comes from local media. Everybody seems to be reporting the $300K figure, but if I heard correctly, the local public radio people said there was an additional $200K in incentives involved. The company has, on its part, promised to hire "as many as" 25 new employees, provided the goddam media will ignore the story from here on out and let them get back to work.

Like Rutgers, Pence acted not when this happened, or when anyone got wind of it, but when the info got published. And Turner came through like a champ. He explained that he had described himself as the firm's "president" on papers filed with the General Assembly because he was a "sizable investor", but that his son runs the business, and he knew nothing, nothing of the state's largesse.

"Fuck you" woulda been quicker.

And, look, I'm no economist, but unless Indiana takes a page from Georgia, don't we pretty much have all the land we're going to get, aside from what's evaporating from Lake Michigan? Why are we paying a minimum of $13,000 per virtual phone-answering job for someone to churn profits from what we already have?

By the way, Mike: you've got that Inspector General Mitch Daniels created to help root our corruption in previous administrations, right? In fact, the same guy? How 'bout turning him loose on this one? Or the I-69 land deals?

• Dear Lord, I don't know which is more insulting: the "I'm not a Wingnut" Weigel, or the one who can't help putting the lie to it:
American conservatives viewed Thatcher as a saint, and as an example. By the late 1970s, they saw the United Kingdom as a cautionary tale of what happened when socialism came to a market economy—and when both parties went along with it. In 1976, the Labour government went “cap in hand to the IMF” for a bailout. In 1977, American Spectator editor-in-chief R. Emmett Tyrell published The Future That Doesn’t Work, a collection of essays about the obvious decline of Great Britain. After Thatcher won, as Charles Krauthammer told Politico, “her example in a much more far-left country and an even more sclerotic economy really sent a message that it can be done.” 
That’s why American conservatives have largely won the argument about Thatcher. 
Yeah. Mags was a goddam economic genius, all right, provided you were one of the bankers who benefited from her selling off everyone else's property, and not one of the thousands condemned to permanent unemployment thereafter.

But, fuck, "American 'conservatives' have largely won the argument"? What argument is that? Since when does convincing yourself of what you already believe constitute a victory?

Monday, April 8

Monday Olio: I'm Going Back To Bed, Wake Me On Friday Edition

JUST screen shoot me:

Start your watches. In forty-fifty years time, the rift between economic Libertarians and religious Libertarians will become so great that Politico will notice.

How delightful, by the way, is that "Stereotyped for decades as pro-pot, pro-porn and pro-pacifism…"? Which should we add first: 1) "When, in reality, it's been the other pro-gun, anti-tax party for a quarter century" or 2) "A stereotype disproven by the fact that its acknowledged leader, Kentucky Senator and Lunatic (but I repeat myself! Twice!) Rand Paul doesn't believe in any of those"?

Okay, slight exaggeration, maybe; Rand Paul is probably pro-porn, whatever that might mean in this day and age. What it would mean in his case is "If someone could actually formulate a question, and back him into a corner, he'd say he believed it was a matter for the states."  What it doesn't mean is him filibustering a Justice Department nominee until he got a written answer as to why they've been litigating mom & pop porn studios out of business--and putting people in prison--for the past forty years, despite that First amendment he likes so much.

The Republican senator, appearing Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," said that "after eight years of President Obama," the GOP headed into the next presidential election with the upper hand.

This is just the sort of forward thinking the party needs. Lindsey Graham: Schoolmarm-in-Chief, 2016!

I'm sure this will comfort the four or five liberals out there who know who th' fuck Mike Gallagher is. Actually, now I think of it, "Four or Five Liberals Know Who Th' Fuck Mike Gallagher Is" would be real news.
And each week, about 3.5 million people tune into Gallagher, according to Talkers magazine, which ranks him as having the fifth biggest talk radio audience in the country.

Talkers magazine. I can't keep up with these kids today and their crazy trends.

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

I ass, uh, ask the Court's assdulgence, indulgence; I promise to tie this up, in, shortly.

Hannah Rosin, "Ross Douthat Says Princeton Mom Outed a Dirty Liberal Secret". April 8

Dear Lord, they've discovered a way to make a Ross Douthat column even worse! They'll be delivering this stuff by drone soon enough, and contrails will be obsolete. Unless Rand Paul can stop them.


a) "Ross Douthat makes an interesting argument in Sunday’s New York Times…" opens the piece.

b) The next paragraph begins by explaining that Cardinal Douthat had, in fact, missed the entire point of that Princeton Mom marriage thing. No biggie, though.

c) Halfway between the two we get this: " It used to be that a rich man would be just as likely to marry his secretary as the cute girl from pre-med." As her example Rosin cites Mad Men.

d) As further proof of this titanic social shift Rosin notes that "Even athletes don’t just marry the bombshells anymore; they marry their equals." One need not bother clicking the link to know in one's marrow that it will lead to Tiger Woods. Who's now an item with Lindsey Graham Vonn, above. Who is, and I ask the Defense to stipulate to, both a bombshell and a world-class athlete. Erin Nordegren, Tiger's ex, was a Swedish model. We'd check in with Oscar Pistorius to break the tie, but he's not taking calls.

Sunday, April 7

I'm Not S'posin'

QUESTION: Did someone call "Conservative" intellectuals to the ramparts over Diversity in Academia--I mean so-called Diversity--this week, or is it the only issue they've got left? I mean, Amity Shlaes is always good for giggles--generally her own--but this is twice for Will this week, and he's got all the charm of a prairie preacher with five daughters.

And there is nothing like a George Eff Will column on the evil thought-control tactics of Diversity, Inc. to remind you just what sort of diversity Republicans have favored since the end of Reconstruction, is there? Dive on in; it's the deep end of "conservative" thought:
Suppose such SGA [Johns Hopkins Student Government Association]-recognized student groups as the Arab Students Organization, the Black Student Union, the Hopkins Feminists, or the Diverse Sexuality and Gender Alliance were to link their Web sites to provocative outside organizations or were to counsel persons not to patronize firms with policies those groups oppose. Would the SGA want to deny them recognition as student groups? Of course not. Obviously, the SGA has acted to express animus against the content of VFL [Voices for Life; guess what they're up to]’s speech and to protect students from the discomfort of disagreement.

Oh, let's try that again:
Suppose such SGA-recognized student groups as the Arab Students Organization, the Black Student Union, the Hopkins Feminists, or the Diverse Sexuality and Gender Alliance were to link their Web sites to provocative outside organizations

Why, have they?
Would the SGA want to deny them recognition as student groups?

How much time do I…
Of course not.

Oh, well then.
Obviously, the SGA has acted to express animus against the content of VFL’s speech and to protect students from the discomfort of disagreement.

Obviously. Except for their explanation, which is that they didn't.

Wait, can we do that again?
Suppose such SGA-recognized student groups as the Arab Students Organization, the Black Student Union, the Hopkins Feminists, or the Diverse Sexuality and Gender Alliance

Suppose you weren't a crypto-racist, sexist, right-wing homophobe who's now reduced to trolling Red State for column ideas?

Really, if the Arab Students Organization website linked to al-Qaeda's Pinterest page? Or the Black Student Union linked to the New Black Panther Party? Suppose they'd been denied student government funding because of that? Would you have complained? Obviously not.

Okay, cheap shot, George, but your sources at Breitbart wouldn't have given two shits about free speech.

And why are those your examples, hmmm? What do any of them have to do with it, aside from the fact that they earn your Holy disapproval? Suppose the Protestant Student Union, or the Muslim Student Association, decided they were going to engage in "peaceful, quiet 'sidewalk counseling'” outside the Catholic chapel, especially targeting young women in parlous circumstances seeking help, or handing young boys fliers on how to recognize priest pederasts, because those groups didn't care for anyone else exercising a Constitutional right?  Would their word be good enough for you? Ever seen any "peaceful quiet sidewalk counseling" as conducted by the morally superior beings who have all the answers, and lack merely enough places to scream them at the rest of us? Would you want your rape-victim daughter subjected to one, on the philosophical grounds that she really needs to hear both sides of the argument?

Enshrined alongside the right of free speech, and of a free press, are their limits. You can't use speech to defame, or incite violence; you can't yell "Theater!" in a crowded fire, or read the Koran out loud on a crowded airplane. Such instances are often contentious. What they aren't is de facto violations of the Constitution, any more than the desire for public safety at 30,000 feet is cowardice, any more than "diversity" is a blanket excuse to harass.

This, of course, is not a free speech issue; Life's spokesmen are free to say or publish what they wish. And Johns Hopkins, the sort of private institution which used to get unlimited support from the Right when it denied Constitutional rights, has a right to establish rules of conduct for those who receive student funds. If your VoLers can't just sit back and enjoy the martyrdom, they can withhold their student fees in protest. They can go to class with duct tape on their mouths. They can join the "pro-Life" groups on campus which manage to operate without harassing women. Or there's always Bob Jones.

Friday, April 5

Everything I Needed To Know I Learned From The Byline

Amity Shlaes, "What Parents Don't Know About Bowdoin". April 3

THE other day I went to Barnes & Noble, or as it's known in Indiana, Barnes and Noble's, for some peace and quiet. I needed a book. I figured they still had some. I wouldn't have gone to Barnes and Noble's except it's the last bookstore standing. The place has been Wingnut Book Central for over a decade now. Remember the days of Hillary Hate Book of the Week? Every last one of them was on display just inside the front door. Now, for a public spitter I'm relatively phlegmatic about seeing intentional bias everywhere. I'm barely exaggerating here. The Current Events section was practically a Rush Limbaugh portrait gallery. You could chalk that up to sales, I suppose, but I went there specifically to check on Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot when it was on the Times Bestsellers List, and found three copies, there in the back, spines out.

So it wasn't really a surprise that, while hunting for the remains of the once-thriving Computer section I stumbled on Shlaes' Coolidge.  Something like fifteen dour copies, two columns face-out and several copies on either side. Which is one for every person in northern Marion county who could identify the man in a multiple-choice quiz.
A few years ago, an alumnus of Williams College in Massachusetts, Thomas Klingenstein, took the opportunity of a golf game with the president of Bowdoin, a Maine college similar to Williams, to suggest that diversity received too much emphasis at Williams and that Western civilization received too little. “Common American identity,” where race and class matter less, is lost.

Yes, why can't academia be more like The Claremont Institute, where Mr. Klingenstien is chairman of the board of directors, and where only one race and class matter?
Bowdoin’s president, Barry Mills, slapped back in a 2010 convocation speech…Mills also dropped in a few remarks about “loyal supporters,” which probably had a chilling effect because the words suggested that any Bowdoin alum who might side with the Williams man might be disloyal.

A chilling effect. Amity Shlaes, master of ironic understatement.
Rather than fulminate, however, Klingenstein funded a study by the National Association of Scholars to see whether his perception of Bowdoin was warranted. He picked Bowdoin, not Williams, to examine, perhaps out of pique.

Oh, perhaps. Or perhaps out of ideological assholery.

I guess we don't have to ask why he picked the National Association of Scholars:

Yet once the work got going, he says, “curiosity replaced anger.” The 360-page study, released this week, suggests that the quiescent Maine college is fundamentally different, more radical, than it was 25, and certainly 40, years ago.

Attention, white people with English or Business Degrees from wealthy private colleges: by and large, this is what happens, as something called "Time" does something typically described as "passing".  The academy in 1960 was considerably different from its 1920 version, too. This was probably even true in your day for the Great Books curriculum, or Screwing Widows and Orphans Studies. So maybe you noticed.

And the reason Dead European White Guy Studies have been largely supplanted is scholarship. Not Commies. Dead European White Guy Worship--there's still plenty of them, and their followers, around, by the way--lost their monopoly. In the marketplace of ideas. Which I thought was something you two understood. In fact, I thought it was the only thing you understood. Why don't you spread a little honey over at the NAS on the condition they get off their tenured asses and change scholarship with, you know, scholarship?
The researchers, Peter Wood and Michael Toscano, commenced by defining their goal: to describe the penetration of what they call “identity emphasis” -- a philosophy that looks at the world in terms of race, sex, ethnicity or other groupings. The National Association of Scholars also looked at green education, because environmental classes are often explicitly anti- capitalist.

It cannot be stressed enough: one of the necessary tools of cultural literacy in the 21st century--as it was in the 20th--is the ability to understand what constitutes a scientific study, and how to understand its limitations. This is not one. It's a 400-page hit piece some ideologues with degrees sold to some ideologue with money. "Identity emphasis" isn't an empirical category; it's a argument. "Green studies are explicitly anti-capitalist" isn't an hypothesis. It's a tell the size of Mr. Klingenstien's greens fees.
Although the report reviews Bowdoin’s history, its real starting point is the 1960s, when the college was both turning away from its religious roots and preparing to admit women. Bowdoin still required four semester courses in each of three areas -- humanities, math and science -- and in social studies. One could say 1960s students had a common education. 
Soon, however, this changed. 
If we all just dream hard enough, some day there'll be a Department of Evil Sixties Studies. And these people will have nothing to say about it.
In 1970, in the name of liberating students from “forced exposure” to certain academic areas, the college dropped requirements unrelated to a major. Like many other colleges, Bowdoin introduced official identity studies through what was then called Afro-American studies. In the 1980s, women’s studies was added as a minor. Gay and lesbian studies came along at some point, as well.

Your point?
All these shifts affected campus life. To many, they seemed a warranted expansion at a stodgy institution. And the undergrad who sought traditional general classes such as “Survey of English Literature” could find them. Bowdoin could claim it offered the best of old and new worlds. This Bowdoin of the 1980s and early 1990s is the Bowdoin that most parents tell themselves still exists.

Dear me, "most parents" are sending their children to Bowdoin in order to prepare them for 1960?
Yet, as Wood and Toscano show, Bowdoin itself didn’t freeze in the 1980s. It shifted further, with the identity classes proliferating to the present day. Where once there was only one true identity program, Afro-American studies, now there are five: Africana studies, Asian studies, gender and women’s studies, gay and lesbian studies, and Latin American studies.

Your point?
One in five courses offered to undergraduates in fall 2011 was either about a distinct identity or “green,” relating to the environment. Surveys, including coursework on Western civilization, faded: Today, 4.4 percent of Bowdoin’s classes are surveys versus 14.2 percent in 1964.

Klingenstein paid a couple of academics to produce a 400-page dissertation on the Bowden course schedule?
In 2012, about 10 of the 35 first-year seminars emphasize the difference in identity groups and affiliate with identity-studies programs: “Africana Studies 12: Affirmative Action and United States Society,” “Anthropology 13: Beyond Pocahontas, Native American Stereotypes,” “Gay and Lesbian Studies 17: The Sexual Life of Colonialism.” Students are getting a common education of a sort -- in political correctness -- not one fostering color-blind citizenship.

Well, you know what they say: The fuck didn't you emphasize a color-blind society when you ran all of it?

Sheesh, an Africana Studies course studies Affirmative Action. An Anthropology course surveys Native American stereotypes (the sort of thing which, back before the Evil Sixties, Anthropology sometimes helped perpetuate). And tell me, which do you object more to hearing about: Sex, or Colonialism?
“Identity studies is the one most inescapable part of Bowdoin education,” Wood says. “The student can avoid anything else, but not this.” A student can get a humanities education there that isn’t based on identity, but not easily. This, in turn, warrants discussion.

Okay. A student at Bowdoin can get a humanities education that isn't based on identity. And nothing is easy. End of discussion.