Asshole of the Week – Daniel Lapin

This is next level crazy so get ready for this. Rabbi Daniel Lapin went on a show hosted by “the Home of the Whopper” the dread Family Research Counsel and said that liberals are sexually attracted to Islamic terrorists.

“Today, after a 30- or 40-year epidemic of leftism that has swept its sordid stain across America, we’ve become much more feminized and we are attracted to the masculine strength and brutality of Islam. This is the girl in the high school being attracted to the bad, tough guy and that’s really what’s happening. There is no other way that I know of to explain this utterly irrational — and as soon as I said to myself that it’s irrational, I said, where else do you see irrational behavior? When people are sexually attracted you see irrational behavior. On a spiritual level, the feminized American left, show business, politicians, particularly academia, all the people who love Islam, when Christianity and Judaism are exactly the reverse.”

You can hear it here. Mind blown.

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Damaged Goods Christie Making Noises

Chris “Damaged Goods” Christie (formerly known as “The Luckiest Man in America”) is making those noises that indicate he’s going to run despite all the shadows hanging over him and his horrible record in NJ. So what if half your staff is going to be indicted, your state credit rating keeps getting downgraded, judges have said you have to make pension payments you tried to avoid, the casinos you personally funneled money to are going belly up and 69% of New Jerseyans say you’d make a bad president? When you’ve got nothing you’ve got nothing to lose.

1. It’s the GOP, it’s a crap shoot no matter how bad your numbers are or how damaged you are. Nobody’s popular with every segment of the party. Damaged Goods’ odds suck for him but what the hell?

2. It’s the GOP, you run to burnish your conservative grifter bona fides, by golly.

What are you going to do when you’re term limited out of the current job you suck at and president is the only other elected job you would consider taking, even if there’s no way you’ll even be the nominee? You run a bullshit campaign for president talking the crazy conservative talk so that you can get a radio or TV gig.

DG’s future is as the next radio or TV loudmouth. That’s the one place (other than NJ) where being a loud, ignorant blowhard does not count against you. Tell average people to “shut up and sit down” at a townhall and it’s iffy but tell callers to “shut up” and your ratings go through the roof. We need another Morton Downey Jr. like a hole in the head but get ready ’cause DG has got the lungs, belly and gall for the job.

But first things first, DG has to reintroduce himself to GOP donors and voters to get some traction. The best way to do that is to reestablish his fearless persona by stepping directly on the third rail of Social Security reform (for donors) and going hard right on social issues (for voters).

So he proposes means testing for SS (reduced benefits for $80K a yr. and up, eliminated for $200K a yr.), which is a bad idea but popular, because it makes sense to too many people who have bought into the premise that SS is in trouble, so we have to do something. If we have to do something then it makes sense to cut benefits for people who have some money. Then he couples that with a horrible idea that is rightfully unpopular: raising the retirement age to 69! Oh and raising Medicare eligibility to 67.

This is awesome because, if he makes this his campaign raison d’etre, he will cause all of the rest of the GOP field to compete for worse and worse ways to “fix SS” and that’s a 75 pound barbell around any of their necks. If Hilary comes out for expansion and lifting the cap, as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have, she’ll have a perfect contrast issue. Although given this GOP she wont be lacking those.

The other issue Damaged Goods came out strong against was, get this, legal marijuana. Yep. I’m going to fix Social Security for the kids so they’ll vote for me (although they will have to retire when they’re 69, stay healthy people!) but I’ll take away their pot. That’s what I call a mixed message.

Well, it would be if it was meant to go out to the real world, but it’s not. Damaged Goods is talking to the base here. The 75 year old Fox News audience that still thinks marijuana causes you to jump out of windows and race hot rods up suburban streets. There’s an audience out there for reruns of Dragnet and Damaged Goods is going right after them.

Citing an “enormous addiction problem” in the U.S., Christie, who has not yet announced a presidential run but has launched a political action committee, said that a very clear message needs to be sent “from the White House on down through federal law enforcement.”

“States should not be permitted to sell it and profit” from legalizing marijuana, he said.

I can hear him on the radio now: “Shut up, put the joint down and don’t even think about retiring you idiot!”

Frances Perkins – My Nominee to Replace Jackson on the $20

20 dollar bill
There’s a movement to get Andrew Jackson removed from the twenty dollar bill. While I have issues with the general practice of judging people by the values of a different era, it’s not hard to find Pres. Jackson reprehensible enough by any standard to make a change on the $20. Like Jefferson he was a slave owner, but he was far more racist and his crimes and double dealing against Native Americans are well documented. So I’d go further and say that the Democratic Party can do better to honor its beginnings by replacing Jackson in their annual Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinners with Martin Van Buren, who was actually more responsible for the modern Democratic Party than Jackson. Old Kinderhook just wasn’t as popular as Old Hickory.

This revision of history coincides with the fine idea of honoring a woman on paper money for the first time. There are many very worthy women in our history. The problem is that none of them is remarkably well known by the public except for maybe Eleanor Roosevelt (yes!) and Rosa Parks (sorry, no!). But my choice, even over Eleanor is Frances Perkins, the first woman cabinet member in U.S. history who served as Secretary of Labor under FDR. This article by David Brooks is actually quite good.

Perkins’s grandmother had told her that when somebody opens a door, you should always walk through. So Perkins confronted FDR with terms if she was to become his labor secretary. If she were to join the cabinet, FDR would have to commit to a broad array of social insurance policies: massive unemployment relief, a giant public works program, minimum wage laws, a Social Security program for old age insurance, and the abolition of child labor. “I suppose you are going to nag me about this forever,” Roosevelt told her. She confirmed she would.

Perkins was one of the most important voices in FDR’s sphere because of her sincere concern for social change. She was a key figure in the enactment of Social Security, unemployment insurance, the minimum wage abolition of child labor, etc. As much as Eleanor, Frances Perkins was FDRs conscience that kept nagging him and pushing him on behalf of the poor and afflicted.

She was, as Kirstin Downey would put it in the title of her fine biography, “The Woman Behind the New Deal.”

Asshole of the Week

Given the Walter Scott singular incident on top of the Eric Garner singular incident, the Tamir Rice singular incident, etc., etc., all of the singular incidents of unarmed black people killed by police that don’t in any way constitute a disturbing pattern of behavior on the part of police, and the disproportionate sentencing and participation in our glorious penal system that African Americans enjoy it’s not even close this week.

Horace Cooper and Eric Bolling were on Fix News (natch) arguing that black people actually get better treatment from the police than white people. Better. Not sure they know what that word means but okay.

Bolling: “police killings of African Americans are down 70% over the last 50 years, so why perpetuate these claims?”

Lynchings are down too. Congratulations America!

Fun With U.S. History – Nothing Really Changes

You know what, I read a lot of history and I keep thinking I should be sharing this stuff, especially the stuff that keeps surprising even me. So I’m going to make this a regular feature going forward. Unless I don’t. I’ll leave it up to me.

Other than the burning of Washington D.C., the writing of the National Anthem at Fort McHenry and the Battle of New Orleans the details of the War of 1812 are not well known but interesting. We celebrated (well, not really) the bicentennial of the end of the war last January 2015, although the Treaty of Ghent was signed a month earlier in December 1814 making the Battle of New Orleans one of the greatest oopsies in military history. Both the beginning of the war and the end of it were cautionary tales for going to war at a time when information moved at barely better than a glacial pace.

The part of the War of 1812 that kinda got glossed over in 6th grade history class was the part where America attacked Canada thinking we’d be welcomed as liberators (that’s where that started) and that we’d annex Canada to the U.S. too. It didn’t work out that well. We can talk about the competence of the American commanders sent to do the job, but the greater point is that the Canadians didn’t think being run from Washington D.C. would be an improvement over London.

The naval war on the Great Lakes was fierce and after the war there was a continuing naval presence on the lakes by both sides for several years until new President Monroe negotiated an arms agreement with Britain in 1817. From Daniel Walker Howe’s “What Hath God Wraught, The Transformation of America 1815-1848”

…the Agreement of April 1817 signed by Richard Rush for the United States and Charles Bagot for Britain… provided gradual naval disarmament on the Great Lakes forestalling a costly arms race between the still mutually suspicious powers. Rush-Bagot was one of the earliest arms limitation agreements and proved remarkably durable. Although the Lincoln administration threatened to abrogate it in retaliation for British help for the Confederacy…

The Rush-Bagot Agreement did not deal with land defenses and the U.S.-Canadian boundary was not demilitarized until 1871!

But here’s the fun fact: the U.S. spent 3 years building a fort at the north end of Lake Champlain only to find out in 1818 that it was on the wrong side of the border. The fort had to be abandoned. So even then military boondoggles and blunders wasted taxpayer money. Inaccuracies in our ability to survey land and water precisely would continue to create issues over the next 50 years.

And So It Starts – War With Iran Will be Easy

Last week’s asshole of the week, Tom Cotton, is on the verge of becoming a very young asshole emeritus. His belligerence about Iran is abundantly known, you have to wonder what he’s compensating for already. Cotton actually did serve in Iraq, so he’s not a chicken hawk. No, Cotton is somebody who served but learned nothing from his experience. His mentality is like Ted Cruz in that his conservative beliefs are so strong no amount of reality can challenge them.

Today he made the first move in what I’m sure will be a campaign to make war with Iran seem like a cakewalk. You know we’ll be welcomed as liberators, right?

“It would be something more along the lines of what President Clinton did in December 1998 during Operation Desert Fox. Several days air and naval bombing against Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction facilities for exactly the same kind of behavior. For interfering with weapons inspectors and for disobeying Security Council resolutions. All we’re asking is that the president simply be as tough as in the protection of America’s national security interest as Bill Clinton was.”

It would just be some bombs and nothing else to muss our hair with. Oh, so you don’t want regime change Senator? Why do you hate America?

By the way Cotton is being advised by none other than neo-con loser Douglas Feith. once referred to by General Tommy Franks as “the dumbest fucking guy on the planet.”

No End to the Stupid – Wednesday Edition

Rand Paul, the strangest libertarian evah, surprised nobody by announcing his intention to run for president. He’s a very confused person and as such his statements and proposed policies don’t always make much sense. But he’s always up for a good fight with the media who misstate his positions, missing the nuances of his being both for and against things like the Civil Rights Act, or both for cutting defense spending and increasing defense spending. If Savannah Guthrie can’t understand how those things are not contradictory at all, that’s not his problem.

“You once said Iran was not a threat, now you say it is. You once proposed ending foreign aid to Israel, now you support it, at least for the time being, and you once offered to drastically cut … defense spending.”

Paul attempted to speak as Guthrie continued.

“Why don’t we let me explain instead of talking over me, OK?” Paul interjected. “Before we go through a litany of things you say I’ve changed on, why don’t you ask me a question, ‘Have I changed my opinion?’ That would sort of a better way to approach an interview.”

So in his introductory speech yesterday he asserted that “your phone records are yours” and in my head I heard myself yelling back “but your uterus isn’t”, because again Rand Paul is the strangest libertarian evah by being such a strong defender on some civil liberties (for white people), and (naturally) the legalization of marijuana, but being against abortion rights and defending traditional religious values (read: the right of Christians to discriminate). That’s libertarian in the same way as vegetarians who eat bacon.

So yes, Mr. Paul is a bigger joke than his racist father who had positions not heard of since the 1870s (paper money is an abomination!). But mostly he’s a joke because he’s completely willing to pretend we still live in pre-internet times and say one thing to one audience and another thing to another audience and fight with the interviewer when cornered on that. His ambition is so transparent and his willingness to drive a Hummer over his core principles in order to court conservative primary voters is both breathtaking and disgusting.

But, that said, I feel for Mr. Paul because his work on crushing every closely held principle that won him the ill-conceived respect of teenage marijuana users who are so hungry to engage in the political debate, and trust a man in a turtleneck, is not an easy row to hoe. He’s going to have to prove himself to those GOP primary voters. Dallas Woodhouse is one of those key opinion makers. He’s a conservative strategist who runs a group called Carolina Rising, which is apparently not a pro-marijuana group, so how they’re rising and to what end is ominously never talked about. Mr. Woodhouse has a litmus test that Mr. Paul and all Republicans have to pass.

[Paul’s] sort of worldview may not be fitting the world as a lot of people see it right now. He’s got to prove — in my opinion, Rand Paul’s got to prove that he will nuke a Muslim country if we have to. I’m not saying we should. But I’m saying we will do that if it takes saving America and that there’s no doubt that he will do what it takes to protect America.

And that friends is the stupid that has no end. Not that Rand Paul has limited stupid, he doesn’t. But the idea that putting America’s security first entails the “proven” willingness to NUKE anybody, no less any one of the nations of the middle-east who are across an ocean and have GDPs commensurate with Arkansas, is stupid beyond end.

P.S. The Paul testiness Tour continues as an AP reporter asks him about his abortion stance.

Missile Defense Another $10B Rathole

When you drive over a pothole or hear about a school closing think about this shit.

Expensive missteps have become a trademark of the Missile Defense Agency, an arm of the Pentagon charged with protecting U.S. troops and ships and the American homeland.

Over the last decade, the agency has sunk nearly $10 billion into SBX and three other programs that had to be killed or sidelined after they proved unworkable, The Times found.

Funny thing is everybody remembers how when the cold war was on its last legs, Reagan initiated the “Star Wars” boondoggle of space based lasers. But at least the threat was real. ICBMs launched from the Soviet Union had been the greatest fear for 35 years. But then after 9/11 these missile defense systems got proposed and passed and built even though we were also taking our shoes off at airports and fearing the lone wolf sleeper cell attack. Billions wasted, that even if successful wouldn’t stop the most likely threat.

Members of Congress whose states and districts benefited from the spending tenaciously defended the programs, even after their deficiencies became evident.

And that’s why we’re spending more than the next 10 countries combined – and it’s never enough! No politician ever lost a race by pushing defense spending in his district.

And Now Lane Bryant Today

While that throwback ad featured a size 2 “calling all chubbies” today’s Lane Bryant follows the Dove “Real Beauty” idea of putting real women in ads and tweaks Victoria’s Secret with their “I’m No Angel” campaign.

Real progress there Lane Bryant.