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He’s got the electrolytes we need.

Friday Night Open Thread: Branding

Guess I’m glad not to be the only one whose first thought was of an obscene gesture.

My second thought was that it looked as though the P and the stripes were trying, and failing, to keep the T under control. Which is also appropriate, if perhaps not the image I’d choose for my party candidates…

Apart from derision and schadenfreude, what’s on the agenda as we start the weekend?

Chilcot Drops


This is something I hope Adam will take up in earnest, but we should probably have a thread for the Chilcot report on Tony Blair and the British rush to war in Iraq.  Here’s a link to the Guardian’s coverage.

In brief, and in my reading of the press reports only, it looks like Sir John Chilcot has produced a devastating body of work that effectively condemns both Blair and Bush — and by extension the many more who enabled them in their catastrophic rush to war.

That’s obviously going to hurt, and we’ve already got a taste of the derp to come in David Frum’s claptrap, discussed below.  We’ll see a lot more ass-covering, excuse-bandying, and outright bullshit from all the usual suspects over the next few days.

But what struck me most in the immediate reaction to Chilcot’s report was one snippet from the few minutes of Tony Blair’s press conference that I managed to catch.

There, he admitted the failure to plan for what to do after an initial military victory (you think?) — but he said he stood by his decision to go to war and would make the same decision now, given the intelligence at the time.  He admitted that the intelligence was faulty, but noted that leaders have to decide based on what they know at any given time, which is certainly true.

The problem with that pivot to “bad intelligence” is that it is bullshit.

Those in a position to know understood at the edge of war that Saddam did not have weapons of mass destruction as generally understood.  I give you a speech that should be much better known than it is, Robin Cook’s personal address to the House of Commons to explain his resignation from Tony Blair’s government:


Here’s a text version.

Our leaders knew that the stated reason for war in Iraq was false.  They did it anyway.  There’s plenty of blame to go round — and while it’s not clear how much individual members of Congress or Parliament knew, compared to the heads of government and the cabinets in both the US and the UK, some of that responsibilty certainly accrues to those legislators who went along to get along.

But the central villains of this piece are the leaders who made the choice to cajole and coerce their colleagues and their countries into war.

One last thought:  the upcoming election is between someone who’s learned from the Iraq disaster, and someone who just yesterday hearts him some murderous Saddam.

Image:  A. Y. Jackson, A Copse, Evening 1918, 1918

Three ways in the House

Reading the Huffington Post, I saw this political bodice ripper and I still can’t figure out how to make the mechanics of the piece actually work in our shared reality:

Suddenly they realize, “holy shit, what if we could stop Donald Trump and keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House?”

So they run a moderate establishment Republican as a third-party candidate — 100 percent as a spoiler candidate. Worst case scenario oh, they prevent Donald Trump from winning the White House. Best case scenario they pull enough votes away from Hillary Clinton to prevent her from securing the necessary majority of 270 electoral votes.

Then the election goes to a House of Representatives ballot presided over Speaker Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s former running mate in 2012.

If neither candidate gets 270 electoral college votes, Congress picks the president. And he will be called President Mitt, the one who is laying the groundwork for this doomsday electoral scenario.

The basic theory is that a third party candidate who is Generic Republican Establishment (no not Pawlenty) would be able to do three things at the same time:

  • Insure that Trump does not get 270 electoral votes
  • win at least one electoral vote
  • Insure that Hillary Clinton does not get 270 electoral votes

In an alternative universe, that could work, but in this universe, I am having a hard time seeing how to actually make it work with a generic Republican running as a non-Trump alternative.

I think the first part is achievable.  However, the third party Republican spoiler is not needed.  Continual video playback of Trump’s speeches to non-Trump fans will isnure that.  If the Republican establishment decided it needed at least one electoral vote, it’s sock pocket could probably win Utah or a Congressional district in Nebraska.  Worse comes to worse, an elector could be a faithless elector.  I’ll concede the mechanics on this one.

The problem with this pre-emptive pants shitting is the third part.

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Schvantz Truthers Unite!

Not so very long ago I remember this guy, funny hair, blocky, ungainly posture, brash fantasist — a Noo Yawk equivalent of those our Texan friends describe as All Hat; No Cattle — infesting the green rooms and bloviator sets of Fox News, talking about President Obama’s birthplace and demanding the infamous “Long Form Birth Certificate.”

Well, we’ve got a new controversy now, a puzzle inside a riddle wrapped in an enigma:  can the Republican front runner boast masculine sufficiency — or is he a little leaguer, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.*

Given Donald Trump’s distinguished record as a campaigner for truth and unvarnished, unequivocal, impossible-to-falsify empirical evidence on the matter of our current president’s citizenship, there really is only one way forward.

Show us the long form!


Or rather…please don’t.  Not ever.

Or to put this another way:  perhaps the most remarkable thing about the GOP race this year is the way the Republicans have figured out a new and truly innovative way to kill American jobs.  After last night’s debate, any market for political satirists is dead.  Imagine the writer’s room at The Daily Show right now:  why bother with new copy when you can just revoice that transcript?

This thread?  It despairs of our democracy.  And it is open.

Image: Titian, The Rape of Europa, 1560-1562**

*With absolutely no offense intended to those young ‘uns who actually, you know, swing small bats and run around bases.

**A local favorite — check it out at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum should you ever happen to have a moment in Our Faire Citie

Open Thread: GOP Realizes Its Stalker Is Calling From Inside the House

Hard for us cynical sane people to credit, but it would seem like the Establishment GOP really didn’t understand, until after South Carolina, that the Trump-Monster emerging from fifty years of Repub propaganda about undeserving moochers, atheists, and subhumans was not going away because they ignored / mocked / threatened him. They had a lovely big-budget musical planned… Springtime for Patricians, featuring a third-generation celebrity, a tiny ethnic sidekick, a creepy rival to better highlight the lead, and a backup cast of goofy stereotypes for the audience to mock. Then this yammering BRUTE appeared out of nowhere, tearing up the pretty sets, pissing on the terrified prop crew, tearing some of the cast members limb from limb. Trump is their history made visible, a nightmare from which they are fruitlessly attempting to awaken…

From the Guardian liveblog, last night:

Who is doing best so far? Jeb Lund thinks Marco Rubio is putting on a good performance – but should stop laughing at his own jokes:

Marco Rubio is doing very well. He hit Trump smartly on apt points, and he even had a good punchline. Cruz isn’t doing as well as Rubio, which should probably be alarming for Cruz supporters, because he’s the one who should be tap-dancing around everyone on stage. Kasich seems pleased to talk when people remember him and just as pleased to watch when no one does. Ben Carson was let out by the roadside to run free through a meadow as mom and dad peeled off in the car…


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Yes, Guys, You Actually Built This

It’s simply amazing to me that the media is sitting back and not pointing out to America that as the establishment GOP collectively loses their shit over Trump winning, they simultaneously are encouraging unprecedented obstruction of a Supreme Court appointment (although I still think they are going to fold). The latest public freak-out comes from the NRO, whose special edition anti-Trump issue a month ago probably netted Trump about 50 delegates:

It’s Time for an Anti-Trump Manhattan Project

by Charles C. W. Cooke February 24, 2016 4:51 PM

For the last eight months or so, a significant portion of the Republican party’s voters have been in thrall to a bizarre, Occupy-esque conspiracy theory, which holds as its central thesis that sabotage and pusillanimity are the root causes of the Right’s recent woes. In this mistaken view, the conservative movement’s failure to counter all of the Obama era’s excesses is not the product of the crucial democratic and structural factors that prevent any one faction from ushering in substantial change, but of a lack of will or desire. Sure, the advocates of this view will concede, the shutdown of 2013 was doomed from the start, in large part because the public sided with President Obama. But if the GOP had just held out a little longer, they imagine, the “power of the purse” would have prevailed and the popular dynamics would magically have shifted. The same insistence obtains elsewhere: Sure, there is no precedent in which a second-term president willingly repeals his centerpiece legislative achievements simply because the legislature has elected to play hardball with its powers. But somehow, the critics believe, this time would have been different. Why, they ask repeatedly, didn’t the Republican party just “fight” harder?

Given how broadly this opinion is held, one would have expected the 2016 primary season to reveal a penchant for purity that redounded to the favor of a candidate such as Ted Cruz. And yet, oddly enough, quite the opposite has happened thus far. Led by Donald Trump, the most frustrated voters have instead put their efforts behind a well-telegraphed attempt to burn down the whole political edifice and reconstruct it from scratch. Because it has been imperfect, the GOP must be destroyed.

Either they are too stupid to recognize it, or they don’t want to take the blame, or some combination of both, but they built Trump. It was decades of these stupid mother fuckers shouting about Obama being a secret Muslim or Hillary murdered Vince Foster and Dan Burton shooting a fucking watermelon to prove it to another melon based theory about Mexicans having calves the size of cantaloupes and women wanting to abort babies for shits and giggles and sending rock salt to Olympia Snowe and claiming there is no global climate change because LOOK RIGHT FUCKING HERE I HAVE A SNOWBALL IN FEBRUARY or convincing America that welfare and food stamps only go to young bucks buying t-bone steaks or welfare queens with big screen tv’s or that public transportation is totalitarianism or that the main cost cutting technique of health care reform will be Death Panels or that prison makes you gay or that man and dinosaurs lived together in harmony or that women can magically abort pregnancies created by rape or that scientists are genetically creating human/mice superbrains or that agribusiness is using aborted fetuses in soda or that if gay people marry pretty soon people will be marrying dogs or that Presidents Lincoln and Washington used electronic surveillance and actually writing, promoting, and believing a fucking book that said liberalism is fascism and running this person as a Vice Presidential candidate to claiming with no scientific evidence that vaccines cause autism.

My bad. That last one is a Democrat. Fuck you, Robert Kennedy, you fucking stain on our party and your family name.

But that list is real. I didn’t make any of it up. And that’s just a list of things they BELIEVE IN, and not a comprehensive list of the stupid shit they’ve actually done or the vile things they have said. That’s just too depressing to actually tabulate.

So yeah, Mr. Cooke, while you are calling on a Manhattan Project to defeat Trump, maybe you should sit back and reflect on just how the fuck this train got so far off the rails. If this list isn’t comprehensive enough, I’ve got another something that may convince you. Something that appeared just this fucking morning in your own god damned magazine:


Fuck you, Charles Cooke, and every one out there like you. You made this fucking mess.

*** Update ***

Cooke responds.