Pictures Are Worth A Thousand Words

I’ll have actual analysis on today’s bombing in Brussels either tomorrow or Thursday once more solid information has been reported out. In the meantime, and in response to some of the responses from elected officials in the US regarding today’s bombings in Brussels, I’m going to simply post these pictures. They say far more, and speak far more eloquently than I could, about what happens when we respond to challenges, crises, and threats in an emotional and politicized manner and attribute guilt by superficial association.

1942-01-30-internment*

exclusion**

Heart_mtn

Heart Mountain Internment Camp***

Kooskia

Kooskia Internment Camp****

momphoto

Minidoka Internment Camp*****

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Dining Hall at the Fresno Assembly Center******

* Image from here.

** Image from here.

*** Image from here.

**** Image from here.

***** Image from here.

****** Image from here.



NSFW Debate Roundup: Nothing But Pricks & Dick Jokes

And, as we all know, The Internet was made for dick jokes!


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Late Night Open Thread: CPAC 2016 – There Will Be Blood Sweat &Tears

Professional cynic Jim Newell, in Slate, “CPAC Is Irrelevant”:

… To look at the schedule for the three-day conference is to look at a movement in denial. There’s no indication on paper that a television-performing nationalist is overthrowing conservatism as the engine of the Republican Party. One early Thursday panel, “Three Approaches to Conservatism,” featuring Sen. Ben Sasse, Rick Santorum, Sen. Ted Cruz’s chief of staff, and libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, is probably not going to delve into the conservative literature behind Donald Trump’s approach of calling his rivals mean names on television. Speaker Paul Ryan’s session about conservative approaches to poverty will offer few ideas that migrate into Donald Trump’s nonexistent policy platform. The panel on “How to Grow Conservatism” will have its work cut out for it, now that Trump’s candidacy has revealed how the real motivating force behind the Republican Party is nationalism and #winning instead of ideological conservatism…

Expect Trump to be greeted with some coldness at CPAC when he delivers his speech Saturday morning. He will throw out some sops to conservatives, mostly about his immigration proposals. But he doesn’t need to. The conservative movement’s opinion is of little value to Trump. That is going to make this CPAC at once a historic snapshot of a movement in existential crisis, and unusually irrelevant to the outcome of the Republican presidential race...

Politico, of course, is extremely interested in the stage machinery behind Trump’s CPAC speech…

Donald Trump’s speaking slot at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday is prompting an acrimonious backlash from the conservative critics desperately trying to mount a last-ditch campaign to block the GOP presidential front-runner from winning the party’s nomination.

A top aide to Trump rival Marco Rubio has accused CPAC organizers of being in the tank for Trump and clearing the way for his acceptance into mainstream conservatism, while an anti-Trump super PAC is pressuring organizers to rescind their invitation to the surging GOP front-runner.

Potentially complicating matters further, sources tell POLITICO that Trump has made multiple donations ― including a $50,000 check last year ― to the American Conservative Union, the group that organizes CPAC. That dwarfs the amounts donated in recent years by allies of Trump’s rivals, all of whom are also scheduled to speak at the annual gathering, and seems likely to fuel already percolating suspicions among his opponents that the ACU has its thumb on the scale for Trump.

Even by the standards of CPAC, which over the decades has been in the middle of more than its share of contentious fights about the future of the conservative movement, the one brewing around this year’s gathering is shaping up as historic ― and historically nasty…

Yeah, CPAC’s always been pay-to-play — but that Drumpf guy can afford to buy up all the slots! My heartstrings remain unplucked; if Donald Douchenozzle takes down the ACU on his voyage to damnation, that would be one small credit in his favor.

Today’s hot Repub topic Mitt Romney, Man on a Dancing White Horse, will not be at CPAC. Per the Boston Globe:

Mitt Romney is planning to give a speech on Thursday morning about the “state of the 2016 presidential race,” a further reflection of the 2012 Republican nominee’s efforts to influence a presidential contest that has been rocked by the rise of Donald Trump.

Romney is planning to speak from the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah at 11:30 a.m., hours before the Republican presidential candidates gather in Michigan for another debate. It also comes two days after Trump swept up many state contests on Super Tuesday, including Massachusetts, where Romney governed for four years.

A source close to Romney said, “this is not an endorsement or announcement of candidacy,” adding that the former Massachusetts governor wanted to speak about “the state of the 2016 presidential race and the choices facing the Republican Party and the country.”…

The only actual sources I can find on Romney’s purported candidacy announcement are gauzy some people say wishcasts from the NYTimes and a frenetic “bombshell” from Infowars tying him to the Koch Brothers (which does not seem plausible, just from the personalties of the billionaires in question). Maybe my Google-fu just isn’t strong enough…



Late Night Long Read: “At Sea with America’s Largest Floating Gathering of Conspiracy Theorists”

Jezebel‘s Anna Merlan, “Sail (Far) Away”:

… [Sean David] Morton is a radio host, among other things. Here he was one of the lead organizers of Conspira Sea, the first annual sea cruise for conspiracy theorists. While the ship looped from San Pedro to Cabo San Lucas and back, some 100 of its passengers and I would be focused on uncharted waters, where nothing is as it seems. Before we docked again, two of them would end up following me around the ship, convinced I was a CIA plant.

Elsewhere aboard, people’s vacations were already exuberantly underway, the cigarette-browned casino bustling. Those of us in the conspiracy group were crammed into a dim, red-carpeted conference room in the bowels of Deck 6 to hear Morton, a Humpty Dumpty-shaped man with a chinstrap beard and an enormous, winking green ring, explain our mission.

“Conspiracy theorists are always right,” Morton told the room. He spoke with the jokey cadence and booming delivery of his profession; he’s basically Rush Limbaugh, if Rush Limbaugh claimed to have psychic powers (Morton practices a form of ESP known as “remote viewing,” which he says he learned from Nepalese monks). It was a bit of a pander, since the room was filled with conspiracy theorists.

“In 40 years,” Morton added, “as many people will believe a bunch of Arabs knocked down the World Trade Center as will believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.” A lot of people nod…

There was Helen Sewell, a British astrologer, and her husband Andy Thomas, a conspiracy researcher. There was Jeffrey Smith, an anti-GMO activist with no scientific credentials and a previous career in “yogic flying.” There were Sherri Kane and Leonard Horowitz, a team in both research and life, who were there to tell us how the media and the CIA control the gullible populace.

There was Laura Eisenhower, the great-granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a fact that sometimes would seem significant and sometimes would not. She explained she was there to show us how to get beyond “the seven chakra system that’s been implanted within us,” and a bunch of other similar phrases I found hard to follow. There was Nick Begich, the son of the late Alaska congressman John Nicholas Joseph Begich, a low-key, sweet-natured guy who believes the government is controlling both the weather and people’s minds with the use of a research program called HAARP.

Near Begich was Winston Shrout, who runs a staid-sounding financial advice company called Solutions in Commerce, dedicated to the idea that the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve have us all literally enslaved. A few seats down was Dannion Brinkley, who’s from South Carolina, and who has died and been to Heaven three times. Death, he told us, is not, in fact, real.

Most notably, there was Andrew Wakefield, the British gastroenterologist who authored the now-infamous 1998 study that suggested there might be a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Jenny McCarthy was breathed into being because of Andrew Wakefield…

Spoiler: These people are (at best) generally unhappy, not to mention very lightly hinged. But, as Douglas Adams would say, mostly harmless.”



Open Thread: It’d Be Funny, If the Rest of Us Didn’t Have to Live with the Results…

gop suicide hotline pett

(Joel Pett via GoComics.com)

Mr. Charles P. Pierce, at Esquire, QFT (Quoted for Truth):

… Who looks after shitkickers like you?

In his magisterial biography of Huey Long, which I would advise everyone to read before this presidential election gets completely out of hand, T. Harry Williams explains the thinking behind the long game that the Kingfish saw himself playing as the Great Depression played out… The energy behind the two men is as similar as the parallel is inexact.

Huey Long actually did come from the ranks of the poor and dispossessed that he later enriched himself by championing. He relentlessly vilified the economic and social elite, first in Louisiana and then in the entire country. He, Trump, on the other hand, was a child of that elite, and he had never departed from it, except in his public persona, which is where we find him now. A huge portion of the Republican electorate—and, sadly, a not-insignificant portion of the American people—wants a strongman, the more vulgar the better. Huey Long came by his vulgarity naturally. He, Trump has had to work at it, buying bad taste by the bucketful with his millions and coming to embody it the same way the Kingfish did. I am one of you, they both said, you poorly educated suckers. Look how common and vulgar I am… In the Republican party in the year of our Lord 2016, He, Trump is simply the man of the historical moment.

And why shouldn’t he be? For the past 30 years, the country has been told that its government is a strange, alien beast with little or no connection to the lives of the people of the country. At the same time, a series of political developments—most notably, a couple of dreadful Supreme Court decisions—has validated that argument by blocking the basic avenues of self-government with great barricades of unaccountable cash. At the same time, the country was encouraged by politicians of both parties to look at the political process as a television show. And now we’re surprised that a guy who made his living at the latter has become successful at promoting the former?…
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Friday Morning Open Thread: Legacy

Mr. Charles P. Pierce, “Lee Atwater’s Legacy”:

… It was the father of the Southern Strategy, longtime South Carolinian political boss Harry Dent, along with Atwater, who invented the South Carolina Republican presidential primary in 1980. Shrewdly, they both saw the centers of conservative power moving south and west, away from establishment WASP-ish Republicans like George H.W. Bush. At the same time, they’d noticed how blue-collar white Democrats in the industrial north had flocked to the campaigns of segregationist idol George Wallace, first in 1968 and then again in 1972, until Wallace was shot and nearly killed in a Maryland shopping center. They both felt demographic and political tides that were gathering themselves behind a new vision for the Party of Lincoln. At the time, Dent was working for the Bush campaign and, in South Carolina, Atwater had signed on with Reagan. At this point, the Republican race was still up for grabs. Reagan had lost in Iowa to Bush, and his win in New Hampshire was not a significant enough victory in the rapidly transforming Republican party. So Dent set up the South Carolina primary both as a breakthrough and a firewall for the Bush campaign. Meanwhile, Atwater was honing his chops that year by leaking a rumor that former Texas Governor John Connally was trying to buy black votes. And that was how the South Carolina Republican primary was born—in carefully calculating realpolitik and in dirty tricks…

What Atwater did was more than inject into Republican politics a modern form of strategic viciousness. With it, he injected an entirely new form of strategic unreality. From that has come the party’s inability to recognize or acknowledge the empirical. By creating an entirely new Dukakis in which his voters could believe, Atwater showed them how to build the bubble and to armor it against reality. The combination of strategic viciousness and strategic unreality has come full flower this year. We have Donald Trump, who is one ring of the circus all to himself, calling his opponents liars and Mexicans rapists, and threatening to sue Ted Cruz, who responds by telling Trump to bring it on, and that he, Cruz, would be happy to depose Trump in discovery personally. And Marco Rubio is telling people that the United States is at the edge of the abyss and that only he can restore it to its former glory. What seemed crude and nasty in 1980 has become sleek and edgeless and as common as milk now…

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As we gird up for the Nevada/South Carolina events, what’s on the agenda for the day?



Worst Person of the Week: L. Brooks Patterson

Patterson is officially Oakland County Executive, aka Head Honcho for Life, of Oakland, Michigan — those cities (Pontiac) and suburbs that did very well off “white flight” from Detroit. L. Brooks’ latest, per the Washington Post:

Even as authorities are still advising residents in Flint, Mich., not to drink or bathe in city’s tap water, leaving thousands to rely on bottled water to survive, some of the state’s prominent political voices think Flint’s water crisis may be exaggerated.

Foremost among them is Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson (R), who voiced skepticism about the severity of the crisis during an appearance before the Detroit Economic Club luncheon Tuesday, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“I don’t think we should say or use words anymore like Flint’s been poisoned,” Patterson told reporters, according to Fox affiliate WJBK. “Because I don’t think that’s accurate.”…

Despite what many see as definitive evidence of a crisis, Patterson told the station he changed his mind after hearing a radio interview with Bill Ballenger, a well-known Republican political analyst, former state lawmaker and Flint resident, who said he was offering “the other side” of the story…

In the interview cited by Patterson, Ballenger said his own blood tests hadn’t revealed elevated levels of lead and he wondered whether the crisis was a hoax, according to the Free Press. He argued that the crisis was instead perpetuated by politicians and members of the media “with an ax to grind.”…

Insert your own grim jokes about how hard it would be to identify signs of lead poisoning — “reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioral changes such as shortening of attention span and increased antisocial behavior,” per WHO — in a lifelong Republican political analyst.

Patterson has a long history of “inflammatory” (racist) public comments. Read more