True-Life Tales of Terror

Jezebel has their top 10 reader horror stories up here. Meh. I think we can do better, Juicers. Anyone got any true-life tales of terror to tell this Halloween? I’ll start us off, even though mine isn’t really all that scary. I’ve alluded to it briefly before, but here it is in detail:

My maternal grandmother is from the Carolinas. She was a schoolteacher when my sister and I were growing up, so she had summers off, and she’d take us on road trips to go camping, see historical sites (she was a history teacher) and visit relatives.

One of her cousins had inherited the old family manse, which was built in the 1820s (I think):

haunted house

Everyone assumed Cousin Howard was gay because he never married or had a girlfriend that anyone ever heard about, and he was a natty dresser with a flair for decorating. Back then, people made those kinds of assumptions.

(Now that I think back on it, Cousin Howard’s speech and mannerisms were somewhat reminiscent of Senator Lindsey Graham’s, another confirmed bachelor from the Carolinas. So maybe things haven’t changed so much after all, as far as assumptions go.) Read more

Battle Flag Acquisition Strategies


Early this morning, I was doing some research on the endurance of corporate culture, studying how sometimes the spirit of a smaller, acquired firm can permeate the larger, acquiring organization. It’s not unusual for a big behemoth to acquire a scrappy smaller company solely for the purpose of infusing the moribund giant with fresh blood, and when the companies’ interests align, it can create an unstoppable marketplace force…for a while.

With that dynamic still on my mind, I moseyed over to Booman’s place and read a post that hit upon something that has been bothering me about the focus on the rebel flag in the wake of the domestic terrorist massacre in Charleston:

But the focus on the Confederate Flag can have an unfortunate side effect. What, after all, does that flag mean when it doesn’t simply mean white supremacy?

It’s meaning in those cases in nearly identical to the meaning of the modern conservative movement. It’s about disunion, and hostility to the federal government, and state’s rights. It’s anti-East Coast Establishment and anti-immigrant. It’s about an idealized and false past and preserving outworn and intolerant ideas. It’s about a perverse version of a highly provincial and particularized version of (predominantly) Protestant Christianity that has evolved to serve the interests of power elites in the South. It’s about an aggrieved sense of false persecution where white men are playing on the hardest difficulty setting rather than the easiest, and white Christians are as threatened as black Muslims and gays and Jews.

“Those blacks are raping our women and they have to go.”

That’s what the Confederate Flag is all about, but it’s also the basic message of Fox News and the whole Republican Party since the moment that Richard Nixon promised us law and order.

But it’s not black people who have to go.

It’s this whole Last Cause bullshit mentality that fuels our nation’s politics and lines the pockets of Ted Cruz just as surely as it has been lining the pockets of Walmart executives.

Today, maybe the governor down there had an epiphany. Maybe this massacre was the last straw. But, tomorrow, we’ll all be right back where we began with Congress acting like an occupying Confederate Army.

If we solve a symbolic problem and leave the rest untouched, then what will really change?

You can’t bury the Confederate Flag without, at the same time, burying the Conservative Movement.

Let’s get on with it.

He’s right. For many white people, the rebel flag represented moldy old myths about the antebellum South. But think about how nicely that mythology dovetailed with the lies about the pre-Civil Rights era that paleocons like Pat Buchanan tell themselves.

Like a moribund corporation, the GOP acquired Confederate culture with the Southern strategy, harnessing the racism in the South and its echo nationwide to build the present day Republican Party. That’s why Ronald Reagan launched his presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi. That’s why an always-wrong, New York City-born legacy hire who is relentlessly eager to send other people’s kids off to die in glorious causes is tweeting nonsense that his ancestors would find…puzzling:

So, the rebel flag should come down in South Carolina and every other state capitol in the former Confederacy, and with surprising (to me) swiftness, it looks like it will. That will be more than a symbolic victory; it will be the partial righting of a very old wrong.

But there’s a danger in “otherizing” the South in this context. It’s not wrong to condemn its blinkered myth-making and prideful backwardness, but there’s a hazard in moral preening within and outside of Dixie, a risk of declaring a tidy victory when the dinosaurs in the state capitols of the former Confederacy finally sink into the tarpit they’ve thrashed in for 150 years.

The risk is that we’ll lose focus on the modern day “Congress acting like an occupying Confederate Army,” as Booman put it. At its core, the Southern strategy was an attempt to roll back progress by hitching the anti-New Dealers’ star to the creaky old Confederate wagon. Its organizers weren’t all or even mostly slack-jawed yokels waving rebel flags. They included a fiery libertarian business man from Phoenix, a glib B-movie pitchman who hailed from Northern Illinois and a twitchy, paranoid Quaker from California.

To achieve true victory, we have to finally drive a stake through the heart of the Southern strategy, not just the Confederacy. So let’s make expunging the rebel flag from the public square the opening salvo in a larger battle to take our country back. Yes, that’s right, TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK. With no lies and decaying myths about what that means. The flag that represents it isn’t spotless. Its founding was rooted in slavery, genocide and the oppression of women. But unlike its dying counterpart, this flag is worth saving.

Afternoon Open Thread

As Betty pointed out below US normalization with Cuba is vastly overdue, and it turns out that Cuba deal has been in the works for 18 months and involved Canada and the Vatican as intermediaries.  And nobody had any idea.  No wonder Republicans are going completely apeshit.


Also, open threadness.

Not Even Trying To Hide It

Via TPM — Lindsay Graham (R-Who Can We Bomb Today) tells the one true beating heart of the GOP exactly what it wants to hear.  Speaking to the all-male, seemingly all-pale Hibernian Society fo Charleston SC, the Senator forgot a fundamental truth of modern politics:  there is no such thing as a private speech anymore.  Or maybe he just doesn’t care.  Whatever, here’s Lindsay, letting his freak flag fly:

“If I get to be president, white men who are in male-only clubs are going to do great in my presidency,” Graham says …as the audience laughs. (h/t Twitteratus @GrooveSDC)


Leave aside the cosmic delusion there — is there any geographical location outside the confines of his head in which any sentient being thinks Graham could be elected president? — the glory and horror of this confirmed-by-audio (head over to TPM for a listen) lies with its utter, transparent, total honesty.  Graham speaks the core Republican truth.  The people they server are rich white men.  Full stop.

Please proceed, senator:

“I’ve tried to help you with your tax status,” the senator says in another recording. “I’m sorry the government’s so f*cked up.”

Because, of course, the only thing that the United States government really exists to do is to make sure rich white guys  capture more money.

Friends don’t let friends vote Republican.


Oh — and one more thing:  if there is any last deluded teahadist out there who thought until now that the movement really had a chance to reclaim the GOP for the values of some mythic better America, you can apologize to the rest of us anytime.

Image:  Rembrandt van Rijn, Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild, 1661.

Profiles In Courage

Republicans and global warming:

In stark contrast to their party’s public stance on Capitol Hill, many Republicans privately acknowledge the scientific consensus that human activity is at least partially responsible for climate change and recognize the need to address the problem.

However, they see little political benefit to speaking out on the issue…

Anthony Adragna, writing in Bloomberg BNA, points out that it’s not simply the lack of an upside that constains his sources.  Rather,

Most say the reluctance to publicly support efforts to address climate change has grown discernibly since the 2010 congressional elections, when Tea Party-backed candidates helped the Republican Party win control of the House, in part by targeting vulnerable Democrats for their support of legislation establishing a national emissions cap-and-trade system.

Ah, Brave Sir Robin GOP!

To give themselves cover, those who spoke to Adragna came up with all kinds of alternative explanations for their reticence:

…the devastating impacts of the economic crisis, the low priority Americans place on addressing climate change and what Republicans say is overheated rhetoric from Democrats. Also playing a role in the reluctance to speak out is skepticism among Republican voters about federal government intervention and the increasing role of special interest money in elections.

That last one is sweet, isn’t it — that nasty “special interest” money.  I believe that special interest is spelled K.O.C.H. et al., but never mind.

And as for overheated rhetoric — well, I’m gearing up to do some separate posts about how all the climate news lately is worse than we thought, so for now, let me just leave you with this reminder of how badly, f**ked we may already be.


Of course, no discussion of Republican failure to lead — or even engage — an issue would be complete without laying the blame where it clearly belongs:

“I do believe there is some resistance to come out publicly and say what’s happening here,” Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.), who served in Congress from 1993 through 2011 and is now a partner at the law firm DLA Piper, told Bloomberg BNA. “One thing that would be helpful would be having a president who could articulate the issue well and who the Republicans have some confidence in.”

Yes, if only Barack Obama would stop presidenting while Black/Democrat, the Republican Party would leap into the breach.

To Adragna’s credit, he doesn’t let that claim go unchallenged — that Republicans who hold actual power, as opposed to those who are all ex- or former- somebodies, would actually be willing to take global warming seriously as soon as there’s a change at the White House:

[NRDC Action Fund spokesman David] Goldston said the Tea Party movement has swept many more deniers of climate change into Congress than ever before, and it has pushed Republicans away from basic environmental principles. He disagreed with others who said many Republicans privately acknowledge the risks of climate change, even if they don’t say so publicly.

“It’s very comforting for people to think that these people are pretending,” Goldston said. “It’s not true. The problem would be in many ways easier to solve if it was true.”

Read the whole thing.  Adragna tries to present the notion that Republicans as a party, as opposed to a handful of dissidents, actually do take this most serious of issues seriously.  He lets his sources make their best case…and the take-away is of a party that is in the hands of anti-science crackpots whom those who do know better are powerless to control.  Which seems about right.

Oh, and when Mitch McConnel says that:

“For everybody who thinks [the planet] is warming, I can find somebody who thinks it isn’t,” McConnell told the newspaper.

I say “shut your festering gob” you hopeless git.  For everyone who says you are any kind of a public servant, I can find someone who swears you enjoy the carnal knowledge of barnyard animals.

Image: Nicholas Bertin, Phaéton on the Chariot of Apollo, c. 1720.

The Massive Set on Those Two

War-boner twins John McCain and Lindsey Graham are slightly tingly about the recent bombing of ISIS forces in Iraq, but they’re begging the president to grant them full engorgement by engaging in further sorties in Iraq and Syria (I’m sure Assad and the Russians won’t mind!) and distributing weapons more liberally throughout the region:

We need to get beyond a policy of half measures. The President needs to devise a comprehensive strategy to degrade ISIS. This should include the provision of military and other assistance to our Kurdish, Iraqi, and Syrian partners who are fighting ISIS. It should include U.S. air strikes against ISIS leaders, forces, and positions both in Iraq and Syria. It should include support to Sunni Iraqis who seek to resist ISIS. And none of this should be contingent on the formation of a new government in Baghdad.

As insane as the first part of that paragraph is, their waving away concerns about the dysfunctional clusterfuck of a government in Baghdad truly reveals the pair’s stupidity and shortsightedness. Why do they suppose the Iraqi military flung its weapons down and ran away from ISIS faster than Rand Paul from an immigrant schoolgirl? Why have Iraqi Sunnis allowed the ISIS dirtbags to roll into their territory relatively unopposed?

Maybe it’s because the Sunnis and Shia don’t trust each other, and the Sunnis despise the Baghdad government. The Iraqis have to sort out their government or this shit will keep happening over and over. Adding more guns to the mix will just give the crazies more guns to pick up next time it all falls apart. That’s why Obama declined to get involved before, despite McCain, Graham & Co. bellowing like ruptured cows from the sideline.

You can make a credible case for US military strikes to prevent an imminent massacre, and Obama did yesterday. (I thought the regional players whom we’ve armed for decades should take the lead on that, but what do I know? Maybe they couldn’t or wouldn’t.) However, the US taking a central military role on an ongoing basis sounds like a perfect recipe for a giant cock-up as well as an obstacle to ever achieving a lasting resolution.

McCain and Graham again:

“If ever there were a time to reevaluate our disastrous policy in the Middle East, this is it. Because of the President’s hands-off approach, the threats in the region have grown and now directly threaten the United States. We are already paying a very heavy price for our inaction, and if we do not change course, the costs of our inaction will only grow.”

Well thanks, Alexander the Great and Napoleon Bonaparte! Jesus, I wish Obama would sign an executive order that requires McCain and Graham to punch themselves in the face if they ever utter the phrases “disastrous policy” and “the Middle East” in the same sentence again.

This is the same bullshit those two were spewing back when they were pissing themselves about Saddam’s WMDs and mushroom clouds. Do they think we don’t remember that? Probably. Their media hosts are rarely rude enough to bring that up when they make the Sunday rounds.

Anyway, I hope and trust President Obama will have the good sense to continue to ignore that pair of foreign policy trolls.

Reason Number Gazillion I Thank The FSM For The 2008 Election Result

That would be that Lindsay Graham, the Republican senator who is totally not pandering for re-election.  The idea that this guy would have had any possibility of a role at the center of the national security and or foreign policy apparatus in a McCain administration should send jolts of terror through anyone who doesn’t think the war in Iraq has done so much good for the U.S. and the world.

Here he is talking to David Gregory, as covered by TPM.  His topic? The failings of those who actually do the hard work of trying to make sure that the US foreign policy has something more in its arsenal than the blow-shit-up option:

Easy enough to say I suppose.  Lots of places are in a bad way, and the news last week was flat out horrible.  But, as always, there’s the tricky bit to come. That ferocious interrogator David Gregory asked Graham what Kerry should have said about events in the Ukraine.  For some reason, this not exactly surprising query proved a bit more than Graham could coherently handle:

“One, he didn’t call Putin the thug that he is.

“And you’re ugly too!  So there!”


I mean, seriously?  The way to advance the goal of constraining Putin is to say nasty things about him?  When, in fact, a US led effort to rally European nations to put real pressure on Putin is beginning to show force?

This is why someone whose strategic education seems to have come from games with toy soldiers should shut up and let the grown ups work.

But no:

He didn’t call for arming the Ukraine so they can defend themselves against rebel separatists supported by Russia,” Graham responded.

Because ramping up the deadliness of the conflict is exactly what you want to do at a moment when Putin’s own escalation has just dealt the Russian approach a terrible blow.  Graham’s demand makes sense if the only if you imagine that if you’re not shooting someone, you’re losing.

Again — thank the FSM that this clown has only a soap box to deploy.

Finally, the cherry on top:  Graham’s deepest complaint is that the present administration…well, let him say it:

“President Obama is trying to be deliberative. It comes off as indecisive. He’s trying to be thoughtful. It comes off as weakness,” he continued.

There you have it, folks. Why the current GOP can’t be allowed anywhere near the launch codes for the foreseeable future.  Heaven forfend that someone with life-and-death power should stop and think a bit about when and how to exercise lethal force.  Just go ahead and shoot, man!  Something — anyone! That way you won’t look weak…

…Instead, you will just become weak.  See, e.g., the way in which the shot-from-the-hip war-of-choice in Iraq has so strengthened the US position around the world.

Lindsay Graham is going to get his next six years in the Senate.  The country will be the poorer for it.  But it could have been worse — and yet may be, if we don’t ensure that the 2016 election consigns his worthless carcass to the green rooms and of the United States of Sunday Morning for another term.

Image: Netherlandish (possibly Jacob Cornelisz. van Oostsanen), Laughing Fool, c. 1500