Symptoms Of A Syndrome

On a day where President Obama spoke about Trayvon Martin’s murder and said the following:

“All of us have to do some soul searching to figure out how does something like this happen,” President Obama said Friday morning following a White House Rose Garden ceremony when asked about the 17-year-old’s death.

The president called the shooting a “tragedy” and says “every aspect” of the case should be investigated. Obama gave his condolences to the slain teenager’s parents and said if he had a son, “he’d look like Trayvon.”

We have this going on at a Rick Santorum event

At a shooting range in Louisiana on Friday, an onlooker encouraged Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum to pretend the target he was firing at was President Barack Obama.

“Santorum is shooting a 1911 Colt,” Politico’s Juana Summers tweeted from the sheriff’s office shooting range in West Monroe. “Range master says ‘Well, it’s not your first rodeo.’ Someone here says ‘pretend its Obama.’”

…and this out of the mouth of Newt Gingrich….

In a radio interview on Thursday, Newt Gingrich returned to one of his favorite recent themes, what he calls the “elite media” and their conspiracy to aid and abet the Obama administration.

In an article at Huffington Post, the former Speaker of the House is quoted as saying to Sandy Rios of the American Family Association that the “elite media” are “in the tank for Obama” and will do everything they can to see him re-elected.

“It is just astonishing to me how pro-Obama they are,” he said, “Do you think you are going to see two pages on Obama’s Muslim friends? Or two pages on the degree to which Obama is consistently apologizing to Islam while attacking the Catholic church?”

…and I just shake my head.  I’m a black male who has survived to the ripe old age of 36 and is not incarcerated.  I’m an exception in this country, it seems.  I live in one of the 24 states that has a law that solely exists to justify the use of deadly force as the ultimate sanction against someone who is merely perceived to be a threat, without evidence, due process, or the right to face your accuser (because hey, you’re effing dead.)  The legislative need to create laws like this is a symptom of a much more awful syndrome, and in every case these laws were passed by “pro-life” Republicans led by the gun lobbyists.

These laws are designed to allow vigilantism, period.  It’s the worst impulse of the whole Glibertarian/Paulite/Somali Pirate anarcho-justice codified into “I get to decide who lives and who dies, and I reserve the right to exercise that impulse at any point.”  We’re all castles stomping around killing each other, and may the best, most heavily armed castle win.  And as far as Republicans are concerned, well that impulse extends to “We’ve decided that having a black President violates our right not to have one, so we’re going to do something about it from the ground up.”

Trayvon Martin’s awful, pointless murder is just a symptom of a much uglier sickness.

[UPDATENewt doubles down.

“What the president said, in a sense, is disgraceful,” Gingrich said on the Hannity Radio show. “It’s not a question of who that young man looked like. Any young American of any ethnic background should be safe, period. We should all be horrified no matter what the ethnic background.

“Is the president suggesting that if it had been a white who had been shot, that would be OK because it didn’t look like him. That’s just nonsense dividing this country up. It is a tragedy this young man was shot. It would have been a tragedy if he had been Puerto Rican or Cuban or if he had been white or if he had been Asian American of if he’d been a Native American. At some point, we ought to talk about being Americans. When things go wrong to an American, it is sad for all Americans. Trying to turn it into a racial issue is fundamentally wrong. I really find it appalling.”

Effing. Perfect.

Open Thread – Chook the lyrebird

A belated posting. I wanted to embed video but apparently the corpse of Steve Jobs doesn’t want me to be able to do that either so, if you’d like to hear the clever birdy, you’ll need to go here or search for “chook the superb lyrebird” on the Googles.

29 December 2011: Adelaide Zoo’s much loved lyrebird Chook, known for his stunning vocal ability, has died at the age of 32.

Chook became a YouTube star after he was filmed imitating the sounds of construction work, which he probably picked up as the zoo’s panda enclosure was being built in 2009. …

Chook had been at the zoo for 20 years, arriving from the Healesville Sanctuary.

Adelaide Zoo’s Brett Backhouse was Chook’s keeper for 11 years and says 32 is a good age for a lyrebird. …

“He was hand raised so he was quite human habituated. That sort of gave him some special abilities as well. He was a lot braver with humans because he was so used to them. …

“It’s part of their courtship that they perform. Ones out in the wild in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland will mimic whatever they can find and they use it to attract a female and sort of show how clever they are,” Mr Backhouse said.

“We’re still getting used to the fact that the aviary’s very, very quiet.”

I wish I could imitate noises that well. I’d park myself outside Laura Bush’s bedroom window and make car accident noises.

Oh, and just in case you missed it, Mr Levenson has another Balloon Jobs thread going on down below the simultaneous Jesus posts.

Lemurs on Newt

Anne Laurie has already mentioned the Pets on Newt 2012 (#maynotbeitsactualname) website.

You may not know it is now up and running. I stumbled upon it today and need to share it with you, because I am a vengeful old cow. I will excerpt the relevant parts, for those of you who don’t want to give Newt the hits.

The very first thing you see is this:


If someone could tell me what species of lemurs those are on Newt, I’d be delighted. I couldn’t find the information on his website, presumably because latinate binomial nomenclature is the work of Satan and his helper Darwin – although it may be because I have been in Amsterdam for three days. Draw your own conclusions about my mental state.

I could go to wikipedia to identify the furry little fuckers, but frankly I can’t be fucked.

I do feel sorry for the poor, adorable things. The one perched on Newt’s hand is clearly working out how to get the fuck off the Gingrich bandwagon as soon as possible, while the one on his shoulder has given up entirely and is refusing to do anything but show its arse to the world. Meanwhile, Newt (depending on what music you play in your head) looks either:

(a) terrified that the rat-thing he holds in his hand is going to piss on him, then claw its way up his arm and scratch his eyes out; or

(b) like Benny Hill eyeing off a particularly juggulous pair of boobs two seconds before being sprung by a policeman with an inflatable hammer, two half-naked nurses with blond bobs and a man in a polar bear suit. Wackiness ensues.

You are going to have to draw your own analogies with the Gingrich campaign. See above, in re “can’t be fucked”. Read more

Open Thread: Darth Cheney, Fictioneer

(Jim Morin via

Conor Friedersdorf at the Atlantic has a pretty good thumbnail summary Remembering Why Americans Loathe Dick Cheney: the Iraq war, torture, Halliburton, Ahmed Chalabi, unlimited detention of the innocent, his radical view of executive power, etc. Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, sniffs about Cheney’s “cheap shots”:

“I think he’s just trying to, one, assert himself so he’s not in some subsequent time period tried for war crimes and, second, so that he somehow vindicates himself because he feels like he needs vindication. That in itself tells you something about him,” Wilkerson told ABC News, explaining that Cheney may have “angst” because of receiving deferments instead of serving in the Vietnam War like Wilkerson and others in the administration.
“He’s developed an angst and almost a protective cover, and now he fears being tried as a war criminal so he uses such terminology as ‘exploding heads all over Washington’ because that’s the way someone who’s decided he’s not going to be prosecuted acts: boldly, let’s get out in front of everybody, let’s act like we are not concerned and so forth when in fact they are covering up their own fear that somebody will Pinochet him,” Wilkerson said alluding to the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who was arrested for war crimes.

But IMO the most significant review so far is Dahlia Lithwick at Slate dissecting Cheney Getting Away With Torture:

This week Dick Cheney invites us all to join him again in a game he likes to play against the rest of us called Tedious Torture Standoff. He continues to assert—this time in his memoir, In My Time—that he has “no regrets” about developing the U.S. torture program, and he continues to argue—as he did this morning on the Today Show—that torturing prisoners is “safe, legal, and effective.” He continues to assert that he would “strongly support” water-boarding if actionable information could be elicited from a prisoner. He even says that different standards apply to torturing Americans and foreigners. Cheney is trying, in short, to draw us back into the same tiresome debate over the efficacy of torture, which is about as compelling as a debate about the efficacy of slavery or Jim Crow laws. Only fools debate whether patently illegal programs “work”—only fools or those who have been legally implicated in designing the programs in the first place…
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Laugh, clowns, at your broken loves

I can see your house from up here...

I don’t often visit the New York Times website.

There is far too much risk that I might accidentally be exposed to something written by David Brooks, at which point I would have to poke out my own eyes with a pair of chopsticks to save my sanity. At 92, I need to hang on to as many of my senses as I have left. As I noted on a thread the other day, when I was younger and had fortified myself with a good dose of anti-psychotics, I once tried writing a detailed critique of one of Brooks’ articles, only to end up with a page with the words “David Brooks is a dickhead” scribbled one hundred times.* Ever since then, I have limited myself to writing nasty stories about him being humiliated by old ladies and then posting links to them on his Facebook Wall.

Anyway, yesterday evening I was searching for shirtless photos of Aaron Schock – I know it’s wrong, but I have a weakness for men who look like they’d cry for their mommy during sex – and must have clicked on the wrong link.

On its Room for Debate page, to which Mistermix has already referred, the Times has collected together a team of crack political analysts (assuming that by “crack” one means the wide space between the top of a plumber’s shorts and the bottom of his shirt) to debate the question “Who’s Missing From the G.O.P. Race?“.

Surprisingly, the answer is apparently not “Everyone with an IQ over 4 and Sarah Palin”.
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