Worse than Worthless (alternate working title- “OWW MY BALLS”)

mitch-mcconnell-turtle-man

These guys:

The Senate’s top Republican Thursday warned that legislation enacted over President Barack Obama’s veto to allow families of Sept. 11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts may have “unintended ramifications” and that lawmakers should discuss fixes to the measure.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the White House was too slow to warn about the “potential consequences” of the measure. Both the House and Senate overwhelmingly overrode Obama’s veto of the measure on Wednesday.

McConnell said he told the president recently that the 9/11 victims bill “was an example of an issue that we should have talked about much earlier.”

***

“Everybody was aware of who the potential beneficiaries were but nobody really had focused on the downside in terms of our international relationships,” McConnell said.

McConnell said that the dynamic involving the bill — in which it barreled through both chambers before and proved unstoppable — was what happens when there is “failure to communicate early about the potential consequences of a piece of legislation that was obviously very popular.

It’s almost like he doesn’t know it’s his fucking job in the Senate to write bills and schedule debate to “talk about” and discuss “potential consequences.” Beyond that, it’s not like it was super hard to predict there would be consequences. In fact, a certain injury prone D-list blogger with an ice cream fetish and an animal hoarding problem thought of them pretty quick:

Also, there’s a particular somebody, gosh, what’s his name- Soetero something or other- WHO FUCKING VETOED THE GOD DAMNED BILL:

Congressional leaders plan to hold override votes in the coming days and supporters of the legislation say they are confident they can succeed in overturning the president’s action. It would be the first time during Obama’s presidency that Congress has overridden a veto.

The legislation would allow U.S. courts to waive claims to foreign sovereign immunity in cases involving terrorism on U.S. soil. The administration contends that this would break a longstanding practice that sovereign nations are protected from these types of legal threats. The result, according to the White House, is that American officials could now be sued in foreign courts over U.S. military or diplomatic actions abroad, which administration officials said poses a threat to national security.

“I recognize that there is nothing that could ever erase the grief the 9/11 families have endured. My Administration therefore remains resolute in its commitment to assist these families in their pursuit of justice and do whatever we can to prevent another attack in the United States,” the president wrote in his veto message to Congress. “Enacting [this legislation] into law, however, would neither protect Americans from terrorist attacks nor improve the effectiveness of our response to such attacks.”

You were literally planning to hold an override vote without holding any debate as he was telling you about the fucking unintended consequences, YOU STUPID CONFEDERATE HUMPING RETROGRADE IGNORAMUS.

If the media let these guys get away with this or try to pin this on Obama, they are as bad as McConnell.



This Should Scare the Ever Loving Shit Out of You

Look what it is out just in time to maybe save us all:

The NY Times has a handy review:

Mr. Ullrich, like other biographers, provides vivid insight into some factors that helped turn a “Munich rabble-rouser” — regarded by many as a self-obsessed “clown” with a strangely “scattershot, impulsive style” — into “the lord and master of the German Reich.”

Do say. Sounds familiar. Let’s explore some more:

Hitler was often described as an egomaniac who “only loved himself” — a narcissist with a taste for self-dramatization and what Mr. Ullrich calls a “characteristic fondness for superlatives.” His manic speeches and penchant for taking all-or-nothing risks raised questions about his capacity for self-control, even his sanity. But Mr. Ullrich underscores Hitler’s shrewdness as a politician — with a “keen eye for the strengths and weaknesses of other people” and an ability to “instantaneously analyze and exploit situations.”

Link: mendacity

***

Hrmm. Ok. What else:

Hitler was known, among colleagues, for a “bottomless mendacity” that would later be magnified by a slick propaganda machine that used the latest technology (radio, gramophone records, film) to spread his message. A former finance minister wrote that Hitler “was so thoroughly untruthful that he could no longer recognize the difference between lies and truth” and editors of one edition of “Mein Kampf” described it as a “swamp of lies, distortions, innuendoes, half-truths and real facts.”

Link: goebbels

Link: trolls

***

Ok, ok. Two for two. No need to panic, right:

Hitler was an effective orator and actor, Mr. Ullrich reminds readers, adept at assuming various masks and feeding off the energy of his audiences. Although he concealed his anti-Semitism beneath a “mask of moderation” when trying to win the support of the socially liberal middle classes, he specialized in big, theatrical rallies staged with spectacular elements borrowed from the circus. Here, “Hitler adapted the content of his speeches to suit the tastes of his lower-middle-class, nationalist-conservative, ethnic-chauvinist and anti-Semitic listeners,” Mr. Ullrich writes. He peppered his speeches with coarse phrases and put-downs of hecklers. Even as he fomented chaos by playing to crowds’ fears and resentments, he offered himself as the visionary leader who could restore law and order.

Link: elites

***

I sense a trend:

Hitler increasingly presented himself in messianic terms, promising “to lead Germany to a new era of national greatness,” though he was typically vague about his actual plans. He often harked back to a golden age for the country, Mr. Ullrich says, the better “to paint the present day in hues that were all the darker. Everywhere you looked now, there was only decline and decay.”

americagreatagain

Link: ialone

redstate:

***

A terrifying trend:

Hitler’s repertoire of topics, Mr. Ullrich notes, was limited, and reading his speeches in retrospect, “it seems amazing that he attracted larger and larger audiences” with “repeated mantralike phrases” consisting largely of “accusations, vows of revenge and promises for the future.” But Hitler virtually wrote the modern playbook on demagoguery, arguing in “Mein Kampf” that propaganda must appeal to the emotions — not the reasoning powers — of the crowd. Its “purely intellectual level,” Hitler said, “will have to be that of the lowest mental common denominator among the public it is desired to reach.” Because the understanding of the masses “is feeble,” he went on, effective propaganda needed to be boiled down to a few slogans that should be “persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward.

Link: repeat

Link: 3rdgrade

Link: rhetoric

***

This is legit scary now:

Hitler’s rise was not inevitable, in Mr. Ullrich’s opinion. There were numerous points at which his ascent might have been derailed, he contends; even as late as January 1933, “it would have been eminently possible to prevent his nomination as Reich chancellor.” He benefited from a “constellation of crises that he was able to exploit cleverly and unscrupulously” — in addition to economic woes and unemployment, there was an “erosion of the political center” and a growing resentment of the elites. The unwillingness of Germany’s political parties to compromise had contributed to a perception of government dysfunction, Mr. Ullrich suggests, and the belief of Hitler supporters that the country needed “a man of iron” who could shake things up. “Why not give the National Socialists a chance?” a prominent banker said of the Nazis. “They seem pretty gutsy to me.”

cockblocked

Link: garland

***

Sweet Meteor of Death:

Hitler’s ascension was aided and abetted by the naïveté of domestic adversaries who failed to appreciate his ruthlessness and tenacity, and by foreign statesmen who believed they could control his aggression. Early on, revulsion at Hitler’s style and appearance, Mr. Ullrich writes, led some critics to underestimate the man and his popularity, while others dismissed him as a celebrity, a repellent but fascinating “evening’s entertainment.” Politicians, for their part, suffered from the delusion that the dominance of traditional conservatives in the cabinet would neutralize the threat of Nazi abuse of power and “fence Hitler in.” “As far as Hitler’s long-term wishes were concerned,” Mr. Ullrich observes, “his conservative coalition partners believed either that he was not serious or that they could exert a moderating influence on him. In any case, they were severely mistaken.

Link: stein

***

Go ahead and reach for the bottle, people, if you haven’t already:

Hitler had a dark, Darwinian view of the world. And he would not only become, in Mr. Ullrich’s words, “a mouthpiece of the cultural pessimism” growing in right-wing circles in the Weimar Republic, but also the avatar of what Thomas Mann identified as a turning away from reason and the fundamental principles of a civil society — namely, “liberty, equality, education, optimism and belief in progress.”

Link: losers

Link: winninginbusiness

***

The next time someone tells you that Hillary and Trump are both equally bad, or that Trump is no Hitler, tell them to shut the fuck up and get the fuck out of your face because you don’t have time for their stupidity and ignorance. You’re going to be out participating in events to get Hillary elected.

*** Update ***

I guess we can throw eugenics into the pile:



Hillary Preparedness Guide

hillary-preparedness-guide

Because Chuck Todd is a tool and Balloon-Juice commenters rock, here is my version of the Hillary Preparedness guide.

H/T to Corner Stone, Punchy and to Wapiti for the list.

 



A sigh is just a sigh

This tweet that Anne Laurie found was right on the money:

I believe that one of the reasons the 2000 race was so close — instead of being the blow-out it should have been — was the media fixation on Al Gore’s sighs in the first debate. Not to get all Bob Somerby on your asses, but all that bullshit about how Al Gore was the nerdy hall monitor and W was the likable jock…that bullshit is the reason W became president. Thus it’s the reason for the Iraq War and at least 5 or 6 trillion extra in debt.

All that bullshit is starting to happen again in this election.. So if anybody tells you that Hillary shouldn’t have glared at Trump or raised her voice or whatever in tonight’s debate, tell them to go fuck themselves.

Update. THIS (h/t Jim)



Mercy, you know you signed on that dotted line

Yes, but Hillary used inappropriate emoji in one of her emails:

The allegations of a quid pro quo between Trump and Florida Attorney General, improper use of the charity for personal benefit, and employment of the charity for political purposes have serious penalties beyond mere campaign optics—the possible consequences range from hefty fines to jail time.

[….]

“This reaches above a distraction for them due to the legal implications of it and long litigation possibility,” a former senior aide to Trump said. “Look, Donald signed those checks… he’s on there. He’s liable.”



Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels

I wanted to revisit that awful Liz Spayd column that led me to cancel my New York Times subscription. We all make fun of “both sides do it”, but most BSDI types believe that both sides are in fact doing it, and that’s why they should keep saying “both sides do it” over and over again. That’s quite different from believing that you should say “both sides do it” over and over again on general principle. Liz Spayd is saying that both candidates should be criticized equally regardless of what the facts are. For example, she writes:

CNN’s Brian Stelter focused his show, “Reliable Sources,” on this subject last weekend. He asked a guest, Jacob Weisberg of Slate magazine, to frame the idea of false balance. Weisberg used an analogy, saying journalists are accustomed to covering candidates who may be apples and oranges, but at least are still both fruits. In Trump, he said, we have not fruit but rancid meat. That sounds like a partisan’s explanation passed off as a factual judgment.

In the absence of any facts (she mentions hardly any in the piece), how can she say that it’s a partisan’s explanation rather than a factual judgment? There is factual reason to believe that Trump is a puppet of Vladimir Putin. If Mitt Romney is an apple and Obama is an orange, then, yes, rancid meat is the right comparison for a puppet of Vladimir Putin.

And let’s take a step back here and notice that Jacob Weisberg, one of the most mealy-mouthed, centrist, establishment pseudojournalists out there has now become an angry unserious uncivil hippie in the eyes of the New York Times? How the fuck did this happen?

There was a lot of discussion about the difference between derp and denial a while ago (see this, for example). The idea here is that derp is “yes, the earth may be getting warmer we can’t be sure of the causes, and we shouldn’t slow down our economy, and what about that fourteen year pause derp derp”. It’s Bjorn Lomborg, Breakthrough Institute, David Brooks type stuff. Denial is “global warming isn’t happening”. It’s Jim Inhofe stuff.

Spayd’s piece is denial, it doesn’t rise to the level of derp. She argues that false balance is not a problem and by definition cannot be a problem. Just “shine light in all directions”, that’s what journalists do! It doesn’t rise to the level of “yes, perhaps Trump’s issues are unusually bad and Hillary’s mostly minor but in the interests of letting our readers know as much as possible derp derp derp”.

It’s the rhetorical equivalent of bringing a snowball to the Senate floor to prove climate change is a hoax.

You can call 877-698-5635 to cancel your subscription.



Long Read: “Soul of A New (Political) Machine”

I am personally pro-machine, both out of filial piety (my Irish grandparents owed their livelihoods to Tammany Hall) and because the known alternatives are so much worse. Perhaps the concept is due for revival, as the retro vintage artisanal alternative to the kleptocrats of our Second Gilded Age? Are we sophisticated enough, technologically or socially, to harness the machines’ benefits without the corruption for which they were infamous?

Kevin Baker, in TNR — “Political machines were corrupt to the core–but they were also incredibly effective. If Democrats want to survive in the modern age, they need to take a page from their past”:

How is it possible for Democrats—seemingly the natural “majority party,” on the right side of every significant demographic trend—to suffer such catastrophic losses? Explanations abound, most of which revolve around the money advantage Republicans derived from the Citizens United decision. Or the hoary, self-congratulatory fable of how Democrats martyred themselves to goodness, forsaking the white working class forever because it passed the landmark civil rights bills of 1964 and 1965. Or how the party must move to the left, or the right, or someplace closer to the center—Peoria, maybe, or Pasadena.

But there’s a more likely explanation for these Democratic disasters. While 61.6 percent of all eligible voters went to the polls in the historic presidential year of 2008, only 40.9 percent bothered to get there in 2010, and just 36.4 percent showed up in 2014, the worst midterm showing since 1942. What the Democrats are missing is not substance, but a system to enact and enforce that substance: a professional, efficient political organization consistently capable of turning out the vote, every year, in every precinct.

What they lack is a machine.

New York’s Tammany Hall, the first, mightiest, and most feared of the political machines, went online on May 12, 1789—less than two weeks after George Washington took the oath as president in the same city…. [T]he man who turned Tammany into a full-fledged political machine never actually joined the society: that murky intriguer, Aaron Burr. By 1799, Alexander Hamilton and his Federalists held a virtual monopoly on banking in New York, frustrating smaller businessmen who wanted to start their own banks and “tontines”—investment companies that would not only make them money, but also get around property requirements that kept even most white men from qualifying for the franchise. Burr marched a bill through the state legislature that created the Manhattan Company, which promised to slake the island’s thirst for a dependable water supply. But Burr slipped a provision into the bill that allowed the company to invest any excess funds however it desired—which was the legislation’s main purpose all along.

The upshot was that the Manhattan Company laid down a lot of water pipes that were little more than hollowed-out logs. They leaked badly and absorbed sewage, thus contributing to the city’s constant, deadly epidemics of cholera and yellow fever. But Burr’s company used the money it made from the scheme to found the Manhattan Bank (later to become Chase Manhattan, later to become JPMorgan Chase). The Hamilton banking monopoly was thus broken, and new banks and tontines proliferated, allowing financial speculation to run wild, and untold numbers of middle and working-class New Yorkers to gain the franchise for the first time. In this one coup, Burr established the defining characteristics of political machines for all the years to come: They would be first and foremost about making money, no matter the cost to the general good; they would supply significant public works, no matter how shabbily or corruptly; and they would expand the boundaries of American democracy in the face of all attempts by conservatives or reformers to contain it…

… Republicans have always been, for better and for worse, the truly radical party in this country, from the abolitionists and Lincoln’s “Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men” platform, to Progressivism and Teddy Roosevelt’s “New Nationalism,” to the right-wing conservatism of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, to the Ayn Rand utopianism of Paul Ryan. By contrast, machines made Democrats—again, for better and for worse—the party of compromise and inclusion…

***********
By the 1960s, even the mightiest machines were grinding to a halt. The Tammany tiger finally ran out of lives in 1961, put down for good by a coalition of Greenwich Village rebels, whose ranks included Eleanor Roosevelt, Jane Jacobs, and Ed Koch. Even Daley’s notorious Chicago organization, the last one standing, was no longer a machine in the old sense, surviving only on a combination of ruthless efficiency and ethnic resentment. The turmoil at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago completely unhinged Daley, who was caught by the cameras screaming “you fucking kike!” at Senator Abe Ribicoff on the convention floor, a previously unimaginable violation of machine etiquette.

Its death, however, did not stop politicians from continuing to rage against the machine. The silliest example of all is the fervent Republican contention that Barack Obama brought “Chicago politics” into the White House, as if the president learned his trade at Dick Daley’s knee. What they really mean by “the machine” is whatever clique of state legislators or local pols have figured out some new means of boodling public funds or soliciting bribes. But that’s simple theft. Today our politicians don’t steal because the machine helps them, but because we have ceded them the entire political system—as reflected in our miserable voter turnouts.

So the machines died, their demise hastened by the sweeping social revolutions of the 1960s and ’70s, which made them look reactionary and ludicrous—pudgy gray men in gray suits and hats, holding back the future. Good riddance. But what was to replace them? For a short time, it was constituent groups: disparate organizations fighting for civil rights and liberties, environmental causes, the poor and the dispossessed, community empowerment, and above all labor, which provided the bulk of the party’s funding and its ground troops. But this new arrangement soon began to unravel as well. As Thomas Frank points out, “Big Labor” was viewed as suspiciously by the Democratic left as the machines were, scourged for its cultural conservatism and support for the Vietnam War, caricatured as hopelessly mobbed-up and resistant to progress…

With the traditional pillars of their party crumbling, the Democrats turned to that balm for all political wounds in America: big money. In the process, they further abandoned their traditional populism, as well as their appeals to working people—appeals that, however imperfectly, stretched all the way back to the start of the machines. And those few leaders in the party who weren’t pandering to corporate and financial interests began to think in idealistic terms that have nothing to do with “practical politics,” habits that prevail to this day. For many years now, liberal/left campaigns have rarely revolved around specific bills or policies, but instead around broader and more abstract demands: climate change, say, or racial equality. The Occupy and Black Lives Matter movements have proven to be balky, fitful vehicles for social change. They lack the ruthless practicality and organization of their right-wing counterparts. Occupy invented the human microphone. The Tea Party took Congress.

Democrats need a Tea Party—less delusional, less hell-bent on destruction—that can do what the machines did…

Baker argues — and I don’t think he’s wrong — that the oligarchs and kleptocrats have bankrolled the Republican “machine” because it’s been a good investment for them. If we’re going to compete with them, Democrats need an equivalent structure that can nuture activists starting at the lowest levels of government (school boards, county commissions). We’ve gotten into the habit of assuming that the “public service” of running for office will mostly be funded by the would-be office holders, which — barring corruption, or outside financial support — means relying on the independently wealthy or the voluntarily penurious. And while we have sometimes been extraordinarily lucky (as when a patrician like FDR or a once-in-a-generation leader like Barack Obama decides to compete) it’s demonstrably not working as a process to keep this messy nation on an even keel.