Bush Dynasty 1980-2016

3 Bushes Fade

As weekend readers may recall, the mister and I just returned from a mini-vacation, so I was out of the loop on all the primary stuff. It was a nice break, honestly. But we did raise a glass to the implosion of the Bush dynasty Saturday night when we saw the primary results on a Fox News crawler at the rustic honky-tonk we were visiting. (Quietly, since our fellow revelers were decidedly of the Republican persuasion and almost certainly armed, though I suspect they were among the Trumpenproletariat.)

You can quibble with when the Bush Dynasty actually started. You could make the argument that it ended on President Obama’s first inauguration day, when a jeering crowd sang, “hey, hey, hey, goodbye!” as GWB boarded Marine One for the last time.

But we suspected The Smart One was lurking in the wings, and so he was. That wretched clan of entitled psychos has dominated politics since I was in high school. And now The Smart One has been roundly rejected by wingnuts in the most humiliating manner possible.

And yeah, I know there are Bush spawn rising up through state politics even now, but let us savor this moment and hope their toxic surname forces them to adopt their mother’s family name or give up on national politics. Ding dong, etc.

Open thread!



Problem from Hell, Again

Like many Americans who recall watching in disbelief as the Bush administration cobbled together half-truths and wove a web of bizarro-world lies to con the US and its allies into the ruinous war in Iraq, my first impulse when I read reports of hideous atrocities or urgent security threats is to wonder who is being served by their publication.

Now there are these horror stories coming out of Iraq about ISIS fanatics placing heads on pikes, executing children and contemplating genocide, if you believe the reports, which seem pretty credible and come from diverse sources. Via the NYT:

WASHINGTON — President Obama is considering airstrikes or airdrops of food and medicine to address a humanitarian crisis among as many as 40,000 religious minorities in Iraq who have been dying of heat and thirst on a mountaintop after death threats from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, administration officials said on Thursday.

The president, in meetings with his national security team at the White House on Thursday morning, has been weighing a series of options ranging from dropping humanitarian supplies on Mount Sinjar to military strikes on the fighters from ISIS now at the base of the mountain, a senior administration official said.

“There could be a humanitarian catastrophe there,” a second administration official said, adding that a decision from Mr. Obama was expected “imminently — this could be a fast-moving train.”

Samantha Power rightly called the question of stopping genocide as “a problem from hell.” There really are evil motherfuckers in the world who travel in packs, and the decision on whether to intervene militarily when people are dying en masse should not be taken lightly. Obama certainly ain’t Bush; I don’t believe for a second he’s trying to trump up some bullshit reason to reinvade that country.

But I say let’s drop MREs instead of JDAMs (and hope ISIS isn’t able to shoot our cargo planes down with the US-made anti-aircraft guns they’ve captured from the fleeing Iraqi Army). If someone needs to go in and bomb what truly sounds like a horde of bloodthirsty barbarians, let it be those whom the brutes primarily threaten, i.e., the states in that region we’ve spent the last 70 or so years arming.

Is that unrealistic given the religious implications, i.e., Sunni vs Shia, extremists vs. moderates, etc.? Beats the fuck outta me. But while America not only broke the vase in the Mesopotamian Pottery Barn but leveled the whole goddamn building and set the rubble on fire 11 years ago, we don’t own it, not anymore.

How can we give anyone in that region so much as a firecracker at this point and not expect it to blow up in our faces? As horrifying as what’s happening now is, it just seems insane to me for us to start meddling again — at least militarily. What do you think?



Armageddon REALLY Sick of the Bush Family

Our accidental president, unfettered by office or responsibility, can now let his fundy freak flag fly:

According to a report from Sarah Posner in Mother Jones, George W. Bush is scheduled to give the keynote address at an upcoming fundraiser for the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute, an organization devoted to converting Jews to Christianity in order to bring about the second coming of Christ.

Piero_della_Francesca_-_6._Torture_of_the_Jew_-_WGA17528

Speaking as an aging Bar-Mitzvah-boy-card-carrying-atheist-Jew, I am not going to indulge in profanity, hyperbolic insult, or the ridicule and public shaming that should attend any such gob-smackingly  awesome arrogance and ignorance.  I’ll simply invite the man who is currently to be found in position one, two, or three on the Worst President Ever tables to kindly self-copulate with an oxidized farm implement.

I’ll add just this.  You can tell a great deal about someone from the company he keeps:

Bush will follow last year’s keynote speaker, Glenn Beck.

Well — one more thing.  Glenn Beck?  F**k him too.  Or rather — when the need arises, may he be attended by urologists who failed mohel class.

And (“Our weapons are…Three!) really the last one. I can’t leave this story without noting that the grift is strong on this one.  Hearing the man Charles Pierce has forever dubbed our C+ Augustus speak will set the rubes back from a C-note to $100,000.  That’s a lot of simoleons, enough so that I am inevitably reminded of my co-religionist Jesus’s almost Elizabeth-Warren-like view of the banksters.  But I suppose I just lack that necessary faith that would turn handing over that kind of cash to those kinds of people.

(PS — our weapons are 4! — how’s that “why don’t Jews vote Republican” inquiry going, guys?)

Image:  Piero della Francesca, The Torture of the Jew between 1452 and 1466



I’m not seeing them as underdogs, but it’s entirely possible I lost my place in the test booklet

I’m temperamentally inclined to resist sales pitches that are based on fear. Every time I hear one I think of those home alarm commercials where the frantic women sees the masked intruder crashing through the sliding door. They’re not selling the alarm system. They’re selling fear. They lose me when they choose that approach. The longer I read on the school reform industry-marketing end the more I believe they’re not selling “reform” substantively, to the public, anyway. They’re selling fear that they hope will drive their version of “reform.” Because I have been alive and had a pulse the last 20 years I’m particularly wary of fear-based political appeals that spring from a “bipartisan consensus” because all that really means is a bipartisan group of politicians, think tank, elite non-profits and opinion media people have reached consensus, and what that means to me is there are very few dissenters in the top ranks.

Whether it’s system-wide in Atlanta or DC or Chicago or all the way down to the individual level, where certain anxious fourth graders are taking a high stakes test where they didn’t review the material and they aren’t given enough time to complete the test, fear seems to permeate the whole reform approach. Here’s some political schemers of various stripes and motives who are hoping for low scores on a test that is essentially rigged to produce low scores so they can sell reform in the suburbs. Do they sound like people who are confident in the value of the product? Why would they need to create failed and failing public schools full of failures to sell market-based reform to people in the suburbs? Why not just sell their “sector agnostic” approach to public education– where a public school is the same as a publicly funded for-profit or private school-directly?

While kids are taking their standardized tests some very well compensated reformers are back out on the road, selling reform, or something. This is the message of a reformer who is a particular favorite of Arne Duncan:

Educators make excuses for failing schools, Rhee said. But, she added, “The bottom line is: The system did not become the way that it is by accident. It operates exactly the way it was designed to operate, which is in a wholly unaccountable, dysfunctional manner.
“So when you seek to change that dynamic” – including going after “low-performing” teachers – “you’re gonna have a whole lot of unhappy people on your hands. When you stop that gravy train, somebody is going to be unhappy.”

What is that? What are these awesome, mighty forces that are opposing her? It seems to me she has nearly every powerful political actor and billionaire behind her, including the person who did or did not invent Facebook. How much cheering affirmation does she need? Isn’t South Carolina a Right To Work For Less state, anyway? South Carolina isn’t known for worker protections, reformers. Maybe she didn’t know where she had landed that day, because there’s also this:

Former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee had trouble recalling the names of South Carolina’s “key players” after a quick visit to the State House on Wednesday. But state lawmakers may want to take note of hers.
Rhee’s education advocacy group, StudentsFirst, is lobbying in 18 states, including South Carolina.

Eighteen states! No wonder she can’t keep the “key players” straight. That’s all right. She’ll get it when she writes them a campaign check. The Committee To Elect Reform Rubberstamper probably won’t cut it. Why would the US Department of Education back this stuff, to the extent where Duncan personally intervened to try to save this particular reformer’s job in DC?

I’m the parent of a public school student and I don’t believe our local public school employees are “riding a gravy train.” I know what public school teachers are doing here right now, in fact. They’re prepping for Duncan’s standardized tests. I thought 2011 was the year for the ritual denunciation of public employees, and now we’re back to thanking teachers and firefighters “for their service” after Newtown and then Boston, whatever that means. I hope it doesn’t mean they have to be unpaid volunteers or they’re self-interested and not credible. Why doesn’t that rule apply to lobbyists? I’m not a teacher, but it seems to me they’ve set this up so there’s no way for those teachers who don’t agree with them to question what reformers are doing in our schools without their being labeled wholly self-interested slackers. I’m not a teacher so it also won’t bother me or shut me up (obviously) but why all the threats and grim fear-mongering? There’s nothing new or “transformational” about that. It’s an old, old idea.



Open Thread

Eating some pork and sauerkraut and watching the Rose Bowl. Kind of curious about the Orange Bowl and how Northern Illinois will hold up against FSU.

Latest news on the fiscal cliff, according to C-Span, is that there are not 218 votes for an amended bill, and they are currently in recess and may bring the Senate bill to the floor for an up or down vote. On a side note, I died a little on the inside when the C-Span announcer quoted a Luke Russert tweet.



Junior Pumpkinhead

Alex Pareene dismantles Luke Russert:

Tim Russert was not the unalloyed saint of tough journalism that his celebrators describe in posthumous tributes, but he was at least a classic American success story, of the sort that we still enjoy pretending is common: Blue-collar kid from Rust Belt town becomes enormously successful thanks largely to brains and hard work. The story of Luke Russert, alas, is a much more common one in American life: No-account kid of successful person has more success thrust upon him.

Pretty much immediately upon the death of his father, Luke Russert inexplicably had a full-time broadcasting job, supplanting his part-time broadcasting job co-hosting a satellite radio sports talk show with James Carville. (That was a real thing that actually existed. Can you imagine a human who would want to listen to that?)

The whole thing is a delight.



Our Awesome Meritocracy

Just fucking shoot me:

NBC is to announce on Monday morning that it has hired Chelsea Clinton to become a full-time special correspondent for NBC News.

The appointment is immediate. Ms. Clinton will show up at the news division offices oon Monday morning, said Steve Capus, president of NBC News, and will begin work on stories that NBC expects to use as part of its “Making a Difference” series, which runs on “NBC Nightly News.”

Ms. Clinton has been a national figure since her father won the presidency in 1992, but she has remained — first by her parents’ request and then by her own choice — largely out of the public eye.

Mr. Capus said an intermediary contacted him in July with word that “she was kicking around what she wanted to do next.”

Mr. Capus said he had met with Ms. Clinton and had a long conversation that began with a simple question. “I asked her: ‘What are you interested in doing?’ ”

Ms. Clinton told him, he said, that during her mother’s campaign for president in 2008, she had been moved by stories of people making personal contributions.

“What we talked about was if she were to come on board that’s the kind of thing she would be interested in doing. We knew she wasn’t going to do the lead story. But having somebody who was going to do really captivating feature assignments for the ‘Making a Difference’ franchise really kind of synced up,” Mr. Capus said.

Maybe she can do a roundtable debate show with Luke Russert and Meghan McCain as the other panelists.

All I have to say is I hope I am dead before the Trig Palin Power Hour Comes to Fox News.