Gingrich's History Lesson

Another brilliant one from R.J. Matson.


The Tea Party's Sunday Funnies

Mr. Keefe spotted these really excellent Tea Bagifications of famous Sunday comics over at The Boston Globe.


The Pledge to White America

A reader over at Political Wire noticed something interesting about the visual aids in the GOP’s new “Pledge to America” literature:

I counted 42 photos with people in them, and in only two are there African-Americans — and they’re tiny specks in a much larger group, barely visible. There are maybe two identifiable people of Asian descent and no one who might be considered Latino. Basically almost all whites in the Pledge, hundreds of them, with barely any noticeable minorities. Most telling is the large auditorium featured on page 12 — a crowd of maybe 300 and only if you look hard toward the back do you see someone who might be African American.

Now, whether the Mk I Eyeball is really the best tool for determining descent or not, you have to admit, the population of Pledgeville is strikingly pasty.

Also, what terrible document design. Pixelated images, disgusting layout, insane typeface decisions. And don’t get me started on people who both indent and space between their paragraphs. Seriously, they paid someone for this.

(Image of the Cotton Bowl courtesy of the GOP)


The Good Life

Another knee slapper from Pat Bagley.


Stewart: O'Reilly No Longer a Factor 

So, there used to be this guy named Bill O’Reilly who got people like me all in a tizzy by saying outrageous things about Al Qaeda blowing up San Francisco and berating the children of 9/11 victims. He also had a fairly pronounced anger management problem. What ever happened to that guy?

Jon Stewart plays “Where Are They Now?” on “The O’Reilly Factor,” which is, oddly enough, still being produced (via Crooks and Liars).


Rove's Dotage

When I used to sit around dreaming up new circles of hell for Karl Rove, I never considered that one day he would simply grow irrelevant, or better yet, confused and appalled by the direction of his own party. Watching him call Christine O’Donnell “nutty,” and then be forced to go sit in the corner, it’s become clear that even Karl Rove is expendable in this new brand of militant nativism.

Karl used to be the dumbest and the cruelest kid on the block, and that meant something. That was his thing. Now it’s like every day, some new inarticulate moron gets in front of a camera and says things that even Karl can’t quite understand. It must be terrifying, and exhausting, and he deserves far worse.

Cartoon by Pat Bagley.


GOP Blocks Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

The Republican Party: Protecting America from people who just want to protect America.


Enthusiasm Gap

By Daryl Cagle, as astute an observer as ever there was.


Obama on the Tea Party

In essence, the president asks, “Where’s the beef?” but I doubt it will slow Sarah Palin’s roll. Who needs steak when your every asinine platitude sizzles with the intensity of a thousand mooseburgers?  The strength of a loose confederation of hooting lunatics like the Tea Party is that they don’t need a plan to give the appearance of reasoned opposition, and the midterm elections are likely to be a demonstration of just how vacuous a person can be and still obtain public office. So, just like any other election.

Still the president’s point about healthy skepticism is fair:

I think that America has a noble tradition of being healthily skeptical about government. That’s in our DNA, right? I mean, we came in because the folks over on the other side of the Atlantic had been oppressing folks without giving them representation. And so we’ve always had a healthy skepticism about government. And I think that’s a good thing.

I’m afraid, though, that his Colonial analogy plays right into the Tea Party’s hands. This new “Tea Party” bears as much resemblance to the Boston Tea Party as a bunch of rich, racist white men to…

Oh, I see.

Where I think the president might be giving the Tea Party a little too much credit is in saying that they’re simply “misidentifying who the culprits are here.” It assumes that the Tea Party cares who’s really to blame. The culprits were determined long before the financial crisis, long before this new “GOP for Dummies” approach started catching on. Was there ever any chance that a conservative movement wouldn’t demonize immigrants, non-whites, “the guvment,” trade unions, and people who can spell “Muslim” correctly? Was there ever any chance that a conservative movement would actually blame the wealthy for ransacking the economy and then doing their God-damnedest to make off with the scraps as well? Did the Tea Party really just do its math incorrectly, or are they perfectly cognizant that all this big government skepticism is just the same old GOP smokescreen with a new, improved aroma of hate and desperation?

The president took a step in the right direction today. The Tea Party deserves to be confronted, but let’s not buy into their inane self-promotion, let’s not let them control the terms of the debate. In fact, let’s take a page from Al D’Amato’s book (words I never thought I’d say) and just call this movement what it is.


O'Donnell's Witchcraft

You know, whether or not Christine O’Donnell might still be a practicing witch, trying to infiltrate the halls of power so she can bring the country down from within, or whether she just has the “seed of witchcraft” in her, and is therefore out of touch with mainstream America, I think the real question here is, “Has anyone seen her birth certificate?”

I have to admit, I really hate scandals like this because I spend so much time trying to figure out if someone is a moron or a liar, when the answer is invariably more complex, like “loron” or “miar.” Or “a Bush.”


Sex Position of the Week: Rape

This cartoon ran in the Friday edition of The Exponent, Purdue University’s student newspaper. Click on the image for a larger version if you can’t read the text.

Needless to say the author, and a large percentage of the readership, don’t see what’s wrong with this. It’s already causing a stir in circles that care about things like date rape, or feminism, or the fate of humanity. I’ll bet there’s going to be a retraction and an apology in Monday’s edition, but the tenor of the outrage will likely be chalked up to the sort of liberal political correctness FOX News warned us about. 

To me, the only thing funny about this comic is that once dudes 1 and 2 are convicted of felony sexual assault and sent to big boy prison, their cellmates are going to have a high old time pulling “The Prestige” on them.

Tah dah, indeed.

P.S. If you’re wondering about the “editor’s sexy note” mentioned at the end, trust me, you don’t want to read it. It will only piss you off more, and your day is already ruined.

P.P.S. Monday’s Exponent carried the following apology for printing a cartoon about rape.


D'Amato Calls Out "Racist Bullshit" on FOX

During a typical FOX News dog-pile on government services (where each panelist agrees that privatization will cure everything from lost socks to syphilis), GOP strategist Jack Burkman decided to just come out and say what he was really thinking, which is that black people aren’t worth a damn:

Most of these guys working in the Post Office should be driving cabs, and I think we should stop importing labor from Nigeria and Ethiopia. That’s the skill level. They’re only in there because of massive union protection.

Of course, he didn’t say, “Fuck colored people,” exactly, he performed the usual conservative gymnastics so that, at any given moment, it might sound like he was really just criticizing immigrants, labor unions, or the government as a whole. The only thing that surprises me about this kind of thinly-veiled racism is that the GOP is even bothering to put a veil on it anymore.

But Al D’Amato, who’s already given up any hope of earning the Tea Party’s affection, and who can remember a time when having a name like “D’Amato” would have kept you out of the country club, was having none of Burkman’s double talk:

You are a nasty racist… let me just tell you, that’s a bunch of bullshit, and you should be ashamed of yourself and have your mouth washed out… Shut up, I listened to your racist bullshit. It’s one thing to say that [the Postal Service] is hiring unskilled labor, that you can save money, that you can run it better, that it’s inefficient and ineffective. And I agree to all of those things, but for you to bring in this bullshit about “a bunch of Nigerians,” et cetera, that’s out of line, and you hurt the cause…

Bravo. All we need now is for the Blue Team to take a page from Al’s playbook and start calling out the Tea Party on their racist bullshit. In truth though, if they did, there would be little time to do any actual governing.


Robert Byrd and the Klan

Robert Byrd died Monday, and as he probably expected, his obituaries will all make reference to the fact that he was a member of the reorganized Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s. Most of us who follow politics were aware of this fact, but Byrd was a good Democrat who spoke out against the war and in favor of Barack Obama, so his time in the Klan was more baffling than troublesome. Most obits seem to mention this part of his life out of the fear that passing over it would be bad journalism, but they also imply that his record in recent years exonerates him.

Should we forgive Robert Byrd, then?

Make no mistake, we are all participants in the injustices, historical and ongoing, of our nation. We all benefit from racism and inequality in tangible and intangible ways. But some of us are more directly involved than others, and the KKK is one of those vanguard forces that continually expands the farthest reaches of American iniquity. We may all be guilty, but they are among the most guilty.

But the question of Robert Byrd’s forgiveness can’t be one of degrees. Robert Byrd can be forgiven by degrees, for all the good he did later in life. This is a question of absolutes, which is to say, a question without a compact answer. The question is not what good deeds he did or how many. The question is whether they matter at all.

In more concrete terms, the question is this: did Robert Byrd, by joining the klan at age 24, sign away in some indelible way his right to sit with the rest of us on the side of humanity that doesn’t string people up in trees, cut them in half with barbed wire, burn children alive in churches, and drag them from the backs of speeding trucks until their bodies disintegrate into their unrecognizable constituent parts?

I didn’t say this was going to be a fun one to read.

The fact is that we do not draw such a line in this country. Racism isn’t so much a stain as it is a passing fancy in the ledger of American sin. We like to imagine that we make firm distinctions, we may damn individual acts of racism and violence, but we allow the Klan to persist because we are afraid that the greater evil would be to round them all up, give them shovels, and settle things in a fashion that would seem oddly familiar to them, but that they would never expect.

There has never been a greater evil in this country than the one that the Klan embodies, the idea that white men are in some ineffable way better than everyone else, more deserving, more noble. Robert Byrd wrote in 1944:

Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.

Those are most certainly the words of an unrepentant Klansman. I can’t remember, do we forgive Klansmen in this country? Do we take their word for it when they say they’ve moved on? Byrd would later characterize this time in his life as youthful indiscretion, saying:

I know now I was wrong. Intolerance had no place in America. I apologized a thousand times… and I don’t mind apologizing over and over again. I can’t erase what happened.

How gracious.

If there is a God in heaven, then Robert Byrd will have nothing to fear from him, because Byrd’s God was likely a forgiving one. But there is no God, there are only the mistakes we make, and Robert Byrd spent a considerable part of his long life regretting and being embarrassed by his time in the Ku Klux Klan. Whether this punishment was the one he deserved is moot. It’s the only punishment Robert Byrd received, and the one we all finally judged acceptable by our silence.


Santorum Secedes from Hawaii

You know, it’s easy to forget how much you loathe Rick Santorum, and then he goes and says something like this:

Obama is detached from the American experience.  He just doesn’t identify with the average American because of his own background.  Indonesia and Hawaii.  His view is from the viewpoint of academics and the halls of the Ivy league schools that he went to and it’s not a love of this country and an understanding of the basic values and wants and desires of it’s people.  And as a result of that, he doesn’t connect with people at that level.

Now, barring the fact that Hawaii is, while quite distant from Pennsylvania, still a US state, I think this quote says more about Rick’s view of a homogenous, nativist America than it does about Obama’s character. Rick is also pretty famous for blaming the world’s ills on people with Ivy League educations, unless they happen to also be Republicans. Rick went to Penn State, a “Public Ivy,” so he technically get a pass on that one.

Ricky is currently mulling a presidential bid, which is why he’s spending so much quality time with the people of Iowa. Whatever. Rick’s biggest enemy is himself, and the only thing we need to do to guarantee his defeat is to keep him talking.


#65. Qapla'


The Making of "Restrepo"

I kind of got something in my eye while I was listening to this nine-minute NPR interview with Tim Hetherington, one of the filmmakers behind the Afghan War documentary, Restrepo. It won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize for best documentary, and it will be in theaters starting tomorrow. 


#64. Say Yes

With apologies to Tobias Wolff.


That's Leadership

Finally, some straight talk. (via PW)


Sarah Palin Has a Plan

And it’s about what you would expect:

Gulf disaster needs divine intervention as man’s efforts have been futile. Gulf lawmakers designate today Day of Prayer for solution/miracle

This was posted to her Twitter account, so one assumes that accounts for the, ahem, liberties she takes with syntax. As for the liberties she takes with sanity, let’s all just be thankful John McCain was a terrible, terrible presidential candidate, and a piss poor human being.

(painting by Zina Saunders)


Biden on Joe Barton

In case you missed it, the Vice President’s response to Joe Barton’s apology was somewhere in the vicinty of perfect. I love the way the press pool had to drag it out of him, too:

The reason why I got involved in politics, the reason why the president and I ran, the reason why the president got involved, is: The one primary role for government is to protect people who are being taken advantage of, protect people who are in extreme straits and are not able to take care of situations themselves. I have been down in the Bayou area off and on for the last 36 years. My daughter went down to Tulane, I think I know the area relatively well as an outsider.

There is an entire way of life in jeopardy. This is just not about jobs. This is just not about whether or not the water fowl is polluted, this is an entire way of life that is in jeopardy. And to sit there and say that we’re being in effect — as I understood the statement — that he was ashamed we’re being tough on the oil company that caused the problem…

Look, I just think that it’s pretty important to the people of Louisana all the way to Florida and even his own state of Texas that people disassociate themselves from that. That’s not the role…

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