curious things

Here’s a curious thing. Comrade Trump fired (by tweet, of course) Dan Coats, the Director of National Security, three days after Trump made his disastrous telephone call to newly-elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. You know, the call in which Trump leaned on Zelensky to reopen a closed investigation into Joe Biden’s son. The call that’s sparked the current impeachment crisis.

Coats didn’t have much relevant experience in intelligence when Trump selected him to be the DNI, but he was a decent, mostly thoughtful, establishment Republican. He wasn’t a Trump loyalist, though, so he was often in conflict with the president. He was the last member of the Trump administration to publicly disagree with the president. Clearly, he had to go. Although the timing is a tad suspicious.

Former Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats

Here’s another curious thing. The law clearly stated that in case of a vacancy at the DNI position, the Principle Deputy Director of National Intelligence would assume the role of acting DNI until the Senate could confirm a new DNI. This was because lawmakers felt it was critical for the president to have continuity in regard to national intelligence, as well as reasoned, experienced, expert advice. But the PDDNI was Susan Gordon.

Susan Gordon was a career intelligence officer — a true intelligence professional. She’d risen through the ranks from a CIA analyst to become the CIA’s Director of the Office of Advanced Analytic Tools (the cyber nerds), then the Deputy Director of the CIA, then Deputy Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, before taking the second seat as Deputy Director of National Intelligence. She wasn’t just the legal option for acting DNI, she was the best choice to become the permanent DNI.

Former Principle Deputy Director of National Intelligence, Susan Gordon

But the Trump team felt Susan Gordon wasn’t “sufficiently loyal” to Trump. They let it be known there was no place in the Trump administration for her. So she did the decent thing; she resigned on the same day as Director Coats. Three days after Trump’s call to Zelensky. Gordon wrote one of the shortest and most honest resignation letters ever.

Mr. President — I offer this letter as an act of respect & patriotism, not preference. You should have your team. Godspeed, Sue.

Who did Comrade Trump want to replace Coats and Gordon? Trump loyalist and Texas Republican John Ratcliffe, a two-term Congressman. Ratcliffe was best known for (and I swear I’m not making this up) 1) asserting the existence of a “secret society” within the Obama Department of Justice and the FBI devoted to preventing Comrade Trump from being elected and 2) claiming the Mueller Report was written by “Hillary Clinton’s de facto legal team.” In other words, Ratcliffe is a classic Republican from Texas fuckwit.

Current Nitwit and Conspiracy Theorist, John Ratcliffe (getting some serious side-eye from fellow Texas Republican Will Hurd)

Not surprisingly, Ratcliffe was so unqualified even Senate Republicans couldn’t support him. Five days after nominating him, Trump pulled the nomination.

The fact is, Comrade Trump doesn’t want intelligence experts. In fact, he doesn’t want any experts around him at all. He wants to be the expert. He wants others to defer to him and his judgment. He wants others to recognize his genius. Having people around him who are knowledgeable, who have expertise, makes him uncomfortable; they might correct him. And to a narcissist like Trump, that would be intolerable. That’s why the Department of National Intelligence lost both its director and deputy director on the same day. Three days after Trump made his call to Ukraine President Zelensky.

And that leads us to yet another curious thing. If you read the whistleblower’s complaint, it reads like it was written by an intelligence analyst. Or at least somebody familiar with intelligence memoranda. The format, the detail, the underlying evidence, the footnotes that support the narrative — it’s exactly how an analyst prepares a memorandum. Can we think of anybody with experience as an analyst, or who is familiar with such reports? Somebody who is a patriot and a professional, maybe even a career intelligence officer? Somebody who might be willing to be a whistleblower in order to throw light on a shady subject?

I’m just thinking out loud here.

EDITORIAL NOTE: I’m not saying either Coats or Gordon is the whistleblower. I’m just saying…you know…you never know. Is what I’m saying.

natural born fuckwit

Sweet Jeebus in the swampland, have seen this? Have you seen THIS? No? Then see it right now. Go on…watch it. Go on…I’ll wait.

Ted Fuckin’ Cruz, I declare. Okay, first, we don’t actually see him kill a duck. Oh sure, he’s out there in the woods, wearing camo face paint (on account of you don’t want to take any chances when going toe-to-toe with a duck), and toting a shotgun. And yeah, he’s out there with that lunatic Old Testament-looking motherfucker who could probably paralyze a mallard just by looking at it. But do we Ted Fuckin’ Cruz actually put a duck to death?

No, we do not. I think we can all agree that TFC would kill any number of ducks — with his bare hands and teeth, if need be — for the chance to park his portly ass in the Oval Office. But this commercial does not, with any conviction or credibility, demonstrate the man’s duck-killing prowess.

Does this disqualify him from becoming President of These United States? No, it does not. The U.S. Constitution does not require the president to be a master of venery. It does, though, require the president to be ‘a natural born citizen.’ That’s right, we’re talking Article II, Section 1, baby.

NaturalBornCitizenClause

Donald J. Trump, who may be the only person campaigning for the presidency who is more odious that Ted Fuckin’ Cruz, is making hay (not actual hay; metaphorical hay, although actual hay IS actually made — I mean, you’d think it was just grown, right? But no, there’s a multi-step process involved in the making of…never mind. Tangent.) over whether the fact that Cruz was born in Canada disqualifies him as a legitimate candidate.

Being a gigantic fuckwit disqualifies Ted Fuckin’ Cruz from being president, but that Canadian business? Not so much. The specific question may not have been officially adjudicated, but it’s almost universally accepted that a child born anywhere to a citizen of a recognized nation is automatically considered a citizen of that nation (and often, as was the case with TFC, a citizen of the nation in which the wee bugger was born).

The only reason this is an issue — the only reason — is because there are no Republicans saying “Oh c’mon, are you kidding me?” when the question of TFC’s citizenship is raised. Not one. On account of Ted Fuckin’ Cruz is pretty much hated by his colleagues (see that earlier reference to being a gigantic fuckwit).

Having spent his entire short Senatorial career buggering up the Senate has left TFC friendless. Ain’t nobody sticking up for him, even against the most absurd accusations delivered by the most absurd accuser.

Ted Fuckin' Cruz defends himself against The Giant Head of Trump.

Ted Fuckin’ Cruz defends himself against The Giant Head of Trump.

The ducks have come home to roost. I’d feel a bit sorry for the guy, except that he’s Ted Fuckin’ Cruz. He’s earned it.

louie gohmert — more testing is required

I sometimes forget about Louie Gohmert, the Republican Congressman from Ohmygodisthisguyfuckingstupid, Texas. At least I try to forget about him. I would sincerely like to forget about him. But then he opens his gob and makes word sounds that are so astonishingly stupid that it sucks intelligence right out of the air. As he begins to speak you can actually witness intelligence wither, turn crisp and dry, and crumble like charred bits of paper, to be blown away by the next passing breeze.

On this occasion, a few days ago, Gohmert was speaking at a forum of a college chapter of the Eagle Forum, a conservative ‘interest’ group formed by Phyllis Schlafly. Schlafly is Louie Gohmert’s intellectual equal. She has claimed sex education was like a Tupperware party for abortions. She once said sexual harassment wasn’t a problem for virtuous women. She’s mean-spirited, socially blind, vindictive, and petty. She could be Sarah Palin’s wicked godmother.

Phyllis Schlafly

Phyllis Schlafly – won’t catch her whoring at a Tupperware party, no sir.

But back to Gohmert. His topic at this forum was the Supreme Court of These United States and their role in marriage. And yeah, you’d think it would be a short speech. Something like this:

But no, this is Louie Gohmert, whose approach to public speaking is to say something stupid, then support it by saying something stupider. He suggested Supreme Court Justices Elana Kagan and Ruth Ginsburg ought to be impeached for participating in the landmark same-sex marriage case.

“I think they ought to be impeached, I think ought to be removed, and until Congress shows that we do have some say in the Constitution over the courts the abuses are just going to get worse.”

The abuse he’s talking about? Both Kagan and Ginsburg attended or participated in unholy same-sex marriages before making their ruling, which Gohmert apparently believes is evidence (or actual proof) that they weren’t basing their decision on the merits of the law. Or something. Although he didn’t actually say this, I can only assume Gohmert believes it was perfectly okay for the other seven judges to have participated in holy opposite-sex marriages before making their ruling because they were Jeebus-sanctified.

Does this make sense? No. Did it please his audience? Absolutely. But Louie Gohmert wasn’t just there to make his audience happy; he was there to make a case — to provide evidence to support his certainty that marriage equality was unnatural.

Louie Gohmert --this guy is actually a member of Congress, seriously.

Louie Gohmert –this guy is actually a member of Congress, seriously.

So Gohmert attempted science. He proposed an experiment. A thought experiment. I mean, Albert Einstein did thought experiments. He did them all the time, and he was just a Jew from Austria. Or Switzerland. Someplace foreign. So how hard could it be for a Republican from Texas?

“We could take four heterosexual couples, married, and put them on an island where they have everything they need to sustain life. Then take four all-male couples and put them on an island with all they need to sustain life, take four couples of women, married, and put them on an island, and let’s come back in 100 to 200 years and see which one nature says is the preferred marriage.”

There it is — the scientific method, filtered through the brain of Louie Gohmert. Apparently, by his reasoning, if we put four unmarried heterosexual couples on that island and came back after a couple hundred years, we’d find the skeletons of eight dead virgins.

The ancient Greeks used to believe the function of the brain was to cool the blood, and had nothing to do with the process of thinking. The scientific method strongly suggests they were wrong. Maybe more testing is required.

in which i praise a texas republican

I have on occasion frequently mocked Republicans from Texas. In my defense, that particular breed of Republican richly deserves mocking. If you have any spare mocking lying about, spend it on Republicans from Texas. You won’t find a more mock-worthy group of folks.

So I’m delighted to say that today I have nothing but praise for one specific Republican from Texas. I’m talking about former Texas State Representative Todd Smith of Euless (which, by the way, is also known as ‘Tree City USA’.and which, I’m reliably informed, ranks ninth in the percentage of same-sex couples among cities in Texas — two facts that are completely unrelated. Which is a good thing, otherwise Republicans in Texas would likely engage in radical deforestation).

Why am I praising Republican Todd Smith? I’m about to tell you. But first, let’s chat a bit about Jade Helm 15. If you aren’t familiar with Jade Helm, let me first assure you it’s NOT the name of a Marvel Comics superhero. It’s actually a U.S. military training exercise scheduled to take place over a couple of months this summer. Similar exercises have been run in the United States for decades. But we live in Lunatic Times, which means there are a LOT of really stupid, paranoid people (almost all of whom belong to one or another febrile subset of the Republican party) who see Jade Helm as a strategy by our Muslim Kenyan president to…well, the true purpose of Jade Helm depends on which conspiracy theory you prefer to see revealed in ALL CAPS!!!

Here are some of the favorite theories. Jade Helm is a plot to: 1) Give Texas back to Mexico, 2) Impose martial law on…somebody, probably Texans, but can you trust Obama to stop there?, 3) Allow Baraq Hussein Obama to seize control of the entire nation, cancel the presidential elections, and declare him Dictator For Life, 4) Disarm patriotic, freedom-loving gun-owning white Christian patriots and intern them in FEMA camps, 5) Prepare a staging area in the American Southwest for Chinese troops to invade across the Mexican border, 6) Same scenario, only with Russian troops who’ve been arming Mexican drug cartels, 7) Same scenario, only with drug cartels and Islamic terrorists who have been training together for months in Juarez, 8) Same scenario again, only with United Nations peacekeeper troops.

caption maybe

The Russian Gambit — Jade Helm Variation

The evidence for these plots? Somebody spoke to a guy who is a former SEAL who says he saw a train with cattle cars fitted out with shackles. This completely reliable information can only mean the government is going to arrest Christian patriots and haul them to indoctrination camps. Also, Wal-Mart has closed several stores because of “plumbing problems”. Obviously this is a ruse. In reality, those stores are being converted into food distribution centers to feed the invading Chinese/Russian/drug cartel/ISIS/United Nations invasion troops. Also too, the US military has announced its intentions to operate this so-called “exercise” as a means of pacifying resistance, and they’ve asked permission from both State and County governments to conduct the exercise in their territory — and that’s completely fucking suspicious. Also too plus in addition, when asked about Jade Helm, military spokesmen claim it’s just a harmless exercise — and they are liars, because it’s perfectly clear that:

For years now, our veterans, Christians, patriots, gun owners, constitutionalists, pro-life advocates, small government supporters, small businesses, real journalists in the press, anti-corruption activists, anti-UN Agenda 21 advocates, anti-global warming supporters, anti-war patriots, anti-criminal immigration supporters, have all been targeted by this administration as enemies of the United States, even within government documents. Are we supposed to trust that they have pure intentions now?

Clearly, the people who believe any of these theories — or even spend a moment seriously considering them — are totally fucking nuts. Or suffering from some sort of terminal prion disease. Or both.

Infected with Jade Helmism

Gov. Abbott desperately trying to save Tinkerbelle

One of those people is Greg Abbott. A lot of folks confuse Greg Abbott with Bud Abbott. Easy mistake to make. Bud Abbott was the chubby putz who was half of the classic comedy team of Abbott and Costello. Greg Abbot is the putz who is the newly elected Governor of Texas. Gov. Abbott, concerned for the “safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties” of Texans, ordered the Texas State Guard to monitor the military exercise.

And that finally brings me to Todd Smith. Smith served 16 years in the Texas legislature. He’s a solidly conservative Republican. And he just wrote the best goddamned letter to Greg Abbott. Granted, Smith’s prose is a tad convoluted, but it’s the thought that counts, right? I’m going to print the letter in its entirety. It’s that good.

Dear Governor Abbott,

Let me apologize in advance that your letter pandering to idiots who believe that US navy Seals and other US military personnel are somehow a threat to be watched has left me livid. As a 16 year Republican member of the Texas House and a patriotic AMERICAN, I am horrified that I have to choose between the possibility that my Governor actually believes this stuff and the possibility that my Governor doesn’t have the backbone to stand up to those who do. I’m not sure which is worse. As one of the remaining Republicans who actually believes in making decisions based on facts and evidence — you used to be a judge? — I am appalled that you would give credence to the nonsense mouthed by those who instead make decisions based on internet or radio chock jock driven hysteria. Is there ANYBODY who is going to stand up to this radical nonsense that is cancer on our State and Party? It is alarming that our State Republican leadership is such that we must choose between DEGREES of demagoguery. I know that in many cases you are the better of the two demagogues (see the Lieutenant Governor driven nut job rant regarding your Pre-K program as a recent example). Having been there, I also know that politicians are not always able to speak their mind because they represent large groups of people and not just themselves. But this bone that you have thrown to those who believe that the US Military is a threat to the State of Texas is an embarrassing distance beyond the pale. You are Governor of Texas! This is an open request–from a ghost of our State’s recent Republican past–that you act like it. Enough is enough. You have embarrassed and disappointed all Texans who are informed, patriotic Americans. And it is important to rational governance that thinking Republicans call you out on it.

And he signs it sincerely. How great is that? Pretty great, is how great.

I’m confident I’d have some serious ideological and political (and grammatical) differences with Todd Smith, but at long last there’s a Republican (and one from Texas) who is calling bullshit on these lunatics and the Fuckwit Collective politicians who pander to them.

Yay for Todd Smith.

huckster

The term comes from the Middle Dutch word hoken, which referred to an itinerant peddler. You know, somebody who traveled from village to village, hawking (which also comes from hoken, by the way) his wares. Inexpensive pots and pans, jugs and jars, knives and scissors. Cheap goods that needed replacing or repair with some frequency.

By the middle of the 19th century, huckster had taken on an offensive connotation through much of the world. Hucksters were considered to be a low form of swindler, people who relied on the gullibility, greed, naïveté, prejudice, vanity, pride, and dishonesty of their customers to sell them a product of low quality — or one that didn’t work at all. A snake oil salesman.

snake oil

Which brings us to Senator Ted Cruz. Unlike many Republican politicians from Texas, Cruz isn’t stupid. I mean, when Congressman Louie Gohmert argues against providing US funds to China to help preserve the habitat of certain rare species of wild cats and dogs because (and seriously, I’m NOT making this up) he’s concerned the Chinese will turn those dogs and cats into “moo goo dog pan or moo goo cat pan,” you can assume he must have nibbled on lead paint as a child. Gohmert is just stupid.

Ted Cruz isn’t stupid. Cruz went to Harvard Law, and graduated magna cum laude, He clerked for J. Michael Luttig of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which is a big deal. He then clerked for William Rehnquist, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, which is an even bigger deal. Ted Cruz is not stupid.

If you're a jackass and you know it, raise your hand.

If you’re a jackass and you know it, raise your hand.

He is, though, a complete jackass. An arrogant poseur, a smarmy and egregious dick, a huckster of the first order. His latest snake oil scam? He’s introduced two (not just one, but two) bills that would ‘protect’ states that bar same-sex couples from marrying.

The first bill (S.J. Res. 12) is called ‘a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to marriage’. It would apparently (and I say ‘apparently’ because Cruz hasn’t supplied the text of the proposed bill yet) create an actual constitutional amendment prohibiting legal action against states that banned same-sex marriage. That’s right, this wanker is proposing to change the goddam U.S. Constitution to reflect his own religious values. And I use the term ‘values’ loosely.

The second bill (S. 1080) would apparently (and again I say ‘apparently’ for the same reason; Cruz hasn’t bothered to actually write the text of the bill) limit the jurisdiction of Federal courts to consider cases involving same-sex marriage. Basically, Cruz wants to block the power of Federal courts to hear or rule on marriage equality cases until after his constitutional amendment bullshit has been resolved.

For external use only.

For external use only.

These two bills are theater, part of his right-wing kabuki dance intended to feed the homophobia of the ignorant yahoos who might vote for him during the presidential primaries. Neither of the bills has a fucking prayer of ever becoming law. Cruz knows this. Remember, he’s not actually stupid, though he plays stupid on television. These proposals will not only give him cred among right-wing lunatics, they’ll force the other Republican candidates to take a position on them. That means they’ll either fall in line with Cruz, which makes him look like a leader, or they’ll oppose them, which will weaken them in the eyes of the rabid Republican right-wing  Either way, it’s a waste of time and money on symbolic, self-serving claptrap.

In other words, it’s classic Ted Cruz — the strongest and best liniment known for the cure of all pain and lameness. For external use only.

well okay, ted cruz then

Extremism is a robust virus in the body politic. What does a virus do? It infects the host and uses it as a medium for reproducing itself. It uses the host as a platform for spreading itself to other hosts. An effective virus makes the host sick, but not too sick. Think common cold.

A co-worker catches a cold from her child, who caught it from a classmate at school. You catch the cold and spread it to your family. Your family spreads the cold around. That’s an effective virus. An effective virus doesn’t threaten the host’s survival, because a dead host means the virus can no longer reproduce.

An ineffective virus replicates too quickly, spreads too quickly, kills the host. Think rabies. Think Ebola.

horsey-republican-theories_t470

The modern Republican party is sick with extremism. It’s been sick since the early 1990s and it’s getting sicker. It used to be a healthy political party. There used to be a plentiful supply of moderate antibodies that kept the extremist infection at bay. Over time, the GOP has become increasingly sick. Fewer antibodies and a heavier viral load allowed more pernicious strains of extremism to infect the Republican party. This made a Ted Cruz presidential campaign possible — maybe even inevitable.

Ted Cruz is rabies. Ted Cruz is Ebola. A Ted Cruz presidential campaign will create an environment in which the GOP host necessarily must either improve and regain its health or enter a death spiral. His candidacy will force Republican moderates (assuming any still exist) who want to be president to either adopt Cruz-like extremist positions or reject them. If they adopt them, those candidates become poison in the general election. Candidates who reject Cruz-like extremist positions, however, will find it much more difficult to survive the primary campaign.

ted cruz 2016

Either way, the Ted Cruz candidacy almost certainly guarantees Republicans will lose the presidential election. Right now, the GOP is simply too sick to win the presidency. Still, the Ted Cruz campaign is good news — for the Republican party and for the nation. The GOP will either begin the long painful road to recovery or it will become terminal. Either result benefits the nation.

Shorter version:

Vote for Rabies in 2016!

a deep, fetid reservoir of stupid

Can somebody in Texas or Washington, DC find Congressman Blake Farenthold and attempt to explain to him the difference between real life and fiction? Because, seriously, there is just no goddamned fucking way this maroon should be sitting on Congressional hearings.

Let me just repeat the key sentence in that short video:

“Every outbreak novel or zombie movie you see starts with somebody from the government sitting in front of a panel like this saying there’s nothing to worry about.”

I am totally gobsmacked. Not by Farenthold’s total ignorance of Ebola and its transmission vectors — I mean, the guy is a dolt, so I don’t expect him to understand how the Ebola virus actually works. I’m gobsmacked by the fact that he actually really no-shit truly spoke from the bench in a Congressional hearing and without embarrassment or any sense of irony referenced zombie movies in a discussion on health policy oh Jeebus I still can NOT completely believe this.

I’ve written about Farenthold before. I predicted that “he has the potential to some day be known as the Louie Gohmert of South Texas.” But I had no notion his fetid reservoir of stupid ran so deep.