semi-loyal opposition

I’m seeing a LOT of folks heaping scorn and contempt on Senator Jeff Flake today (and, to a lesser extent, Sen. Bob Corker). As you almost certainly know, both of those traditional Republican conservatives made a show yesterday of publicly spanking Comrade Trump. The scorn hasn’t been for the spanking — most folks appreciated that. The scorn seems to be because Flake and Corker then voted to repeal a rule repealed a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule that made it easier for people to sue banks and credit card companies.

That, of course, is a despicable vote. But I don’t understand why anybody was surprised by their votes. Did people think that by condemning Trump, Flake and Corker would suddenly become progressive Democrats? Did they think Flake and Corker had some sort of ‘Come to Jeebus’ moment? That they would see the light and abandon all their previously held political positions?

Sen. Bob Corker

No, those guys are still the same conservative asshats they’ve always been. They both still support a LOT of what Trump supports. The only difference is…well, there are two differences. First, they realize that conservative Republicans are going the way of moderate Republicans. There is no longer a place left for principled conservatives in the GOP. There are only varied grades of extremists, identified by how much they love babby Jeebus or by how much they hate liberals. Oh, there’s still a place for traditional unprincipled conservatives; they can be measured by how much corporate dick they’re willing to suck.

Here’s the second difference. Principled conservative Republicans like Flake and Corker (and yes, I think they really are principled; their principles are radically different from mine — and I think their principles are wrongheaded — but they still have principles) can see that Trumpism is not only destroying their political party, but also a clear threat to what we laughably call representative democracy.

Sen. Jeff Flake

Trump, unlike every previous president, doesn’t seem to believe in the concept of a loyal opposition. He only believes there is loyalty and there is opposition — and even his notion of ‘loyalty’ is grounded in a businessman’s perspective, in which loyalty is only operative when it benefits him.

The fact that both Flake and Corker have announced they’re not running for re-election doesn’t make their comments about Comrade Trump any less legitimate. Waiting until you’re quitting to voice your objections to the president may be an act of political cowardice, but it’s also a clear demonstration of just how far into the much the entire GOP has fallen. These two guys lack the fortitude to stay in their party and fight for it, but they’re probably the bravest the modern Republican party has to offer today. That’s pretty fucking sad.

 

Advertisements

rain on your wedding day

Conservatives have killed irony. Killed it, hacked its body into dozens of pieces, and buried them in a shallow grave in the Meadowlands. Then they dug up the body parts and set fire to them. Then scattered the ashes. In a toxic waste disposal site. And covered them with salt. Non-iodized salt.

And that was before Senator John Thune (Republican from Whogivesafuck), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation decided it was critically important to find out if Facebook was being mean to conservatives. I swear I am not making this up.

Thune

On Monday, Gizmodo published an article indicating that Facebook “routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential ‘trending’ news section.” The source of that article, who is described as ‘politically conservative’, requested anonymity, “citing fear of retribution from the company.”  He told Gizmodo:

“I’d come on shift and I’d discover that CPAC or Mitt Romney or Glenn Beck or popular conservative topics wouldn’t be trending because either the curator didn’t recognize the news topic or it was like they had a bias against Ted Cruz.”

It was like they had a bias, you guys! Against Ted Cruz! C’est incroyable! And c’mon, everybody knows that Mitt Romney and Glenn Beck are super popular, and we all want to know what they have to say about…you know, stuff. But no, Facebook users were denied that information because Mark Zuckerberg hates Republicans.

Senator Thune was so outraged by this that he took time away from his busy schedule of not holding hearings on a Supreme Court nominee and not considering President Obama’s request for funding for research on that silly Zika virus to write a stern letter to Facebook. He demanded information on whether or not the Trending Topics news curators are “targeting news stories related to conservative views for exclusion.”

Thune also held a news conference, in which he stated:

“If there’s any level of subjectivity associated with it, or if, as reports have suggested that there might have been, an attempt to suppress conservative stories or keep them from trending and get other stories out there, I think it’s important for people to know that. That’s just a matter of transparency and honesty, and there shouldn’t be any attempt to mislead the American public.”

Transparency, you guys. And honesty. With these allegations in mind, I looked just now (seriously, just now, at 10:06 in the morning, local time) at Facebook’s Trending Topics.

Calvin Klein: Company’s Ad Featuring Upskirt Picture of Model Criticized.

Gwyneth Paltrow: Article on Actress’s Lifestye Website, Goop, Recommends $15,000 Sex Toy.

Hyperloop One: Company Successfully Tests Propulsion System in Nevada Desert.

Well. There you have it. No mention of any upskirt photos of Glenn Beck. Nothing at all about Mitt Romney’s sex toys. And as we all know, this hyperloop business is a liberal conspiracy against the petroleum industry. Or wait — maybe it’s a sex toy? Doesn’t matter, because It’s clearly biased, you guys!

Thune, who frequently appears on Fox News shows (which are totally fair and balanced, not to mention completely transparent and honest), also said this:

“Facebook must answer these serious allegations and hold those responsible to account if there has been political bias in the dissemination of trending news.”

L’ironie, elle est morte! Cue Alanis Morissette.

boots and a dead guy in vietnam

You guys, guess what! Senator Ted Cruz has thoughts about the Democrat’s debate, and he’d like to scare you with them share them with you! Ready for fun? Here we go!

“It was more socialism, more pacifism, more weakness and less Constitution. It was a recipe to destroy a country.”

More pacifism, you guys! Sure, there was that bit in the debate where sissy Jim Webb recalled how he killed the NVA soldier who’d wounded him with a grenade — but that’s pacifism compared to what Senator Ted would have done. If he’d served in Vietnam. Or even if he’d served in the military at all. Which, you know…he didn’t. On account of he had a career to think of after college.

Senator Ted is so upset, you guys.

Senator Ted is so upset, you guys.

But Senator Ted, he regrets he didn’t serve in the military and get the opportunity to kill enemies for Jeebus.

“I will say it’s something I’ve always regretted. I wish I had spent time in the service. It’s something I respect immensely.”

Immensely, you guys! Senator Ted totally respects military service — or at least the sort of military service he’d have served if, you know…he’d served in the military. Which he didn’t. But he knows why young men and women did join and serve in the U.S. military. And that reason absolutely is NOT to serve as Al Qaeda’s Air Force

“We should be focused on defending the United States of America. That’s why young men and women sign up to join the military, not to, as you know, serve as Al Qaeda’s air force.”

You guys, Al Qaeda can hire its own air force! There are lots of young men and women of Al Qanadian descent who need jobs and would be happy to serve their nation country city-state thingy. So those pacifist Democrats can just take their pacifism and go back where they came from. And have their next debate there. In Al Qaedastan.

“It was interesting for America to see each and every Democratic candidate explain how what we need is an even weaker America, how we should withdraw even more from America, avoid any conflict whatsoever with Iran, with Russia, with ISIS, with the lunatics who want to kill us.”

You guys, it was interesting to see how the Democrats want America to withdraw from America and…uh…what? Never mind. Never mind, on account of lunatics. Still, it was an interesting thing and it was in the debate and America saw it, you guys!

Well, some of America saw it. Senator Ted would have seen it, probably. If he hadn’t been campaigning at a Pizza Hut in Kalona, Iowa while the debate was on the television.  But even though he didn’t actually see it see it, Senator Ted saw it enough to be outraged by what he didn’t see. But he would have seen it if, you know…he’d actually seen it. Which he didn’t.

“We’re seeing our freedoms taken away every day and last night was an audition for who would wear the jackboot most vigorously. Last night was an audition for who would embrace government power, for who would strip your and my individual liberties.”

Freedoms! Taken away! Every day, you guys! And totally stripped! The Democrat’s debate was a jackboot audition to see who could wear it vigorously while embracing power and liberty-stripping. Whatever that means.

It's that one guy, and he's wearing jackboots, you guys.

It’s that one guy, and he’s wearing jackboots, you guys.

But liberties are being stripped. Stripped! And jackboots are involved! You know who wears jackboots? Hitler, you guys! Hitler wears jackboots. Or did. When he was alive. Which is isn’t now. Like that other guy who threw a grenade at Jim Webb. In Vietnam. Where Senator Ted would have served if he’d been old enough. Or if he’d served in the military at all. Which, you know…he didn’t.

But okay, sure, maybe Senator Ted didn’t actually serve in the U.S. military (hint: he didn’t), but he knows what it takes to be the Commander-in-Chief. He knows what’s needed. This is what we need, you guys:

“What we need is a commander-in-chief who makes clear if you join ISIS, if you wage jihad on America, then you are signing your death warrant.”

Death warrant, you guys! Signing it. Not one Democrat had the courage to even mention death warrants! No, all they talked about was Democratic pacifism and their recipes for destroying countries. When Senator Ted becomes President of These United States he’ll totally stop U.S. troops from serving in the air force of Al Qaeda AND he’ll make ISISists sign their own death warrants, probably. In blood.

Senator Ted has thoughts and...hey, what the fuck has he got on his feet?

Senator Ted has thoughts and…hey, what the fuck has he got on his feet?

That’s the sort of leadership you’ll get from President Ted. If he wins the presidential election. Which he won’t. You know, if he wins the Republican nomination. Which he also won’t.

But still, there’s a dead guy in Vietnam who’s looking over his shoulder, because Senator Ted has a death warrant for him to sign.

 

boom, and they’re gone

This fuckwit is campaigning to be the Republican nominee for President of These United States — and they’re taking him seriously. What’s wrong with these people?

“We have excellent military leaders. We need to employ their expertise because this is a war we are fighting. That’s the bottom line.”

That’s Dr. Ben Carson. And that war we’re fighting? He’s talking — and I swear I am NOT making this up — he’s talking about the border between These United States and Mexico. And he said that in response to a question about whether the US should consider drone strikes on American soil to secure the border.

Dr. Ben Carson doesn't really LOOK crazy, but apparently is.

Dr. Ben Carson doesn’t really LOOK crazy, but apparently is.

Drone strikes. Drone strikes. You know, like we’ve been doing in Yemen and Somalia and Pakistan. This fucking lunatic thinks drone strikes are worth considering to prevent folks from illegally crossing the border to pick the watermelons you’ll be eating at your next picnic. Oh, and did I mention that Carson, as I write this, is in second place among the candidates for the Republican nomination for president? He is. Second. And what makes this even crazier is he’s running second behind Donald Trump (whose border policy, I believe, is to build a giant Wall O’ Trump — it’ll be yoooge, classy — and he’ll hire frat boys to stand guard on top of it, and if they see a brown person approach from the South they’ll shit in their own hand and fling it at the poor bastard).

Drone strikes. You know, because this is a war we’re fighting. If we have to ram a missile up some brown person’s ass, well you can’t make an omelet and all that.

“You look at some of these caves and things out there, one drone strike, boom, and they’re gone.”

Boom! Just like in the Road Runner cartoons. Of course, it costs between US$2,500 and $3,500 per flight hour to run surveillance drones. You want a strike drone — one that can fire missiles; say a Predator or a Reaper — the costs go up dramatically. It takes a team of about 180 people to operate and maintain each of those sumbitches. Also? Each Hellfire missile costs around $60,000 — and you can only use them once, you know.

Watermelon terrorists, for the love of Jeebus, won't somebody DO something?

Watermelon terrorists, for the love of Jeebus, won’t somebody DO something?

It’ll add up pretty quick, drone strikes against illegal immigrants. But hey, war, right? If that’s what it takes, then that’s what it takes. If we can provide just one decent law-abiding American the opportunity to find a career in the lucrative field of watermelon harvesting, it’ll be worth it.

Second. He’s running second. To Trump. Just saying. It is to weep.

UPDATE: I was joking about the Wall O’ Trump — but this just in (and really, I swear I’m NOT making this up):

Trump waxed on almost poetically about the wall that could bear his name on the Southwest border. “I want it to be so beautiful because maybe someday they’re going to call it the Trump wall,” he said.

Lawdy.

you get trump

[T]he same blustering verbosity that has fueled Trump will inevitably be his downfall.”

No, it won’t. It really won’t. It should be his downfall, but it won’t. It won’t because Donald Trump is precisely the sort of candidate the Republican party has been evolving toward. Trump is the distillation of the modern Republican party perspective.

Donald Trump

If you spend a quarter of a century telling members of your party (and anybody else who’ll listen) that government is always the problem and never the solution, you get Trump. If you convince your party that compromise equals failure, you get Trump. If you keep repeating that government should be run like a business, you get Trump. If you promote bluster and saber-rattling over diplomacy, you get Trump. If you equate financial success with leadership, you get Trump. If you frame personal selfishness as the hallmark of the free market, you get Trump. If you tell your party members that their economic problems are a result of illegal immigrants and lazy minorities, you get Trump. If you dismiss science and expertise in favor of fervent belief and loudly stated opinion, you get Trump. If you consistently stress that the value of a conservative is measured by how much he or she offends liberals, you get Trump.

If you cease to be a political party that’s genuinely interested in governance, you get Trump. And you get Palin. And you get Cruz and Gohmert. You get an entire political party firmly grounded in the immediate, reactive gut feelings of Joe the Plumber.

You get what you deserve.

Donald Trump

So no, the ‘blustering verbosity’ of Trump won’t be his downfall. But if we’re very, very lucky, it’ll be the beginning of the downfall of the modern Republican party. If we’re lucky, eight more years of Democratic presidents will force Republicans to evolve back into a party of principled conservatives who are more interested in getting government to work than in posturing.

That’s what the American people deserve.

i don’t know maybe who can say?

It only took Jeb! Bush three tries to get it right. Well, almost right. I’m talking about the mass murder at Mother Emanuel church in Charleston. First he said this:

“I don’t know what was on the mind or the heart of the man who committed these atrocious crimes.”

And okay, yeah, nobody can ever really say they know what another person is thinking or feeling and all that. But Dylann Roof wasn’t being terribly subtle about his reasoning. That Confederate flag, the two racist African flags, the open admission that he wanted to start a race war — those are pretty reliable indications of what he had in mind. And that was before the discovery of his racist manifesto.

A day later, Jeb! got a tad more specific. When asked if the murders were racially motivated, he said this:

“I don’t know! Looks like to me it was, but we’ll find out all the information. It’s clear it was an act of raw hatred, for sure. Nine people lost their lives, and they were African-American. You can judge what it is.”

A real tower of Jello, Jeb! Bush. He’s not going to rush to judgment. Raw hate? Check. Nine dead black folks? Check. Racially motivated hate crime? Well, it sorta kinda looks that way to me, but who can say? While he wasn’t quite able to commit to having a clue about Dylann Roof’s motives, Jeb! was totally mostly almost solid in his stance on South Carolina’s Confederate flag.

“My position on how to address the Confederate flag is clear. In Florida, we acted, moving the flag from the state grounds to a museum where it belonged… Following a period of mourning, there will rightly be a discussion among leaders in the state about how South Carolina should move forward, and I’m confident they will do the right thing.”

He did, in fact, order the Confederate flag flown over the Florida state house removed, and that was the right thing to do. But is it the right thing for South Carolina? I don’t know, maybe, who can say? Whatever the right thing is, Jeb! is pretty much sure South Carolina will do it. Probably.

What? How should I know? -- Jeb!

What? How should I know? — Jeb!

The various 2016 Republican candidates for presidency have staked out a fairly narrow range of positions on social issues. They fall somewhere along a graduated scale from wildly and loudly wrong (the Ted Cruz approach) to tentative ignorance and uncertainty (the Jeb! approach). Despite the fact that he’s been considered presidential material since even before his dull-witted brother befouled the White House, Jeb! has managed to maintain a near-perfect level of thick-headedness.

His position on climate change?

“I think global warming may be real. It is not unanimous among scientists that it is disproportionately manmade.”

“I’m a skeptic. I’m not a scientist.”

He’s not a scientist. But why doesn’t he believe the folks are actually are scientists? Because he’s a skeptic, and hey there are literally dozens of scientists who aren’t convinced, so there. Jeb! kinda maybe thinks he might believe those scientists. The other ones? Perhaps, maybe, who knows?

Does Jeb! have a position on all those so-called ‘religious freedom’ laws Republican legislatures keep passing to protect the rights of pastry cooks to resist gay tyranny? Of course, he does. Almost.

“I don’t know about the law, but religious freedom is a serious issue, and it’s increasingly so, and I think people that act on their conscience shouldn’t be discriminated against, for sure.”

For sure. Asking people to obey the law even if they disagree with it, that’s totally for sure discrimination. If they’re, you know, Christian and all. Otherwise, well, it’s hard to say. Possibly. It depends. But hey, what about marijuana laws? What if your state legalizes the medical use of marijuana — or even recreational use — but the federal government still says possession and sale are crimes? What if you disagree with that law? What to do, Jeb!? What to do?

“I don’t know. I’d have to sort that out.”

But sorting stuff out is such hard work. It took him three tries to sort out whether or not he’d have invaded Iraq like his feeble-minded brother. Would he have ordered the invasion ‘knowing what we know now’? Let’s see his answers:

“Yes. And by the way, Hillary Clinton would have too.”

“I misunderstood. And no, I won’t say what I would have done in hindsight.”

“Knowing what we know now, I would not invade.”

My favorite of those three responses is the second one — that pouty ‘I don’t have to answer, you can’t make me, you’re not my mom’ response. I understand it wouldn’t be easy to admit on national television that your brother is a reckless fuckwit, but I’m not sure the best strategy to deal with that problem is to suggest you’re only marginally less stupid. Tell us Jeb!, will your brother be allowed to campaign for you?

“I don’t know, I don’t know yet, we just started.”

Oh, Jeb!, you’ve been preparing for this campaign for months, if not years, and you don’t know? By refusing to acknowledge the role his gormless brother would have in a Jeb! administration, he leaves us with the image of George W. lurking in the shadows of the White House like Boo Radley. And that ain’t pretty.

W? Brother of Jeb!

W? Brother of and adviser to Jeb!

Poor Jeb! Bush — he wasn’t even able to say whether or not he’d be a good candidate in a presidential election.

“I don’t know if I’d be a good candidate or a bad one. But I kinda know how a Republican can win, whether it’s me or somebody else.”

He kinda knows how a Republican can win. After dangling that impotent answer, Jeb! had a couple of weeks to think about it before being asked the very same question.

“I have no clue if I’d be a good candidate, I hope I would be. I think I could serve well as president, to be honest with you. But I don’t know that either. I think you learn these things as you go along.”

No clue. He’s clueless. He is without clue. Sans la moindre idée. Here’s a hint, Jeb! So far, not so much.

And yet, remarkably, according to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Jeb! has taken the lead in the primary race. A full 22% of likely Republican primary voters say Jeb! is their first choice. Their first choice. It says something about the GOP 2016 candidate roster that the front-runner is a guy who spends part of every interview furrowing his brow and saying ‘I don’t know, maybe, who can say?’

I dunno, maybe? Who can say? -- Jeb!

I dunno, maybe? Who can say? — Jeb!

Jeb! Bush — he’s the smart one in the family. His feckless brother spent his recreational time clearing scrub brush on his Texas ranch. Jeb! probably spent his spare time planting the scrub brush.

jeb!

Our country is on a very bad course. And the question is: What are we going to do about it? The question for me is: What am I going to do about it? And I have decided.

I am a candidate for President of the United States.

Well, there it is. It’s official. Jeb! Bush has decided to seek the office of President of the United States.

What? You thought he was already running? You thought just because he’s been visiting all the early primary states and meeting with local GOP officials and giving speeches and attending political events that he was already campaigning? You thought he was already a candidate just because he’s been accepting tens of millions of dollars in donations and contributions? You thought just because he’s established a Super PAC and hired campaign staff and event coordinators and political consultants and strategists and pollsters that Jeb! Bush was officially in the race?

Pffft. Silly rabbit. Not at all. Jeb! Bush was simply exploring the idea of running for office.

jeb!

You see, it’s against the law for an actual candidate to directly accept corporate campaign contributions. It’s also against the law for an official candidate to accept foreign contributions, or individual cash contributions in amounts over one hundred dollars, or contributions from government contractors. And hey, it’s also illegal to accept individual non-cash contributions of more than $2,700 per election. Those laws were established to prevent corruption in the electoral process.

If Jeb! Bush had actually been a candidate, he’d have been legally required to report the amounts of money he’d raised, and who he accepted the money from, and how that money was spent. He’d have been prohibited by law from coordinating any official campaign strategies with the Super PAC that supports him.

jeb!2

But hey, Jeb! Bush hadn’t actually said he was a candidate. He hadn’t actually filed a Statement of Candidacy with the Federal Election Committee. And in his speeches to date he’d been careful to insert the phrase ‘if I decide to run.’ So he wasn’t actually a candidate. Which means Jeb! Bush wasn’t really precisely truly properly undeniably breaking the law.

Not at all. No, Jeb! Bush was merely standing off to one side and pissing on the law.

I will campaign as I would serve, going everywhere, speaking to everyone, keeping my word, facing the issues without flinching, and staying true to what I believe.

I think he’s telling the truth. I think he will campaign exactly as he would serve. I think he’ll stay true to what he believes. I think he believes the law doesn’t really apply to people like him.

He’s Jeb! Bush.