lying

The Jeb Bush Show (Seriously Inadequate)

Former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush waits for his introduction at the Iowa Agriculture Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, 7 March 2015. (Photo by Jim Young/Reuters)

Consider, please, that while Donald Trump managed to get into a stupid fight with Rick Perry and win, this is actually about Jeb Bush:

Almost immediately after Donald Trump’s controversial remarks about Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) military service, Republican officials denounced the criticism in a specific way. “There is no place in our party or our country for comments that disparage those who have served honorably,” the Republican National Committee said in an official statement.

The problem, of course, is that Republicans appear to apply that principle selectively. In 2004, John Kerry faced ridiculous lies about his heroic military service, and at the time, GOP leaders saw great political value in smearing a decorated war veteran.

Take Jeb Bush, for example. In January 2005, the day before his brother’s second inaugural, the Florida governor wrote a letter to the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” ringleader, expressing his appreciation for the smear campaign. Celebrating the “Swifties,” as Jeb Bush called them, the Republican wrote to retired Col. Bud Day, “Please let them know that I am personally appreciative of their service to our nation. As someone who truly understands the risk of standing up for something, I simply cannot express in words how much I value their willingness to stand up against John Kerry.”

In this case, “stand up to” was apparently a euphemism for “tell lies about.”

(Benen)

And while we might refer to the former Florida governor by his derisive title as the Serious Clown, the question remains as to why anybody thought Mr. Bush was a serious candidate. Maybe he needs another do-over.

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More Fun with Bill

Detail of cartoon by Brian McFadden, 6 March 2015, via Daily Kos Comics.“Bill O’Reilly was caught in a lie. No, not that one. Or that one. Or the whole sexual harassment loofah thing. This is not really news. Brian Williams being a fabulist was a little more surprising, but not really. Network and cable news are pretty much infotainment anchored by narcissists.”

Brain McFadden

It is unfortunate, as Brain McFadden notes, that “there’s been no comeuppance for the liars that got us into the Iraq War”, an aspect of these weird chapters of the American press that seems strangely lost on all the right people. Wrong people. Right people. Whatever. What more and more seems like the inevitable fall of Brian Williams has its tragic aspects. That there really isn’t much for comeuppance in Bill O’Reilly’s case is hardly unexpected. But it makes for great comedy vérité.

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McFadden, Brian. “America at War: with Bill O’Reilly”. Daily Kos. 6 March 2015.

Not Quite the Paradox of Watching Smart People Being Stupid

Detail of 'Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal' by Zach Weiner, 2 March 2015.Maybe fifteen years ago, geek friends were all chattering excitedly about an idea, kind of a memory and gene and idea and all that, and therein we find the idea of a meme, and, yes, I know what you’re thinking, or at least that it has to do with cheeseburgers or puddin’ pops.

The thing is that a bunch of really smart tech people suddenly started playing around with ideas having to do with psychology, but as with many people who have no foundation in the disciplines they dabble, tried to start from the ground up. They thought they were breaking ground, defining new insight to the human mind. What they ended up with was a bunch of badly-spelled jokes printed in white block-capitals on stupid pictures.

Shit happens.

The present reminder of what happens when smart people dabble outside their expertise comes courtesy of the inimitable Zach Weiner.

Learn the lesson. The one salvation with the meme disaster is that so many people were in on it, we probably can’t figure out which one person to blame. Okay, there’s the other salvation, which is watching celebrities meme themselves to infamy.

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Weiner, Zach. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. 2 March 2015.

Pass/Fail

"TRUE OR FALSE: Objecting to certain police tactics is the same as hating all police officers."  (Jen Sorensen, 30 December 2014, via Daily Kos Comics)Remember how the cycle works.

It is a really simple idea: We would like to be able to support our law enforcement institutions and personnel.

This argument has been going on for a while; cartoonist Jen Sorensen asks an obvious question. Indeed, it is so obvious a question one need not wonder why the public discourse flees it in screaming terror.

So here’s the thing: When an ugly episode arises involving law enforcement, we are reminded that these episodes come about because of a proverbial few bad seeds. Yet these few seem rather quite protected by other police traditions that require the participation of the rest of those allegedly good officers. Didn’t see a thing, or the guy was definitely reaching for a gun, or what, do you want a guilty person to go free just because of a technicality?

But that is just a fallacy, a fundamentally dishonest reaction. It always seems to come down to an all-or-nothing proposition put before us by police supporters.

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The Future, Revealed?

Jobs, jobs, jobs ... j'abortion!

We might for a moment pause to recall 2010. Republicans achieved a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, but the real story was in the state houses, where the GOP made astounding gains by hammering away at the economic instability their Congressional partners worked so hard to create.

And then they tacked away from jobs. As Rachel Maddow memorably put it, “Jobs, jobs jobs … j’abortion”. State-level Republicans passed record numbers of anti-abortion bills, knowing that most of them were unconstitutional. And it is certainly an old conservative scheme, to tilt windmills, lose, and then bawl that the sky is falling because the Constitution is Sauron and Democrats and liberals the armies of Mordor.

With many predicting a Republican blowout in the 2014 midterms, some are looking ahead to figure out just what that will means in terms of policy and governance. And some of those are Republicans.

Yet there is a week left; perhaps this isn’t the best time to be telegraphing the Hell they intend to call down upon the Earth.

Or, as Lauren French and Anna Palmer of Politico explain:

Conservatives in Congress are drawing up their wish list for a Republican Senate, including “pure” bills, like a full repeal of Obamacare, border security and approval of the Keystone XL pipeline — unlikely to win over many Democrats and sure to torment GOP leaders looking to prove they can govern.

Interviews with more than a dozen conservative lawmakers and senior aides found a consensus among the right wing of the Republican Party: If Republicans take the Senate, they want to push an agenda they believe was hamstrung by the Democratic-controlled chamber, even if their bills end up getting vetoed by President Barack Obama.

Their vision could create problems for congressional leaders who want to show they aren’t just the party of “hell no.” And while conservatives say they agree with that goal, their early priorities will test how well John Boehner and Mitch McConnell can keep the party united.

Two points: Swing voters can’t say they weren’t warned. And conservative voters complaining about gridlock should admit that’s what they’re after.

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Speaker Boehner at His Finest

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH8)

Here’s a quote from the Speaker of the House:

“Does anybody think that Vladimir Putin would have gone into Crimea had George W. Bush been president of the United States? No! Even Putin is smart enough to know that Bush would have punched him in the nose in about 10 seconds!”

Laughter is certainly acceptable at this point.

After all, Bush had his chance in 2008, and didn’t take the swing. Why Speaker Boehner feels the need to make up random excrement is not really a mystery; he’s a Republican operating in a post-policy, post-fact political mode. This is what Republicans do. For them, the greatest triumph of the American people would be if the people chose to believe in lies and ignore facts. There is a difference between acknowledging human frailty and exploiting it.

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Bookman, Jay. “Boehner: ‘Bush would have punched Putin in nose'”. Atlanta Journal Constitution. 28 October 2014.

Boehlert, Eric. “Flashback, 2008: When A Russian Invasion Made Fox News Shrug”. Media Matters for America. 4 March 2014.

The Obvious Question

It’s a simple enough question: What the hell is wrong with Rick Scott?

Very Possibly the Defining Stupidity of the 2014 Electoral Cycle

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist waits next to an empty podium for Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott, who at first refused to participate in a gubernatorial debate due to an Crist’s use of an electric fan. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Maybe monumental stupidity in reckless lying is more of a Republican thing in general, instead of merely a foible of a small-time Republican calling for an American coup. The current stupidity comes out of Florida, where, as many of us have already heard and watched, incumbent Gov. Rick Scott (R) refused to take the stage for nearly seven minutes at the beginning of the debate, apparently complaining that former Gov. Charlie Crist (D, fmr. I, fmr. R) had an electric fan under his podium.

Yes, really.

Reporter Marc Caputo tweeted last night:

Privately, Republicans/Rick Scott loyalists are telling me the moment he didn’t go onstage over fangate was the moment he lost the election

Maybe so, but Gov. Scott and even surrogate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) decided to drive a couple more nails just to make sure.

Consider, please, the answer from Gov. Scott:

'Privately, Republicans/Rick Scott loyalists are telling me the moment he didn't go onstage over fangate was the moment he lost the election' (Marc Caputo)Well I waited to see if he—’til we figured out if we figured out if he was going to show up. He said he was going to come to the, uh—uh, he said he was going to come to the debate. So why come out until he’s ready?

And then there was Sen. Rubio to back him up:

Well, as you saw Governor Scott say, it wasn’t clear he was even going to show up. When I got here today for this debate, I was told that Charlie Crist was going to cancel the debate. Because unless there was a fan on that stage he would not come out. So I think that Governor Scott was waiting to see if Charlie would actually pull it off or not.

And, of course, there is a punch line: While Gov. Scott was apparently waiting to see if Crist showed up, Mr. Crist was standing onstage waiting for the incumbent to emerge.

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Stupidity of an Unbelievable Magnitude

There is a strange phenomenon in American politics whereby something is true just because one said it, even if what says is observably false. We often miss it, and tend to notice it when the tacit standard spectacularly fails.

For instance, here’s a statement from a politician, as reported by Ed Mazza of Huffington Post:

“I just wanted to know what oath (the military) took,” Dunnegan told St. Louis Public Radio in a telephone interview. “I’m not calling the president a domestic enemy. I’m not calling the president anything. He is the president. Do I agree with what the president is doing? Absolutely not. Anybody that asks me, I’ll be happy to tell you that.”

In the first place, what, is this a helluva scandal, or just some petty back and forth? And in truth, flip a coin. Heads, it’s scandalous. Tails, it’s just another Republican in Missouri.

Debbie Dunnegan Waters the Jefferson County Recorder, also tweeted, “The rest choose to hate me w/o cause. Judge me on half truth and spins.”

Jefferson County Recorder of Deeds Debbie Dunnegan Waters, who called for a coup against President Obama and then tried to say she didn't.So, we’re all up to date? She’s not calling the president a domestic enemy. People are hating on her without cause, and judging her according to half-truths and spins.

Yeah. You know there’s a punch line, right?

The statement in question:

I have a question for all my friends who have served or are currently serving in our military … having not put on a uniform nor taken any type military oath, there has to be something that I am just not aware of. But I cannot and do not understand why no action is being taken against our domestic enemy. I know he is supposedly the commander in chief, but the constitution gives you the authority. What am I missing? Thank you for your bravery and may God keep you safe.

(Boldface accent added)

Yes, really.

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