The Widdershins

The people to whom I’ve always been most attracted are the folks who understand, “To learn is to change.”  Five words representing a lifelong personal evolution through the constant accumulation of knowledge.  That understanding engenders a comfort in one’s own skin.  It breeds an abhorrence of expediency – political and otherwise.  It is the opposite of fear.To learn is to change

Well my friends, I’m disgusted and I mean miles beyond being a little put out.  I’m talking full-blown, no holes barred, bile encrusted D.I.S.G.U.S.T.!  The genesis of this disgust is the unmitigated revulsion I feel toward the porcine anal seepage passing for our political leadership over the Iranian nuclear containment agreement.

Here’s the way my simple mind processes this issue.  There are only four possible avenues with which to approach the Iranian issue:

  1. Let Iran have a nuclear weapon with a breakout period as soon as two months from now.
  2. Implement the Iranian containment agreement negotiated by the P5 + 1 and ratified by the U.N. Security Council by an unheard of vote 15 – 0.
  3. Attempt to strategically take out the Iranian nuclear facilities for a couple of years by bombing.
  4. Invade and occupy Iran indefinitely.

Those are the four scenarios. Nothing more.  The lip service of going back to the negotiation table after reimplementation of sanctions is nonsensical political pandering.  The defensive excuse of “objections of conscience” is meaningless unless the personal motivation is one of war based upon a commitment of intervention in some fashion.  This is the overwhelming expectation of the Arab world and quite frankly, it is an expectation that is deserved based upon our blind adventurism since 9/11.

Iran deal 2015Russia and China are straining at the reins to do business with Iran.  The billions in Iranian money will be released no matter what happens with this agreement.  Without the agreement, the breakout time for a nuclear device will be measured in months, not years.

With this non-proliferation agreement, a nuclear Iran is ten to fifteen years in the future with limitless possibilities for disarmament, regime change, or military intervention.

While the Republican Party is virtually unanimous in its weak-mindedness regarding the Iran deal, Democrats do not get a pass.  There are more than a few who have tested the political winds and decided to shirk both responsibility and reality.  Most notable of these is Sen. Chuck Schumer, who also just happened to vote for the Iraq War in 2003.Boehner and Netanyahu

It is curious how the Iranian deal is playing out in public with Netanyahu prancing to the “well of the House” to spread Republican sanctioned misinformation in order to influence American foreign policy.  Here’s my theory:

The run up to the Iraq War was played out in the secretive confines of the Bush Oval Office.  It was the perfect storm of war where the interests of the Israeli lobby and the Saudi royal family converged.  There are stories after stories of the influence the Israelis and the Saudis brought to bear as we blindly rushed into a decade of war.

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Outlook Message

Good Monday Widdershins!

Have you checked your email recently?  Do you know if it has a security rating assigned to it?  And if you do know how your email might be categorized, could you do anything about it if you believed it was unclassified and then subsequently Inspectors General decided that nooooo, you had classified emails on your email server? Of course not since this would be after the fact.  Yet, this is very similar to what Hillary Clinton is going through after the release of the emails that were on her private email server.

Several things are happening here.  One is the action by former Secretary Clinton to turn over 55,000 pages of emails that resided on the private mail server.  The other issue is requests for documents by reporters and others under the Freedom of Information Act or FOIA.

In this article going back to March of this year, Kurt Eichenwald deconstructs the entire New York Times story concerning “emailgate” and refutes the piece item by item.  As he points out, the first screamer from the Times piece was that Hillary Clinton used a private email system!  Gasp!  Shock!  Surely that wasn’t allowed.  Or was it?  Margaret Sullivan, Times Public Editor tried to deflect criticism of the Times article by doing a “look here at the Federal Regulations!!!” thing.  The only problem with that is that the current regulations at the time Clinton was Secretary of State stated this:

“Agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system.”

As Eichenwald writes, Sullivan was hoisted on her own petard because she was the one that threw the regulation out there.

Catch the problem? The regulation itself, through its opening words, “specifically designates that employees of certain agencies are allowed to use non-federal email systems.” And one of those agencies just happened to be…drumroll please.… The State Department. In other words, not only was the use of a personal email account not a violation of the rules, it was specifically allowed by the rules.

Now, did you also catch the other issue with trying to blame Hillary over this?  It’s this:

the agency must ensure that federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system.” (Bolding/underlining are mine)

So as far as any “recordkeeping”, that was the duty of the technonerds who worked at State.  The Times article stated “’Regulations from the National Archives and Records Administration at the time required that any emails sent or received from personal accounts be preserved as part of the agency’s records. But Mrs. Clinton and her aides failed to do so.’ “.  But, in no way was Hillary the emailer responsible for such preservation.  I suppose you could argue that yes, as Secretary of State she was the head of the agency, but in reality that responsibility probably fell to someone like the Chief Information Officer for State or someone with a similar title.

Sullivan (the Times Public Editor) then tried the idea of throwing out a bunch of links to other stories on emailgate, such as one from the Washington Post.  Again, from Eichenwald’s article:

A Washington Post story: “A State Department review of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails from her time leading the agency could reveal whether she violated security policies with her use of a private email server, a senior department official said Thursday night.”

Seriously? A review could determine if she violated the rules? That is what is known as a truism. A federal audit of your taxes could determine whether you violated the tax laws. A medical exam performed today on you could determine whether you have cancer. An inspection of your car tires could determine whether they are not inflated enough. All of those statements are true. And all of them mean…absolutely nothing.

Now let’s take a look at other things tied to “emailgate”, that is FOIA requests.

Eichenwald wrote a second article on the brouhaha and this one dealt with the FOIA requests, the reviews of documents by other people for any security issues before those documents are released to the public.  Once again the Times wrote an article which, when dissected, completely fell apart.

Two government inspectors general had made a criminal referral to the Justice Department about Clinton and her handling of the emails.

[snip]

By Friday morning, the Times did what is known in the media trade as a “skin back”—the article now said the criminal referral wasn’t about Clinton but about the department’s handling of emails. Still, it conveyed no indication of what possible crime might be involved.
(and then it gets better but gets worse for the Times)

Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) issued a statement saying that he had spoken to the inspector general of the State Department and that there had been no criminal referral regarding Clinton’s email usage. Rather, Cummings said, the inspectors general for State and the intelligence community had simply notified the Justice Department—which issues the regulations on Freedom of Information Act requests—that some emails subject to FOIA review had been identified as classified when they had not previously been designated that way.  (bolding, underlining, once again mine)

Eichenwald then takes us into the (gasp!) two paragraphs that the Times threw out there, basically with no clarification as to what was being asked of whom and by whom.

Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state, senior government officials said Thursday.

The request follows an assessment in a June 29 memo by the inspectors general

A crack team of professionals reviews Clinton's emails

A crack team of professionals reviews Clinton’s emails

for the State Department and the intelligence agencies that Mrs. Clinton’s private account contained ‘hundreds of potentially classified emails.’ The memo was written to Patrick F. Kennedy, the under secretary of state for management.

Wow!  Justice Department.  Criminal Investigation.  Scary, right?  Except…except, the Times left out the fact that all of this was in terms of FOIA requests.

At no point in the story does the Times mention what this memo—and the other it cited—wasreally all about: that the officials at the Freedom of Information office in the State Department and intelligence agencies, which were reviewing emails for release, had discovered emails that may not have been designated with the correct classification. For anyone who has dealt with the FOIA and government agencies, this is something that happens all the time in every administration.

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movie theater entrance

Good Saturday to everyone!  It’s certainly been an interesting week with all that has been happening in the political sphere.  What with The Donald and his diarrhea of the mouth, Jeb Bush demonstrating that you’re never too young to have a senior moment, Marco Rubio stamping his little feet about “freedom fighters, and the like.  So what I thought we might do is to take a look at politics from the entertainment point of view.  Now, I do not mean entertainment by Congress being in session (they aren’t), but rather entertainment involving politics in movies, or “cinema” if you prefer.  Doing a fairly quick google search I was able to come up with more than twenty movies that could be considered connected to “politics”.  You don’t have to limit yourself to American politics, nor even this century.

So take a look at my selections and comment on them if you wish to or better still add to the list in the comments.  Enjoy yourselves, this is a completely open thread.

I think we’re all familiar with this first clip.  Definitely one of the best political films made.

I told you that you don’t have to confine yourself to this country or even this century.

Now we don’t have to be totally serious in considering political movies as this clip shows.

Sometimes we’ve had movies that show some of the inner workings of our government and most of the time it’s not pleasant as this movie from the 1960s shows.  This movie was taken from the novel of the same name and I’m willing to bet it was required reading in DC at the time.

This next one may not be the greatest movie evah, but I certainly got some laughs out of it because of how close to the truth it came, and I’ll add the description of the movie here:

A suicidally disillusioned liberal politician puts a contract out on himself and takes the opportunity to be bluntly honest with his voters by affecting the rhythms and speech of hip-hop music and culture.

This next clip falls into the conspiracy theory genre and was made in 1972 also starring Warren Beaty.

Lastly, with things being the way they are, what list of political movies would leave this one out.
Warning:  the clip does include some foul language and sexism, it includes Billy Bob Thornton.

Okay Widdershins, put your thinking caps on for just a little while and see what you can come up with.  Remember we’re using the term politics very loosely.  You could have the politics of race, gender, sexuality or anything else you can think of.  Hope you have fun with it!

As I wrote up in the post, it’s a completely open thread.

And lastly, Happy Birthday Mother Dear.  Still missing you.

 

 

 

Amnesia is one of the most popular plot devices in fiction.  It can wipe away history in a couple of paragraphs – clean, convenient, and efficient.  Jason Bourne or the Drew Barrymore character in 50 First Dates provided an entertaining catalyst for manipulating the story line. Oblivion

The limitation of amnesia is that it doesn’t erase the memories of everyone.  In real life, the impact of amnesia and brainwashing can lead to disastrous results.  Just ask Tania, the urban guerrilla, who was first known as Patty Hearst before her unfortunate forced conscription in the Symbionese Liberation Army.

Our friend Jeb! seems to be suffering from a rather colossal case of amnesia.  Tuesday night at the Reagan Library (where better to be kissed by the amnesia fairy) Jeb! decided to go full monty on the Iraq War and ISIS.  Given the severity of the amnesia, it appears Jeb! might be gunning for an endorsement deal from Aricept or Namenda because he doesn’t seem to be at all hindered by reality brought to you by the capital letter ‘R’.

Bush Reagan LibraryThe whole premise of Jeb!’s speech — that brother Dubya’s war strategy was brilliant, while Obama’s foreign policy created the Islamic State — is so convoluted it defies logic.  That is, it defies logic unless you season it with a heaping helping of amnesia.

First of all, The Islamic State is the successor organization to al-Qaida’s Iraqi affiliate, which formed shortly after the U.S. invasion in 2003.  The very same invasion we were lied into through an orchestrated symphony of deception by that great conductor of such things Dick “Rotmymanhoodoff” Cheney.

Furthermore, Jeb!’s account of the withdrawal as a “case of blind haste” omitted the fact that it was brother Dubya who had set the withdrawal date of 2011 in an agreement he signed in 2008 with the Iranian muppet, Nouri al-Maliki.  By 2011 it wasn’t like we had just gotten there, we had been in Iraq since May 2003 – 2003 when flip phones were the rage and Bruce Jenner was best known for being an Olympian.   Bush meh

When Obama and Hillary took office in 2009 they had few, if any, good options.  In the simplest terms, if a railroad engineer causes a train wreck, you don’t blame the folks who come afterward to fix the tracks.  Jeb! in his decidedly finite wisdom wants to blame the track-fixers instead of the reckless, errant engineer.

ISIS grew from the terrorist faction al-Qaida in Iraq.  And where did AQI come from you ask?  AQI simply didn’t exist before the 2003 U.S. invasion.  In addition, the ill-advised disbanding of the Iraqi military in 2003 led to a fracturing of the country which eventually fomented into former Sunni members of the military forming insurgent groups later coalescing into ISIS.

So Jeb!’s attempt at rehabilitating the failed Bush legacy of perhaps a half million lives lost and a wasted Two Trillion Dollars is quite a heavy lift.  In explaining such amnesia inspired endeavors, Dean Koontz wrote, “When my wits fail me, I resort to self-deception.”  He presciently wrote those words in a book entitled Brother Odd, so in the case of the Bush boys, I have three thoughts:

Oh brother1. Odd is a comparative term, so I have no idea which Bush boy is “odder”;

2. I have absolutely no idea which one could be characterized as having “wits”; and

3. Self-deception seems to be a well-worn, time-honored Bush family tradition.

 

Take the conversation in any direction you might like and don’t forget to have a great weekend.

 

Morning Widdershins!  Our mission today, should we wish to accept it, is to cover free range Republicans, abortion, and Iran in one thousand words or less.  Let’s get at it.

Free Range RepublicansChickens

There’s a commonly held notion that free range chickens are far superior to other forms of chicken husbandry.  Truth is, free range chickens, having no territorial limits, are exposed to a myriad of diseases and maladies that territorially limited chickens aren’t.  As such, free range chickens represent a “clear and present danger” to the regular flock as was seen this spring when 38 million chickens were destroyed.

This paradigm represents exactly what we are seeing with free range Republicans.  For years now Republicans have been encouraged to range far and wide for their conservative nutrition without much discernment about its source.  A little talk radio scratch, some kernels from Fox, feed from conspiracy internet sites, and it is all good.  The free range Republicans are fat and well-fed.

Trouble is, all this “free ranging” has made these Republicans dangerous when attempting to bring them back into the fold around election time.  They don’t fit in.  They carry diseases of paranoia, anger, and conspiracy.  They don’t remember what it’s like to live in polite company.  There isn’t enough room in the barnyards so fights develop over the pecking order (couldn’t resist).

Is there any question why the Republicans find themselves splintered and diseased by the infection of a carnival barker?  The 25-33% of Trump support are these disaffected free range Republicans.  This flock, raised on anger, misinformation, conspiracy, and paranoia, will resist any attempt to meld back into the fold – why should they?  This 25-33% represents people who have cockfighting season tickets.

As Fox proved this week by its unilateral capitulation to Donny J. Trump, the chickens may have come home not to roost, but to roust the traditional leadership structure.  Over the weekend, Roger Ailes looked into the abyss and at the bottom was a large bus sitting atop just about everyone thrown there in order to make nice with “the Donald”.  I’m sure Ailes was asking himself the line from Blade Runner, “Painful to live in fear, isn’t it?”

Go all the way to the Right, then Jump

sperm and eggLast Thursday night’s debate was enlightening.  The greatest lesson from this gaggle of free range panderers was this:  Sex changes women – it changes them from self-determinative, sensate human beings to nothing more than inconsequential ambulatory incubators.

In the Rubio/Walker “testosteroned world”, there is no exception whatsoever to an abortion ban in the event of rape, incest, or the preservation of the life of the mother.  At long last perhaps we should be grateful for this grain of honesty.  I’ve long wondered how long these palatable exceptions would survive in the purist world of far Right free-ranging Republicanism.

While these exceptions are popular with upwards of 80% of the electorate, to allow these exceptions would be supplanting one group’s value judgment for the values of the always morally superior far Right.  Let me explain:  If women were allowed to make personal health care decisions based upon being victims of a crime, how can that discretion be stripped away when the sex was consensual.  In other words, it’s like being a little bit pregnant only in reverse.

While Rubio and Walker were crystal clear in their pandering to the free range Republicans, Mike Huckabee went even farther down the rabbit hole of hallucinogenic extremism by declaring something akin to “zygote-hood”.  Under his tortured view of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, at the moment of egg and sperm unification, full constitutional personhood attaches.  Talk about speed dating!

Huckabee’s assertions were outrageous, but if we were to be similarly outlandish, we might point to the provisions of the Third Amendment that states, “No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner…”  In this culture war, Huckabee might want to consider the constitutional ramifications of housing these little zygote warriors in these ambulatory incubators commonly referred to as women.

Speaking of War…Bibi

Being long-memoried has its advantages.  It also has disadvantages like not allowing rank hypocrisy to pass without comment.  This is one of those times.

Last week President Obama made a statement that congressional Republicans were finding “common cause” with the Iranian hard-liners who liked the adversarial status quo.  Given the vociferous reaction from Republicans, you would have thought Obama had said something about their mothers “bleeding from wherever” given their knee-jerk reactions.

Countless free range Republican pundits were outraged and incredulous over such an assertion.  They whined that such a degenerate personal attack was unprecedented.  Let’s go to the tape of the run-up to the Iraq War shall we?  From the Bush White House:

December 2001:  Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America’s enemies, and pause to America’s friends.

February 2002:  Divisive comments have the effect of giving aid and comfort to our enemies by allowing them to exploit divisions in our country.

May 2002:  After it became clear Bush had been warned of a possible attack in the making, “Democratic statements are exactly what our opponents, our enemies, want us to do.”

September 2002:  “The Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people.”

Foghorn LeghornI could go on and on about how Democrats were called unpatriotic, but you can read them all here and here.

This is the chicken feed upon which free range Republicans have been raised.  Roger Ailes and Rush Limbaugh have become richer than Croesus by putting this rot into the free range food chain.  The one question I would leave with them is the same question that plagued young Victor Frankenstein:  Was the greater evil in the creature or in its creation?

Take the conversation in any direction you might like.  Total words 983 – mission accomplished.

 

 

Well, 152 comments later, it seems we all thought the Republican debate last Thursday was quite memorable. Here’s my take on the top five moments:

5: Rand Paul’s hair. It looked like a Jherri-curled Brillo pad. Not a good look for a pasty white man from Texas. Actually, not a good look for anyone.

4: Megyn Kelly’s Bitchy Resting Face. Whether asking der Jebinator whether he was, like, really, truly, totally pro-life, talking about terra terra terra, or attacking the Donald because, well, he’s the Donald, Megyn’s BRF never moved. This is how you know she is a serious news anchor…well, that, and her proclivity for posing in skintight spandex.

Ask me about ISIS!!!

3. Dr. Ben Carson. Who? Oh yes, the token African-American dude. The Republican Party certainly knows how to find physicians who can’t heal themselves! Incoherent and batsh*t bonkers, this man’s tax plan is to take 10% from everyone. Period! “If you make $10, you pay $1,” he said. Really? If you make $10 a year, you’re dead from starvation, you idiot. Perhaps you could find a more realistic example to use? Oh wait, I forgot. Reality has a liberal bias.

2. Governor Mike Hackabee. When asked what he would do to stop ISIS, the Hackster said that he would be honest enough to say the words “Islamic extremism,” unlike Obama. So let me get this straight: your plan to stop terrorism is to yell “Islamic extremism” a few times? What will you do then, O Great One – click your heels three times and wake up in Kansas in black and white? What is this, government by incantation?

1. Of course – The Donald. It’s hard to pick one part of his guffaw-mixed-with-vomit-inducing performance, so I guess I’ll just paraphrase some of his arguments.

“I’ve given money to Democrats even though I’m actually a Republican. Why? Because I know when I call, they’ll be there for me. Which is what is wrong with the system. Hey, Hillary Clinton came to my wedding! Also, I’ve never gone bankrupt – I’m worth $6 billion, which I got by gaming the system, which this time I think is great. Or maybe I don’t. Who cares? Our politicians are stupid, especially – I mean, except – the people on this stage. I used to be a liberal, but I’ve evolved into an orangutan. I hate everyone and will very likely cause World War 3. Vote for meeee!”

What were your favorite moments? This is an open thread.

Good Saturday, Widdershins.  Yes, I’m making a guest appearance, and I send much thanks and love to Fredster and Prolix for covering me while I was on hiatus.   I missed the companionship and the bon mots that all my friends at TW add to my life.

I’m really going to miss Jon Stewart.  In fact, I find myself getting tearful at the thought of a world without him.  Not that he is dead or in hiding – it’s just that no matter how dismal the world’s outlook may have seemed, I could always count on Jon to restore some perspective and leave me howling with laughter.  I read somewhere that he now plans to lobby Congress, the thought of which has me rubbing my hands together like a happy cricket.  Widdershins, this could just about redefine “awesome”.

In the interim, let’s celebrate sixteen years of good fun by commemorating the best of The Daily Show.  Post your favorites, or otherwise anything else that you might like to share with the class.  The floor is open.

(1) Jon Stewart vs, Fox News – “Adios, MF-ers”

(2) Aasif Mandvi – “Return of the Simplot Conspiracy”

(3) Jon Stewart – Trump Runs for President

(4) Jon Stewart – Democalypse 2016

(5) Jon Stewart – That’s What I Call Being Completely F-ing Wrong

(6) Jon Stewart – Rage Against the Rage Against the Machine

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