Friday, July 21, 2017

The Mark Of A True Toady

After all those rotten things Trump said about Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, one could imagine a swift resignation.  But then, you need to take into account the personality and venality of Mr. Sessions.

Nothing is more important to Trump than loyalty — to him.

In business and in politics, he has demanded it from the people closest to him. Some employees who abandoned him were never welcomed back. Politicians who did not defend him after the most politically damaging moments of the 2016 campaign are still suspect in his eyes. And after six months as president, Trump is still known to publicly jab at people who did not support his presidential bid.

But as Attorney General Jeff Sessions learned this week, the loyalty Trump expects isn’t always reciprocated.

He’s a sycophant and an opportunist who apparently doesn’t have a whole lot of self-regard and is willing to be publicly humiliated.  There’s a name for that — and probably a few websites, too, but you need a credit card and proof that you’re over 21.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Soft Target

Back in 2011, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) supported Michelle Obama’s campaign to get kids to eat healthy foods.

I think it’s a really good goal to encourage kids to eat better. You know, I’ve– I’ve struggled with my weight for thirty years and it’s a struggle. And if a kid can avoid that in his adult years or her adult years, more power to them. And I think the first lady is speaking out well.

I mean, I don’t want the government deciding what you can and what you can’t eat. I still think that’s your choice. But I think Mrs. Obama being out there encouraging people in a positive way to eat well and to exercise and to be healthy, I don’t have a problem with that.

That was before he decided that he needed to suck up to the nutsery in his run for president.  Now he thinks Ms. Obama’s campaign is the road to tyranny.

“Doesn’t the president of the United States have anything better to do than to worry about what you are having for lunch? Let me tell you this, I don’t care,” Christie said Monday when 11-year-old Jacob Royal, who traveled from Nebraska to hear Christie speak, asked the New Jersey governor what he would do to make the lunches better.

Christie said Michelle Obama has “no business” trying to determine what kids should be eating at school.

“If she wants to give her opinions about what people should have for breakfast or lunch or dinner, she is like any other American, she can give her opinion. But using the government to mandate her point of view on what people should be eating everyday is none of her business,” Christie said.

“I think that this intervention into our school system is just another example of how the Obamas believe that they’ve got a better answer for everything than you do,” he added.

Setting aside any snark about someone like Mr. Christie rejecting advice on healthy eating — that’s a cheap shot and there are many other reasons he shouldn’t be president — it’s just a pattern for him to switch positions 180 degrees to suit him in order to pander for votes, and he’s really not very good at it.

There is another aspect to this.  For a lot of children, especially those who live in poverty, the meals they get at school are often the only complete meals they get.  It’s not because their parents don’t care about feeding their children, but they cannot afford to feed them well.  Junk food is cheap and notably unhealthy, but it’s sometimes the only thing available.  It leads to unhealthy consumption of excess salt, sugar and fat that lead to diseases and chronic health conditions that could burden the child — and the health system — for the rest of their life.

Providing healthy foods, often for free or at reduced cost thanks to Title I, is a good thing.  And so are healthy children.

HT to Crooks and Liars.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Et Tu, Rummy?

What’s that scurrying sound?  Why, it sounds like someone desperately trying to save themselves and their legacy from the dumpster fire of history and throwing Bush and Cheney under the bus.

President George W. Bush was wrong to try to build democracy in Iraq, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in a recent interview, marking a striking admission from a key player behind the 2003 U.S. invasion.

In an interview with British newspaper The Times, Rumsfeld said that efforts to oust Saddam Hussein and replace his tyrannical regime with democracy were unworkable, and that he had concerns about the plan from the beginning.

“I’m not one who thinks that our particular template of democracy is appropriate for other countries at every moment of their histories,” Rumsfeld told The Times. “The idea that we could fashion a democracy in Iraq seemed to me unrealistic. I was concerned about it when I first heard those words.”

Rumsfeld, who served under Bush from 2001 to 2006, has previously defended the administration’s actions in the run-up to the war, which dragged on for years before formally ending in 2011.

Sorry, fella, it’s too damn late, you loathsome bottom-dwelling slug.

Monday, August 25, 2014

“Have Fun Slaughtering Your People”

What do you do when you’re a former prime minister and need a few quid to keep the polish on the Bentley?  Why, if you’re Tony Blair you sell your advice and what’s left of any decency to the highest bidder and help them get out of a rough PR patch.

Tony Blair gave Kazakhstan’s autocratic president advice on how to manage his image after the slaughter of unarmed civilians protesting against his regime.

In a letter to Nursultan Nazarbayev, obtained by The Telegraph, Mr Blair told the Kazakh president that the deaths of 14 protesters “tragic though they were, should not obscure the enormous progress” his country had made.

Mr Blair, who is paid millions of pounds a year to give advice to Mr Nazarbayev, goes on to suggest key passages to insert into a speech the president was giving at the University of Cambridge, to defend the action.

Mr Blair is paid through his private consultancy, Tony Blair Associates (TBA), which he set up after leaving Downing Street in 2007. TBA is understood to deploy a number of consultants in key ministries in Kazakhstan.

Human rights activists accuse Mr Blair of acting “disgracefully” in bolstering Mr Nazarbayev’s credibility on the world stage in return for millions of pounds.

The letter was sent in July 2012, ahead of a speech being given later that month by Mr Nazarbayev at the University of Cambridge.

A few months earlier, on December 16 and 17 2011, at least 14 protesters were shot and killed and another 64 wounded by Kazakhstan’s security services in the oil town of Zhanaozen. Other protesters, mainly striking oil workers, were rounded up and allegedly tortured.

Mr Blair had begun working for Mr Nazarbayev in November 2011, just a few weeks before the massacre.

In the letter, sent on note-paper headed Office of Tony Blair, Mr Blair wrote: “Dear Mr President, here is a suggestion for a paragraph to include in the Cambridge speech. I think it best to meet head on the Zhanaozen issue. The fact is you have made changes following it; but in any event these events, tragic though they were, should not obscure the enormous progress that Kazakhstan has made. Dealing with it [the massacre] in the way I suggest, is the best way for the western media. It will also serve as a quote that can be used in the future setting out the basic case for Kazakhstan.”

In his own handwriting, Mr Blair added at the bottom of the letter: “With very best wishes. I look forward to seeing you in London! Yours ever Tony Blair.”

It’s all one big episode of “Mad Men” for these people.

HT to FC.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

That Giant Sucking Sound

It wasn’t hard to miss: that sound was the entire Republican party and its 2016 hopefuls on their knees kissing the nether regions of Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the man who makes the money off the suckers at the crap tables and turns it into buying the votes of the rest of the suckers out there.

It’s hard to imagine a political spectacle more loathsome than the parade of Republican presidential candidates who spent the last few days bowing and scraping before the mighty bank account of the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. One by one, they stood at a microphone in Mr. Adelson’s Venetian hotel in Las Vegas and spoke to the Republican Jewish Coalition (also a wholly owned subsidiary of Mr. Adelson), hoping to sound sufficiently pro-Israel and pro-interventionist and philo-Semitic to win a portion of Mr. Adelson’s billions for their campaigns.

Gov. John Kasich of Ohio made an unusually bold venture into foreign policy by calling for greater sanctions on Iran and Russia, and by announcing that the United States should not pressure Israel into a peace process. (Wild applause.) “Hey, listen, Sheldon, thanks for inviting me,” he said. “God bless you for what you do.”

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin brought up his father’s trip to Israel, and said he puts “a menorah candle” next to his Christmas tree. The name of his son, Matthew, actually comes from Hebrew, he pointed out.

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey also described his trip to Israel, but then did something unthinkable. He referred to the West Bank as the “occupied territories.” A shocked whisper went through the crowd. How dare Mr. Christie implicitly acknowledge that Israel’s presence in the West Bank might be anything less than welcome to the Palestinians? Even before Mr. Christie left the stage, leaders of the group told him he had stumbled, badly.

And sure enough, a few hours later, Mr. Christie apologized directly to Mr. Adelson for his brief attack of truthfulness.

It’s not that I don’t get it that every politician running for office tries to curry favor with big donors to either party; that’s been going on forever.  But in this case it’s so blatantly clumsy and sycophantic that its embarrassing even for the GOP, a party that set the standard for shameless.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole lot of them signed up for the free introductory briss.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Short Takes

Items worth noting this morning…

Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson has an op-ed in the New York Times that explains the bailout for you.

Cage Match: Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney throw down. There’s no love lost between the two losers of the Republican primary as they position themselves for 2012.

Newt Gingrich: “[T]here is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us.” Project much, Newt?

[ow]: Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) will apparently get little more than a tut-tut from the Democratic caucus for campaigning for John McCain. Gee, those Democrats are so tough.

Not Going Anywhere Yet: Justice John Paul Stevens, 88, is showing no signs of slowing down.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Career Advancement

Headline in the New York Times: For White House, Hiring Is Political

On May 17, 2005, the White House’s political affairs office sent an e-mail message to agencies throughout the executive branch directing them to find jobs for 108 people on a list of “priority candidates” who had “loyally served the president.”

“We simply want to place as many of our Bush loyalists as possible,” the White House emphasized in a follow-up message, according to a little-noticed passage of a Justice Department report released Monday about politicization in the department’s hiring of civil-service prosecutors and immigration officials.

The report, the subject of a Senate oversight hearing Wednesday, provided a window into how the administration sought to install politically like-minded officials in positions of government responsibility, and how the efforts at times crossed customary or legal limits.

[…]

“We pledge 7 slots within 40 days and 40 nights. Let the games begin!” Jan Williams, then the White House’s liaison to the Justice Department, said in an e-mail message two days later.

Within a week, messages between Ms. Williams and the White House showed, she began trying to match the White House-vetted names of people who had been “helpful to the president” — like campaign volunteers — with openings for immigration judges, positions that are supposed to be filled using politically neutral, merit-based criteria.

If you make your pledge before midnight, you also get the Armstrong Williams DVD collection, and they’ll also include this lovely set of matching steak knives as a bonus!

Spare me the argument that “every administration does it.” That’s like excusing driving 120 mph on the interstate when the speed limit is 70 and everybody else is nudging 75. Besides, when you frame it in the language of “loyally serving the president,” you’re getting into the creepy territory of “Come and kneel before Zod!”

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Concern Troll of the Day

Richard Cohen at the Washington Post earns the award as today’s Concern Troll:

In some recent magazine articles, I and certain of my colleagues have been accused of being soft on McCain, forgiving him his flips, his flops and his mostly conservative ideology. I do not plead guilty to this charge, because, over the years, the man’s imperfections have not escaped my keen eye. But, for the record, let’s recapitulate: McCain has either reversed himself or significantly amended his positions on immigration, tax cuts for the wealthy, campaign spending (as it applies to use of his wife’s corporate airplane) and, most recently, offshore drilling. In the more distant past, he has denounced then embraced certain ministers of medieval views and changed his mind about the Confederate flag, which flies by state sanction in South Carolina only, I suspect, to provide Republican candidates with a chance to choose tradition over common decency. There, I’ve said it all.

But here is the difference between McCain and Obama — and Obama had better pay attention. McCain is a known commodity. It’s not just that he’s been around a long time and staked out positions antithetical to those of his Republican base. It’s also — and more important — that we know his bottom line. As his North Vietnamese captors found out, there is only so far he will go, and then his pride or his sense of honor takes over. This — not just his candor and nonstop verbosity on the Straight Talk Express — is what commends him to so many journalists.

Obama might have a similar bottom line, core principles for which, in some sense, he is willing to die. If so, we don’t know what they are. Nothing so far in his life approaches McCain’s decision to refuse repatriation as a POW so as to deny his jailors a propaganda coup. In fact, there is scant evidence the Illinois senator takes positions that challenge his base or otherwise threaten him politically. That’s why his reversal on campaign financing and his transparently false justification of it matter more than similar acts by McCain.

What he’s saying is that it’s okay for John McCain to flip-flop on his positions because we know that when he does it, it’s because he spent all those years as a POW and therefore when he changes his position, it’s for a damn good reason. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that he’s now trying to suck up to the base of the party he could ignore when his political future didn’t hang in the balance. The POW reference makes Mr. McCain invulnerable to attack because to question that experience is to question his patriotism, and to hint that the press might be giving McCain a free ride because of it… well, we can’t have that, can we?

What’s really ironic is that the more they exploit Mr. McCain’s time in North Vietnam as a POW, the cheaper and less meaningful it becomes.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Barnes Swallow

Fred Barnes has always been a suck-up to the Bush administration, but his farewell to Karl Rove in The Weekly Standard is over the top:

Rove is the greatest political mind of his generation and probably of any generation. He not only is a breathtakingly smart strategist but also a clever tactician. He knows history, understands the moods of the public, and is a visionary on matters of public policy. But he is not a magician.

In other words, it’s not the fault of the greatest political mind since Creation that the president he works for hasn’t accomplished anything in his second term except to get 70% of the American electorate to disapprove of his performance in office. No, that’s someone else’s fault.

Rove has been faulted for the failure of Bush’s two major domestic initiatives of his second term, Social Security reform and immigration reform. For sure, Rove strongly favored both policies and expected them to fare better than they did. But is he to blame for near-unanimous Democratic opposition to overhauling Social Security? Of course not.

Seeing as how Social Security reform couldn’t get started when the Republicans had the majority in the House and Senate and Mr. Bush’s immigration reform started a revolt in his own party, it doesn’t speak too well to the abilities of the greatest political mind of this or any generation.

But Karl did sign Fred’s yearbook, so it’s all good.