Monthly Archives: January 2014

Political future of Repug thug in a suit should be grim

U.S. Representative King and Grimm talk to media after discussing relief fund hold up for Hurricane Sandy victims in Washington in this file photo

Reuters photo

Repugnican U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, who might want to consider a switch to playing football, is shown in D.C. earlier this month.

The biggest news from last night’s State of the Union address, pathetically, was the post-address thuggery by a Repugnican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York.

U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, very stupidly on camera, threatened a significantly smaller male TV news reporter who had dared to (try to) ask Grimm about Grimm’s current legal and ethical troubles, especially involving his campaign finances, “If you ever do that to me again, I’ll throw you off the fucking balcony” and “I’ll break you in half like a little boy.”

Pro football player Richard Sherman, as Salon.com’s Joan Walsh has pointed out, recently has been termed a “thug” — the opinion of many is that if you are black (as Sherman is), you are more likely to be called a “thug” than is a white person who has engaged in the equivalent behavior, and that “thug” thus is a coded racist term — and I remember well that the wingnuts routinely called union members “thugs” when union members dared to fight to preserve their rights in the aftermath of Repugnican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s assault on workers’ rights in early 2011.

While “thug” certainly can be used as a thinly veiled racist epithet, the members of the right wing in general, in my observation and experience, deem those who act with assertiveness (physical or not) with whom they disagree as “thugs,” whereas those with whom they agree are almost never “thugs,” no matter what they do.

How about the “Brooks Brothers riot” in Florida on November 19, 2000?

As Wikipedia recounts, on that date

Hundreds of “paid GOP crusaders” descended upon South Florida to protest the state’s recounts, with at least half a dozen of the demonstrators at Miami-Dade paid by George W. Bush’s recount committee. Several of these protesters were identified as Republican staffers and a number later went on to jobs in the Bush administration.

The “Brooks Brothers” name reinforces the allegation that the protesters, in corporate attire, sporting “Hermès ties” were astroturfing, as opposed to [actually being] local citizens concerned about [vote-]counting practices.

The demonstration was organized by Republican operatives, sometimes referred to as the “Brooks Brothers Brigade,” to oppose the recount of 10,750 ballots during the Florida recount. The canvassers decided to move the counting process to a smaller room and restrict media access to 25 feet away while they continued. At this time, New York Rep. John Sweeney told an aide to “Shut it down.”

The demonstration turned violent, and according to the New York Times, “several people were trampled, punched or kicked when protesters tried to rush the doors outside the office of the Miami-Dade supervisor of elections. Sheriff’s deputies restored order.” Democratic National Committee aide Luis Rosero was kicked and punched. Within two hours after the riot died down, the canvassing board unanimously voted to shut down the count, in part due to perceptions that the process wasn’t open or fair, and in part because the court-mandated deadline was impossible to meet. …

Keep in mind that Bush officially “won” Florida, and thus the White House, by only 537 votes.

Would any Repugnican on the planet call the “Brooks Brothers riot” what it was, which was a mob of fucking thugs trying — and apparently at least partially succeeding — to influence the outcome of a presidential fucking election in their favor through the use of intimidation (the threat of harm from physical violence) and actual physical violence?

No, to the Repugnicans, especially those of the “tea-party” ilk, this incident was wholly justifiable, because its goal was to put George W. Bush in the White House even though Al Gore had won more than a half-million more votes than Bush had.

Similarly, there is no justifying the shit that the thug Michael Grimm pulled last night.

It’s understandable that Grimm was not pleased to be asked by a TV news reporter about an issue that could threaten Grimm’s political future. And Grimm has claimed that he had been promised by the local TV news outfit that the question would not come up.

But even if that is true, it doesn’t justify his threat to “throw” the reporter “off the fucking balcony” and “break [him] in half like a little boy.” (My understanding is that such verbal threats constitute at least a misdemeanor.)

We can expect such language from football players, I think — I mean, let’s get real; NFL players are essentially modern-day gladiators –but can we excuse such language from so-called statesmen?

Grimm initially apparently refused to apologize, stating, “I verbally took the reporter to task and told him off, because I expect a certain level of professionalism and respect, especially when I go out of my way to do that reporter a favor. I doubt that I am the first member of Congress to tell off a reporter, and I am sure I won’t be the last.”

Well, actually, Grimm just might be the first member of Congress ever to have threatened to throw a reporter “off the fucking balcony” and “break [him] in half like a little boy.” On camera, anyway.

And I find it funny that Grimm, who apparently lacks all self-awareness, should fault anyone else for lacking “a certain level of professionalism and respect,” when he certainly rather graphically displayed such a lack last night. 

My guess is that other members of Grimm’s pathetic party since spoke to him, because the latest statement that Grimm has issued is this:

I was wrong. I shouldn’t have allowed my emotions to get the better of me and lose my cool. I have apologized to Michael Scotto [the TV news reporter whom Grimm attacked], which he graciously accepted, and will be scheduling a lunch soon. In the weeks and months ahead I’ll be working hard for my constituents on issues like flood insurance that is so desperately needed in my district post-[Hurricane] Sandy.

In the end, I suppose, it will be up to the voters of Grimm’s congressional district to decide his fate in November.

If those voters have a brain cell among them, Grimm’s political future indeed is grim, and ironically, his on-camera blow-up probably has done him far more political damage than he would have sustained had he just manned up and answered the fucking question, even evasively and using the usual politico-speak, such as he used in his belated, apparently begrudging apology.

In the meantime: A “thug” is anyone of any race or any political ideology who uses intimidation (the threat of violence) or actual violence to try to obtain his or her objectives. (Admittedly, women rarely are called “thugs,” although I believe in equality of the two sexes, so I see no problem with the designation being made for women.)

So, indeed, if Richard Sherman is a “thug,” then Michael Grimm most certainly is also.

P.S. Of the State of the Union address itself, I don’t have much to say. Barack Obama has a solid history of lofty rhetoric but scant political results. And I still blame him for having squandered his political capital thoroughly in 2009 and 2010, thereby helping the Repugnicans regain control of the U.S. House in November 2010 and thus handicapping his presidency ever since.

I already am looking past Obama and forward to the next president, frankly, as are millions of other Americans, I’m sure.

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‘The Birds’ Meets Pope Smiley Face

I generally try not to see too much symbolism in events — I remember when wingnut Glenn Beck remarked that a flock of geese flying overhead during one of his KKK rallies was a “miracle,” was “God’s flyover,” and I want to be mostly nothing like Glenn Beck — but it’s difficult not to see some symbolism in the news and in the news photos of the two white “peace” doves that, when two bonny-faced white children released from a window at the Vatican with Pope Francis, were promptly savaged by a seagull and a crow today.

Reports the Associated Press:

Vatican City — Two white doves that were released by children standing alongside Pope Francis as a peace gesture have been attacked by other birds.

As tens of thousands of people watched in St. Peter’s Square [today], a seagull and a large black crow swept down on the doves right after they were set free from an open window of the Apostolic Palace.

One dove lost some feathers as it broke free from the gull. But the crow pecked repeatedly at the other dove.

It was not clear what happened to the doves as they flew off.

While speaking at the window beforehand, Francis had appealed for peace in Ukraine, where anti-government protesters have died.

Here are some of the news photos:

Birds attack peace doves freed from pope's window

Birds attack peace doves freed from pope's window

Birds attack peace doves freed from pope's window

Birds attack peace doves freed from pope's window

Associated Press photos

Any symbolism seen in this, I suppose, would be much like a Rorschach test:

Catholicks might view it as a hostile world attacking the peaceful Catholick church. (Yeah, right. I just saw the excellent film “Philomena.” The Catholick church has been and remains one of the most evil, most oppressive institutions on the planet, even though its new pope has tried to put a happy face on all of it.)

Even a fairly reasonable person might see it as a general symbol of or statement on the state of peace in the world today, I suppose.

Anti-“Christo”fascists like myself might tend to view today’s incident of “The Birds” Meets Pope Smiley Face as the Universe’s commentary on the Catholick church itself, but most of us anti-“Christo”fascists, also being atheists or leaning toward atheism, anyway, and generally favoring science and logic and reason over hocus-pocus (such as the visage of Jesus “miraculously” appearing on a piece of toast), probably view it as just a fairly poor idea for the Catholick church to be releasing weaker birds into an environment where there are hungry, more powerful birds — duh.

Still, while I feel sorry for the doves — just two more victims of the Catholick church — and while I hope that they are OK, I kind of have to laugh inside.

P.S. Apparently, it’s dangerous to be a dove at the Vatican. TheWire.com notes that “last year, Pope Benedict XVI’s ceremonial dove release for victims of the Holocaust was marred when a seagull also attacked a dove and pinned it against a window pane.” That dove, reportedly, got away, but before today’s dove release, the Vatican knew that such an attack was a possibility.

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On Robert Gates, I told you so

Um, yeah, this was as avoidable as it was predictable…

So former Obama administration Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has written a book in which he has said some unflattering things about President Obama, probably primarily, or even only, to try to sell his new book. (Why be secretary of defense if you can’t get a book deal out of it?)

Reminds me of the old frog and scorpion tale.

I wrote these things about Robert Gates back in the day:

From September 2009:

… [Robert] Gates should go. The American people elected a Democratic president and here is a Repugnican “president’s” secretary of defense held over from the unelected Bush regime’s bogus wars. I think that President Obama retained Gates primarily in order to try to prove that Obama isn’t a pussified commander in chief. Ironically, though, Obama’s retention of Gates proves exactly that Obama is a pussified commander in chief, that he puts what some fucktards think above doing the right thing, which is to dump Bush regime holdover Gates. …

From February 2010:

… Obama never should have kept on Gates, who was defense secretary under George W. Bush. Obama probably did that to look “bipartisan” and/or not “soft on terror” or the like, but it was a mistake. …

From January 2013:

… [Barack Obama] is poised to name Repugnican former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel as U.S. secretary of defense, reinforcing the meme that Democrats are shitty on defense, and doing something that a Repugnican president never would do (i.e., appoint a Democrat to his cabinet, perhaps especially for defense) …

Not that Hagel would represent the first time that Obama sold out those who voted for him where it comes to his selection of the U.S. secretary of defense. Recall that Obama, at the start of Round One, lazily, cowardly and stupidly kept on Robert Gates, who under George W. Bush had replaced war criminal Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of defense in November 2006. Gates stayed on the job as defense secretary under Obama until he retired on July 1, 2011.

My biggest problem with Hagel is that again, a Republican president of today never would put a Democrat on his cabinet (yes, I use “his” because a female Republican president is pretty much an oxymoron), and DINO Obama has sold out the Democratic Party enough as it is. …

I stand by my assertion that Obama’s having chosen Repugnicans as two of his three secretaries of defense has only given the impression that the members of his own party are clueless on defense, and that this thus obviously has not helped Obama’s party.

It wasn’t “smart” “bipartisanship”* on Obama’s part to keep Gates on as secretary of defense and then, after Democrat Leon Panetta held the seat for less than two years after Gates, to replace Panetta with Hagel. It wasn’t a stroke of brilliance, a la Abraham Lincoln’s “team of rivals.”

It was as brilliant as was the frog who agreed to give the scorpion a ride on his back across the pond.

P.S. The assertions in Gates’ book that have been leaked/reported thus far aren’t all that earth-shattering, which is why I haven’t bothered to expound upon them, but perhaps the most interesting one is Gates’ reported assertion that Barack Obama, while supportive enough of U.S. troops, never was enthusiastic enough about the war in Afghanistan.

What the fuck?

Why should Obama ever have been enthusiastic about the war in Afghanistan — which is not called the “graveyard of empires” for nothing — that the war criminals of the unelected, treasonous Bush regime began (belatedly, after they illegally, immorally, unjustly and unprovokedly invaded Iraq) and that Obama inherited?

*“Bi-” means “two,” and in the term “bipartisanship” it connotes “both ways,” and no Repugnican president has ever selected a Democrat as his secretary of defense. Ever.

However, four Democratic presidents — Harry S Truman, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — each appointed a Repugnican as his secretary of defense for at least a portion of his presidency.

This is what “bipartisanship” means in the United States: the Repugnicans give the Democrats not an inch, but the Democrats give the Repugnicans a mile.

And this is yet another factor, but probably the largest factor, that makes it so difficult to have any respect for the Democrats: their utter lack of respect for themselves (and, by extension, their constituents).

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Chris Christie has become the Repugnicans’ bridge to nowhere

The George Washington Bridge toll booths are pictured in Fort Lee, New Jersey

Reuters photo

An aide to Repugnican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie very apparently orchestrated lanes of the George Washington Bridge, pictured above, to be closed in order to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, for not having endorsed Christie’s gubernatorial re-election. The bridge, which connects New Jersey and New York City via Fort Lee, is one of the busiest in the world.

Any Repugnican, including the teatards, who celebrates the probable political downfall of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is a moron. (Well, they’re all morons, but still.)

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want Chris Christie or any other Repugnican, teatard or not, anywhere near the White House, but recent nationwide polls have suggested that Christie is the only member of his party who can beat Billary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, in November 2016.

A CNN/ORC poll taken last month had Christie beating Billary by two percentage points, 48 percent to 46 percent. No big deal, you say, but Billary garnered anywhere from 52 percent to 58 percent against all of the other Repugnican candidates in the poll, including Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Prick Perry, Marco Rubio, Pretty Boy Paul Ryan and yes, Prick Santorum.

A Quinnipiac University poll also taken last month showed Christie beating Billary by one percentage point, 42 percent to 41 percent. No big deal, you might say again, but in that poll, Billary beat every other Repugnican — Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul — by 7 percent to 13 percent.

A McClatchy-Marist poll also taken last month showed Billary actually beating Christie by 3 percent, 48 percent to 45 percent, but in that poll, too, Christie fared much better against Billary than did any other Repugnican, all of whom lost to Billary by 10 percent to 23 percent (true, it was Sarah Palin who lost to Billary by 23 percent, and Palin very most likely won’t be running in 2016, but still…).

True, Christie would have had to overcome the right-wing extremists — well, they’re nutjobs; even “right-wing extremist” doesn’t capture their depravity, and even “nutjobs” doesn’t capture how dangerous they are (there are plenty of harmless nutjobs), so probably “fascists” and “‘Christo’fascists” are the best terms for these Orc-like “people” — to win his party’s 2016 presidential nomination, but I think that he could have done that.

Before now.

Before the news that, as The Associated Press has put it, “e-mails and text messages suggest that one of Christie’s top aides engineered traffic jams in the New Jersey town [of Fort Lee] last September to punish its Democratic mayor.” The AP adds:

… The messages do not directly implicate Christie, but they appear to contradict his assertions that the closings were not punitive and that his staff was not involved.

The messages were obtained by The Associated Press and other news organizations amid a statehouse investigation into whether the lane closings that led to the tie-ups were retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing Christie for re-election last fall.

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly wrote in August in a[n e-mail] message to David Wildstein, a top Christie appointee on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

[Reuters reports that Wildstein’s e-mail reply was: “Got it.”]

A few weeks later, Wildstein closed two of three lanes connecting Fort Lee to the heavily-traveled George Washington Bridge, which runs between New Jersey and New York City.

Beyond the specifics of the lane closures, critics suggest the incident reflects a darker side of Christie’s brand of politics that contradicts the image he’d like to project as he eyes the presidency. …

“This completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge,” Christie has proclaimed, adding, “People will be held responsible for their actions.”

While I find it very difficult to believe that any of Christie’s staffers would have been so brazenly bold as to orchestrate something so large without Christie’s knowledge, if not also his consent, at the bare minimum, even if Christie is telling the truth, which I very much doubt, Bridgegate seriously calls into question Christie’s ability to keep his own flying monkeys in check.

Gee, what would President Christie do if he failed to get someone’s endorsement for his re-election? Send a killer drone after him or her?

I agree with the AP’s assessment that a criticism that could be made of Christie is that Bridgegate reveals “a darker side of Christie’s brand of politics that contradicts the image he’d like to project as he eyes the presidency.” Indeed, he reminds me of the revengeful Richard Nixon.

All of this said, while I can’t stand Billary, and while I doubt that as president she’d be significantly more effective or progressive than Barack Obama has been — and so I still hope that she faces a strong, actually progressive challenger for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination — of course I’d rather see Billary in the White House, if that is unavoidable, than Chris Christie.

And Chris Christie was his party’s best path to recapturing the White House.

But now, he has become his party’s bridge to nowhere.

P.S. Yes, Christie’s probable political ruin perhaps might help the likes of presidential wannabe Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, whom I despise probably even more than I despise Christie, but Walker is fairly unknown outside of Wisconsin, and could he beat Billary? I doubt it. I could see him winning his party’s 2016 presidential nomination, but I can’t see him winning the White House.

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