It’s good to be reminded of Ronald Reagan’s legacy now and then

The Pain wrote a testimonial to Ronald Reagan when he died in 2004. It still brings a tear to my eye, and I had to think of it again as I watched Reagan’s spawn, the current festering mass of Republican presidential wanna-bes. This is what he has given us.

Even at age twelve I could tell that Jimmy Carter was an honest man trying to address complicated issues and Ronald Reagan was a brilcreemed salesman telling people what they wanted to hear. I secretly wept on the stairs the night he was elected President, because I understood that the kind of shitheads I had to listen to in the cafeteria grew up to become voters, and won. I spent the eight years he was in office living in one of those science-fiction movies where everyone is taken over by aliens—I was appalled by how stupid and mean-spirited and repulsive the world was becoming while everyone else in America seemed to agree that things were finally exactly as they should be. The Washington Press corps was so enamored of his down-to-earth charm that they never checked his facts, but if you watched his face when it was at rest, when he wasn’t performing for anyone, you could see him for what he really was—a black-eyed, slit-mouthed, lizard-faced old son-of-a-bitch. He was a bad actor, an informer for McCarthy, and a hired front man for a gang of Texas oilmen, fundamentalist dingbats, and right-wing psychotics out of Dr. Strangelove. He put a genial face on chauvanism, callousness, and greed, and made people feel good about being bigots again. He likened Central American death squads to our founding fathers and called the Taliban “freedom fighters.” His legacy includes the dismantling of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, the final dirty win of Management over Labor, the outsourcing of America’s manufacturing base, the embezzlement of almost all the country’s wealth by 1% of its citizens, the scapegoating of the poor and black, the War on Drugs, the eviction of schizophrenics into the streets, AIDS, acid rain, Iran-Contra, and, let’s not forget, the corpses of two hundred forty United States Marines. He moved the center of political discourse in this country to somewhere in between Richard Nixon and Augusto Pinochet. He believed in astrology and Armageddon and didn’t know the difference between history and movies; his stories were lies and his jokes were scripted. He was the triumph of image over truth, paving the way for even more vapid spokesmodels like George W. Bush. He was, as everyone agrees, exactly what he appeared to be—nothing. He made me ashamed to be an American. If there was any justice in this world his Presidential Library would contain nothing but boys’ adventure books and bad cowboy movies, and the only things named after him would be shopping malls and Potter’s Fields. Let the earth where he is buried be seeded with salt.

I guess I’m a little older than the author: I had the privilege of voting against Reagan, twice. Sad to say that almost every word of that bitter complaint still rings true for every Republican and the media.

Did they have to make it so pretty?

The NY Times has put together a lovely illustrated story about data collection on Greenland. The story is prettily terrifying, though. The ice is melting, and forming lakes of liquid water on the surface of the ice cap, which then drains away in fast-running rivers that cut deeper into the ice and then drain into holes that run even deeper into the glacier — it’s a dangerous place, and if you fall in, you’ll be swept away and instantly dumped into a pit. It also means the ice sheet is porous and riddled with rot already.

In addition to the personal terror for the researchers, this work is about a process that’s going to affect us all.

But Mr. Overstreet’s task, to collect critical data from the river, is essential to understanding one of the most consequential impacts of global warming. The scientific data he and a team of six other researchers collect here could yield groundbreaking information on the rate at which the melting of Greenland ice sheet, one of the biggest and fastest-melting chunks of ice on Earth, will drive up sea levels in the coming decades. The full melting of Greenland’s ice sheet could increase sea levels by about 20 feet.

Is that scary enough for you yet? Hang on, there’s worse: our Republican congress.

But the research is under increasing fire by some Republican leaders in Congress, who deny or question the scientific consensus that human activities contribute to climate change.

Leading the Republican charge on Capitol Hill is Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, the chairman of the House science committee, who has sought to cut $300 million from NASA’s budget for earth science and has started an inquiry into some 50 National Science Foundation grants. On Oct. 13, the committee subpoenaed scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, seeking more than six years of internal deliberations, including “all documents and communications” related to the agency’s measurement of climate change.

I find the behavior of these Republican science-deniers unbelievable. There’s the obsessive derangement rivaling the Benghazi hearings, the appointment of unqualified know-nothings like Lamar Smith and Darrel Issa to play obstructionist games over scientific issues, and the abuse of legal strategies to harass scientists. Someday, we’re going to look back on this time as a period when the American government basically committed global crimes against humanity, as smiling rich fucks did everything they could to impose their ideological delusions on a dangerous reality.

But do read the NY Times article. The aerial views and maps of the ice sheet are gorgeous, and the field scientists are bravely carrying out important work, while the cowards and crooks of congress close their eyes and try to undermine that work.

Benghazi is a conspiracy to get Hillary Clinton elected president

The true meaning is at last revealed. I watched bits and pieces of Clinton’s hearing yesterday, and it all became clear.

Years ago, undercover operatives within the Republican party exploited a tragic, deadly attack in Libya. They stirred up some of the dumbest people in the party with a story: Benghazi is in a foreign country, and everyone knows that the Secretary of State is in charge of the foreigns, and so master manipulator Hillary Clinton must have done sumfin’ to rile up the brown people. And then all the dumb people started howling “Benghazi!”, further derailing their party, and getting the people who howled loudest into prominent positions, and sucking up millions of dollars for an “investigation”.

And then they put a guy with a funny name and an even goofier haircut in charge of the whole thing, and every third-rate sour, bitter Republican they could on the committee, and they staged a show trial in which posturing clowns asked stupid questions and Hillary Clinton could demonstrate god-like patience and look like the only grown-up in Washington DC.

It was brilliant. The Republicans look like twits, while Hillary Clinton looked presidential. It was the Kennedy-Nixon debate all over again, with Clinton as the telegenic, good-looking one, and the entire Republican party looking thuggish.

I heard the siren song. I found myself thinking that maybe I should vote for Clinton, too — never mind that Sanders is closer to me politically, man, I could picture President Hillary Clinton so easily.

And in case you missed it all, here is a most accurately abbreviated transcription of the whole thing.

What modern weapons do


Here is a photo essay of the inside of the MSF hospital in Kunduz that was attacked by US air power. The destruction is chilling.

It’s horrible that this devastation and death was wrought on a hospital, but we need to keep in mind that this is what follows every time our military decides that a point on the map needs to be obliterated. This is the wreckage we leave behind with every mad venture we engage.

We just don’t see the detailed images of the ruined lives and buildings afterwards.

The Democrats are easy, at least

I watched the Democratic debate tonight, sort of. I wasn’t paying close attention, but here are my impressions, anyway, ranked in my order of preference.

5. Chaffee: why is this guy even here? Muddled and goofy.

4. Webb: Beetle-browed bellicose buffoon.

3. O’Malley: Meh. Not awful, not very interesting.

2. Clinton: The confident moderate. Will probably win. Don’t expect much change.

1. Sanders: The revolutionary. Would shake things up, if he had a cooperative congress…otherwise, nothin’.

Just send 5, 4, and 3 home — I can’t imagine them making a decent showing in a debate with the blustering clowns in the Republican party.

You probably have a different impression.