Thursday, October 30, 2014

Last Call For Huckleberry's Hard Truth

Once again the mask slips, and Republicans accidentally tell the truth.  Sen. Lindsey Graham meant it as a joke, of course.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) joked in a private meeting this month that white men would "do great" under his presidency, according to audio obtained by CNN.

The South Carolina Republican confirmed to the news outlet that he made the comment at a meeting of the Hibernian Society of Charleston, a charity organization that he said encourages speakers "to be earthy, to make fun of yourself, to make fun of them."

"If I get to be president, white men who are in male-only clubs are going to do great in my presidency," Graham says in one audio snippet as the audience laughs.

Ha-haaaaaaaa! It's a joke, see.

And the joke's on us.

The Screaming Abyss Is Seated At The Table By The Bar, Dr. Ablow

I know I like to allude that the crazier elements of the Tea Party have much in common with comic book super villains, but it's rare that one of them actually writes a column worthy of being included in a manifesto for an enemy of Captain America or Batman, between bouts of megalomaniacal laughter. Jon Chait on FOX News contributor(?) Dr. Keith Ablow, who apparently has a doctorate in Being Evil:

The Obama era has seen a resurgence of conservative constitutional fetishism — the belief that the Constitution not only requires the Republican domestic agenda, but is figuratively or even literally divine. Fox News columnist and television personality Dr. Keith Ablow has taken this premise and applied it toward American foreign policy. The result is a remarkable column calling for what he calls “American Jihad.” 
Ablow’s argument, at least conceptually, is extremely simple. The United States, like Al Qaeda, has a sacred document: “Our Constitution is a sacred document that better defines and preserves the liberty and autonomy of human beings than the charter of any other nation on earth.” 
Therefore, every person on Earth should enjoy its blessings: “An American jihad would embrace the correct belief that if every nation on earth were governed by freely elected leaders and by our Constitution, the world would be a far better place.” 
Note that Ablow is not merely endorsing a civilizational war between the West and radical Islam, as extreme hawks are wont to do. He is endorsing a campaign of conquest aimed at literally every other country on Earth. Ablow is not satisfied with bringing democracy to those who don’t enjoy it. He proposes to bring the American Constitution to every country, even democratic ones. Because there may be other democratic forms of government, but Ablow thinks they all pale before ours.

This guy is a few crock pots short of a company chili cook-off.  Usually "let's invade all the other nations and make them just as awesome as America, because America!" is rightfully classified as reductio ad absurdum snark, not an actual foreign policy talking point, but this is actually what Ablow is proposing here.

Bonus verbatim stupid:

We would urge our leaders, after their service in the U.S. Senate and Congress, to seek dual citizenship in other nations, like France and Italy and Sweden and Argentina and Brazil and Germany, and work to influence those nations to adopt laws very much like our own. We might even fund our leaders' campaigns for office in these other nations.

Oh sure, that's clearly the solution to the world's problems: we need to export more US politicians writing more awesome laws like the USA PATRIOT Act.

Chait ends his piece thusly:

It’s not terrorism if God is telling you to do it.

God is apparently mildly disturbed.  Explains a lot, actually.

The American Red (Double) Cross

The argument we hear from conservatives is that government has no business in the disaster relief department, that's what charities are for, and government agencies are terribly mismanaged and screw things up (the VA comes to mind.)  The problem is that charities can be mismanaged too, and when they are, it's the government that ends up backstopping disaster relief efforts.  Barry Ritholz talks about the American Red Cross's massive Hurricane Sandy failures as a prime example:

The details of how it botched the relief efforts are laid out in Red Cross documents and are simply stunning: 
• Despite plenty of advance warning of Sandy, the Red Cross lacked basics such as food, blankets and batteries to distribute to victims after the storm. 
• Red Cross workers weren't provided with the usual GPS devices. Many got lost driving around the New York area and were unable to deliver aid and supplies. 
• As many as half of the emergency meals prepared for Sandy victims were wasted or never delivered. 
• The Red Cross failed to deliver food, water, shelter, cleaning supplies, blankets to survivors of Sandy until weeks after the storm. Mormon and Amish volunteers, on the other hand, were delivering supplies just three days after the storm. 
• Red Cross supervisors ordered dozens of empty trucks to be driven around, “just to be seen,” in lieu of delivering relief supplies. 
• Emergency response vehicles and other assets were also diverted from disaster aid to be seen as backdrops at news conferences for PR purposes; the Red Cross did this after other storms too, including Hurricane Isaac. 
Perhaps most damning is evidence that the Red Cross fabricated claims of how many people were actually served by the charity. The Red Cross said that “17 million meals and snacks were delivered, there were 74,000 overnight stays in shelters, more than 7 million relief items like blankets and flashlights.” Internal documents cast doubt on those numbers, saying the charity’s ability to actually count what was delivered was “crippled.”

Now we know why the Red Cross hired the law firm Gibson Dunn to fight public disclosures of how Sandy money was spent. Gibson Dunn distinguished itself by making the absurd claim that Sandy activities were a “trade secret.” Eventually, the Red Cross backed away from that stance.

This is turning into an ugly story of incompetence where a charity failed, but government was able to step in.  And note I mean the federal government and FEMA, and not the equally incompetent response from Gov. Chris Christie, part of which turned into quite the nice new construction slush fund for rewarding donors.

FEMA was the hero during Sandy, not the Red Cross, and not New Jersey's government.


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