The State of the Republican Party is…TOTALLY EXTREME

Hey, Republicans? I know i give you guys some grief around here, but, sincerely, heck of a job last night.

What? No, really, you guys definitely came off looking good, not unhinged or insane or anything like that.

I thought your criticisms of President Obama were incredibly trenchant, even poignant. Your foreign policy critiques were particularly commendable for being not at all panicky or absurdly hyperbolic.

All in all, you guys definitely proved that you can attend big political events like the State of the Union without embarrassing yourselves or your party. Way to go.

"I'm so happy I could throw someone off a balcony!"

“I’m so happy, I could throw someone off a f**king balcony!”

EXCLUSIVE: Full Text of Rand Paul’s State of the Union Response

We’re lucky to have been given an advance copy of Senator Rand Paul’s State of the Union Response. Senator Paul has been a good friend to this blog, and we are grateful for his continued support. Here is Senator Paul’s speech, in its entirety:

My fellow Americans, I speak to you tonight in frank terms about the state of our union. Earlier, you may have heard President Obama talk about his vision for America, a vision based on more spending, more taxes, and more job-stifling regulation. President Obama’s sees an America where “inequality” and “poverty” are the great challenges of the day, and frankly I couldn’t disagree with him more. My friends, when I look at America today, after five years of liberal experimentation, I see, instead, an America that looks very much like the plot of the 1985 film, “The Goonies.”

In the film, the Goonies, a group of friends living in the “Goon Docks” neighborhood of Astoria, Oregon, face foreclosure on their families’ homes from the expanding Astoria Country Club. On their last weekend together their morale sinks particularly low because Mikey’s (Sean Astin) older brother Brand (Josh Brolin) failed his driver’s license exam, thwarting their plans to “cruise the coast in style.” While rummaging through the Walshes’ attic, they find an old newspaper clipping, a Spanish map, and an artifact relating to a rumor of a lost pirate treasure somewhere in the area. Hearing the call of adventure, Mikey tries to persuade his friends to join him in search for the treasure hoarded by a pirate named One-Eyed Willie. Initially reluctant, the group eventually decides to evade the authority of Brand, and escape for one last “Goonie adventure.”

It’s eerie how well the filmmakers anticipated what America would look like almost three decades later.

Anyway, the Goonies head down the coast and stumble upon a derelict seaside restaurant that seems to match coordinates set by the map and an old doubloon. They are unaware that the Fratellis, a family of fugitives, are using the restaurant as their hideout. After first encountering the family, the Goonies come back after the Fratellis have left and discover their criminal intents. They send Chunk (Jeff Cohen), the group’s clumsy, heavy-set dreamer and teller of tall tales, to get help. However, the Fratellis return before they can leave, forcing the Goonies to use a cavern underneath the restaurant to escape. The Fratellis capture Chunk and interrogate him, learning nothing until a colony of bats burst out of the cavern beneath the restaurant. Chunk is placed in the same room with the forsaken and deformed Fratelli brother, Sloth (John Matuszak), while the rest of the Fratellis enter the cavern and follow the Goonies’ trail.

As the Goonies traverse the cavern, Mikey discovers that it matches up with the map and convinces the rest of the group to continue to follow it to find the treasure. They overcome many deadly traps set by One-Eyed Willie, and eventually arrive at a large underground cavern and a lagoon where Willie’s ship, the Inferno, lies waiting. While others begin to fill their pockets with the riches on the ship, Mikey locates Willie’s remains, and reverently acknowledges him as the “first Goonie”, leaving part of the treasure with him as a mark of respect. However, as the Goonies exit the hold, they are cornered by the Fratellis, who take the kids’ treasure and force them to walk the plank. The Goonies are saved by the timely arrival of Chunk and Sloth, now close friends, who help the rest of the group to shore. With the children no longer a threat, the Fratellis ransack the rest of the ship, including the share of the treasure Mikey left for Willie. This sets off a final booby trap, causing the cave to begin collapsing. The Goonies flee through a hole in the cave, finding themselves on a beach. Two passing policemen spot them and call in for help.

I hope you’re seeing the parallels, my friends, because they’re all over the place.

The Goonies are soon reunited with their families while the Fratellis are taken into custody and Chunk offers to take Sloth into his home. As the Astoria Country Club calls upon Mikey’s father to sign over the final deed to his property, Rosalita (Lupe Ontiveros), the Walshes’ maid, discovers that Mikey’s marble bag contains a large handful of precious jewels taken from the ship. Mikey’s father quickly estimates that their value is more than enough to save the Goon Docks. As the families rejoice, they spot the unmanned Inferno, now free of the cave, drifting away.

This is the America of today, but, with your help, I plan to keep fighting for a better way forward. Thank you, my friends, and God Bless America.

Pete Seeger, 1919-2014

Proof that the good don’t necessarily have to die young, folk legend Pete Seeger lived to the ripe old age of 94 before passing away peacefully yesterday evening. One of this blog’s categories is the title of a Pete Seeger song, so it seems appropriate to mark his passing here. The 60s were a bit before my time, and I have to confess that I never gave Seeger a lot of thought until “If I Had a Hammer” turned up on a CD that my daughter’s pre-school music teacher recorded, with the kids on background vocals. That either speaks to a mainstreaming of Seeger’s message, or I inadvertently sent my kid to Communist Indoctrination Camp for pre-school. Eh, she seems fine. The song is now one of my favorites, for its very simple, very powerful message:

Well I got a hammer,
And I got a bell,
And I got a song to sing, all over this land.

It’s the hammer of Justice,
It’s the bell of Freedom,
It’s the song about Love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

Edroso has a great discussion of Seeger’s music, and Pierce on his political legacy. I’ll just throw in some tunes:

From the “People Who Should Never Be Taken Seriously Again” file…

…here’s blog favorite Michael O’Hanlon, on how great it would be if we could send a whole bunch of American soldiers to various parts of Africa to, you know, fix everything:

The United States should, with a focused effort and in partnership with other states, make a significant push to improve security in Africa. No massive deployments of U.S. troops would be needed, and in fact no role for American main combat units is required. But we should step up our game from the current very modest training efforts coordinated through Africa Command (AFRICOM).

FUN FACT: When Michael O’Hanlon was initially (but cautiously, so very cautiously) writing pieces in support of the planned invasion of Iraq, he wrote this: “[n]or would we run the serious risk of a long campaign or military stalemate, as we did in [Korea and Vietnam]. Even if most other countries objected to our decision to target Saddam, few could complain once he was gone, and our reputation in the Arab world might improve once sanctions on the Iraqi people were lifted.” That’s a clutch 0-for-2 right there.

The continent is too big for a comprehensive approach or one-size-fits-all initiative. However, the United States could make a major difference by deploying several thousand Americans to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and several hundred trainers to Libya. In the case of the DRC, by supplementing the U.N. mission that has achieved some recent battlefield successes against rebel forces, Americans could help train and mentor a DRC army so that it can gradually replace the U.N. while establishing control over much of the country’s interior (especially in the east). The Congolese war has probably been Africa’s most lethal over the last 15 years; success here could be game-changing.

You see, by suggesting that we send “thousands” of troops to the Congo and only “hundreds” of troops to Libya, O’Hanlon is clearly attuned to the fact that “[t]he continent is too big for a comprehensive approach or one-size-fits-all initiative.” You have to send, like, different amounts of toy soldiers to different places, you know? It’s called “flexibility,” probably. And this is barely a drop in the bucket, hardly any involvement at all, and absolutely guaranteed not to escalate and spill out of control on us. Trust the guy who backed the Iraq War on this. He’s an expert on this stuff.

Continue reading

Egypt: Back to the Future

It is three years and two days since the uprising that eventually overthrew Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak began, on January 25, 2011. Mubarak’s ouster was seen as the end of almost 60 years of military-backed autocracy and the dawning of a new Egyptian democracy, although the particular revolt that led to his removal was motivated at least as much by a collapsing economy as it was by any frustration with Egypt’s political system. No longer would some unaccountable strongman rule Egypt based on his own arbitrary whims; from now on, Egypt would be governed by her people, and Egyptian governments would be accountable to the law. Then they made the mistake of holding elections. In this Islamic nation, tasting democracy for the first time after decades of foreign rule (the Ottomans, then the British) combined with and then succeeded by a series of incompetent and unpopular monarchs, who were in turn followed by an increasingly unpopular military dictatorship, Egypt’s Islamists, the Muslim Brotherhood, won the elections, first for parliament and then, under Mohammed Morsi, for the presidency.

Why did this happen, you ask? Well, it’s not really that complicated and it’s certainly not indicative of some systemic incompatibility between Muslim societies and democracy.

Continue reading

You know, for people who claim to hate Communism so much…

Republicans sure do seem to like the idea of central planning when it suits their fancy:

First off, it seems that the Heritage headline, “You Won’t Believe How Many Food Stamp Recipients Have Attended College,” is a tad misleading, because they aren’t talking about people who finish college, just the number who have attended college, which probably counts your doddering Aunt Helen who “attended” your graduation and gave you that crappy Applebee’s gift certificate you never used.

Folks that have a college degree make up only SEVEN percent of those households on food stamps, which is vastly underrepresenting the 38.7 percent of working-age Americans who hold a 2-or4-year degree. But since when has the Heritage Foundation let little things like facts and data get in the way of a good argument?

So why are a very small percentage of college graduates relying on a government program specifically designed to help in economically difficult times?

Well, one reason might be that some of those attending college are picking the wrong subjects to study.

Damn right! You’re doing college ALL WRONG. We don’t care what kind of fucking precious snowflake you are, put down the bong and get your ass over to the business school and learn how to be the next Jamie Dimon. Seriously, fuck 19th century German literature! That shit is as useless as Rick Santorum’s dick in a room full of lady hookers with uncontrollable libidos.

“Picking the wrong subjects to study”? What the hell does that mean? Are we going to start telling college students what they’re supposed to study?

Probably wouldn't have been allowed to major in art, his true calling.

Probably wouldn’t have been allowed to major in art, his true calling.