Shocker! Hillary Clinton Is Running for President!

Hillary Clinton LaughingThis morning, The New York Times sent me a news update, Breaking News: Hillary Clinton Will Run for President in 2016, Top Aide Says. This is why I subscribe to their updates. I don’t want to miss out on anything. I would hate to be hanging out in the lunch room at work and muse aloud, “I wonder with Hillary Clinton will run for president.” Only to have a coworker embarrass me, “You haven’t heard? Hillary Clinton is running for president!” Boy would my face be red.

Since I got that update from The New York Times, I’ve been waiting for other breaking news. Really, at this point, it could be anything:

  • Hillary Clinton Married to Former President, Top Aide Says
  • Hillary Clinton Unlikely to Change Hair Color in 2016, Top Aide Says
  • Hillary Clinton Recently Became Grandmother, Top Aide Says
  • Hillary Clinton Will Not Be Contestant on Dancing With the Stars in 2016, Top Aide Says
  • Hillary Clinton Not Controlled by Reptilian Extraterrestrial, Top Aide Says

Actually, that last one might qualify as news. I’ve been intrigued this last week that there was the announcement that Hillary Clinton would announce her candidacy for president. And so there was lots of “news” about her upcoming announcement, as if it were, you know, news. And now that she has officially announced her candidacy, there will be lots of news about that. I know it won’t happen, but it would make sense if next week we got the headline:

Hillary Clinton Still Running for President in 2016, Top Aide Says

I have nothing especially against Hillary Clinton. If it comes to it, I will vote for her. But with Clinton, Cruz, and Paul, this is really not news. They have all been running for president for some time. So a formal announcement ought to be treated as such. This isn’t earth shattering. It is along the lines of a business that has been a sole proprietorship is changing into an S corporation. That’s how big this news is: not big.

Now her campaign put out this very nice video announcing her candidacy. And I am not nearly cynical enough to not like it. It’s good. And it is a hell of a lot better than Ted Cruz’s staged speech where he wanted us to all imagine a world in which fifty years of social progress was washed away.

Just the same, I am cynical enough to think that The Onion nailed her candidacy better than her campaign or the mainstream media ever will:

  • Campaign Slogan: “I deserve this”
  • Campaign Strategy: Overwhelming tide of inevitability
  • Spouse: Former Arkansas attorney general William Jefferson Clinton
  • Wingspan: 7 feet, 6 inches
  • Ideal Running Mate: Primary opponent who knows how to gracefully step aside when the time comes
  • Biggest Scandals: Deaths of four Americans at Benghazi, use of private email account for government messages, choice of Nina McLemore dress at a 1998 presidential function
  • Grandchildren: One, but pushing Chelsea for one more before Iowa caucus
  • Stance On Abortion: Supports a woman’s right to choose for her husband’s mistress
  • Birthplace: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming
  • Number Of Times Teeth Gritted To Date: 489,346
  • Things She Personally Understands As A Grandmother: Hope, faith, future, education, children, all that crap
  • Greatest Fear: Charismatic young senators from the Midwest
  • Number Of Big Macs That Fit In Mouth At One Time: 2
  • Biggest Challenge: Not completely blowing it

My hope is that if she completely blows this, she will do it soon. But if she does, the media will probably miss it because they are busy covering Jeb Bush’s announcement.

Government Whistleblower Attacks Never Change

Seymour HershOne was a fear — nourished in part, some sources said, by Henry A Kissinger, then the President’s national security adviser — that Daniel Ellsberg, who said he turned over the Pentagon papers to the press, might pass on to the Soviet Union secrets far more important than any information contained in the Pentagon study of the Vietnam war.

Specifically, the sources said, the White House feared that Dr Ellsberg, a former Rand Corporation and Defense Department official, may have been a Soviet intelligence informer who, in the weeks after publication of the Pentagon Papers in June, 1971, was capable of turning over details of the most closely held nuclear targeting secrets of the United States, which were contained in a highly classified documents known as the Single Integrated Operation Plans, or SIOP.

The second major concern was that a highly placed Soviet agent of the KGB, the Soviet intelligence agency, operating as an American counterspy, would be compromised by continued inquiry by the special prosecutor and the Senate Watergate committee into the Ellsberg case. The agent informed his FBI contact that a set of the Pentagon papers had been delivered to the Soviet Embassy in Washington shortly after a Federal court had ordered The Times to stop printing its series of articles on the papers.

—Seymour Hersh
The President and the Plumbers (9 Dec 1973)

H/T: Trevor Timm, Before Snowden, Nixon Admin Pioneered Evidence-Free “Russian Spy” Smears Against Daniel Ellsberg

White House Rightly Trolls Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu with Bomb PictureAs I write this, Fox News has reported, White House Swipes at Netanyahu With Tweet of Iran Bomb Diagram. I’m sure that Friday afternoon’s panel discussion on the Republican propaganda network will be filled with outrage. After all: how dare the President of the United States make fun of the King of the Republican Party, Benjamin Netanyahu (who recently unseated Vladimir Putin, who is now just the authoritarian man-crush of the party)?

The story starts back in 2012, when Netanyahu came to the United Nations to talk about the threat of Iran getting a nuclear bomb. And as proof, he apparently got his four year old grandson to make a drawing of a bomb that looks like something out of a Looney Tunes cartoon. And there he is in the picture drawing a red line on it as if to say, “Danger, Will Robinson!” It was when he claimed that the summer of 2013 was absolutely, positively the last chance the world had to stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb. Of course, I recently discussed just how seriously we should take his pronouncements, Netanyahu’s Long History of Being Wrong. But hey, a cartoon bomb. A red line. These things must be taken seriously! Of course, the Obama administration wasn’t too happy at the time.

So it isn’t surprising that now that the Iran nuclear framework is in place and a deal looks like it is going to come to pass (as long as the Democrats don’t destroy it), the Obama administration would take to a little payback. And what payback it is! They tweeted out the following image that is quite brilliant:

Iran Nuclear Deal - Bomb

Zack Beauchamp at Vox has noted that, The White House’s Netanyahu-Trolling Cartoon Is Pretty Misleading. But that headline itself is misleading. It just refers to the fact that this simple cartoon doesn’t correctly summarize the agreement. But he admits:

The basic point is to illustrate that, under the terms of the proposed deal, Iran would have to give up a lot of the enriched uranium and centrifuges it could use to develop a nuclear bomb — which leaves Iran much further from a bomb than it would be in the absence of the deal. And that basic point is true.

And let’s not forget: the point of the cartoon is to be simplistic. It is a parody of Netanyahu’s ridiculous “argument” that his cartoon bomb picture somehow proved that Iran was on the verge of having a nuclear weapon. What the administration has produced is far more nuanced and accurate than that.

To me, the most important part of the image is the pair of scissors. If we take Netanyahu’s image as reality (and we shouldn’t), then this deal snips off that lit fuse. No one is claiming that this deal will stop Iran from ever getting a nuclear weapon. But it will slow any such efforts. So that’s a good thing, right? Well, apparently not — at least for Netanyahu. And that’s interesting coming from the leader of the only country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons — and lots of them.

Troll on, White House! Troll on!

Media Like Rand Paul — They Are His Constituency

Rand PaulEd Kilgore wrote kind of a boring post about why it is that the Washington press made a bigger deal of Rand Paul’s predictable announcement that he was running for president than they did about Ted Cruz’s equally predictable announcement that he was running. Not mentioned is just the feeling that Cruz is such a loon that he can’t win. I always think that argument is terrifying, because people said much the same thing about Ronald Reagan. I would never count Cruz out. But the media thinks he’s a nonstarter (they are probably right), and so they don’t much care that he’s running for president. But Kilgore focuses on what is probably the bigger issue.

Kilgore wrote, Libertarianism With a Human Face. He quotes David Frum correctly noting that libertarianism appeals to mainstream media because it is “socially permissive, fiscally cautious.” This is the core of my indictment of the supposedly liberal media. Even in Eric Alterman’s classic What Liberal Media? he notes that the claim that the media are liberally biased on social issues is largely true. It isn’t that they go out of their way to be biased, it is just that everyone they know — including conservatives — are socially liberal. The Koch Brothers don’t actually care about same sex marriage and reproductive rights.

William SaletanThis is why I devalue social issues. The policies that the vast majority of people care about are bread-and-butter issue. Abortion and marriage are things that happen rarely in people’s lives. But they have to eat each day; they have to pay the rent each month. So the fact that the rich have managed, over the last last 70 years to make the whole political debate in this country to be about non-bread-and-butter issue is really an amazing defeat for democracy. Regardless of whether the Democrats or the Republicans are in power, the rich still win.

And it is doubtless the case that the greatest weapon that the rich have in their fight against democracy is the media who often discount the thoughts of the social conservatives, even while they serve up a constant diet of neoliberal policies designed to vilify the government and argue in favor of privatizing all services. If there is one thing in American media coverage that isn’t even questioned, it is that charter schools are a great thing and “school choice” is just common sense. And as all of this is taken for granted, never do we discuss the egregiously unequal way that we fund education.

And why is that? It is because the major media players who bring us their “objective news” are upper middle and upper class reporters and editors. They may not think of themselves as elites, but they are precisely the kind of people who Anand Giridharadas had in mind when he said:

If you live near a Whole Foods; if no one in your family serves in the military; if you are paid by the year, not the hour; if most people you know finished college; if no one you know uses meth; if you married once and remain married; if you’re not one of 65 million Americans with a criminal record — if any or all of these things describe you, then accept the possibility that actually, you may not know what’s going on, and you may be part of the problem.

But of course these media figures think they totally know what’s going on. And that’s a big part of the problem. The way that American politics is now divided, they can look at their socially liberal and economically conservative viewpoints and think that they are just telling it like it is. But what they are really doing is what the privileged have been doing for thousands of years: they are seeing what is good for them as being what is generally good. So of course they think that Rand Paul has a real chance to become president. They are his constituency.

See Also

Serious Centrist Saletan’s Selfishness
The People Don’t Care About Gridlock
Professional vs Regular Moderates
The “Moderate” Voter and the Selfish Pundit

Morning Music: The Trammps

Disco Inferno - The TrammpsYesterday, we featured The Dead Milkmen and even compared the song, “Punk Rock Girl,” to The Trammps’ “Disco Inferno.” Well, since then, I haven’t been able to get “Disco Inferno” out of my head. And it turns out that both bands are from Philadelphia. The Trammps might be better considered a soul band — they existed long before disco became a thing. But The Trammps are generally considered one of the first disco bands. And maybe one of the reasons I am so fond of them is because they were a real band and not something created in the studio. They could really play.

As I mentioned yesterday, the phrase “burn baby burn” was associated with the Watts riots. Of course, the song actually has nothing to do with that. Instead, it was inspired by the film, The Towering Inferno. I haven’t seen the film since I was a kid, but apparently, a discotheque catches fire in it. So the lyrics play with the idea that the music was so hot that it caught the place on fire. And the singer can hear the music coming from above, “Up above my head; I hear music in the air; That makes me know; There’s a party somewhere.”

It’s all good fun and music as fine as you will ever hear:

Burn that mother down!

Anniversary Post: Edward de Vere

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of OxfordOn this day in 1550, Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford was born. He was an awful person. He wouldn’t accept that the first child of his marriage was his. He was pretty much the definition of a libertine. But he was a poet and playwright of some repute. You know, at that time, the rich didn’t have much to do with their time. Of course Edward spent through all of his fortune by the end of his life. And that is with the Queen giving me a thousand pounds per year in addition (an enormous amount of money). I could not possibly care less about this idiot, except for one thing.

A lot of people think he wrote the plays of William Shakespeare. In one way, who cares? I mean, we know almost nothing about Shakespeare anyway. So what does it matter? But it really bugs me that one of the main reasons that people think Edward wrote the plays is because Shakespeare’s plays supposedly show so much knowledge of the way that the aristocracy lived. But this is so ridiculous. I’m poor, but I have a damned good idea of how the rich live. And it isn’t just because of television. In Shakespeare’s time, the poor knew how the rich lived because they saw it — and their servants saw it up close and personal.

What’s more, this desire to find someone — Anyone! — but Shakespeare to have written the plays is based on the idea that the plays are so amazingly great that they couldn’t have just been written an ex-school teacher from the country. Well, I have news for you all. Although Shakespeare’s plays were well regarded during his life, they weren’t seen as any better than the plays of Marlowe or Jonson. And they were seen as inferior to the plays of people who came after. I’m a fan of Shakespeare, but he just wasn’t that great.

So people: get over it. If you want to think that someone else wrote Shakespeare’s plays, at least go with Marlowe. At least in that case you have royal spying and murder and faked deaths. It’s a lot more fun. The Edward de Vere narrative is just boring. But really, I think people get into the whole “who wrote Shakespeare” question because it relieves them of having to read the plays, which are by and large not all that great. So sure, I’d rather read “Shakespeare” Identified in Edward De Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford than The Two Noble Kinsmen. But that doesn’t prove anything.

So happy birthday you great pretender, Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford!