Posted tagged ‘GOP stupidity’

Not Even Trying To Hide It

October 30, 2014

Via TPM — Lindsay Graham (R-Who Can We Bomb Today) tells the one true beating heart of the GOP exactly what it wants to hear.  Speaking to the all-male, seemingly all-pale Hibernian Society fo Charleston SC, the Senator forgot a fundamental truth of modern politics:  there is no such thing as a private speech anymore.  Or maybe he just doesn’t care.  Whatever, here’s Lindsay, letting his freak flag fly:

“If I get to be president, white men who are in male-only clubs are going to do great in my presidency,” Graham says …as the audience laughs. (h/t Twitteratus @GrooveSDC)

Rembrandt_Harmensz._van_Rijn_092

Leave aside the cosmic delusion there — is there any geographical location outside the confines of his head in which any sentient being thinks Graham could be elected president? — the glory and horror of this confirmed-by-audio (head over to TPM for a listen) lies with its utter, transparent, total honesty.  Graham speaks the core Republican truth.  The people they server are rich white men.  Full stop.

Please proceed, senator:

“I’ve tried to help you with your tax status,” the senator says in another recording. “I’m sorry the government’s so f*cked up.”

Because, of course, the only thing that the United States government really exists to do is to make sure rich white guys  capture more money.

Friends don’t let friends vote Republican.

Ever.

Oh — and one more thing:  if there is any remaining deluded teahadist out there who thought until now that the movement really had a chance to reclaim the GOP for the values of some mythic better America, you can apologize to the rest of us anytime.

Image:  Rembrandt van Rijn, Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild, 1661.

Attack of the Mutant Ninja Fiscal Conservatives

May 16, 2011

Oh Noes!

Via TPM:  the GOP-led budget insurrection over the six-month spending bill in March actually boosted spending over that period by $3 billion, according to the latest CBO analysis:

“Total discretionary outlays in 2011 will be $3.2 billion higher as a result of the legislation, CBO estimates–an increase of $7.5 billion for defense programs, partially offset by a net reduction of $4.4 billion in other spending,” reads a just-released report from the Congressional Budget Office — Congress’ non-partisan scorekeeper. Analysts there conclude that increase is due in large part to the fact that the six month spending bill shifted defense spending to more immediate activities, which means the bills will come due sooner than later.

It is true that the bill will, if unchanged in any future budget, lead to about $122 billion in spending reductions…(wait for it)….over the next ten years.

That’s barely more than what the Republicans road into office swearing they’d cut this year alone…not to mention that $122 billion out of a truly unrealistically conservative estimate* of ten year expenditure of $25.4 trillion dollars amounts to a rounding error — a reduction of on the order .5% over a decade.

Way to go!

The initial reports of $38 billion in cuts, by the way, were Teabagger bait, which means that the Republican party has some ‘splainin to do to its base, and the rest of us should help tell that story as much as we can.

Here’s how the scam worked:

the approximately $38 billion in advertised cuts spanned the entire federal budget, including locked-in “mandatory” spending programs, and it reflected reductions in “budget authority” — how much the government is allowed to spend — as opposed to projected “outlays” — how much the government truly will spend.

Ah, that old problem for the GOP and its voters — the difference between what the tooth fairy promises, and what actually happens in the real world:

When viewed more narrowly — how many fewer dollars will the government spend this year as a result of this bill — the results flip.

Which is to say, the GOP rookie congresscritturs and the Tea Party electorate were promised one thing, and got…played.

The moral, dear faux Minutemen:  the GOP’s central command has exactly no interest in actual lower-case “c” conservatism.  They serve different masters…or to put it another way:

If you can’t tell who the patsy is at the table, it’s you.

*That number comes from the simple-minded multiplying the (pre-stimulus) 2008 numbers — an arithmetical gesture of maximal kindness to our GOP arithmetic-challenge friends.

Image:  Follower of Hieronymous Bosch,  The Battle Between Carnival and Lent, (A subject sometimes titled The Dance of Fools, Carnival.), c 1600-1620.

Marijuana Nukes or Why We Miss Adult Republicans

December 3, 2010

Cross-posted at Balloon Juice

Just what you want in that first email check waiting for the shower to heat up.*  That would be the item in this morning’s email feed from Harvard’s news office featuring loose-nuke expert Graham Allison and his panel on the future of nuclear weapons that I missed in meat-space last Wed.

Tons of depressing stuff to choose from…like this:

There  is a crap load of bomb-grade uranium and plutonium floating around.  Leaving aside the good stuff contained in 23,000 nukes already in national arsenals, there is enough plutonium and highly enriched uranium around and about to build 100,000 more. The knowledge needed to do so is widespread.  Which means that any paranoid scenario you can think of is plausible.

Here’s one of Allison’s:

…Size is not a limiting factor. The enriched uranium needed to detonate such a weapon would fit into a six-pack of beer, said Graham Allison, one of a coterie of analysts at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) who specialize in security and nuclear terrorism. Shielded in a lead container, he said, such a weapon could be smuggled into the United States “in a bale of marijuana.”

Lot’s more good cheer in a pretty short piece.  Try this one on the prospect of an attack on the US with a “mere” dirty bomb.  That one got me going — because

Even just one “dirty bomb,” an explosive that disperses radioactive material over a wide area, could “evaporate” American civil rights, said [nuclear proliferation expert and former Cheney stalkee Valerie Plame] Wilson. A dirty bomb is more a “weapon of mass disruption” than destruction, said [Harvard Kennedy School Prof. Matthew] Bunn, though the costs could still be high, and the materials to make one are available in any Western hospital.

The event was part of what has become a theme of Allison’s advocacy — he’s a leader in the Global Zero movement that aims for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.

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I must confess to a mild sense of deja vu on this.  I was in the room back in 1984 (I think) when Carl Sagan and others did the first big public nuclear winter announcement, in which a very distinguished group of scientists and policy people followed the implications of simple  (one dimensional) climate model analyses of what would happen after a nuclear exchange flooded the atmosphere with smoke from burning cities.  (The first Science paper from the modeling group, known as TTAPS from the author’s initials, came out on Dec. 23, 1983.)

Those results predicted that a nuclear war would produce a massive sustained cooling that would drive the earth into a prolonged “nuclear winter,” which would obviously harm any survivors, possibly to the point of near or complete human extinction.

Most important, those early studies suggested that there was a threshold level of nuclear destruction that would produce this effect.  I don’t have the transcript of that meeting in front of me, but I recall that the modeling group reported that an exchange as limited as 100 megatons could generate enough smoke to drive the earth into the freezer.

The point Sagan and others made at that early public announcement was that given the potential existence of such a threshold, the only long term guarantee of human survival would be to drive global nuclear arsenals down to below that 100 megaton inventory.

Didn’t happen of course, or more properly, hasn’t happened yet.   Nuclear winter research has had its twists and turns since the ’80s, the most important long term take-away being that there would likely be major environmental and climatological impacts from a significant nuclear exchange, even if those early predictions of utter disaster have been modified.

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But we’ve still got buckets of nukes out there, and thanks to our GOP friends, arms reduction efforts are at least a temporary stand still.

So I’m cynical a bit on two levels:  first, I distrust proclamations of the apocalypse — or rather, I think that the natural tendency to seek some reason beyond the obvious that could actually “force” us to do the right thing leads people to overstate threats.

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If the fear of nuclear devastation on its own terms is insufficient to bring about proper controls on the material essential to the construction of an al Qaeda bomb, then how can we expect that yet more elaborate risk scenarios will produce the necessary response.  Back in the ’80s I asked in print why someone thought if 2 billion dead of blast and shock and prompt radiation weren’t enough to scare us straight, the extra billions slowly shivering to death in the dark would somehow tip the scales.

This time it’s different, of course.  I fear that Allison and his colleagues are right:  nuclear terrorism is a real threat on the scales they suggest.  If I have my doubts on the real-world feasibility of the demand for zero nukes…it still makes sense as an aspirational goal and as a rhetorical device to get us to focus on the buttloads of U 235 and Pu lurching through what we laughingly call “the system.”

But that still leaves the second bit of depressed world-weariness. This challenge seems to me to be beyond our capacity to deal with as long as one party in this country has decided that there is no such thing as governance — just politics in which success is defined by making sure that the other side fails…on everything. If we can’t even address a START treaty that is obviously in the US interest, it’s impossible to imagine we’ll get any of the hard (and expensive) work done on the control of wandering nuclear materials.  After all, ho cares about loose nukes when a tax hike of a nickle or so on the marginal dollar of a zillionaire’s income is the final descent into Kenyan-Islamo Socialist Facism.

That’s the wrong attitude, I know.  The issue of uncontrolled fissionables really is a big f**king deal.  Losing a city or few some years down the road because we just couldn’t get our acts together now is unacceptable, and the work being done by Allison and Plame and the others connected with Global Zero is the right thing to do.

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That won’t persuade our friends across the aisle, of course — the START posturing tells us that.  But in the end, that doesn’t leave those of us who actually love our country (and the world) off the hook.  It’s a deep problem when one major party in a democracy chooses pure nihilism as its platform and practice.  But we still have to find ways to be effective as the grown ups in the room.

Frankly I’m not sure what that would lead us to do right now on this particular issue.  Here’s where Wednesday’s panelists ended up:

Eliminating nuclear weapons would require tools that are not yet available, said Mowatt-Larssen, including a “global intelligence capacity,” along with the willingness of nations to share information, and better technology for detecting smuggled nuclear materials.

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Currently, said Wilson, detectors have to get within inches of hidden enriched fissionable materials that are shielded by lead.

Maybe the answer to nuclear disarmament is just to get close to the goal, said Bunn. He offered one proposed scenario among many: Reduce each nation’s stockpile of nuclear weapons to 50, all of them disassembled and guarded by U.N. overseers. “We’ve got to think harder,” said Bunn, “about what we think of as zero.”

I won’t go charging off on yet another tangent — but while I think that particular idea has about an ice cube’s chances here, its essence is a call for transparency in nuclear security.  A notion of such openness lay at the heart of some of the first ideas about eliminating nation-state control of nuclear weapons.  We’ve been talking a bit about secrecy and its costs/dangers lately, I believe, and without adding yet more verbiage on Wikileaks, I’ll just stop by saying here that while the costs of revealing secrets are often weighed, the various dangers of keeping them must be as well.

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*Yes I am that pathetic — iPhone in the bathroom checking email before my third eyelid opens.  A 12 step program beckons.

Images:  Study for Heinrich Schlitt “In the Magic Forest (Im Zauberwald)” 1902,

Jheronimus Bosch “The Ship of Fools, or the Satire of the Debauched Revelers,” betw. 1488 and 1510.