Reason Magazine on the celebration

Writes Radley Balko, very reasonably:

I’m relieved that bin Laden is dead. And the Navy SEALs who carried out the harrowing raid that ended his life have my respect and admiration. And for all the massive waste and abuse our government has perpetrated in the name of fighting terrorism over the last decade, there’s something satisfying in knowing that he was killed in a limited, targeted operation based on specific intelligence.

But because of the actions of one guy, we allowed all the bullet points above to happen. That we managed to kill him a decade after the September 11 attacks is symbolically important, but hardly seems worth the celebrations we saw across the country last night. There was something unsettling about watching giddy crowds bounce around beach balls and climb telephone polls last night, as if they were in the lawn seats at a rock festival. Solemn and somber appreciation that an evil man is gone seemed like the more appropriate reaction.

Yes, bin Laden the man is dead. But he achieved all he set out to achieve, and a hell of a lot more. He forever changed who we are as a country, and for the worse. Mostly because we let him. That isn’t something a special ops team can fix.

via Osama Won – Hit & Run : Reason Magazine.

The killing of bin Laden and presidential approval

This may come as a surprise to you, but if you look around and listen to or read what a lot of people are saying, you will discover that a lot of Americans are not especially deep thinkers.

In 2001, right after the 9/11 terror attacks, President Bush went on television to address the nation. He was plainly a grieving man and a stricken leader, his emotions laid bare for the world to see in the wake of events so senselessly violent that most of us could not comprehend them no matter how many times the WTC towers were shown falling in film footage. Bush’s approval rating soared through the roof at that time — to an almost equally incomprehensible 90 percent or so (even a three-fourths approval rating is rare these days) — all on the basis of his performance for the cameras, because for once it wasn’t a performance. But really, how much credit should people get for being themselves? If Bush hadn’t been deeply moved by the carnage, we should have judged him a sociopath.

And so it is now with President Obama and the killing of Osama bin Laden. As a humanist, I’m glad his miltary assailants shot him dead and, in fact, that’s surely what he wanted in the end anyway. I have yet to see any poll results, but people are already treating this as a matter of grave political relevance: Obama did what Bush couldn’t — a second term awaits! And on the other side, Don’t credit Obama, he had little to do with it! Looks at the economy!

Anyone who thinks that Obama made a difficult call once his intelligence officers told him where bin Laden is hiding is an idiot. This is as much as a slam-dunk as anyone can imagine. Even the most affirmed pacifists are not shedding tears over this ugly fucker’s demise. Not killing him, or failing to capture him somehow, would have been political suicide for Obama if news that he had possessed these option had leaked. Offing him had absolutely no downside. I would go so far as to say that Obama’s camp might view this as an event likely to sway a few “Obama is a radical Muslim” types in the general tottering direction of reason, but that crew is far too entrenched in its collective lunacy to be moved by facts or anything else.

I don’t think that judging our presidents on that basis of how much they weep over the fiery deaths of thousands of innocent American civilians or whether they take out the most hated terrorist in history is much of a place to start.

The KKK wants its utopian vision of America back

Whoops, sorry. Not the Klan but the Tea Party, not that I doubt that this wild-eyed idiot from Jacksonville owns a white hood or two.

I remember being a kid and hearing the joke “I don’t hate blacks, I think everyone should own one!” Even the ten-year-olds slinging that one around understood that it was both ironic and in poor taste. Amazingly, there are people like Grady Warren who manage to reach adulthood fully believing that as long as you declare yourself to be a non-racist while you detail a long list of deficiencies you believe are the sole purview of certain ethnic groups, then you’re not racist.

These people are fascinating in that they continually force other teabaggers into scrambling to deploy the “No true Scotsman” fallacy. There are plenty of people who consider themselves Tea Partiers solely because they want to pay fewer taxes, just as there are fiscal conservatives who will always vote Republican even though they have no use for religion and climate-change denialism. Too bad — everyone wants to pay fewer taxes the last time I checked, and regardless of whatever the people behind the “real” teabagger movement supposedly wanted when they kicked the whole circus into action, it’s nothing but a teeming refuge of ugly hypocrites and the worst shitbags the United States has to offer. I’m sure all of these visionaries like Grady Warren are quite pleased that Ron Paul Font color=red>is popularly portrayed as someone who doesn’t much care fer nigras, Jews, and faggits hisself neither.

The “America” these rednecks yearn for has never existed except in the hollowed-out caverns of their own minds. The last time anything close to it did exist, it was a chunk of land that was technically no longer part of the same country. Really, it would just be so much more pleasant for everyone else if these worthless hominids would just gather in some forgotten place where they could make their own laws and currency, be as white and proud as possible, not pay taxes, and see how long their post-intellectual civilization could exist.

(NOTE: Addendum in red made at 10:48 p.m. EDT. Someone pointed out that the New Republic article I linked to was written by someone who has been widely denounced as a left-wing hack. Some comments Paul made recently about an experience with abortion he had as medical intern took some of the shine off of him in my eyes, but that doesn’t have anything to do with whether the racism label is well-earned or not at all earned. It’s the fact that Paul is perceived by a lot of racists as someone who sympathizes with their views that is most important, and if the label isn’t appropriate then chalk up another score for shitty journalism.)

Not to *directly* compare Michele Bachmann to the Ebola virus…

…but whenever I’m exposed to images and sounds of her, it’s like my internal organs are liquefying, a thermonuclear popcorn popper filled with ground glass is roaring away inside my skull, and my eyeballs are being burned out with nitric acid. I stress that I’m not being insensitive to victims of fatal viral illnesses here, and it is not an ideal comparison.

That’s essentially the latest from the studiously unhinged sort-of-almost-candidate-for-president Michele Bachmann, the proudly mindless congresswoman from a rich district in Minnesota who — along with Romney and Bloomberg and no small handful of others and now the Trump ape — epitomizes the reality of political aspirations these days: They’re about wealthy people entertaining themselves, not about wanting to lead, for better or for worse. Continue reading “Not to *directly* compare Michele Bachmann to the Ebola virus…”