Tuesday, March 20, 2018


Someone told me a Fox News dummy had turned and even the New York Times was covering it...
“In my view, Fox has degenerated from providing a legitimate and much-needed outlet for conservative voices to a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration,” [he] wrote in his message, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times
“Over my decade with Fox, I long was proud of the association,” he added. “Now I am ashamed.”
...and damned if the dummy didn't turn out to be Col. (Ret.) Ralph Peters -- better known to alicublog fans as Eleventy-Star General Ralph "Blood 'n' Guts" Peters! His alicublog archive is available for all to see.

I've been following the General since he was an Iraq War cheerleader for the New York Post ("America is, indeed, the modern Rome. And Rome does not ask permission of Thebes or obey the orders of Gaul"). I was late to the General generally: Back in 1996, he was talking about using military invasion tactics on American cities. But it was Iraq that made him a true public buffoon.

Back then he was very concerned that the hippies were going to spoil this war for him -- and as the war got more spoilt, Peters got more mad (as in crazy as well as in angry):
In the War Against Terror, no other power or organization can defeat America. But America remains dangerously capable of defeating itself... 
The terrorists will seek to convince American voters that the War on Terror is failing, paving the way for the electoral victory of a weakling [John Kerry] and allowing them to surge back into vacuums created by an American retreat... 
The media weren't reporting. They were taking sides. With our enemies. And our enemies won. Because, under media assault, we lost our will to fight on...

Make no mistake -- The anti-war voices long for us to lose any war they cannot prevent... 
Forget about our dead soldiers, whose sacrifice is nothing but a political club for Democrats to wave in front of the media...

The media are now combatants -- even if we're not allowed to shoot back...
He wasn't sentimental about Iraqi democracy, either: "We're overdue to take a lesson from the Romans and the British before us," barked the General, "and recognize the value of punitive expeditions… we need not feel obliged to rebuild every government we are forced to destroy… Where you cannot be loved, be feared.." (Also: "We didn't even have the common sense to declare martial law. It convinced our enemies that we were naive and weak." And see his tribute to Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf, "who sought the best for his tormented country but never knew how to package himself.")

Oh, and for those of you who are big on stories about how SJWs are the Real Threat to Free Speech, Blood 'n' Guts was there waaaay ahead of you:
It's fashionable in left-wing circles to describe anyone who admires America as a fascist. But the real totalitarian threats of our time come from the left. And no public figure embodies the left's contempt for basic freedoms more perfectly than Howard Dean.
Amazing we have any free speech left after Dr. Dean's reign of terror!

In the waning days of the Bush Administration the General seemed becalmed and unfocused. In 2008 the specter of Obama sometimes excited that ol' Blood 'n' Guts insanity ("There was a good reason the assassins of 9/11 attacked the targets they did, rather than steering those planes into Columbia University or Harvard Yard: They knew that the potency of the intellectual is illusory, that it dissolves at the first shot"). But after the election the General withered, as if his troops had abandoned him as the enemy breached the perimeter and the enemy wouldn't do him the honor of an execution; he was reduced to complaining that Obama was escalating the war in Afghanistan -- yes, that's how low he fell. The General became a TV clown, occasionally getting ink for calling Obama a pussy. I assumed he'd die in the saddle, slumping into some Fox blonde's lap.

But this new attention-getter shows that the General is at least trying to come back. Peters' current gripe is that Trump is in hock to Putin and Fox has been covering it up ("Despite increasingly pathetic denials, it turns out that the 'nothing-burger' has been covered with Russian dressing all along" -- now there's some of the old Blood 'n' Guts!), which is interesting, because back in 2004 Peters was soft on Putin himself ("An angel won't replace Putin in the Kremlin. But Putin isn't entirely a devil. The glass is dirty, but it's nearly three-quarters full"). Putin hasn't changed much; has Peters "evolved"?

Ha! Men like RB&GP don't evolve -- evolution's for liberal traitors! What changed is, back then George W. Bush liked Putin and Peters liked Bush; more to the point, Bush was popular. Trump, on the other hand, looks to be destroying the national Republican Party and the nation is turning against him -- which may explain why the General is turning against Trump. There will be a Morning After, and with it a Morning Show After, and the General wants to be on the dais. Let Sean Hannity go down with the ship; the General Shall Return.

UPDATE. Comments, as always are worth a look, particularly those of BigHank53 and glen_tomkins, who have followed Peters' career as a Soviet-watcher in the U.S. military and have intelligent speculations on his motivations that somewhat contradict my cynicism. I accept that the General may have legit feelings about the Bear, but before Trump conservatives generally reacted to Putin's intransigence with tough talk and calls to drill more oil. All these years after the Soviet Union collapsed, they generally treat adversaries as opportunities to enrich their donors, such as the oil and gas industries and the military contractors who will profit when we invade Iran.  It may be Peters is simply responding to a patriotic impulse, but as he's been in the propaganda service almost as long as he was in the armed forces, I'm not inclined to interpret his actions charitably.

Monday, March 19, 2018


...about Conor Lamb's special election victory in PA-18 and how conservatives claimed it had to have been a case of mistaken identity -- i.e., Lamb was mistaken for the actual Republican candidate. Lamb's kinda bluish-doggish, but in the current environment that is still way left of the GOP's Rick Saccone, who closed his campaign by raving that the Left hated God.

Wingnuts console themselves that Democrats aren't putting up DSA firebrands in red zones, but given that, as I said at the time, last Election Day looked like a liberal revenge fantasy in which "A trans woman beat an anti-trans bigot; a droopy-drawered BLM protester won a City Council seat; a victim of gun violence beat an NRA shill; [and] a freaking Democratic Socialist defenestrated the Republican Virginia House majority whip," they should be happy they don't, because given the egregious mismanagement of Trump and the Republicans, the Democrats could nominate undead Lenin and might still win.

Friday, March 16, 2018


You know, some of the new groups aren't bad.

• It takes a fuckton of chutzpah to warn against "Borking" CIA director nominee Gina Haspel, as National Review's Rich Lowry does today. Actually that whole use of Bork's name to imply persecution is ridiculous, since Bork himself was clearly nuts and unfit to serve on the Supreme Court. But Lowry sinks even lower, talking about America's torture of enemy combatants in the Bush years as if it were an unfortunate necessity rather than a straight-up war crime. Haspel has been accused of supervising the torture of Abu Zubaydah; he may not have been part of her portfolio (though she is more credibly accused of destroying evidence of CIA torture, either to preserve herself or her colleagues, or both). But Lowry defends Zubaydah's torture at length nonetheless:
The enhanced interrogations were brutal. Zubaydah was struck, placed in stress positions, confined in small boxes and repeatedly waterboarded. During one session, he became unresponsive. By any standard, this was extreme and right up to the legal line.

The CIA didn’t learn of any planned attack in the U.S.; it did become confident that Zubaydah wasn’t holding back anything about one. From his capture to his transfer to the Department of Defense on September 5, 2006, information from him produced 766 intelligence reports.

In the cold light of day, we would have handled all of this differently. The Bush administration shouldn’t have been as aggressive in its legal interpretations. We should have realized that we had more time to play with, and that the program itself would become a black mark on our reputation overseas and such a domestic flashpoint that we would basically lose all ability to interrogate detainees (droning became the preferred alternative).
"Right up to the legal line"; "become confident that Zubaydah wasn't holding anything back"; "aggressive in its legal interpretations." This is the language of manicured depravities -- euphemisms common in the Abu Ghraib era and, apparently, primed for a comeback. It's odd that, a while back, some people were saying Trump is so bad he made them miss Bush. They'll get a chance to test that theory soon!

James Hohmann:
Trump has decided to remove H.R. McMaster as his national security adviser and is actively discussing Fox News contributor John Bolton as a potential successor.

A leading contender to replace Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is Pete Hegseth, the co-host of “Fox and Friends Weekend.”

The president named CNBC analyst and former host Larry Kudlow to replace former Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn as his chief economic adviser on Wednesday.

Heather Nauert, a former co-host of “Fox and Friends,” got promoted on Monday from being a spokeswoman for the State Department to acting undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs

...Trump’s plot to poach from green rooms is an additional proof point that validates two important themes I’ve written about: Trump has debased the value of expertise and supercharged the celebrification of American politics.
Trump's grift in general is like a monkey-see reflection of conservative values, true to their horrible essence but dumbed down for mass appeal, so I take this as his distillation of the Right's endless culture-war caterwauling that liberals have all the artsy people to make their values look good, and it's no fair and conservatives have to "take back the culture" to redress the balance, even if they have to tell fart jokes to do it. It makes sense that their debased idea of "culture" would be asshole TV presenters appointed to top government offices.

Thursday, March 15, 2018


So when Putin poisoned his latest victim in the UK, I thought I was making a joke:

End Times broadcaster Rick Wiles appeared on his “TruNews” program on Friday to suggest that the recent mysterious poisoning of a former Russian spy was carried out by someone with ties to Hillary Clinton in order to cover up information about the Trump-Russia dossier.
There are also several rightwing/Russian front sites peddling the Hillary-did-Skripal story, and your senile Aunt in Pennsyltucky, your burnout friend in Oregon, and your old school buddy who's been living in a survivalist treehouse since election day 2008 have probably told everybody on their mailing lists. That's why Trump has been so reticent to acknowledge even the possibility Putin did it -- - he doesn't want to upset the crackpots; they are, after all, his base.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Looks like Conor Lamb took what had been a 20-point-Trump-victory district in 2016 and turned it into a Democratic victory in PA-18. The spin from the brethren: This is good news for John McCain Donald Trump!

The idea is, since Lamb ran as a moderate and talked smack about Nancy Pelosi, he was the actual "not anti-Trump" Republican in the race -- notwithstanding that there was a Republican running named Rick Saccone, and his party and their conservative cat's-paws dumped over $10 million into his cause and sent Trump to campaign for him just to (fail to) hold a "safe" district.

You knew the White Working Class Whisperer herself had to get in on this action:

Zito laid the groundwork when the jig was clearly up, not only pumping the moderate-Democrat angle -- praising the "older, white" Dem party operatives who picked Lamb and prevented "primary voters, who tend to be to the most ideologically extreme wing of their party" from nominating Vladimir Lenin IV -- but also, and I gotta say I'm impressed by this, declaring Saccone a victim of the elites:
And fourth, the establishment Republicans have embarrassed themselves with public hissy fits about Lamb's challenger, Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone — his lack of fundraising polish and his panache. You have to wonder if their bitterness towards this Western Pennsylvania candidate — whose military and diplomatic experience are impressive on paper and manifest in person — is deeply rooted in their persistent resentment of Trumpism.
Yeah, it had to be that the polished-and-panachey, chardonnay-swilling Republican elite stabbed Saccone in the back -- not that voters nationwide have proven themselves sick to death of Trump and are throwing off whatever vestiges of it they can lay their hands on.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


Things at The Federalist are weird -- well, they always are, but lately nearly all the writers are spiking Stella Morabito levels of dysfunction. That's what happens, I guess, to junior debate club kids trying to exert moral authority in the Time of Trump -- their internal gyroscopes go kerflooey with the strain, and their thinkholes emit weird monsters of broken logic. Take D.C. McAllister -- always terrible, true, but usually in the ordinary wingnut "You're The Real [Fill In The Blank]" manner. But this week she's outdone herself. Take in the hed and dek:
The Return Of ‘Queer Eye’ Could Be A Win For The Right Kind Of Tolerance
If we focus only on how we’re different and demand approval of those differences, we will never live peacefully with one another.
Sounds like a temporizing, come-let-us-reason-together thing, doesn't it? It even has "Tolerance" in the title, and starts with McAllister talking about how she likes those queer-eyed guys:
Each of the original Fab 5 was a delight to watch, and the new Fab 5 doesn’t disappoint. Fashion savant Carson Kressley was my favorite in the original, and Antoni Porowski takes the prize in QE 2.0. He’s the handsome food guru with a sweet, almost shy, smile and authentic empathy that reaches out and grabs your heart through the camera.
Grrrl! Then she gets to an episode where the QE guys have to work with a Trump voter, which sounds like the sort of Lesson In Love and Life that makes ratings soar and me vomit. McAllister seems to be down with the yay-tolerance theme: "'Queer Eye' says it wants to bring some civility and love to our country again. Who can oppose that?" But then:
However, as I watched the series, two feelings wrestled within me — an appreciation for the positive, open dialogue and a creeping sense of being manipulated.
Grrrl, I know, this is ratings bait bullshit, let's ditch this Very Special Moment, binge on Ben & Jerry's and watch Berlin Alexanderplatz!

Then McAllister had something to get off her chest -- a deep-seated memory of her childhood days at revival meetings (picture McAllister a few feet shorter, no makeup, wearing a potato sack and a big purty bow) where the pastor "called sinners to come forward" and "converts would line up with tears on their cheeks, and church members would surround them with hugs and words of acceptance."

But this was "often just emotionalism," McAllister sees now, "ginned up to sell 'Jesus.'" The scales have fallen; she's not going to be fooled by such appeals again!
...this is a feeling I can’t deny as I watch “Queer Eye,” and it’s not about the political and cultural issues being addressed, which is so needed; it’s about the core “product” I’m ultimately being sold through feel-goodisms and the staged tears of reality television: approval of homosexuality.
[Blink. Blink.]
...what they really want is not common understanding between people who disagree — this is the essence of tolerance, which I support wholeheartedly — they want to fight for approval. And this is my main problem with the show.
McAllister just wants to tolerate those sassy gay boys -- she doesn't want to have to approve of them!
...In the same way, some people, who think homosexual marriage is wrong because they believe marriage, as a public interest, is between a man and a woman, can still love a gay married couple.
"Won't you and your abomination come over for dinner sometime?"
...Yet, “Queer Eye” wants more than tolerance. The creator of the show, David Collins, told ET, that the biggest difference between now and when the show first aired is that, “People are ready to have a dialogue" ...we are ready to have that dialogue because it has been foisted on us through activism and the courts. That’s both a good and bad thing, though the ensuing dialogue might not go the way he and LGBT activists want.
So watch it, gay people, because while McAllister wants you to know she loves you, she also wants you to know the dialogue she's so tolerantly engaging might not go the way you want, and once dialogue time is over and President Pence is bringing on the Time of the Handmaids, she'll cheer as your so-called-marriage certificates are burned in the church, and blow you a kiss as you're marched off to conversion therapy. She's all for tolerance, and she'll tolerate you a lot better when you've been straightened out.

Monday, March 12, 2018


...about how conservatives, and not just Jeff Sessions, beat up on California in order to make their own fucked-up red states look less like hellholes.

Among the many outtakes trimmed for space was this limited but telling bit of slander: When Mexican Presidential candidate Ricardo Anaya Cortes recently spoke to Mexicans in San Francisco, exhorting immigrant “Dreamers” to “not forget that you are not alone,” the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that a “pro-immigrant group… said Mexican immigrants in the U.S. may be a deciding factor in the elections in Mexico due to their ability to cross south of the border and vote.”

The “pro-immigrant” group to which they referred and linked was the Center for Immigration Studies, run by the notoriously anti-immigrant Mark Krikorian of National Review, and there is no evidence Cortes had asked for California-dwelling immigrants’ votes; yet conservative sources such as The Daily Caller and Fox News reported the Mexican candidate “campaigned” in California, and Daniel Horowitz of Conservative Review straight-up claimed, “this man is seeking the votes of Mexican nationals living in the United States under the promise of being tough with Trump.”

But do read the column -- the basic stuff is funny and infuriating enough.