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Guided by the Beauty of Our Weapons



Here’s perhaps an even more egregious example of the phenomenon Paul wrote about yesterday, courtesy of Brian Williams:

The footage, provided by the Pentagon, showed several Tomahawk missiles launching from U.S. Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea, illuminating the decks of the ships and leaving long trails of smoke in the night sky.

 It was a sight that seemed to dazzle Williams, who described the images as “beautiful” in a segment on his show, “The 11th Hour.”“We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two U.S. Navy vessels in the eastern Mediterranean,” Williams said. “I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen: ‘I am guided by the beauty of our weapons.’”

“They are beautiful pictures of fearsome armaments making what is for them what is a brief flight over to this airfield,” he added, then asked his guest, “What did they hit?”

In 2000, George W. Bush became president in substantial measure because the media, erroneously perceiving nothing much of substance to be a stake, was relentlessly focused on inane and sometimes made-up trivia about the candidate of the incumbent party. We can safely say the lesson was not learned, although the Bush administration was a catastrophic failure. The most catastrophic failure of all was the Iraq War, which the mainstream media cheerleaded uncritically. The airstrikes against Syria being greeted by claims that this is making Trump even more PRESIDENTIAL than the time he pulled off the remarkably PRESIDENTIAL act of reading sentences off of a teleprompter without literally drooling would seem to suggest that the lessons of the Iraq War haven’t been learned either. Hopefully we can at least get to the bottom of Hillary Clinton’s email server.

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  • Margaret Sullivan needs to be promoted to Managing Editor of either the Post or the Times immediately:

    Walt later told me that the news media now must look forward and ask deeper questions.

    “What is Trump’s overall strategy for Syria,” given that “the balance of power on the ground is unchanged and we are no closer to a political settlement.”

    Missile strikes may seem thrilling, and retaliation righteous.

    But journalists and commentators ought to remember the duller virtues, too, like skepticism, depth and context.

    And keep their eyes fixed firmly there, not on the spectacular images in the sky.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      Skepticism, depth and context? Just what reality shows are known for! And now one of them is in charge of lethal, dangerous toys.

    • She was a pretty good NYT public editor, right? Certainly much better than the limp dishrag that is Liz Spayd.

      • ColBatGuano

        Liz Spayd, the public editor who thinks Mike Cernovich needs to be listened to more by the Times. They’d be better off with a hamster as public editor.

    • thebewilderness

      Raining down death on foreign countries is just so beautiful for media millionaires to watch and it puts money in Trumplethinskin’s pocket, so it is a twofer.

  • Q.E.Dumbass

    The apocalypse deserves a better antichrist than Blithering Butthole, and a better chorus than the chickenfuckers coming their pants.

    And a literally killer soundtrack too, while we’re at it. I have some <a href="”>suggestions…

    • Q.E.Dumbass

      Goddamnit, this was supposed to be the second link, although it probably has too much gravitas for whatever Trump does that’ll get us all killed.

      • Takes me right back to Wolf Blitzer during the first gulf war. wasn’t that when there was all that “scud/stud” stuff?

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          Arthur Kent is *so* grateful to be even slightly remembered

          I on the other hand wonder what the hell is wrong with me that I could draw his name out of the memory bank

          • efgoldman

            what the hell is wrong with me that I could draw his name out of the memory bank

            He must have made a hell of an impression. How old were you?

  • Lot_49

    It’s funny because “First We Take Manhattan” was really about the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union…

    ♪♫ I’m guided by a signal in the heavens
    I’m guided by this birthmark on my skin
    I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons
    First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin ♪♫

    Also funny because BriWi is an idiot.

    • tsam

      It’s actually about megalomania, but your larger point stands

    • Marlowe

      I’d love to replay the Marshall McLuhan scene in Annie Hall and confront the tone deal Williams with the ghost of the sorely missed Leonard Cohen: “I heard what you were saying! You know nothing of my work!” And he sure doesn’t!

      • Marlowe

        That’s tone deaf, of course. WTF’s the edit button!

  • tsam

    Most inapt use of a poetic line in history. Knuckle sandwich coming your way, Williams, you sick fuck

    • John Revolta

      “I’m tempted to quote the great Mr. Bruce Springstine: ‘Born in the USA!!'”

      “I’m tempted to quote the great Mr. Creedence Clearwater: ‘Some people are born to raise the flag! Oooo! The Red, White and Blue!'”

      “I’m tempted to quote the great Starlight Vocal Band: ‘Skyrockets in Flight! Afternoon Delight!'”

      “I’m tempted to quote the Great Pretenders: “My city was gone!!'”

      • tsam

        It’s baffling, isn’t it?

        Stay in your lane, pundits. Leave the poets out of your exercise in smearing shit on the walls

    • Sentient AI from the Future

      As horrifying as it is, Williams is a known quantity on this point. My only question is when he starts embellishing his contributions to this particular wave of militarism. My guess is next Thursday.

  • howard

    call me foolish, but i’m a tad more optimistic this go-round: even the dullest of journalists should be able to spot that there is no mission to be accomplished here.

    as for williams in particular, clearly his suspension didn’t last long enough.

    • West of the Cascades

      Reports this morning that aircraft were flying from the “destroyed” airfield within 24 hours of the attack. I’d put even money on “all aircraft were flown away from that base before the attack based on Trump’s warning to the Russians, then flew back.”

      • howard

        i find it amazing that we couldn’t even put the airfield out of commission for a few days.

        • Nobdy

          We could, but not by lobbing Tomahawk missiles at it. They are the wrong tool for the job. This is a real “when all you have is a hammer” situation. Trump (or his advisers) didn’t want to put American lives at risk so they opted for the low risk long distance approach, which is very ineffective for this purpose.

          • howard

            i understand this, but even if you’re pursuing a low-risk approach, you ought to accomplish…something.

            • tsam

              You heard what Zakaria and Williams said–ME TRUMP I ARE PREZDENCHUL NOW

              • efgoldman


                You really need Hulk back.

                • tsam

                  I tried but gravitar is part of a larger conspiracy to silence my web presence!!

          • (((max)))

            This is a real “when all you have is a hammer” situation.

            The Pentagon recycled and modified the attack plans they had from 2013. That’s why it went so quickly: the plans had been created back in 2013 (when they didn’t have a plan for ‘Syrian Chemical Weapons Reprisal Attack’) but the had those plans at the ready this time. Dusted the fuckers off, modified the targets and away we go.

            Back in 2013 it took a week (actually I think two) for the Pentagon to figure out what the right targets were.

            [‘Trump should say, ‘Thanks Obama!”]

          • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

            Trump is the wrong tool for any job.

        • tsam

          In the biz, they call this a measured response. Minimal damage, massive media bonerizing. If they wanted to disable that airfield, they would have.

          • wengler

            Well, yeah I mean the US could’ve nuked it, but realistically the relative ineffectiveness of 30 tons of munitions probably brings into question capabilities. Did any of the cruise missiles get shot down? Did any of them miss their mark? How effective are they against even the minimal outdoor hangers that house these old Soviet-era fighter jets?

            • tsam

              they make bombs that penetrate earth and hardened defenses before exploding, and they’re in the theater. This stuff was chosen to make good copy for the media without starting open hostilities with Russia. (Stay tuned on that issue though, two hard-headed assholes squaring off generally doesn’t end peacefully)

              • Sentient AI from the Future

                I’m still unclear on whether Medvedev’s bellicose response is kabuki intended to help their asset’s distraction strategem (because they want to help him cause more damage to the US’s standing in the world, such as it is), or whether they really are going to put the squeeze on him. The lack of a Friday afternoon leak would be slight evidence of the former, i reckon, but certainly not dispositive. Either way, we lose.

                • vic rattlehead

                  Either way it was hilarious.

        • (((max)))

          They did put it out of a commission for a few hours. But only a few hours.

          West of the Cascades is right: the Pentagon warned the Russians, the Russians got on the phone to the Syrians, all the planes took off within the hour, the personnel headed for the bunkers or took leave and everybody stood back and watched the fireworks show.

          Then everyone piled back in, did whatever minor repairs were necessary and recalled the planes that had been sent away.


          The Pentagon warned the Russians because they didn’t want to start World War III, which rendered the attack basically a demonstration, and entirely useless. As I said yesterday, we probably hurt the Syrians more with our accidental airstrike on their positions outside Den al-Zur (“Deir ez-Zor, also spelled Deir Ezzor, Deir Al-Zor, Deir-al-Zour, Dayr Al-Zawr, Der Ezzor, Deir Azzor, Deirazzor, and many other variants”). They were HOT after that one, so it must of stung particularly since it was a total surprise. (It was a total surprise to the US as well.)

          The elderly peen has been waved.

          [‘It’s like the moon landing, but way way smaller.’]

    • Nobdy

      even the dullest of journalists should be able to spot

      Fareed Zakaria proved that wrong. We can hold out hope for the brighter journalists maybe…

      But these are the same people who just spent a year screaming EMAILS until the world fell apart so I wouldn’t rely on them for anything.

      They’re a bunch of Furbies programmed to keep saying “Emails” and “He became the president last night” until the last of them is annihilated by the coming nuclear war.

      I am starting to be legitimately scared of working in lower Manhattan. Russia may own Trump but Trump has a long history of betraying his allies, and when you’re relying on the peaceful nature of Vladimir Putin to keep you safe you are dangling by the thinnest possible thread.

      • howard

        i don’t follow zakaria closely but i’m willing to bet that he already regrets saying what he said, particularly as it becomes clearer that there is no policy there there.

        • Barry_D

          “i don’t follow zakaria closely but i’m willing to bet that he already regrets saying what he said, particularly as it becomes clearer that there is no policy there there.”

          I haven’t followed him recently, but back in The Day he was a ‘missile polishing’ cheerleader for the Iraq War, and changed only after the majority of the American people had turned against it.

          In the end he’s just a cheerleader.

      • nemdam

        Zakaria is even more depressing. He was loud and consistent in calling Trump a BS artist throughout the campaign. He was one of the least hackish MSM journalists of prominence. To see him drool over Trump launching a few missiles just puts more doubt in your mind if the MSM can ever be fixed.

      • wengler

        I think most people misinterpreted Zakaria even though the conclusion to his argument is still stupid. His point appears to be that no matter how you want to present yourself before you are President, when you get there you have to do things that necessary and vital even if you campaigned against them.

        Of course Trump lies about everything so campaigning on something and doing something else doesn’t really matter to him. Also ordering the destruction of a base and not telling anyone other than the people you are bombing looks more like a PR move than a decisive military action.

        • Nobdy

          Thinking that this action was “necessary and vital” is ridiculous. So Zakaria gets no extra points from your telling.

  • Joseph Slater

    Leonard Cohen really deserves to rest in peace, and not forced to roll angrily in his grave.

    • pillsy

      Deserves, but I bet he expected a lot of angry grave rolling.

      • Joseph Slater

        Fair point.

    • farin

      I imagine him having a good laugh at the doofuses falling to get his songs. (See also ‘Hallelujah’ appearing on Christmas albums.)

      • tsam

        Or backing uplifting movie scenes

      • Solar System Wolf

        My daughter’s school had a talent show the other day. There’s nothing like watching two 14-year-olds belting out “Hallelujah” who couldn’t possibly have the remotest idea of what they’re singing about.

        • tsam

          When they get to the “moved in you” part, AWKWARD

          • Solar System Wolf

            Well, I winced. No one else did, not even the other parents. No one’s really listening to the words when they can sing along with the chorus.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        Like the Republicans using “Born in America” in blissful ignorance.

        • Colin Day

          Wasn’t that Born in the USA?

  • President Putinfluffer

    I’m so pretty! Oh So Pretty! Isn’t it just great how pretty I am!!

    • (((max)))

      “The media is squealing about how wonderful I am! Mission accomplished!”

      [‘Now watch this drive.’]

  • Malaclypse

    I’m starting to suspect the liberal media are a myth.

    • efgoldman

      I’m starting to suspect the liberal media are a myth.

      Oh, there are real liberal media, but the usual suspects (“All the News that Fits, we Print”) ain’t it.

  • Nobdy

    Randy Newman needs to get on TV right now and tell Trump (and Williams) that his song is a JOKE! It’s a JOKE YOU MANIACS!

  • Gwen

    The thing is the mainstream media are not normally what you would consider “weapons enthusiasts.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I doubt Brian Williams is the sort of guy who posts YouTube videos about how to field-strip and clean a Sig Sauer P226. I doubt he collects Mosin-Nagants. I bet he doesn’t even have an opinion about the stopping power of the 9mm NATO cartridge.

    Say what you will about “ammosexuals” but you know their love is true and committed.

    No these guys just want to hump Trump’s leg. A week from now, when Donald’s Glorious War is over, they’ll be spewing uninformed nonsense about guns and gunowners again.

    (I’m a gun owner and I am in favor of more gun control, but I agree with the NRA-types that on a technical factual level the media does a horrible job of educating people about guns).

    Slate article on the same: https://www.google.com/amp/amp.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/06/the_media_keeps_misfiring_when_it_writes_about_guns.html

    • Q.E.Dumbass

      How come you get to have the edit button?

      • Colin Day

        Because he has a gun and knows how to use it?

        • Q.E.Dumbass

          Gwen’s male?

          • When I last recall noticing Gwen’s self-identification (probably well over a year ago, maybe even two or more), I believe it was male cross-dresser (not necessarily his word, though it might have been), sexual orientation not specified (again, as far as I remember).

          • Colin Day

            Oops, my bad. I didn’t even scroll back to see the name.

    • Its not true that the mainstream media are not weapons enthusiasts. Just because someone doesn’t own a gun, or think that mouth breathing moron second amendment rights are important, doesn’t mean they can’t be in love with jingoistic, nationalistic, displays of overwhelming aggression and violence.

      An enormous number of people are unable to grasp the awesome and horrific power of a bombing run. I remember having this discussion with my *&^%$ right wing sister in law, the conservative christian, after we shock and awed Baghdad. She is a lovely person, truly a good person (for many values of good) but she did not have enough imagination to scale up from the petty violence of, say, a child knocking down a fort (something she had been exposed to) to the mass bombing of a city, filled with civilians and children and cats and toys and housing and hospitals. It staggers me to this day that people can’t use their imaginations to go from an injury to themselves to an injury to someone else even when you talktothem, even when you explain it to them.

      As for jingoism, nationalism, and the romance of war–talking heads on tv are literally paid not to know better. Jumping up and shouting “holy shit this is a clusterfuck of biblical proportions” is not what they are paid for.

      • An enormous number of people are unable to grasp the awesome and horrific power of a bombing run.

        Not (of course) those who have survived being on the business end of one; nor even some of those who have been on the other end.

        The Fury of Aerial Bombardment (Richard Eberhart)

        You would think the fury of aerial bombardment
        Would rouse God to relent; the infinite spaces
        Are still silent. He looks on shock-pried faces.
        History, even, does not know what is meant.

        You would feel that after so many centuries
        God would give man to repent; yet he can kill
        As Cain could, but with multitudinous will,
        No farther advanced than in his ancient furies.

        Was man made stupid to see his own stupidity?
        Is God by definition indifferent, beyond us all?
        Is the eternal truth man’s fighting soul
        Wherein the Beast ravens in its own avidity?

        Of Van Wettering I speak, and Averill,
        Names on a list, whose faces I do not recall
        But they are gone to early death, who late in school
        Distinguished the belt feed lever from the belt holding pawl.

        See also Kurt Vonnegut, passim.

        But, yeah, among the rest of us—who are the vast majority of the world’s population (at least in times and places like the US now)—there is a lot of failure of empathetic imagination going around. So it goes.

        • sibusisodan

          Thank you for the poem. V thought provoking. Reminded me a little of the approach RS Thomas took for some reason.

          • I went to Carl Kaysen’s memorial a few years ago–I don’t know if you knew him, Lee? And his daughter read an amazing letter he wrote to her mother about watching the blitz from a rooftop in London during WWII. I think that one’s response in the moment is legitimately up to the person who is standing there. But I can’t forgive the complacency of my sister in law, who belongs to that class of Christian who obsesses about gay marriage, or pornography, or whatever the outrage du jour is, but who never realizes that on the other side of a bomb lies a dead person.

    • efgoldman
      • efgoldman

        This. I’ll leave this here

    • Donna Gratehouse

      And I’d like for people who know nothing about female anatomy to stop opining about reproductive health policy on TV but that’s not happening any time soon either.

  • gmack

    Where have heard this before? Oh, that’s right:

    “For twenty-seven years we Futurists have rebelled against the branding of war as anti-aesthetic … Accordingly we state:… War is beautiful because it establishes man’s dominion over the subjugated machinery by means of gas masks, terrifying megaphones, flame throwers, and small tanks. War is beautiful because it initiates the dreamt-of metalization of the human body. War is beautiful because it enriches a flowering meadow with the fiery orchids of machine guns. War is beautiful because it combines the gunfire, the cannonades, the cease-fire, the scents, and the stench of putrefaction into a symphony. War is beautiful because it creates new architecture, like that of the big tanks, the geometrical formation flights, the smoke spirals from burning villages, and many others … Poets and artists of Futurism! … remember these principles of an aesthetics of war so that your struggle for a new literature and a new graphic art … may be illumined by them!”

    (Famously quoted at the end of Benjamin’s classic essay, the Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.

    • farin

      I’d take Marinetti over Brian Williams in a heartbeat. At least he knew he was a fascist.

      • Q.E.Dumbass

        For full effect, the above passage should be read in the voice of Ren Hoek.

        • John Revolta

          I’m thinking late-period Bela Lugosi

          • Q.E.Dumbass

            But Lugosi sounded much less Italian than Kricfalusi & Billy West’s renditions. (And Ren was based on Peter Lorre anyway).

    • altofront

      Shakespeare got there first:

      Volumnia: [Blood] more becomes a man
      Than gilt his trophy: the breasts of Hecuba,
      When she did suckle Hector, look’d not lovelier
      Than Hector’s forehead when it spit forth blood
      At Grecian sword, contemning.

  • Lord Jesus Perm

    All it takes is a white man in the Oval Office willing to wave his sick around to make the media swoon. It’d be funny if Trump wasn’t going to get people killed.

    • Lord Jesus Perm


      • David Allan Poe

        Naah, the first one works.

    • wengler

      He’s already gotten people killed. He will claw his way back up in the polls on a pile of corpses.

    • Donna Gratehouse

      All it takes is a white


      man in the Oval Office willing to wave his dick around to make the media swoon.

      FIFY. They never swooned over Bill Clinton’s military actions.

  • Deggjr

    It’s a small point in the grand scheme of things, but speaking of lessons not learned, how could Hillary Clinton call for the bombing of Syrian airfields?

    Her “support” for the Iraq war helped cost her the 2008 Democratic nomination. Somehow Trump portrayed himself as less interventionist than her in the 2016 election.

    Now Trump has “bi-partisan support” for the bombing which will be useful to him when things go worse in Syria. Somehow Trump has already bombed both sides in a Civil War where both sides are objectionable.

    • Nobdy

      Clinton is a hawk. We all knew this. It’s one of her major flaws.

    • PunditusMaximus

      Clinton’s hawkism is one of her deeper personal commitments. Shrug.

    • Q.E.Dumbass

      First point: It’s because of a tendency to see overseas conflicts through the framing of “potentially the next Rwanda” and thus being grave enough to merit Doing Something immediately (neglecting the concerns of intervention). Then again, this framing would be significantly more valid as applied to South Sudan, as even with the Syria clusterfuck events on the ground haven’t appreciably weakened the case against Syrian escalation.

      Second point: What Nobdy said, but anyone who thought Donnie would be any better on any section of foreign policy is a fucking idiot.

      • nemdam

        But after talking about bombing the shit out of Muslims and taking their oil, Trump vaguely and incoherently said a few times that we shouldn't get so involved in other country's affairs. His record on this was lying about his opposition to the Iraq war. I don't know about you, but Trump's personality and history tells me he tends to deescalate and avoid confrontation. WHO KNEW HE WOULD BE MORE HAWKISH THAN HILLARY?

      • (((max)))

        First point: It’s because of a tendency to see overseas conflicts through the framing of “potentially the next Rwanda” and thus being grave enough to merit Doing Something immediately (neglecting the concerns of intervention).

        From what I can tell, she’s the Brian Williams of Democratic politicians, unfortunately. (BOOM BOOM BOOM YAY!)

        Second point: What Nobdy said, but anyone who thought Donnie would be any better on any section of foreign policy is a fucking idiot.

        ‘The cure is way worse than the disease.’

        Actually, Yggles is right here: “More to it than money but it’s impossible to understand the scale of bipartisan background clamor for Syria intervention without Gulf cash.”

        [‘We’re the Rent-a-Merc Empire.’]

        • Q.E.Dumbass

          Unfair comparison: Clinton’s policy isn’t especially good, but it isn’t the clueless callousness/MURICA FUCK YEEEAAHHHH present in Williams’ statement.

        • farin

          I mean, hasn’t Hillary explicitly said her foreign policy commitment is preventing another Rwanda? That leads her to be hideously wrong at times like this, but it’s a coherent and non-trivial goal.

          • Q.E.Dumbass


          • efgoldman

            That leads her to be hideously wrong at times like this, but it’s a coherent and non-trivial goal.

            And whatever else it is, it’s not non-thinking impulsiveness. We may disagree with her conclusion, just as we may have disagreed with Obama’s, but each came to it by careful thought, consideration, and consultation with qualified advisors and experts.
            Tangerine Thug has no advisors and experts, and wouldn’t consult them if he did. He doesn’t consider anything, he is a creature of impulse.
            That isn’t a successful strategy in international relations.

          • tsam

            Yeah. Also, every fucking loudmouth on the internet has a litany of DONT DO THIS items, and never seem to have any better ideas. Total disengagement isn’t an idea. Well it’s not this week. Next week, though, it’s your turn, peacenik. We’ll finally give peace a chance and everything will be perfect again.

            Foreign policy has no capacity for coherence or dogmatic pursuit of any goal. It’s a series of trade offs, compromises, giving cover to horrible bastards who deserve nothing more than a bullet between their beady fucking eyes, all in some attempt to maintain order in a world that is geopolitically set up to fail.

    • nemdam

      Calling her a hawk is I think ridiculous, but there’s no question she’s a liberal interventionist just like her husband. She believes American power, including the American military, can play a prominent role in promoting human rights and liberal values around the world.

      Her Syria policy is 100% consistent with this. She called for strikes on the airfields because Assad used chemical weapons and she believes it’s important to uphold the international norm of not using chemical weapons because they are so antithetical to human rights. This is also why she has called for a no-fly zone. It’s to try and limit the civilian casualties.

      And to think Hillary has now given bipartisan support to Trump’s adventure is absurd. Hillary was literally the next day already calling out Trump for his ridiculous justification of being moved by images of suffering on TV by challenging him to accept Syrian refugees if he cares so much.

      Whatever you think of Hillary’s foreign policy views, her views are very consistent over time.

      • Q.E.Dumbass

        This is a bit of a no-true-Scotsman, in that “hawk” denotes a generally pro-intervention outlook; while it’s true that her views here aren’t motivated by malice or bloodlust, she’s still definitely a hawk.

        • nemdam

          I should’ve explained this in my post as I knew it would come up.

          The term “hawk” doesn’t have a hard and fast definition. To me, a “war hawk” is someone who consistently advocates for war to solve foreign policy issues. So John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Tom Cotton are war hawks. The neocons* are war hawks. I don’t want to totally rehash Hillary’s Iraq war vote, but it was not done because she was a cheerleader for war like the Bush administration. It was a huge mistake, but it was a vote out of caution, though history has shown way too little caution.

          Viewing limited military intervention with the cooperation of the international community** as one of many worthwhile tools in foreign policy does not strike me as someone who is a war hawk. I should add that this does not mean I share these views. I think she is too optimistic about the use of force, and I prefer Obama’s more cautious approach. But contrary to popular perception, she doesn’t have plans to lead the US to a bunch of ridiculous wars like the actual war hawks in DC.

          *Can we all at least agree she is not a neocon? Hillary can only be defined as a neocon when the word is stripped of all meaning.
          **This is another huge part of her advocacy of force. She firmly believes the US should only use force when done with the cooperation of the international community. So no go-it-alone, cowboy nonsense. This is a not insignificant restraint.

          • Hillary can only be defined as a neocon when the word is stripped of all meaning.

            She’s a neocon and a neoliberal!!!

            • ForkyMcSpoon

              OMG… She is Neo.

              She is The One.

      • wengler

        It’s hard to take this at face value though. Clinton’s liberal interventionism promotes human rights when it’s convenient for Clinton’s liberal interventionism. I’m all for pragmatism when it’s necessary, like when seventh century cosplayers are committing human and cultural genocide in two countries and inspiring dopes to kill and maim hundreds across the US and Europe. But to commit to a hardline on human rights that helps said cosplayers makes no sense. It’d be like if the US had declared war on the USSR in 1941.

        It of course all crumbles into a heap when Saudi Arabia slips through the veil of criticism, a country that not only buys US weapons to commit atrocities of their own, but sees free speech as an offense punishable by death.

        • (((max)))


          Why we continue to remain allied with the Saudis is a mystery that seem likely to ever be solved.

          [‘Besides $MONEY$, of course.’]

          • Q.E.Dumbass

            Max Fisher did a primer on that at Vox last year.

          • efgoldman

            Why we continue to remain allied with the Saudis is a mystery that seem likely to ever be solved.

            See that there black stuff coming out of the ground?
            (Although we don’t really need it any more)

        • nemdam

          Just because she views the military as valuable tool does not mean she views its power as unlimited. So to say military force can be used to promote human rights doesn’t mean you declare war on every country that is abusing its people as that obviously wouldn’t work. This is why she wouldn’t advocate going to war with Saudi Arabia. There’s no way the application of military force would result in the advancement of human rights there. It would just lead to unimaginable chaos and destruction. But, if there was a serious movement that could topple the royal family and install a democracy that would respect human rights? There’s always an element of Realpolitik with any foreign policy, but I think she would consider helping them militarily like in Libya.

          • Q.E.Dumbass

            As far as pointing out a moral inconsistency wengler’s comment is accurate; where it errs is the implication that the view is in bad faith.

            (Also anote that active as opposed to passive support for Saudi Arabia’s own idiotic adventnures with no relevance to American aims – e.g. Yemen – would be plainly unjustifiable.)

      • Dennis Orphen

        Also, Hilary/The Democrats aren’t Russian puppets now, so Assad would never have used chemical weapons (not that I make a big distinction there, unlike our Mrs Grundy Pitty-Pats on the other side of the aisle) with or without Putin’s okay.

        Those deaths are on Trump and his supporters as much as Assad and his backers. PUKE. There not your friends, or anyone else’s for that matter.

    • wengler

      She has a terrible foreign policy outlook, but unlike Trump she has always been honest about it.

      • No she doesn’t. This kind of hyperbole and both sides do it is just sickening. There is a world of difference between a liberal interventionism geared at protecting civilians where possible and Trumpism or, for that matter, Bushism.

        • Q.E.Dumbass

          The world of difference between liberal interventionism and the Republican line is real and significant – especially since certain wankers think any bad ideas on this front are inherently EVIL and bloodthirsty – but that still doesn’t mean her foreign policy (at least regarding intervention) is good. Escalated involvement in Syria (especially under Trump) has no observable chances of provable success, and AFAICT the Libya intervention would’ve required massive followup in order to turn out a success.

          • nemdam

            This is correct. But I must add that I think it’s wrong to say any new involvement in Syria has zero chance of success. If done properly, I think a no-fly zone could reduce civilian casualties, and I think taking out some of Assad’s airfields could deter him from using chemical weapons. But I wouldn’t want to take that chance.

          • econoclast

            I don’t understand where this certainty comes from. The US’s (relative) non-intervention in Syria was a disaster. There are millions of refugees and many dead. Knock-on consequences include terrorist attacks all over Europe and destabilization of the post-war European order. The Syrian civil war helped Brexit win, it helped Trump win.

            Civil wars are bad news, so maybe there was no good outcome, but the actual outcome of non-intervention was dreadful.

            • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

              The problem is we rarely really know what would have happened if things were done differently. Almost every action has unintended consequences, many of which weren’t known in advance.

              Yes, what you call “relative non-intervention” led to disaster, but that doesn’t prove there was a better choice available to the US. Most of the problems in Syria are the fault of Syrians, starting with the Assad family, but not limited to them. That we can come in from a position of almost zero involvement and produce a good result, IMO, overstates our ability to influence events. And then you throw in the Russians with their differing motives and I just don’t see that a better outcome from any US action is at all certain.

              Look how long the US has been involved in trying to get an agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, a situation where we have far more leverage, yet not much results.

        • Morse Code for J

          Philosophically, perhaps, but the outcomes are similar. At the end, it’s still more about being seen doing something putatively moral than truly helping people.

          Clinton’s “get caught trying” bullshit springs from this simple faith in sending in the Marines, killing or arresting “the bad guys” however defined, and leaving behind a functional democracy mindful of the civil liberties of political minorities. It sort of worked in Bosnia, where conditions were perhaps uniquely suitable for a bombing campaign followed by peace negotiations mediated by NATO. What sort of worked in Bosnia couldn’t have worked at all in Somalia, or Rwanda, or Iraq, or Afghanistan. And yet liberal interventionism ignores the weight of historical evidence and reaches the same conclusions about using military force every single time.

          • Q.E.Dumbass

            This is mostly accurate, but I don’t think anybody’s ever indicated that an intervention in Rwanda would be primary accomplished by bombing. (Indeed, the thing with Rwanda wasn’t “a lack of good options,” but malign neglect – and sometimes direct assistance to the genocidaires – from the international scene).

    • efgoldman

      Somehow Trump has already bombed both sides in a Civil War where both sides are objectionable.

      Would that there were only “both” (two) side in Syria. Then we could pock one and support it, if we chose. Unfortunately, there are several sides, each fighting all or most of the others, amorphous and realigning.

  • Murc

    The number of former Obama officials coming out to suck Trump’s dick over this is really indicative of just how much he was resisting his own advisors with regard to not getting involved in Syria, and also the extent to which the foreign policy community is deeply diseased.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      With Trump, I’m not sure how much he was “resisting his own advisors”. From what I can see, all but a handful of them have negligible influence at best. There are reports that senior administration folk are forced to try to get their position mentioned on RW cable shows as their only way of getting any of his attention.

      • Murc

        With Trump, I’m not sure how much he was “resisting his own advisors”.

        Oh! I meant Obama. Obama was the one resisting his own advisors.

        My apologies, I constructed that sentence very badly, didn’t I?

  • waspuppet

    In 2000, George W. Bush became president in substantial measure because the media, erroneously perceiving nothing much of substance to be a stake, was relentlessly focused on inane and sometimes made-up trivia about the candidate of the incumbent party.

    This is the third president in my lifetime (all Republicans of course) who glided into the Oval Office on a platform (the public-consumption version anyway) of “Hey, how hard could it be? Anything I don’t know about, I’ll hire the smartest people to guide me.”

    The last two times at least, they followed a Democratic president who made it LOOK easy. This has not occurred to anyone in our liberal media yet. Neither has it occurred to them that if you don’t know anything, you probably don’t know who the smartest people are.

    If I explained that my general good character and desire to see good results were all I needed to run an airline or a neurology department, they’d see that. But when it comes to the presidency, they don’t. Which is ironic given that, as we’ve seen after this Syria performance art and the “presidential” speech to Congress, they are deeply, desperately invested in the idea that any president is instantly ennobled by The Awesome Responsibilities of the Job. All much more religious than civic, it seems.

    • Gregor Sansa

      Carter didn’t make it look easy. So is the third one Nixon?

      • Q.E.Dumbass

        Hence “[t]he last two times at least;” the third one is Sanctus Ronaldus Magnus.

      • Bill Murray

        Clinton and Obama made it look easy, ie the last two. Carter did not make it look easy

      • NonyNony

        Johnson certainly didn’t make it look easy.

        • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

          I’d argue that he’s credited with being able to twist people’s arms and get a bunch of legislation passed that Kennedy couldn’t.

          And ever since people assume that all the President needs to do is make a few phone calls and magic happens. That this doesn’t happen is cited as proof they either are lazy, don’t care about a particular issue, or are incompetent.

          Johnson was a skilled deal-maker, but he worked in a completely different way of doing business in Congress vs. today.

          • ForkyMcSpoon

            Hey who knows, maybe Trump will also utilize exposing himself as a political tactic.

  • Myxozoa

    Apparently, he is using the missile strike as a fundraiser.


  • nemdam

    I think Ben Rhodes has the best take on this:

    So Obama was excoriated in DC for years for not taking a strike that disabled an airfield for a few hours. https://t.co/SVyihf3sph— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) April 8, 2017

  • Joe_JP

    In 2000, George W. Bush became president in substantial measure because the media, erroneously perceiving nothing much of substance to be a stake

    Major reason why we had a long extended impeachment over what Clinton did; after 9/11, realize some might doubt this, question that even the Republicans would spend years focusing congressional time and effort on that sort of thing.

    Nostalgic for the pre-9/11 days when Bush’s great moment of leadership involved drawing some counting angels on the head of a pin line respect stem cell lines. This after deep hard examination. Those precious snowflakes!

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      Yep, I can remember that he proclaimed this would be the most momentous decision of his presidency. If only.

  • wengler

    A gentle reminder that when you are rich as fuck and life has very few negative consequences for you, the only way to truly feel alive is by breaking things.

    • Joe_JP

      Breaking things is sometimes a way for those without much to feel alive too.

    • Nobdy

      True for some people? Other rich as fuck people get their jollies through building things or personal projects.

      I mean Bill Gates is the richest man on the planet and doesn’t seem to get off on breaking stuff.

    • Origami Isopod

      I don’t see Soros breaking anything.

      Nihilism’s a choice.

      • efgoldman

        I don’t see Soros breaking anything

        Nor the Sage of Omaha.

        • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

          But they're cucks, and apparently rarely grab passing women by the pussy like real men do.

      • vic rattlehead

        Yeah but Soros and Gates are actually accomplished and talented people . Trump inherited money and has done nothing of value in his life.

    • tsam

      I’d bet there’s a big correlation between old money entitlement and nihilism and the humanity still left in the nouveau riche. Neither is a guarantee of a particular outcome. Trump is the most stereotypical example of an old money idiot. A man with few words, yet always running his fucking mouth, just begging for a sledgehammer gag.

      • bender

        You have that exactly wrong. Trump is new money all over.

        In the United States, old money comes from your grandparents or great-grandparents, not from your parents or your own efforts. Old money does not call attention to itself, except sometimes via philanthropy. Really old money eschews conspicuous consumption.

        • efgoldman

          Old money does not call attention to itself, except sometimes via philanthropy. Really old money eschews conspicuous consumption.

          Right. Old money has its name on buildings other than condos, offices and hotels – often inconspicuously. Concert halls, art galleries, museums, university buildings….

          • Q.E.Dumbass

            This is a good description of the Clintons, and their money’s a lot newer than Blithering Butthole’s.

            • efgoldman

              their money’s a lot newer than Blithering Butthole’s.

              He would be an asshole even if his money came over on the Mayflower.

          • bender

            Wings of hospitals. Philanthropy.

        • tsam

          Huh. Well that makes sense–especially in the context of how rabidly republican suburban whites are.

    • vic rattlehead

      shoulder deep within the borderline

  • synykyl

    Never mind skepticism, depth, and context. I’d be happy if a few of our most prominent journalists could just manage not to be complete fucking idiots.

  • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

    suggest that the lessons of the Iraq War haven’t been learned

    I’d say the lesson that war produce high cable TV ratings has been learned.

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