Friday links! Daze of future passed edition

Two thousand and six

Remember like 14 years ago? We were all so innocent then. A new President Bush had just discovered secret proof that we were about to discover weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. A new housing market was revitalizing American cities by adding value to what people owned already. A new kind of publication, the blog, invigorated public discourse with its jaunty tone and periodic slander. Everything seemed fresh and exciting, which is weird, because 2003 is actually old. There’s just no way to argue that it’s still happening now. Yet one cannot ignore the feeling that we remain mired in the last decade: fighting the same wars, smugly denouncing a president who could only appeal to idiots, and putting skulls on everything. Today is Friday, and everything old is not so much new again as stubbornly still here. Won’t you survey the leftovers with me?

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Friday links! Courtesy of the red, white and blue edition

Toby Keith, who did not serve in the military, and his dog tags

Did you hear? President Trump dropped the MOAB on Afghanistan, killing 36 ISIS fighters and presumably ending our 15-year war. “MOAB” stands for “mother of all bombs.” The 11-ton weapon loves all other bombs and just wants them to be happy, and even though it has different expectations for each bomb, it is behind every single one of them 100 percent. You know who else loves bombs? Fox and Friends. Here’s the video they put together for yesterday’s strike:

“The video is black and white,” Ainsley Earhardt says, “but that is what freedom looks like. That’s the red, white and blue.” It’s true that a tyrant could never bomb anyone. Freedom isn’t life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness. It’s a giant explosion seen from 30,000 feet. It’s Geraldo Rivera and his Wario mustache saying that “one of my favorite things, in the sixteen years I’ve been here at Fox News, is watching bombs drop on bad guys.” Today is Friday, and the most comfortable people in the world love to watch other people get bombed. Won’t you experience hot, searing freedom with me?

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Ways to lose to Donald Trump: Run on land war in Asia

As Vizzini in The Princess Bride, Wallace Shawn taught us a classic error.

As Vizzini in The Princess Bride, Wallace Shawn taught us a classic error.

Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee, Hillary Clinton is guaranteed to become president. It’s obvious Trump can’t win. He’s utterly unqualified. His negatives are too high. Everyone of sense can see he is doomed in the general, just as we all knew his candidacy was going nowhere in the primaries. Okay, so he won almost all the primaries, but that was a fluke. This time, there’s no way. Democrats will keep the White House in 2016, because all of Trump’s signature issues appeal to fundamentally limited subsets of voters. He’s not selling anything the majority of Americans can agree on. On a completely unrelated note, the Intercept has reported that Trump called Hillary “trigger happy” at a rally in Lynden, Washington, where he warned that she would embroil the United States in another land war in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Hillary is courting neoconservatives put off by Trump’s isolationism. Here’s Republican strategist Steve Schmidt:

Donald Trump will be running to the left as we understand it against Hillary Clinton on national security issues. And the candidate in the race most like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from a foreign policy perspective is in fact Hillary Clinton, not the Republican nominee.

Finally, the Democrats have an opportunity to position themselves as the party of hawks—and at a moment when war is so popular!

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Army officer ordered to use “psy-ops” on visiting congressmen

In this case, you should probably just use the plane.


First of all, lest you misjudge how it feels to have psy-ops used on you, the p is silent. According to this article in an evidently self-impressed Rolling Stone, Lieutenant General William Caldwell ordered members of his Information Operations unit to use psychological manipulation techniques on senators and congressmen visiting Camp Eggers* in Kabul. Lieutenant Colonel Michael Holmes claims that Caldwell told his unit to gather background information on John McCain, Al Franken, Armed Services Committee chair Carl Levin and other legislators, in order to use psy-ops tactics to convince them to devote more money and troops to the Afghan War. “How do we get these guys to give us more people?” Caldwell demanded. “What do I have to plant inside their heads?” As one might expect, the Army is prohibited from using propaganda and/or psychological warfare techniques on US citizens—much less members of Congress—and this shit is totally illegal. Also, it doesn’t take a military background check to figure out what will break John McCain’s psyche. Tiger cage: no; woman with nice jawline: yes.

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Holy crap! Anne Coulter agrees with me

"Excuse me, Ms. Coulter, but a large number of seagulls are converging on the park, and we'd appreciate it if you'd put on slacks."

It was only for the duration of one sentence, though. In reference to Michael Steele’s claim that Afghanistan is “a war of Obama’s choosing,” Coulter has declared that “Michael Steele was absolutely right.” She does not mean, of course, that Steele suggested that Obama invaded Afghanistan. That would be absurd. She means that “Afghanistan is Obama’s war and, judging by other recent Democratic ventures in military affairs, isn’t likely to turn out well.”

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