A ranger, a rogue, and a druid walk into a bar …

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How did you spend your Saturday evening?

There are some distinct advantages to coming back to Dungeons and Dragons as an adult. For one, the refreshments are better. Not that I have anything against Nacho Cheese Doritos and Mountain Dew.

Another thing is that if you’ve hung around the game as long as I have — I got my first set of rules back in 1977 or ’78 — you’ve found that the rules have come nearly full circle after the disastrous detour into World of Warcraft territory that was the game’s 4th edition.

The beauty of that is I can dust off a lot of my old materials and with some quick updating get a game up and running again.

But I guess the biggest kick of all, is being able to recapture what were really good times, rediscovering the power of imagination, and sharing that with friends all over again.

I’m old enough now to have passed the game along to my kids, and talking with my son about the adventures he is designing and hearing him recount the misadventures of his friends’ characters is pretty damn cool too.

The writer Ta-Nehisi Coates is another longtime player of the game. He says it as well as anyone:

Jeb is the GOP’s serious candidate on foreign policy. Really

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Jeb Bush, apparently more serious about his grilling than about foreign policy. (US News photo.)

 

Today at the Iowa State Fair, Jeb Bush was forced to once again address his brother’s disastrous Iraq legacy, and delivered this gem:

First of all, the Iraqis want our help. They want to know we have skin in the game, that we’re committed to this.

When someone in the crowd reminded him that it was his brother who in 2008 negotiated and signed the status of forces agreement requiring all US forces be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of 2011, he went on to contend something that no one else who pays attention to American foreign policy honestly believes:

We didn’t have to get out in 2011 … It [the agreement] could have been modified, and that was the expectation. Everybody in Iraq and everybody in Washington knew that this deal could have been expanded.

Jeb here is being either willfully misleading or simply delusional.  As Fred Kaplan points out in Slate,

Article 30 of that same agreement stated that its terms could be amended “only with the official agreement of the Parties in writing and in accordance with the constitutional procedures in effect in both countries.” These “constitutional procedures” included a vote by the Iraqi Parliament—and at no time between 2008 and 2011 was the Iraqi Parliament going to take such a vote.

Granted, President Obama did want to get out of Iraq; he won the White House in large part on that promise, and there was no more support in the United States than in Iraq for a continued presence of American troops. And yet Obama did send emissaries—among them former aides to George W. Bush—to seek an amendment to allow a few thousand residual forces. The Iraqi government refused. Unless Obama wanted to re-invade the country, there was nothing to be done.

Frankly, my money is edging toward delusional, in part because of statements like this next one. As CNN reported:

Thursday, reporters asked Bush if he intentionally invoked the phrase “mission was accomplished” as a nod to his brother, who famously spoke in 2003 in front of a banner with almost the same wording splashed across it, yet the war continued on for years.

Jeb Bush, somewhat annoyed, argued reporters were overanalyzing his remarks.

I know you’re obsessed with all this and that’s your job, but it was a mission that was accomplished,” he said, referring to the 2007 surge. “(The phrase) is used. It was actually a movie. It’s been a sequel. Tom Cruise has made a really good living out of it,” he went on to say, appearing to conflate the term with the movie series “Mission Impossible.”

Had enough yet? No? OK, here’s one more.

Asked about waterboarding and other forms of torture, Jeb refused to say whether he would keep in place President Obama’s executive order banning abusive methods of interrogation. Again from the CNN report:

“I don’t want to make a definitive, blanket kind of statement,” he said, saying he prefers to be “cautious” in making such predictions. “When you are president your words matter.”

Later at a separate event in Ankeny, Iowa, he was asked by reporters to clarify whether he was leaving open the idea of allowing methods like waterboarding again in the future.

“I’m not ruling anything in or out,” he said, but stressed “we don’t do torture.”

And Jeb is considered the GOP’s serious candidate on foreign policy. Imagine how the unserious ones sound.

 

 

 

The sordid scandals of the holier-than-thou

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Michigan Republican state reps Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, in happier times. (Photo from The Guardian.)

 

It would be all too easy to devote this blog to nothing more than cataloging the seemingly endless hypocrisies of the religious right. So I just don’t think its worth much of my time, or yours, pointing out the obvious.

But low-hanging fruit can be pretty damn juicy, especially when it’s ripe for the picking in your own backyard. So meet Republican state representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, Tea Party favorites, Christian conservatives, and probably the loudest advocates and defenders of traditional marriage in the Michigan legislature.

Especially if your definition of traditional marriage includes adultery.

Rumors of an affair between Courser and Gamrat — who regularly invoke Christian values to support their political positions — had been swirling around state political circles for months. But the whole thing exploded into public view earlier this week thanks to Courser’s comical attempt to enlist his staff in a scheme to divert attention from the affair by floating claims that he had been caught paying for gay sex behind a Lansing nightclub.

Apparently Courser believed the charges of illicit gay sex would distract his constituents from the more mundane adultery he was actually engaged in. More precisely, as the Detroit News revealed when it broke the story, Courser (married father of four) told his aides the exaggerated claims would “inoculate the herd” and make “anything else that comes out after that — that isn’t a video — mundane, tame by comparison.”

While Gamrat has so far kept quiet about the whole thing, the same can’t be said for Courser. MLive has a terrific overview of the story and the reaction in Courser’s Lapeer district. Here’s a taste:

The story revealed Courser, R-Lapeer, tried to get an aide, Ben Graham, to send an email making the false claim Courser was a bisexual deviant who skipped out on legislative duties to pay for homosexual sex behind a “prominent Lansing nightclub.” The email was meant to “inoculate the herd,” Courser said, for when news of his actual affair with Gamrat leaked.

Courser’s attempts to douse the fire — a 27-minute recording of him accusing ex-staffers of conspiring against him, the release of texts from a person he’s referred to as “The Blackmailer” to prove the conspiracy, accusing a political consultant of being The Blackmailer and tweets accusing Speaker of the House Kevin Cotter of working against him — instead acted as accelerant.

Despite all the free advice from public relations professional urging resignation and silence, Courser continues to press his story of blackmail.

The whole thing is almost too absurd to believe. Almost.

What is white privilege?

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White privilege is …

That’s white privilege.