Chinese Spy Balloons Are Bad. Republican Screeching Is Worse.
99 Red Balloons - Nena (lyrics) | You and I in a little toy … | Flickr

Unemployment is down to 3.4 percent, 517,000 jobs were created in January, and inflation seems finally to be easing. These are good stories for President Joe Biden, so naturally Republicans want to talk nonsense about a Chinese weather balloon. And the media is only too happy to oblige!

"Did it drop and disperse surveillance products powered by solar energy to allow unlimited surveillance," wondered Fox's Maria Bartiromo, whose singular dedication to being the dumbest working journalist at a major network remains unchallenged. Rep. James Comer, the new chair of House Oversight and someone who needs flashcards to be stupid, went even further: "My concern is that the federal government obviously doesn't know what's in that balloon. Is that bioweapons in that balloon? Did that balloon take off from Wuhan?"

The balloon is full of solar-powered bioweapons! Or maybe surveillance fentanyl! Why didn't Biden shoot it down over Topeka?!?!?!!!1!

It must be exhausting to be this moronic. And God knows Peepaw Pisspants needs a nap!

Who sends a Billion Dollar blimp, with the most sophisticated equipment in the World, and large enough to hold ten cars or 3 large buses, into a complex pattern over the United States, without it quite possibly being manned, such as the \u201cmanned spacecraft?\u201d China should have been called to ask. If \u201cno,\u201d shoot it down, if \u201cyes,\u201d negotiate the greatest deal EVER!

Here on Planet Earth, none of this makes a lick of sense. Even if you discount the Chinese line that this is a simple weather balloon blown off course, the reality is that China has spy satellites and drones — and so do we! There is no way of knowing why China chose to float this thing over America on the eve of a planned visit between Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and President Xi, but the doomed dirigible caused major diplomatic embarrassment, and Blinken has now canceled his trip. If this was a ploy to make President Biden look weak, then it failed spectacularly everywhere but on Fox News.

There's also the inconvenient fact that China did the exact same thing multiple times during the Trump administration. So much for the boast that no one would never have dared encroach on American air space with that manly specimen of decaying blubber and petty grievance channel surfing in the Oval Office. Republicans have been reduced to shouting NUH UH and blaming Barack Obama, all the while counseling their patriotic followers to shoot pointlessly into the air while standing under it.

Reuters reports that the balloon looked to be deliberately hovering over sensitive military targets, something which they hadn't seen Chinese balloons do before. Similarly, the New York Times suggests that the advantage of balloons over satellites is their ability to "hover over a site far longer and [they] can pick up radio, cellular and other transmissions that cannot be detected from space," something the Biden administration anticipated and ordered the affected military installations to prepare for.

No one knows exactly what the balloon was doing, but you can bet your bottom dollar that if the Biden administration had taken it down over land and harmed one hair on the head of a goat grazing in East Asscrack the same Republicans cursing his lack of courage would be howling for impeachment based on his reckless endangerment of human life. According to Reuters, the military cleared the airspace above Billings, Montana, on Wednesday, but then decided not to risk shooting the thing down over land — something the Kurvy Kouch Brain Trust at Fox insists is a sign of dereliction of duty by General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As soon as the craft reached the Atlantic, it was hit by a Sidewider missile fired by an F-22 fighter jet dispatched from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. The debris field stretches some seven miles, most of it in shallow waters off the coast of South Carolina where we can recover the parts and possibly assess what it was doing.

Make no mistake, this is a serious incursion that raises questions that don't fit into a soundbite that can be replayed for partisan advantage. As the Times's David Sanger points out, China seems to have miscalculated badly, and then had no means to defuse the diplomatic crisis once unleashed. We've now got their balloon, and they've got egg on their faces. But there are no rational policy discussions to be had with a party reborn in the image of a spray-painted game show host obsessed with scoring points in an endless cycle of faux outrage.

This is no way to run a country. And yet ... what other choice do we have?

[Reuters / NYT]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.


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