Saturday, May 07, 2011


Am I GOOD, or what!

Where else on the "Internets Machine" will you find a blog that delivers the best, most relevant and incisive political commentary anywhere but also the $43 winner of the Kentucky Derby, the $329 exacta for $2 COLD, as well as ALL of the horses in the trifecta and superfecta?! ALL for FREE! Heh ...

Watch Le Prince Des Animaux, ANIMAL KINGDOM, do his victory lap before a record crowd numbering more than 160,000 in this the first leg of the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby:

I saw ANIMAL KINGDOM's daddy, Leroidesanimaux, race. He was the world's best turf horse, which is why the so-called "experts" got off his son in the Derby. In their linear pack-thinking, a turf sire just doesn't pass along an affinity for dirt racing to his offspring. I guess they forgot about the great Cigar, who was a so-so horse on grass (because his breeding said "turf horse"), but when he was moved to the dirt became an incredible 16-race winning machine. And since Brazilian-bred horses get little respect because of the ignorance of the "experts" about their general attributes, you will get good odds on them. What the "experts" don't understand about Brazilian-breds is that they produce horses with an amazing combination of speed, stamina, versatility (they can run on any surface, literally) and HEART, courage. That's what made the great ones like THE KING and PICO CENTRAL so special.

The first time I saw The KING he left the same impression Cigar made: Like, WOW! Thoroughbreds are beautiful animals to begin with, but this guy really lived up to his name. He was huge, muscular, with that classic arched neck and beautiful mane that recalled Big Red, Secretariat himself. I thought, when they do the movie, this guy's got to play Secretariat. Not only did his very presence and regal demeanor intimidate his opponents, but I gotta believe the fillies must have a thing for him .... ANIMAL KINGDOM has the same physical presence as his dad. He's still a young horse, but he's smart. At the Derby post parade, he was looking around curiously, soaking in the atmosphere, nice and relaxed, looking like he belonged. As Graham Motion, his excellent trainer said, ANIMAL KINGDOM is "something special." I just knew it.

Johnny V. was just happy to be along for the ride. He didn't have much to do, just not fall off.

Kentucky Derby Picks

Well, for those who may have missed the build-up, the world's most prestigious horse race, the Kentucky Derby, is coming our way this afternoon. As they say in Vegas, if there's one race you will bet all year, this is it! So as a special treat for my loyal readers, I will post my Derby picks here for the first time.

1. # 16. ANIMAL KINGDOM. I LOVE this horse. And if he's anything like his daddy, the magnificent Brazilian-bred (naturally) chestnut colt with the awesome name LEROIDESANIMAUX, which translated from the French means, King of The Animals, ANIMAL KINGDOM should be flying at the top of the stretch under the capable handling of John Velazquez, a leading jockey who's hungry for his first Derby win, and beat the cavalcade at the wire. Best of all, he's hovering between 24- and 30-1 in the odds. This horse should be 4-1 in my estimation.

2. # 8. DIALED IN. The logical favorite at 9-2. Top connections, top trainer, Nick Zito, a little too cocky about his horse. He sealed his fate when he said God was on his side. God has better things to do than decide horse races. But the horse has the creds to be the one to beat, and if he sits a good trip, he should be right there.

3. # 19. NEHRO. This horse ran out of real estate losing to # 1 ARCHARCHARCH in their Oaklawn stakes prep. He galloped out strongly past his rival at the wire in a 1 1/8th mile race and should love the classic mile and one quarter distance.

4. Take your pick, if you're trifecta and superfecta players: # 1 (above) should be there with the other closers, but he drew a terrible post position, so his chances of winning are downgraded. #15, MIDNIGHT INTERLUDE is trained by Bob Baffert, a three-time Kentucky Derby winner. # 2, BRILLIANT SPEED is intriguing and should also run out his odds. If you're looking for a live longshot to include in exactas or even on top, give this one a long look.

Also consider # 13, MUCHO MACHO MAN, # 17, SOLDAT, and # 7, PANTS ON FIRE ridden by the first female jockey to crack the Derby boy's club, rising star Anna Napravnik, an amazing rider who finished second at long odds in the Kentucky Oaks with a tremendous ride. The speed will likely come from # 6, COMMA TO THE TOP, who figures to fade before the finish line. There's no lone speed in this race, so it's unlikely those types can carry their speed to the wire.

These are my top Derby picks; please do not send me nasty comments if you happen to bet them and they run up the track. It's a horse race, you know. I'm posting them here to see how well — or poorly — my prognostications turn out ...

If you decide to make a wager or two, have fun and GOOD LUCK!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Should The Photos Be Released; And Was Bin Laden Executed?

In his usual “inimitable, truthful humor” Jon Stewart “makes the case” for the killing of bin Laden: “I suppose I should be expressing some ambivalence about the killing of another human being. And yet …. No.”

Stewart also makes an interesting case for release of the death photos, one on which reasonable people disagree. See point-counterpoint between Stewart and Rachel, below. There is a default position. Most of us have no interest in viewing the photos, just as we would not be interested in viewing the gruesome photos of JFK’s head shot (as seen in another blog) to make a, what — because I can point? Eventually, I believe the photos will see the light of day, much to the chagrin of the conspiracists and America-haters. As one former DOJ official writes, there is a strong FOIA case to be made for their release.

But at least, as Rachel notes, we will not be in the business of trotting out gruesome photos of dead terrorists as if they’re some kind of trophy. As the President said, “that’s not what we’re about.” However, I see no good reason for the Administration to hold back on releasing video of the burial at sea, to show the Arab world that the body was accorded the proper Islamic burial, not for the sake of the genocidal murderer, but out of respect for their religion.

Finally, there has been an obsessive media fixation with the changing narrative of the Navy SEALS commando raid on bin Laden’s “mansion.” Here are the issues:

1. Did bin Laden resist or was he executed?

On the first question, the official (revised) account states bin Laden was unarmed but resisted, and was reaching for a gun when he was shot and killed. As Larry-O noted on his show, we all know that is the default ‘cover story’ when an unarmed individual is shot in suspicious circumstances. Bin Laden’s daughter claimed her father was captured and then executed. One has to take this account with a grain of salt. Why should we believe her any more than we would believe the official account? What makes the daughter of a mass murderer who was not coerced into living with him, a credible witness?

Unless someone else can confirm her version of events, I should take it as false. For a very simple reason. Very little in this ‘fog of war’ scenario has been said of the fact there were 23 children and nine women in the compound who were unharmed in the raid and turned over to Pakistani authorities. For those who would coddle the terrorist with charges of “imperialist aggression” and other such nonsense, that’s about as good as it gets in protecting civilian lives — we all know the euphemism, ‘collateral damage’— in this type of military operation. It is indeed ironic that the President is criticized for having chosen the riskier option — which saved the lives of women and children — rather than the easier drone attack that would have demolished the building and killed everyone inside it.

Apart from bin Laden, one woman was killed in crossfire, his son was killed coming down the stairs from the floor above. In the upstairs quarters they found bin Laden unarmed, wearing pajamas. His wife tried to shield him and was shot in the leg and then bin Laden was shot and killed. If the wife resisted, it is plausible to assume that bin Laden would have as well, rather than give himself up.

That is the latest ‘official’ account, and there is no reason, so far as I can tell, to disbelieve it. Some pictures have emerged of three bodies found on the site, but their presence does not contradict the official account there was a firefight and at least three people were shot and killed. The women who were left unharmed can certainly fill in the details of how everything went down. So far, we have learned that the wife identified bin Laden’s body and his daughter claimed he was captured and executed. In my personal opinion, based on these sketchy details, I believe she is lying. Though he was a privileged millionaire and a coward who hid behind women — as terrorists so often do, using women and children as human shields — everything we know of bin Laden says he is someone who would resist arrest with deadly force, given the slightest opportunity. There were handguns and AK-47s found in the room he was killed. It would have been easier to claim bin Laden was armed than to invite the “execution” charges from the haters and bin Laden sympathizers.

2. If bin Laden was executed, was it legal?

On this issue, there is no question but that it was legal, by the conventions of international law and a nation’s right to self-defense affirmed by Article 51 of the UN Charter and reaffirmed in subsequent post-9/11 resolutions:

Article 51
Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security...

The application of the right to combat terrorism was further reinforced by international practice following the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States. Two Security Council resolutions issued pursuant to Chapter VII of the UN Charter reflect this consensus:

Security Council Resolutions 1368 (2001)
Recogniz[es] the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense in accordance with the Charter;
. . .
Expresses its readiness to take all necessary steps to respond to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, and to combat all forms of terrorism, in accordance with its responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations.

Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001)

Reaffirming further that such acts, like any act of international terrorism, constitute a threat to international peace and security,

Reaffirming the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense as recognized by the Charter of the United Nations as reiterated in resolution 1368 (2001),

Reaffirming the need to combat by all means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts . . .

Attorney General Eric Holder made the legal argument at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday:
The U.S. raid on bin Laden's compound was lawful “as an act of national self-defense. [Bin Laden] "was the head of al Qaeda, an organization that had conducted the attacks of September the 11th. It's lawful to target an enemy commander in the field.”
Howard Fineman, Editorial Director of the Huffington Post and a straight-shooting gumshoe journalist, was among the first to note matter-of-factly that there was no question but that the rules of engagement called for the killing of bin Laden. This should come as no surprise to anyone, as video of candidate Obama’s debate with John McCain in 2008 was widely circulated. Then-candidate Obama said, If there was actionable intelligence of the mass murderer’s whereabouts he would take immediate action, not to capture, but to kill Osama bin Laden. There was never any ambiguity or doubt as to the legality of such an action in the words of our Constitutional Law professor President.

Hair-splitting legal experts, as is their wont, say the question of legality comes down to bin Laden’s reaction as the Navy Seals entered the room. Even the human rights attorney Geoffrey Robertson, who defended Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, no friend of the United States, said if members of the SEALS team “reasonably (believed there was) a risk to themselves, then the killing was justified.” Conspiracists and America-haters will no doubt claim bin Laden tried to surrender. There is nothing in the terrorist’s history nor in the accounts, including the presence of weapons in the room, that would justify believing his daughter’s charge of capture and execution.

And finally:

3. Why should we care how this genocidal murderer was killed?

Most Americans could care less. Their instincts are right. This notion that a dead bin Laden will spark a great upsurge in Al Qaeda recruitment, hero worship, and radicalization in the Arab world is simply not borne out by historical facts. Nor is the wishful thinking in some quarters that bin Laden’s killing will spark an anti-American “backlash” in the Arab Spring movement. Conversely, a captured bin Laden, abusing our laws with his acolytes to become a living legend by claiming to be a “political prisoner” of American “imperialism” etc., would be a far greater boost to Al Qaeda than the dead body of the soon to be forgotten Osama bin Laden, at the bottom of the Arabian Sea.

This is a rather typical critique from the Left about the execution vs. capture question:
[W]ould the decision to kill rather than capture him have been in the best interests of the U.S. and the international fight against terrorism?

I would argue that it would not have been — that, in fact, the reverse would hold true. Osama bin Laden is widely seen to have become a figurehead without direct operational command of the organization he founded. His importance, at this point in time, was largely symbolic. He served as an inspiration for extremists around the globe. Had he a choice in the matter, I have no doubt that he would have wanted nothing more than to die in a hail of gunfire by foreign troops in a predominantly Muslim country, a martyr to his cause, rather than rot away in a military prison, aging poorly and providing living proof that the world's most prominent terrorist — a figure who had been elevated to an existential threat — was ultimately impotent in the face of the world's greatest super-power. 
By his own account, Joshua Holland gives weight and credence to the official version of how things went down. If he has “no doubt that [bin Laden] would have wanted nothing more than to die in a hail of gunfire by foreign troops in a predominantly Muslim country, a martyr to his cause,” then, it seems, Osama got his wish.

As for the suggestion that Bin Laden would simply “rot away in a military prison, aging poorly and providing living proof that the world's most prominent terrorist — a figure who had been elevated to an existential threat — was ultimately impotent in the face of the world's greatest super-power,” Holland’s opinion makes many unsubstantiated assumptions. One could easily argue the contrary with a fair degree of certitude: There is little doubt that an inprisoned bin Laden would be fodder for an entire cottage industry of anti-American conspiracists who would elevate him to the legendary status of America's political prisoner, producing endless manifestos from his jail cell, a la Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf), Fidel Castro (History Will Absolve Me) or, even more disturbingly, inviting comparisons with Dr. Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, both of whom wrote famous statements of their moral struggle for freedom and self-determination from prison cells.

No. Osama bin Laden deserved no such elevated status. Nor did he deserve to live a single day beyond September 11, 2001 when he claimed his first innocent victims on that tragic day. There is much to compare bin Laden to Hitler, except for the sheer magnitude of Hitler’s genocide. Before there was knowledge of Hitler’s extermination of European Jews, his assassination was actively pursued, within and without Germany. In a perverse way, Osama bin Laden was not deserving of the ceremony and dignity of a Nuremberg-style trial at the War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague. He was an international terrorist, criminal, gangster, and mass murderer who had lived on borrowed time since September 11, 2001.

He may have aspired to martyrdom, to lead a movement of millions. Instead, like the most heinous and murderous of crime families, his followers number in the hundreds, perhaps a few thousand, at most. Osama bin Laden deserved nothing more than summary execution — in the act of resisting capture.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Republicans Revive ‘Torture Is GOOD’ Debate After Prez Eliminates Bin Laden

Maybe they’ve been secretly watching too much Chris Matthews with his love for the movies. In a recent pean to President Obama, Chris conflated Hollywood “cowboy hero” Gary Cooper with reality by saying, we Americans are “men of few words.”

Um Chris … I hate to break it to you, but Cooper was an actor reading off a Hollywood script in his heroic cowboy roles. You also featured Cooper as the fanatical “hero” of Ayn Rand’s warped imagination delivering her 60-page manifesto from the courtroom dock. Even allowing for movie editing, in this role Cooper could hardly be called a man of “few words.” But he was a hell of an actor. Only Gary Cooper could turn a fanatical objectivist and rapist into a borderline sympathetic figure.

But this is reality. That was Hollywood fiction.

Chris said we’re pretty much the same that we were as kids. He’s obviously living his fifth or sixth childhood, so he can be excused occasionally confusing Hollywood fiction for reality. But not the Bush waterboarding torture principals and their Republican allies in Congress. They actually invoked plot lines from the hit TV series ‘24’ to justify support for the use of torture against accused terrorist detainees. One GOP Senator was fond of saying we needed a Jack Bauer to take on Al-Q, and the show’s fictional scenarios were often mentioned by Republicans in national security hearings.

Jack Bauer, the hero of ‘24’, foils all sorts of terrible terrorist plots involving nuclear weapons, assassinations, etc. wihin a 24-hour time frame (not counting commercials) in which Bauer regularly uses torture, in utter disregard for our Constitution and laws, to extract critical time-sensitive information from the bad guys. Aside from Bauer’s miraculous recuperative powers, the show is fast-paced, action-packed entertainment.

One can only imagine how much President Obama has gotten the GOP ‘24’ fans’ goat. While they were wallowing in their TV-land fantasies of eliminating the world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, the President actually did it. All in the space of 40 minutes! Since we cannot ever know the true identities of the elite Navy SEALS heroes who carried out the surgical operation, we might as well nickname their dashing commander … JACK BAUER.

I can see it now: When the movie/TV version of this operation is done, we cut to the actor Kiefer Sutherland playing Jack Bauer as he comes face-to-face with Osama Bin Laden. There is a flash of recognition and fear in Bin Laden’s eyes, and before he can say ‘God is great’ Bauer snarls, “DIE. MASS-MURDERING MONSTER.” Two shots ring out, and it’s over.

Cut to next scene, a split-screen. We hear the whop-whop sound of the helo blades in the background. As the SEALS carry the remains of the terrorist to the chopper, Bauer comes onscreen and speaks the clipped coded message into his transmitter: “GERONIMO. EKIA.” On the other split screen we see a closeup of President Obama, played by Denzel Washington, holding a phone to his ear. He purses his lips in that familiar look of presidential determination, turns to his assembled national security team and says, “We got him.”

The million-dollar “mansion” in which Osama Bin Laden resided with his family was completed in 2005. Rachel noted on her show that the CIA unit specifically tasked with hunting Bin Laden down was disbanded in 2005. Coincidence? President Bush, who allowed Bin Laden to slip away in Tora Bora, then invaded Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, said he didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about finding Bin Laden:

Now the Republicans are once again attempting to rewrite history. Karl Rove, whose Derby pick is undoubtedly the horse named Pants On Fire, intoned from his Fox ‘News’ perch that President Bush’s “successor” reaped the benefits of their waterboarding torture practices. But the truth, of course, is different. The New York Times reports:
Glenn L. Carle, a retired C.I.A. officer who oversaw the interrogation of a high-level detainee in 2002, said in a phone interview Tuesday, that coercive techniques “didn’t provide useful, meaningful, trustworthy information.” He said that while some of his colleagues defended the measures, “everyone was deeply concerned and most felt it was un-American and did not work.” …. “The bottom line is this: If we had some kind of smoking-gun intelligence from waterboarding in 2003, we would have taken out Osama bin Laden in 2003,” said Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council. “It took years of collection and analysis from many different sources to develop the case that enabled us to identify this compound, and reach a judgment that Bin Laden was likely to be living there.”
According to this report in the British newspaper Daily Mail:
The former head of MI5, Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, said that U.S intelligence agencies deliberately concealed their mistreatment of terror suspects. She said she had only learnt that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had been waterboarded — a total of 160 times — after retiring from the Security Service in 2007. Ex-MI5 head Lady Manningham-Buller said members of Bush's team may have been inspired by on-screen excess in the TV series '24', starring Kiefer Sutherland.

In her speech to the Mile End Group at the House of Lords, Lady Manningham-Buller also joked that members of U.S. President George W. Bush's administration, including Vice President Dick Cheney and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, may have been inspired by on-screen excess. “One of the sad things is Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush all watched ‘24’,” Lady Manningham-Buller said, referring to the popular TV show about a counter-terrorist agent, starring Kiefer Sutherland. (Italics mine.)
Rove was defensive. He said this was “laughable,” claimed President Bush rarely watched TV apart from sports, and (interestingly, in shifting responsibility from his Master to Dick Cheney) said Cheney, while a fan of ‘24’ “is fully capable of distinguishing between fact and fiction.” Then he lied by doubling down on rejecting the internationally recognized convention (note whose John Hancock is attached) against the use of torture:
“I'm proud of using waterboarding to break terrorists. (These techniques) are appropriate, they are in conformity with our international requirements and with U.S. law.”
In reviving the torture “debate” to try and salvage some political upside and steal the spotlight and credit from our Democratic President for killing Bin Laden, Republicans are regurgitated two straw men arguments:
(1) The false claim that the multiple waterboarding of KSM somehow led us to OBL seven years later. Not only is this untrue, according to independent accounts, but it’s another way of saying it took their hero Jack Bauer 2,555 (7 x 365 24-hour days) episodes of ‘24’ to find the master terrorist; seven years to eliminate a clear and present danger to U.S. national security. At this rate of competence the spectral “mushroom cloud” Bush raised back in 2003 to spook Americans into supporting his invasion of Iraq would have long since exploded while Jack Bauer was testing and retesting his “jumper cables.” Which leads us to their favorite ‘24’ argument.
(2) This one came from leading Islamophobe Rep. Peter King of New York, who asked stupidly, “Wouldn’t we have tortured Mohammad Atta on September 10 to save 3,000 lives?” First, that’s a ridiculous question/premise once we consider our Intelligence services' catastrophic failure to detect the 9/11 terror attacks, despite a number of warnings. Had Atta been in U.S. custody on September 10, that by itself implies knowledge of the attack, and a whole series of logical preemptive measures undertaken, including the grounding of all commercial aircraft before the attack. Secondly, a guy like Atta who was prepared to die and take thousands with him wasn’t the type to break under torture. He’d provide false information and hold out for 24 hours. Maybe he'd crack under Jack Bauer's “interrogation techniques”— except that Bauer is a fictitious TV character.
Hello ... Republicans, wingnuts ... Anybody home?

Monday, May 02, 2011

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words ...

This photo was released by the White House. It shows the President, the Vice President, Secretary of State, JCS Chairman, and members of his national security team watching the operation to take out Osama bin Laden unfold in real time. Take a close look at this picture, folks. Notice each of their expressions; the expression on the President's face, on Admiral Mullen, and especially Hillary's expression.

It doesn't get any more real than this. A President with nerves of steel, the weight of the world on his shoulders, and the capacity to multitask with grace and elegance, nary a hint of what was unfolding in the background: consoling victims of the tornadoes in Tuscaloosa; cracking jokes at Donald Trump's expense, who sat there looking stupid at the White House Correspondents' Dinner — "firing Gary Busey ... that's the kind of decision that would keep me up at night" — then heading back to the White House to monitor the operation in the Situation Room.

I don't know about you, folks, but this is what I call the essence of leadership: grace under pressure. President Obama is one hell of a Commander-in-Chief, and I, for one, am glad we elected the right man for the job. This is how John Brennan, the President's counterterrorism adviser, described those fateful 40 minutes (that's how long the operation lasted, from start to finish):
It was probably one of the most anxiety-filled periods of time, I think, in the lives of the people who were assembled here yesterday. The minutes passed like days. And the President was very concerned about the security of our personnel. That was what was on his mind throughout. And we wanted to make sure that we were able to get through this and accomplish the mission. But it was clearly very tense, a lot of people holding their breath. And there was a fair degree of silence as it progressed, as we would get the updates.
This is how they got word the operation was successful. A Navy SEAL sent the coded message to Washington: "Geronimo. EKIA." Geronimo was the name of the operation that dropped two teams of 12 elite SEALS units into the bin Laden compound. EKIA stood for "enemy killed in action."
And when we finally were informed that those individuals who were able to go in that compound and found the individual that they believe was bin Laden, there was a tremendous sigh of relief that what we believed and who we believed was in that compound actually was in that compound and was found. And the President was relieved once we had our people and those remains off target.
BRAVO! Well done, Mr. President. Well done.

TEA PARTY Remedial Ed: President Obama Has A Message FOR YOU!

Greetings, TEABAGGERS. Here's our President Reassuring you there's still time for you to join the community of normal, everyday patriotic Americans:

Quotable Doubleheader: John Brennan And Big Eddie

“The President made, what I believe was one of the most gutsiest calls of any president in recent memory.”
~ John Brennan, Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and Assistant to the President.
“In the span of a week, President Obama has delivered a birth certificate (his own) and a death certificate (Bin Laden's).”
~ MSNBC's  Ed Schultz, aka 'Big Eddie'  (my moniker for the fiery liberal redhead).

Inside Osama's Million Dollar "Mansion": Bloody Aftermath, and the RATigan Take

ABC News has obtained video of the inside of Bin Laden's compound. More photos here. Watch:

Dylan Ratigan, the MSNBC LIAR opening his program today: "President Obama making good on his promise to the American people (to take out Bin Laden), one of the few promises he's kept." This is for Dylan Ratigan's edification, not that he needs it; ignorant, lying bastard; can anyone wonder why we call this libertarian imbecile's program a ghetto? He's no different from most of his wildly misguided colleagues in their contempt for liberals and Democrats:
 I can understand Christa the airhead Canadian on Ratigan's show ... but what are the token libs doing there? Yeah Yeah, I know ... it's a gig. You're on the idiot libertarian's show. This guy is so pushing a Ron Paul political agenda, he should flat-out admit it and stop pretending he's an impartial commentator. Then he can take his cheap shots with a modicum of "honesty" and invite the neutered libs to challenge him without overstaying their welcome.


The news that U.S. special forces carried out a precise commando-style operation deep in Pakistani territory and killed the most hunted terrorist in history came as no surprise to this observer. To those who thought this day would never come, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “this is America.” She was being charitable in not taking a victory lap for what was undoubtedly the best day of this Democratic administration.

Consider this: It took President Obama, U.S. intelligence, and our military services less than two and one-half years into his administration to get the job done. To hear some Republicans and their right wing acolytes say it, the President gets no credit whatsoever. It was all on the military and the brave special forces who carried out the operation, as if they’re an independent paramilitary force and not an elite unit of the U.S. military acting on direct orders from the President of the United States.

Not surprisingly, former Vice President Dick Cheney, who is well aware the current administration is sitting on a lot of information regarding his possible criminal conduct in office, was quick to give President Obama and his national security team due “credit” for finding and killing Bin Laden. Among the few Republicans who had the courtesy of congratulating the President is Rep. Peter King of New York, the state hardest hit by the 9/11 terror attack. Most of his colleagues have either lavished praise on our military, or even raised the specter of former President George W. Bush for unwarranted credit.

Look for keepers of the Bush flame (Karl Rove et al) to claim this was a laborious process culminating in ten years of a focused manhunt for Bin Laden which only happened to land on Obama's watch. Nothing could be further from the truth. That is standard CYA revisionist history, and a lie. Intelligence officers like Valerie Plame worked diligently to find the 9/11 mastermind. But their efforts were constantly being politicized with false intelligence on WMD in the run-up to the Iraq war. In one of the darkest moments of the Bush regime, Plame was outed by Karl Rove because her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson, had the temerity to criticize the trumped-up intelligence pushed by Bush, Cheney, and top Bush officials to justify the invasion of Iraq. Bush had Bin Laden cornered in the mountains of Tora Bora before he turned his attention to neighboring Iraq, which had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, with tragic consequences in American blood and treasure.

Strangely, Bush was incapable of capturing or killing Osama Bin Laden, but he didn’t mind using the master terrorist as a propaganda tool to gin up a perpetual state of terrorist alert to justify eviscerating our civl liberties in the name of national security, and to magnify the power of the executive branch. Late into the 2004 election, when Kerry was surging, Bin Laden gave Bush a critical assist with a taped message, which stopped Kerry’s momentum and led to yet another questionable election result in Ohio. And yet, in eight years in office, the warmongering “bring it on” hardliners George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were incapable of finding and capturing or killing Osama Bin Laden.

This is a time for quiet reflection, not gloating. The jubilant celebrations are understandable, given how intensely the 9/11 terror attacks were seared into the memory of an entire generation. It’s this 9/11 generation that celebrates most exuberantly. But the war on terror is far from over. The iconic symbol of international terror has been hunted down and killed by the United States. International terrorism has taken a huge, but not mortal, blow. The task now is to drive a permanent wedge between peaceful Islam and Islamic terrorism; to encourage the former and isolate, then eliminate, the latter. This is precisely how this operation was conducted. It was human intelligence, from identified Bin Laden couriers that eventually led us to Bin Laden. Ultimately, this is the template for winning the war against terrorism. And to do this we cannot demonize Muslims or the religion of Islam.

The Obama adminstration is conscious of this. Bin Laden was buried at sea according to Islamic law, which calls for immediate burial of the dead, so that Muslims would not feel their religion was insulted. At the same time, the administration was shrewd enough not to bury the terrorist on land, lest a martyr’s shrine be created at the site. As for the rest of us, xenophobic demonization of Muslims and Islam, such as the reprehensible and inflammatory burning of Korans, will only lead to an upward spiral of terror and violence.

This day after is an opportunity — if we are wise enough to grasp it — to turn the page on the war on terror in a positive direction which will last longer than spontaneous, feel-good patriotic celebrations.  After the raucous celebrations of V-E Day and V-J Day the United States turned to the arduous task of rebuilding Germany and Japan. Today, they are among our staunchest allies. During the military occupation of a defeated Japan, the provisional military ruler, General Douglas MacArthur, displayed remarkable respect for the Emperor and sensitivity to Japanese culture in enacting democratic reforms that transformed a former enemy into an enduring ally.

To win the war on terror we must follow MacArtthur’s example and also win the peace.

This morning, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “you cannot wait us out. You cannot defeat us.” President Obama said simply but eloquently, “Justice has been done.” Every president of these United States brings something of themselves that is a unique contribution to the Office. For this, our first African American President, the words of the great civil rights leader Martin Luther King bear a special meaning, that resonates in the heart and soul. This is one of President Obama's favorite quotes from Dr. King: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

For the Obama haters who cannot contemplate the President of the United States as one of us, a citizen who hunted down and meted out justice to the terrorist who murdered more than 3,000 innocent Americans — what’s your Plan B?

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Royal Welfare, Lotsa Booze; But The Kiss: Awww ...

Between the royal wedding and the beatification of Pope John Paul II, the official number of the world's  population that would be favorably disposed to Jersey Shore and Celebrity Apprentice is conservatively estimated at around 2 BILLION people. Much more, if one considers the clusters of people glued to the TV machine in LaLa-GaGa land. This may offer some explanation why an increasingly globalized, celebrity-crazed world (time was, it was only America's curse) cannot act in concert to solve existential crises relentlessly approaching critical mass. Crises such as: Climate change and global warming, or the continuing threat of nuclear proliferation and nuclear war.

In America, it would explain why we have a dysfunctional democracy, in which destructive corporate forces traffic and feed us this nonsense to distract and deceive us from their real purpose which, to put it charitably, runs counter to every principle that we were taught as children this country stands for that is enshrined in our Constitution. The corporations have co-opted our government and destroyed our democratic self-rule. They have even created a phony astro-turf movement of ignorant, uninformed people for whom the lack of knowledge and abject stupidity of their icons, Palin and Bachmann, and the total disregard for truth and facts exemplified by wingnut media, the Beck-Limbaugh axis of hatred and paranoia, are considered virtues. The Tea Party provides a faux "populist" sheen to the corporations' propaganda masking their real, hidden agenda which, simply put, is absolute power over government and the economy.

Never before in the course of human history have so few taken so much from so many with hardly any organized resistance from the affected millions, who in return were offered specials like the fairyland spectacle of the royal wedding. It was quite the EVENT, I'm told. I was curious enough to try watching it, but ended up falling asleep, thereby preserving my honor, I suppose. As a rule, I do not stay up until three a.m. in the morning for anything other than an impending catastrophe-in-progress, requiring immediate evacuation. This spectacle didn't quite fit the bill.

I did catch a somewhat interesting post-mortem from Anderson Cooper in which he remarked on the number of inebriated Brits he saw on the streets, pissing on the sidewalks, lying in their puke, etc. Anderson said rather disingenuously he had no idea the British were so high on alcohol consumption. Hmm ... care to hazard a guess, Coops? For starters, that's a bum rap; the Brits do not consume any more alcohol per capita than, say, we Americans do. Only they've found festive and slightly more civilized ways to do it. That is, with the exception of hooliganism, which is a British import American sports fans have lustily embraced.

But here's the kicker, which might have occasioned the drunken celebrations: The royal wedding could cost as much as $70 million to British taxpayers, not counting the $6 billion in lost revenue to businesses for the declared holiday. YAY! However, let's be fair: This doesn't even come close to the corporate welfare we, the American taxpayers, pay out to the corporations. We all know about the direct $4 billion in subsidies we give the world's most profitable corporations, the oil and gas companies, which they promptly apply toward finding new ways to evade regulations, purchase politicians, elections and political parties, pollute our environment, and destroy fragile ecosystems and the Gulf Coast fishing industry. But the made-out-like-bandits banks and Wall Street are in on the taxpayers' largesse, too!

Besides, let us not forget that at least “the Queen and [heir to the throne] Prince Charles will pay for the $600,000 luncheon reception and dinner reception …” And I had no idea British women are such silly peacocks wearing absurd hats with antlers and antennae, and all sorts of weird garbage arranged on their heads. It must be the Western version of the Burka. Who says we don't live in patriarchal societies in which women are second- and third-class citizens, strutting about like idiotic ambulatory decorative pieces?

In the "old days" to coin a Trump turn of phrase, this was known as Bread and Circuses — Panis et Circenses. After it had ceased being a republic, the Roman Empire and its ruling class understood that to keep the population quiescent, and therefore unaware or forgetful of its actual circumstance and how that came to be, they must offer the people lavish and bloody entertainment at the Coliseum for a pittance. It worked, after a fashion, but eventually the whole rotting structure collapsed from within, anyway. The Roman rulers only bought themselves a little more time to delay the inevitable; much like corporations that lurch from quarter to quarter, posting exorbitant profits to cloud the existential crises looming in our dark collective event horizon.

Prince William and Kate seem like a nice young couple that is very much in love. We sincerely hope they can have a happy life together for however long they can enjoy it ... until the shit hits the proverbial fan and all hell breaks loose.