Friday, October 21, 2011

The Hits Just Keep On Coming For President Obama

The troops in Iraq will be home for Christmas. Making good on a campaign promise, President Obama announced today that all American troops will be out of Iraq by the end of this year. This war that cost us dearly in blood and treasure — 4,400 troops killed, 32,000 wounded, and more than $1 trillion spent, for what? — was one of choice that should never have been waged. A Republican president, George W. Bush, is responsible for this monstrous unfolding atrocity. President Obama had the unwelcome task of cleaning up after Bush-Cheney. That he did.

One of Dylan Ratigan's lovelies, Karen Finney, said "see what this President can accomplish without Republican obstructionism." Chris Matthews said this is "mission accomplished without the banner." And Dylan Ratigan said we were "kicked out." Col. Jack Jacobs schooled him by noting the President looked "quite presidential" cutting short our time there once a deal ensuring troop immunity from legal prosecution fell through, saying in essence, "Fine, we're outta here. Good luck." Pay attention, Ratigan: It wasn't this President's war, he opposed it from the start, and made a campaign promise to get us out of there by this time. Can you say, "another promise kept" without gagging? (Hmm ... Get thee to Fox, Dylan, where you'll find the proper climate to be a pretend libertarian "journalist" and Obama hater.)

Meanwhile, Gramps McLittleMac was still reliving his last presidential campaign: "Today marks a harmful and sad setback for the United States in the world. This decision will be viewed as a strategic victory for our enemies in the Middle East, especially the Iranian regime, which has worked relentlessly to ensure a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq." Yo Gramps, go reminisce about your "ranch" time with "interesting" dead dictators as time goes by ...

Who Would You Rather See Leading Our Nation Today?

These Republicans have absolutely no scruples nor dignity or class. None whatsoever. The killing of Moammar Khaddafi, however it went down, was a great foreign policy success for this President's administration, and one more notch in his relentless hunt for terrorists, far outpacing the Bush-Cheney regime in singleminded disruption of terrorist networks and the elimination of Al Qaeda's top leadership. Khaddafi was a brutal dictator and a terrorist with PanAm 103 American victims' blood on his hands. He may have cut a "never mind" deal with the Bush-Cheney regime to renounce terrorism, cooperate with the U.S. in hunting Al Qaeda in exchange for coming in out of the cold — a slap in the face to the families of the PanAm 103 bombing victims — but it was a deal the Obama administration never felt obligated to "honor."

Quite the contrary, when the Lybian Spring uprising began and Khaddafi threatened his own people, President Obama took decisive action to stop it, and never looked back. The President made all the right moves despite outrageous Republican carping from the sidelines — forget the axiom that foreign policy criticism "stops at the water's edge" — with the unmitigated gall to complain that President Obama (a) should not have intervened, (b) acted too slowly, (c) led "from behind" allowing the French and British to take the point, (d) and yet the much-maligned French (remember "Freedom Fries"?) and British deserved all the credit once the dictator was killed while the President got nothing but grief.

Professor Cornell West said that if this President walked on water the Republicans would say he couldn't swim. And Andrew Sullivan said that if Mr. Obama were a Republican he'd be on Mount Rushmore. It's mindbending that these ratbastard Republicans are bitching about, frankly, a presidential strategy so flawless as to deserve the brilliant adjective, concluded in a matter of months at relatively little cost, no boots on the ground, and no U.S. casualties. They were consistently wrong, as we can see from their stupid carping dating back to the beginning of this collective NATO action.

One thing about Democrats: We're not big on hawking wars, we don't like them, and our instinct is to get in there, do what we need to do, and get out. But once we commit, look out. These Republicans are pathetic in their chest-thumping triumphalism, premature declarations of victory, and jingoistic trash talking. Really, they should STFU already, considering this President is still trying to wind down THEIR WARS eight years later. John McCain, in particular, one of the few among these ratbastards with military experience and a war record, is a pathetic caricature of his old self, and the very antithesis of the Republican warrior-politician so ably represented by the statesmanship of President Dwight Eisenhower.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Perry (Hearts ... NOT!) Romney: The Soundtrack of Their Lives

Khaddafi's Bloody Death: A Drone Strike?

There are troubling questions about the role of the U.S. military in the death of Libyan dictator Moammar Khaddafi. The video we've seen of a bloodied but still alive Khaddafi being manhandled by the rebels onto the hood of a jeep, shortly before his death ostensibly en route to a hospital, happened after his convoy was hit by a U.S. drone as the convoy attempted to escape the town of Sirte where Khaddafi was holed up. Preliminary reports are that the drone disabled several vehicles and a wounded Khaddafi crawled into a ditch where he was later found by the rebels. This lays bare the claim by the U.S. that it does not target foreign leaders. It bolsters the President's bona fides as a macho foreign policy leader who, unlike his predecessor Bush-Cheney, has selectively targeted America's enemies. However, the just outcome for post-Nuremberg international law would be the capture and trial of Khaddafi. One wonders also how much Hillary's drop-by visit to Libya just a day or so ago, in which she stated bluntly the hope Khaddafi would be "captured or killed" was not somehow anticipated and staged. (Caution: This is graphic video uploaded from Al Jazeera that was shown on news networks such as MSNBC and CNN.)

One thing's for sure: The outlines of the Obama Doctrine — this blog was among the first, if not the first, to pen it right after the U.S. action in Libya — have become clearer today: Don't mess with America because we've got a badass President who will track you down and get you. This President has flexed American muscle more adroitly than any U.S. president since World War II, the last just war we won, and FDR-Truman. That's pretty good company. But it's also a dangerous course fraught with peril. Good thing Mr. Obama is not only brilliant, but restrained and forceful, a complete turnabout from the strike-first-ask-questions-later "cowboy foreign policy" of Bush-Cheney.

58 Second Flat (Read Fast) Post-GOP Debate Analysis: A Parade Of Imbeciles

I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician. ~ Charlie Chaplin

Indeed, to call this current field of GOP presidential candidates a sorry bunch of humorless clowns and leave it at that would be an insult to Chaplin and his noble profession. With that in mind, here are some of the STUPIDEST things any politician running for president on a major party label has ever said:

It wasn't even Herman Cain's "apples and oranges" to describe his ridiculous "9-9-9" tax overhaul hatched by a small town accountant that would hammer the poor, kill the American auto industry turning U.S. dealerships into used car lots since the tax would apply only to "new" not "used goods," and likely turn eBay into the world's largest supermarket. Nor was it the tired old Republican "wholly owned subsidiary" of Big Oil mantra pushed by their corporate lackey Rick Perry that we can drill, blast and extract our way to energy independence, if only the EPA and its pesky clean air, clean water, clean rivers, clean environment regulations would simply disappear. 

Here's Teh STOOPID, a sampling of the "awesomeness" of Ron Paul as Rachel put it in a moment of total mind-melt — Ron Paul who said abortion was the "ultimate government tyranny" and equated Social Security to "slavery" was, curiously, the one who sometimes made sense ... Hello, anybody home?:

Ron Paul: (On "really not" keeping kids on their parents' health insurance until age 26.) "There’s been a lot of discussion about medicine, but it seems to be talking about which kind of government management is best. Our problem is we have too much. We’ve had it for 30, 40 years. We have Medicare. We have prescription drug programs. We have Medicaid." Yes ... and your point is? 

Paul: "But if you want better competition and better health care, you should allow the American people to opt out of government medicine" and "the way to do this is to not de-emphasize the medical savings account, but let people opt out, pay their bills, get back to the doctor-patient relationship."

Setting aside the fact that there is no "government medicine" (it's a private for-profit insurance system) except for the VA and modern MASH units performing miracles on the field saving the lives and limbs of our warriors ... would that we, civilians, were so lucky as to have that awesome "government medicine" at our disposal. No, we have to deal with the private insurance system, if we have any insurance at all. I suppose this libertarian twit wants us to pay for open-heart surgery or chemotherapy with chickens, too? But Paul's unnatural appeal to progressives comes from statements like these which, to quote Rachel, sound real good "in the abstract":

Paul: "Well, I think we’re on economic suicide if we’re not even willing to look at some of these overseas expenditures, 150 bases — 900 bases, 150 different countries. We have enough weapons to blow up the world about 20-25 times. We have more weapons than all the other countries put together essentially. And we want to spend more and more, and you can’t cut a penny? I mean, this is why we’re at an impasse. I want to hear somebody up here willing to cut something. Something real."

And here, Paulie attacks their deity Ronald Reagan which, admittedly, is probably the high point of his weird career, setting the morons in his midst straight; he'd had just about enough of  the idiot Herman Cain saying first, that he'd negotiate for hostages, and the next day:

Cain (stupefyingly moronic): "No, I — I said that I believe in the philosophy of we don’t negotiate with terrorists. I think — I didn’t say — I would never agree to letting hostages in Guantanamo Bay go. No, that wasn’t — that wasn’t the intent at all."
Gingrich (piously): "Just very straightforward. Callista and I did a film on Ronald Reagan. [KA-CHING, KA-CHING ... get your credit cards out, Teabaggers] There’s a very painful moment in the film when he looks in the camera and says, 'I didn’t think we did this. I’m against doing it. I went back and looked. The truth is, we did. It was an enormous mistake.'"

Paul: "Oh, yes. As a matter of fact, I don’t want to make a statement. I want to ask a question. Are you all willing to condemn Ronald Reagan for exchanging weapons for hostages out of Iran? We all know that was done."
Santorum: "That’s not — Iran was a sovereign country. It was not a terrorist organization, number one."

Paul (sarcastically): "Oh, they were our good friends back then, huh?"

Santorum (blabbering): "They’re not our good friends. They’re — they’re — they’re a sovereign country, just like the — the Palestinian Authority is not the good friends of Israel."

Paul: "He [Ronald Reagan] negotiated for hostages."

Thumbs up, Paulie. But then he reverted back to the same-old same-old libertarian mantra: cut aid to Egypt and Israel because in Egypt the Arab Spring produced a "more hostile regime." That's just not so. In fact, the Arab Spring validates the foreign aid we have been giving Egypt through the decades as a moderating force with a pro-American population in a region that is otherwise fiercely hostile to Israel (and therefore America) and is a tinderbox for conflagration. For Paul to say foreign aid makes Israel "dependent" on us is actually the point, isn't it, if we want to exert any influence on Israel to reach a peace agreement with its neighbors. 

Since aid to Israel is overwhelmingly military it has little to do with Israel getting its "sovereignty back" as a function of its "dependent" economy (?) — the same old Paulist libertarian refrain.  It has everything to do with Israel's capacity to protect and preserve its sovereignty through military security, which is where the preponderance of U.S. aid to Israel goes. Not all foreign aid is worthy of praise but neither is it a handout — it is an instrument of U.S. foreign policy; its purpose is to protect the U.S. national interest in benign and positive ways, through peace not war. At its best (rebuilding Europe and Japan, keeping the peace between Israel and its neighbors, extending the hand of friendship through the Peace Corps, and paying to denuclearize huge nuclear arsenals in the former Soviet republics to keep them from falling into terrorist hands), U.S. foreign aid packs a tremendous punch and return on a very modest investment to peacefully secure our national interest worldwide. 

Paul: "And — and look at what’s the result of all that foreign aid we gave to Egypt? I mean, their — their dictator that we pumped up, we spent all these billions of dollars, and now there’s a more hostile regime in Egypt. And that’s what’s happening all around Israel. That foreign aid makes Israel dependent on us. It softens them for their own economy. And they should have their sovereignty back." 

Ron Paul is a Republican gadfly in the good sense of the word, and the highest expression — or at least, the most self-evident one — of the inherent silliness of so-called "libertarianism." The other candidates on that stage are know-nothing morons, neo-fascists, and religious zealots. So maybe Rachel's mind-melt exuberance for Paul is because he tends to humanize them, somewhat ... He's that silver lining she's always looking for among these demonic Republicans.

The strain of xenophobic isolation running through the Republican Party today is not very different from its isolationism during World War II when the wingnut elements of Republicanism actually admired Hitler and Mussolini. Others, like Paul, believed in the fortress America idea of retreat from the world. In this fantasy world, U.S. isolation doesn't lead to Nirvana. There are lots of bad actors ready to step into the void.

Okay, Rachel: time to come down to earth from your Glenn Beck/Ron Paul fandom planet.
There were too many stupid, ignorant statements to count in this debate. Its high ratings may cut both ways. Although to some of us these people expose themselves for the utter morons and imbeciles they are, faith the viewing public stuck as it is on "reality TV" — a definite oxymoron here — will see it that way too is a leap we should not take, considering that on the other side of the podium the Idiot Punditocracy sits poised to analyze these words of GOP "wisdom." 

Some, at least, had enough self-respect not to say anything nice about this spectacle. Herman Cain, from start to finish, was a parade of utter stupidity. And Michele Bachmann is certifiably insane. Appealing to the inbred xenophobia of their lunatic fringe audience/voters, the candidates made much about cutting "foreign aid" which constitutes less than 1% of the U.S. budget, conflating  it with the trillion spent on the unnecessary Republican Bush-Cheney war in Iraq and our deepening quagmire in Afghanistan. This statement from Bachmann, in particular, which no one seemed to notice, stood out big-time for me:

Bachmann: "Cutting back on foreign aid is one thing. Being reimbursed by nations that we have liberated is another. We should look to Iraq and Libya to reimburse us for part of what we have done to liberate these nations."

Madam President Bachmann: Please to tell, who in your fantasy administration will be drawing the short straw as unfortunate U.S. envoy that delivers to the Iraqui and Libyan governments a bill to "to reimburse us for part of what we have done to liberate these nations"? Hmm ... Let's see now: We invade a country (Iraq) which had nothing to do with 9-11, and was actually a buffer against Iranian expansionism in the region, depose their brutal dictator (who had nothing to do with 9-11 and had no ties to Islamic fundamentalism) at a cost to the Iraquis of, conservatively, 150,000 innocent dead civilians, many of them killed by our own WMD as so much "collateral damage," and many more than Saddam ever killed at the height of his brutality. And to Lybia, maybe we demand a discount on the oil the transnational corporations have been exploiting for decades? 

Yeah, I can see them taking it really well. Especially the Iraquis. Do human beings have a price when they're not Americans? Because our debt may start adding up exponentially. Perhaps the Iraquis will politely double and triple down on Bachmann's bill. That is, if they don't get kind of mad and behave, well, like the Spartans:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

After Tonight's Debate, New Frontrunner For GOP Nomination Emerges

Wingnut Dance of The Devils

To David Byrne and Brian Eno's Mea Culpa:

QUESTION: What do wingnut bigots have in common when caught "joking" about killing Latinos with electrified border fences or analogizing our President to Hitler?

ANSWER: They call it a "joke;" bigotry is just another "joke" in Rightwingville — this is true, these people are really, REALLY SICK and the bigotry they express privately EVERY DAY sometimes comes out in public. This is the way these people roll. Their version of an apology has the qualifier "IF" because they honestly cannot imagine how anyone wouldn't find this oh, just ROTFLMAO!


OCCUPY WALL STREET WATCH: Chris Matthews, Quotable ... Naturally

“It’s amazing to see. It’s almost like you’re hearing L’Internationale — not to disparage this effort.”

~ Our good friend, MSNBC's Chris Matthews, host of Hardball.

You didn’t disparage it at all, Chris. And since you asked for it, here it is in that wonderful scene from REDS, Warren Beatty's masterpiece chronicling the life of John Reed, American revolutionary communist, journalist, writer of Ten Days that Shook the World, about the Russian Revolution. Diane Keaton plays his lover, socialite Louise Bryant, who leaves her Wall Street life behind to join Reed's own version of Occupy Wall Street in Greenwich Village, ever the home of liberals, progressives, revolutionists, and artists. How many John Reeds and Louise Bryants do you suppose are encamped in Liberty Park, and throughout this great land where the OWS demonstrations have sprouted? John Reed LIVES!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Herman Cain: Lone Speed Wins — Cheap Speed Stops

In horse racing, it's axiomatic that "lone speed," the frontrunning horse with an uncontested lead, is always a dangerous threat to "steal" the race on the front end over its better regarded competitors. It remains one of the best bets in racing. All the same, astute handicappers assessing the relative strengths and weaknesses of the field can easily spot cheap speed versus the real thing. Just scan the past performances and you'll notice faint-hearted frontrunners who wilt, give way, or stop no sooner are they challenged by a determined competitor galloping down the lane.

Before the big race, media "analysts" of the Idiot Punditocracy pontificate about the outcome and review the various race scenarios: There's the "pace scenario" in which the impact of "early" and "late" speed is assessed to determine a "race shape." There's the "class of the field" scenario, determined by lifetime earnings divided by wins. For example, the winners of mayoralty races in hick towns or the CEOs of pizza chains are classified as low to mid-level claimers compared to stakes competitors who win governorships — NY, TX, CA, IL, MA are Grade I stakes; FLA Grade II; Utah and Alaska, ungraded stakes; senators from OH, IL, NY, TX, CA, MA are Grade I contenders; PA, NJ, MI, CO, WI Grade II; smaller state candidates, Grade III or ungraded stakes (Georgia, Oklahoma and Wyoming, for instance); and finally, all members of Congress regardless of state of origin belong in ungraded stakes at best, or Allowance company.

Idiot Pundits and the confused Republican betting public have reached an early consensus, that this is an exceptionally weak field for the Grade I GOP Presidential Stakes. They all agree that there are more pretenders than contenders. The Prentenders, with no chance of winning the race, are: Michele "LA FILLY LOCA" Bachmann; gimpy, overweight Newt "EL VIEJO RAZA BLANCA" Gingrich; Jon "EL CABALLO INVISIBLE" Huntsman; and Ron "STRAW-POLL-MAN" Paul. But the "contenders" are weak and suspect as well. Willard Mitt Romney has the weakest possible Grade I credentials; plenty of in-the-money finishes at the level with only one Grade I win in Massachusetts. When he challenged one of the greatest thoroughbreds of our time, Ted "LION OF THE SENATE" Kennedy, in a Grade I showdown, Willard faded badly in deep stretch. You might even say he collapsed like an outclassed "non-winners of one" Allowance horse. Ted won like the legitimate 1/9 favorite he was.

 So Willard occupies that murky contender/pretender zone that represents one of the most profitable angles in horse racing: The "false favorite." The false favorite is the racehorse that becomes the favorite of his field not on the strength of his own merits but based on the demerits of his competitors. The betting GOP public rarely bets Willard with confidence. Instead, they assess the strengths and weaknesses of the field and land on Willard by a process of elimination. Astute handicappers will then "TOSS OUT" Willard in search of the surprise winner of the GOP Presidential stakes, usually an "outsider" with "hidden class" who takes a BIG step-up in class and rewards his or her supporters by finishing first at the wire at generous odds.

You see, the oddsmakers are the Idiot Punditocracy, and as anyone who reads this blog will know, they are the WORST linemakers in the business. But here's the thing about false favorites. Just because they are so branded doesn't necessarily mean they're destined to lose. In fact, they win more than their share of races, backed by a jittery group of institutional "chalk players" — unimaginative favorite "investors" and heavy favorite "bridge jumpers" who sweat bullets as their shaky false favorite staggers home barely a nose ahead of some dark horse longshot, at the line. That is, until the false favorite loses. Because the easiest way to defeat the false favorite is to run him or her at a higher class level.

In horse racing, it is also axiomatic that Grade I horses beat Grade II horses and Grade II horses beat Grade III horses. Eventually class will out. So while a false favorite like Willard may have his way with this weak GOP field in early prep races leading up to the Big Show, the Great Presidential Derby run every four years, his suspect class will be tested by the best of the best once he gets there. And false favorites do not fare well in such an environment. No matter how good their trainers and connections are. (Although trainers and handlers sometimes perform minor miracles with fledgling horsepower if they're significantly more competent than their counterparts. Bad trainers don't win races, but they can keep a great thoroughbred from achieving its full potential.)

Willard's backers know all this, and they're not happy. They've made a pragmatic choice to back Willard as a Grade I horse with a steady but unspectacular record, who trains well in the mornings (A "morning glory" that follows eye-popping AM workouts with dull PM races?) and is eating his oats. They want to win. They want to cash in on their investment. And If they get off Willard now for some chimera that proves to be a flash in the pan, they may be shut out. But after all is said and done, the race still has to be run and it's up to Willard to cross the finish line first. Which is where it got "fascinating" for the Idiot Punditocracy, whose quest for the anti-Willard became the obsessive need to redeem their faux favorite analysis. Not one of them saw Herman "THE $9.99 PIZZAMAN" Cain coming.

Casting about for someone who could "beat" Willard, they landed on Texas Governor Rick "CRAWLED OUTTA MY RACIST ROCK" Perry. He was the "main rival" on paper, the "dangerous" counterpart to the "morning line favorite" with promising credentials: Never lost a race, moved up the class ladder easily stomping all who opposed him. Okay, so he won only state-restricted stakes races ... but still. When Perry entered the race, he instantly became the phenomenon known in horseracing as the "overhyped horse." The Idiot Punditocracy embraced Rick "THE RACIST ROCK" Perry as the "hot horse" and immediately made him the odds-on favorite. Those who knew this horse best were skeptical, but their voices were drowned out by the hype. The anxious GOP betting public fell in line, in its growing anxiety to find the anti-Willard.

The Perry "hot horse" hype was soon hoisted on its own petard. You see, there's no such thing as reliable "inside information" that could possibly substantiate the hype. As the GOP rumor mill ground out the Perry "super horse" fantasy, the public was quickly disabused of its grand notions once the race started. Contenders and pretenders lined up before the race. Gingrich tottered; Bachmann snorted; Paul cavorted; Huntsman doddered — the pretenders, true to form. Willard the veteran was well behaved and "professional."

But when Perry moved up to the line his backers were shocked. He looked washy and nervous, he fought his bit and refused to enter his stall until pushed in. Once inside, Perry swooned catatonically. When the race started he cleared his slower rivals as Gingrich flopped, Huntsman crawled, and LA FILLY LOCA bolted — backwards. But then Perry the "hot horse" stumbled out of the gate and began running rank and erratically down the backstretch.


Meanwhile, Willard the tepid favorite broke cleanly, settled in near the rail, and saved ground. A typical though unspectacular start for the veteran campaigner whose backers were still sweating profusely despite the fact their horse was meeting the weakest field so far in his career. The Beltway Boys, Chris, Chuckles, NostraLawrence, et al enjoyed themselves immensely handicapping the race, but this was no fun at all for the "inside money" backing Willard. "Please don't flatten out, please no seconditis, please, please, please" ... they prayed.

Amid the fog of racing, no one paid much mind to the streaky PIZZAMAN breaking from the outside post with lots of high-carb EXTRA CHEESE early speed. Suddenly PIZZAMAN jumped out front in the solo lead. Uh-Oh. This was not the pace scenario anticipated by the Idiot Punditocracy. They had been hawking the Perry "hot horse" allure, and had dismissed Willard as a "plodder," steady but unexciting. Their "analysis" had visualized a suicidal speed duel for the early lead between LA FILLY LOCA, PIZZAMAN, and RACIST ROCK Perry jockeying for position, eventually burning themselves out having "softened up" the strongest "base speed," deemed to be RACIST ROCK Perry, for Willard sitting a perfect trip just off the hot pace to pick up the pieces around the turn. Another scenario had the RACIST ROCK breaking strongly, taking the lead with a burst of speed, and settling in as Willard chased him all the way without gaining ground. "Philly" Chris Matthews favored the latter scenario, arguing that "conditions" favored RACIST ROCK's crazy LUNATIC FRINGE running style.

No one had seen the dangerous LONE SPEED horse PIZZAMAN coming as he cleared all rivals in 9-9-9 tick increments. "HA!" Yelled Chris, apropos of nothing. Chuckles feverishly consulted his charts — had he missed something? His unique "inside access" clients would be furious with this new twist. No one had paid much mind to the railbird TEA PARTY two-dollar bettors who had quietly poured money on PIZZAMAN's nose, making him the post-time favorite when all bets were closed. NostraLawrence sat back with a wily grin, looking to all the world as if he'd known the race would develop this way all along. He unsheathed his iPhone and said, "get me REWRITE."

Chris: "Is PIZZAMAN for real?" Chuckles spread his palms and hunched his shoulders noncommittally. NostraLawrence declared confidently: "Cheap speed. He'll throw in the towel down the lane. Never makes the distance."

Chris: "HA!?!"