Cutting Through The Crap

Saturday, February 28, 2015

LLAP



This has been around, so I assume most readers will have seen it already, but it's nice. I remember my grandmother, Gammy, holding her hands that way, and my mom, too, when blessing the Sabbath candles. I vaguely remember asking why, and the answer had something to do with the need to shield from looking directly at the candles, for reasons, I suppose, similar to those about which Nimoy spoke. And I was aware, from the beginning, that the Vulcan salute was the same as that Jewish symbolism.

Even as I find them quaint at best, I feel some sort of generational connection to those traditions, and a sort of pride, or satisfaction, or whatever it is, for that connection.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Worst Person In The World


Presuming to pick the most dishonorable, most despicable, most horrible person among possible candidates on the right is like trying to decide which is the worst disease a person could have. But, since there was actually a time when I admired him, when smoke was still rising from the corpses of and in the twin towers and he said a few words that weren't entirely self-aggrandizing, I'm thinking it's gotta be Rudy Giuliani.
“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said during the dinner at the 21 Club, a former Prohibition-era speakeasy in midtown Manhattan. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”
God, what an awful person. What a complete and total asshole, a simpering, delusional, disgusting, narcissistic excuse for a human being. Rudy the shameless serial adulterer, among many moral failings, says President Obama, whose marriage is solid, wasn't brought up like you and me. Rudy, whose father was a felon; Rudy, who turned his -- as it turns out -- monumental failures and lies in the aftermath of 9/11 into a cash-rich consulting business, would like to speak to us about upbringing and loving America. What an evil man. What a flaccid prick.

There are, no doubt, plenty of people lining up to belch their approval. He is, after all, a favorite excrescence on the perineum of Fox "news." And that fact pretty much says everything about our right wing nowadays. That anyone could give this puke credence is a blight on our body politic that's too deep and deadly ever to be fully excised. (Of course, Fox just trotted out their second-favorite war criminal to discuss war crimes, so there's a pride of pukes aplenty.)

Rudy Giuliani is, without doubt, the living, oozing, smirking, spewing apotheosis of the dangerous drivel that characterizes right wing thought and talk ever since that black family moved into that white house.

Plus he's a shitty friend.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Deja Doodoo


Following up on my recent post about Jeb Bush's announcement that he won't "re-litigate" his brother's wars because why learn anything, right, we see what he really meant. The above diagram shows the people with whom he's surrounding himself for foreign policy advice.

If anything tells us we'd be in for the same mistakes made by his big brother, it's that the list not only is the same crowd, it contains Paul Fking Wolfowitz, whose wrongness on Iraq included pretty much everything but the spelling of that country's name. And we don't even know that for sure.

I guess we should be glad Cheney and Rumsfeld aren't on the list; but does anyone think he'd not turn to them, too?

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Monday, February 16, 2015

A Law Unto Himself



So Roy Moore, that Christianist zealot Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, who's announced he doesn't have to follow rulings of the US Supreme Court, and who demands other judges in his state follow his command, has this to say about God's law:

"This power over marriage, which came from God under our organic law, is not to be redefined by the United States Supreme Court or any federal court," he continued.
His claim, evidently, is that US law must defer to (whatever he sees as) God's law, as reflected, one presumes, in the bible. Which raises the question: how would he rule if a man stoned his wife to death on finding, on their wedding night, that she wasn't a virgin, and pled "not guilty" on account of following god's law, because that's what the bible says? To call such an act "murder," as defined by US law would constitute a "redefinition" god's "organic" (whatever the hell that means) law, wouldn't it, by definition?

Future President


Good ol' Jeb, the "reasonable one" (in a world where words have no meaning), stakes out this position on our recent history of war:
"Damn right," his followers are no doubt saying. "That's telling 'em."

Because what's a better characteristic in a president than ignorance of the past? Nobody ever suggested that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, right? And it's not as if we need to learn anything from the worst foreign policy mistake in the history of the universe, right?

I can only hope that in the primaries, and, after he wins the nomination, in the presidential debates that will follow, someone will call him on it. Which, I realize, is about as likely as me waking up tomorrow and finding myself 40 years younger.

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Scholars



Here's another of my newspaper columns, running today in the local paper. A little esoteric regarding a local voter initiative, but the point is wider:

What does our state have in common with Georgia? As of a couple of weeks ago, this: the legislatures of both now have special limitations on guns at their personal places of work, while keeping them unrestricted pretty much everywhere else. 
Speaking of hypocritical, I saw a cartoon featuring a sign in a gun shop window that read “Sixth Annual Obama-is-coming-for-your-guns Sale.” Heh. Might it be that gun manufacturers have been purposefully ginning up a baseless, if lucrative, fantasy? If so, given spectacular gun sales in the past few years, it’s been a far better scam than those Nigerian lotteries that keep emailing me. (Republicans ARE coming for your Social Security, by the way.) 
“Stop gun confiscation,” read a pre-election anti-594 sign on my daily walk. Had I seen the owner I’d have asked what was in the law that would lead to appropriation of legal guns, because I couldn’t find it. When it happens around here that a legally owned gun is confiscated from an innocent owner, I’ll pay attention. Until then, I can’t marshal much sympathy for the “I won’t comply” crowd. Because those folks who rallied in Olympia after I-594 passed seem neither to understand nor accept America’s most fundamental fundament: Democracy. Voting. Election results. If they did, since they don’t like how it turned out, what they’d be doing is challenging the legality of the law in court, not gunslinking around the capital, dragging their kids behind them, grandstanding their intention to be lawbreakers. 
Not long ago, there was an editorial in this very newspaper, suggesting people NOT go forward with a lawsuit attacking I-594. I disagree: if gun owners don’t like the law, I’d much rather see them lawyering up than taking to the streets in full watch-me-carry mode. (Heads-up to potential plaintiffs: guns aren’t allowed in court, either. I know: crazy, right?) 
Meanwhile, consider that at the Olympia rally were people fully armed while loudly and proudly announcing their intent to break the law; yet they made it back home, unhassled, unharmed, and free. Which isn’t nearly as true about Tamir Rice, a 12 year old kid with a fake gun, killed two seconds after cops arrived in response to a fearful caller; nor is it particularly true about John Crawford, a man killed while merely holding a for-sale air rifle while talking on a cellphone in a Walmart, in a state where it would also have been legal had he been flashing an actual rifle. He’s much deader than any of the people at the rally, too. Likewise those two NYC police officers whose sickening murder was, of course, blamed, by the usual rightwing screamers, on President Obama. (To think there was a time, for a few hours after the attacks of 9/11, when I admired Rudy Giuliani!)  
Compared to all this, it’s hard to see the ralliers, who might have to sign a piece of paper or wait a bit before buying pretty much all the armaments they want and brandishing them anywhere except where our brave leaders work, as the ones bearing insufferable burdens when it comes to guns.
But here’s the point: over the years there’ve been plenty of election results I haven’t liked, yet I’m still glad I live in a democracy. (Although it’s increasingly unclear that I do, seeing how easily for sale it’s become.) I rant. I roar my displeasure to the uncaring cosmos, and brook the received animus in return. But one thing I’ve never done, nor see myself doing anytime soon, is breaking the law over it. Believing in America means accepting its electoral outcomes, or using legal means for redress. 
In the Olympia law-busters’ action there’s grand irony: elections are the single most powerful bulwark we have against their dreaded government overreach, and are the exact opposite of what they’re calling tyranny. It makes me wonder which vision of America those people are intent on defending with their guns. The Constitution, after all, contains more than the second amendment. Maybe holy Mike Huckabee needs reminding of that, too. He just unlimbered himself of the opinion that if states don’t like rulings of the Supreme Court, they should ignore them. That’s patriotism? Sedition, more like.
  
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Pipe Dreams


Add their unwavering support for the Keystone Pipeline to the crazy collection of incomprehensibly inconsistent actions of today's Congressional Rs. Forget about energy policy. The damn thing is foreign-owned, using eminent domain to take over private US property from farmers, for their damn furriner profit. It's like Agenda 21. As Charlie says:

Look at the issues. Eminent domain! Property rights! Foreign corporations bullying salt-of-the-earth farmers. States rights! It's hard to believe that the Republican party isn't all over this one. (Actually, it's not.) Also, I'd suggest to any Democratic supporters of this incipient catastrophe that they go to Nebraska and explain themselves. Sometimes, I think I do expect too much.
The occasion of Charlie's post, linked above, was the issuing of an injunction against the pipeline by a Nebraska state judge. Making Congress's premature ejacupassage of their build-it bill even more suspect and dumb. Among other reasons our president said he'd veto it was the untimeliness of it. Based on, you know, letting the state of Nebraska do its thing. What a commie tyrant he is.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Come The Pigeons, Home To Roost



There are so many things going on that were predictable once Rs got control of both houses and had, finally, to produce stuff rather than block it. That Senatorial Rs would suddenly find that whole filibuster thing a little unseemly was as obvious as snow in Boston; and, therefore, hardly newsworthy.

But the amusing (if that's the word) part is the similarly predictable eventuality that it'd be impossible to keep their cynicism and stupidity in check. They are, after all, who they are.

So John Boehner thought he'd be cute: block Obama's immigration moves by hooking it to funding of DHS. Brilliant. Because, you know, what could go wrong? Other than backfiring and the spectacle of trying to blame it on Democrats. And revolt among the troops. My freude is as schaden as the next guy's, and part of me looks forward to their next fkup and many more to come. But no matter who's in charge, there is, after all, a certain need to govern by producing thoughtful legislation. The time when elected Rs were capable of such a thing, on the national level anyway, is long past.

That we'll see more of this clown show is as clear as the mountaintops around here. (That's why they call it climate change, Boston.) The only question is whether the next two years will be enough time for them to produce enough embarrassment for enough voters to realize they need to take the keys away. The good news: Congressional Rs, being made up mostly of paranoid and none-too-bright religious zealots, will provide plenty of evidence. The bad news: our Foxified public has been carefully made not to care.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Boots



On my growing list of phrases that should be banned, like "accidental shooting" when a kid gets hold of a gun and shoots his brother, or mom, or himself, is "boots on the ground."

How sanitary. How easy. How whitewashed. No big deal. Boots. Not human beings, with families. Not even soldiers. Boots. So we don't have to think too much about it, or feel bad. Send in the boots, problems solved, roll over and go back to sleep.

How about this: body parts on the ground. Blood on the ground, bleeding, dying, or dead soldiers on the ground. Boots with feet still in them, attached to nothing, on the ground. Bits of brain, lost memories and dreams of a future, rotting in the sun, on the ground.

Because that's what it is. If we send troops to war -- and I'm not saying it's never necessary but it sure as hell wasn't in Iraq and look what happened to the region -- it's not just their boots we're sending. It's their bodies and lives, their lovers, their kids. So there better be a damn good reason, a reason worth more than sitting behind your desk, or someone's microphone, and speaking those soothingly simple words. A reason that resounds even if you tell the truth of what will result, within and above the boots. Think about that, John Fking McCain. I guess you've forgotten. I haven't, and I was there, too.

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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Craziness Is Next To Godliness



These are not healthy people. They're seriously disturbed, and damn scary. Their ranks include some leading lights in today's Republican Party, and many, many more among that party's followers.

Without doubt, these paranoid fanatics are a much greater threat to our democracy than all the terrorists in all the countries on the planet. Because they're already here. They vote. In increasing numbers, they're running the show. And, all the while, claiming persecution, failing to understand the difference between being unable to force their views on everyone, and actual persecution.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

My Anti-Vax Column


So here's my thoughts on the anti-vax movement, as stated in today's newspaper column:

Really? Measles outbreaks? In the United States of America, birthplace of countless world-changing innovations and inventions, in which the man who’d soon become its first president required variolation of his revolutionary troops, there’s a movement against the use of vaccines, even gaining steam within a national political party? Of all the advances of civilization, I’m pretty sure none have saved as many lives and prevented as much suffering as vaccinations; and yet, here we are, unrolling progress back to the Dark Ages. What’s wrong with us? Gullibility and ignorance, it seems, are on their way to becoming part of our national character. 

I’ve been accused of being a one-note writer, criticizing only Republicans. It’s true, mostly. I’m far more disturbed by the specter of elected Republicans denying science, ignoring our infrastructure needs, defunding education and denigrating expertise, rationalizing selfishness by pushing the same fable about tax cuts magically increasing revenue, than I am by the occasional embarrassments coming from the mouths of certain predictable liberals. But, unlike climate change denial and voodoo economics, this anti-vax baloney crosses ideological lines, and I’ll readily admit that there are liberals on the bandwagon of vaccine rejection. I’ve even written to The Huffington Post, in hopes they’d stop featuring writers who extol the virtues of discredited “alternative” medicine, belief in which seems to be a liberal thing. It’s bizarre that the generally sensible PBS gives frequent voice to Deepak Chopra, that woo-meister who recently announced that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS. Lots of liberals love the guy. 
Still, the leader of the Democratic Party, name of Obama, has clearly stated that people need to vaccinate their kids, and so has Hillary Clinton (candidate Obama’s 2008 comment implying skepticism has been, as usual, deliberately misconstrued); whereas a whole pride of Republican presidential hopefuls and their media icons are claiming that vaccinations are of questionable value and should be a matter of choice. Choice! Irony, anyone? 
While some liberals – yes, Marin County and Hollywood liberals among them – still push the thoroughly debunked dangers of vaccines, I don’t know of any major players in the Democratic Party who do; yet in the past few days it’s becoming half a tidal wave among right-wing talking heads and some of their leaders. Who knows? Like those other aforementioned cognitive lacunae, it might become central to that party’s requirements for electability. 
How has it happened that our country so quickly came to lead the civilized world in science rejection? Whence arises this distrust, this ready acceptance of the most ludicrous of conspiracy theories? Is there significance to the temporal relation with the steady trend toward theocracy, or just coincidence? What about the eyeball supremacy of the “news” outfit about which studies consistently show it to be the runaway leader in purveying false information, whose followers are repeatedly found to be the least well-informed subset of Americans? Is the popularity of Fox “news” cause or effect of our newfound preference for ignoring reality? Is the growing insertion of Biblical law into the public square the cause or effect of our growing predilection toward black and white answers to gray questions? 
Climate change is hard. Finding a palatable budget that covers our future needs is hard. Reducing poverty, making health care accessible while controlling costs: hard. Believing they’re NOT problems, or that they’ll fix themselves free of cost and effort, is easy. Till now, it’s only Republicans and Libertarians who’ve been selling that brand of soap. Leave it to them to turn the vaccination issue, for which the science is absolutely clear-cut, into one of “teach the controversy” and “big government.” Can anyone imagine a Democratic senator suggesting, as Republican Senator Thom Tillis just did, that food handlers shouldn’t be required to wash their hands after using the restroom? Regulations: always bad! Even where public health is involved. 
This bizarre circus is the perfect microcosm of the loosening of the bonds of reason that characterizes today’s Republican leaders, showcasing the sort of harm that arises from reflexive denialism. But I gotta say: that there are any liberals at all among the anti-vaxers worries me greatly, because if it spreads, and both parties become disconnected at the same time, there’ll truly be no hope.
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Friday, February 6, 2015

Brian's Brain



I find this Brian Williams/helicopter-dreams dust storm interesting, and not because of what it does or doesn't say about Mr Williams. It's what it says, or might well say, about memory. I don't know where the line is between confabulation, or lying, or just the vagaries of the human brain, but I've had a couple of experiences that give me a certain amount of sympathy for the man.

A while back, I wrote here about when JFK spoke at my college, mere weeks before his assassination, dedicating the Robert Frost Library. In the post, among other things, I described how he stood on the steps of that just-completed structure, and how moving his speech was. Not long after I wrote that, my college, on the 50th anniversary of the ceremony, published several articles and pictures from that day. Turns out, I got it all wrong.

The speech, the one in which he said the semi-famous words, "When power corrupts, poetry cleanses," was in his first appearance of the day, in "The Cage," an indoor dirt-floored track. He spoke only briefly when he went to the library location; and not only was it not on the steps of the building, it was on a hastily constructed wooden platform, with shovels at the ready to break ground on the hole that would become it. "Completed," indeed.

And this one: like the good liberals we are, my wife and sister-in-law and I went to D.C. to attend Jon Stewart's "Rally To Restore Sanity." (Didn't work, evidently.) It was my first return to the capitol since the summer after fifth grade, and a high spot was visiting the Library of Congress, of which I had a distinct memory from that earlier visit. Yet again, I couldn't have been more wrong. In my recollection it was a huge, bland, rectangular brick building with countless straight rows of oak tables and chairs, card files, and people deep in research. It is, in fact, nothing of the sort. Among other things, it's a spectacularly beautiful building, bearing zero resemblance to my memory of it.

They were pretty shocking, those two revelations of false memory. It's nothing new, of course; eyewitness testimony, for example, is considered all but useless nowadays; still, it makes a person wonder: If who we are, or think we are, is in any way connected to our memories of ourselves, and if memories can be so wrong, who the hell are we, anyway?

As a side note, I've also wondered at what point, and by what process, did my memories become false. Surely a week after JFK's visit I could have recounted it pretty accurately. Or a month after. Probably a year, or five. So when did it morph into falsehood? Which pieces of what other recollections did my brain stitch together; and is it natural? A result of some sort of stressors, or some sort of cerebral shorthand? Or am I just an idiot, uniquely so?

If I could have so thoroughly misremembered such specific details, one in near-adulthood, is it impossible -- especially under the strains of being shot at in a hot war zone, which I was once, too, and have some memories -- that Brian Williams just got a bunch of memories mixed up? Ronald Reagan, after all, had a hard time separating what he'd seen (or acted) in movies from his actual life. (Okay, sure, no one ever said he was smart enough to be a newsman.)

I have no idea, as regards B.W. Being shot down versus not being shot down seems a bigger deviation than whether a speech occurred on a platform or on the steps of a yet-to-exist library (it's a pretty big building, though.) I've sorta liked the guy, especially in his appearances on The Daily Show. Between that, and my own experiences, I'm less ready than some to call the guy a deliberate liar. Plus, his daughter is pretty cool.

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Charlie Hits The Nail On The Head



As usual, Charles P Pierce cuts through the crap and gets right to it
...The money power does not need the political entity that is the United States of America except as an organizing infrastructure through which private profits can be insured and increased. The money power does not need its fellow citizens as anything but disposable commodities, and anonymous, interchangeable units, in the mechanism that produces those profits. That is the political and social reality against which The Wisconsin Idea was raised up to combat. It depended vitally on the intellectual ferment of the state's universities, and the products of that ferment as applied in pursuit of a better life for all the state's citizens. The forces for which Scott Walker is only the most recently popular front man are threatened by education, and by knowledge, so they use all the power they have to frighten people about new ways of looking at things, about fresh knowledge, about the process of education itself. They force a kind of mental surrender of the rights of the people to create and sustain a self-governing political commonwealth by convincing those people that anything done together, through the mechanisms of self-government, is a threat to personal, private liberties. You can see it in what Walker's trying to do to the University of Wisconsin, and you can see it to a smaller degree in the way that potential Republican presidential candidates have bamfoozled themselves on the subject of childhood vaccinations. We conquered polio, and smallpox, and measles because we all worked together, and when intelligent people offered us a cure, we made a national movement out of the effort to eradicate these diseases. The government and the universities and the people they produced showed the way, and the country made that cause its own, and we by god eradicated these diseases. We didn't do this as a mindless and fearful herd. We did this because we educated ourselves on what the experts told us was the best way to prevent these diseases. and then we acted on the knowledge that we had gained for ourselves. 
Now, though, a substantial portion of the population has been taught that the worst people in the world to trust are the people who know the most about anything. They have nothing to say to us. We have our good old common sense which, I have learned, grows less sensible as it grows more common. This has been a lesson devised by people whose power is threatened by the act of creating a political commonwealth in which their power needs must be scrutinized and, if necessary, limited. That is the game Scott Walker is playing. It is far from a new one, and it still can be lost.
In the simplest of terms: people calling the shots for today's Republican party have -- so easily it's beyond belief -- convinced about half the population to ignore what they're really about; have convinced about half the population to distrust expertise, to reject knowledge, to ignore our most significant problems. And they've done so for purely selfish reasons, understanding that there's a limitless pool of gullible, frightened, people from which to draw their votes. People so anxious for easy answers, so willing to find someone to blame other than themselves, so anxious to rationalize their own selfishness and prejudices, that they'll ignore their best interests, ignore the implications for their kids, and vote for those who tell them what they need to hear.

Okay, maybe that wasn't the simplest of terms. But it's simply true.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Mr Moussaoui Spills The Beans



The guy is in a super-max prison for life and has no real reason to lie; plus, it's about as surprising as learning that the ocean is acidifying. So how 'bout Congress spends a little more time on this than Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi? (We know the answer, of course.) Read about it here, within which is this chilling quotation:
The French-born Mr. Moussaoui was detained weeks before Sept. 11 on immigration charges in Minnesota, so he was incarcerated at the time of the attacks. Earlier in 2001, he had taken flying lessons and was wired $14,000 by a Qaeda cell in Germany, evidence that he might have been preparing to become one of the hijackers. He said in the prison deposition that he was directed in 1998 or 1999 by Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan to create a digital database of donors to the group. Among those he said he recalled listing in the database were Prince Turki al-Faisal, then the Saudi intelligence chief; Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, the longtime Saudi ambassador to the United States; Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, a prominent billionaire investor; and many of the country's leading clerics. "Sheikh Osama wanted to keep a record who give money," he said in imperfect English - "who is to be listened to or who contributed to the jihad."
I think it's time to tell the Saudis to go fk themselves, oil prices be damned. Keep pumping our own while we redouble, retriple our efforts to advance renewable energy sources. I also would draw attention to this lovely vision, from the same article, by the redoubtable Charlie Pierce:
There was some brief kerfuffling when the president took time off during his visit to India to attend the funeral of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who went to his grave knowing that George W. Bush had kissed him and held his hand, which must have been a great comfort to His Opulence during the final hours before what must have been a standing-room-only Final Judgment.
God, I wish I could write like him.

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Why Is It So Hard To Understand, Mike?


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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Revenue Stream



As a retired guy mostly counting on investments to sustain my financial needs, I'm happy when the stock market rallies, no matter the reason. But really? This latest rise is because the price of oil is increasing? That's what they say, whoever "they" is.

I'm no economist, but it seems pretty clear that the only people who benefit from rising oil prices are oil companies and those who invest in them. Not insignificant, I suppose; but doesn't cheap fuel benefit the hundreds of millions of people who aren't invested in oil a lot more than the relatively few who are? Isn't it a lot better for capitalism when people have extra jingle in their pockets, to spend on the stuff that businesses other than energy companies make?

So, intuitively and otherwise, it must be the case that the economy does better when fuel is cheaper; yet the Dow rallies on the opposite news.

My point: is that screwed up, or what? Why should the financial status of average investors depend more on the whims of a handful of hedge-fund managers, than on the health of the economy at large? It's all-year opposite day, and it's unsettling.

Yeah, boo hoo, right? But it's another demonstration of how little the average person is in charge of anything.

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Another Newspaper Column



Here's my latest, as published today in the local paper:

When you’re a Republican national leader and you’ve lost Fox “news” you’ve probably crossed a line. A very distant line, so far past half way that you can’t see it from here. A line that’s beyond the Atlantic and deep into the Middle East. John Boehner, for whom I’ve occasionally felt sympathy as he tried to wrangle the craziest of his flock, and about whom Dan Savage tweeted during the State of the Union Address that it’s nice to see “two people of color on the podium,” has finally pulled it off. In so doing, he’s made the obvious undeniable even to the deniers: since day one, Congressional Republicans would rather damage the country than miss an opportunity to embarrass or obstruct Barack Hussein Obama. Whether it’s restoring the economy or seeking solutions to the insoluble in the birthplace of Abrahamic religions, their list of priorities includes only one item; and it’s not the national interest. 
Yes, even the sometimes level talking heads at Fox, Wallace and Smith among them, are gape-mouthed at Boehner’s craven and insolent decision to invite Benyamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress, without consulting with the White House. (Well, we haven’t heard from the brain trust of Doocey, Kilmeade, Pirro, and Hannity. But even Billo was a little ruffled.) We might excuse Bibi for his acceptance of the invite, were it not for the fact that he’s plenty smart enough to know what’s going on. No good will come of this: not for Israel, not for the prospects of peace, minimal and illusory as they are. Not even, contra Boehner’s fever dream, the Republican Party. 
And even though Mr. Boehner would need an extra wit to rise to the level of half-wit, and has been unable to think more than one step at a time since Obama was elected, even HE ought to understand that in matters of foreign policy anywhere, let alone the flaming Middle East, you don’t take unilateral Congressional action; you confer with the Executive Branch, even if you can’t stand the guy who sleeps down the hall from the Lincoln Bedroom. 
This really is a low point on a downslope where, after six years of cynicism and dishonesty the concept of lowest of the low has lost all meaning. If I didn’t know better, I’d say it can’t get any worse from these people. I might even go so far, against all reason, to hope so. But we’ll see worse, of that there’s no doubt. And not just in foreign policy. The toxic mix of unmitigated derision of the president, a preference for one-note thinking based on simple answers, putting party above the nation, and a penchant for ignoring facts makes for a poisonous brew. 
But I get it, I do. Republicans consider President Obama weak, believe he needs to invade somewhere, really soon, spend more billions, and create more dead and maimed soldiers because, really, we only tried for fourteen years. John McCain’s trigger finger has been twitching since the polls closed in aught-eight, and Lindsey Graham has had the vapors since hand came off the Bible. (Or was it the Koran?) Maybe they’re right. In wars millennia in the making, who knows? Maybe future alien historians, browsing through the rubble of humanity, will conclude that if only we’d sent more troops, fired more missiles, stayed for a few more decades, peace would have spread through the Middle East like an oil sheen in the Gulf. But isn’t it true that our armed attempts to force peace and reconciliation they don’t seem to want haven’t worked out all that well? Is it so crazy to give negotiations a shot? Call me na├»ve. I’ve been called a lot worse. 
For years, Republicans have been saying it’s time for Obama to “own” the economy. Now, as the rebound is undeniable despite their six-year building of blockades, they’re giving him no ownership at all. So now they’ll try their hand in Mesopotamia. But trying to prevent economic recovery for political gain and campaign donations is one thing; being willing to blow up the world for the same reason is quite another. If this isn’t proof our politics are beyond repair, I don’t know what is.
  
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