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Posts Tagged ‘barack obama

Meerkat Tribe 2

This is a picture of the Republican Caucus shortly after Kevin McCarthy’s announcement he was bailing out on the House Speakership.  Attentive bewilderment seems to be the optimum description of the GOP these days.

It appears everyone and their dog is reaching out to Paul Ryan begging him to climb up on that Speaker’s cross and sacrifice himself.  He’s the same zombie-eyed, Granny-starver who has never worked a day in the private sector that is touted as the Republican expert on the private sector.

The fern is the one in the background...

The fern is the one in the background…

Ryan’s the guy who came under the spell of Ayn Rand courtesy of social security survivor benefits who now decries the immorality of the “urban culture” focusing on government entitlement programs.  And most importantly, he’s the guy who has infected proposed federal budgets with so many magical asterisks, the budgets resemble measles-ridden failures of Rubella vaccine trials.

Ryan is seen as the wonkiest of the wonkees – “Hey, Hey, we’re the wonkees and we got some monkeying to do!”  Ryan isn’t alone in the clay feet club.  There’s the youngest of the Mario Brothers – Marco Rubio – who has conjured a tax and budget plan of ponies and rainbows.  There’s Forrest Trump who has produced a tax plan creating a deficit of over $10 Trillion.  And we are still waiting, waiting since 2010, for the Republican Party to propose anything resembling a health care plan.

Paul RyanThe Republican Party has become an amalgamation of post-policy séances overseen by the likes of the Freedom Caucus.  We wrote about the infection called the Freedom Caucus a couple of weeks ago and rest assured, they haven’t gotten any better since then.  If there was enough chalk, the Freedom Caucus would be drawing an outline on the sidewalk for a CSI autopsy of the GOP.  The members of the Freedom Caucus exhibit self-aggrandizing narcissism only seen in mirror factories or bacchanal orgies.

This self-centeredness of the Freedom Caucus has resulted in the effective takeover of the House of Representatives, but it isn’t the only place where Republican open-mindedness has resulted in their unimpressive brains rolling out of the head.  Let’s look at the Presidential field.  The obvious candidate as the poster person for form over substance is either Forrest Trump or Carly Fiorina – both of whom are sensational self-promoters as long as reality is on holiday.

Never being one for the obvious, let’s take a look at someone who raised $20 million last quarter – none other than the squint-eyed neurosurgeon, Ben Carson.  While I’m sure Ben Carson is a good man who is inspirational to us all – he needs to have his head examined. Carson Cartoon

Remember, Carson’s number one qualification for notoriety is being the first person to ever politicize the National Prayer Breakfast by haranguing a President.  Because of that utter lack of decorum, he was immediately hired by Fox.  He was given a platform to comment and opine on any subject – be it foreign policy, the historical accuracy of the Flintstones, or his ideas around nuclear proliferation that are informed by the Book of Revelation according to the “end times.”

When it comes to politics, Carson is as crazy as an outhouse rat.  If his story about the Popeye’s restaurant is true, that of a vegetarian going to a chicken joint for fries, and telling a gunman to shoot the hourly employee behind the counter, I have a difficult time believing anyone in good conscience can say he never saw a bullet hole uglier than a gun safety law.

Carson has no idea what the Constitution says or what it means, he’s uninformed about Congress, has no idea about economics, believes in conspiracy theories then passes them along giving them validity, and is absolutely clueless without biblical analogies.  Yet, he is consistently second in national polling.

Meerkat Tribe 3The Republican Party has turned into the Frightwing of American politics.  Having been cowed to Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Hannity, and Levin, the only functional organization of the GOP are radio and television schedules.  The likes of Ben Carson are what you get as a result.  The Republican Party is a policy-free zone – it isn’t even a pesky afterthought.

All this shouldn’t come as a surprise.  I see the Republican Party suffering from Colony Collapse Disorder.  CCD is what kills otherwise thriving colonies of honeybees.  The central focus of the Republican Party has been a deep, all-consuming, hatred of Barack Obama.  It has been their reason for being for 7 years now – their sole organizational purpose.  Take that away and it is like the death of a queen for a beehive.  The drones and the workers have no direction, no reason for being, and they lose all focus.  That is what has happened to the Republican Party.Bee, we are taking you with us

When the only direction comes from fomenting anger by mean-spirited media imbeciles, it is a poisonous, caustic FlavorAid recipe not unlike that served in Jonestown.  The purest signs of this toxicity are Trump, Carson, and Fiorina.  The hatred they represent is just jealousy rolled up in a heaping dose of xenophobic ignorance.  Like CCD, there is no known cure – you just have to let it run its course.  I’m willing to do just that.

This is an open thread – enjoy your Wednesday, the day after the night before Hillary once again demonstrated her fierce superiority and overall awesomeness.

 

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Good Thursday, Widdershins. The festive lead-up to the holidays was interrupted by repetitive bleakness in the form of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s stunning torture report.  Senator Feinstein pushed this through at least in part because she was reasonably certain that it would never see daylight after January.  She looked like hell when she presented the packet, as though she has not slept well in some time.  There were circles under her eyes that a panda would envy.  After hearing the highlights lowlights of the report, I feel a little sick myself.  Dear God, is this the America of my youth?  The”shining city on the hill”?  It sounded more like a failed third-world state in its death throes.

Apologists and explainers have scurried from their burrows to try to defend the indefensible.  Nicole Wallace was defiantly weepy on MSN, declaring that she did not care what happened since it kept us “safe”.  I’d love to see her explain that to the families of all the people who have suffered at extremists’ hands as payback for our sins.  Former CIA Director Hayden actually said that the agency was under the impression that it was carrying out the will of the American people, and that their attorneys told them that this was all perfectly legal.  Any number of agents insist that they were merely following orders, a stance which did not fly with the Germans at Nuremberg or with Lt. Calley with the Me Lai Massacre.  Also, a group of West Virginia National Guardsmen went to the brig for torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib.  So, tell me again how this is legal.  I’m waiting.

The President mumbled something regarding American values, then announced that the DOJ had investigated the matter and would not file charges.  As we have seen oh, so many times of late, culpability occurs only at the lower levels of society  – like us.  We can be shot for walking down the middle of the street like Michael Brown,  have our airway collapsed in a chokehold like Eric Garner, but let us try to defend ourselves and we are heinous murderers.  Thankfully, our calm and cool President is at least investigating all of these blameless (at least at the state level) deaths.  As far as the torture revelations go, I understand that his announcement of charges against a former sitting President would be largely unprecedented, but not taking sides is patently ridiculous.  At this point, the UN is calling for an investigation, and we stand mute, unable to explain how we actually ran afoul of anti-torture policies that we were instrumental in framing.  How embarrassing is this?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – we told you so.  Barak Obama is a decent guy who lacked the experience and the acumen to be a top-notch President.  Yes, he’s cool.  Yes, he’s a rock star.  Yes, he has fresh ideas.  Unfortunately, none of those attributes are what we need right now.  So, bring it home, Elliot, and don’t be afraid to use “the robot”.

 

This is an open thread.

 

Good Thursday, Widdershins.  September 11th is the 254th day of the year.  It is also the anniversary of one of the worst attacks on American soil.  This is one of those days, like Pearl Harbor and the Kennedy Assassination, that anyone alive at the time remembers where they were and what they were doing forever.  I also cannot forget the ensuing years that trapped us in a long and tortuous was that depleted our blood, our treasure, and our standing in the world.

Last night I listened to the President’s speech.  As usual, it was well-delivered, but this time relatively free of soaring rhetoric.  He has decided to authorize airstrikes against ISIS/ISIL, and hopes that Congress will see fit to back him in this venture.  He stated that he would hunt down terrorists, that there would be no safe havens.  We know that to be the case, as evidenced by Osama bin Laden. None can fault him there, and superficially, this sounds fine.

The President then announced that he was sending 475 troops over to ask as advisers.  This also sounds okay, until you realize that whether you are killed holding a clipboard or killed driving a tank, you are just as dead.  Further, “advisers” are likely making their umpteenth trip back, and leaving their families behind again.  Even worse, the VA system has been catastrophically messed up for forty years, so it is safe to assume that if these “advisers” are injured, things won’t have cleared up enough to help them either.

Further, Obama is again counting on a “coalition of nations” to help.  I still cringe when I remember the infamous “coalition of the willing”, some of whom had contributed fewer than 20 troops to the Iraq debacle.  Please, let them be a bit more willing with troops and treasure this time.  Said coalition will strike back at the terrorists and make the world a better place if they do, and I am in complete agreement with that premise at face value.  However, history suggests that the vacuum will promptly be filled with some entity that rapidly manages to become even more repugnant than its predecessor, and this time there is the real possibility that we could manage to help Assad return to power.  I am becoming more and more convinced that the more we try to fix this, the worse it becomes.

A number of Congress folk have been muttering about action against ISIS/ISIL.  Dick Cheyney and the neocons have been making the rounds to crank everybody up about the need for further warfare.  However, I have to wonder if Congress can be realistic about the cost of war and the necessity to raise the revenue necessary to finance said activity.  The President seems confident that the initial Authorization for Use of Military Forces (2001) would cover him, but I really do believe that it’s time for Congress to get off the sidelines and declare themselves.  Decrying his position and catcalling has worked beautifully for years, but the time has come to stand up and be counted.

I have never been fond of Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA).  However, as he is on his way out having run for and lost the Republican primary for Governor (Georgia is one of those states that prohibits you from running for two offices at once), he had a moment of abject truthfulness with the New York Times:

“A lot of people would like to stay on the sideline and say, ‘Just bomb the place and tell us about it later,’ ” said Representative Jack Kingston, Republican of Georgia, who supports having an authorization vote. “It’s an election year. A lot of Democrats don’t know how it would play in their party, and Republicans don’t want to change anything. We like the path we’re on now. We can denounce it if it goes bad, and praise it if it goes well and ask what took him so long.”

We’ll see how this goes, now that Congress needs to go on the record.  It will be interesting to see how all of the various Senators and Representatives vote, now that the bright light is shining on them six weeks prior to the midterms.  I just hope that we are not racing toward another debacle for fear of meeting ISIS at the supermarket.  Let’s just say that I am “shock and awe”-d that we find ourselves back at square one.

That said, today is a day of remembrance.  A lot of good people lost their lives on 09/11, and on many days thereafter.  If you think of it, say a prayer for them.  If you have one, light a candle for them.   Above all, think of those they left behind.

This is an open thread.

 

Good Thursday, Widdershins.  Did I ever tell you that I am a huge fan of Mary Poppins?  I read the books repeatedly as a child, and much later, repeatedly to my own child.  Mary was a stern but loving nanny who blew in on the East wind (“popped-in”) to care for the Banks children, then blew out (“popped out”) when she was satisfied that her services were no longer required.

“I never explain anything,”  Mary Poppins

I now find myself wondering if we might be better off with Mary running the government.  At least she is forthright about the fact that she has no intentions of explaining anything to anyone, not now nor ever,  Instead we have a Congress that rarely shows up, which might actually be all for the best considering their proclivities.  We have a President who has gone out like a bright light, and a Justice Department which appears to be running amok.  Constitutional protections are either full-bore or non-existent, and secrecy reigns supreme.   Yet each and every governmental entity insists that they are beavering away night and day in the public interest.  Did not our President promise transparency?

We have had the FISA courts since the Carter Administration, but their secrecy has now grown exponentially – that is, when we bother to use them at all.  The Bush Administration asserted their right to rush wiretaps right past the FISA court, and I do not have full faith and confidence that the Obama Administration – or third and fourth terms of Dubya – has operated any differently.To his credit,  Obama has fiddled around some with tracking the emails of ordinary citizens, and hooray for that.  Renditions, black ops, off-shore prisons, torture – did those things really happen in my country?  Congress meets in secret, claiming national security, and ignores their own injunctions against the type of insider trading deals that would land the rest of us in prison for decades.  I only wish that I were imagining this.

Not that the concept of Constitutional workarounds is a new one – Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, and Roosevelt presided over internment camps for people of Japanese ancestry, some of whom were American born.  Both of those acts, unlaudable as they were, yerminated at a clearly defined point when the war ended.  Eleven years into the current quagmire, we find secrecy and cessation of civil liberties expanding with no end in sight.  Forget free assembly – get a parade permit.  Need an attorney or a speedy trial?  None for you if you are percieved to be a threat to national security – off you go, and you may never been seen or heard from again.  However, we should rest more easily because all of this abrogation of the Bill of Rights is just dandy, because now we are safe.

Because of this constitutional overreach, we have now incited the very edge of the fringe of the American right.  They are busily constructing shelters, acquiring weapons, and stockpiling food, water, and ammunition against the day that they must fight the government.  It frightens me that I cannot tell them how silly this all looks, because a part of me wonders if it’s true.  The only salient question that I might pose is to inquire why they were so fearless during the Bush years.  Frankly, these folks scare the beejezus out of me.

The application of American justice is even more nerve-wracking.  I am not so naive that I believe that justice is blind.  If you are wealthy and white, you are likely to get off with a slap on the wrist, and this is not new.  What scares the hell out of me is the for-profit prison system that contracts for full capacity, and the state courts – such as my own – that are only to happy to comply in the name of law and order.  Local police are rapidly becoming hyper-militarized and have been the beneficiaries of some high-grade military equipment leftovers from the Middle East conflicts.  Miami PD has used much of it, including drones.  This is somewhat disconcerting when you consider the number of DOJ investigations that have taken place with Miami’s numerous police shootings – good thinking, folks.  Let’s supply them with tanks and maybe a bazooka or two. What could possibly go wrong?  We’ve gotten a lot of promises that things will get better soon, but I’ll let Mary Poppins speak for me here as well.

  That’s a piecrust promise. Easily made, easily broken.

Pass me a spoonful of sugar, please.  This is an open thread.

 

Good afternoon Widdershin friends.  I hope this is a “widderful” Friday for you.

Always trying to be helpful, I thought today would be as good a day as any to give the conservative word-whore Frank Luntz a little help in his messaging conundrum.  Like finding the perfect pair of shoes, Luntz is trying on lots of potential slogans, but like the cloven-hoofed miscreant he is, he’s having a difficult time finding just the right fit.

During the past week we have seen the opening shots of the upcoming 2014 and 2016 messaging wars, ergo a mash-up of what seems to be the early taglines — “Impeach Monica Benghazi”.  You have to admit it does have a certain ring to it for the mouth-breathing crowd.

Alphabetically, his name is perfect -- Barr, Bob...

Alphabetically, his name is perfect — Barr, Bob…

As would be expected you have someone like Bob Barr, a former Congress Critter — turned libertarian presidential candidate — currently do-si-doing as a retread congressional candidate saying, “I took my bill to impeach Bill Clinton from November 1997, dusted it off, added a little language, and darned, if it doesn’t sound pretty good with Barack Obama’s name in there.”

For the politics for profit crowd, invoking the ghosts of impeachment past does a couple of things.  It is red meat for the Tea Party crowd in 2014 and lays a certain tarnishing predicate for Hillary in 2016.

Then you have Senator and labradoodlely follicled Rand Paul last Sunday, where in answering a question on Meet the David Gregory about the “War on Women,” he did a full-morph with a backflip into a rant about Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton.  In the world of Rand Paul, where libertarianism is little more than passive-aggressiveness on steroids (passive if it suits, aggressiveness if it diverges from personal preferences, and steroids for a little more rage), he sees Bill Clinton’s human failure as a tarot card for Hillary.

Both equally accurate news sources...

Both equally accurate news sources…

And then you have Benghazi.  Anytime you have the loss of life, it is a regrettable thing and Benghazi was a regrettable loss of four lives.  What is even more regrettable is the saddling up of Benghazi by the conservative right and media crowd thereby cheapening the sacrifices it represents.

There have been three comprehensive studies about Benghazi, the most extensive and far-reaching was led by the respected notables Admiral Mike Mullen and Ambassador Thomas Pickering.  All of the studies were detailed and above reproach, but none satisfy the narrative advanced by the Tea Party, Fox News, and Hillary-haters.

Facts surrounding Benghazi such as the late Ambassador Chris Stevens rejecting additional security and military presence not once, but twice, finds no purchase among the conspiratorially minded.  The fact the two retired Navy Seals were contract employees of the CIA, hired and in Benghazi voluntarily is ignored by those wishing it wasn’t true.

And then there is the most egregious lie of all — that armed assistance was withheld by the White House and the Pentagon.  Time and again this lie has been refuted by the independent reviews and as Robert Gates said, “Paints a cartoonish view of military capabilities.”  In the zeal of the haters to conjure a conspiracy, these myth-makers fail to realize they are impugning the military with each retelling of their baseless tales.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Frank Luntz has his work cut out for him.  From the vantage point of most readers of this site, 2016 is going to be about competence.  We said competency was the issue in 2008, but no one would clear their ears of Cheetos and listen.  Effective leadership and governance is not just about painting a vision, it is about delivering on those visions.  It isn’t about charisma and celebrity, it is about the reality Hillary 2016of delivering after the speech has been given.

So try as he may, Frank Luntz’s puppets might as well take their “Impeach Monica Benghazi” bumper stickers and unceremoniously stick them over their vacuous pie holes since there are few people in the history of the country who have been more prepared for the Presidency than Hillary.  And as we have seen time and again, no one on this side of the universe is more inoculated against outrageous accusations.

This is an open thread.

Happy Christmas Eve my Widdershin friends. I hope you are warm, responsibly festive, and if not with loving family, you are with someone you can reasonably tolerate this holiday season.  And if you find yourself reaching the tolerance threshold, spike the eggnog.

iSanta

Should the real Santa be a Widdershin reader, I thought we might help him out with some gift ideas for the notable and notorious this year. By no means is this list exhaustive, please add your gift suggestions.

Happy Holidays!

President Barack Obama: A needlepoint pillow for the Oval Office that says: A vision without a plan of execution is a hallucination.

Trey Radel, the coked Congressman: A six-pack of Pepsi.

Anthony Weiner: A rotary dial telephone.

Darrell Issa: A thesaurus since he only knows nouns, verbs, and the word “scandal.”

Ted Cruz: Some green eggs and ham, the only thing he got right during the government shutdown.

Lance Armstrong: Some postage stamps so he will have a start point on paying back the $40 million he owes the U.S. Postal Service.

Leg Lamp

The two rats whose brains were surgically connected earlier this year: A psychic connection with the similarly situated Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity.

The Wal-Mart Heirs: Since they have as much wealth as 42% of the population, a year’s supply of “5 Hour Energy” drinks so that by next year they can have 100% of everything and move it to Bentonville, Arkansas.

The Higgs Boson: Some Texas barbecue since the Higgs Boson and pretty much all science has been outlawed in Texas.

Tiger Woods: A marketing specialist who understands the unflattering irony of his being named “Player of the Year” for the 11th time.

Duck Dynasty: A copy of the gay porn movie The Fluffer starring Scott Gurney, the creator, producer, and marketing guy who created their show and their millions.

Miley Cyrus: Free chiropractic coupons to adjust her twerked out spine.

Any French or Italian politician: A zipper that stays zipped.

Christmas Tree

Kim Jong Un: A family member with whom to spend the holidays because you can’t spell “dead Uncle” without the “Un.”

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West: Each other — enough said.

American public: Five minutes without seeing Will Farrell hyping Ron Burgundy.

And to everyone in the Widdershin neighborhood: The best of whatever makes you the happiest.

This is an open thread awaiting your gift suggestions.

Sorry to be posting so late this fine Tuesday. Over and above having a wedding hangover, I had difficulty getting the siteHead in Sand to cooperate, but Chat jumped in and saved my bacon and Fredster has helped a technologically blind man see. In any event, I hope this is a fine day for you.

It appears that 36 hours can indeed be the time needed to cure a case of Syrian stalemate. It doesn’t take a “rocket surgeon” to see the idea of dismantling and taking possession of a 100-ton cache of nerve agents was swirling about long before John Kerry threw out his off-the-French cuff statement in London yesterday morning. Within three hours both the Russians and Syrians said, “Yep, sounds good to me,” and shortly thereafter, the U.N. was all warm and fuzzy about the prospects as well.

The attractiveness to Russia and Syria was apparent — anything to buy time, forestall further weakening of Assad, and not strengthen the rebels. The U.N. is just glad and giddy about having some productive role and again not be relegated to feckless irrelevancy.

Over and above the issue of striking Syria in retaliation for the use of nerve gas, Obama has an opportunity tonight in his primetime speech. It is an opportunity to do something that he has been pitifully incapable of doing or to which he has been stubbornly resistant. He needs to make sense of experience — one of the tenets of leadership I’ve mentioned before in this space where he is woefully lacking.

It seems to me the threat of retaliatory strikes brought some strategic logic to the Russians and Assad. All well and good, but for Obama it is merely a small piece of a much larger leadership opportunity for both him and the United States.

Given the almost isolationist mood of the country, we are still suffering from the legacy of having been lied into the Iraq War. In that respect, we are still captive and vulnerable to the failed Bush policies. While learning from mistakes is admirable, allowing mistakes to guide future acts is myopic, a recipe for inaction, and becoming a reactor instead of a catalyst.

Simply put, Obama has an opportunity tonight to put the Syrian mess into perspective. He must elevate the issue beyond the sectarian civil war, he must make the issue about the use of agents of mass murder that have no place in a civilized world. He must make sense of our collective experience of looking beyond twelve years of Iraq and Afghanistan and call to our greater angels of not allowing rogue states to commit mass genocide without repercussions.

In many ways, this isn’t about Syria, it is about Iran, North Korea, Darfur, Rwanda, and any number of other third world despots yet to rise. Obama has an opportunity to bring the country along with a greater sense of morality and ethos in relation to our fellow humans. To fail to make the case for our shared values allows us to calcify into inaction and become hardened to atrocity.

With the threat of war being no longer imminent, perhaps Obama can move the dialogue to a place where it should be — enforcing an international treaty where acts of homicidal genocide are not tolerated. That is an aspirational and quite worthy legacy.

What do you want to hear from President Obama tonight?

This is a belatedly open thread.


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