The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘syria

As sure as orange is the color of prison jumpsuits, these days monumental events fall prey to the 140-charactered immaculate misconceptions of POTUS (Putrefaction of the Umber Scrotum). As the King of Siam said, “So let it be written. So let it be done.” The Umber Scrotum took this to heart and added his dribbling drivel of, “I only regret that I have but 140 characters to tweet for my country.”

In the list of shortest reigns, at 84-days the “Persimmon Putintate” is fast approaching the record of Emperor Pertinax of Rome. Pertinax lasted 86-days before being beaten to death by the Praetorian Guards. His passing was fortuitous since shortly thereafter the Praetorians separated his head from his body, placed it upon a pike, and led a parade with it.

These tangerine-hued 84-days have not been without palace intrigue. Much to the chagrin of all ground beef-faced Americans, it appears Steve Bannon’s sell-by date has come and gone. Even his dead-eyed mini-me, Steve Miller, has broken pucker and in true remora fish symbiosis firmly attached himself to the Kingdom of Kushner.

Many progressives believe the devolution of Bannon into yogurt is positive. Color me unconvinced. Dolt 45, while not yet starting a war, is liable to leave devastation just as formidable in his wake.

Let’s review. If Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is beating the nativist tribal drums, while Scott Pruitt is figuring out how to incorporate asbestos and pesticides into our diets, with Budget Director Dick Mick Mulvaney proclaiming a goal of high inequality, and Gary Cohn running the economy as an asterisk to the Goldman Sachs balance sheet, the Dolt 45 administration is a conservative Cialis-palooza.

For instance, Granny Sessions, a man who was too racist to be confirmed as federal judge 30-years ago, has in the last few weeks:

Indicated a desire to roll back civil rights oversight of abusive police departments, stampeded over states’ objections to immigration enforcement raids at courthousesdropped efforts to improve forensic science, directed federal prosecutors to dedicate a larger share of their resources to deporting immigrantslaunched a new crackdown on high-tech guest worker visas, and indicated a desire to bring back old-school “war on drugs” policies, including a stepped-up federal crackdown on marijuana use.

Or let’s look at the influence of Goldman Sachs. Here’s the picture of the Mar-a-Lago ersatz Situation Room last weekend surrounding the Syrian deserted airfield cafeteria bombing.

In this picture, not counting the soldier at the door, there are fourteen people. Of those fourteen, eight have either worked for or borrowed money from Goldman Sachs.

These things alone will not add Dolt 45 to the Emperor Pertinax list. It will be the cold hard reality of numbers. Since I have trouble counting to 21 with my shoes on, here’s a picture.

 

Now for some perspective – in the United States there might be 12,200 lobbyists nationwide. We have a better idea of foreign agents since by law they must register. By a recent count, there were about 1,700 registered foreign agents.

So in a country of 320 Million souls, the odds of running into a free-range lobbyist are really slim, like 0.00004. The odds of running into a registered foreign agent on the hoof are even slimmer, 0.000005.

By their own admission, the OrangeCursed campaign had only about 40 key staffers and barely 100 advisers. The question becomes:  How did the campaign have, not one, but two retroactively registered foreign agents? And how, out of 320 Million people, did eleven putrid peons with ties to Putin’s Russia find their way to Trump Tower just in time for this hootenanny?

In their conclusory paragraph on Russian collusion in the 2016 election, The Guardian says:

One source suggested the official investigation was making progress. “They now have specific concrete and corroborative evidence of collusion,” the source said. “This is between people in the Trump campaign and agents of [Russian] influence relating to the use of hacked material.”

So let it be written. So let it be done.

 

 

What’s on your mind today?

 

Good Friday afternoon Widdershinners.  I’m assuming everyone survived Fat Tuesday and is joyful in their Lentous deprivation.

First, thanks goes to DYB for his insightful and personal post on Tuesday concerning the Ukraine crisis.  I hope that was his first of many contributions to the Widdersphere.

It’s a nasty little fact, but at some point in a democracy someone has to govern.  Unfortunately, governing by the Sneering John McCainsound bite and Twitter-wisdom seems to be the new order of the day.  Any issue lasting longer than one news cycle is so 2010.  If something isn’t dissected, answered, and solved within 24-hours, something must be wrong since no crisis should go unadorned by the comical stylings of the punditocracy.

With the rooster not having crowed on the third day, John McCain had worked up a terminal case of mouth-frothing spit pearls over the Ukraine situation.  In front of AIPAC, he went into full-blown Clint Eastwood mode — not the genial Clint conversing with an empty stool, but the Gran Torino Eastwood of “get off my yard” dialed up to “get off my planet!”

Kindly not publicly using the “f-bomb” he utilized the alliteration of “feckless foreign policy” before an AIPAC crowd whose lack of foreign policy understanding is only surpassed by their eagerness to “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.”  Even though “consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds,” it might be illustrative to take a short walk back through recent history to catalogue the reactionary nature exhibited by “Dirty Harry” McCain.

Since 2008, whereupon Russia invaded Georgia and McCain declared, “We are all Georgians,” he has advocated to stay in Iraq, stay in Afghanistan, use force in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Pakistan, and most ominously, Iran.  If there is a fire, there’s nothing like a good dose of kerosene.

Lindsey Graham TutuThen you have his fraternal twin, Lady Lindsey, who went all Girl, Interrupted about Russia.  The Lady declared every time the President talked about foreign policy he found himself a victim of uncontrollable eye-rolling — not an all together unique facial tic given its predominance when the Lady hikes up his crinoline and does the cancan for the boys down at the D.C. Manhole.

This type of conduct didn’t used to be acceptable or tolerated.  Politics was supposed to end at the water’s edge, but not any more.  Even Republican Robert Gates has taken to the editorial pages to tell these blustering blovinators to “cool it!”

The unwillingness to take the mantle of governance isn’t just in foreign policy, it is rampant on the domestic front as well.  Another vote to repeal Obamacare, the fiftieth in fact, another show hearing to repeat the mantra of Benghazi, IRS, or Fast and Furious, and then call it a good legislative day.

On Wednesday, after Darrell Issa had flogged and fluffed on Fox News Sunday about Lois Lerner being ready to talk about the IRS, she again did as she was instructed months ago and invoked the Fifth Amendment.  Issa claimed her attorney said she was ready to testify.  Of course back in the world of reality, Lerner’s attorney denies any such conversation.

In his zeal to put a ribbon around Wednesday’s “show hearing,” Issa actually cut off the microphone of Rep. Elijah Cummings — a violation of the House rules and an unheard of breach of decorum for any committee, not just one chaired by someone who invented a thingamabob called the “Viper Alert.”

Darrell Issa

Darrell Isn’t

Issa’s committee has received over a half-million documents, there has been a full independent investigative exoneration of each and every accusation, and the government has spent to date, $14,000,000 on a fool’s errand of chasing a unicorn of conspiracy.  As inconvenient as they might be, facts are stubborn things.

Is there any karmic doubt about why Issa’s name is an anagram for “I ass.”

Just last week, I wrote about the Republicans railing against the uber-presidency, monarchy, totalitarian government, and imperiousness.  A week later, he is now feckless, ineffective, and inviting global upheaval while he’s Benghazing, IRSing, and rounding up guns here at home.

Dana Milbank calls it “Operation Oxymoron” while I think it is more like a Monty Python skit of a “gelatinous Godzilla?”  No matter how critics couch it, we would all be better off if the next time someone cries, “Lights, camera, reaction,” the ensuing words surprised everyone and for a change concentrated on “good policy“.

This is an open thread.

Our dear friend Prolix has made some very good points about moral outrage lately. I do heartily agree that it seems to be no longer the done thing to say, “It’s the right thing to do.” It’s just so square, so unironic; and at least for those of my generation (X), a day without irony is like a day without chocolate. It’s dull as George Bush’s thousand-yard stare.

My point of view about Syria is, however, that killing children is always wrong. If I am going to be outraged when Assad does it, then I am going to be twice as outraged when American war hawks do it. (Because let’s face it, Americans should be better than third-century Bronze Age buffoons like Assad.)

Remember our last attempt at “regime change” because a Middle Eastern dictator “gassed his own people”? (With our gas, I might add – thank you, Donald Rumsfeld.) How did that work out for Iraqi children?

Counting the Dead

A survey published in January 2008, conducted in August and September 2007 by Opinion Research Business, a British polling firm, in conjunction with Iraq’s Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society Studies found that about 20% of households surveyed had lost at least one member, and estimated that 1.03 million people had died in the war with a 95% certainty for a number of deaths between 946,000 and 1.12 million.

The deaths of so many men, women and children have had an enormous impact on Iraqi society. According to the Iraqi government,around 4.5 million children have lost one or both parents (almost 1 in 3) and approximately 600 000 children are living on the streets. Child labour has increased with 15% of children under the age of 14 now working.  There are now between 1 and 3 million widows in Iraq, many struggling as heads of households and living in extreme poverty.

So far this year (July 2012) 49 children have been killed and 169 injured in the violence.

I am not AT ALL suggesting that our Prolix is for war. However, I do think that advocating for regime change in the Middle East never helps the children we may rightfully want to rescue.

On a slightly more ironic note, we should never allow a maniac like Assad to make us look like the bad guys. John Kerry, you are just inept. Thank goodness Hillary got out before this mountain of cr*p erupted.

“The words of the Syrian regime in our judgement are simply not enough, which is why we’ve come here in order to work with the Russians,” John Kerry told reporters in Geneva ahead of high-stakes talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on the thorny issue of Syria‘s chemical weapons.

He warned it was also up to the Russians to show that they could “deliver on the promise of the moment” after Moscow proposed a plan earlier this week to eliminate Syria’s deadly weapons stock.

But Mr Kerry highlighted that the US and Russia still disagreed on who carried out a suspected sarin gas attack near Damascus last month, which Washington says killed 1,400 people.

“The Russian delegation has put some ideas forward and we’re grateful for that. We respect it. And we have prepared our own principles that any plan to accomplish this needs to encompass [emphasis mine],” Mr Kerry stressed, before a room packed with reporters from around the world.

Okay, first of all, nice syntax, John. I wouldn’t say it was Dubya-worthy, but I think HW Bush might have said something similar at some point.

Second of all, we are now looking like the aggressors because we practically declared war on yet another country that didn’t attack us, for the most contrived and inconsistent of reasons. We have Iraq, Afghanistan and Gitmo taunting us as we attempt to preach against attacking and killing civilians, so “It’s only bad when someone else does it” is not really a stance I’m comfortable embracing.

I’m not sure what else to say on this topic, except that I am really, really tired of the MIC being in charge of our country.  I feel like I’m in a Dustin Hoffman movie, only this film isn’t clever, funny or even ironic.

It’s just a d*mn tragedy.

This is an open thread.

A super superlative Friday to you my Widdershin friends.  Here’s hoping the day is a great one.

To borrow the words of Sherlock Holmes, “There’s something afoot.”  There are indeed ill-winds blowing when it comes Core Valuesto our shared values.

The Syrian situation got me thinking about sustainable values — an essential element of leadership.  Values are those things we all come to have through our environmental socialization process.  We all have a core set of values.  They just differ in their makeup, intensity, and number.

The core values of some people are unmistakably pronounced.  The core values of others are hidden beneath layer upon layer of unattractive and unacceptable behaviors, but make no mistake they are there.  In speaking and teaching about core values, I firmly believe, “It makes little difference what an individual’s core values are, just that an individual has some sustaining values to serve as moral and ethical guideposts.  The most dangerous leader is the one who has no discernible core values or at the very least, negotiable core values.”

Politicians often prattle on about American exceptionalism.  For what it’s worth, if there is such a thing as American exceptionalism, it has been based in our societal values.  Regrettably for us and the world, those values seem to be waning.

The Syrian situation is a good example.  In our not too distant past, using weaponized chemical agents to indiscriminately kill children and non-combatants would have been an unspeakable atrocity to Americans — an assault upon our collective values.  Now, by a margin of almost two and a half to one, we hang and shake our heads, shuffle our feet and say, “Not our problem, no national interest over there.”

Another example of eroding values is cutting food stamps to millions of the poorest among us in order to funnel tax cuts and tens of billions in non-productive agricultural supports to multi-national agri-corporations.  It has indeed been a fast erosion of values when a $3.00 a day food allowance for the poorest of children falls victim to corporate largesse.

Take for example the decades of our collective chagrin at low voter turnout.  In this age of new values, state legislatures with the imprimatur of the Supreme Court can’t legislate fast enough to make it almost impossible through de facto disenfranchisement for large segments of voters to vote.

Or look at our borders where innocent babies were brought to this country, have grown up here, been educated here, speak perfect English, and know no other home, but now we can’t find a place for them in our new value system.

Value Word BubbleWithout a sustainable set of values, we become a rudderless raft susceptible to the ever-changing whims of fate and circumstance.  Without values, the “shining city on a hill” dims from a beacon to an afterthought.

The incentive to deemphasize our once unequivocal values is intense.  The conservative infotainment complex is awash with untested and fictitious stories to complete the day’s narrative.  Progressives wince and refrain from doing the heavy-lifting when it comes to standing against the political tide.  Both sides too keenly eye the next election cycle when it comes promoting sustainable values in the face of political expediency.

When confronted with tough choices in defense of a position, I have too often found myself muttering, “It’s the right thing to do.”  That is stupid.  I feel stupid as soon as I say it.  Trial and error have taught me something.

Without logical or emotional antecedent or predicate, to utter, “It’s the right thing to do,” lays one bare to the rabid rejoinders of those stoked with the anger of their unknown demons.  I’ve found it much more useful to cast away the general for the specific by asking:

“Is it the right thing to allow children to be gassed?”

“Is it the right thing to allow children to go hungry for corporate giveaways?”

“Is it the right thing to make it more difficult to vote?”

“Is it the right thing to tear children away from the only home they have ever known?”

Only the hardest hearts and the most cynically bankrupt minds could deny those values.  We have an obligation to one another to do a better job of reminding ourselves of the values that once made us exceptional.

This is an open thread.

New Yorkers Protest War on Syria

Well, it’s 9/11 today, and instead of writing a gloomy blog about how we are doomed to be at war with Syria, it looks like I can report that we may have narrowly averted war with a country which a) didn’t attack us and b) didn’t declare war on us. Obama seems to still want to keep the door open for a possible strike, which, if you remember my post last week about the linkages between Syria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the hoped-for natural gas pipeline, only makes sense. The “some people say” writers at the Atlantic Journal Constitution took a sampling of the reactions: they weren’t positive.

Mike Corrao, a pharmaceutical drug rep from Milwaukee, said Obama’s speech left him confused about the next steps. He said he was conflicted by the overall situation — upset about the use of chemical weapons, but unable to fathom how a U.S. missile strike would make things better. He said all Obama’s speech did was cloud the issue, especially in regard to how an attack would accomplish any meaningful goal.

“I’m against any attack but if you’re going to do it the purpose should be to punish or disarm” the Syrian leader, said Corrao, 35. “Even in his stated goals he used the word ‘deter.’ If you’re going to do a strike make it mean something.”

Yeah um, I have to agree with Mike here. Deterrence only happens BEFORE you bomb. Death is what happens AFTER. Just say it, you mealy-mouthed, useless DINO!

Ahem. Anyway, there is a TeeVee in the corridor in the place where I’m working, and it was broadcasting Faux (we are in Texas, y’all). One of the worst things about this whole Syria debacle from a US perspective, is that we have to see these same f*cking idiots mouthing off about foreign policy, pre-running for 2016. (Note to Rick Santorum : For the love of Jeebus, just stop it. You have the brains of an artichoke, infelicitously combined with the charisma of a sodden napkin.)

Despite the constant yammering of the media and our politicians, we didn’t go to war this time. I am one of those people, as you know, who actively and vigorously protested against the Iraq War, marching in the streets along with 250,000 others. I have to wonder, why didn’t we stop the war then, but we may have succeeded now?

I don’t have an answer, but I do have a fun poll for you. Let me know what you think!

In the meantime, this is a Syrian, September The 11th, Iraqian, Obamian open thread.

I have watched with a growing sense of deja vu as the Military Industrial Complex gears itself up to sell yet another quagmire in the Middle East to the bleary-eyed American public. Look, there’s John Kerry on the TeeVee saying there’s proof of chemical weapons use in Syria!

Unveiling a U.S. intelligence report on Syria’s use of chemical weapons, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Friday the evidence shows President Bashar Assad’s government killed at least 1,429 of its own citizens in a “crime against humanity” that demands an international response.

Kerry, trying to overcome doubts about the Obama’s administration’s anticipated military strike on Syria, said the intelligence community has documented with “high confidence,” from “thousands of sources,” that Syrian forces prepared for days to attack entrenched rebel forces and then, on Aug. 21, fired gas-filled shells that killed at least 426 children, as well as adults.

“This is evidence,” Kerry said in an appearance at the State Department. “These are facts. The primary question is what are we … going to do about it?”

Wow. Dare I say that this evidence appears…indisputable?

“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass  destruction.” – Dick Cheney, August 26 2002

Six days before the  U.S. sent troops to Iraq, Cheney said “We believe Iraq has, in fact,  reconstituted nuclear weapons” [Meet the Press, 3/7/03]. This echoed his June,  2002 speech in which he said the same thing. He made these claims while offering  no evidence, and despite the fact that “the CIA sent two memos to the White  House in October voicing strong doubts about a claim President Bush made three  months later in the State of the Union address that Iraq was trying to buy  nuclear material in Africa” [Washington Post, 7/23/03]. As ex Cia  analyst Ray McGovern has asserted , falsified documents which were meant to show  that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein regime had been trying to procure yellowcake uranium  from Niger can be traced straight back to Cheney’s office.

According to  McGovern, former CIA Director George Tenet told his “coterie of malleable  managers” at the CIA to create a National Intelligence Estimate “to the terms of  reference of Dick Cheney’s speech of August 26, 2002, where Dick Cheney said for  the first time Saddam Hussein could have a nuclear weapon in a year, he’s got  all kinds of chemical, he’s got all kinds of biological weapons.”

Here’s how widespread this reaction must be: When I searched for the Dick Cheney quote, I clicked on a link to CNN from 2002. The link re-directed me to the home page of CNN, which had this headline: “Kerry on Syria: This isn’t Iraq, we’ve got the proof.” The comparisons are that obvious.

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