Friday. Again?

Okay, far from a favorite. But the decade is right and I’m all out of brain for the day.

Are there no safe places?

Summer in Florida and even the geckos want some of that A/C. This lad was perfectly happy on a cool wall – until the camera flashed – once (headed for cover) and then twice (nearly there!). He really didn’t have to  do that – it’s likely that his company would have been more pleasant than what I had to tolerate earlier today among members of my own species.

lizard

And somewhere Paul Wolfowitz is saying we can clean up this mess in Iraq quickly and easily and it won’t cost the price of a movie plus popcorn. For sure.

http://murfinsandburglars.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/auto-tune-news-bill-kristol-all-in.jpg?w=300

It’ll be easy. Honest.

Shamelessly do I copy/paste an entire post from Andrew Sullivan today since I just saw that battle-hardened warrior Bill Kristol on the teevee saying with a straight face what Sullivan recounts here. It was an utterly  hallucinatory experience.

Here’s Sullivan: What do you do with near-clinical fanatics who, in their own minds, never make mistakes and whose worldview remains intact even after it has been empirically dismantled in front of their eyes? In real life, you try and get them to get professional help.

In the case of those who only recently sent thousands of American servicemembers to their deaths in a utopian scheme to foment a democracy in a sectarian dictatorship, we have to merely endure their gall in even appearing in front of the cameras. But the extent of their pathology is deeper than one might expect. And so there is actually a seminar this fall, sponsored by the Hertog Foundation, which explores the origins of the terrible decision-making that led us into the worst foreign policy mistake since Vietnam. And the fair and balanced teaching team?

It will be led by Paul D. Wolfowitz, who served during the Persian Gulf War as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and as Deputy Secretary of Defense during the first years of the Iraq War, and by Lewis Libby, who served during the first war as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and during the Iraq War as Chief of Staff and National Security Adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Next spring: how the Iraq War spread human rights … by Donald Rumsfeld.

Most people are aware that relatively few of the architects of a war have fully acknowledged the extent of their error – let alone express remorse or even shame at the more than a hundred thousands civilian deaths their adventure incurred for a phony reason. No, all this time, they have been giving each other awards, lecturing congressmen and Senators, writing pieces in the Weekly Standard and the New Republic, being fellated by David Gregory, and sucking at the teet of the neocon welfare state, as if they had nothing to answer for, and nothing to explain.

Which, I suppose makes the following paragraph in Bill Kristol’s latest case for war less shocking than it should be:

Now is not the time to re-litigate either the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 or the decision to withdraw from it in 2011. The crisis is urgent, and it would be useful to focus on a path ahead rather than indulge in recriminations. All paths are now fraught with difficulties, including the path we recommend. But the alternatives of permitting a victory for al Qaeda and/or strengthening Iran would be disastrous.

But it is shocking; it is, in fact, an outrage, a shameless, disgusting abdication of all responsibility for the past combined with a sickening argument to do exactly the same fricking thing all over again. And yes, I’m not imagining. This is what these true know-nothing/learn-nothing fanatics want the US to do:

It would mean not merely conducting U.S. air strikes, but also accompanying those strikes with special operators, and perhaps regular U.S. military units, on the ground. This is the only chance we have to persuade Iraq’s Sunni Arabs that they have an alternative to joining up with al Qaeda or being at the mercy of government-backed and Iranian-backed death squads, and that we have not thrown in with the Iranians. It is also the only way to regain influence with the Iraqi government and to stabilize the Iraqi Security Forces on terms that would allow us to demand the demobilization of Shi’a militias and to move to limit Iranian influence and to create bargaining chips with Iran to insist on the withdrawal of their forces if and when the situation stabilizes.

What’s staggering is the maximalism of their goals and the lies they are insinuating into the discourse now, just as they did before.

Last time, you could ascribe it to fathomless ignorance. This time, they have no excuse. ISIS is not al Qaeda; it’s far worse in ways that even al Qaeda has noted undermine its cause rather than strengthen it. It may be strategically way over its head already. And the idea that the US has to fight both ISIS and Iran simultaneously is so unhinged and so self-evidently impossible to contain or control that only these feckless fools would even begin to suggest it. Having empowered Iran by dismantling Iraq, Kristol actually wants the US now to enter a live war against ISIS and the Quds forces. You begin to see how every military catastrophe can be used to justify the next catastrophe. It’s a perfect circle for the neocons’ goal of the unending war. I don’t know what to say about it really. It shocks in its solipsism; stuns in its surrealism; chills in its callousness and recklessness. So perhaps the only response is to republish what this charlatan was saying in 2003 in a tone utterly unchanged from his tone today, with a certainty which was just as faked then as it is now. Read carefully and remember he has recanted not a word of it:

February 2003 (from his book, “The War Over Iraq“):  According to one estimate, initially as many as 75,000 troops may be required to police the war’s aftermath, at a cost of $16 billion a year. As other countries’ forces arrive, and as Iraq rebuilds its economy and political system, that force could probably be drawn down to several thousand soldiers after a year or two.

February 24, 2003:  “Having defeated and then occupied Iraq, democratizing the country should not be too tall an order for the world’s sole superpower.”

March 5, 2003: “We’ll be vindicated when we discover the weapons of mass destruction.”

April 1 2003: “On this issue of the Shia in Iraq, I think there’s been a certain amount of, frankly, Terry, a kind of pop sociology in America that, you know, somehow the Shia can’t get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There’s almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq’s always been very secular.”

Yes, “always been very secular”. Always. Would you buy a used pamphlet from this man – let alone another full scale war in Iraq?

Who lost Iraq?

Who lost Iraq? Two views:

Fareed Zacharia says that first, above all, Nouri Al-Maliki lost it.

The prime minister and his ruling party have behaved like thugs, excluding the Sunnis from power, using the army, police forces and militias to terrorize their opponents. The insurgency the Maliki government faces today was utterly predictable because, in fact, it happened before. From 2003 onward, Iraq faced a Sunni insurgency that was finally tamped down by Gen. David Petraeus, who said explicitly at the time that the core element of his strategy was political, bringing Sunni tribes and militias into the fold. The surge’s success, he often noted, bought time for a real power-sharing deal in Iraq that would bring the Sunnis into the structure of the government. . .

But how did Maliki come to be prime minister of Iraq? He was the product of a series of momentous decisions made by the Bush administration. Having invaded Iraq with a small force — what the expert Tom Ricks called “the worst war plan in American history” — the administration needed to find local allies. It quickly decided to destroy Iraq’s Sunni ruling establishment and empower the hard-line Shiite religious parties that had opposed Saddam Hussein. This meant that a structure of Sunni power that had been in the area for centuries collapsed. These moves — to disband the army, dismantle the bureaucracy [Moe: thank you Paul Bremmer you creep] and purge Sunnis in general — might have been more consequential than the invasion itself.

Dexter Filkins, noting among other things that the border between Iraq and Syria has been erased, names three causes: 1) the Syrian war, and 2)  Al-Maliki, whose thuggery since the US withdrawal (which itself was necessitated in part by his absolute refusal to sign the usual Status of Forces Agreement to provide legal protections to remaining US Troops), and 3) . . .

Which brings us to the third reason. When the Americans invaded, in March, 2003, they destroyed the Iraqi state—its military, its bureaucracy, its police force, and most everything else that might hold a country together. They spent the next nine years trying to build a state to replace the one they crushed. By 2011, by any reasonable measure, the Americans had made a lot of headway but were not finished with the job . . .

Today, many Iraqis, including some close to Maliki, say that a small force of American soldiers—working in non-combat roles—would have provided a crucial stabilizing factor that is now missing from Iraq.

So Bush broke it and Obama left before it was finished (I’m surprised that Filkins beleives we could ever actually ‘finish’ it). By the way, Filkins is a war correspondent of the ‘old school’ and spent years in Iraq during the war and his book about that time, The Forever War, is just stunning.

 

Could it be 55 years since ‘the music died’? Yes, it could.

In the Oldie comments, Jim Wheeler reminded me that Bobby Vee’s career was launched in February 1959 (The Day The Music Died) when he went on for Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper after their plane went down.

Then that reminded me of this – an astonishing and very entertaining lip-dub performed by the whole damn city of Grand Rapids. I think I posted it a few years ago, but it’s always worth another visit. Enjoy.

We time-travel on Fridays

A Robin Williams quote for the collection

“The Second Amendment says we have the right to bear arms, not to bear artillery.”

Oh damn them damn them and damn them again

When (perhaps ‘if’ but I’m not hopeful) Iraq dissolves and brings eastern Syria and Kurdistan with it and the region falls into a few more decades of war, I will remember Paul Wolfowitz assuring the Senate before our 2003 invasion that ‘there is no history of sectarian violence in Iraq’. Really, he said that. In a neighborhood where sectarian war has been the norm for  a thousand years. He said that.

Damn them all.

Full blown ‘eating their own’ commences, picks up speed

Limbaugh Attacks Fox’s Brit Hume And “Fox News Leadership” Over Immigration Reform

AND

NRA’s Ted Nugent: Eric Cantor Practices Nazi-Style Politics

Headlines today at Media Matters.

Ornstein says ‘nihilists’ and he always knows what he’s talking about

Norm Ornstein chimed in this morning on the near future of the GOP. He views Cantor’s loss less as the beginning of a populist trend and more a preview of intracine battles yet to come in the party. It’s here.

He sets it up with pitch perfect – and delightful – disdain for our fickle media narrative:

The new dominant narrative, of course, is that the Tea Party rose up, struck back, showed its muscle and has the party establishment on its heels. That replaces the previous narrative, that the establishment rose up, struck back, and has the Tea Party on its heels.

And wraps with this:

American political parties always face a tension between their establishment and ideological wings. On the Republican side, going back more than a hundred years to the Teddy Roosevelt era, that was a struggle between moderate progressives and conservatives.

Now it is different. There are no moderates or progressives in today’s GOP; the fight is between hard-line conservatives who believe in smaller government and radical nihilists who want to blow up the whole thing, who have as much disdain for Republican traditional conservatives as they do for liberals.

Always worth a look is old Norm.

Here’s the best news out of that Virginia primary

Okay, we all know now that a very powerful entrenched leader of the national Republican Party and the US House was tossed out by a previously unknown opponent. That’s the politics.

But for the rest of us, it’s more than politics. It’s hope. Eric Cantor outspent his challenger by 26 to 1 and lost. Cantor campaign spent OVER $5,000,000;  Brat spent $200,000.

Money got a big fat slap upside the face last night. Sleep better tonight – everything looks more possible today.

Executive Orders – a journey through time

Here are totals by President for all Executive Orders (numbers from The American Presidency Project, a fascinating data-loaded site).

The WW presidents – Wilson, FDR, Truman show big numbers which is logical. Hoover was the Depression. TR and Taft: that was the trust-busting era so maybe that explains their big numbers. But mostly, there’s not much of a story to be told here – they go up and they go down. Regularly.

At five years in, Obama looks like he could fall behind every president but two since WWII.

George Washington 8
John Adams 1
Thomas Jefferson 4
James Madison 1
James Monroe 1
John Quincy Adams 3
Andrew Jackson 12
Martin van Buren 10
William Henry Harrison 0
John Tyler 17
James K. Polk 18
Zachary Taylor 5
Millard Fillmore 12
Franklin Pierce 35
James Buchanan 16
Abraham Lincoln 48
Andrew Johnson 79
Ulysses S. Grant 217
Rutherford B. Hayes 92
James Garfield 6
Chester Arthur 96
Grover Cleveland (I) – 113
Benjamin Harrison 143
Grover Cleveland (II) – 140
William McKinley 185
Theodore Roosevelt 1,081
William Howard Taft 724
Woodrow Wilson 1,803
Warren G. Harding 522
Calvin Coolidge 1,203
Herbert Hoover 968
Franklin D. Roosevelt 3,522
Harry S. Truman 907
Dwight D. Eisenhower 484
John F. Kennedy 214
Lyndon B. Johnson 325
Richard Nixon 346
Gerald R. Ford 169
Jimmy Carter 320
Ronald Reagan 381
George Bush 166
William J. Clinton 364
George W. Bush 291
Barack Obama 168

Dragon slayer

What!!?? What??!!!

What!!?? What??!!!

Eric Cantor lost his primary? Pigs are flying. The deed was done by a first time candidate, an economics professor who pretty much ran on immigration (he’s not for it). He had lottsa support from . . . wait for it . . . the Tea Party. (Actually, he may not be ‘of’ them, but was popular with them for what it’s worth.)

An amateur took down the (presumed) next Speaker of the House. Holy hobbyhorselobby!

I understand that yesterday was Friday

A lovely reprise performance in 1981 at their Central Park reunion concert:

(21 Million hits recorded at you tube. Wow.)

Just delightful

From the AP: He was too late to get into a sponsored trip, so . . .

LONDON (AP) — An 89-year old World War II veteran who was reported missing from a nursing home in England has been found in Normandy after traveling to attend D-Day commemorations, police said Friday.

Bernard Jordan was last seen at The Pines home in Hove, southern England, on Thursday morning. Staff called police when he did not return that evening.

I agree with every word

Frank Bruni today in the New York Times writes of the vast distance between those in uniform and the celebrity pundits busily passing judgement on a soldier. Pundits, most of whom have never even tried on a uniform. Good column. He also says this:

This has been an emotional, messy and confusing week, which ends with as many questions as answers. One of mine concerns the Obama administration: Is there anyone there doing serious messaging strategy? Anyone stepping back to consider how a story like this one is likely to unfold and how the administration may get tripped up in it?

When Susan Rice (rightly or wrongly) carries around that Benghazi baggage, how do you send her of all emissaries onto TV to talk up the “honor and distinction” of Bergdahl’s military service? This characterization was sure to be disputed; there was countervailing evidence in circulation even as she spoke. How do you fail to realize that this is going to come back to bite you? Incredible.

That’ll show ’em!

bildeA fierce band of protesters – self-described ‘Patriots’ – stormed the old neighborhood yesterday:

A dozen or so protesters wearing red, white and blue showed up at Mote Marine Laboratory to protest World Environment Day, a UN Program hosted by the County this year.

There were signs of course – the kind that shatter world views:

“Sun makes climate change. Not man.”

“Save the U.S. from the UN.”

They even had a spokesman (can’t have all eleven talking at once):

“We’re here because we’re concerned with the involvement of the United Nations in Sarasota and the United States . . . There is no reason for them to be here. Oceans do not rise. Temperature has not risen in 17 years. There is no such thing as man-made climate change.”

I’m convinced.

If you breathe and speak, that’s enough for the couch at Fox & Friends

On another matter: here are some earlier visitors (you know who they are, don't you!) to the couch sporting some 'non-Muslim beards'.

On another matter: here are some earlier visitors (you know who they are, don’t you!) to the couch sporting some ‘non-Muslim beards’.

This dude, on the other hand, is clearly sporting a gen-u-ine "Muslim beard".

This here, though, is clearly a gen-u-ine “Muslim beard” (according to Brian Kilmeade, the one who isn’t Steve Doocy).

On the couch at Fox & Friends this morning, let us hear Keith Ablow – FOX’s ‘psychiatric consultant’ – look deeply into Bergdahl’s participation in a ballet some years back:

“The fact that he was a dancer and a lifter — not a weightlifter, but I guess he would lift the ballerina — what does that mean?” Brian Kilmeade asked, with an assist from fellow host Steve Doocy.

“Supposedly he was recruited by these girls to have that role,” Ablow replied. “I think front and center on any stage is this guy’s M.O.: unless it doesn’t feed him narcissistically — you can’t give him a job unless you’re going to tell him you’re the star and we’re going to keep you at a throttle of twelve out of ten.”

And then the pinpoint turn: “I’ve been saying it before, Barack Obama does not have the will of the American people, Americanism, in his soul. This swap, somebody who may not feel very American for five people who definitely don’t, is symptomatic of that. It was bound to happen when you have a leader who doesn’t affiliate with patriotism.”

“Well, he definitely wanted out of Afghanistan and maybe it’s his way of closing GTMO regardless of the consequences,” Doocy said.

“He wants out of America, my friend,” Ablow said. “Trust me.”

Ablow prefaced the entire exchange by conceding he had not evaluated Bergdahl or his parents “formally,” which is TV-psychospeak for “at all.”

That would be this Ablow (Wikipedia):

While providing Fox News television “medical analysis*” of the October 11th, 2012 Vice Presidential debate, Ablow strongly and repeatedly suggested that some of Vice President Joe Biden‘s behaviors, such as interruptions of the opposing candidate and what he believed to be excessive laughter, might mean that he should be evaluated for dementia, alcoholism, or other conditions.[22] “I’m not diagnosing him,” he clarified. “I haven’t evaluated him. But psychological testing – It’s anyone’s guess what it would show.”

*’Medical analysis’ –  who in that god-forsaken place assigns a ‘medical analyst’ to debate commentary?

In a sane world . . .

. . . upon hearing about this, every political leader in the freakin’ world would should be shouting ‘tell me more!”

Beach season! And, it’s Friday

 

On Demand is really annoying me

1381719_10152397079184657_408001691_nOr maybe it’s the damn networks’ fault. Or Obama’s. Or Bush’s. (Hey, I’m going with Bush. That’s always easy.)

For about a year now, and increasingly, recorded shows cut off before the last-minute or two. So f**k me.

I always watch Jon Stewart the next morning while getting breakfast. And I have never seen his ‘Moment of Zen’ in its entirety. Never.

The TV Guide is at least honest about what’s coming . . . they list the real run time – for instance, 8:00 – 9:01.

Have these folk noticed that live streaming is biting at their tails? I’d say it’s a heck of a time to get your viewers angry.

A re-telling: ‘Fridays at the Pentagon’

image002 (3)I came to be familiar with the writings of Lt. Col. Robert Bateman, in the early days of the Iraq war via Eric Alterman’s blog  Altercation, then housed at Media Matters, where Bateman was a frequent contributor and where this story first appeared. I posted it in 2012. So here again – for Memorial Day 2014 – as Eric used to say: “here’s Bateman”:

“It is 110 yards from the ‘E’ ring to the ‘A’ ring of the Pentagon. This section of the Pentagon is newly renovated; the floors shine, the hallway is broad, and the lighting is bright. At this instant the entire length of the corridor is packed with officers, a few sergeants and some civilians, all crammed tightly three and four deep against the walls. There are thousands here.

“This hallway, more than any other, is the ‘Army’ hallway. The G3 offices line one side, G2 the other, G8 is around the corner. All Army. Moderate conversations flow in a low buzz. Friends who may not have seen each other for a few weeks, or a few years, spot each other, cross the way and renew. Everyone shifts to ensure an open path remains down the center. The air conditioning system was not designed for this press of bodies in this area. The temperature is rising already. Nobody cares.

“10:36 hours: The clapping starts at the E-Ring. That is the outermost of the five rings of the Pentagon and it is closest to the entrance to the building. This clapping is low, sustained, hearty. It is applause with a deep emotion behind it as it moves forward in a wave down the length of the hallway.

“A steady rolling wave of sound it is, moving at the pace of the soldier in the wheelchair who marks the forward edge with his presence. He is the first. He is missing the greater part of one leg, and some of his wounds are still suppurating. By his age I expect that he is a private, or perhaps a private first class.

“Captains, majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels meet his gaze and nod as they applaud, soldier to soldier. Three years ago when I described one of these events, those lining the hallways were somewhat different. The applause a little wilder, perhaps in private guilt for not having shared in the burden … yet.

“Now almost everyone lining the hallway is, like the man in the wheelchair, also a combat veteran. This steadies the applause, but I think deepens the sentiment. We have all been there now. The soldier’s chair is pushed by, I believe, a full colonel.

“Behind him, and stretching the length from Rings E to A, come more of his peers, each private, corporal or sergeant assisted as need be by a field grade officer.

“11:00 hours: Twenty-four minutes of steady applause. My hands hurt, and I laugh to myself at how stupid that sounds in my own head. ‘My hands hurt.’ Christ. Shut up and clap. For twenty-four minutes, soldier after soldier has come down this hallway — 20, 25, 30. Fifty-three legs come with them, and perhaps only 52 hands or arms, but down this hall came 30 solid hearts.

“They pass down this corridor of officers and applause, and then meet for a private lunch, at which they are the guests of honor, hosted by the generals. Some are wheeled along. Some insist upon getting out of their chairs, to march as best they can with their chin held up, down this hallway, through this most unique audience. Some are catching handshakes and smiling like a politician at a Fourth of July parade. More than a couple of them seem amazed and are smiling shyly.

“There are families with them as well: the 18-year-old war-bride pushing her 19-year-old husband’s wheelchair and not quite understanding why her husband is so affected by this, the boy she grew up with, now a man, who had never shed a tear is crying; the older immigrant Latino parents who have, perhaps more than their wounded mid-20s son, an appreciation for the emotion given on their son’s behalf. No man in that hallway, walking or clapping, is ashamed by the silent tears on more than a few cheeks. An Airborne Ranger wipes his eyes only to better see. A couple of the officers in this crowd have themselves been a part of this parade in the past.

“These are our men, broken in body they may be, but they are our brothers, and we welcome them home. This parade has gone on, every single Friday, all year long, for more than four years.”

 

Even worse, this must have made sense to someone

Blogfriend IzaakMac at I Want Ice Water! made me chuckle this morning (regular funnies over there).

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Friday? Aggghhhh . . . .

Oh really John, again?

Here’s a surprise: John McCain thinks we should send Special Forces into Nigeria (I guess they’re still available since we didn’t succumb to his calls for military action the last eleven times).region_1

“If they knew where they were, I certainly would send in U.S. troops to rescue them, in a New York minute I would, without permission of the host country,” McCain told The Daily Beast on Tuesday. “I wouldn’t be waiting for some kind of permission from some guy named Goodluck Jonathan,” he added, referring to the president of Nigeria . . .

Minor qualifier there (“if they knew where they were”) but hey, a headline is a headline. And it’s always very helpful to deeply insult that country’s leader.

“I would not be involved in the niceties of getting the Nigerian government to agree, because if we did rescue these people, there would be nothing but gratitude from the Nigerian government, such as it is,” he said.

We always know how citizens of sovereign nations will react when we barge in. Just like in Iraq.

And this is why Florida’s (!) Marco Rubio gets away with saying such stupid stuff

Truth be told though, I think his latest and very vigorous climate change denial (‘climate changes all the time”) is going to come back and bite him in his soft ass.

From the venerable Union of Concerned Scientists:

https://i0.wp.com/www.ucsusa.org/assets/images/gw/Accuracy-Climate-Science-Segments-Cable-News-Networks-2013-Chart.jpg

I do. All the time. It’s like a voice in my head.

Picture1

Plus I yell at the TeeVee. I’ll bet you do too.

Jam it in and keep ’em steaming mad!

This looks exactly right to me. It’s FOX after all. Plus I’m too lazy to go any deeper than reading this post at Andrew Sullivan’s (gay conservative Catholic now disowned by the right for something-or-other) blog, The Dish.

Obamacare

So why? Demonizing Obamacare is not working quite as well anymore as polls show more acceptance among Americans. But Benghazi? Oooooh, a shiny object that will – once again – do just fine for now to fuel the outrage machine until Monica/Hillary crowds it out.

Oh yeah, good times ahead.

Fridays keep on comin’

Tis the season

Friday: and there is still much ‘old’ out there

Umm, just how gay is this?