Republican Treason

It wasn’t enough for Trey Gowdy and a gang of Relublican assholes to meddle in foreign policy by writing directly to Iran – a pretentious and vain effort to undermine a sitting president in the exercise of his exclusive authority to negotiate with foreign governments and which flirted with the line between being an asshole and being a traitor.
In the wake of President Obama’s announcement of a negotiated agreement with Iran regarding their nuclear program, the Republicans have unanimously curled into the fetal position and begun crying like red-headed stepchildren.
Perhaps if they hadn’t marched in lockstep opposition to every single thing the president has ever attempted to do – and not as a matter of principle but as a matter of determined ratfucking – they would still have a single tattered shred of credibility on which to hang their mewling, pants-wetting objections.
They opposed health care reform (an idea cooked up by their own greedhead hacks at the Heritage Foundation), supported DADT and DOMA, and rejoiced over Hobby Lobby but screamed about activist judges and tyranny at Obergefell. They are petulant fucking children who expect and demand that everything – every single fucking thing – be determined in their favour. Always.

Nevertheless, let’s be specific here. They are shedding tears today for the death of all things good, right and true as evidenced by this specific deal with Iran. Some history may be illuminating:
In 1953 Republicans acting in the service of British Petroleum sent the CIA to assassinate the democratically elected leader of Iran, Mossadeq, and install the brutal, tyrannical murderer and puppet the Shah.
After the Iranian people turfed his criminal ass (which the United States saved from ever facing the justice demanded by his own people), they spent the next 40 years provoking, demonizing and lying about Iran.
Then, GW Bush fabricated blatant lies about Iraqi WMDs and, in the greatest foreign policy disaster of all time, illegally started a war to remove the one element that stood as a bulwark against the rise of Iranian influence in the region – another American puppet and BFF of Don Rumsfeld, Saddam Hussein.

Following the destruction of Iraq and the consequential rise of ISIS (which both America AND Iran would like to see destroyed), the Republicans NOW mewl and bawl that any deal with Iran that does not give the GOP every single thing their cowboy delusions imagine they must have (and are downright eager to bomb Iran if they don’t get) must be opposed.
And their castrated, orange-hued leader, who supports torture, rendition, indefinite detention and survives by drinking the panic sweat from Lindsey Graham’s scrotum, has the nerve to call Iran the largest sponsor of state terrorism.

Political commonwealth (not to mention reason) is not possible with the stubbornly ignorant, mendacious, venal pieces of worm shit that comprise the GOP.

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Suck My Dick Cheney – Sloppy Seconds

Follow-up to Suck My Dick Cheney

More excerpts from the speech delivered by Dick Cheney on May 21, 2009:

It is a fact that only detainees of the highest intelligence value were ever subjected to enhanced interrogation. You’ve heard endlessly about waterboarding. It happened to three terrorists. One of them was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11, who has also boasted about his beheading of Daniel Pearl.

Waterboarding is not the only form of torture. There are others, of varying degrees of repulsiveness, and Dick does not address the numerous renditions to foreign countries where more people than we shall ever identify were certainly tortured and possibly killed.
Nor does Dick mention those “enemy combatants” held aboard the CIA’s floating prison.
Nor does Dick mention those detainees who (even presuming they were not “tortured”) found the conditions of their indefinite detention, lack of habeous corpus, no contact with the outside world and no contact with their families to be so intolerable they hung themselves. Of course, the Bush/Cheney administration classified their actions as an asymmetrical attack on America. Not suicide bombers, mind you…suicide suiciders.
Apparently they weren’t getting good enough intel at Gitmo to prevent an attack IN GITMO.
All Dick wants to talk about are the three “high value” terrorists for whom we have documented evidence and, coincidentally, from whom Dick claims they obtained good intel. Dick, being Dick, doesn’t mention that the Intelligence Officers who interrogated KSM say that he coughed up all the info he had as a result of non-torture methods, and KSM himself says that he invented stories to make the torture stop.
At some point, folks, we really have to stop counting anything Dick Cheney says as evidence for any proposition beyond that he said it.
At some point, Dick Cheney speaking ought to become persuasive evidence for two things: 1. There are other things Dick is not telling us, and 2. There is a strong likelihood that the opposite of what Dick Cheney says is, in fact, the case.

And when you hear that there are no more “enemy combatants,” as there were back in the days of that scary war on terror, at first that sounds like progress. The only problem is that the phrase is gone, but the same assortment of killers and would-be mass murderers are still there. And finding some less judgmental or more pleasant-sounding name for terrorists doesn’t change what they are or what they would do if we let them loose.

The phrase is gone, you fear-mongering old bastard, because the idea that there is a class of people you may hold indefinitely, in isolation, without ever advising them of the charges or evidence against them OR ever permitting them to challenge the reasons for their detention is FUCKING WRONG, even if you don’t torture them.
It’s not a semantic change without a basis in reality. You and your cohorts invented that label to justify the denial of fundamental legal rights, and ignored decisions in Federal Court and the USSC that said you could not do so.
There could be no more bold, snide, arrogant and disgusting way to destroy the very principles you swore an oath to protect and defend than to flippantly crush them under the jackboot of vapid semantics.
Let me give you an example of a semantic change without basis in reality, you filthy fuck: When you call waterboarding “torture” and prosecute those who did it to Americans as war criminals, then call waterboarding “enhanced interrogation” and do it to prisoners of war held offshore in order to deny them legal recourse, that is a change in terminology that shares no quarter with truth.

On his second day in office, President Obama announced he was closing the detention facility at Guantanamo. This step came with little deliberation and no plan. Now the president says some of these terrorists should be brought to American soil for trial in our court system; others, he says, will be shipped to third countries. But so far, the United States has had little luck getting other countries to take hardened terrorists.
So what happens then? Attorney General Holder and others have admitted that the United States will be compelled to accept terrorists here in the homeland, and it has even been suggested U.S. taxpayer dollars would be used to support them.

Last first: Whose fucking dollars are supporting them now, you lying sack of festering pus?
Here Dick seems to suggest that bringing them to America will (OH NOES!) cost money. We’ll have to give them a house, and an allowance…they’ll wind up on the welfare rolls!
Would not the money spent maintaining Gitmo more than cover the cost of holding them all in a SuperMax prison already constructed and operating in the US?
Normalize relations with Cuba, close Gitmo, take some small fraction of the ridiculous amount of cash you’re wasting down there and hire a few more prison guards! Trust me, the isolation cells at Pelican Bay are up to the task. It will also free up a bunch of Marines – word is you could use all you can get.
Obama’s plan was always to close Gitmo. There is a laundry list of perfectly good reasons to do so….not least of which is that being pals with Raoul will be far more effective than some stupid embargo, especially when they all have a cousin in Miami.
Suggesting that the prisoners in Guantanamo are going to be turned loose in Times Square with some spending money is the ugliest, most juvenile, ridiculous, disingenuous bit of fuckwittery I’ve ever heard. It’s a new low I would never have expected from Cheney (he’s evil, not stupid) – this is more of a Michelle Bachmann bit of dishonesty and insult.
To suggest that NOW Obama wants to bring them to America for trial implies that there was some other idea (or none at all) about what would happen with the detainees. Despite the gamy construction of Dick’s Junior League Debate Team presentation, one hopes some journalist with something more on the ball than Blitzer rips his lying head off for this. This isn’t a speech, it’s a plea…a castigation of those who would rebuke him.
Cheney is wrapping up all of the full legal defenses available to him in one very public confession. He cannot say he was not there. We have witnesses. But he touches the following:
1. I didn’t do it.
2. It was the right thing to do.
3. It was wrong, but I held the honest but mistaken belief that it was right.
4. It was wrong and I knew it was wrong, but there were exigent circumstances.
5. Fuck you. They’re evil. I’d do it again. (Jury nullification)

This entire speech is a host defenses in want of a trial.
What seems most telling to me is that Cheney has not been arrested or charged. If he and his gang of shit-for-brains Republicans would shut the fuck up, the thing might have well faded into the “forward looking” rear view mirror.
But the sonuvabitch will not stop telling us how correct it was for him to do everything he did. How he did nothing wrong.
It’s like when you walk in the door and your kid says, “I didn’t do it.”

This recruitment-tool theory has become something of a mantra lately, including from the president himself. And after a familiar fashion, it excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do. It’s another version of that same old refrain from the left, “We brought it on ourselves.

Jesus H Fucking Jumped Up Christ On Skis.
These brainless fuckers just cannot see anything except in black and white.
You’re with us or against us.
You either blame Them or you blame Us.
If you aren’t willing to torture, you are helping the next attack.
Those 14% who, according to Dick, returned to jihad after release…one wonders if the fact that they were tortured motivates them. Not Dick. Dick is certain that torture is the reason the other 86% didn’t join them.

As a practical matter, terrorists may lack much, but they’ve never lacked for grievances against the United States. Our belief in freedom of speech and religion, our belief in equal rights for women, our support for Israel, our cultural and political influence in the world, these are the true sources of resentment, all mixed in with the lies and conspiracy theories of radical clerics.

“They hate us for our freedoms”.
That ought to be inscribed on Dick Cheney’s tombstone…and the sooner the better.
I shall not bother to list the egregious and disgusting record of the United States in its dealings with Arab and Persian countries, not least of which is a fair critique of its unwavering support for Israel and the consequences of that support for all who surround it. I will, however, say one thing: Mossadeq.
And for all Dick’s jizz blithering bullshit about respect for women’s rights, perhaps he might respond to George Bush’s sycophantic cocksucking of a Saudi royal family who won’t let women drive a goddamn car or hold a fucking bank account.

If fine speech-making, appeals to reason, or pleas for compassion had the power to move them, the terrorists would long ago have abandoned the field. And when they see the American government caught up in arguments about interrogations or whether foreign terrorists have constitutional rights, they don’t stand back in awe of our legal system and wonder whether they had misjudged us all along.
Instead, the terrorists see just what they were hoping for: our unity gone, our resolve shaken, our leaders distracted. In short, they see weakness and opportunity.

If reason or compassion had anything to do with anything, Dick, America would never have invaded Iraq.
If American foreign policy over the past eight years had anything to do with anything other than unrestrained hegemonic neocon manifest destiny, we would not be in this mess that forces you to lie like a junkie.
It is not this reassessment of tactics and principles that provokes terrorists. What motivated terrorists, you myopic stain, was your active confirmation that America really is a facade – a greedy, resource sucking, intemperate, unreasonable shit that will, at the drop of a hat and whenever it’s convenient, abandon the very principles upon which it was founded in pursuit of power and profit.
“Call me the Great Satan, will you? I’ll SHOW you Satan!”

Releasing the interrogation memos was flatly contrary to the national security interests of the United States. The harm done only begins with top-secret information now in the hands of terrorists who have just received a lengthy insert for their training manual.

Training manuals. Oh no! Now they can train to withstand being waterboarded 183 times.
Dick…they believe they are going to Paradise where await 72 virgins.
They are willing to die, Dick. They are willing to blow themselves up.
And you think not knowing about waterboarding is the secret weapon that will defeat the enemy?
Newsflash, Dick: Waterboarding has been around a long time. Folks know about it. Word was out before the documents were released.
Imagine if Dick Cheney were back in control. Now, any detainee who does not provide good intel under torture has been trained to resist! We need more, harsher techniques in order to get that fucker to talk!
Jesus, Dick…if only you could kill them all, eh?
Torture them til they admit they’re a witch and then burn them.

Across the world, governments that have helped us capture terrorists will fear that sensitive joint operations will be compromised next. And at the CIA, our people are left to wonder if they can depend on the White House or Congress to back them up when the going gets tough.

Translation: The people who helped us in our criminal enterprise, and those who carried out the crimes, will be hesitant to violate international law to help us in the future if we don’t protect them this time. After all, we asked them to violate every relevant legal, moral and ethical rule we could find…

It’s worth recalling that ultimate power of declassification belongs to the president himself. President Obama has used his declassification authority to reveal what happens in the interrogation of terrorists. Now let him use that same power to show Americans what did not happen, thanks to the good work of our intelligence officials.

The infinite things list of things that did not happen.
Just as a thought experiment: You are being tortured. In order to make the torture stop, you invent some story out of thin air about a non-existent plot – maybe you even name some Pakistani engineering student you met once to lend your story come credibility (else they resume torturing you). The Pakistani engineering student is arrested. Plot foiled. A thing that DID NOT HAPPEN.
There is already persuasive evidence that Dick employed torture to force false confessions of a link between Iraq and 9/11. How simple a thing to produce documents attesting to all the things that DID NOT HAPPEN?
That such self-serving, illogical, unprovable assertions might be left unchallenged, unsupported and unexamined may well turn out to be a greater shame to America than the actions of Dick and friends could ever be.

ll

Joe Scarborough is a Lying, Chickenhawk Piece of Shit

Joe Scarborough, on whether torture is an effective intelligence gathering tool:

“I do know the answer, and America will know the answer when the documents are declassified. I do know the answer.”

First question: How does Joe know?
If someone is sharing classified information with Joe Scarborough, that would seem to be something folks should look into. That would seem to a be a very serious crime on its face.
Or, perhaps Joe is just blithering to lend weight to his shouting certainty that torture is not really torture (it’s enhanced interrogation); not torture because we do it to our own troops in SERE training; effective at gathering good intelligence; not best suited (or ever employed) for the getting false information, and there are documents that accurately reflect reality demonstrating the unimpeachable truth of it all.

In order:

1. If torture is not really torture – does not really inflict intolerable mental and physical suffering, how can it be effective? If it’s only a few drops of water and having to stand up for a long time, what value is it as in interrogative technique? Took this one first for warm-up swings.

2. We do it to our own troops! It’s been done to Christopher Hitchens – he says it is torture. I’m willing to accept that I can swing a dead cat and strike someone tougher than Chris Hitchens, but the same cannot be said for Jesse Ventura, Navy Seal and SERE school alumnus. He says it’s torture. On this point, Scarborough may now shut the fuck up or accept that any Seal now has the perfect right to punch him in the face on sight.

3. That torture is effective at gathering intelligence – there’s a bit of information that can not be obtained in any other way – is the argument to which Joe most desperately clings.
The most powerful motive for such grasping behavior is that it’s the only argument that cannot logically be defeated.
Could we have gotten the info in some other way?  More or less quickly?
It is impossible to say.
This is very revealing – using an unprovable contention as justification for torture.  On the mere possibility that there might be something, some last little bit of information that might make all the difference…and there’s just no other way to get it – we KNOW he knows SOMETHING! – Joe Scarborough will happily leap four square across the moral line that used to separate Us from Them.
Fuck it.
As between violating domestic and international law, abandoning the very ideas the underpin what it means to be an American, or leaving anything undone (no matter how hideous) in Defense of Amerika, Chickenhawks like Joe Scarborough always choose the sort of sickening false patriotism that justifies something truly ugly.   From McCarthy to Nixon to Bush and Cheney.
It is difficult to find anyone in uniform to stand with him.  It is a simple matter the find those in uniform aligned against him.   This defines the concept of giving proper weight to things.

Joe Scarborough argues that torture is effective. He KNOWS it is.
Odd then, that the most senior intelligence officers involved with interrogations have a differing view. They say, almost without exception, that the best information comes not from torturing but from a variety of other, more effective techniques that more closely resemble TALKING.
Of course, talking to these people (who Joe would argue have been brainwashed to think we are Satan) ain’t gonna get us anywhere.   Joe wants to prove that we are Satan.
The scenario…the hypothetical…on which Joe relies here is disgusting in it’s facile simplicity and utterly revealed by the ease with which it is logically dismissed:   Scarborough and his ignorant ilk yammer about “The Ticking Time Bomb!”
There it is…ticking away in Los Angeles or Miami! … and we have the guy who knows where it is!   Get out the waterboard!  Tick!..tock!..tick!..tock!… (I date myself – that should be a digital timer and they go “beep…beep…beep…”).
Digital or analog, they waterboarded KSM 183 times over A MONTH! How long was that fucking clock set to beep?
If torture is an effective technique, you don’t have to do it the third time, much less the 183rd.   And if you do…if you have to torture someone for a fucking month, then the whole hypothetical upon which you make the disgusting argument falls.

4. Is the information even true?   See Curveball in the run up to the Iraq war for further information.
How many resources are wasted chasing down bullshit sputtered out by some poor bastard so you’ll stop drowning him?
One of Joe’s favorite politicians (birds of a feather) Sen. Lindsey Graham, stated that the reason torture has been around for so long is because it works.
(faceplam)
Yes, Senator…it works.   It works like a charm if what you want to do is make someone confess to being A WITCH! And as soon as you admit that you’re in league with the devil, we stop torturing you.  There’s something very consistent about that which I might get into another time – but the clear point remains:   Torture is best suited for getting people to say whatever the hell you want them to say.
I’m a witch!
I’m a heretic!
I accept Jesus Christ as my savior!
Just write it down and I’ll sign it…for God’s sake stop hurting me!
Yes…yes…okay…Saddam Hussein is training jihadists (who really, really hate him) and giving them chemical and biological weapons!

5. There are documents which prove the effectiveness of torture.  Secret documents that show how utterly fucked we would have been if we didn’t torture the evil doers to learn their dark secrets.
Documents written by torturers, following torture directed by Dick Cheney. All we need to see are the declassified documents generated by the people who had been instructed to violate the law by the Commander in Chief.
“Whatcha up to, Frank?”
“Oh, just filling the daily reports.”
“How’d it go?”
“Lotsa screamin’ and cryin’, pain and humiliation. Made a raghead jerk off in front of a snarling dog.”
“Get any good intel?”
“Learned he ain’t all that aroused by dogs.”
“Whaddya puttin’ in the report?”
“Just what the doctor ordered. Discovered a funded attack planned by those Muslim fucks they tailing in Seattle. Some stuff about chemical weapons and anthrax.  Some other stuff…you know the drill.  There was a new memo today – it’s mostly copy and paste.”

It’s by no means only Joe. Quite frankly, the entire mainstream media is demonstrating how incapable of doing their job they are as we speak.
The use of torture to provide false evidence in furtherance of an illegal foreign policy is, I think, a pretty big fucking story.
Cheney should be in solitary confinement somewhere so he can’t communicate with witnesses. George can be left in Crawford – he’s too arrogant to flee, too stupid to lie, and can’t pardon anyone. Rumsfeld can have the cell next to Dick (I doubt either of them know Morse code)…Condi, Feith and Wolfowitz wear ankle bracelets.
Whether or not the CIA lied to Nancy Pelosi may not be yesterday’s news, yet…but it’s sure as hell tomorrow’s cat litter.
There’s no where left to go but down, and once you break ground there’s stopping til you hit bottom.
My money says Dick Cheney faces serious criminal prosecution shortly after midterm elections, and the unraveling of it all ass fucks the GOP.

Here’s Joe being Joe. Fucking dick.

Hitchens v. Obama on Iran

I love Christopher Hitchens. I regard him as one of the finest writers, thinkers and speakers on a wide range of topics in the public arena, and some sort of Shaolin kungfu master of debate – willing to meet all challengers and capable of inflicting lethal strings of reason, rhetoric and facts. I’d spend more time with adjectives but I don’t want to seem fawning. Suffice to say he is my answer to that old cocktail party question, “If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead…”

Nevertheless, and perhaps this is why I want that dinner, I don’t agree with Hitch all the time. I would happily go from appetizer to cognac without ever mentioning God as I wouldn’t want to waste a moment.
We are of a mind on matters of theology.
His passionate (and that based on first hand experience) arguments in favor of the Iraq war have at least tempered my position on whether it was objectively right or wrong, but at some point well before desert I would have some things to say about the means employed to justify it both domestically and internationally; in the conduct at each stage; in the lack of awareness or preparation for the obvious and now realized consequences, and whether or not what’s about to happen as America draws down is better or worse than leaving a vicious thug like Saddam (or even his insane criminal offspring) in charge. An argument about the lesser of evils and rather ugly for that.

Writing in Slate, Hitchens suggests that President Obama is being too nice to Iran.
He opens with pedantic critique of Obama’s speech in France: It was too long. It wasn’t designed for the youthful demographic.
It seemed at any moment he might say something bitchy about the President’s choice of footwear. Nevertheless, he admits that in both tone and content, this is an improvement over George Bush…which only makes one ask what sort of dull incompetence it would require to be worse?
Hitchens ramps up the criticism when he accuses Obama of being disingenuous by expressing something like humility. While recognizing that one of Bush’s great failures was swaggering arrogance built on America’s military and economic strength, Christopher suggests that Obama fails to acknowledge the reality of the sheer weight of America in the world.
Balls!
After eight years of cowboy, “Yer either with us or yer with the terrists,” nothing could be so soothing to the global psyche as a smart Sheriff who doesn’t shoot first and ask questions later. The way one gets that message across is by contrast, and the counterweight to both arrogance and pride is humility – not grovelling, not capitulation – the ability and willingness to treat others as equals even though you are big, stronger, richer, faster and have more stuff. That is a principle Hitchens, a fully justified ego barely restrained by an equally rampant faux humility (if his public persona is to be taken at face value), ought to understand.

While there is no comparison between Afghanistan or some eventual line in the sand with Iran and a bunch of ragtag Somali pirates in a lifeboat (armed with the only true weapons of mass destruction – the inestimable AK-47), the manner in which the later was resolved says something about what sort of costs this president is willing to pay before resorting to deadly force.
It is also true that many of the same and similar criticisms were leveled at Barack Obama for the way in which he appeared to deal with this high seas kidnapping. The pundits mocked him for sending a hostage negotiator…for being willing to talk to criminals in order to secure the release of the hostage. They said he was weak and myopic. We know well the result and the means by which it was obtained.
Leave that aside.

Hitchens moves to a spotty historical review of American-Iranian relations in response to the presidents statement that America is not now, nor ever will be “at war with Islam.”
It requires a bit of hedge jumping, but the facts are that America did send the fleet and the Marines to fight Islamic piracy in the 1700’s. One might point out that the action was to end piracy and white slavery, not Islam. One might also point out that Hitchens fails to mention the overthrow of Mossadeq by the CIA in 1953. I don’t want to quibble over who struck first or hardest. Hitchens is correct that elements of radical Islam seek to extend their power, kill all their enemies and inflict Sharia law on the world. He is certainly correct that those elements are now in control of the government of Iran. The question is how does an American president diminish the threat, empower moderates, reduce harm and remove obstacles to positive progress?

While it clearly rubs Hitchens the wrong way that engagement might occur without insisting that Sharia law be repealed and all victims of it made free and whole; that restorative justice obtain throughout Persia, Central Asia and the Middle East, the argument that Obama is somehow either weak or myopic because he invites Iran to talk demands a degree of stubbornness that is counter-productive practically if not ideologically. It is, in fact, precisely the failed policies of the incompetent neocon administration recently dismissed.

Treating with respect those with whom you disagree ought to be nothing incomprehensible to Hitch. I’ve seen him do it more often than not.
Finding a way to have the intransigent agree to debate, with the aim of using the opportunity to advance one’s own interests, in no way requires that one approve, accept or tolerate the extension of the very elements one seeks to mitigate. It requires statesmanship. And while I would thoroughly enjoy the after dinner drinks in Hitchens’ company (and would stock cases of scotch in hopes of extending it), I would never appoint Christopher ambassador to anywhere. Well…perhaps the Vatican, but only for laughs. Thankfully the Pope hasn’t got much of an army. Although, speaking of global war on terrorism…okay, Hitchens is out. He’d gladly start a war with the Catholics – he’s already waging it.

Set the Wayback Machine – American Foreign Policy

While the myopic incompetence of Bush the Younger may have put a particularly fine point on the dangers of conducting foreign policy with one’s head jammed completely up one’s ass, it is simply a fact that America has been fucking over Iran and Iraq with one cocked up moronic stumble after another since 1953.
No, George…they DON’T hate your freedoms (even the ones you haven’t yet shredded).  They do hate you mucking about in matters that are none of your fucking business in contravention of the very principles of democracy you claim to defend and lying in order to do it.

Leave it to Sherman and Mr. Peabody to lay it all out.

Opinion: Hillary Clinton as SoS – w/ Hitchens (video)

Tweety: What do you make of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State? Mr. Hitchens…

Hitch: Look, this is the woman who played the race card on Barack Obama {snip} This is the woman whose foreign policy experience consisted of making a fool of herself and fabricating a story about Bosnia

I see the upside to not having Hillary in the Senate. She’s popular and would be mucking about with domestic legislative issues from a potentially meddlesome spot with no reason to restrain her own agenda. Now that Obama has won the election and Hillary has been seen to have stumped her pantsuits off on his behalf, it may not be the case that (as a Senator) their interests would always coincide. As Sec. State, her powers (whatever they are) would be directed by the Oval Office – Hillary Clinton would have no domestic agenda beyond Thanksgiving dinners with Chelsea.

While it does raise obvious targets at which the sputtering and grasping GOP might take aim – they do so love Clinton bashing and it would be a trip down memory lane to happier days for them, back to a time when they had a future – what, really, are they to make of it? By any application of reason, they are estopped from tacking at Hillary by their own machinations.  It’s at best difficult for the people who brought us Dick Cheney and Haliburton no-bid contracts to cry foul over some shady Indonesian and Chinese contacts, especially when the domestic agenda is far more weighty and immediately pressing.  It is only made more difficult by the lavish praise they heaped on Hillary during the general election as part of their knobheaded Palin play to attract PUMAs.
Hillary Clinton is popular. Bill was popular and in the wake of Bush, he and Barack are the delicious bread on an American foreign policy shit sandwich. The world from pole to pole and from the Greenwich Meridian to the International Dateline seems quite pleased with the election of Barack Obama, and rather well disposed to giving the new boss an opportunity. Sending out the beloved wife of an immensely popular former president to help with the building of international bridges, while at the same time rebalancing the domestic scales in a way that cannot hurt and might well help…

I want to go along with Hitchens. I haven’t forgiven Clinton for the primary campaign she ran…but I am also quite certain that, once again, Obama is just smarter than we are. When Barack Obama talks about building bridges, people tend to forget that bridges operate in both directions and not necessarily at the same time. They are commonly seen as a structure upon which folks from opposite sides might meet in the middle. It is worthwhile to note that they can be used to invite someone over. They can also be used to send someone away (rather than simply tossing them in the river).
The more I watch this guy, the less I want to play poker with him.
Hitchens, on the other hand…that guy I’d bust up all night.

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No Hope For Hitchens

I think Christopher Hitchens drinks because he likes hangovers.  His latest in Slate points out the fact that the election of President Obama, while certainly significant and a well-placed boot in the arse to the Bush administration, solves precisely nothing…and all the giddy, hopeful, rose-coloured hippies had better prepare for a series of disappointments.
What?  No unicorns?

There is an element of the “wannabe” about all this—something that suggests that, if the clock were to be rolled back, every living white person would now automatically stand with John Brown at Harper’s Ferry and with John Lewis at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. All the evidence we have is to the contrary: Abraham Lincoln ringingly denounced John Brown, and John F. Kennedy (he of the last young and pretty family to occupy the Executive Mansion) was embarrassed and annoyed by the March on Washington. In other words, there is something pain-free and self-congratulatory about the Obama surge. This has happened before, of course, with the high-sounding talk about the “New Frontier,” the “Great Society,” and “Morning in America.” It’s just that this time it’s more than usually not affordable. There are many causes of the subprime and derivative horror show that has destroyed our trust in the idea of credit, but one way of defining it would be to say that everybody was promised everything, and almost everybody fell for the populist bait.

More worrying still, there are vicious enemies and rogue states in increasing positions of influence throughout the world (one of the episodes that most condemned the Republican campaign was its attempt to slander Sen. Joe Biden for his candid attempt to point this out), yet many Obama voters appear to believe that the mere charm and aspect of their new president will act as an emollient influence on these unwelcome facts and these hostile forces. I can’t make myself perform this act of faith, and I won’t put up with any innuendo about my inability to do so.

It wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t something quite so accurate about the point.  It would seem certain that the long hard slog out of the mess the United States is in will be longer and harder than the American ADD culture can tolerate.  Having elected Obama, they want their unicorns and they want them NOW.

Unfortunately, eight years of Republican navigation in an unsustainable credit economy, thirty-year-old ideas about wealth trickling down rather than being siphoned off, vicious and ill-formed foreign policies spawned by myopic neocon imbeciles, and the reprehensible shredding of both the spirit and the letter of the Constitution have rendered a rather uneven playing field on which to judge the speed and efficacy of an Obama administration.  There just aren’t any contemporary benchmarks by which progress might be fairly surveyed.

In view of all that, perhaps it is also fair to take another step.  Maybe we ought to grow the fuck up and recognize that not only are we not getting unicorns, there isn’t overnight delivery for mythical single horned equines in any case.   Maybe the hangover was caused by those bastards who cooked up all that moonshine and the people who guzzled it like mother’s milk instead of the guy who just got here and is now supposed to sort out the mess.  Christ…look at Wall Street lining up for a bit of the hair of the dog that bit them.

I know Hitch is a crank – but he’s a fuckin’ smart crank.  He has staked out a point that’s rather painfully unassailable:  There are serious problems in the world that are not magically going away and will not be solved by charm and popularity no matter how intelligent, thoughtful and measured this president Obama.  No unicorns for you!

Balls.  Leaving aside the inspiring, hopeful wave of political awareness and involvement that the Obama campaign sparked within the American population – young, minority, liberal, first time voters – there are now opportunities in the foreign policy arena that only possible precisely because of Obama’s popularity and charm.  Opportunities to communicate with friends and enemies alike from a position that is equally well perceived by them as being different in kind, temperment, style, manner and means than the past eight years.

An administration defined by Bush (a semi-literate frat boy rich kid dunce) and Cheney (a power mad neocon bastard from the Nixon era) has been replaced by an educated, thoughtful, popular president – a man who doesn’t smirk while tossing off canned bits of Reaganomic blither and John Wayne-esque ‘You’re either with us or you’re against us’ blather; who had his head around the priniciple of never getting involved in a land war in Asia before it started; who overcame what they all thought were impossible odds.  A man named Hussein.

The world, friends and enemies alike, are now hoping for an improved dialogue – something they knew (as we all did) was impossible with Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rice, Feith….  Their concept of negotiation was, “Do as we say or else.”  Rampant capitalism and American superpower hegemony tied up in red, white and blue ribbons.

It remains to be seen what will come from this – whether the opportunity is seized, taken, realized, exploited.  I expect nothing worse than the past eight years and am hard pressed to imagine how it might be.  But while there may be no benchmarks, this opportunity to talk – the sense around the entire planet (from celebrations in Kenya and Japan to letters of congratulations from Mahmoud Achmidnijhad) that perhaps something positive can be achieved – is no small accomplishment for a man who has yet to be sworn in.

I think Hitchens misses an important bit and Obama expressed it perfectly:  The Audacity to Hope.
It should not be discounted.
Not to say that Hitchens needs to hope.  I know better than to expect anything like that.  If Hitch can be said to hope, one suspects it is only insofar as his darkest predictions are confirmed and the bottle is always full.  Nevertheless, he might accept that Hope, as a present or absent quality in the global psyche, is to be preferred.  He seems settled on Faith.  No idea where he’s at on Charity.

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