Deep Thoughts for a Monday Morning in June

Trying to limit oneself to one post a week is sometimes impossible when Certain Things come to the attention of an itinerant blogger with little self control.  Hence:

1. Any person who attends a caucus on behalf of, or votes in a primary for, Michelle Bachmann to become President of the United States should no longer be permitted to vote again.

2. This is a repeat observation about a repeat program: If you can watch this 60 Minutes segment, yet still advocate for massive cuts in federal spending, you have surrendered several of the essential components of what makes up a human being

3. As virtually useless as the fluffernutter David Gregory version of “Meet the Press” has become (whose up? whose down? who style’s best? what’s being talked about on twitter?), there were two moments which were worth watching yesterday or reading today. One was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s view of the authority of the executive in a state or nation under a republican form of government.

I am not a fan of same-sex marriage. It’s not something that I support. I believe marriage should be between one man and one woman. That’s my view, and that’ll be the view of our state because I wouldn’t sign a bill that–like the one that was in New York.

This is, of course, the Louis XIV l’État, c’est moi (“the state is me”) view of government recently popularized by the latest President Bush. (Republicans only object to the appurtenances of royalty when they are donned by Democrats, so as exercised as they are about supporting NATO in Libya, President Bush had to be allowed to “take the nation to war.”

It is a great country that allows President Bush and Governor Christie to decide moral questions based on their own religious beliefs. They were not empowered to make those decisions for the rest of us, though.

So many aspire to be Louis XIV, whose point of view seems to appeal to chief executives everywhere, but a century later or so, when Louis’ chickens came home to roost, so to speak, it was not a pretty sight. Y’know?

4. As President Roosevelt explained as Europe careened toward it, “I hate war.” There is little question that President Obama is not that happy about war, and you probably aren’t either. The person who ran Al Qaeda when they attacked our country under the protection of the Taliban is dead and it has now been decided by All Who Know Best, that the United States must now completely withdraw from Afghanistan. A dissenting view on just how easy a decision this is has been published here a few times before, and indeed reference to this wisdom was made this past weekend. The time to consider the consequences of war are before it begins, not a decade later. Notwithstanding the retrospective dissenting views of today, the country had little choice in 2001 but to invade Afghanistan after the government then in place there permitted Al Qaeda to operate there which then did what they did on September 11.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion as to what happens next, though it is difficult for some of us to even come up with that. Here, though, oddly courteous of David Gregory, is what David Rohde, a New York Times reporter held captive by the Taliban, has written in a book he has written about his horrible experience:

At the same time, simply walking away from Afghanistan and Pakistan and hoping for the best is not an option in an increasingly interconnected world. … Based on my experience in the tribal areas, a sweeping Taliban victory in Afghanistan would embolden hard-line militants who hope to forcibly impose sharia law across the Islamic world. Their belief that they can defeat Westerners who fear death and are unwilling to endure sacrifice will be reaffirmed. It will also send a signal to moderate Muslims that the United States will not stand by them. No clear answer has emerged to the question … how can religious extremism be countered?

Being captive gives one no special wisdom, but he has seen these people up close and personal, much as Khaled Hosseini had before him as discussed in The Kite Runner. There are no easy answers here; just head hurting moral, political and military questions.

Have a nice day.

6 thoughts on “Deep Thoughts for a Monday Morning in June

  1. Those head hurting questions are easier than one might think. Your reference to ‘the state is me’ is a situation where there was constructed a false moral conflict for the purpose of offering a choice where one truly did not exist.

    It really can’t be called a choice when you have to decide between killing tens of thousands of people and making your buds scads of money. That’s called murder.

    Bush / Cheney did this very thing ala Blackwater and Halliburton. And they did so in the presence of major conflicts with the available information they were using to make their decision. Bush / Cheney, in their decision, are the functional equivalent of murderers. There is no way around this. There were too many questions, known questions and ambiguities, with the information about Iraq to support their conclusion to go to war. And I don’t care one bit for the argument that, ‘Everyone’, thought so and so. That is bullshit. The CIA and other of our intelligence gathering agencies did not have the necessary conclusive information required to attack a sovereign state. And they knew it. Which is why they busted their asses selling it. What they did is a flat out act of treason like this nation hasn’t ever seen. And the reason congress hasn’t ever done a thing about this is because if congress really examined this in detail they’d be damn hard pressed to weasel out of bringing some serious charges against Bush and Cheney. What happened is far more than a mistake. Nothing will ever change this.

    Now, at ten years, this is our longest war ever. There is no end in sight in Iraq and Afghanistan. I suspect we’ll be holding a huge mortgage on this folly for a very long time. Our president says otherwise but I ain’t holding my breath on that one. There is too much in the pipeline going on in congress to think we’ll be out of there any time soon. We’re being lied to big time is what I see.

    Our oil companies don’t own much of the oil which is being drilled for in Iraq. But I read last week our oil services companies, which dominate the global scene, are going to rake in almost half of the value of every barrel of oil that gets pumped in Iraq in the forseeable future. This is hundreds of billions. Not bad. Paid for with the lives of our soldiers and by U.S. taxpayers. Not that great an investment if you ask me. And worse still when you consider we’ll get very little in tax revenue in return for our investment. The revenue from this will remain offshore and remain untaxed. That is, until such time as uncle gives the corporations a tax holiday like is under consideration. The current one being kicked around in congress is looking like it’ll be someting around a rate of about 6%. Not a bad discount from the 35% statutory rate I’d say. They call this repatriation of taxes. I could think of something more imaginitive I suspect. The price of blood has dropped over the last thirty years. It’s getting cheaper all the time.

    I find it damned convenient that after several years and with all the set pieces in place in Iraq, like a zillion dollar embassy and drilling contracts worth billions to our oil services companies, we finally got bin laden in Afghanistan (Pakistan). What do you suppose is the common element in all of this?

    I could sit here and write this crap all day long. Until my fingers bleed.

  2. Barth

    well, I was not talking about Iraq here and I do see your point, really I do. The “hey, we can make money here” rationale for the war was immoral and one of the worst moments of our history. I cannot go all the way to murder because of the wide ranging political approval for the war among people who should have known better, and were confused about who exactly attacked us. Lies added to the whole thing, but our system failed—as was intended by having the vote just before the 2002 elections.

    But vote they did and, amazingly, the fools with whom we live apparently re-elected the Bush-Cheney team in 2004 (though Ohio still seems fishy to me).

    The war that makes my head hurt is the one in Afghanistan: a war justifiable on many basis, including the Taliban harboring of Al Qaeda. (Whitey Bulger’s girlfriend is charged with roughly the same thing….)

    1. Murder is pretty easy from my perspective. A lot of dead persons was the obvious outcome as long as persons were willing to tell the lies necessary to set the stage. The intelligence community hedged on everything. There was no way to misinterpret that. Or the high pressure sales job from the administration. This is like the cops and the DA lying to get a conviction in a capital case. And selling their case to the jury on the courthouse steps. Exactly the same. In the dock was the nation of Iraq.

  3. Barth

    I will not write the brief for President Bush and there is no question that intelligence was cherry picked and distorted to make out the case for war.

    The two Senators who most convinced me—a supporter of the war in Afghanistan—-that Iraq was a mistake, despite what the White Hosue said, were Senators Byrd and Kennedy. For a variety of reasons, I cannot call Senator Byrd a statesman or a hero, but Senator Kennedy is. Here is his pitch perfect and prescient speech against the war from September, 2002:

    But it has this line in it, and from Senator Kennedy, it has meaning to me:

    “Let me say it plainly: I not only concede, but I am convinced that President Bush believes genuinely in the course he urges upon us. And let me say with the same plainness: Those who agree with that course have an equal obligation to resist any temptation to convert patriotism into politics. It is possible to love America while concluding that is not now wise to go to war. The standard that should guide us is especially clear when lives are on the line: We must ask what is right for country and not party….

    No one disputes that America has lasting and important interests in the Persian Gulf, or that Iraq poses a significant challenge to U.S. interests. There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein’s regime is a serious danger, that he is a tyrant, and that his pursuit of lethal weapons of mass destruction cannot be tolerated. He must be disarmed.

    How can we best achieve this objective in a way that minimizes the risks to our country? How can we ignore the danger to our young men and women in uniform, to our ally Israel, to regional stability, the international community, and victory against terrorism?

    There is clearly a threat from Iraq, and there is clearly a danger, but the Administration has not made a convincing case that we face such an imminent threat to our national security that a unilateral, pre-emptive American strike and an immediate war are necessary.”

    Our current president faces attacks that are beyond the pale every day. He was called a liar again this morning by that garbage who masquerades as a television broadcaster on MSNBC in the morning. I do not think that that stuff should be thrown around lightly.

    I understand the view of President Bush as a murderer and, at the least, a liar. If he is that, he has more than a few accomplices in that.

    1. The turmoil in the Arab world has changed the game a fair bit. Where there didn’t used to be a credible threat there may now be one. The proliferation of nuclear weapons is changing the status quo. In 2000 this wasn’t quite as serious as it is now. This relationship has altered because we have acted in an imprudent way.

      We are making enemies of the Arab population. This is a grave mistake. We’ve also allowed our petro corporations to take advantage of Arab states in the past and continue to do so. There are people in the Arab world who resent how the U.S. conducts business. Knowing the manner how U.S. corporations behave it’s difficult not to have some sympathy for people who have to deal with them. Our corps are ruthless. And I say U.S corporations but they are international and have little to do with us except to use the U.S. as a shield for their crappy conduct.

      Kennedy had all this fairly well figured out. He knew we shouldn’t be going to war. The mood of the country was more than a little manipulated after 9/11. It’s become very clear since then just how much. There was manipulation of information all along the way. What we have now is a huge expansion of the MIC. That’s been the real goal. It’s ridiculous that we’ve all but doubled our military budget since 2000 and have grown our total national security expenditure to $1.3 trillion per year. We keep growing these numbers and promoting the manufacture and sale of weapons. And preemptive war is still our policy. Pakistan and Libya confirm this.

  4. I haven’t turned on Meet the Press since Gregory has been the moderator. I did see clips of Christy. He looked just terrible with that answer to that lady’s direct question. These repub govs are doing alot to get Obama reelected. I have never seen so much bad behavior like the past few years with politicans.

    I would have commented on your post at dag but after reading some of the threads the past few days I thought it would stand on its own here without running the risk of being pounced on. Too much like the old cafe.

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