Meh Culpa

What should happen to McChrystal: In case anyone was wondering. Or not.

When  Congressional subcommittees or committee-committees chew you out, it doesn’t mean anything.  It’s only PR masquerading as a consequence when nothing bad is really going to happen to you. Bad things don’t happen to the Big People, they happen to the Little People.

For instance, the American auto execs were chewed out for flushing their businesses (and lots and lots of jobs) down the national toilet.  The chewing-out did not stop the same execs from taking private planes to their meetings (hadn’t they heard of carpooling?) or from standing up the President of the United States.  One executive head rolled, but only one.  Not that bad.

The heads of Banks Too Big To Fail might have squirmed a little when they were introduced to a new orifice courtesy of a committee hearing, but nothing happened to them either. They continued to collect vast bonuses and so did their underlings. We could probably balance the budgets of several states using the money they doled out to themselves. OK, so Ken Lewis might get a little hand slapping for not talking about the problems with Merill Lynch’s balance sheet, but then again maybe not.   Lewis has already portrayed himself as a patriot doing his civic duty, as not having a choice because Hank Paulson said so.

Fast-forward to Tony Hayward’s testimony before yet another freakin’ committee looking for air time so its members can emote righteously and pretend that it means something.  Because it doesn’t.  There isn’t going to be any meaningful regulation on the oil industry any more than there were regulations sicked like rabid dogs on the bankers, who were then free to do everything they did before the recession, which will bring our economy land in even more do-do.  Nope,  most if not all of our politicians are basking in the well-lined pocket of  industry, like tanning addicts bake in the sun, no matter what that industry’s name.  BP has been and/ or will be penalized, but the industry itself will keep on chuggin’ like the little engine that could.  I mean,  a Federal district judge just lifted the President’s moratorium on drilling because the administration hadn’t proven that all of the new offshore rigs in question were bound to fail as BP’s Deepwater Horizon did because of a faulty assumption.  The thing is, I’m not sure it can be proven that any or all of the rigs are not bound to fail.  The point is that it’s more important to secure the oceans and shores from spills extending for months, and perhaps years if the relief wells don’t work, than it is to generate oil.  The environment depends on it; our people’s livelihoods depend on it.   What we can’t depend on are the courts,  the oil companies, and the politicians to make sure it never happens again.

So, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, what should happen to McChrystal after the disaster that is the snarktastic  Rolling Stone article?  The same thing that happens to everyone else–a little public humiliation, then back to work for the sucker.*


* I don’t really care about McChrystal.  He was ineffably stupid to be that free and easy around a journalist, but I don’t really care.  But as a rule I am against war.  I’m against the Afghan War on  that principle as well as on the grounds that we can’t win. Trying to win in Afghanistan bankrupted the Soviets.  Then their government crashed and burned. Who is to say we’ll be any different? (Hint: it takes a big helping of hubris to assume we won’t be.) So as far as I’m truly concerned, we can just end the war and bug out while out soldiers still have an intact country to go back to. No matter how many millions of dollars in minerals we succeed in letting corporations dig up, prolonging this war just isn’t worth the cost.

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June 23, 2010 Posted by | Afghan War, Afghanistan, automakers, bailout(s), banks, Congress, Economy, Foreign policy, House of Representatives, politics, Russia, Senate, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Dear Madam Blogger: Meh Culpa’s reply to A Soldier’s Mother

“A Soldier’s Mother, a blogger who writes for Arutz Sheva (aka, Israel National News) has posted an article about her distaste for Zbignew Brzezinski, “Why I Never Liked Zbiggy,” which contains a number of errata. I posted a reply on the Arutz Sheva site which may or may not make it into print. I did not address what are in my opinion Israel’s recent war crimes against the Palestinians because there was only so much space and I deemed that opinion would make acceptance of my reply even more unlikely. In any case, here is my reply. I have revised a word or two, plus a little punctuation, but that’s about it.

Dear Madam Blogger

Brzezinski is 81 years old. He wasn’t given a position in the Obama administration because of his age. To say otherwise is an egregious error. Brzezinski also is a respected Democrat, yet Brzezinki’s opinion is only that, an opinion. He’s not speaking in an official capacity. There will be no US attack on Israel. End of story. Get over it.

It’s long been known in the International community that Israel would not obtain the privilege to fly over Iraq … because:

A) when the story first arose, the US still had some “custody” of Iraq and so would become embroiled in such a war begun by Israel, which would make three happening for the US at once. The US forces, depleted under Donald Rumsfeld cannot not tolerate another battlefront without collapsing;

B) allowing Israel to attack Iran could spark a war in the Middle East, making the region more unstable than it already is (a very bad idea);

C) any country that allowed Israel flyover privileges (e.g., Saudi Arabia) would earn the ire of Muslim states around the globe. Note well that the Saudis denied the report in July as did the Israelis. That’s how unpopular the notion actually is.

The US under George W. Bush provided the Israelis with defensive technology. That was a gesture of friendship. You may not like it or think it was enough because you want a war with Iran to be ineluctable, but it’s not in Israel’s best interests to have Arab and Muslim nations banded against them in a war. Nor is it in the world’s best interests, since we could have another global war on our hands. Wasn’t WW I and WW II enough? Must we again have more bloodshed on that scale? I would hope not.

I can remember listening to Old Testament readings in which the Israelis were described as stiff-necked and warlike. I’m sure it’s not always the case, but this constant hankering after war, when it might be possible to win peace, constitutes a prime example of those character traits. However, what I find most fascinating is the conservative* Israelis love-hate relationship with the US. Most Americans have absolutely no idea that their beloved friends despise them so much. But if the manner in which news is reported on this site is any indication, Arutz Sheva contributes to the ethos of drama and victimhood; this news organ evidently loves to whip up the mob against the enemies of Israel. Granted, many people around the world feel great anger towards Israel, but that state of affairs has to do with its behavior towards the Palestinians as well as its seemingly bellicose nature.

As for the the American Jewish community–it is split between old school types who would support whatever Israel wants, no matter what, and newer groups (i.e., J Street) who love Israel but are concerned that Israel’s current policies are not in that country’s best interests. I happen to concur with the latter view and would go further in saying that those policies could lead to Israel’s destruction, which I find appalling, but possible. I am also disappointed and troubled by Israel’s actions / wars against the Palestinians and Lebanon. I don’t think those policies are helpful; I also don’t think they have worked since there is no true peace. I don’t hold the Palestinians innocent by any means, but I don’t think Israel’s policies are doing its country any good.

I grew up loving Israel and now I don’t recognize it. Would the great Golda Meir have approved of using such things as pre-emptive strikes? I think not. She lived with danger herself, but recognized that pre-emptive strikes would lose Israel its friends and allies as well as its international aid. She may have said, “There are no Palestinians,” but If Israel were insecure she would have parleyed with the Palestinians and come to an agreement to keep her country safe.

There is just so much hatred any one nation can survive. At this point, I see Israel becoming less secure because of its own actions. Should there be an internationally unbacked, pre-emptive strike against Iran, which state will no doubt fight back, I see Israel losing even more status** and security, if not provoking an all-out war. A pity. I had such hopes for you.

* Used in American political terms.

** Look at what happened to George W. Bush.

September 21, 2009 Posted by | Democrats, diplomacy, Foreign policy, Geneva Conventions, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, National Security, Palestinians, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

My letter to “Organizing America” the former Obama campaign site

(Written while unsubscribing, as a protest.)

I am not a Democrat.

I was a Democrat for a little over 30 years–until Diane Feinstein started acting and voting like a Republican. I told her I would never vote for her again and I won’t.  My point? Barack the president seems to have forgotten the promises he made as Barack the candidate. I have never seen such timid leadership in my life. No, wait:  the Democrats have behaved in such a manner all the way through the Bush administration. They kowtowed to the Republicans (who played serious hardball) while there was a big, wistful to-do in the MSM over “bipartisanship” that never happened because the Republicans were nasty and excluded the Democrats from almost every opportunity to make a difference. Perhaps the Democrats and Barack the president believe they should take the alleged high road and refuse to behave as the Republicans did.

With all solemnity, I adjure you… Now is not the time to abandon progressive ideals because a minority of crazy, hard right, radical Republicans–who don’t have much of a party left, mind you–are playing up the rhetoric and the lies and inflaming the wingnut populace against the president’s erstwhile agenda, inciting the crazies to riot and possibly to assassination.

Elegance and grace will not give us single payer and/or a public option or even decent health care. Besides, it would appear Barack the president and the rest of the Democrats have given up on both. If events unfold as I see they might, the insurance companies will realize even more profits if health insurance is mandated. How middle class and lower class Americans will pay, I don’t know. Tax deductions will not help. They are actually rather worthless. Americans need real help, upfront.

I cannot tell you how sickened I am with the current state of affairs. Single payer (with an option to retain private health insurance as is possible in the UK) is the right thing to do. Allowing Blue Dogs to mark this territory and bark orders to the rest of us is absolutely the wrong thing to do, and slightly insane into the bargain. While Teddy Kennedy was alive, you had a majority and you could have passed a good bill that contained both. Now all you have is mush.

What we Americans needed was an FDR on the economy and an LBJ on civil rights and health care. This administration hasn’t come close to giving us either one. What I see is a money-grubbing party that’s still beholden to big business, a party without backbone.  It’s appalling, truly.

And it’s not just health care. Barack the candidate was worrisome when he voted on FISA. But Barack the president has abandoned all principle on warrantless wiretapping as well as in legal cases concerning Guantanamo detainees, doing precisely what the Bush administration did before him, or worse. Barack the president did not seek to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act or Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. He has left it to Congress, whose members will do nothing, ever. Barack the president has set up another Guantanamo in Bagram, and created an environment where anything will go by alleging that because Bagram is not on American soil (WTF?! It’s a US air base! Does that mean McCain isn’t really a US citizen? Hmph.), people detained there will have no right to habeas corpus let alone any Constitutional right to due process within the US legal system.  Barack the president still allows extraordinary rendition.  Barack the president has allowed the same people who destroyed the economy (think Wall Street investment bankers, Goldman Sachs, the New York Reserve, and the Fed) to retain control over the economy. Nothing has changed in that respect. Barack the president doesn’t want to do anything about the Bush administration higher-ups who approved torture and created an ethos where it could thrive and become even more twisted than Gen. Miller and John Yoo originally planned. Barack the candidate wanted to remove us from theaters of war while Barack the president is digging in in Afghanistan.

Barbara Boxer might give me hope, but it’s not yet clear she won’t do what she’s told by the White House, by the so-called Democratic leadership, or by the insurance and drug companies. But Barack the president and the rest of his administration? No, I have no hope at all.

I’m writing in the hortatory subjunctive now:  Look to your principles once more, recall the promises you made and work to fulfill them. Think of the people who voted for you, Barack & Company. Think about why they voted for you. It wasn’t simply your “soaring rhetoric,” you made promises that voters wanted kept. I urge you to reconsider your path, which thus far is filled with so many broken promises (after only nine months!). Remember that we who voted you and other Democrats into office can just as easily vote you out of office. Or, as in my case, simply not vote at all. There is no one worth voting for anymore.

Ignore me at your political peril. You will fail otherwise. A pity, but it’s true.

Sincerely yours–

September 8, 2009 Posted by | 2008 presidential race, Abu Ghraib, Afghan War, Afghanistan, Bagram, banks, Bush administration, civil liberties, Congress, corruption, Defense, Democrats, Due process, Economy, far right, Federal Reserve, Foreign policy, gay rights, Geneva Conventions, Guantanamo, habeas corpus, human rights, Iraq War, Obama, Obama administration, politics, Republicans, torture, Treasury, US Constitution, war crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments