Friday, May 22, 2015

And No, I'm Not Ready to Give It Up Yet


Remember Richard Clarke?  He was Clinton's national security coordinator.  After Bush was elected, he begged him to pay more attention to Al Qaida.  Bush told Clarke to fuck off, and we knew what happened.  Once again, there is nothing that gets you eliminated from consideration as a serious voice on national affairs, like being right.

Well, here's Clarke today, on MSNBC:

"...all the stuff we're seeing today -- the rise of ISIS, the disintegration of the state in Iraq, the disintegration of the state in Syria, I think is directly connected to our invasion...We destroyed the state. This is what happens when you destroy a state. You have chaos, you have the rise of factions, regional and ethic factions," he continued. "And I think you can look at that decision and say that's the reason hundreds of thousands -- probably a couple of million if you add it all up -- people have been killed."

Not Obama.  Not weak-on-defense liberals.  No, the mighty Conservatives and their warmongering brought us the chaos and terror in the Middle East today; and in the process destroyed whatever shreds of moral leadership the United States might have had left after Vietnam and fifty years of the idiotic cold war.

And while I am on the subject, I would like to point out Clarke's estimate of a couple of million deaths consequent to the Iraq invasion.  Some people may remember a peer-reviewed study conducted by scientists at Columbia and Johns Hopkins University, and published in the world's premier medical journal, The Lancet, which estimated that up to a million Iraqi civilian deaths had resulted from the U.S. invasion.  This study was shouted down by the warmongers in a sterling example of right wing denial of reality, and disappeared from public consciousness.  The animus directed toward it was so great that even here at Green Eagle, to avoid meaningless arguments about numbers, I took to referring to "hundreds of thousands" of deaths, rather than the real number.  Thank you, Mr. Clarke, for finally being willing to point out the true magnitude of the damage we did in Iraq, because somehow, somewhere, the truth still must count for something.

Not in this country, of course, where Republicans, in their desperation to hide the grotesque, colossal damage they did in the Middle East, will continue to forever deny what they really did.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

$40 Million

And while I am on the subject, can I remind people that Dick Cheney made a personal profit of $40 million dollars from "no-bid," i.e. corrupt, contracts, which he awarded his own company while he was Vice President?  As far as I know, there has never, ever, in the entire history of the United States, been an example of blatant criminality in a Presidential administration that compares in any way to that, either in the massiveness of the amount or in the blatant disregard for any fig-leaf of legality.  And yet, no one seems willing to call this monstrous abuse of power what it is.

Cheney should have been imprisoned for this alone, but it pales to virtual insignificance compared to his other wrongdoing while in office.

Iraq- The Hits Keep Coming

It is now clear that, in the future, no one on earth is going to remember Pandora.  Instead, they will talk about "Jeb's box."  Boy, I bet he's regretting being so confident that the rich guys were going to give him the Republican nomination, that he decided that running for President didn't involve ten minutes' thinking about the issues before opening his fat mouth.

Chris Matthews had George W. Bush's CIA briefer on his show yesterday.  A couple of excerpts, via Crooks and Liars:

First, Matthews asking the guy about the facts that the administration's public statements corresponded to the information that he gave them:

"MATTHEWS: Was that true? 
MORELL: We were saying— 
MATTHEWS: Can you answer that question? Was that true? 
MORELL: That's not true. 
MATTHEWS: Well, why'd you let them get away with it? 
MORELL: Look, my job Chris—"

His job was apparently to just shut up and allow Dick Cheney to lie the country into war.

"MATTHEWS: So you're briefing the president on the reasons for war, they're selling the war, using your stuff, saying you made that case when you didn't. So they're using your credibility to make the case for war dishonestly, as you just admitted. 
MORELL: Look, I'm just telling you— 
MATTHEWS: You just admitted it 
MORELL: I'm just telling you what we said— 
MATTHEWS: They gave a false presentation of what you said to them. 
MORELL: On some aspects. On some aspects."

On some aspects.  They only lied on some aspects.  The ones necessary to talk the country into war.  But they didn't lie about every single thing on the face of the earth, so they should get a pass on the "some aspects"  they did lie about.  Which, in fact, is exactly what has happened so far.

This is no doubt a tremendous comfort to us as we watch the consequences of Bush's miserable foreign tantrum continue.  ISIS, a movement that Bush and Cheney are virtually totally responsible for creating, killed between 21,000 and 47,000 in Iraq alone, last year.  The numbers they killed in Syria are totally unknown, but we can guess they are similar.

Of course, these deaths are still way below the number of civilians Bush and Cheney killed during their aggression, so maybe it's all okay, at least with the sort of right wingers that are gloating at the disaster we have created in the Middle East, and who are positive that the solution to the whole thing is to start another war over there, after which peace will reign on earth and people will discover how terrible a crime they were committing by hating us for our freedom.

I'm sorry to keep harping away on this subject, but if I can be forgiven a personal comment, I don't like being a citizen of a criminal, murderous country.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Lie to Rule Them All

Let me tell you a brief story.  I remember watching on TV as Colin Powell gave his famous speech to the United Nations detailing the Bush administration's "evidence" that Saddam posed such a threat to the world that we had a right to go halfway around the world and smash his country.  Of course, this was before I was a blogger, so I can't prove a word of this, but I remember listening to what he had to say with total astonishment.  What did he have to back up his case?  Some childish cartoons of the insides of supposed mobile factories to produce nerve gas, a couple of aerial photos of a totally unidentifiable light industrial building that he claimed, without a shred of evidence, was a factory for WMD's and a vial of white powder that, for all we know, was purloined from W's coke stash.  The thing was laughable on its face, and if anything proved beyond a doubt that the Bush administration did not have one shred of evidence to back up its case.

And I was hardly alone.  Millions of people saw the utter bankruptcy of Bush and Cheney's case for war, but they were stampeded into oblivion by warmongers manipulating the fears of the American people, and a compliant mainstream press that didn't care if they spread the most unbelievable lies.

Well, I saw an article today, detailing this unprecedented dishonesty in wonderful fashion.  It is wonderful, not just because of its blunt recall of the facts, but because of where it was published:  in Newsweek magazine, traditionally a willing collaborator with the war party's agenda.  I rarely say this, but it is a must read.  Please take a look at it.

I'll let you read it, which I hope you will, without bothering you further about what it says (you know a lot of it already,) but I do want to add something here.  It is the greatest failure of Obama as President that he did not end this criminal aggression the day he took office, and see to it that the truth was openly discussed, and the perpetrators imprisoned.  His actions have guaranteed exactly what we are seeing now:  As soon as the warmongers believe that enough Americans have forgotten our last miserable adventure in imperial conquest, they start agitating to do it all over again.  Our Iraq invasion has caused such immense tragedy in the Middle East, and with the Bush/Cheney created ISIS still in full force, will continue to do so, while in a mirror image of what happened after 9-11, the Republicans and the Neocons turn their attention next door, this time to Iran, a country far stronger that Iraq was in 2002, which has the potential to deliver the United States a humiliation that will make the world forget all about Iraq, and about the apparently foolish notion that we are somehow better than other, previous would-be world conquerors.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Jeb Opens The Door to Hell, and the Angry Geezer Walks Right In

God in heaven above, John McCain just had to open his mouth again today, surely one of the least needed contributions to our national discourse that anyone could imagine.  What motivated this latest senile maundering?  Well, of course, Jeb Bush, the serious Republican candidate (serious, by virtue of having sold out to the big money guys years ago) made the colossal error of bringing up his brother's grotesquely incompetent invasion of Iraq.  So now, Republicans need to defend the indefensible and try one more time to convince people that the Iraq aggression was anything but a war crime, and one of the most incompetent war crimes in history.  Here's McCain spouting off, in case you care.  The coverage is from Newsmax, a right wing lie factory, but I think you should hear how they are playing this story, so you can get a nice dose of outrage:

"The Islamic State's takeover of the city of Ramadi over the weekend is a "terribly significant" event that will have an impact on the psychology of the people of Iraq, Sen. John McCain said Monday, while continuing to blame the Obama administration for the militant group's rise to power."

Do I need to remind you that the real reason ISIS exists is because George W. Bush dissolved the largely Sunni Iraqi army and let the troops keep their weapons, but not their jobs, and then turned the Iraqi government over to Shiite extremists in return for their promise to knock off the violence for a while, so he could pretend that the "surge" worked?

"I hate to be repetitious, but the fact is that, thanks to the surge we had it under control, and this is another consequence of the failure of this administration and this president to leave a residual force behind," the Republican senator told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program Monday."

This is, of course one of the great malignant Republican lies about the Iraq war.  Obama did not fail to leave troops behind; all he failed to do was break an international agreement between the Bush administration and the Shiite government of Iraq promising to withdraw all U.S. troops.  Obama kept this country's promise.  That is what he supposedly did wrong.

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Well, that is the next line in the story- I mean what is a Conservative opinion piece without a little grifting?  And they did at least put it in a different color.

"The problem, McCain said, is that when the United States pulled its troops from Iraq, "there was a vacuum," and Nouri al-Maliki, who is now Iraq's vice president after serving as prime minister from 2006-14, "decided to control the armed services. He fired all of his good people and hollowed out the army and then we have this consequence of a collapse."

Maliki of course did not "fire all his good people," L. Paul Bremer, Bush's hand picked ruler in Iraq did that, with Bush's full approval.

"McCain said the United States will need to start over when it comes to training the Iraqi military, and that there needs to be a "change of attitude" in Iraq that "makes them understand the importance of good leadership and good training."

We'll need to start over in Iraq.  Doesn't that sound like a delightful prospect to you?  How can anyone be so oblivious?

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Just a little more grifting there, thank you very much.

"McCain said he agrees that there needs to be more hand-to-hand combat, such as that used on Saturday, when U.S. Army commandos launched a rare ground attack in Syria, killing ISIS head of oil operations Abu Sayyaf and capturing his wife, Umm Sayyaf, who remains in custody. 

"I agree that we need more of it," said McCain, adding that there have been operations going on for "some time," including the raid that took out al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

HOOAH!  War!  Boots on the ground!  No one Senator McCain knows, of course, but isn't it nice to have the sage opinion of someone whose experience of war comes from crashing four jet fighter planes and then spending five years in a cage.  Except for the fighter plane part, that makes him just about as qualified as my parrot.  And he has just about the same ability to repeat nonsense over and over again, too.

"I don't want to denigrate the incredible job and coordination amongst our military," said McCain. "You have to give them utmost praise. But to somehow assume that that will turn the tide here against ISIS, I  think, is just not realistic."

Of course, he doesn't want to denigrate the troops!  They did an incredible job, even though it was a colossal, epochal failure.  You have to give them the utmost praise for creating a hellhole!  So the obvious answer is to send them all back to do more of their incredible work.  This time maybe they could turn the entire Middle East into an out of control war zone.

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Yeah, they had to throw that one in too- news coverage Republican style.  Well, good work, guys, because if you are waiting for the day that the American people forget what a disaster the Iraq aggression was, you'd better start preparing for the 2116 election, or maybe the 3116 election, not the 2016 one.  And Senator McCain?  Please shut up and go away, already.

Hero Worship

Not a good way to look at history.  Scott Walker:

“I came of age during the Reagan administration. I was I think I believe just turned 13 two days before his election in 1980. And for me, looking at that kind of leadership, he set the tone, not just domestically with that action; he sent a message around the world as – as you just read off, I think not only to our allies, this is – was someone who was serious that that could be trusted. But in combination with our adversaries, they sent a clear message, not to mess with him.”

You see, that's how our adult, serious Republican leaders evaluate history- through the eyes of a preteen boy.  That's how a malignant parody of a leader like the actor Reagan can still be regarded as a great man by so many Republicans, who don't seem to have ever grown up.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Someone Else's View

My horoscope today:

"No matter how high your confidence level is today, it's still wise to remember that your perspective is only one point of view out of many."

So, I thought I would bring you someone else's opinion- Paul Krugman's:

"But back to Iraq: the crucial thing to understand is that the invasion wasn’t a mistake, it was a crime. We were lied into war. And we shouldn’t let that ugly truth be forgotten."

There.  Well, I'm glad I got that over with.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Christian Karma

There have been a lot of stories lately about a recent Pew study showing a surprisingly sharp drop off in the number of people in the US who consider themselves Christians.  Here's just one sample, from the Washington Post:

"Christianity is on the decline in America, not just among younger generations or in certain regions of the country but across race, gender, education and geographic barriers. The percentage of adults who describe themselves as Christians dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years to about 71 percent, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. 

“It’s remarkably widespread,” said Alan Cooperman, director of religion research for the Pew Research Center. “The country is becoming less religious as a whole, and it’s happening across the board.”

Of course, no one can resist musing about why this might be true, most of the guesses involving blather about millenmials and about people just becoming more secular.  Based on every bit of our experience regarding the mainstream press' treatment of the right, however, it should hardly be surprising that none of them want to cite the obvious cause of this phenomenon.

And here it is:  people did not suddenly decide to get less spiritual or religious in the last ten years, after thousands of years of little change in that regard.  What changed was not the American people, but the Churches themselves.

Those of us who are a little older than the millennials can actually remember when the word "Christian" was not a synonym for an intolerant, ignorant, hate-filled, racist jerk.  We can remember when Christian churches were (as far as we knew- maybe we were wrong) something more than grifting machines.  And we can remember when, if you thought of the Catholic clergy, the first thing that came to mind was not a factory for manufacturing child rapists.

Evangelicals and Catholic Priests have become the face of their religion, and Christians have no one to blame but themselves- not just the execrable specimens of human garbage that actually participate in this hateful conduct, but all of the rest of them, who care too little about their religion to reclaim it for some decent purpose.  The public face of Christianity in the United States today is something that no decent person could really want to flourish.  This sort of Christianity is a malignant thing; that's why people are turning away.  But we are really not supposed to notice that, and instead blame the individuals who just won't associate themselves with something so contemptible.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Jeb Bush Reveals His Own- and His Party's- Hollowness

I guess everyone that would be reading this blog has heard about Jeb Bush's colossal failure this week in dealing with one of his brother's two great legacies as President- the Iraq invasion and the disaster that followed.

This guy has been apparently preparing to run for President for a couple of years now, if courting the backing of the super-rich is any indication, but apparently, his preparation to hold this office doesn't extend to putting in enough time to think about how he feels about the most obvious question he will ever be asked: would he have precipitated the same calamity as his brother did.  Asked the question on Fox News this Monday, he had this appalling answer:

MEGAN KELLY: "On the subject of Iraq... obviously very controversial. Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion?" 

BUSH: "I would have..."

Well, by Wednesday, he was furiously trying to back out of that, claiming that he somehow misheard the question:

"...given the power of looking back and having that, of course anybody would have made different decisions. There's no denying that."

He also managed that day to engage in one of the most nauseating specimens of hiding behind the troops to shut up the people who realized the insanity of his Monday response:

"(Bush) did not go so far as to say the war was a mistake, arguing that hypothetical questions about what he would have done are a disservice to the soldiers that fought and died in the conflict."

And Finally, on Friday:

"knowing what we know now, ...I would not have engaged.  I would not have gone into Iraq,"

Over the course of the last four days, Bush has actually managed to take four, or perhaps five positions on this question.

I bring this up, not to make the obvious point that this guy is a lying weasel just like his brother, but to make a broader point:  On even the most obvious and relevant questions, Republican Presidential candidates, even the so-called serious ones, don't give a damn about the issues that affect this country. They only care about finding the right words to snake-charm the voters, and they will try anything on until they find the right phrase that works for them.  It is not that the Republicans are not a serious party- they are as serious as a cyanide pill.  It's just that what they are serious about is delivering the country lock stock and barrel to a couple hundred rich psychopaths, so it can be turned into a third world slave state.  And that's really not a winning platform, even to their base.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

B. B.

It appears that B. B. King has died.

This is one of the first blues songs I ever learned, now over 40 years ago.  I learned it from a B. B. King race album I had the luck to find in a record store in San Francisco. I still have it, and its four companions that I bought at the same time.  Now, my guitar-playing son is listening to them, and I hope he can hear in them what I did. These early B. B. cuts are, in my opinion, the greatest blues guitar playing of all time.  The simplicity and perfection of what he did in the late '50's and early '60's has never been equaled in my opinion.  It's the reason why I never tried to play fast- you really don't need it if your head is in the right place.

I managed to see him perform three or four times, but not for many years.

There is just nothing I could ever say that can express what a loss this is, so I won't try.

Wingnut Wrapup

Today's Wingnut Wrapup is dedicated to Jeb Bush, who, when asked to clarify his incredibly stupid statement that he would have invaded Iraq just like his brother, refused to answer, claiming that being honest about what he said would "do a disservice" to American troops; possibly the most disingenuous hiding behind our soldiers in all of history.*  With things like this coming from numerous Republican candidates for President these days, is it any wonder that I've had so much trouble lately finding anything worth mentioning from my usual collection of right wing online jerks?

Well, here's the best I can do:

Daniel Doherty, Town Hall:  "Blame Kim: Top North Korean Official Suffers Horrible, Sickening Death"

Being blown up with an artillery shell.  Still, in my mind, a better fate than writhing in agony for forty minutes or so while the State of Oklahoma runs corrosive chemicals through your veins.

Matt Vespa, Town Hall:  "Some Mississippi State-Owned Parks Still Prohibit Open Carry"

The horror!

And now, some news from that other universe that many Conservatives live in:

Alex Smith, Town Hall:  "A Tale of Two Presidential Candidates...It is well documented how the media tend to be more critical of conservative candidates than their liberal counterparts."

Man, these people will say anything.  This idiocy seems to revolve around the different degree of seriousness that the candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina are treated.  Gee, I wonder why that might be?

Donald Lambro, Town Hall:  "Obama and the Democrats are Fighting, Hillary's Polls are Falling, The Economy's Weaker, The Country's a Mess, Let's Vote!"

A great prospect for Republicans.  Or it would be if a single one of those things were true.  Of course, by November, 2016, our mainstream press will do everything it can to see to it that as many people as possible think it's all true.  So, you don't need to give up quite yet, Republicans, just because your entire Presidential field is a pack of ignorant, corrupt lunatics.

Erick Erickson, Red State:  "Knowing what we know now, I would still have voted to go into Iraq in 2003. I think it was the right thing to do and I think the objective data still shows that Saddam Hussein was happy to collaborate with our enemies to undermine us."

Laugh or cry- it's your choice.  And don't forget, this guy was hired by CNN to be a news commenter. Our liberal press in action.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, Red State:  "Take Action Now to STOP Painful Late-Term Abortions...Tomorrow, Wednesday May 13th, the U.S. House is expected to take up the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36). This bill seeks to stop brutal late-term abortions after 20 weeks"

Get why I included this item?  "Late-term abortions" now start at 20 weeks, according to these guys. I guess the phrase "late-term abortions" tests well with right wingers, so now they are going to call everything a late-term abortion.

Roger L. Simon, PJ Media:  "Sabotage! Will Bill Save Us from Hill?  Keep your fingers crossed."

So, at this point, the Republicans are pinning their hopes on the idea that Bill Clinton doesn't know how to run for President, and is going to blow it?  Good luck with that one, guys.

And while we are hanging with Roger:

Roger L Simon, PJ Media:  "2016 has me just about ready to jump in the time machine, go back to WWII, and come back as a kamikaze pilot."

Whatever, Roger.  You are willing to kill yourself if it hurts America enough.  The Koch brothers have a job for you.  Oh wait, I guess you already have that job, writing this kind of crap.

Joan Swirsky, Renew America:  "Pamela Geller -- America's Churchill"

Beyond pathetic.  Who could even make fun of that?  Remind me, which war did Pam Geller win? On the other hand, I guess no one ever blamed the Gallipoli disaster on her.  But of course, Joan is only just starting to dig her hole.  I mean, they don't pay your salary over at Renew America to just say one stupid thing per column:

"During WWII, Winston Churchill was the proverbial canary in the coal mine, repeatedly issuing the earliest warnings to the Western world of Hitler's psychotic megalomania and evil intentions. Again, few listened, while prominent, educated, and sanctimonious types derided and vilified Churchill and called him a fear-monger and a hater and a liar. Sound familiar?"

And here, I thought that, once World War II had started, people had pretty much figured out what Churchill was talking about. And let's just remember that Churchill's warnings during the thirties all took place during a Conservative government in Britain, whose leader, Mr. Chamberlain, was not noted for facing the reality of the German threat.   Joanie Continues:

"That is why, as journalist Jonah Goldberg points out,..."

Hold it right there- "journalist Jonah Goldberg?"  That's like calling my dog a sculptor because of the art objects he leaves in the front yard.  Joanie goes on to compare the disgusting race hater Pam Geller, banned for years from Wingnut Wrapup because there is not one thing amusing about her hatred, to Patrick Henry, the Boston Tea Party, Thoreau, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King,  and Rosa Parks.  I guess she saved Joan of Arc and Jesus for next week's column.

World Net Daily:  "Countdown: 4 months to dreaded biblical climax...Storm clouds gathering around U.S., says bestselling author"

Hide under your bed!  Well, at least when that dreaded biblical climax comes in 4 months, the people at World Net Daily will be able to pat themselves on the back for having been the only ones to have predicted it.

And now, the most pathetic Hillary scandal yet:

Wasington Free Beacon:  "HILLARY 'PLAGIARIZED SELF' REPEATEDLY IN OWN BOOK...Large portions copied from more than dozen public speeches"

Yes, she plagiarized HERSELF!  It is now a dastardly act to repeat something that you have ever said before. at least if you are Hillary!  The article lists numerous occasions on which she said the same thing twice!   Proof of what a dishonest person she is!

Does anyone think this sort of nonsense would be going on if they had anything real on her?  Notice that their great book attempting to Swift Boat her seems to have pretty well disappeared without a trace, within a week of its publication date, despite the support of the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Streiff, Red State:  "Gay Marriage Activist was engineer in AMTRAK wreck"

Well, now we understand everything.  Streiff goes on to imply that the wreck was caused by "risktaking behaviors" characteristic of urban gay men.  Now, here's an explanation that makes more sense to me:  The guy is 32 years old, and previously worked as a cashier at Target.  When railroads in this country were unionized, it took years of experience to become an engineer.  Now, working at Target seems to be good enough.

Susan L.M. Goldberg, PJ Media:  "Common Core: Creating a Productive Citizenry of Sex-Bots"

Sex-Bots.  Susan has this helpful suggestion:

"So, why not promote abstinence, the only method of avoidance with a 100% guarantee?"

Uh maybe because of this:

“At present, there does not exist any strong evidence that any abstinence program delays the initiation of sex, hastens the return to abstinence, or reduces the number of sexual partners. In addition, there is strong evidence from multiple randomized trials demonstrating that some abstinence programs chosen for evaluation because they were believed to be promising actually had no impact on teen sexual behavior.”

Well, damn the facts, we're Conservatives.

*It was , apparently, not a "disservice" to American troops for his brother to have killed 5,000 of them for nothing.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Yeah, Where Are They?

Andrea Tantaros, on Fox News:  "Where Are The Organizations In Defense Of White Men?"

Yeah, I mean, where are they? Really, can anyone answer that question?

Oh wait, here they are:

Question answered, Andrea.  Happy now?