by Deacon Blues
There's a very simple reason why Vladimir Putin is attacking the United States' arrest and extradition of senior FIFA officials yesterday from Switzerland over charges of corruption, bribery, and money manipulation: because Putin is running a criminal enterprise that paid to get the 2018 World Cup.
I suspect that FIFA took bribes and other inducements from Russia, Putin, and his associates to place the 2018 cup in that country, and I assume Qatar bought the 2022 Cup. Putin is afraid of this now being exposed, so consistent with his small man complex, he once again plays the victim card and lashes out at his arch enemy with overheated rhetoric to misdirect attention away from his own misdeeds.
If Obama had the guts, he would publicly tell the American soccer community that if the United States' justice community has established a pattern of FIFA criminality surrounding the 2018 and 2022 Cup placements, then American soccer should not be rewarding such criminality. America should boycott both Cups, but Obama doesn't want to piss off Qatar, because he needs them for our regional fights. However, there is no reason whatsoever why America should be rewarding a criminal thug like Putin, who lied to the world about Ukraine, with any further events on the world staqe. End of story.
Lying About Recent History
by Deacon Blues
In all the flurry of revisionist history from the GOP presidential candidates of late, its actually refreshing to see one of them speak the truth: ISIS is a creation of the Bush/Cheney administration and not Barack Obama’s loadstone.
There was no Al Qaeda in Iraq before Bush toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. And without an Al Qaeda in Iraq and a toppled Baath military leadership, there would be no ISIS today. Plain and simple, end of story. Republicans can whine all they want about Obama leaving Iraq prematurely and creating a vacuum that begot ISIS, but such criticisms intentionally ignore the fact that:
1. George W. Bush created and enacted the Iraq exit strategy before Obama took office;
2. Iraq refused a Status of Forces Agreement to protect remaining Americans;
3. Nouri al-Maliki's punitive use of the Iraqi armed forces against Sunni tribes fomented ISIS's rise.
Any GOP candidate who tells you that Obama and Hillary created ISIS is a bald-faced liar. However, Obama and to a lesser extent Hillary ARE responsible for the disasters that happened on their watch.
Which is why it's so enjoyable to watch Rand Paul tell the truth about all of this and then see the flame throwing aftermath. The Defense Industrial Complex DID arm the Iraqi Army as Paul says, the same army that just left behind all its American paid-for weapons so that ISIS can use them against us. This is exactly the reason why Obama to his credit didn't want to arm Syrian opposition groups back in 2011-2012; the problem is that Obama didn't want to do anything in the region, when doing nothing wasn't really an option given what al-Maliki and Assad were doing.
Hillary's defense in all of this is quite simple: yes, mistakes and bad choices were made by people like her who have now learned from them. But do you really want to turn foreign policy back over to people who not only haven't learned from our mistakes, but now want to lie about the past and repeat those mistakes all over again?
Could Hillary Get Al Gored?
Al Gore’s “defeat” in Election 2000 is generally ascribed to the emergence of Ralph Nader and a third Party candidacy, but we should never forget the vicious, endless persecution he received at the hands of the press, a nauseating process of Republican talking points relentlessly hammered through the media until they became hot campaign memes of themselves, the truth, dignity and the election dumped into the trash.
During on the debates Al Gore kept sighing as George Bush mouthed useless offensively untrue platitudes, but somehow the press twisted itself into ignoring what Bush said and made fun of Gore’s sighs. Sighs Matters, our gallant defenders of truth proclaimed.Continue reading "Could Hillary Get Al Gored?"
Losing the Best Reasons to Watch TV
by Deacon Blues
My television viewing habits are already quite limited to begin with. I hate reality TV shows and avoid them, and I only watch certain news programs on broadcast and cable TV, staying away from the propganda seen on Fox "News". And my type of television dramas aren't the flashy or trendy ones, but the ones that do stories and characters well, even if they are considered boring by others. And I greatly appreciate comedy along the lines of John Oliver, John Stewart, and especially David Letterman.
So you can imagine the disappointment I feel over the last week with "Mad Men" and "The Late Show with David Letterman" ending their runs, and with the clock ticking on Stewart's "The Daily Show". Watching the broadcast networks put forward the same steady stream of formulaic dramas and sitcoms, with the usual dose of mind-numbing "reality TV" shows only reinforces the feeling that television has made a conscious decision to leave behind a certain but large demographic: people with brains and taste.
I admit to being a TV snob, and I know I'm not the demo that the major networks target. I'm just a 50-somthing guy with some intelligence, some taste, and disposable income looking for entertainment that doesn't treat me like the lowest common denominator. I look for flawed, cynical, but smart people in my comedy and not mindless clowns, and I look for real, flawed humans in my drama and not the sensational and overdone characters. And at a time when our news is corporate and right wing, I lean towards comedy that does a better job at revealing truth than the "news" shows themselves.
So it is a bitter pill to swallow that Letterman leaves the air tonight, and Stewart later this summer, leaving us with an "aim to please" two Jimmy's and an unknown Colbert and Noah, especially on the verge of a presidential campaign that cries out for cynical but well-informed comedy. Perhaps the current generation will uphold the standards set by Letterman and Stewart, but I fear it is just as likely they won't. In any case, I think we are all the worse for these departures from our television screens, and I only hope I am very wrong about that.
Thanks Dave for not being warm and fuzzy all these years.
Is Jeb Up To It?
by Deacon Blues
Jeb Bush backtracked today from his statement earlier this week, wherein he said that knowing what he knows now, if president himself he still would have invaded Iraq, just as his brother did in 2003.
Republican Jeb Bush reversed field on Thursday after a week of criticism and said that based on information known now, he would not have launched the Iraq war carried out by his brother, former President George W. Bush.
Jeb's flip-flop baffled Rick Santorum, after Bush's original statement raised eyebrows amongst other GOP contenders. Clearly, Jeb isn't ready for prime time. But if the GOP thought John Kerry's alleged "I was for the war before I was against it" stance disqualified him for the presidency in 2004, then how is Jeb qualified in 2016?
Obama Loses Senate Democrats on TPP
by Deacon Blues
This is what happens when a 7th-year president spends too much time pleasing the opposition and Wall Street in getting a trade bill rammed through the Senate without full disclosure of what the hell is in it, and then commits the cardinal sin of slamming an expert and conscience of his own party for opposing him. Senate Democrats stopped the TPP from proceeding today, forcing Mitch McConnell to cut some deals to get it out of the Senate and on to a House that already wasn't sold on it.
Obama should have known better, and his shots at Warren were sexist and dismissive of someone who knows this stuff better than he does. And for those observers who took shots at Hillary for not stepping into the middle of this, get real. The woman isn't stupid, and there's no reason for her to bail him out of his mess after he mouthed off against Warren.
Don't kid yourself, there are plenty of economic populists right now in both parties, and Hillary gains nothing from backing up Obama and the Wall Street wing of the GOP right now. It's far easier and more beneficial for her to simply say "we have to start doing things for Main Street instead of Wall Street", than it is for her to stand with Obama and Wall Street against Warren, Joe Stiglitz, and a growing part of the 2016 electorate.
The Shrinking Jeb
by Deacon Blues
The only reason for independents and crossover Democrats to vote for Jeb Bush was his (alleged) appeal as the “smarter Bush”, the adult who wouldn’t do his brother’s stupid stuff. Well after yesterday, that reason is now gone, no matter how much Jeb tries to walk it back today.
When Laura Ingraham can see right through your flaws and thinks you’re stupid, she’s usually attacking Democrats. Not now with Jeb, who made the asinine statement that he like his brother would still invade Iraq today even with what we know now about WMD’s and what the toppling of Saddam has done to world security.
All in all, despite assertions from GOP strategists that this year’s crowd of Republican contenders is high quality, I disagree. Where is the rock star among them who actually has solutions and can effectively reach out to Democrats and independents? It certainly isn’t Chris Christie, who this morning spelled out his appeal to the middle class: cutting taxes (what else?). Did Christie actually have a solution to raise incomes amongst the middle class? Nope.
Hillary for her part is signaling through others that she may embrace a far more aggressive approach to income inequality and middle class income stagnation than any Republican will offer, or any progressive critic expected. And if that means distancing herself from her husband’s actions that harmed the middle class, no one should be surprised if she does this.
We Need A Twelfth Fleet
by Deacon Blues
I’ve said this before, and I will continue saying it, in the hope that Hillary Clinton or a GOP president act upon it: we need to re-commission the Navy’s Twelfth Fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean. I suggested such a thing months ago in the immediate aftermath of Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea and backdoor attempt to turn Ukraine into a client state, and it’s even more necessary now that Russia and China are engaging in joint naval maneuvers in the region.
Of course, neither country has any coastline in the Mediterranean.
Not only would a Twelfth Fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean send the right message to allies and foes in the region, but it would also reassure major Sunni states and allies that America intends to maintain the security umbrella in the aftermath of any new thawing with Iran, even if that means a missile defense system and naval response capability.
Regardless of whether or not the Iranian nuclear deal outline becomes a formal agreement, the next American president will need to emphasize that our foreign policy is built on support for Israel and moderate Arab/Islamic states, and preventing aggression from any disruptive movement or state, whether it be Russia, Iran, or any bad actor. Israel and those moderate states would all welcome a stabilizing American military presence in the region as long as such a presence doesn't insert itself into their affairs and as long as responsible states commit to existing with each other. That should be a simple policy that Hillary could delineate easily, and a renewed Twelfth Fleet is a cornerstone of such a policy.