Strategery Fail

 Posted by on December 1, 2015 at 12:00 AM
Dec 012015

An exmple of failed US Strategery

U.S. Soldier cradling a dead Iraqi child

I did not—repeat DID NOT—ghost write the Der Spiegel article referred to below, notwithstanding that it comports 100% with what I’ve written about the failed Iraq War strategery in various fora since 2002. (Strategery is a word coined by the writers at Saturday Night Live, enunciated by the actor Will Ferrell to satirize the cognitive foibles of our former Commander in Chief, George. W. What Me Worry Bush. Apologies to Mad Magazine‘s Alfred E, Neuman).

The highlights of the  article are presented by Huffington Post’ Matt Ferner in Monday’s article titled: Former Military Chief: Iraq War Was A ‘Failure’ That Helped Create ISIS, which begins:

Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, former U.S. special forces commander in Iraq and Afghanistan who was the country’s highest ranking military intelligence official, says that the George W. Bush administration’s Iraq war was a tremendous blunder that helped to create the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS.

“It was a huge error,” Flynn said about the Iraq war in a detailed interview with German newspaper Der Spiegel published Sunday.

“As brutal as Saddam Hussein was, it was a mistake to just eliminate him,” Flynn went on to say. “The same is true for Moammar Gadhafi and for Libya, which is now a failed state. The historic lesson is that it was a strategic failure to go into Iraq. History will not be and should not be kind with that decision.”

When told by Der Spiegel reporters Matthias Gebauer and Holger Stark that the Islamic State would not “be where it is now without the fall of Baghdad,” Flynn, without reservations, said: “Yes, absolutely.”

Full disclosure: I am not a brilliant military analyst pulling down a hefty six figure salary to write position papers for a leftie think thank squirrelled away somewhere near Foggy Bottom with a view of the Pentagon. I never served in the military, nor do I have close confidants employed in the intelligence industrial complex. Though I have had a lifelong interest in the military and military strategy, beginning with my reading of Robin Moore’s The Green Berets and A General’s Story (about General Omar Bradley, General of the Army from D-Day to the end of WW 2) when I was in my early teens, all my studies and insights and been derived from the public record.

So, having someone with background of Michael Flynn confirm my critique of the USA’s military and foreign policy is heartening, to say the least. It actually gives me hope that, eventually, US policy makers will finally get a clue about the futility of trying to maintain worn out strategery tropes like:  Might makes right, Manifest Destiny, and American Exceptionalism.

Meanwhile, media networks and politicians continue to hire for their “expert” opinions many of the same thoroughly discredited hacks who helped lie our country into catastrophic wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, wars directly responsible for today’s expanded conflicts. It’s like re-employing the surgeon who mistakenly amputated your healthy limb to amputate the actual diseased one. Sooner or later, he’s bound to get it right.

W's failed What Me Worry strategery

What, me worry?


Innocence Of Muslims’ Sam ImBecile: Agent Provocateur?

 Posted by on September 13, 2012 at 6:23 PM
Sep 132012

Protesters laying siege to the US Embassy in Yemen

 Not to diminish the seriousness of the conflict currently gripping the Middle East in response to the release of the Islamophobic film “Innocence of Muslims,” but the guy who is responsible for it is, in addition to being a neocon Clash of Civilizations bomb throwing knuckle dragging jerkwad, just another convicted felon way in over his head.

From The Daily Beast:

When the film premiered this summer, it seemed more likely destined for the dust bin than infamy. The premiere was a bust, with less than a dozen people attending. Among them was the man who would later identify himself to news outlets as the film’s maker, Sam Bacile.

The director didn’t watch his creation the night of the premiere. Instead, he sat by himself at a nearby restaurant, staring intensely at the theater [@ Hollywood and Vine], the law enforcement source told The Daily Beast. What he didn’t know was that he was being watched by officers. “You are monitoring the people in the area for behavioral characteristics, and he was displaying them. Normal people don’t act like that. He was across the street, on the opposite side of the block, so he could view what was going on. He was sweating and focusing in on the entrance. He was watching what was going on around and who was going in,” the source said.

The officers approached the man, who looked to be in his mid-40s or 50s, and he introduced himself as the director of the film.

This week, the director was busy introducing himself to various news outlets as Sam Bacile. He told The Wall Street Journal he was a 52-year-old Israeli real-estate developer in California, and that he had made the film with $5 million raised from 100 Jewish donors. He said he made the movie, which depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a womanizer, pedophile, and homosexual, because “Islam is a cancer.”

But wait— there’s more.

Doubts about Bacile’s identity began to surface after the film’s consultant, Steve Klein, told another news organization that “Bacile” was a pseudonym and that he was not Jewish or Israeli. Klein, an insurance agent in Hemet, California, said the money used to finance the low-budget flop came from a mixed bag of donors, including Middle Easterners, Jewish people, Christians, and former Muslims.

Klein, who spent the majority of yesterday giving interviews to local television and print reporters, has a dubious background himself. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which wrote about Klein and his affiliation with a California extremist evangelical group called Church at Kaweah that is said to have roots in the militia movement, noted Klein once bragged about leading a “hunter-killer” team as a marine in Vietnam…

By late Wednesday, the hunt for the “real” Sam Bacile was pointing in yet another direction. The Associated Press published another story, this time reporting that Bacile is most likely 55-year-old Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a California Coptic Christian convicted of federal bank fraud charges. In 2010, he was ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution, and sentenced to 21 months in federal prison. Nakoula told the AP that he was involved in the film and said he knew Bacile.

Shades of convicted bank fraudster Ahmed Chalabi, who bamboozled the former Bush Administration into invading Iraq. But I digress.

After some of the actors in the film were located yesterday, the players issued a joint statement claiming they were duped by the man who called himself Sam Bacile. One actress who had a small role in the film, Cindy Lee Garcia, told Gawker that she thought she was appearing in another film about ancient Egyptians, supposedly titled Desert Warriors, and that the offensive anti-Muslim dialogue was dubbed during the post-production of the film. Garcia said the man who claimed to be Bacile told her he was from Egypt, and spoke Arabic to some of the “dark-skinned” cast members.

“The entire cast and crew are extremely upset and feel taken advantage of by the producer,” read the statement from the actors. “We are 100 percent not behind this film and were grossly misled about its intent and purpose. We are shocked by the drastic rewrites of the script and lies that were told to all involved. We are deeply saddened by the tragedies that have occurred.”

One has to wonder if Msrs. Klien and  Nokula won’t soon receive a visit from Mr. Doherty’s former Seal team mates, just to clear the air and all.

One has also to consider the karma associated with trying to foment World War III— Reverend Terry Jones, I’m talking to you— which has just become more likely, coming to a Middle East near you.



Daffy Qadaffy Flashback

 Posted by on March 20, 2011 at 5:08 PM
Mar 202011

Remember the good old days when the Bush Administration embraced Daffy Qaddafi and brought him back into the Brotherhood of Nations, a mere 30 months ago?

What went wrong? Did he insult Kenya somehow, and by extension, President Obama‘s extended family?

Surely former Secretary of State Condi Rice would answer a call to duty from her current president to help bring peace and democracy to our North African brothers and sisters.

After all, she did such a great job in Iraq and Afghanistan.

From Fux News:

Rice Meets Qaddafi on Historic Visit to Libya

Friday , September 05, 2008

TRIPOLI, Libya —

The United States and Libya sealed a historic turnaround after decades of terrorist killings, American retaliation, suspicions and insults with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s peacemaking visit Friday with Moammar Qaddafi, Libya’s mercurial strongman.

“The relationship has been moving in a good direction for a number of years now and I think tonight does mark a new phase,” Rice said following a traditional Muslim dinner —the evening meal that breaks the day’s fast observed during the holy month of Ramadan — at Qaddafi’s official Bab el-Azizia esidence. It is the same compound hit by U.S. airstrikes in 1986 in retaliation for a deadly Libyan-linked terrorist attack in Germany. The attack killed Qaddafi’s baby daughter.

“We did talk about learning from the lessons of the past,” Rice said. “We talked about the importance of moving forward. The United States, I’ve said many times, doesn’t have any permanent enemies.”

Rice is the highest-ranking American official to visit Libya in a half-century. The United States considers Qaddafi rehabilitated since the days when President Reagan called him the “mad dog of the Middle East,” because of the Libyan’s surprise decision in 2003 to renounce terrorism and give up weapons of mass destruction. His government has also agreed to resolve legal claims from the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 and other alleged terror attacks that bore Libyan fingerprints.

“Libya has changed, American has changed, the world has changed,” Foreign Minister Abdel-Rahman Shalgam said following a meeting with Rice. “Forget the past.”

Qaddafi welcomed Rice in a room redolent of incense. Wearing flowing white robes, his trademark fez and a green pin of Africa, Qaddafi bowed slightly and put his right hand over his heart in a traditional Arab greeting. The two did not shake hands, but Qaddafi did shake the hands of Rice’s male aides.

They then exchanged pleasantries, with Rice offering Qaddafi greetings from President Bush and Qaddafi asking about the hurricanes that have hit or are headed to the U.S. mainland, before dozens of reporters, photographers and television cameramen were ushered out.

Their small talk belied almost 30 years of dismal U.S.-Libyan relations that hit their low point in the 1980s when Reagan ordered the retaliatory airstrike and Qaddafi swore revenge.

“We’re off to a good start,” Rice said later. “It is only a start, but I think, after many, many years, it’s a very good thing that the United States and Libya are establishing a way forward.”

The United States withdrew its ambassador from Libya in 1972 after Qaddafi renounced agreements with the West and vilified the United States in speeches and public statements. Washington cut off diplomatic relations with Libya after a mob sacked and burned the American Embassy in 1979.

The notoriously secretive Qaddafi was to host Rice at but the venue remained mysterious and U.S. officials could say only that they expected it to be in a tent.

Qaddafi is known for often unpredictable behavior and has cultivated images as both an Arab potentate and African monarch since taking power in a 1969 coup. In a televised address to the nation this week he said he considers the United States neither a friend nor an enemy.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera television last year, Qaddafi spoke of Rice in most unusual terms, calling her “Leezza” and suggesting that she actually runs the Arab world with which he has had severe differences in the past.

“I support my darling black African woman,” he said. “I admire and am very proud of the way she leans back and gives orders to the Arab leaders. … Leezza, Leezza, Leezza. … I love her very much. I admire her, and I’m proud of her, because she’s a black woman of African origin.”

Rice is the first secretary of state to visit Libya since John Foster Dulles in 1953 and the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit since then-Vice President Richard Nixon in 1957.

Libya has agreed to pay compensation to the families of victims of the 1988 Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, and those of a 1986 attack on a disco in Berlin. The disco attack killed two U.S. servicemen and drew Reagan’s order to attack Libyan targets, including Gadhafi’s residence.

Rice was spending only a few hours in Tripoli, an ancient city fronting the Mediterranean Sea and backing to the North African desert but took time to visit the offices that serve as the U.S. Embassy in Libya.

Plans to send a full-fledged ambassador and build a new embassy are hung up in Congress over concern that Libya has not fulfilled its promises to compensate terror victims.

Rice’s visit comes amid a surge in interest from U.S. companies, particularly in the energy sector, to do business in Libya, where European companies have had much greater access in recent years. Libya’s proven oil reserves are the ninth largest in the world, close to 39 billion barrels, and vast areas remain unexplored for new deposits.

Rice said she raised the case of a prominent Libyan dissident who remains detained, and said she discussed other human rights concerns “respectfully.” Shalgam defended Libya’s record.

Those were the days, my friend
We thought they’d never end.

Bush Wacked

 Posted by on November 14, 2010 at 1:09 PM
Nov 142010
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
The Decider Returns
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity

Jon Stewart on Bush’s No Apology Tour

When Jon Stewart mentions half way through this segment that he hadn’t thrown up once, yet, he was referring to a nasty case of the stomach flu he was enduring (evident also in his interview with Rachel Maddow the same day). What he didn’t mention was exactly when his violent upchucking began. Was it before or after reviewing hours of video tape of George W. Bush‘s self-serving book promo interviews? God knows, Bush has made me sick to my stomach for a decade now, so I suspect the former.

When asked by one interviewer if, during the research phase of writing his memoir he had googled himself, Bush stiffened and said coldly: “My private life is none of your business. That’s between me and Pickles!”


Humor aside, what will history make of a dry drunk, messianic malignant narcissist with a room temperature IQ who never got a job that didn’t depend on a phone call from his daddy?

He destroyed the US economy for a generation by doubling the national debt through two ruinous tax cuts, two wars and occupations, and the unfunded Medicare Part D giveaway to the medical insurance complex.  His laissez-faire approach to regulation led directly to the collapse of Wall Street and the housing market, not to mention the poisoning of an entire marine ecosystem.

By invading Afghanistan and Iraq, he became the best recruiter Al Qaeda ever had.  By “getting even” with the guy who had tried to kill his dad, he destroyed an entire country, destabilized the Middle East, and greatly empowered Iran. He destroyed what moral authority the US had in the world by his disdain for the rule of law, ordering torture and rendition of foreigners on the flimsiest of evidence. At home, he pissed on the U.S. Constitution as he ushered in a national security state. He stared out his airplane window as the poor in New Orleans drowned.

His record speaks for itself.

No wonder his publisher held off on releasing his book until after the election for fear it would remind people just what a disaster our last Rethuglican presidency was.

World Fail 101

 Posted by on September 5, 2010 at 11:45 AM
Sep 052010

It’s been a tough couple weeks in the world.

  • Pakistan Floods Displace Another Million People
  • Congo Government: Mass Rapes Can’t Be Stopped
  • U.S. Leaving Billions In ‘Legacy Of Waste’ In Iraq
  • U.S. Military Loses Control Of Subcontractor Spending, Warlords Benefit
  • Iraqi Citizens Angry With U.S. Combat Troop Withdrawal Amid Current Living Conditions
  • Iraq War “Officially” Over
  • Over 100 NATO Deaths This Month
  • 7 More Americans Killed In Afghanistan
  • Croatia Ethnically Cleansed Serbs, Say U.N. Prosecutors
  • Putin To Protesters: You’ll Be Beaten If You Continue To Rally
  • Video Of Girl Throwing Puppies In River Sparks Outrage

Number 6 of 6 puppies is about to get a first taste of the river of life and death.

Yeah. That last one.  Dog babies, maybe a couple weeks old, heartlessly tossed into a swift current.  Yes, I know thousands of human beings have been drowned in Pakistan, many more starving, contracting disease, with more than

twenty million homeless and little hope of surviving very much more climate catastrophe;  heart-wrenching beyond belief.  But it was Mother Nature who threw these millions of Muslims— and Christians— into the current.  And we all know what a heartless biotch she can be.

Some Christians might think their version of an all-loving and all-merciful divine being is calling all these Muslims home to Paradise to punish them— for not being smart enough to become a Christian when they had the chance— and therefore avoid eternal damnation in a fiery pit off in the heavens somewhere, there to spend an eternity being tortured in flames.  But sadly, all those people drowned before converting to Christianity, and must now spend eternity in hell as their infallible idea of an all-merciful Father of Love commands.  Yeah, that is so 1st century BCE.¹, but it’s all they’ve got.

Neither does it help rouse their sense of human decency that these particular Muslims are the only ones who happen to have their own nuclear weapons arsenal.  Oh— that, and they owe us 40 Billion dollars.  Even so, the Catholic Bishops of Muslim Pakistan—  yes, there are Christian Pakistanis— have called out to the Christian world community to stand united with them during this ongoing climate calamity.  Still.

Jon Soltz
Think terrorists can’t pretend to be nice people when it suits them? Look no further than the Palestinian territories, where for years, Hamas has taken care of many social services, and provided for the families of suicide bombers and other terrorists. The result? Hamas won open elections in the territories, and now controls Gaza.

So, yes, that’s happening right there in Pakistan. Reports CNN, “An official with Falah-e-Insaniyat, a group widely believed to be the charity wing of a Pakistani terrorist group, said Shah, the USAID administrator, visited a camp the group was running. Kuaateeb Ullah, Falah-e-Insaniyat’s leader in Sukkur, said the charity is running five camps in the Sindhi city and providing food and medicine to 3,500 flood survivors. He told CNN that Jumaat Ud Dawa, banned by the United Nations and the Pakistani government as a terrorist organization, was helping fund the relief missions.”

The “charity wing”?  Pretending “to be nice when it suits them”?  Perhaps. But do you really think that Jesus cares a lot that their willingness to serve their countrymen is so they can call in a few “chits”² later, when they seize power over these same people?  Do American Christians remember that Jesus said, “I tell you that, even when a cup of cold water is given to a thirsty soul, the Father’s messengers shall ever make record of such a service of love.”

Not a good development in a country where the US is already seen as the enemy by every 6 out of 10 people.

Hmm;  how did that happen?  Ask yourself:  How much “collateral damage” inflicted on your friends and family by another nation’s armed forces would it take to turn you into a “terrorist”?

Issam Ahmed
At a medical camp on Muzaffargarh’s main road, Dr. Ghulam Mustafa, chief of the Falah-e-Insaniat medical team, sits with several helpers and dispenses drugs. In between prescribing diarrhea medication to a small infant who has been brought along by his mother, Dr. Mustafa explains: “Only we and the Jamaat-e-Islami have camps in the villages and far flung areas. It is our Islamic duty” to help, he said. In a text message to the Monitor, the Al Khidmet foundation makes similar boasts about its efforts in Layyah, Sindh. “In one area we have 10 boats busy rescuing those affected. Here there are no Army or civilian government representatives.”

It is their “Islamic duty” to help, they “boast,” as they are the only ones with “camps in the villages and far flung areas.”  Yeah that sounds dastardly.

But let’s move on.  Mass rapes in the Congo.  That’s ugly beyond belief.  Yet, as the headline says, it “can’t be stopped.”  Why?  Nearly 200 women and four baby boys were raped over four days— within miles of a U.N. “Peacekeepers‘ “base.  But nothing could be done, supposedly, because according to a government spokesman, the “Congo’s army needs more on-the-ground support for its security forces from the international community.”  U.N. support for the army is limited to transport, food, fuel and medical evacuations;  the fate of women and children is someone else’s job, because the “United Nations” doesn’t have the moral authority to “interfere.”

Moving down the list, the next half dozen headlines deal with America’s two current wars— the one President Obama officially declared over for our combat troops— and the one where we’ve still got some of our children’s skin in the game.  I say “game,” because President Obama, moderate Christian that he is, has not yet taken to heart the moral imperatives in Christ’s straight-forward teaching, “Love your enemies.”  He’s still playing the game of national sovereignty, pretending that we are independently free to pursue America’s interests in the world, without recognizing the necessary step of forging a confederation of nations avowed to keep peace in the world;  to jointly share the responsibilities that entails in blood and money from all nations, not just ours.

It’s the job of all nations who seek peace;  not just the U.S. and a few of her allies, all of whom have their own international agendas.  Only when a strong majority of peace-loving nations pool their limited resources and military forces will “the world” be able to afford to genuinely ensure global peace and prosperity for all.

Intractable international problems continually and increasingly reveal how ineffective— and unethical— it is for any single nation, like the United States, to assume the mantle of “World Sheriff,” spending money we don’t have (read: we’re effing broke) to protect or control other nations like Iraq and Afghanistan, from the tyranny and terror of its own people.  World security and internal national peace must become the shared responsibility of ALL nations on earth;  all those nations who have finally learned that war is ruinous for all nations— not just the nations backward enough to believe they can solve problems by murdering one other— but also for those who set their highest morals and ethics aside and look the other way until the damage is done.

Yes, the world is a dangerous place, bla bla, bla.  But when will the leader of any nation on this planet finally get it right: WAR IS FOR IDIOTS, and must be stopped.  MUST. BE. STOPPED.
But as long as there are those who would make war— whether individuals, backward tribal groups, militias, or nations— they must come to face the full and immediate moral, legal, military force of all other nations united, who have the right to decide these issues democratically, as a world governing body, once they have agreed to make that governing body sovereign;  the same way our individual states respect our federal government’s authority.  Until then, we can look forward to the increasingly grotesque failure of our nations to act wisely and effectively to solve our shared-world problems.  And we will not enjoy lasting peace until the so-called sovereign nations intelligently and fully surrender their sovereign powers into the hands of the brotherhood of men— mankind government.

¹  Before Christian Era

²  “Chits”—  common military slang for a certificate with monetary value

Afutilestan VIII

 Posted by on May 31, 2010 at 1:36 PM
May 312010

Rep. Alan Grayson introducing his War Is Making You Poor Act on the House floor

As we look back to honor the fallen on Memorial Day, the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan grind on. Afghanistan, in its ninth year, is already the longest war in US History and Iraq, at seven years, is not far behind.

On May 21, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) introduced his War Is Making You Poor Act. Co-sponsored by Reps. Ron Paul (R-TX), Walter Jones (R-NC), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) Barbara Lee (D-CA), John Conyers (D-MI), and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA),  an attempt to draw attention to the unsustainable (and self-defeating) nature of the US military industrial complex that spends more on “defense” than the rest of the world combined.

Meanwhile, it was a shitty week for the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal:

1. Fatalities by US troops reached the 1000 mark, marking May as the deadliest month for US troops this year, with 33 KIA.

2. A US military investigative report found that a US drone attack had mistakenly identified a group of Afghan civilians as militants, killing 23 of them.

3. The combined cost of the Afghan Iraq wars passed 1 trillion dollars in direct costs, and approximately $3 trillion altogether.

4. Taliban forces have re-infiltrated Marjhah which has been held out as a singular example of McCrystal’s successful counterinsurgency strategy.

5. The commander of the Canadian forces, with the second largest contingent of troops after the US, resigned in a sex scandal.

6. Another NATO fuel convoy was attacked and destroyed.

7. An Afghan police convoy was attacked, killing five.

8. McChrystal claims Iran is aiding the Taliban.

And we ain’t seen nuttin yet. With the melting of the winter snows comes more frequent and deadly Taliban attacks.  And this summer we’ll witness the long planned US attack on Afghanistan’s second largest city, Kandahar, the main object of President Obama‘s shell game escalation involving the movement of combat troops from Iraq to Afghanistan, tripling the amount there from the day that Bush left office.

To be continued…

May 292010

A Dire Straits message for President Obama

Is President Obama suffering from Stockholm Syndrome brought on by the D.C. culture of Regulatory Capture corruption he inherited?

Regulatory capture occurs when a state regulatory agency created to act in the public interest instead acts in favor of the commercial or special interests that dominate in the industry or sector it is charged with regulating.

Stockhom Syndrome: In psychology, Stockholm syndrome is a term used to describe a paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express adulation and have positive feelings towards their captors that appear irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims.

It’s easy to see a corporatist pattern in Obama’s approach to legislation over the first sixteen months of his administration. Just look at health insurance reform (ditching the public option, backroom deals with Big Pharma); financial regulation (opposing too big to fail and serious derivative reform); energy policy (subsidizing nuclear plant construction, expanding off-shore oil drilling); military defense (doubling down in Afghanistan, increasing an already bloated military budget).

The dynamic promise of hope and change that put Obama into the White House has been replaced by a corporate friendly incrementalism. Though making a difference at the margins, it leaves the existing dysfunctional systems intact, sewing the seeds for even greater systemic breakdowns in the future. To see how just corporate friendly these “reforms” are, one need only check the increase in the stock prices of the effected companies once the broad outlines of the respective “reforms” emerged. Expect to see the same thing when an energy bill is finally passed.

But as the major financial “reforms” of the Clinton Administration has proved, namely repeal of Glass-Steagal, which dismantled the firewall between conservative commercial banking and high risk financial products;  and The Commodities Futures Modernization Act, which made massive oil speculation and companies like Enron possible, short term gains can produce long term socio-political-economic disaster.

The risk for same is insured by the revolving door that exists between industry and government, an arrangement that puts corporate friendly staffers in charge of regulatory oversight. Recall that the medical insurance reform bill was largely the one originally submitted by Senator Max Baucus. He in turn praised his lead staff person, Liz Fowler, a former Wellpoint VP, for doing the lion’s share of the work. If she follows the established pattern, she’ll either return to Wellpoint or find a lucrative position with a K Street lobbying firm.

In normal times, Obama’s bi-partisan, deferential approach to law making might have served him and the country well. But these are desperate times, even more dangerous than the challenges presented by the Great Depression.  FDR knew who the bad guys were and confronted them head on, inviting their hate. He put forth and executed a bold and comprehensive plan for economic growth and social stabilization (WPA, Social Security). He didn’t hire the very people who had caused the problem, nor did he send his chief of staff to make backroom deals with them.

In normal times, Obama’s cool, detach affect might likewise have served him and the country well. Though his intellectual appreciation for the quality of empathy was demonstrated by his selection of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court, his personal response to the Gulf oil catastrophe these last few weeks shows he lacks Bill Clinton‘s natural empathic “I feel your pain” quality of connecting with those most affected.

And what was up with his staff choosing to show him picking up dime sized bits of hardly recognizable tar on a beach that BP had rushed to clean in advance, tripling the amount of personnel?  Why not put him in a small boat in the oil soaked marshes and let him dip a blue gloved hand into that disgusting, toxic goo, showing him sniffing it and recoiling from the smell?  How come they didn’t inform him immediately of the resignation of the head of the MMS, making him look uninformed during his first press conference in 10 months?  Couldn’t they have rescheduled this week’s photo ops with two sports teams at the White House, and his political fundraisers in California?

Freakin’ tone deaf this administration, I fear, is.  Obama looks no more in command of his own staff than he does of the government’s response to the disaster unfolding in the Gulf.  That includes the Coast Guard’s often contradictory statements to the media.

Is it just me or does Obama looks like he’s being bitch slapped by BP, which has continuously misled him and the American people about the true scale of the tragedy?  I felt the same way when Obama was stood up by the three top Wall Street banksters a few months back when he invited them to the White House to discuss the need for regulatory reform. I’d bet that FDR would have ripped them a new one.

Flash test: In light of the biggest rip off in financial history, in the 18 months since the bottom fell out: (1) How many Wall Street banksters have been indicted? (2) How many have gone to jail? If you answered none to both, go to the head of the class.

While Obama’s intelligence and attention to detail has been a refreshing and necessary relief from the eight long years of Bush’s bumbling incompetence and swaggering cowboy personality, it might yet prove inadequate to weather a perfect storm of:  economic stagnation; huge budget deficits; the military quagmires in Afghanistan and Iraq (whose combined costs reaches the trillion dollar mark this weekend); the looming environmental catastrophe to the entire Gulf ecosystem; accelerating global heating;  an extremely polarized electorate; a failing education system;  serious infrastructure degradation– the list goes on.

Given all that, we are probably expecting  too much from any one man. He has my prayers and my sympathy. But if he’s going to win a second term AND not be saddled by a Rethuglican controlled House of Senate, he’s going to have to make some quick adjustments.

He could start by shaking up his immediate staff, including Rahm Emanuel (who’s been sunning himself in Israel these last few days);  fire Ken Salazar at The Department of the Interior (whose nomination was fiercely opposed by environmentalists, for very good reasons we are seeing);  and get rid of Wall Street insiders like Larry Summers and Timmy Geithner who are busy behind the scenes screwing the pooch of financial regulatory reform.  Instead, Obama’s gone in the opposite direction, succumbing to the pressure of demagogues like Glenn Beck by firing the one guy who could be using the Gulf tragedy to implement real energy policy reform, Van Jones.

Obama could show he is standing up to the Grand Obstructionist Party by making more recess appointments, something that Bush and Karl Rove did with demonstrable glee. He could lean on Attorney General Eric Holder to start criminal investigations of the Wall Street banksters; as well as BP for lying to the government about its  safety and cleanup plans, not to mention negligent homicide.

In short, Obama needs to change his game.  Mr. President:  Stop shooting comfortable threes from outside the arc.  Start throwing some elbows, crash the boards,  score from the paint, stuff the ball through the hoop, and look out below.

These are desperate time and we are in dire straits.  A joint Gallup-USA Today poll released last Monday shows that 53% of Americans rate your handling of the oil disaster “poor” or “very poor.”  Just remember:

Sometimes you’re the windshield,
Sometime you’re the bug.
Sometimes you’re the Louisville slugger baby,
Sometimes you’re the ball.
Sometimes it all comes together baby,
Sometimes you’re going to lose it all

Well it’s a strange old game – you learn it slow
one step forward and it’s back to go
You’re standing on the throttle
You’re standing on the brakes
In the groove ’til you make a mistake

Sometimes you’re the windshield
Sometimes you’re the bug
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you’re a fool in love
Sometimes you’re the Louisville slugger
Sometimes you’re the ball
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you’re going to lose it all

You gotta know happy – you gotta know glad
Because you’re gonna know lonely
And you’re gonna know bad
When you’re rippin’ and a ridin’
And you’re coming on strong
You start slippin’ and slidin’
And it all goes wrong because

Sometimes you’re the windshield
Sometimes you’re the bug
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you’re a fool in love
Sometimes you’re the Louisville slugger baby
Sometimes you’re the ball
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you’re going to lose it all

One day you got the glory
One day you got none
One day you’re a diamond
And then you’re a stone
Everything can change
In the blink of an eye
So let the good times roll
Before we say goodbye, because

Sometimes you’re the windshield
Sometimes you’re the bug
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you’re a fool in love
Sometimes you’re the Louisville slugger baby
Sometimes you’re the ball
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you’re going to lose it all

[Song and lyrics by the incomparable Mark Knopfler]