Christie’s Seance Detente

Christie hearts Obama

Ruh roh: Don’t let the wingnut base see Christie heart President Obama

During Tuesday’s GOP presidential debate, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called President Obama a “feckless weakling, ” and promised to initiate a novel form of seance detente to destroy ISIS/ISIL/Daesh:

CHRISTIE

…And so on ISIS, let’s be clear, the president needs to be a force that is trusted in the world. On this I agree with Marco. You know, this president is not trusted…

But I will tell you this, when I stand across from King Hussein of Jordan and I say to him, “You have a friend again sir, who will stand with you to fight this fight,” he’ll change his mind.

Yup, exactly what we need:  an uber macho president who promises to provide military support to a  Jordanian king who died 16 years ago. Hey, if Chris Christie has the power to close a bridges with a wink and a nod, surely the jingoistic jersey blowhard can consult with the dead.

Having watched fellow New Jersyian Donald Trump skyrocket in the polls with the same kind of in-your-face bluster that used to be Christie’s exclusive domain, he is going for broke, even if it means coming across as the same kind of misinformed asshole as The Donald. That means playing the fear card. Big time. As New York Times columnist Gale Collins wrote in her column Thursday:

Well, the big Republican presidential debate is over and the message is clear: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

“America has been betrayed,” began Chris Christie, setting the tone for the night, which might be described as bellicose paranoia. The betrayers were President Obama and Hilary Clinton. His example of the terror they have wrought was the Los Angeles school system, which closed Tuesday after an email threat from someone who described himself as a Muslim terrorist.

“Think about the mothers who will take those children tomorrow morning to the bus stop wondering whether their children will arrive back on that bus safe and sound,” Christie said darkly. “Think about the fathers of Los Angeles who tomorrow will head off to work and wonder about the safety of their wives and their children.”

This is probably not the time to point out that the governor of New Jersey seems to have a rather retro view of the roles of mothers, who are likely to be heading off to work themselves. But here’s the thing: The threat was a hoax. New York got the same message and kept classes going after officials determined that the writer was not only a phony, but a phony who had no clue how to sound like either a Muslim or a terrorist.

One example I heard: the email didn’t bother to capitalize the word “Allah.” Even a teenager trying to terrorize us all from from his basement redoubt should know better than that. I’d send Christie a case of Depend but I’m not sure they make them in his size.

Meanwhile, the Bridgegate scandal continues to generate negative publicity for Christie, with a federal judge on Wednesday calling his taxpayer funded legal whitewash investigation a “calculated strategy” of “opacity and gamesmanship.”

A federal judge on Wednesday harshly criticized the internal investigation that cleared Gov. Chris Christie of any wrongdoing in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal, saying it was a “calculated strategy” of “opacity and gamesmanship” rather than the thorough and transparent inquiry that the governor promised.

Mr. Christie commissioned the investigation in January 2014 after documents subpoenaed by legislators revealed that one of his senior aides had sent an email that called for “some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” the community that was gridlocked for four days by the lane closings in September 2013.

According to invoices released by the state late Friday, the law firm that Mr. Christie hired to do the investigation, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, billed New Jersey $8 million through the end of August for continuing defense of the governor.

But the independence of the investigation has come under question from the start. It was led by Randy Mastro, who like many of the governor’s close aides once worked for former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, one of Mr. Christie’s biggest defenders in the lane-closing scandal. This week, a lawyer involved in the investigation, Debra Wong Yang, co-hosted a $2,700-per-person fund-raiser in Los Angeles for Mr. Christie’s Republican presidential campaign.

The firm’s report, released in March 2014, limited blame for the lane closings to the aide who sent the email, Bridget Anne Kelly, and two Christie confidants at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, both of whom resigned in late 2013.

Ms. Kelly and one of the Port Authority officials, Bill Baroni, were indicted in May on charges that they closed the lanes intentionally to punish a mayor who had declined to endorse Mr. Christie’s re-election campaign in 2013. (The other official, David Wildstein, pleaded guilty in exchange for cooperation with prosecutors.)

Now that’s chutzpah: Inconvenience your constituents in an exercise of petty political payback; throw your top aides under the bus when the scam is revealed; then get taxpayers to fork out $8 million to whitewash an internal investigation by your handpicked legal team that includes an “investigator” who is raising money for your presidential campaign.

Just the kind of sleazeball you want running the country.

 

IT’S QUIVERING TIME

Hands Away

“…where two or three believers are gathered together, there am I in the midst of them.”
—Jesus

December 3rd marked my discovery of The Urantia Book 43 years ago. I usually take the day to reflect on just what has happened in my life since that momentous discovery. It was the beginning of Christmas break at the university I was attending;  a friend of my roommate, a total stranger, had loaned me a copy of the book after I rudely expressed sympathy for those who had roughed up some”born-again Christians” who were evangelizing on a San Francisco street corner;  she didn’t make a big deal out of it, she just said I think you’ll like it.  It was an event that suddenly changed my life in nearly every meaningful way imaginable, and continues to do so.

And yet, it’s very difficult to adequately explain how important the discovery of The Urantia Book is.  At one level, it is the difference between being awake in reality, and being asleep in a dream world.  At another level, it’s the fundamental and genuine awareness of knowing who you are, what you are, where you are, and why you are here; as opposed to never really knowing the answer to any of those questions.

The majority of people on this planet go through their entire lives assuming that the answers to those vital questions can never truly be known. Their lives are filled with more or less systemic confusion, which manifests itself in every major decision they must make, in every single relationship they have. Death remains a great and increasingly ominous mystery to those who even dare to reflect on their own mortality, and a glib denial of the basic nature of reality to those who do not.

Life and death are common daily experiences on our world; new souls coming into it every day, while older souls are constantly leaving their mortal coil behind them as they head into the vast unknown.  This December 3rd, my uncle Benny graduated to a higher plane of existence.  He was pretty much an atheist, with an angry loathing towards the idea of God.  He’ll be overwhelmingly surprised and eternally grateful when he wakes up in the next world, with the same unique personality in a new body;  with a continuing life in a startling and unimaginable universe of eternal progress and adventure.

Unfortunately, it was impossible to talk to him about it here, in this life, because for whatever reason(s) he was intolerant of the very idea of eternal life.  But even that won’t prevent his re-awakening, and one day we’ll have the talk we couldn’t have here.  If you’re not like that— if you’re open-minded and possess real intellectual integrity— then I make this annual plea for you— read The Urantia Book while you are still on Urantia.

You will be glad beyond words that you did.

 

PS: We’re aware our comments aren’t working; we’re on it. 😎

Strategery Fail

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?

 

Fear Not

 

Fear Not

Over 150,000 US citizens have been killed by gun violence since 20015ox the amount killed by terrorists. But thanks to the NRA, who opposes restricting the sale of semi-automatic rifles to individuals on the terrorist watch list, the gap is likely to decrease. According to that radical leftie rag, The New York Post:

More than 2,000 people on the FBI’s terrorist watch list legally purchased weapons between 2004 and 2014, a Government Accountability Office report says. The roughly 700,000 people on the list are still allowed to buy firearms — though felons and drug addicts are not.

Cutting to the chase: The NRA, arguably the most powerful legislative lobbying group in the US, makes the terrorist mission easier. No need to smuggle in weapons over the borders–plenty of military style assault rifles out there ready for the buying.

Of course, Daesh/ISIL/ISIS  and other terrorists won’t be coming into the US disguised as Syrian refugees, the vast majority of whom are young moms and kids and orphans. Refugees spend up to two years of heavy vetting, waiting to get into the country. Or to put it another way, waiting to escape the very terrorists that cause so many ‘Muricans to wet their beds at night, judging by the fear based rhetoric they regularly ingest and spew.

Nope, real terrorists (in contrast to imagined ones) can simply enter the US through the front door bearing a valid passport or visa. Already, there are an estimated 5,000 European nationals who have traveled to conflict zones in the Middle East, where they have presumably received some military training. They can simply hop aboard a plane along with tens of millions of tourists, businessmen, and students that legally enter the US every year.

So, don’t look for terrorists to be carrying weapons as they deplane. More likely they’ll be carrying large fruit baskets with Thank You cards addressed to the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre.

If the faith of the Most High has entered your heart, then shall you abide free from fear throughout all the days of your life. Fret not yourself because of the prosperity of the ungodly; fear not those who plot evil; let the soul turn away from sin and put your whole trust in the God of salvation. The weary soul of the wandering mortal finds eternal rest in the arms of the Most High; the wise man hungers for the divine embrace; the earth child longs for the security of the arms of the Universal Father. The noble man seeks for that high estate wherein the soul of the mortal blends with the spirit of the Supreme. God is just: What fruit we receive not from our plantings in this world we shall receive in the next.”

—The Urantia Book

From Their Apocalips to God’s Ears

isis-paris800
Last Tuesday, GOP presidential candidate, Governor John Kasich of Ohio, in response to the brutal terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Mali, called for the creation of federal agency to promote and propagandize Christian values. Not in front of a conservative, Evangelical gathering in Iowa, mind you, where some 33% of Iowa Republicans wants to criminalize Islam. But in front of the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Even the pearl clutching Lindsey Graham mocked Kasich’s idea, stating that: “I don’t think we should be promoting Judeo-Christian values in the Arab world. I think that was the Crusades.” Boom! Well, it didn’t take long for Kasich to walk back his initial proposal, now claiming that we don’t need such an agency after all. Instead, he called for the rebirth of the Voice of America. Or something.

You’da thunk that Kasich would have learned from the lesson of George W. Bush, who immediately after 9/11, twice called for a “crusade” as part of an aggressive military strategy to punish the evil doers. Not only did W. ditch that needlessly provocative rhetoric, but to his credit, praised and defended Islam:

September 20, 2001

I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It’s practiced freely by many millions of Americans, and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them.

Rather than highlight the differences between Christians and Muslims, let’s identify a key commonality instead; specifically, the belief by both that we have entered into an apocalyptic, end times. In the Christian tradition, the Book of Revelation describes a bloody, catastrophic conflict, culminating in the triumphant return of Christ, the Messiah, when peace and justice is restored.

In Muslim eschatology, the end times are foretold in the Hadith, a collection of teachings attributed to the Prophet Muhammed. The Hadith foretells the arrival of a fierce warrior, Muhammad al-Mahdi, (aka The Twelfth Imam, aka The Missing Imam) who vanquishes the wicked, and after a similarly bloody conflict, also brings peace and justice to the world. (The two main sects of Islam, Sunni and Shia, differ in their beliefs as to the origin and history of the Mahdi, but both recognize his indispensable, world transformative role.)

But here’s the kicker: Accompanying the Mahdi will be the Prophet Isa; aka the Prophet Jesus:

According to Islamic tradition, the Mahdi’s tenure will coincide with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (Isa), who is to assist the Mahdi against the Masih ad-Dajjal(literally, the “false Messiah” or Antichrist).

So there you have it, a moment of harmonic convergence, if you will. Maybe the Mahdi and Isa should hold a joint press conference and tell this planet’s denizens to chill the hell out. (Hullo! Anybody up there?)

As The Urantia Book puts it:

You must first recognize man as your brother, and if you honestly desire to do by him as you would have him do by you, the commonplace dictates of justice, honesty, and fairness will guide you in the just and impartial settlement of every recurring problem of economic rewards and social justice.

What’s In A Name?

17 Nov 2010, Ar Raqqah, Syria --- Sheikh Ghazi Rashad Hrimis touches dried earth in the parched region of Raqqa province in eastern Syria, November 11, 2010. Lack of rain and mismanagement of the land and water resources have forced up to half of million people to flee the region in one of Syria's largest internal migrations since France and Britain carved the country out of the former Ottoman Empire in 1920. REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri (SYRIA - Tags: AGRICULTURE ENVIRONMENT) --- Image by © KHALED AL-HARIRI/Reuters/Corbis
17 Nov 2010, Ar Raqqah, Syria — Sheikh Ghazi Rashad Hrimis touches dried earth in the parched region of Raqqa province in eastern Syria, November 11, 2010. Lack of rain and mismanagement of the land and water resources have forced up to half of million people to flee the region in one of Syria’s largest internal migrations since France and Britain carved the country out of the former Ottoman Empire in 1920.

What’s in a name? That which we call a turd by any other name would smell as rank.
William Shakespeare [with apologies thereto]

In the aftermath of the horrific terrorist attack on Paris last week, GOPer presidential candidates are wetting themselves over the opportunity to change their image as clueless opportunists to macho champions of national security. A pissing contest has developed among the majority over whom would be tougher on the terra’ists than the feckless, petulant, secret Muslim in the White House. The centerpiece  of this emerging strategy is to put tens of thousands of combat troops into the Syrian meat grinder. (Time for a reprise of  The Who’s Teenage Wasteland?) Thus far, Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and celebrity entertainer Donald Trump have resisted putting “boots on the ground,” but don’t be surprised if they start walking that back as the campaign heats up.

Another refrain emanating from the right wing noise machine is to attack anyone that won’t accept their rhetorical construction, radical Islamists, to describe terrorists that use a distorted interpretation of the Muslim religion to justify their actions, and to recruit impressionable and disaffected youth. (For a counter-view, see Juan Cole’s Top Ten Ways Islamic Law Forbids Terrorism.)  That includes Senator Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and President Obama. Framing the conflict that currently exists between less than 0.01% of the world’s Muslims and the largely Christian world as a Clash of Civilizations is part of The New American Century promoted by some of the same neocons that are part of  Jeb Bush‘s foreign policy team— you know, war criminals— like neo-conman Paul Wolfowitz, who helped “liberate” Iraq by toppling Saddam Hussein, setting into motion the very chaos responsible for the crisis that now infects the entire Middle East. (ISIS is the direct descendant of al-Qaeda in Iraq, created in 2004 to fight the US invasion.)

Naturally, the current batch of GOPer presidential candidates are too dense to realize that they are playing directly into the hands of the ISIS/ISIL/Daesh propaganda noise machine. Its operators would love nothing more than to get the non-Muslim world to condemn, by association, one of the world’s great monotheistic religions.

In conjunction with 1) the well-nigh hopeless economic situation facing the vast majority of young Arab Muslims, impoverished by the massive concentration of wealth into the hands of a few autocratic oil sheiks and their families (the ultimate example of wealth inequality); and 2) the history of Western military intervention in the Middle East that included putting military bases in the holy land of Saudi Arabia (which gave birth to the original Al Qaeda), together they provide a terrorist recruitment bonanza.  As former top aide and speechwriter to President George W. Bush and Washington Post opinion writer Michael Gerson writes:

Rejecting a blanket condemnation of Islam is not a matter of political correctness. It is the requirement of an effective war against terrorism, which means an effective war against the terrorist kingdom in Syria and western Iraq.

Not to be outdone by their Congressional colleagues, currently some 28 Republican governors and one Democrat have stated that, despite President Obama’s pledge to accept ten thousand Syrian refugees, a paltry sum compared to the commitment of individual European countries (Turkey is already hosting two million), they’re going to pull a Lester Maddox and block the “golden door ” of immigration with a big fat pick ax handle.  At least thirteen governors,  12 Democrats and one Independent, have said they would accept the refugees. While the Refugee Act of 1980 prevents states from refusing admittance, that won’t stop the Republican governors from posturing the hell out of the issue. Look for them to dump the mechanics of changing the law on Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Since 9/11/2001, none of the 784,000 refugees admitted into the country, some 35-40% of which are children, have ever been arrested on terrorism charges. Thus far, the federal government’s vetting procedures have worked just fine, thank you. (EDIT: By another accounting of approximately 785,000 refugees, a dozen have either been arrested or removed; none were from Syria.)

Furthermore, Wingers are attacking Bernie for saying Climate Change is the USA’s number one national security issue, despite reports from the national security community affirming same. (See also On the Record: Climate Change as a National Security Risk According to U.S. Administration Officials.) Instead of acknowledging that these reports even exist, Wingers resort to outrage and personal attacks, accusing Sanders of being weak on defense.

Most wars are the product of resource scarcity. In the case of Syria, a devastating drought forced rural farmers to abandon their farms and migrate to the big cities to feed their families. This created social pressures that resulted in a number of peaceful demonstrations that asked for greater governmental support. These pleas for humanitarian assistance were met with extreme violence from the government of Basshar Al-Sadad, and rapidly devolved into a catastrophic civil war. Initially, Sadad sent in his goon squads to suppress the protesters. When that didn’t work, he upped the ante. Among other war crimes, he denied food and medicine to desperate civilian enclaves, and dropped barrel bombs on them from helicopters, some of which are believed to have contained chlorine gas, according to the Syrian American Medical Society.

Funny how one thing leads to another. The same mindset that denies anthropogenic climate change as a factor leading to regional wars, denies that US the Exceptional is no longer capable of being the world’s policeman. They’d rather pursue their own ideological crusade. Some day maybe they’ll reach the same level of  insight that the great philosopher Pogo reached when he observed: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

If Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz had their way, they’d amend Emma Lazarus‘s poem affixed to the Statue of Liberty as follows:

“Give me your tired, your poor,  (so long as they’re Christian)
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free (except the chlorine gassed, who might be terrorists in disguise),
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. (maybe not Anders “I’m 100% Christian” Breivik, though)
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me: (Muslims need not apply, despite what the Constitution says about religious tests)
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” (Sorry, out of order)

 

MITTENS SEZ: MISS ME YET?

Mittens Sez: Miss Me Yet?Willard “Mitt” Romney

Yeahhhhhhhhhhhh. . .

It may be time to review some of the more insane republicans out there who are currently unemployed. Like Mitt.

Oh, and have a great weekend, y’all.