Point of View Columns

War without End – Amen

As the horror and misery of the attacks in Paris settle into the collective consciousness, certain realities have become clear. First, there is no place on this planet where safety can be assured. Second, the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are new epicenters of terror and global violence; although we forget at our own peril the cauldrons of mayhem in Nigeria, Mexico and the Congo. Third, the destabilization of the planet on which we live is clearly the work of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Rice-Wolfowitz cabal.

Revisionist history is both deceptive and revealing of the motives of the deceivers. The neocon retrospective on the first decade of this century would tell us that after the 9/11 Al Qaeda terror attack the United States had no choice but to invade and occupy Afghanistan, albeit without an exit strategy, and even though Afghanistan has righteously earned its name as “The Graveyard of Empires”.

This revisionist narrative goes on to proclaim the lie that the invasion of Iraq was justified by  “weapons of mass destruction” that were known to be non-existent. Again, we were witness to an invasion reminiscent of Afghanistan, lacking the essential structure of an exit strategy. Only this time, the invasion of Iraq combined with the collapse of the regime of Saddam Hussein and the ongoing American-induced chaos in Afghanistan resulted in the destabilization of an entire region – from Western Asia to the Middle East.

Americans are historically used to meddling and interfering and intervening in the affairs of other countries without consequence. Indeed, America’s European cousins established the model for meddling, interfering and intervening during the five hundred year colonial era, dating from the 1500’s into this century. But now, in this era of globalization, there is a difference.

The big difference, the game changer, if you will, is that now the subjects and victims of meddling, interfering and intervening can indeed create consequences for the American and European fortresses that are no longer fortresses. We live in a globalized and interconnected world where the consequence in one part of the world becomes a part of our lives in the instant of a key stroke or a car bomb.

But it is important to view history through the lens of truth and accuracy so that it is understood that the Bush-Cheney-Rice-Wolfowitz cabal perpetrated a neocon strategy that obliterated the flimsy stabilizers in the Middle East and Western Asia. They seem to have seriously believed that somehow the invasion and toppling of regimes in that part of the world would open the door for the apostles of western democracy and the predatory avatars of One World capitalism. And somehow this epiphany would come to pass under the barrel of a gun accompanied by a rainstorm of barrel bombs and Tomahawk missiles.

The sad, lost souls rising from the rubble of 9/11 and Paris and London and Madrid and Mumbai and Tripoli and Syria are the real consequence of the failed neocon vision of a New World Order. To be clear, without the mindless invasion of Afghanistan and the dark fantasy of the Iraq invasion, we do not have a destabilized Middle East and Western Europe. ISIS would not be lurking around every corner and it is likely that the victims in Paris and London and Madrid and Mumbai and Tripoli and Syria would not be victims at all.

And now, while George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz live in luxurious comfort, the world that they have destabilized careens down a path shrouded in a war without end. There is no consequence for them in this life, but there is a real consequence for the rest of us who live on this planet.

Point of View Columns

Fool Me Once

One very clear aspect of history is that the facts don’t change. But it is also very clear that the interpretation of those facts can mold history to suit the convenience of the interpreters. The fact is that senior officials of the Bush-Cheney Administration are arguably the architects of the most flawed American foreign policy in modern times. Yet those responsible for the policy debacle for which Americans are still paying the price are actually giving their opinions on foreign policy and critiquing the Obama Administration.

We could begin with Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Advisor and Secretary of State during the eight year fiasco that was the Bush-Cheney Administration. She was presumably on duty when everything but a skywritten message was warning of the 9/11 attacks. She was also part of the team that hoodwinked the American people and bamboozled a group of easily cowed “allies” into plunging headfirst into the bloody muck and mire that was the Iraq war. She was also a part of the team that jumped into Afghanistan feet first with no discernible exit strategy.

It is because of the Bush-Cheney Administration, including Dr. Rice,  that the United States economy suffered severe body blows from the costs associated with these unfunded wars of choice. It is because of the mistakes, misdeeds and outright deception engaged in by the Bush-Cheney Administration, including Dr. Rice, that thousands of American soldiers died needlessly and thousands more will suffer needlessly for the rest of their lives.

It is good to believe in redemption, but it would seem that the alumni of the Bush-Cheney cabal are peddling mass amnesia without even the slightest hint of humility or remorse for their errors and sins. Condoleezza Rice giving foreign policy advice is the logical equivalent of Sarah Palin advising on national campaign strategy or Rick Perry giving debating tips.

Are the American people supposed to forget or ignore the blood that is pooling at the doorsteps of the Bush-Cheney legacy? When we see the likes of Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld emerging from the wreckage of their foreign policy missteps as if nothing bad happened under their watch, are the American people supposed to forget the damage and disaster that occurred?

It seems that the Teapublicans are particularly adept at burying their mistakes in the mud of history assuming that the attention span of the American public is just slightly longer than that of a goldfish. But the survivors of 9/11 victims remember. The survivors and family of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans remember.

And there’s more. The millions of Americans who are “structurally unemployed” because of the dislocation occasioned by the Bush-Cheney cabal remember. And the millions of Americans who lost their homes when they were caught in the vortex caused by unfunded and unnecessary wars combined with greed-driven tax cuts remember.

The sight of these architects of misery shamelessly sharing their world views is all the more appalling in light of the Teapublican fascination with the word “scandal”. Like a spoiled child with yet another toy the Teapublicans yelp and yowl and holler “scandal” anytime they can cobble together another criticism of the Obama Administration.

When real scandals were taking place during the Bush-Cheney years, there were appeals for bipartisanship and calls for national unity regardless of the errors that were made. The fact that errors of omission were made by the Bush Administration prior to 9/11 somehow didn’t move the needle on the Teapublican Scandal Meter. The fact that errors of commission were made by the Bush Administration in falsely claiming the existence of weapons of mass destruction as the causus belli in Iraq was never deemed to be a scandal even though this country continues to reel from the consequences of that awful war of choice.

Condoleezza Rice and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, and now even George W. Bush, can preen and parade across the television screens acting as if all went well during their dance with disaster. But the American people know better and history will not treat them kindly.

Point of View Columns

Valuable Free Advice

There is an old saying about free advice is worth what you pay for it. And that is usually true. But as we watch the Teapublicans serially insult black Americans and consistently embarrass themselves as they “reach out” to the black community it might be a good idea for them to listen to some free advice – just this one time.

First of all, it is not useful to find other black Teapublicans who say the same horrible things that white Teapublicans say. One would have thought that the lesson would have been learned during the deafening lack of black support for the doomed Herman Cain presidential bid or as evidenced by the infinitesimal dribble of support for the ill-fated re-election campaign of Mr. Horror Show himself, the unlamented Allen West.

Teapublican/neocon nonsense still doesn’t make sense to most black Americans, even if the nonsense is being pitched by the likes of Clarence Thomas or Condoleezza Rice. No matter whom the spokesperson might be the message still matters.

And that brings us to another fundamental problem. The Teapublican Party has to stop treating its abysmal ratings in the black community as a marketing problem. The challenge is greater than finding a new logo or a devising a catchy slogan. The disconnect is real and rooted in real problems.

A bit of history – as late as 1960 the black vote in America was evenly divided between the Republican Richard Nixon and the Democrat John Kennedy. Within the next four years the tide of black voters going in the direction of Democrats became a tsunami. What happened? The Civil Rights bills happened with the leadership of a Democratic president and Congress.

What did the Republicans do? The Republican Party became the equivalent of a Buenos Aires safe house for the diehard Dixiecrats and segregationists who simply would not abide national acceptance of justice and equality for black Americans. And it is that heritage which stains the nearly lily white, Southern-dominated Teapublican Party to this very day like a bizarre Scarlet Letter that most black Americans can see quite clearly.

This disenchantment is real and visceral. The heritage harks back to the days of Jim Crow and lynchings and Birmingham bombings, and it resonates even for black Americans who were not alive for the Scottsboro travesty, the Little Rock riots or the executions of Till, Schwerner, Chaney, Goodman and King. And until the leadership of the Teapublican party can come to grips with this fundamental set of facts there are not going to be many “inroads” into the black community.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is a libertarian zealot who believes in minimalist government (except when it came to his accepting Medicaid payments as a practicing physician). In the past he has done a rhetorical fan dance on the issue of the historic civil rights bills of a half century ago, sometime saying that he wouldn’t vote for them and sometimes saying that he would have. But he has also stated that the Republican Party “won” the black vote in 1865 and that it has to find a way to “win” the black vote again.

Senator Paul should reference the earlier advisory not to treat this matter as a marketing contest. He should also study history a little more closely.

Even a cursory understanding of the peculiarly unique institution of American white supremacist slavery would lead to the consequent understanding of what Emancipation meant to black Americans. It literally meant life itself – a life without fear of being killed on a whim, or having your children sold or having your wife raped before your eyes with no legal recourse. Emancipation meant an opportunity to believe in tomorrow, a belief which had been denied to black Americans for over two hundred years.

Emancipation was championed by Republicans and that is why black Americans voted for Republicans as a matter of faith. To use Rand Paul’s unfortunate choice of words, Republicans “won” the black vote by transforming the lives of black Americans.

Democrats in turn began to make “inroads” in the black vote during the 1930’s by instituting the New Deal which again transformed the lives of all Americans, including black Americans. Democrats ‘won” the black vote by transforming the lives of black Americans.

For Teapublicans to change the balance of political choice in the black community it will have to propose transformative, not cosmetic, changes. A new logo, a black Teapublican with the same Old South message will simply not work. Transformation will work. It is that simple and that complicated.

This free advice, if taken, could be valuable.

Point of View Columns

Three Strikes and You’re Out!

As soon as Barack Obama was re-elected president (I just love the way that phrase rolls across the page) it took about two hours for new battle lines to be drawn. The fiscal “cliff” negotiations were anticipated since the January 1, 2013 was set in place over a year ago. The battle regarding U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice is the outlier. In opposing her presumed nomination to become Secretary of State the Teapublicans, John McCain and Lindsey Graham in particular, are seriously wrong on three counts – and three strikes and you’re out!

First, the Teapublicans who are lining up to form a human wall of opposition to Ambassador Rice’s presumed nomination are by and large hypocrites of the first order. Staunch pitchfork and torch bearers and like Senators McCain and Graham are claiming that Dr. Rice is not trustworthy or qualified.

Yet these same senators voted to confirm Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State. That Dr. Rice as head of the National Security Council presided over the 9/11 fiasco, the greatest lapse in American intelligence since the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. That Dr. Rice also helped orchestrate a symphony of misstatements and mistruths – “mushroom clouds over the Middle East” and “Weapons of Mass Destruction” – that led to the calamitous and disastrous American military engagement in Iraq at a cost to this country of over a trillion dollars, over 4000 killed, over 40,000 injured and untold hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths.

That Dr. Rice’s resume describes an untrustworthy and horrific record in security and foreign policy matters. Senators McCain and Graham voted to confirm her as Secretary of State without so much a muttering word of question or dissent. They are wrong for being hypocrites. Strike One.

On the other hand, Dr. Susan Rice seems to have trained her entire academic and professional life to become Secretary of States beginning with her being selected as a Rhodes Scholar. Her work in the State Department of the Clinton Administration is unquestionably excellent and her work as United States Ambassador to the United Nations has been a portrait of diplomatic skills at the highest level.

The Terrible Teapublican Twins McCain and Graham would like to nail the Benghazi tragedy onto Dr. Susan Rice’s record. In an effort to turn a tragedy into a scandal McCain and Graham would have us believe that the American Ambassador to the United Nations had some operational responsibility in Libya. The concept is so ridiculous it could only be a Teapublican talking point.

But McCain and Graham know the truth – former CIA Director David Petraeus told them. Essentially, Ambassador Rice was not permitted to make references to terrorist involvement in Benghazi in her initial statements because it would have compromised security and military initiatives that targeted those same terrorists. For pretending not to understand how the real world works and for trying to destroy the reputation of a lifelong public servant who has served this country well, McCain and Graham are wrong. Strike Two.

Finally, the Teapublican Twins seem to be hell-bent on ignoring the fact that Barack Obama is the President of the United States and on 11.6.12 was reelected as President of the United States. The United States Constitution is very clear in giving the president the power to appoint Cabinet members. And while the Senate is designated to provide advice and consent to such appointments, in over 200 years a presidential cabinet appointment has rarely been blocked and then in cases of outright fraud or suspicion of serious misdeeds.

Nothing like that has even been alleged with respect to Ambassador Rice, even by McCain and Graham. What we are seeing is a Capitol Hill Teapublican Temper Tantrum – they cannot get over the fact that President Obama won and that they lost. Ambassador Rice’s nomination as Secretary of State, should it be forthcoming (I personally hope that she is nominated), simply offers the Teapublicans another opportunity to obstruct.

Over the past four years President Obama has selected an entire Cabinet, two Supreme Court justices, numerous ambassadors and countless other officials – exercising his judgment in each instance. The American people saw his judgment at work in real time and reelected him with over 330 electoral votes and by more than 3 million actual votes.

For not acknowledging political reality and dragging partisanship to a new low, McCain and Graham are wrong again. Strike Three…….and you’re out!

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – December 16, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011 marked the end of the Iraq War. A war born of foolish choice and outright lies produced catastrophe, death and an uncertain future for at least two countries. Now Mitt Romney thinks that Newt Gingrich is “zany” and it turns out that the Republican pot may be calling the Tea Party kettle black. And finally, the United States Congress averted a total shutdown of the federal government for the eighth time this year. This is what passes for an accomplishment in the United States of Stupid.

War is Hell

On Thursday President Obama announced the end of the United States military involvement in Iraq. The Iraq War was a misbegotten war of poor choice that resulted in over 4500 deaths and over 30,000 injuries suffered by men and women of the American military. The war has cost the United States over $800 billion (there is no doubt that the number will exceed a trillion dollars by the time of any final accounting). Conservative estimates conclude that over 100,000 Iraqi citizens have died in the charnel house built by the Bush/Cheney regime.

Incredibly Senator John McCain has gone on record criticizing President Obama for consummating the agreement for the departure of American troops that was signed by President George Bush. That anyone would consider it reasonable for one more soldier to die in a military misadventure born of lies and deception is unthinkable. It provides one more reason that we should be thankful that Barack Obama defeated John McCain in 2008.

How do George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell sleep at night knowing that they conspired to create a war to protect America from a threat that they knew didn’t exist? Do the ghosts of the dead and the visions of the wounded haunt them?
Probably not.

It’s a Zany Zany Zany World

This past week Mitt Romney referred to Newt Gingrich as “zany”. We can be certain that Newt Gingrich took the comment as a compliment as he feels that anytime anyone mentions his name in any sentence it is a confirmation of his greatness.

It is interesting however, that Mr. Romney would refer to Newt as “zany” when he is the one trying to be the leader of a party dominated by evangelical Christians even though he is a Mormon – a faith despised by the evangelicals. Mitt Romney further channels his inner zaniness by veering from a pro-choice to a pro-life position on abortion and thinking that somehow, someway, no one will notice.

Actually, the entire G.O.Tea Party cavalcade is “zany”, from Rick Perry rocking his Tim Tebow imitation to Michele Bachmann stamping her foot a la Shirley Temple as she declares that she is “a serious candidate for president”. Ron Paul want to dismantle the governmental apparatus that has created the way of life that has assured American ascendancy and………..well, the list goes on.

“Zany” may be the best word to use – it remains to be seen how “zany” the American electorate really is.

Death of a Thousand Cuts

Seemingly minutes after President Obama was inaugurated Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared that the mission of the Republican Party was to insure that he would be a “one term president”. The mush mouth master of right wing idiocy, Rush Limbaugh, waddled to the microphone to declare that he wanted President Obama to “fail” – and we can assume that he realized that President Obama’s “failure” would mean misery and heartbreak for millions of Americans excluding his cash swaddled fat self.

With the ascendancy of the G.O.Tea Party zealots in Congress, the wish for the failure of the Obama Administration has morphed into a nihilist strategy that simply negates any and every policy, proposal or strategy endorsed by President Obama. Even the least contentious issues, like funding for the operations of the military and the national parks become the focal point of “High Noon” showdowns.

As a result, eight times this year the federal government has come within 24 hours of shutting down for lack of funding. The most recent episode of the “Perils of Pauline” occurred this week and the aversion of disaster was greeted with applause.

Only in America can the avoidance of self-inflicted catastrophe be considered an accomplishment.

Have a great weekend!

Point of View Columns

The Answer is No

At the end of last week President Obama announced that all American military personnel will leave Iraq by the end of this year. This news was greeted with expressions of relief and thanksgiving by most Americans, particularly members of the military and their families.

The war in Iraq has lasted nine years and was started under false pretenses (remember the nonexistent “weapons of mass destruction?) and blanketed with a web of lies (remember the fake relationship between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 terrorists?). This godforsaken and misbegotten military adventure by George Bush, Dick Cheney and their neo-con enablers consumed close to a trillion dollars, over 4000 American lives and damaged/wounded/injured over 30,000 men and women. Untold hundreds of thousands of Iraqis lost their lives and their country will be recovering from the catastrophe of the war for decades.

In the “Weekend Edition” of Point of View I predicted that Republicans would immediately criticize and attack President Obama’s decision on finally ending the war on Iraq. The fact that he is following through on an exit plan that was put in place by George Bush is beside the point. The G.O.Tea Party is against anything done by anyone named Obama. Period.

This tactic of political nihilism has been consistent and degrades any sense of true discourse or exchange of rational ideas in this country. When Osama bin Laden was killed on the direct orders of President Obama, the eternally discredited Dick Cheney and the perpetually mistaken Condoleezza Rice proclaimed this executive action to be the direct result of the policies of the Bush Administration even though President Bush failed to pull the trigger when bin Laden could have been killed in Afghanistan in late 2001 and essentially gave up on capturing him for the balance of his administration.

The truly historic Arab Spring which has continued through the summer and fall neither was nor orchestrated by President Obama but his responses have turned out to be pitch perfect. Most analysts give the reason for the seismic changes in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Egypt and Syria as being the result of indigenous movement and it was clearly important for the United States to be supportive but not to the extent that the Arab Spring ended up with a “Made In USA” label. The Obama Administration has been able to manage that balancing act to date.

Predictably, such noted foreign policy experts as Mitt Romney, John McCain and Michele Bachmann had been demanding direct U.S. intervention since early this year. It is now clear that such a policy would have been a blood-soaked mistake that could have made the Iraq misadventure look like a weekend excursion. Yet the G.O.Tea Party shamelessly peddles its message of ‘No” as if a negative is an answer to the problems of this country.

It is clear that the basic plank in the G.O.Tea Party political platform will be to remove Barack Obama as President of the United States. There are no unifying principles, there are no enlightening visions and certainly there is no decipherable philosophy. Their strategy is “drill, baby drill”. Drill into the American public and exploit the reservoirs of irrational hate and mindless distrust that have characterized too much of the opposition to President Obama.

It is that strategy which empowers the criticism of the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq even when it is accomplished pursuant to the timetable and plan of George Bush. It makes it possible for the Republicans to ignore the relief experienced by the millions of men and women who have served in the military and their families – men and women who have been asked to die and suffer grievously fighting a war that never needed to be fought.

It is also the strategy of “No” and eternal negativity which permits a “serious” candidate like Rodeo Rick Perry to state this week that there has been no definitive resolution regarding the birthplace of President Obama. As a presidential candidate Governor Perry is free to criticize the policies and actions of the Obama Administration, although it would be helpful if he would share an original and intelligent thought or two with the public.

For Rodeo Rick Perry to drill down to the well of (very) thinly-disguised racism in questioning whether Barack Obama is a “real American” is despicable and symbolizes everything that is wrong about the campaign(s) against the president. It degrades the entire political process and makes it almost impossible for any rational exchange to take place regarding the serious issues of the day.

Clearly the G.O.Tea Party is against anything done by anyone named Obama. The fact that it may be something desired by Americans or good for this country is irrelevant on the Planet Tea Party. When it comes to Barack Obama the answer is “No”.