Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – March 28, 2014

Taking a page from “American Idol” or the “Miss America Pageant”, right wing billionaire Sheldon Adelson is summoning Teapublican candidates to audition – the prize? His multimillions. Meanwhile, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie spent $1 million taxpayer dollars on an “internal discussion”. The takeaway from this “impartial” report – Chris Christie knew nothing about Bridgegate and can’t remember anyway. And finally, as Americans and the United Nations continue to bemoan the Russian annexation of Crimea, a short history lesson on annexations is in order.

Showtime for Sheldon

Sheldon Adelson, best known for being the eighth wealthiest man in the world (he owns the Las Vegas Sands Company) with hotels and casinos in Las Vegas and Macao. In the last few years he has been making a name for himself as the personal piggy bank of rightwing causes having given over $30 million to conservative candidates in 2012 alone.

Now he has organized what can only be described as a series of auditions for prospective Teapublican 2016 presidential candidates. He has virtually summoned over a half a dozen of these hopefuls to come and dance before his Las Vegas throne in the hopes that he will anoint one of them with the holy oil of his fortune.

Aside from the unseemly sight of the possible next president of the United States kowtowing before the head of a gambling empire, it is unsettling to know that the pursuit of campaign cash has now come to this golden rule. He who has the gold makes the rules.

Elephantine Memory Loss

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie commissioned an “internal investigation” headed by an attorney who is a former deputy of Rudolph Giuliani, a major supporter of Chris Christie. Clearly this “internal investigation” is missing even a gossamer thread of impartiality.

The “investigation” trashes the Christie staff members who Governor Christie already deposited under the bus two months ago. It also concludes that Governor Christie knew nothing about Bridgegate in real time and that, in any event, he cannot remember anything that was said to him about the four day tie up of the busiest bridge in America at the time the George Washington Bridge was intentionally blocked.

It remains to be seen whether federal or state investigations will vaporize the implausible notion that a known serial micromanager would allow the George Washington Bridge to be blocked without his consent, or at least its knowledge.

But if Chris Christie thinks that anyone will actually buy the results of his “internal investigation” I have a bridge that I would like to sell to him.

Calling Peabody and Sherman

It is fair to say that at the beginning of this year most Americans, and certainly most Teapublicans, couldn’t find Crimea on a map even if you led them to the Black Sea. Now, of course, the Russian annexation is being touted as one of the worst acts of international thuggery since…? Actually, that is a good place to start because this country and many others (who voted to condemn Russia in the United Nations last week) have employed annexation as a very real part of foreign policy.

Consider the history of U.S. annexations in a fashion very similar to the Russia-Crimea scenario – West Florida – 1810, Texas – 1845, New Mexico – 1848, Hawaii – 1898, Puerto Rico, Philippines and Guam – 1898.

Of course annexation has a global tradition. Consider Indonesia – East Timor, 1975, Morocco – Western Sahara – 1975, Israel – East Jerusalem, 1967.

The point is that annexation is far from unknown in world history, right up to the present. And while there may be very real objections to Russian annexation in Crimea, it is more than a little disingenuous to suggest that this is one of the more outrageous international actions ever seen. In reality, we have always seen that annexations take place when they serve the foreign policy objectives of the annexing country.

Have a great weekend – stay strong and be great!

Standard
Point of View Columns

The Harder They Fall

Recent events in Ukraine have resulted in predictable, though bizarre, reaction in the United States. Suddenly people who couldn’t spell “Ukraine” if you spotted them a “k” and a “U” are clamoring for President Obama to take bold action. American politicians who couldn’t find Crimea on a map with the aid of Google maps now make the argument that American interests are at stake because of the invasion tactics employed by Russia.

The rest of the world must find the United States to be increasingly odd in its world view. Because it is the United States that has invaded Iraq and Afghanistan because it believed that its national interests called for such action. And, going back just a little further in time it was the United States that invaded Grenada and Panama for the same reasons of self-interest and continues to beleaguer the Republic of Cuba because its sociopolitical structure is not to the liking of a very loud and exceedingly vocal minority in this country.

Of course that is just relatively recent U.S. history. A further review of this country’s invasions and incursions include the occupation of Haiti and the annexation of Texas along with the overthrow of the democratically elected government in Iran at the behest of oil interests. The point is, the United States is the historical invading pot that should have difficulty calling any other invading kettle black.

The reality of the Planet Earth is that countries take actions to protect and preserve what they perceive as their national interests. Russia has taken actions in the Ukraine that certainly have a plausible connection to that country’s perceived national interests however inconvenient that particular truth might be. And, as noted, the United States is one of the last countries on earth that should criticize another country that utilizes military action to protect and preserve those national interests.

But, never letting reality getting in the way of an opportunity to attack President Barack Obama, the Teapublicans are now claiming that Russian President Vladimir Putin felt emboldened to invade Ukraine because of some undefined weakness that President Obama has shown. These same Teapublicans conveniently forget that President Putin also felt emboldened to invade Georgia when Republican President George W. Bush resided in the White House. Perhaps Mr. Putin doesn’t really care what the United States thinks when he acts on behalf of his country.

Nevertheless, we are being showered with by the Teapublican noise machine with the usual suspects, chicken hawk Senator Lindsay Graham, twice failed presidential candidate Senator John McCain and hasbeen wannabe celebrity Sarah Palin claiming that President Obama is not demonstrating “leadership”. Their thought process must embrace the notion that the only leadership that counts is leading a country into war even as President Obama has been leading this country away from war and perilous military actions.

Another failed presidential candidate, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, has contended that President Obama hasn’t shown “leadership” because he takes too long to think and consider various options and that he consults with his advisors to excess. He favorably compares Vladimir Putin as a “leader” because he makes up his mind quickly and acts.

One would think that after the disasters of Afghanistan and Iraq the one thing that the American people want, and the one thing that this country needs, is a leader who thinks about the consequences of acting before acting. If it were up to the Teapublican chicken hawks the United States would be mired in wars in Libya, Syria, Ukraine and North Korea right now. And if it were up to these same Teapublican chicken hawks more Americans would be killed and maimed, more of this country’s wealth would be squandered and the security of this planet would be all the worse for these actions.

History will show that by being a thoughtful and deliberative president, Barack Obama has been a good steward of the White House. Although it is doubtful that the Teapublicans who have already determined that All Things Obama Are Bad will ever come to that realization.

Standard