Just Look at the Balls on This Guy!

Jimmy Carter has come out against Barack Obama’s foreign policy. Are you kidding me?

I’m the first one to give the peanut farmer props for getting Israel and Egypt to kiss and make up. But on foreign policy, his résumé just about ends there. This is the man who sat helpless, whining about malaise while our countrymen were held captive for over a year. The only people glad for Jimmy’s FP chops are ABC and Ted Koppel who turned his incompetence into the ratings juggernaut “Nightline”.

Jimmy is making it clearer why all the ex-presidents pretty much hate his guts. I’m betting he just added another name to the list.

What do you think? The bar is open.

I Could Play the Race Card but …

Prologue

You will notice, effective today, the blog has a new name and a new look. Everything else will stay essentially the same but in keeping with the new tag line “Where no one is barred and everyone is grilled” I wanted to give a shout out to roughly a dozen folks who are “regulars” here. They make the comments section of the blog entertaining and sometimes downright frightening. The simple truth is no matter what I write in the essays, the comments section is where the action is. Unlike Jonathan Capehart (who I mention below) who gets hundreds of comments from hundreds of people and has little time to engage, I get hundreds of comments from a dozen people and I do my best to jump “into the fray” (the title of an old blog by the person who inspired the new title of this blog). The comments section has turned this “little slice of heaven”, to quote another regular, into more of a community than a blog. So every now and then, I won’t even write an essay. I’ll just throw a bit of red meat out there and let the assembled have at it. Without further ado, let’s open the bar for business. Drinks are on me.

Obama is Just Another Black Man

The steady stream of disturbing revelations about the Secret Service, culminating in the resignation of the department’s director, got me to thinking. Maybe the old saw from the liberal media and civil rights advocates about the relative worth of a black man being less than that of a white applied to the President himself? It wasn’t the first time this crossed my mind. I was flabbergasted when it was revealed years ago that the Secret Service were cavorting with prostitutes when they should have had their mind on protecting Barack Obama. The revelations of the past couple of weeks made me revisit my theory. A man shoots at the White House (and hits) and the SS bungles it. An armed man with a criminal record gets on the elevator with Obama and the SS bungles it. A man jumps the fence and gets deep into the White House — and the SS not only bungles it but lies about it. One has to wonder, maybe they really don’t take defending this man all that seriously?

The absence of such discussion in the media surprised me. The incompetence of the department was front and center in every report but just about no one broached race. That ended this week with a discussion of the matter on Bill Maher’s HBO forum and in an article by the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart. Maher’s panel discussion focused on the added threat this President faces based on race. Capehart’s piece covered similar ground but went that extra step of wondering aloud if the SS was letting Obama come in harm’s way by commission, not omission. Capehart concluded that such doubt in the agency should not be contemplated because the Secret Service is not protecting Obama, they are protecting the Presidency and the very stability of our government.

I tend to agree with Capehart but an even more common sense reason dawned on me to abandon my concerns about racially motivated ambivalence on the part of the agency. My mind flashed back to December 14, 2008 when George W. Bush shared the podium with the Prime Minister of Iraq. A disgruntled journalist threw his shoe at Bush and the Secret Service rushed in front of the President to protect him and usher him to safety until the situation could be evaluated. Ehhh no, that is not how it happened. Bush dodged the shoe without a single eyelash twitch from the Secret Service and then ANOTHER shoe was thrown. After two shoes, we finally saw what appeared to be agents rush into the room behind Bush. Bush was still not escorted to safety pending an evaluation of the scene. I remember at the time being amazed at the incompetence of his security detail.

Contemplating this, I took my race card and placed it back in my breast pocket. There is no racial element to this latest round of dangerous negligence. It’s another chapter in a long gradual decline. This Keystone Kops impersonation is just the latest example of the degradation of standards in this country. It seems all of our institutions are failing. I don’t know what it will take to turn it around.

What do you think? The bar is open.

At War Again, Naturally

No one was beating the drums of war louder than I was in the weeks leading up to the attack on Syria. From the very first coverage of ISIL, I viewed them as the most decadent band of psychopaths to come along in recent history. The beheading of two Americans only reinforced my opinion that no military response to them could be sufficiently severe. I wanted to carpet bomb any area they occupied. The Monday night air campaign over Syria was fresh off a weekend of my watching a biography of Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt almost viewed war as sport. Such was his commitment to the fight that the loss of his son in WWI was compensated by his satisfaction that his boy had done his duty. Having just consumed large doses of Teddy-worldview, I actually imagined myself piloting one of those jets on Monday night and I delighted in dropping bombs on the little savages.

Then came Tuesday and the competing voices in the media started filling my head. The hawks and the doves have been out in full force, capably arguing both sides of the conflict and completely muddling my brain in the process.

This, my friends, is what bothers me. We can disagree on whether Obama handled the exit from Iraq appropriately. The one thing we cannot disagree on is that Iraq went from bad to worse in our absence. With my blood lust largely satisfied Monday night, I was left with the question, where do we go from here? Permanent occupation of Syria? Yes I know we don’t have ground troops there yet, but it will come. We all know it will. And once we are there, when do we leave?

Say what you like about Islam, it has proven in its modern incarnation to be unable to control its extremists. Our Muslim “partners” in the current war on ISIL won’t even fess up to what role they are playing exactly. The air strikes have been dominated by the United States. The Arab spring has taught us that when we leave a Muslim country “liberated” for its own people to run, they make a mess of things — a dangerous mess of things. The alternative is that we must stay to keep order.

I’m not sure I’m ready to sign up for that. Baby sitting every Muslim country in the middle east to ensure they don’t savage each other and terrorize the rest of us in their pursuit of a Caliphate, is unfeasible in both financial and human costs. Yet what are the consequences of our doing nothing? The debate on Morning Joe a day or two ago between Jeffrey Sachs (economist and Director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute) and Richard Haas (President of the Council on Foreign Relations) typifies the complexity of where we find ourselves. Both men made valid points. Sachs basically said what didn’t work in the past will not work in the future, citing examples from Vietnam through Afghanistan and Iraq. Haas countered with the danger ISIL presents to the region and eventually to the world at large.

I think ISIL has taken extremism a step too far to be tolerated by the civilized world. On the other hand I’m tired of perpetual war and until moderate Muslims dominate the conversation we will never be able to stop fighting. My initial bellicose approach was simplistic and short sighted. We face near impossible choices.

Farewell to a World Class Punk
Hamid Karzai left the world stage thumbing his nose yet again at the United States. It is the thanks we get for trying to get his country out of the Stone Age. Based on the profession of his thug brother, Karzai is probably too coked up to be held responsible for his actions. At least now he is gone, soon to be forgotten. Perhaps in his retirement he can go hunting with Dick Cheney.

Respectfully,
Rutherford