Monday, May 31, 2021

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Mike Flynn?


So, this was said recently, in public, by a man who should know better:

Former Trump National Security Advisor
Michael Flynn:
“I want to know why what happened in Myanmar can't happen here. No reason. I mean, it should happen here.”

Flynn was speaking before a gathering of QAnon nutcases, and, true to form, made a public statement in support of a military coup against the government of the United States of America. This is not a smart move from someone drawing retirement pay from his time in the Army but what else is new? Flynn has never done anything productive, smart, or clever in the service of his country. When you think about the system that produced him, it's easy to see why this is all so ridiculous.

There are no good solutions for dealing with someone like Flynn. He has been given a presidential pardon. He has been freed from legal jeopardy (at least until he does something in this weird post-Trump era that is criminal in nature, which he will, no doubt). He can be recalled to active duty and have someone try to punish him for his public statements, but this is unlikely because the Army does not wish to appear "political" or take actions against what could be construed as unpopular free speech. His statements are those of a blithering idiot. You are free to be one in America, as we all know. I don't think anyone has the stomach to go down that road. 

Here's a great idea--stop producing general officers that act and think like Flynn. Look at what they actually believe and evaluate accordingly. Are they conspiracy theory spouting assclowns? Then maybe don't advance them in rank if they look good in uniform and can game the evaluation system. 

Our military should reward critical thinkers and people who learn from their mistakes. The promotion system that advanced Flynn past hundreds of other officers failed to account for the fact that he was unfit for the rank he ended up holding because of his lack of character. This is a man who more than likely lied when questioned about his activities in order to hold a security clearance.

But, hey. He got a pardon for all of that. Let's think about the system that produced the guy who hired him, fired him, and then pardoned him as well.

Where the hell am I?


Still not sure where I am, but it's no longer Maryland, my Maryland.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

A Presidency Based on Substance and Results


Once in a while, someone in the media is able to put our current political situation into words. This gets at the transformative and substantive changes that President Joe Biden is putting into place despite getting little notice or appreciation for his efforts:

President Joe Biden has been compared to Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson and has even been called the "Anti-Reagan." 
But there's another legendary political character that people should cite to explain why Biden's governing approach during his first 100 days in office is such a radical break from the past.
That character is a Black woman of indeterminate age who has 12 Social Security cards, mooches on benefits from four fake dead husbands and collects welfare payments under 80 bogus names while getting food stamps.
She is, of course, the infamous Welfare Queen.
That's how Ronald Reagan described her when he introduced the character during a presidential campaign rally nearly half a century ago. Reporters investigating Reagan's 1976 Welfare Queen story concluded that it wasn't quite true. Though never mentioning a name or race, Reagan had exaggerated the abuses of an actual Black woman in Chicago.
It didn't matter, though, if the story was more fiction than fact. The Welfare Queen embodied the GOP's belief that sending government aid to the poor would backfire because freeloaders -- hint, Black people -- will invariably splurge that money on steak and lobster.

The 2022 midterms are probably going to mirror the 2018 midterms in that there won't be as much engagement once Trump is not on the ticket. His supporters are fair-weather voters. His lack of actual enthusiasm among moderates and people in the middle of the road is damning. Where are those voters going to go?

I think Biden has entered office prepared to lose the House and Senate in 2022. He knows he can't even sniff at breaking the law because of the very real threat that an unhinged House in Republican hands would impeach him for anything he might do. There's no chance that the Senate would remove him, of course, but that's how he's been running things--with the expectation that he will have to be impeached five times just because of the death lock Trump seems to have on everything.

Opposition to Biden is without substance or merit. He is a winner who is rewarding his base. His presidency is already off to a massive string of successful accomplishments. The American people typically reward a winner. Why they haven't abandoned Trumpism completely speaks to a deviation from character that is temporary.

This all seems soft to me. If anything, once Biden proves he can get results and fix things, he's going to have more support from the American voter and will likely be rewarded with a friendlier House and Senate. I could be entirely wrong there but one thing is certain--American democracy has been saved by African-American women voters every time it has come down to the wire. I have no doubt that they will save it again in a year and a half.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Who Gives a Shit About Liz Cheney?


The story of Liz Cheney and her fealty to the "old" Republican Party and her "principled" stand against Trumpism is laughable and ridiculous. You can be well assured that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is getting rid of her to alleviate pressure being brought by people who want to keep the money flowing to the party apparatus. It's all theater. It's all about 2024.

Cheney represents the corporate/national security people who attended their briefings and realized two things. 

One, Trump and his cronies walked off with the Republican National Committee's money and left them high and dry. And, as has been pointed out, this is more about the criminal enterprise behind Trump rather than Trump himself. He's an ambulatory bag of meat. He has no idea what's actually happening. But, what's behind him is a blackmail machine that controls the flow of money into the GOP.

Two, Liz Cheney is hard wired into the national security establishment and knows how deep Trump's ties to Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are and what's being kept under wraps until it's time to let all of that stuff out of the vaults. She's betting that there's enough being held back to finish him off (I doubt it, but who knows anymore?)

The other Republicans aren't mad at Cheney for opposing Trump. They're mad that she got there first and paid attention in those national security briefings. They don't want her to be able to lecture them about anything. That's why they are kneecapping her this week (or at least trying to do so). If she keeps speaking up, the money will dry up. That's the only plausible reason for getting rid of her.

They'd be stupid to get rid of her. But that's the problem--they are all so fucking inept and incompetent that it will take a miracle for them to win anything going forward against a popular president. They are hell bent on doing the wrong thing and can't help but eat one of their own. 

Cheney doesn't care about anything. She thinks that the American people exist in order to serve her needs. She believes that sending troops overseas is the thing to do if it protects the business interests of everyone willing to give her "campaign" money. I'm surprised she even went into politics. It would be so much more lucrative to be the CEO of a defense contractor at this point, but oh well.

She has no ideology, no firm convictions, no belief in America as anything other than a cash machine that her family can use to build up a massive amount of established, untouchable wealth. She wants to ensure her father's legacy and set it up so that her children and grand-children will be running this country when she's gone. This is what American fascism really looks like--it's bland, it has no charisma, and it weaponizes the right kinds of information. Old man Dick must sit around all day, wringing his hands, hoping Liz can pull it off. 

Monday, May 3, 2021

Free Community College Will Lift Millions Out of Poverty


President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden went to Virginia today to spread the word about their initiative to deliver on the promise of giving people access to free community college education benefits:

President Joe Biden took a whirlwind tour of Hampton Roads, a part of his Getting America Back on Track tour, on Monday to promote a $1.8 trillion legislative package that includes free universal pre-K and community college.

The proposal, dubbed the “American Families Plan” by the White House, would effectively create at least four additional free years of free public education. The plan also includes a federal family leave program, tax credits for childcare, increased financial aid for college students and dozens of other proposals.

In terms of what we need to fix in this country, health care and education run parallel to one another. You have to ensure that people have access to a functioning health care system that does not bankrupt them. And you also have to ensure people can get an education and the job training they need to have the ability to work and be productive. The third leg of all this is the ability to live in communities where the air and water aren't poisoned. 

Putting them together as I have, in my awkward way, tells you a very complex story. But it is as simple as hell--once people don't have to worry about health care, getting trained and educated, and dying from living in a hellhole, they can be lifted out of poverty. They can have great opportunities. They can have some peace of mind and get ahead. They can provide for their families.

This is what is so transformative about the Biden presidency. We're finally going to start fixing the critical shit that needs to be fixed.

Putin Actually Does Kill People


Vladimir Putin is responsible for an untold number of murders. He kills his own people. He kills people who aren't even Russian citizens. He kills because the West lets him get away with it.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is just telling the truth here:

ZAKARIA: President Biden was asked if he thought Vladimir Putin was a killer and he said yes. Was that too undiplomatic of him? There were people who criticized him saying well, look, you've got to deal with this guy and this is going to make any kind of cooperation more difficult? 

CLINTON: I think he told the truth. And I think that if he had equivocated or dodged the question, that would have also had repercussions. You know, there are tens of thousands, probably millions and millions of Russians who know they're being badly governed, who want more, who want to be part of the, you know, broader modern world, who leave Russia if they can in order to live in the United States or Canada or Europe, you know, seeking not only freedom but opportunity. 

And so for a United States president to have brushed aside what everyone knows to be true would have been demoralizing. Now he still has to deal with him. We know that. He talks to him on the phone. They may end up meeting. We did that through the Cold War. We did that with the Soviet Union. We did that with, you know, communists who had been part of Stalin's purges and murderous communist regimes. 

Of course, we will have to keep talking. But that doesn't mean we should sugar coat the damage that Putin has done both to Russia and to countries and people outside. His killing machine run by, you know, the intelligence and military services of his country have killed across Europe, have killed as we know very clearly inside Russia. 

And I just think that we've got to call it for what it is and give some -- you know, give some hope and support, even by long distance, to the many, many Russians who know they deserve better. 

What should bother people about this exchange is not what Clinton says but rather the fact that more people don't take her analysis seriously. She's absolutely correct and providing support to the new Biden Administration. She's also adding tremendous value to the debate because of her skills and expertise.

No, the real tragedy here is that America had a chance to put her in charge of things and, instead, went with what we've had for the last four years. So many things need to be fixed and so much of what went on represents a huge hole in American foreign policy. There is no possibility of understating just how wrong things went in 2016.