History

Emasculation and Failure


This made me think of the really terrible place the Republicans are in right now:
Donald Trump responded to Mitt Romney’s speech Thursday during a rally in Maine, hitting the former Republican nominee by saying he would have gotten on his knees for the Trump endorsement back in 2012. “I am not a fan of Barack Obama and that was a race that I backed Mitt Romney, I backed him, you can see how loyal he is,” Trump said. “He was begging for my endorsement. I could have said, Mitt, drop to your knees, he would have dropped to his knees, he was begging. He was begging me.” At another point, he railed against Romney as a “choke artist” and said “chickened out” of running again in 2016.
There is no natural leader of the Republican Party anymore. Reagan is dead. Everyone else is a "loser" in that they have not successfully held the presidency and left things better than they found it. The legacy of both Bush presidents is that the first Bush was thrown out of office and the second Bush left things in horrible shape. This means they are not "winners" who could shout down Donald Trump's nonsense.

What? We're going to hear from Bob Dole? Dan Quayle? We've heard from Sarah Palin and she has endorsed Trump because to incur his wrath would shatter what little fundraising she is still able to carry out. That leaves Paul Ryan and Dick Cheney--who would listen to them?

In fact, Dick Cheney's silence speaks volumes. He has never been shy about criticizing President Obama. And yet, he has largely remained outside of the current race, unable to say anything because, well, when you leave office with everything in ruins, you can't very well claim you are a winner.

Trump is blossoming in this environment. He has already slain John McCain. Now he can take Mitt Romney to task for being a loser. And there's no one left to shout him down because they are all "losers."

This line of attack will appear again. Trump has handed politicians in both parties vast sums of money. This makes it easy for him to label them and denigrate them. He will not hesitate to emasculate any male politician who has taken his money; he will not hesitate to berate Hillary Clinton when she takes the gloves off.



Why?


You know, if I were going to start asking questions at presidential debates, I'd start with a good one: why the hell are we still in Afghanistan?
The U.S. is planning to send hundreds of additional troops to Afghanistan to help government forces battle Taliban militants, marking the largest deployment of American troops outside major bases in the country since the end of the NATO combat mission in 2014, a military spokesman told The New York Times. The military said the troops won’t see active combat and instead will focus on protecting special-operations forces in Helmand province and providing extra support and training for the Afghan army, said Col. Michael T. Lawhorn, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan. Lawhorn did not provide the number of troops or the unit involved. A senior military official told the Times the unit being sent, the Second Battalion, 87th Infantry, was slightly smaller than the usual battalion size of 700 or 800.
It's well past the time to bring the troops home. Afghanistan is a failure. America needs to own that failure and learn from our mistakes. No more troops should be deployed, period.

Jeopardy


I actually watched this episode:
As much as we might all enjoy a night of trivia at our local watering hole, answering questions about everything from potent potables to whatever punning-on-history category the writers come up with on Jeopardy! is a different beast altogether. Contestants are racking their brains for multiple games a day (assuming they make it that far), and eventually, everyone’s time is up on the show. But on Monday evening’s game, all three contestants were shown the door after providing three wrong answers to the final Jeopardy! question.
Claudia Corriere and Mike Drummond, the co-returning champions, were tied at $13,800 going into the Final Jeopardy! round, with Randi Kristensen bringing up the rear with $6,000. Then came the final clue: “A 1957 event led to the creation of a national historic site in this city, signed into law by a president whose library is now there too.” Everyone picked a different U.S. city (though Kristensen wasn’t able to finish writing “Springfield”), and they were all wrong. But they had also all bet everything, which created a three-way tie for last place.
Host Alex Trebek wryly carried out his Solomon-like duties following the surprising conclusion of the game, informing the contestants (and viewers) that they had all lost and that Tuesday’s game would start with three new tributes, er, contestants. This is only the sixth time that all three contestants have choked in the final round; the most recent instance was a three-way loss during 2013’s Teen Tournament. You can watch the dismay slowly spread across all three contestants’ faces below, but try to keep your schadenfreude in check (we can’t all be Turd Ferguson). And in case you were wondering, the event and president in question were the desegregation of the schools and Bill Clinton, so the correct question-answer was actually “What is Little Rock, Arkansas?”.
Even though I was stumped, I focused on a couple of things. I was prepared to answer "Austin" because that's where the Lyndon Johnson library is located. I thought, well, Johnson signed Civil Rights legislation into action after...what? That's what the problem was, because the 1957 event was clearly the desegregation of schools in Little Rock, Arkansas. And from there, you go to Bill Clinton and his library is in Little Rock, so, there you go.

Expecting three white people to know the history of the Civil Rights movement is too much to ask these days. I'm not sure if there's an overtly racist aspect to this, but there certainly is a strategic problem with ending up broke on Jeopardy. If you don't know the answer, bet nothing! You could have won!

This reminded me of what's going on in Oregon. President Eisenhower took the Arkansas National Guard away from the former governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, and called out a thousand U.S. troops to forcibly desegregate the schools in Little Rock. Surely, there's a Ranger battalion that wouldn't mind restoring good order and discipline to a Federal bird sanctuary.

Chris Hughes Destroyed Something Awful


Wah, wah, wah:
I have some difficult news today: I have decided to put The New Republic up for sale. I bought this company nearly four years ago to ensure its survival and give it the financial runway to experiment with new business models in a time of immense change in media. After investing a great deal of time, energy, and over $20 million, I have come to the conclusion that it is time for new leadership and vision at The New Republic.
Over the past few years we have made good progress in reinvigorating this institution. Our readership has grown younger and more diverse, largely as a result of our digital strategy. Our journalism has been widely recognized as impactful, impassioned, and more relevant to our nation’s challenges than ever. As a business, we have launched a brand marketing studio called Novel, built a flexible and fast mobile website, and developed our own content management system. We have made it possible for The New Republic to survive and begin to flourish in its second century.
Yet I will be the first to admit that when I took on this challenge nearly four years ago, I underestimated the difficulty of transitioning an old and traditional institution into a digital media company in today’s quickly evolving climate. When I bought The New Republic, it was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, and I believed that an institution as old and important as it should survive and evolve in an era where its values were still relevant and needed. This place stands for some of the best and most important elements of liberalism: a belief in the role of government to correct free markets, in the power of representative democracy to hold the elite accountable, and in America’s responsibility to be a force for good in the world. These values have sustained and animated not just me, but this tireless and dedicated team over the past few years.

 As it currently stands, the value of the New Republic is about fifty bucks and dropping. This kid turned a terrible, racist, bigoted magazine into a dumpster fire. The Germans have a word for making something bad into something worse, and it could very well be Müllcontainerfeuer.

Chris Hughes trying to fix something is a Müllcontainerfeuer. Chris Hughes setting $20 million dollars on fire in order to wreck the New Republic is something I can get behind. Kudos to him. A horrible publication had it coming.

Everyone Knows Ronan Farrow is Frank Sinatra's Son


If Mia Farrow, who is certifiably nuts, were to ever admit that Ronan Farrow is the biological son of Frank Sinatra, she would lose her moral authority as the aggrieved party in the whole Woody Allen mess. Everyone knows this.

The rule of thumb is, you stay away from these people as far as you can; if you're an actor with a certain amount of vanity, you're allowed to go do your one Woody film so that you can have credibility. The rest of them, ugh. Nothing is worse than a blog post that mentions these people, not even a story about some jackasses who drowned a dog because they were doing donuts on the ice.

The Secret History of Great Men


If you want to attack the ignorance of the Republican Party, try to stand clear of all the things that are going to undermine your argument:
Thomas Jefferson recognized that education is vital to a functioning Democratic Republic.
In a letter to James Madison, Jefferson wrote: “And say, finally, whether peace is best preserved by giving energy to the government, or information to the people. This last is the most certain, and the most legitimate engine of government. Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. Enable them to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them…. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”
In light of Oklahoma’s recent attack on AP History, it would be easy to argue that today’s Republicans don’t recognize the value of a good education. However, the reality is that they do, and that the spreading attack on public education is far more sinister.
When the Patriot Act was signed, Bush and his ilk claimed the power to violate citizens’ private lives because, they said, there is no “right to privacy” in the United States. In that, they – perhaps purposefully – overlooked the history of America and the Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4, 1776. And they missed a basic understanding of the evolution of language in the United States.
I always laugh when these flowery "letters" from one Founding Father to the other is cited in order to support a theory or argument. These were men who knew when they had an audience and who knew how to speak to each other in private. I don't for a second think any of them really believed in God. They did believe in America, but it was an America ruled by a moneyed elite that kept the mobs at bay with promises of a token piece of the franchise and reasonable taxation, and it did not include free slaves, women with rights, or allowing non-property owning yahoos the right to vote. These were secretive, profane men who hated foreigners and fought amongst each other over women and personal slights. 
Just once, I'd like to see them portrayed the way they lived their lives--bawdy, drunken, filthy, toothless, and envious of one another, furiously hiding debts and embarrassments from one another, secretly wishing death would visit their rivals and mistresses would appear when summoned. They rolled out of soiled beds, rubbed raw and miserable with hangovers, often scratched and clawed by furious lovers and always short of cash. You know, like we are today, except with slightly better dental care and Grindr accounts and cleaner bed pans.
Thomas Jefferson was an elite planter from Virginia who used sex to terrorize his own female slaves. He was forever spending money he did not have. He was terrified of the mob rule that descended on America when the British failed to properly collect taxes and fees, which usually left him scrambling for relief. He was not a revolutionary--he was a smart man who used words to form arguments. He was a physical coward who did not hesitate to violate the law in the service of his own interests (see Aaron Burr, et al). He was not the paragon of virtue that can be summoned by a still-outraged lefty to refute the idea that the Patriot Act destroyed America. Man, it's 2015. Bush and Cheney were awful. But that's just half the story, and everybody knows it.
Bi-partisanship delivered the Patriot Act and renewed it. This phony idea that the Congress has to get along and allow freedom to be trampled so that neither side will be held accountable by a future terrorist attack is the real culprit. Without Democratic complicity, there is no Patriot Act and there are no restrictions on freedom (and there damned sure wouldn't have been an Iraq War, either).
Allowing the Republican Party to stampede America into wars, restrictions on freedom for women, minorities, and anyone with any kind of data whatsoever in the name of bi-partisanship is your real enemy these days. They are not reasonable people and they never will be, but we damned sure can't help ourselves when the Daddy Party wants something because our lapdog media and a weak and fractured Democratic Party can't stop going out on heavy petting dates with these psychopaths.

Seeing a Dentist in the Army


I found this old piece on the New Yorker website:
Hale predicts that combat gum could save the military a hundred million dollars annually. Dental emergencies account for ten per cent of all injuries that cause soldiers to be evacuated from the battlefield (not counting battle itself, of course). There are forty-seven types of dental emergencies, ranging from the mildly uncomfortable (gingivitis, say), moderately painful (pericoronitis), and severe (totally avulsed tooth). When it gets that bad, a soldier might need to be helicoptered into a dental theatre on another continent. The cost of transportation, plus that of the treatment itself, on top of the unit’s lost manpower, adds up to tens of millions of dollars each year. According to Hale, forty per cent of recruits have at least three cavities. “They have developed a decay pattern,” he said. “We diagnose, pull their teeth, and fill them. This is a constant thing for us, because we have tremendous turnover.”
This is the sort of thing that would have automatically prompted me to write a post, had I seen it back in March of 2014. I had occasion to see dentists in the Army, and I can't remember any bad experiences. I even had my wisdom teeth taken out while stationed in San Antonio, Texas. I was regular Army, and I was referred to the Air Force hospital for removal.

It took a week for me to feel normal after that because I had waited until I was about 30 to do the wisdom tooth extractions. I had all four of them out at once. No fun.

What is referenced in the article gets to the heart of a problem for deploying soldiers. We had categories for everyone, and I seem to recall that they ran from Cat I to Cat IV. If you were a one or a two, you could be deployed. That meant that you had seen a dentist and didn't have any issues. If you were a Cat III or IV, you couldn't deploy. Typically that meant that you hadn't been to the dentist in a while or that you had outstanding issues, like root canal work that needed to be done.

I always went to the dentist. It was free and it wasn't that bad. If they can give you a gum that will keep your teeth in your head, sell it to the civilian world and make money. Precious few innovations come to soldiers nowadays. The last big innovation was the Camelback drinking system. Gum that kills bacteria and prevents tooth loss? We should give that to everyone.

This is Why We Shouldn't Go to War in Iraq Ever Again


There used to be a thing called a "warblogger."

Mainly, these were folks with a lot of information and little, if any, analytical experience. They knew the military, they knew something about strategy and games, and they figured that was enough to give them credibility when it came to speaking about how America was conducting itself in Iraq before the war was ended by the Obama Administration.

Some of these people went belly up when their wars wound down--there was nothing to blog about. Their audience shrank because they were a one-trick pony and hating Obama was already being done by people with more talent and skill.

This case is a bookend to the Iraq War, a verdict that should resonate for anyone who has ever been criticized by a warblogger or mocked for not knowing that Petraeus would never Betray Us.

How's your war looking now, son? Are you happy for the results? Did we accomplish everything you thought we would? Or did we just manufacture more enemies and create more Veterans than we could ever handle and did we cut loose a generation of mercenaries who simply had too many guns and too many brown skinned people to shoot?

The great blogger Kos actually served in the military, and his response when some Blackwater guards were left dangling off a bridge was to say, in effect, fuck these people. They were mercs and they were out for profit in exchange for sending rounds through bodies. These men inherited the fight, stepped up to the plate, and emptied their weapons into civilians. Fuck them, too,

We will be paying the price for the Iraq War for the next fifty or sixty years, and we will pay dearly for it, and no one will bother to go back and read the ranting and the raving of the cheerleaders for that war, except to have a good laugh and see what could be done about scrubbing the Internet clean of their filth.

America's First Family


It is now two years into the presidency of Sarah Palin. America is at war with Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Mexico and Turkey. A universal draft has been implemented in order to place America's military on a footing that is expected to grow to a total of 20 million uniformed service members. The threat to American interests expands in Latin America and the far East, with American embassies shuttered all over the globe.

Unemployment is down to 18.4% and America's GDP is $4 trillion dollars, down from a high of $17 trillion in 2009. Gas prices hover at $6.75 a gallon and milk is impossible to find due to lax regulation of bovine hormones. In most American cities, the police randomly shoot rioters and turn anyone they arrest over for basic training. President Palin has issued another executive over, to the exasperation of the Congress, indicating that she is displeased to learn that her eldest daughter has been rejected as the lead actress in a sitcom about a porn star who finds Jesus at Wendy's and then decides to live there with her uncle, who is a ghost.

Palin believes in blue skies overhead and the power of prayer. She took over when John McCain was impeached for tax evasion and being cranky. McCain declined to run for re-election in 2012 and has retired to a life of lobbying and criticizing American foreign policy. Palin, a family values candidate with plucky and popular daughters and a Bachelor son, easily defeated her primary opponents and then kneecapped liberal Senator Al Franken, who was the Democratic Party's nominee for President. Franken ran on a campaign platform that stated, "I will not allow any of my children to scoot along the ground, drunken and disorderly."

Franken lost by 200 electoral votes. Vice President Peter King snickered like a thug when he won.

In Alaska last week, President Palin was asked, how can your drunken family get away with such things?

Palin replied, "don't you know who I am?"

And with that, the heavens groaned.

Manfred Rommel 1928-2013


Manfred Rommel has died at the age of 84. He was the son of the famous German general, and he made a life and a name for himself by leading the city of Stuttgart out of the darkness of the postwar era.

His father, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, has a reputation for being a great general. In point of fact, he was successful enough in the 1940 invasion of France but lost North Africa in 1943 and most of France in 1944. He was not as successful as his reputation would have you think. That reputation was largely based on being able to explain tactics and strategies that he had learned during World War I.

I had occasion to see a hopeful, affirming, peace-loving plaque that he had dedicated long ago. This plaque was situated in the middle of a playground area on Robinson Barracks, which is an Army housing base in the Stuttgart area. Rommel defended the rights of the Turkish workers who were invited to come to Germany and help rebuild its cities and industries after the war. For that, he deserves a great deal of praise. There are few, if any, politicians who defend immigrants anymore.

Bonnie Prince Charles


No one is clamoring for the Queen of England to die off so that her son can rule England into his rapidly-approaching dotage. Americans certainly don't care--they want more Kate Middleton! And she isn't even a royal by blood. The royal family of England, these Hanoveran Windsors, will be fundamentally changed for a century or more when Queen Elizabeth II passes away. Charles, William and George will rule England for the next 80 years or so, and it is very likely that the eldest child of George will be a boy as well. After Victoria and Elizabeth II, we are finally done with old women ruling the Commonwealth.

Prince Charles is royal by blood and he will rule, albeit briefly, and he will do so without any real affection. He is superstitious, a man of the 11th Century when it comes to science and technology, and he has muddled about in public affairs with all of the sophistication of someone paying for a seance.

Now is the time for all good men to consider cutting off the Windsors so that the British public can enter modern times. Why does anyone want or need a monarchy?