Syria

Something About Obama, Something About Putin (Jung on Rye Remix)

U.S. President Barack Obama (left) and iconic closet homosexual Vladimir Putin (background).

Narrative counts.

Steve Benen offers the setup:

By late 2014, Republican affection for Russian President Vladimir Putin was on the wane. After months of gushing praise for the autocratic leader, American conservatives saw Putin struggling and isolated, prompting his GOP fan club in the United States to fall quiet.

That is, until a few months ago, when the Russian president deployed forces to Syria, rekindling the American right’s love. Republican White House hopefuls once again praised Putin’s bold “leadership,” as did like-minded pundits. The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin argued, “In taking this action just days after meeting with President Obama, Putin is delivering one more finger in the eye of a president whom he continues to out-wit and out-muscle.”

Remind me, how’s that working out for the Russian president?

The punch line, of course, being: About as well as you would expect.

And, well, you know me; any chance to pick on Jennifer Rubin. The title of her October entry―and I shite thee not―is, “Breaking the feckless meter on Syria”.

Still, though, this thing with Republicans and Putin is even more embarrassing than the bit about a young Jung finding a dirty thrill in his admiration for the maestro Freud.

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Benen, Steve. “Obama again gets the last laugh against Putin”. msnbc. 11 December 2015.

Rubin, Jennifer. “Breaking the feckless meter on Syria”. The Washington Post. 1 October 2015.

A Perfect Way to Ruin Your Day (Light Bulb Belfry Remix)

Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), left, and Rep. Steve King (R-IA), right, speak with reporters at the Capiol, 11 December 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

If I tell you that the headline above Scott Eric Kaufman’s report for Salon yesterday reads, “Michele Bachmann: Refugees coming to America in order to commit ‘rape jihad’ against non-Muslim women and girls”, and would, unfortunately, seem a reasonably accurate description of the wisdom proffered by Our Lady Light Bulb, do any of us really need me to post the detail?

Or is this one of those occasions we can trust that you will click and read, or not, according to your inclination?

Because it really is sickening.

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Image note: Detail of photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo.

Kaufman, Scott Eric. “Michele Bachmann: Refugees coming to America in order to commit ‘rape jihad’ against non-Muslim women and girls”. Salon. 30 November 2015.

The Ben Carson Show (America)

Ben Carson and the United States of America: Composite sources ― Ben Carson Campaign/Twitter via Washington Post; Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

While not everything wrong with Ben Carson’s presidential campaign can be pinned directly on the good doctor, his own inability to communicate with others while respecting reasonable bounds of reality has left many questioning whether or not the man who believes so many absurd notions about history, science, and humanity is smart enough to be president of anything. And in that context, no, the latest failure of his campaign staff just doesn’t help.

Happy Geography Awareness Week! Recognizing that “too many young Americans are unable to make effective decisions, understand geo-spatial issues, or even recognize their impacts as global citizens,” National Geographic created this annual observance to “raise awareness to this dangerous deficiency in American education.”

Ben Carson’s presidential campaign inadvertently underscored this point Tuesday night, when it took to social media to share a map of the United States in which five New England states were placed in the wrong location. The campaign deleted the Twitter and Facebook posts Wednesday morning after media outlets and social media users pointed out the error.

(Ingraham)

Dr. Carson doesn’t help his assertion of Christian virtue with bigotry and cruelty toward war refugees; he certainly doesn’t help his assertion of presidential competence by losing track of New England.

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Image note: Composite sources ― Ben Carson Campaign/Twitter via Washington Post; Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Ingraham, Christopher. “Ben Carson’s campaign made a U.S. map and put a bunch of states in the wrong place”. The Washington Post. 18 November 2015.

The Marco Rubio Show (Aid and Comfort)

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) announces his candidacy for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination on 13 April 2015. (AP Photo)

“George W. Bush said America was at war with an ideology that had ‘hijacked Islam’ in the same way Nazism had hijacked Germany or communism had hijacked Russia. Barack Obama has argued that even this assessment gives violent jihadists a stature they don’t deserve. Rubio, by contrast, is going far beyond Bush. And he’s doing exactly what the Islamic State wants: He’s equating ISIS with Islam itself.”

Peter Beinart

There really is nothing like giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

Or, rather, this is how you run for president in 2016 if you are a Republican.

Peter Beinart of The Atlantic dissects the Florida junior’s remarks regarding the Paris terror, a case study in getting everything wrong while running for president.

One would think the general threat Daa’ish presents against humanity would suffice, but for Republicans that isn’t good enough. In February, Congressional Republicans refused a specific authorization for use of military force against Daa’ish because it wouldn’t have been a big enough war for their satisfaction. Meanwhile, Sen. Rubio, whose campaign slogan is itself a war cry, has shown himself something of a dim bulb in questions of foreign policy. Steve Benen notes, “the Republican field is dominated by candidates with no meaningful experience in or understanding of foreign affairs”, and at some point along the way this ought to become a relevant consideration. Whether it means anything to Republican voters at present remains to be seen; whether it means anything when voting starts is an unresolved question. Still, though, the seeming now-more-than-everism among warmongering Republicans is a bit unsettling; if they intend to keep it up through the general, we might also hope they will at some point find a clue. Otherwise, it is all noise and fury, and not even a spark of useful thought.

Something goes here about the soft bigotry of low expectations, and the devastating toll it can incur.

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Image note: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) announces his candidacy for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination on 13 April 2015. (AP Photo)

Beinart, Peter. “​ISIS Is Not Waging a War Against Western Civilization”. The Atlantic. 15 November 2015.

Benen, Steve. “GOP offers a lesson on how not to respond to terrorism”. msnbc. 16 November 2015.

The Depth of Sickness

Women and children from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, near the Iraqi-Syrian border crossing in Fishkhabour, Dohuk province, August 14, 2014. (Photo: Reuters/Youssef Boudlal)

That we do not dispute this or, really, any other aspect of David Frankfurter’s analysis only adds to our horror:

The social context may be just as important for understanding this new policy of sexual enslavement. One thing learned from the study of the small religious movements that have sprung up in the West over the past few centuries is the systematic restructuring of sexual relations that leaders have often demanded at an early point in the movement. This may involve group celibacy or polygamy, the exclusive sexual rights of the leader, or free sexual relations. It can often mean dissolution of prior marriages.

From the Jewish Frankists to the Mormons, the Shakers, the Branch Davidians and others, there is a pattern of inverting or eliminating prior sexual and emotional bonds to establish a new order, administered through the leader and his acolytes at the most intimate level.

This could easily apply to Islamic State’s sexual enslavement policies. The group is declaring its own institutional domination over both the bodies of women it has captured and the sexual gratification of its recruits — as an explicit feature of its new religious utopia.

This is why.

The thing is that this isn’t just Daa’ish or Boko Haram; they are just particularly ugly, heavily-armed manifestations of a terrifying proposition―deliberate conditioning of females for sexual abuse. I wonder if they would put down their rifles in exchange for a reality television show: 3,000 Slaves and Counting.

Unfortunately, that’s not simply a crass joke.

Neither is the common bond between Western purity cult and Daa’ish; assertions of moral and, in some aspects literal, ownership of females is not some random phenomenon that happened within the Daa’ish experience, but, rather, a driving purpose of patriarchal societies. In the end, it is very possibly the reason why.

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Image note: Women and children from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, near the Iraqi-Syrian border crossing in Fishkhabour, Dohuk province, August 14, 2014. (Photo: Reuters/Youssef Boudlal)

Frankfurter, David. “The true motives behind Islamic State’s use of sexual slavery”. Reuters. 8 September 2015.

Madness for a New American Century

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) announces his candidacy for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination on 13 April 2015.  (AP Photo)

Trevor Timm for The Guardian:

The New York Times detailed many of the Republican candidates’ nebulous “criticisms” of the Obama administration, most of which assume a fantasy world in which Obama is not sending the US military to fight Isis at all, even though he’s authorized thousands of airstrikes per month in both Iraq and Syria. Most of the candidates, while competing with each other over who can sound more “muscular” and “tough”, are too cowardly to overtly call for what they likely actually want: another ground war in the Middle East involving tens of thousands of US troops.Project for the New American Century

The vague, bullshitt-y statements made by Republican candidates would be hilarious if it wasn’t possible that they’ll lead to more American soldiers dying in the coming years. “Restrain them, tighten the noose, and then taking them out is the strategy” is Jeb Bush’s hot take on Isis. Thanks, Jeb – I can’t believe the Obama administration hasn’t thought of that! Marco Rubio’s “solution” is even more embarrassing: according to The Times, he responded to a question about what he would do differently – and this is real – by quoting from the movie Taken: “We will look for you, we will find you and we will kill you.”

Rubio has also called for “strategic overhaul”, but his radical plan seems to be virtually indistinguishable from what the Obama administration is actually doing – yet another sign that Republicans tend to live in a fantasy land where Obama is an anti-war president rather than someone who has bombed more countries than his Republican predecessor. (That is not a compliment, by the way.)

This is one of those things where we won’t be able to say we weren’t warned. Consider that Mr. Rubio’s campaign slogan is “A New American Century”.

Just think about that for a moment.

They really are promising us a war.

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Image Note: Top ― Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) announces his candidacy for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination on 13 April 2015. (AP Photo) Right ― Logo of the Project for the New American Century.

Timm, Trevor. “Republicans’ ‘plans’ for Isis would drag us into Iraq for another ground war”. The Guardian. 27 May 2015.

SourceWatch. “Project for the New American Century”. 19 February 2012.

A Real-Time Note in Which Confusion Rises, Then Gives Way to Mild Embarrassment

Lebanon cooks for Suou and July at Noah's Ark in Sapporo.  (Detail of frame from Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, episode 5, 'Gunsmoke Blows, Life Flows ...".)

I think we’re all aware that (ahem!) This Is a Small and Insignificant Corner of the Internet. That does not trouble me; it’s a free-hosted blog written by a middle-aged nobody with too much time on his hands. And some days the numbers are puzzling, like when they actually climb. There was the time This Is saw thrice its usual attendance simply because of a post about a crazy elected official in Missouri calling for a coup against President Obama, for instance.

Then again, sometimes they’re puzzling in other ways, and it takes a moment to settle the thought: Ah, I’m getting hits from Bahrain because I use the word Daa’ish. Well, that or someone is interested in the fútbol match ‘twixt England and Germany. You know, weird things like that. Or the time WordPress lost track of the United Kingdom, which was just plain funny.Daily statistics for This Is, 7 April 2015.

You know what would get really good ratings? A fútbol match between this year’s World Cup winner and whatever team Daa’ish can field.

Seriously, that would end the war. The ladies would strip off and oil up, and win the game, anyway, leaving Daa’ish broken and humiliated, and probably cut to pieces by their superiors, who would in turn be broken and humiliated, and then we’d get a year off from the war because they were trying to field a new team, with hostilities only resuming after Daa’ish returns to the pitch and finds themselves devastated by the winner of the Gay Olympics.

Ratings would be down for that one. But they’d be up again for the bombing campaign that would start the next week.

Oh, right. Our ratings. This Is occasionally gets German readership, and it’s not impossible when bagging on Daa’ish to draw a hit from Syria. But six countries in addition to my own U.S.? Nine hits from Lebanon? Four hits from Iceland?

Now I find myself wondering what the hell I did. The diverse range was already established before I made the joke about Doctor Who mashups, so that can’t be it.

Seriously, I spent all day whining about homophobes and Republicans, even when those two terms weren’t redundant.

Oh … that’s right.

Damn, and here I was getting on with some serious self-gratifying humor. Then I had to go and ruin it by remembering the answer to the question.

Okay, okay. Look, to my neighbors in Liban, I really didn’t mean to bait you. It’s true I named my cat Liban, but that’s short for Libane, which in turn is the name of a fish spirit from Irish folklore. But that’s beside the point; in this case, Lebanon refers to a Japanese cartoon transvestite.

And, yeah, it’s true, I did actually get one of those self-gratifying grins from breaking the news. To the other, you already knew about the cartoon transvestite, since you clicked, and saw, and … right.

But thank you for stopping by. All of you. Lebanon, Iceland, France, Syria, Germany, Japan. And, of course, my American neighbors. It is one thing to say it’s not about the raw numbers; I’m certain I would feel differently if the blog drew five hundred hits a day or something. But I only rant like this because I cannot stop, and it is very kind of you to waste a few minutes out of your day discovering that fact for yourself.

Be well, and stop by whenever. We’re always happy to see you. Or not, you know, actually see you, I guess, since this is a virtual sort of thing, but, damn it, you know what I mean.

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Image note: Top―Lebanon cooks for Suou and July at Noah’s Ark in Sapporo. (Detail of frame from Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, episode 5, “Gunsmoke Blows, Life Flows …”.) Right―Daily statistics for This Is, 7 April 2015.

The Warmongers’ Drum Circle

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.  (Photo: Dennis Cook/AP)

With so many complaints about President Obama and foreign policy, we might take a moment to consider what Matt Yglesias describes as “perhaps the greatest memo ever written”. And it seems true enough that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld “asked Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith to solve all the problems”.

April 7, 2003 11:46 AM

TO: Doug Feith

FROM: Donald Rumsfeld

SUBJECT: Issues w/Various Countries

We need more coercive diplomacy with respect to Syria and Libya, and we need it fast. If they mess up Iraq, it will delay bringing our troops home.

We also need to solve the Pakistan problem.

And Korea doesn’t seem to be going well.

Are you coming up with proposals for me to send around?

Memorandum from Donald Rumsfeld to Doug Feith, 7 April 2003Thanks.

DHR:dh

040703-26

Please respond by_____________________

And, yes, it is in fact a real memo.

Sometimes it pays to listen to the criticism, and actually consider whence it comes and what it looks toward. And as Congressional Republicans aim to wreck American foreign policy in order to restart the New American Century, this is the sort of competence they are hoping to achieve. You know, while sending troops to war in Iran.

And with Sen. Schumer (D-NY) ascending, it turns out the GOP might have enough support to pull this off; there are several centrist Democrats who seem to really, really want a war, as well.

Apparently, peace is too scary a prospect.

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Yglesias, Matthew. “12 years ago today, Donald Rumsfeld sent the greatest memo of all time”. Vox. 7 April 2015.

Rumsfeld, Donald. “Issues w/Various Countries”. 7 April 2003.

Strobel, Warren. “Republicans push demand for a vote on Iran nuclear deal”. Reuters. 5 April 2015.

A Reminder: There’s a War On

Barack Obama

Damn it.

Okay, look, it’s a standard local Republican comedy of the macabre: State senator posts stupid, racist meme on Facebook, deletes it, apologizes, acknowledges “error in judgment”.

Steve Mistler offers the detail for the Portland Press Herald:

State Sen. Michael Willette apologized Monday for sharing a Facebook post criticizing President Obama’s handling of the terrorist group ISIS and suggesting that its members are family members of the president.

Maine State Sen. Michael Willette (R-Presque Isle).Willette, a Republican from Presque Isle, posted a photo from Conservative News Daily that depicted Obama with the caption, “Why haven’t I done anything about ISIS? Because I’ll deal with them at the family reunion.” The post is designed to be humorous, but stokes long-harbored suspicions among some conservatives that the president is a Muslim extremist and not born in America. It also implies that the president and his family are kin with the same terrorist organizations known for beheading foreign aid workers and journalists ....

.... When asked to explain the rationale for the post, Willette issued a written statement in which he apologized for sharing the photo publicly. However, he did not apologize for the message the post conveyed.

“I apologize for posting this on Facebook. Like too many people these days, I fell into the trap of posting something first and then thinking later. It was an error in judgment,” he said.

Sounds about right. No, really, how outraged are we going to get this time?

Because, you know, what’s all this about not doing anything about Daa’ish?

There’s a war on, after all, or hadn’t you heard?

Twenty-two hundred airstrikes? Over 2,800 personnel in the theatre?

Oh, right: It’s not a big enough war.

No, seriously, what’s all this about not doing anything?

Syria? Iraq? Iran? Just how big a war are Republicans after?

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Mistler, Steve. “Maine state Senator apologizes for Facebook post saying Obama’s family tied to ISIS”. Portland Press Herald. 9 March 2015.

Another Beltway Day

Barack Obama

I wonder if this would have been yesterday’s Lede of the Day had I noticed at the time:

President Barack Obama should be asking for more power to wage war against Islamic State extremists, some Republicans on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs committee said.

If Kathleen Miller’s lede for Bloomberg seems strange, well, you wouldn’t be the only one to think so. To the other, though, remember, this is war, and this is President Obama, so naturally Republicans would object that he isn’t asking to kill enough people. Besides, the GOP has a plethora of reasons―current potential candidate field notwithstanding―to think maybe 2016 will be their year. And, well, you know, since they expect one of theirs to take the White House before this AUMF expires, they want to make sure the next Republican president has as much legal backing as possible in order to kill as many nonwhites around the world as possible.

Plenty will note that the GOP has apparently rolled on executive authority, but these are Republicans, and this is war, so we probably shouldn’t be surprised.

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Miller, Kathleen. “For Once Obama Should Have More Power, House Republicans Say”. Bloomberg. 12 February 2015.

Benen, Steve. “GOP flips the script, endorses executive overreach”. msnbc. 13 February 2015.