They Call Me The Seer

I can see what no other person sees. I can see the future crystal clear and in high-def. I see older and younger low-income, uninsured people and families being dragged into the new Affordable Care Act healthcare insurance exchanges during the Openbamacare season 10/1/2013 to 3/31/2014—almost 30 million of them. Low income people and families seem to need more medical care than most others, and I can see them get their monthly premium quotes which are…surprisingly affordable. I see them getting health care and those who receive bills find them…surprisingly affordable. They learn there are no lifetime caps, no pre-existing condition exclusions and they seem…surprisingly happy. The Medicare recipients have a Part D donut hole that is no longer larger enough for them to jump through. They are surprisingly happy, too.

I just had a vision that clouds that first one: the Republicans can clearly see what I see. That is why they are scrambling to de-fund the ACA. Will they be successful? I don’t see it…


The Syrian Shell Game

If you listened to what President Obama said last night without analyzing his statements, it sounded pretty good and reasonable.  Leave it to Chris Matthews to put it into perspective.  In essence, it is our job to stop Assad from killing his own people by US (meaning both “us” and the US) killing more of his own people. Bombs and missiles don’t hit their targets 100% of the time.  Bombs and missiles fall on innocent men, women, and children who have nothing to do with civil war and chemical warfare. This creates what is called collateral damage.  You know the videos of dead children and others Obama urged us to watch online last night? Matthews was correct in saying that after the bombs and missiles fall, the Assad regime will be posting videos of the dead bodies of all civilians who we killed with our errant armament.  How humanitarian will we look to the world then? How pissed off and frantic will the surviving, grieving Syrians be when they think that EVERYONE in the world is dropping bombs and missiles on them, that no one will save them, that they are totally and completely alone in their own country and there is not one damn thing they can do about it EXCEPT to fight everyone in the world, including rebels in their own country?

Obama is not the genius many people take him for if he hasn’t thought this through. Or maybe it’s just good ol’ American hubris on his part, perhaps being influenced by the hubris shown by his advisers.  Obama’s been giving bad advice by his financial advisers. No reason not to think the advice from his foreign relations and national security advisers is just as bad.  He’s even pulled out, dusted off, and given a makeover to the old Vietnam Domino Theory. The latest model?  It goes something  like this: “If we don’t stop Assad from using chemical weapons he will continue to use them which will embolden other terrorists and dictators all over the world to use them on their own people, on their enemies, and then finally on us.”

Lastly, Obama says he would hit “military targets”. Oh yeah? Which ones? And Mr. President, please explain how these attacks will prompt Assad to say he’s sorry and that he’ll never do it again.  To get an idea of how complex this whole issue of chemical weapons removal and dismantling of the facilities that make Assad’s chemical weapons cache, go here:

People who are simplistic can only understand simple solutions.  This is who Obama is trying to sell his limited strike plan to.  Obama needs to address the entire complexity of the Syrian situation and specify and delineate exactly how and by whom all chemical weapons will be removed and how and by whom all chemical weapons producing factories will be closed down.  Much of Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal is mobile; tracking them all down will be like trying to follow hundreds of shell games—sometimes literally “shell” games. What is Obama’s plan for all of that?

Overthrow Or Kill Assad—Then What?

What frustrates me are people who don’t think things through.  Everyone who is pushing for direct US intervention in Syria against Bashar Hafez al-Assad is guilty of this.  I’ve been guilty as well as advocating a SEAL Team 6-like strike but logically I know it’s impossible. It would be ill-advised also for the reasons I will present.

John Kerry and Barack Obama are treating this like the US should be the stern father figure taking the belt to Assad’s backside for his black deeds so that he promises to “never do it again”.  Well, Assad already has two “fathers”: Russia and China. He does what he does because he has such lenient and supportive dads.

With this attempt to whip of support of the American people for an illegal strike (not sanctioned by the UN) against Syria, John Kerry has become the new Condoleezza Rice and UN Ambassador Samantha Rice is the new John Bolton.  But what the people who don’t think things through are failing to think through: who would fill the political and leadership vacuum if Assad is either sent packing or sent down under? The track record for actual democratically-elected government leaders is none too good throughout the Arab and Islamic states; witness Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia.  In every one of these countries where the leaders were “democratically” elected or put in place by the military, the rulers have been murderous, drug lords, “ex”-military generals, and hard right Muslim leaders.  “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss” indeed.  In every one of these countries the people are still protesting and many dissidents have been imprisoned and/or shot dead.  This same exact scenario will play out in Syria—you can count on it.

So, assuming that Assad is deposed or killed, who will fill that power vacuum? Among the volunteers will most certainly be Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey with the U.S., Russia, and China either duking it out behind the scenes or in the center ring.  Take a look at a map of the Middle East and take note of where Syria is situated and remember that nature abhors a vacuum.  The peremptory overthrow of the Assad regime by outside forces (whether or not the rebels participate in it) will destabilize the region for years, and destabilize is probably too mild a term.  As for Syria—do we need yet another country under its military control—which over and over has been shown in every country where they have installed themselves in power to be just as corrupt and brutal as the corrupt and brutal despots they displaced?

But if by some remote chance power isn’t seized by the military, who will fill the power vacuum? This isn’t a simple case of heroic rebels vs. the Assad regime.  Nope,  within this generic “rebels” designation there are factions upon factions fighting each other: Islamists vs. non-Islamists; Saudi-supported groups vs. anti-Saudis,  Syrian drug lords vs. each other, factions who are seeking outsider support vs. factions who want all outsiders out of the conflict. This is not only a civil war, it’s a turf war; the Jets vs. the Sharks on steroids. The gang we back may not be the gang who wins the war.  It’s Iraq all over again.

So, what are the alternatives? Russia will block any UN military actions voted on by the Security Council, so that’s no good.  So, the US became damn fine in advising or orchestrating regime changes in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Chile, Argentina, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Brazil, Indonesia,  Angola, Turkey, South Vietnam, etc. (for more info on most of these, read Naomi Klein’s classic “The Shock Doctrine”.) so why can’t we use the techniques we perfected to install the good guy into power for once? Train, arm, and fund them just as we did for the likes of Pinochet of Chile and Suharto of Indonesia and many, many other despots globally.

What the US war hawks still don’t get is that instead of just toppling a government, you’ve first have to win the hearts and minds of the people through humanitarian acts.  Don’t just arm rebels with weapons and battle tactics; supply them with food, clean drinking water, clothing, medical supplies, house building materials and heavy equipment.  We’ve got to make ourselves the good guys in the people’s eyes, not the invaders. But being men, this is considered much too expensive and would take way too long in the eyes of Kerry, Obama, McCain (if you can take his eyes away from his video poker games long enough) and the other chairbound warriors.

The Political Square Dance

Politics is a square dance.  Change partners, dosey doe, round and round and round we go.

The Republican Party was founded in Wisconsin in 1854 as a political vehicle for keeping slavery out of the new territories and states and for abolishing slavery altogether.  The Southern Democrats demanded that the new territories be given the right to decide for themselves the question of whether or not slavery would be allowed within their borders.  The Northern Democrats opposed abolition because they were convinced that the issue would lead to the dissolution of the Union, as it did to the Whig Party. They were right, of course, but their opposition to the abolitionists helped propel the Union into the Civil War.  The Republican Party was actually comprised of disillusioned Whigs, Democrats, Free Soilers, Know Nothings, and other alternative political parties that arose primarily over the slavery issue.

It’s possible that disagreement over issues like Syria, illegal immigration, and the war on women may be contemporary “Slavery” battlefront that dissolves the Republican Party and has it go the way of the Whigs.  You’ve got the media-made Republican mouthpieces John McCain and Rand Paul going head-to-head over bombing Syria, with McCain in a way siding with Obama while at the same time asserting Obama isn’t willing to go the distance and blast Syria into oblivion leaving only those lovely, unguarded oilfields…

It’s very clear that the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party would back the return of slavery as a states’ rights issue in a hot second, just like the Southern Democrats of old. They would also approve of the Constitutional Article I Section 9 (allowing importation of slaves into the US), Section 2 (slaves counted as 3/5 of a person for representation and taxation purposes), and Article IV Section 2 (slaveowners and their agents could cross states lines to retrieve their escaped “property”, and anyone who tried to stop them or provide assistance to said escaped property were prohibited from doing so). They would skip the 13th Amendment (abolition of slavery) entirely as if it had never been written.

What has stayed the same? Today, it’s the Democrats who are leading the fight to legalize the illegal immigrants for representation and taxation purposes and it’s the Republicans who are trying to stop them.  Swing your partners round and round, dosey doe, where she stops nobody knows. Wait a second, that’s roulette. But we don’t know where this all will stop, do we?