Stomp The Roaches

Emerging from three days of near-isolation from politics, I woke up today to this:

And this:

And this:

You know, normally when you turn on the light the roaches scatter and head for the cover of darkness.  In this election cycle, the roaches of extremism, nesting in the brains of GOP candidates, not only don’t scatter when the lights come on, they send for their friends.

I have found quite disgusting most of what Republicans have said and done this campaign season, much of that disgust registered on this blog since campaigning began. But I don’t think I have been more disgusted by anything said so far as I am by the attacks on President Obama for trying to protect American soldiers, via his apology to the president of Afghanistan for inadvertently burning Qurans.

It is almost beyond words.  Hillary Clinton, our Secretary of State, apparently has learned diplomat-speak very well, since she totally understated the problem:

I find it somewhat troubling that our politics would inflame such a dangerous situation in Afghanistan.

Somewhat troubling“?  She finds it somewhat troubling that candidates for the highest office in our land would “inflame a dangerous situation“—thus putting our troops at even greater risk? Well, I find it somewhat troubling that we should use such mild language to call out Republicans for their cynical exploitation of this issue.

Obama is the Commander-in-Chief, for Allah’s sake. His responsibility in this matter is to do all he can to calm nerves and not expose our soldiers to even more danger than they already face. To criticize him for doing his job is really unbleepingbelievable.

When the roaches are out running around in the light, you don’t just find it “somewhat troubling.” You stomp your rhetorical foot on them—no, both rhetorical feet—crushing them, knowing that the uncomfortable crunch is the first step in stopping the infestation because, if you don’t do it now, they will simply go back to their conservative nests and breed more extremist ideas.

When Rick Santorum says, “I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute,” you don’t just find that “somewhat troubling” either.
We all should find that disturbing, frightening, terrifying.  And we should say so. Loudly. And often.

When Rick Santorum, playing to the weird crowd that makes up his base, says, “President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob,” he should be mocked endlessly, until his extremist ideas aren’t even comfortable nesting in the brain of the host.

Santorum said to Glenn Beck, the father of a lot of extremist roaches, the following:

I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college, because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely … The indoctrination that is going on at the university level is a harm to our country.

Now, what do you do with such fanaticism but crush it? What do you do with such zealotry but turn on the light and start stomping your feet?

Why Afghanistan War Strategy Must Change

As day three of the killing frenzy over an American Christian zealot’s Quran-burning unfolded, it has become increasingly clear to me—after agonizing over it for several months—that those who argue for an expedited drawdown leading to a pullout of combat troops in Afghanistan are right. That seems to be the wisest course to take, despite the fact that there are good, but not sufficient, reasons to stay.

The latest deadly unrest highlights two arguments for a swifter withdrawal than President Obama has outlined:

1) Hamid Karzai will never be a reliable partner.

2) General David Petraeus’ “winning hearts and minds” strategy won’t work in Afghanistan.

In addition to the many problems we’ve had with him in the past, the latest outrage is partly Karzai’s responsibility. As has been reported, most Afghans did not even know about the burning of the Quran in Florida—which happened on March 20—until Karzai tried to politicize it. From the New York Times:

Both Afghan and international news media had initially played down or ignored the actions of Mr. Jones, the Florida pastor. On Thursday, however, President Karzai made a speech and issued statements condemning the Koran burning and calling for the arrest of Mr. Jones for his actions. On Friday, that theme was picked up in mosques throughout Afghanistan.

“Karzai brought this issue back to life, and he has to take some responsibility for starting this up,” said a prominent Afghan businessman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution if he was identified as a critic of the president.

“Karzai’s speech itself provoked people to take such actions,” said Qayum Baabak, a political analyst in Mazar-i-Sharif. “Karzai should have called on people to be patient rather than making people more angry.”

Karzai, through education and experience with American culture, knows perfectly well that Pastor Terry Jones cannot be arrested. Stupidity is legal in the United States, after all. But Karzai’s irresponsibility continued today, as Reuters reported:

Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on Sunday for the U.S. Congress to condemn the burning of a Koran by a radical fundamentalist U.S. pastor and prevent it from happening again, his office said in a statement.

Karzai made the request at a meeting with U.S. ambassador Karl Eikenberry and General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, the statement said.

Echoing this nonsense, the Taliban released a statement today:

The U.S. government should have punished the perpetrators, but the American authorities and those in other countries not only did not have a serious reaction, but defended (the burning) to some extent in the name of freedom of religion and speech.

One report included this paragraph:

The Taliban said in a statement emailed to media outlets that the U.S. and other Western countries have wrongly excused the burning a Quran by the pastor of a Florida church on March 20 as freedom of speech and that Afghans “cannot accept this un-Islamic act.”

That last phrase, Afghans “cannot accept this un-Islamic act,” leads to the other persuasive argument against our Afghanistan war policy: Petraeus’ strategy. There are just too many things in this war that the Taliban can exploit as “un-Islamic acts,” as the Washington Post suggests:

The protests, which began Friday, also appear to be fueled more broadly by the resentment that has been building for years in Afghanistan over the operations of Western military forces, blamed for killing and mistreating civilians, and international contractors, seen by many as enriching themselves and fueling corruption at the expense of ordinary Afghans.

General Petraeus is doing his best. Our troops are, of course, fighting admirably, despite the occasional horrific stories about “kill teams” and other atrocities.

The problem is that the strategy—winning the hearts and minds of the Afghans—is so tenuous that a combination of an idiotic American evangelical extremist pastor and a stupidly opportunistic Afghan president can, wittingly or unwittingly, conspire to cripple that delicate strategy in just a few days and undo much of the good our soldiers have done.

Another strategy, perhaps along the lines originally proposed by Vice President Joe Biden, is in order. From the New York Times in September of 2009:

…Mr. Biden proposed scaling back the overall American military presence. Rather than trying to protect the Afghan population from the Taliban, American forces would concentrate on strikes against Qaeda cells, primarily in Pakistan, using special forces, Predator missile attacks and other surgical tactics.

Oddly, whatever it was that Pastor Jones and President Karzai were trying to accomplish, news reports inform us of the results:                                             

“Death to America” and “Death to Karzai” chanted the demonstrators.

 

Whatever Happens, No Apologies Please

Terry Jones, who by now is known worldwide, is one ballsy pastor. 

Spitting in the face of General Petraeus, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the rodeo clown, Glenn Beck, he vows to go on with his mission to incinerate the Word of God Allah.

It appears Pastor Jones has heard from Allah God on the matter and he says he aint budgin’.  After all, when God Allah God speaks, you gotta listen.

No matter what one thinks about the Reverend’s actions—and I’m sure there are plenty of religious folks around these parts who have at least some sympathy for him—what does it say about the state of Islamic sensibilities if one insignificant American clergyman can threaten to set a copy of the Quran on fire and large swaths of Muslims in all corners of the world will wax nasty on the rest of us?

We have been pouring billions of dollars into efforts to make the Islamic world love us, despite our having invaded a couple of their countries, killed a lot of their citizens, and broken a lot of their stuff.  And apparently one crazy Pentecostal preacher in Florida can undo all the good will money can buy with his book-burning bonanza.  Man, we have a long way to go.

And I don’t get the reaction of our domestic guardians of American patriotism, the Glenn Becks, the Sarah Palins, and Sean Hannitys, who have to varying degrees said the pastor shouldn’t do what Allah God is telling him to do.

Why not? I wonder.  We’re Americans by God  Allah. We can do whatever we want.  And we can do it without repercussions.  Ever since Barack Obama “apologized” for a couple of America’s “mistakes,” conservative patriots have told us that what we do as Americans has no effect on how others view us, how others treat us, how others may want to do us harm. 

And we certainly don’t have a damn thing to apologize for.

If terrorists want to commandeer airliners and use them as missiles, those acts haven’t the slightest connection to what we have done in the past, to our foreign policy.  If folks around the world get some pleasure out of burning American flags, it’s not because we have given them the tiniest reason. If we kill innocents abroad with invisible drones, there’s no legitimate reason why their families may resent us, no justifiable reason why they might want to assault us.

Yet now that conservative hero David Petraeus has given the word that the pastor ought to put his matches back in his pocket, the right-wing is urging this earnest man of Allah God  to pull back, so as not to endanger our “troops.” 

Well, let’s hope that they are this reflective about how other actions we take as Americans might affect the larger world, about how our cowboy foreign policy may have lasting effects, about how demagoging the issue of building a Muslim community center near Ground Zero might also endanger our fighting men and women.

Let’s hope these conservatives will think twice before they want to invade another country, kill their citizens, and break their stuff, because those things have long-term consequences. 

Yes, let’s hope.

And let’s hope that if Pastor Jones does fill the sky with Quranic ashes, that these folks don’t rush to apologize for his actions, telling Muslims around the world that most Americans condemn his act and are repulsed at book burning of any kind.

Because no matter what we Americans do, we don’t have to apologize for it.  We don’t have to be like Barack Obama and tell the world that because of our love of liberty we sometimes make mistakes, individually and collectively.

That would just be too much.

__________________________

UPDATE: Apparently, after a request from President Obama to “listen to those better angels” and stop the nonsense, Pastor Jones has reportedly said he wants to hear from someone in the government, hearing from God obviously not sufficiently comforting.

Remarks And Asides

Terry Jones, pastor of the ironically-named Dove World Outreach Center, has decided that a Godly message to Muslims everywhere is in order. So, he has thoughtfully organized an “International Burn a Quran Day,” slated for September 11.

But…what if the Quran is not combustible?

In any case, my sources in the hereafter have informed me that Pastor Jones himself is scheduled to be barbecued sometime soon, possibly sooner than he might imagine.

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In case you missed it, Ken Mehlman, former chairman of the Republican National Committee—the Michael Steele of his day—and former campaign manager for Bush’s 2004 campaign, has finally decided to tell the world he is a sodomite gay.

It’s taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life,” Mehlman said.

Okay, fine.  Now, when will Michael Steele admit to the world that he is really white?

_______________________

By the way, Bill Maher outed Mehlman four years ago on Larry King’s show, to which King responded:

King: I never heard that. I’m walking around in a fog. I never…Ken Mehlman? I never heard that. But the question is…

Mayer: Maybe you don’t go to the same bathhouse I do, Larry.

Now, the thought of a naked Larry King in a bathhouse is enough to make most any man a heterosexual, I would think.

______________________

I heard Karl Rove say—while being gingerly massaged skillfully interviewed by the refurbished Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday—that Democratic economic policies have clearly been a “spending orgy.”  

Certainly, we can agree that Rove—part of an administration that screwed seven or eight million Americans so long and hard that they lost their jobs—would know an orgy when he sees one.

_______________________

For those of you attending Glenn Beck’s “I Have A Meme” rally this Saturday, just a word of caution: No firearms, ammunition, or explosives are allowed.  And there will absolutely be no alcoholic beverages.  But my impeachable sources tell me that Sarah Palin will be going commando. Have fun everyone!

_______________________

And speaking of Glenn Beck’s egofest this Saturday–the one in which he claims God will manifest his power in ways folks have likely never before seen in public (so much for parting the Red Sea)–none other than Erick Erickson is questioning the motives of the guy who is destined to sit on the left hand of God:

“The conservative movement is still split on Glenn and whether he’s doing it for himself or doing it for the movement,” said Erick Erickson, founder of the influential conservative blog Red State.

Now, when an intellectual slob like Erickson is questioning your motives, can a Noah-like flood be far behind?  I’d buy a big boat before Saturday, if I were you, Erick.

_______________________

Sarah Palin’s counterfactual son-in-law, Levi Johnston—a self described “f***in’ redneck“—is undertaking a campaign for either mayor or councilman of Wasilla—apparently his choice—and has been seen gun-shopping.  Even Sarah Palin doesn’t deserve this guy. 

Okay.  Maybe she does.

Levi has recently renounced his apology for “lying” about Palin.  “The only thing I wish I wouldn’t have done is put out that apology ’cause it kind of makes me sound like a liar,” he said.  

That kid is learnin’.

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Roy Blunt’s partner-in-legislative-malfeasance, Tom DeLay, failed to talk a Texas judge into moving his trial on money laundering to a, well, more hospitable venue.  The bug-killing star-dancer will be tried in Austin, virtually the only place left in Texas where a conservative ideologue has a snowball’s chance of getting what he deserves.

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The Obama Justice Department has appealed a court ruling striking down a Bush administration policy that fined broadcasters for saying naughty words on live telly.

So, even though the evil Obama is bent on destroying America, he doesn’t want people like Bono saying “f**k” in front of the children while he is doing so.

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