Archive for the 'chattering classes/punditry' Category

John Kyl (R-Arizona) Says Regime Change Should be Ultimate U.S Goal in Iran

This past week Iran was once again in the headlines. A Summer of violence inflicted on dissidents by the military and security forces following the Iranian Presidential “election” in June, as well as fears that the Islamic Republic could soon acquire nuclear weapons; have gained the country much attention and has created much concern.

Last week at the United Nations, the country’s “President” faced protests by those denouncing his brutish tactics against Iranian protesters in his own country. His diatribes against Israel and denial of the holocaust caused many to walk out during his speech before the United Nations last week. And intelligence of a subterranean facility connected to the country’s nuclear program; elicited rebukes and renewed talk of International sanctions by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and even Russia to a lesser degree.

Now, as the United States remains mired in two Middle Eastern conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq (both countries next to Iran), some of the neocons in the United States think maybe two millitary stalemates aren’t enough.

It appears that Senator John Kyl (R-AZ) and outgoing Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) are mulling regime change in Iran. Kyl and Bond who each appeared on Sunday morning political talk shows, aren’t yet urging an all out Iraq-style pre-emptive war just yet, nevertheless he says regime change should be the ultimate objective of the United States in its policy towards Iran.

“What we’re trying to do here eventually is get a regime change,” he said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“Get a group of people in there that are more representative of the Iranian people, that we really can talk with in a way that might end up with a good result. I think it’s very difficult to do that with the current leadership and especially the elected president,” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

My Pavlovian response to such rhetoric is usually a mix between a roll of the eyes, fear of another military adventure that ends in an outright fiasco, and anger that anyone could be stupid enough to be so cavalier after what we have endured with Iraq. But the so-called election this past Summer (and no Senator Kyl he isn’t the “elected President” of Iran he stole the election at least as far as we can tell) shows that there is a reservoir of suspicion and resentment towards Amadinejad that has gone beyond him and was so audacious as to be aimed even at the Mullahs who hold the real power in the country.

Action should be taken for sure, and as of now it appears that Obama is attempting to adopt the approach similar to that George HW Bush took in 1990 following the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq; attempting to build legitimacy with the International community specifically within the UN membership to denounce and punish Iran, rather then the bungled neoconservative model of the Iraq war.

As Josh Marshall on TPM points out, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates even says that any sort of military action towards Iran would have limited results. After attacking any facilities what is to say that Iran won’t immediately work to rebuild such capabilities? Would we once again be forced to militarily reconstructing the entire sociopolitical framework of a nation where we are viewed with suspicion and whose culture Americans by and large have little familiarity with? Such a move would further destabilize the global economy, driving further up the price of oil. Not all the weapons sites are likely known in Iran since U.S Intelligence in the country is scant at best if existent at all. It sits in a region where its two neighboring countries Iraq and Afghanistan have unstable, inept regimes that are seen as effective by much of their citizenry and are just possibly fragile enough to also be forced from power in reaction.

The international community would likely not stand alongside the United States and Israel in such an attack, and such talk would only cause Iran to expedite the development of a nuclear program and do something that this summer shows Ahmadinejad and the government were never able to do and that is make him legitimate in the eyes of the Iranian people. His tirades and fear mongering would be validated and any opening the U.S may have had with the Iran citizenry could be very well sealed shut if we are perceived as trigger happy. An attack on Iran could turn more of them against us and in the wake of such an attack we could see a flood of Iranians crossing into Iraq armed with a newly formed hatred in their hearts and thousands of U.S soldiers in their sights.

Finally, the government of Ahmadinejad is not the body that really hold the bulk of the decision making power is done by the mullahs and the Grand Ayatollah. In the larger configuration of things Ahmadinejad is a minute component in the more vast system of the Iranian elite.

If we have learned anything from nearly a decade of struggle and Afghanistan and our invasion of Iraq, its that War and regime change are something that is easy to spout off about, but violent, costly, and painstaking to carry out. We are already locked in two wars rebuilding two nations,to enter a third would be the most absurd and tragic of follies.



America Needs to Remember Godwin’s Law

The logic that springs from Hitler comparisons.

Kathleen Parker writes about the use of Hitler comparisons and Nazi references at recent town hall meetings.

Hear, hear. Invocations of Hitler usually mean two things: one, a poverty of imagination, and two, a paucity of good arguments. It is nearly axiomatic that any protest against government action will feature Hitler in some form. Left and right are equally guilty. Trivializing such evil is an insult to the memory of millions who suffered and died by his order, as well as to the intelligence of all sentient beings.

It may no longer be possible in this country to have a serious debate about anything. Inevitably, substance devolves into silliness. Even the most dignified of statesmen become caricatures when juxtaposed with the ridiculous.

Whether it be the Jacobins on the left comparing Bush/Cheney to Hitler or the loony tunes on the right comparing Obama’s health care reform efforts and big spending to Hitler and the Nazis (as if health care and spending were what defined Hitler and the Nazis policies as ghastly and atrocious)I have yet to hear of any argument or dispute in which a Hitler comparison provided a victory to anyone. Rather if serves only to silence the opposition, that increases tension, moments of of tense awkward silence, and usually signals the end of any sound arguments.


Glenn Beck’s truth for clunkers

Additional funds were approved for the ‘cash for clunkers’ program, where Americans can turn in an old car for a rebate on a new fuel efficent vehicle. Now who could hate that? American consumers support it overwhelmingly, the bussiness community and car dealerships are supported in times of hardship by it, and steps are taken towards the reduction of air pollution. Now who could hate that? Well Fox News self professed ‘rodeo clown’ Glenn Beck as well as Fox News anchor Kimberly Guilfoyle, and New Deal basher Jonah Goldberg; who sat doing the only thing they seem to know how to do; comparing the present day United States government to Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

Beck says that a viewer told him that on the government Cars website, that discloses guidelines and information about cash for clunkers, it is said that as a result of participating in the program your personal computer and its contents are the property of the Fedreal government and they now own your computer. Repeatedly Beck urges people not to go to to check for themselves.

A real cracker jack investigative team you got there Beck. This segment was talked about by my grandparents who are ardent Beck watchers this weekend when I visited them and they thought it was true. I myself wondered about it and it sounded far fetched to me so I checked on the site and saw nothing. Then the Daily Kos also debunked Beck’s paranoid warnings, stating that the site where the warning appears is not (dispite the logo that says CARS in the corner of the page, but The message is the terms of use on a login page for users on the site and the only users who can log into the site are car dealers, ho have been vetted and are registered participants in the cars for clunkers program, not consumers. Even the conservative site Little Green Footballs acknowledges Beck is off the reservation on this one.

1. If you are a consumer visiting (the “cash for clunkers” website) the Federal government cannot take control over your computer, nor will it ask permission to do so.

2. The “Terms of Use” statement to which Beck refers in this clip is not from Rather it is a login page for dealer transactions located at

3. The only people who can get login credentials for the site are dealers who have been screened and registered for the “cash for clunkers” program.

4. To summarize: the page in question isn’t on and can only be used by dealers who have already registered. Consumers won’t be impacted by any of this.

But if we included facts rather then absurdities woven together into one big paranoid delusion, Glenn Beck wouldn’t have an excuse to compare the President and America to Nazi Germany. Listening to these guys one would think that the worst thing Hitler and the Third Reich did was not the countless invasions and the atrocities of the holocaust, but massive government spending,healthcare, and a cars for clunkers style program.


Lou Dobbs Joins ‘Birthers’

Here is a copy of Barack Obama’s Birth Certificate.

Ever since the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primaries started in earnest back in 2007 and then Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill) started to gain traction there have been inane conspiracy theories that he hasn’t produced a birth certificate and wasn’t born in this country, despite the fact you can easily find his birth certificate online. By extension these conspiracy theorists take this erroneous assertion to say that Obama really isn’t American or ‘one of us’ , and that he is really some kind of Al-Queda plant sent here to take over America from inside its government and turn us all into Muslims.

Nobody truly intelligent would go along with this because like I said you can easily find an official copy of his birth certificate online. The rumor would rise again time and time again, throughout the primaries and General election and despite the stupidity, as Albert Camus once said “stupidity has a knack of getting its way”, and this vacuous attack has continued to be used, including by wingnut and former Obama senate rival Alan Keyes (R,MD,Ill, or wherever there is a vacant Republican office). Many would expect that from someone like Alan Keyes because, well he’s Alan Keyes.

Some members of congress, ‘tea baggers’ in the Pat Buchanan mold, and other elements of the blogosphere have used this as a way to rail against Obama’s policies and Obama himself. However, it also seems to be a way to continue to exploit the stupidity of those ill-developed minds who posses xenophobic, ethnic, and racial hatreds. Really they can’t call Obama the n-word, or call for “states rights”, and come out and just say we hate blacks; so they use every theory and tool no matter how inaccurate or absurd to hit this message home. They have come to be known as “birthers” and quite frankly they are as ridiculous, absurd, and are the right wing equivalent to those on the far left (and some on the far right) known as “truthers” who claim George W Bush and the U.S government orchestrated 9/11.

Now in a sad commentary on the state of cable news; CNN’s Lou Dobbs is raising his pitchfork and joining the party. After all where there is xenophobic ignorance to be exploited, there is Lou Dobbs.

“This isn’t one of those things that goes away quite as easily as I’d thought,” Dobbs says, saying that this isn’t the “fringe” and that Obama hasn’t produced a birth certificate. (He long ago released an official copy, the standard document. As often noted, it actually does go away quite easily.)

“I have no idea what the reality is here,” says Dobbs, later wondering, “You suppose he’s undoc — no, I wouldn’t use the word ‘undocumented,’ wouldn’t be right.”

You know Lou if you just used Google I am sure you could find the answers, but i guess research would conflict with the xenophobic barn burning diatribes that are what you do best.

UPDATE (10:10AMET)- Liz Cheney a birther? Well if you believe the Iraq War was an ingenious maneuver in the field of foreign policy I guess you can believe anything. Actually I don’t know which this association discredits more the birthers because of their association Liz Cheney, or if Liz Cheney because of her association with the birthers.


Speaking Ill of the Dead

Former Foreign correspondent Joseph Galloway, best known as the author of the book and later 2002 motion picture “We were Soliders Once and Young”, unloads about his true feelings about the recently departed former U.S Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara.

Here is his stinging commentary as printed in McClatchy:

Well, the aptly named Robert Strange McNamara has finally shuffled off to join LBJ and Dick Nixon in the 7th level of Hell.

McNamara was the original bean-counter — a man who knew the cost of everything but the worth of nothing.

Back in 1990 I had a series of strange phone conversations with McMamara while doing research for my book We Were Soldiers Once And Young. McNamara prefaced every conversation with this: “I do not want to comment on the record for fear that I might distort history in the process.” Then he would proceed to talk for an hour, doing precisely that with answers that were disingenuous in the extreme — when they were not bald-faced lies.


Of "Hitler: and "Treason". Shut Up Already!

Found a cogent little bit on Andrew Sullivan that has been on my mind for awhile of this little spat in writing between John Cole and Nobel Prize winning Economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.

I mention this not because I simply want a new post to occupy space but because this has been my reaction for quite sometime. Two things that make my eyes roll in an almost reflexive reaction is the ease with which people are willing to hurl Hitler comparisons and labels of “treason” that divurge from the true meaning of treason. Enough already on all fronts. Whether it be the Glenn Beck comparisons to America becoming a bastion of Hitler-like Nazism (if you think we are in the early stages of Hitler’s Germany why don’t you just ask the survivors Glenn? After all I am sure Universal Healthcare was a warm-0up to the Holocaust), Ann Coulter’s haranges, those who compared Bush to Hitler, or Krugman who has recently accused those House members who voted against the “Cap and Trade” or clean energy bill who don’t believe in global climate change of “treason of the planet”.

Here is Krugman in his New York Times column on the dissenters in the Cap and Trade House Vote:

But 212 representatives voted no. A handful of these no votes came from representatives who considered the bill too weak, but most rejected the bill because they rejected the whole notion that we have to do something about greenhouse gases.

And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a form of treason — treason against the planet.

Now here John Cole at Ballon (H/T: Andrew Sullivan)

There needs to be some form of one of the corollaries to Godwin’s Law that applies to the word treason, in that anyone who accuses someone of treason for non-treasonous behavior automatically loses the argument. Yes, the climate change deniers are, in my opinion, wrong, and yes, they are making all sorts of ridiculous arguments, but after the last eight years, can everyone just knock it off with the accusations of treason? It is just a loaded term and does no good, and I assure you that even though Krugman is arguing for “treason against the planet” (whatever the hell that means), this will be used to justify future right-wing claims of treason because Dick Durbin mentioned Pol Pot and the US Army in the same hour, or some other nonsense like that.

Christ. Just stop it.

There are a sliver of lawmakers who don’t believe in climate change (one need look no further then Oklahoma’s Senior U.S Senator). Is it stupid? Yes. Against the majority of the scientific community? Yes. But treason? No. Enough with the comparisons to these two words that are loaded and used with such ease that they do a disservice to cases of actual treason. Through this hyperbolical language and grand standing, these figures may be invigorating thier listeners and readers, but they are reducing the horrors of horrific events like Nazi Germany and a crime of the highest severity to political rallying cries; and the accusers deminish thier own credibility in the process.


The Constitution Came BEFORE Communism

Everybody’s favorite fictional and daft instrument of conservative populist platitudes Sam Wurzelbacher ( the so-called ‘Joe the Plumber’) has resurfaced again, according to Wonkette.

At a conference where Obama was once again compared to Stalin (how cliche), and “Joe”called for Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT)to be “Strung up” He also said the following:

Wurzelbacher has a reputation for being a blunt, politically incorrect speaker. Referring to Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., more than once, Wurzelbacher asked, “Why hasn’t he been strung up?”

And he glosses over facts. Referring to the Constitution as “almost like the Bible,” Wurzelbacher said of the Founding Fathers: “They knew socialism doesn’t work.

Yeah Sam, inspirational point except that Marxism/ Communism was born in the 1840s. The Communist Manifesto in fact wasn’t published until 1848; far after the crusade of our founding father’s as laid out in the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and the foundation of our principles were laid when they were enshrined in the Constitution in 1787.