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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The God Whisperer

It was raining this morning on my drive into Anchorage.

I thought it was just, you know, rain.

But things apparently are not as they seem. 

Weather, I’ve learned, is God mumbling under his breath.

I didn’t know, I thought water falling from the clouds was just precipitation.

Turns out rain is how God gives financial advice.

I swear I would have paid more attention to the weather if I had known, but here in the south central coastal Alaskan rainforest God never seems to shut the hell up. It rains a lot here in the summer, and it snows a lot in the winter, the ground shakes a lot and the wind howls a lot, it floods in the spring and burns in the fall.

Then, of course, there are the volcanoes.

And the tsunamis.

God, it would seem, is exactly like one of those yappy little dogs that never stops barking.

What brings this up? Why, Michele Bachmann, of course:

I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?' Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending.

Now a cynic might accuse Bachmann of exploiting a natural disaster in order to curry favor with her dimwitted base.  A cynical writer might ridicule her for her crass stupidity. 

But I won’t.

Of course I won’t.

 

Yeah, the hell I won’t.

Bachmann claims she was just joking about the whole billions of dollars in damage, economic disaster, lost livelihoods, thousands of homes lost, whole towns wiped out, catastrophic flooding, and not to mention forty something people dead, all as a way for God to get Congress’ attention. Because, as you know, God is a member of the Tea Party.  

How come God can’t just tap you on the shoulder and tell you what He wants?  No no, he’s got to flood half the damned country and make you guess.  And, stick with me here, Crazy Eyes Bachmann is his designated mouthpiece? Really?

It’s just me, right?

God apparently didn’t realize that the politicians he was talking to weren’t even in session or anywhere near Washington when the storm came roaring through.  Omnipotent my ass. Oh yes, funny, ha ha. 

But hey, only an idiot would take her seriously, right?

Signs in the heavens. Thunder caused by the gods tossing boulders about.  Lightning bolts hurled from Mount Olympus to smite the mortals! Waves caused by Poseidon shaking his trident. Sickness is a divine pox upon mankind, perhaps if we beat our flesh with whips we can appease God and stop the plague.

Ooooh, wait, I know, human sacrifice!

What?

Oh, riiight. Right. Sorry. Nobody believes that kind of silly nonsense. Well, not anymore.

Nobody.

Of course they don’t. Because that would be some crazy stupid shit right there, wouldn’t it?

Just for fun, let’s take a look at the comments under FoxNews and Yahoo, shall we?

Michelle Bachman needs to be elected to save the nation from crowning Obama, the antichrist, as the leader of the world! He is the BEAST spoken of in the Book of Revelations! Along with Pope Benedict and Satan, Obama will be crowned king of the world by you STUPID earth-dwelling sinners!! America is DOOMED! [SIC]

Oh noes! King of the world! The Beast!  We’re doooooooomed!  It would be funny, except that I know people who believe exactly this. They literally believe with all their gnarled wrinkled fearful little hearts that Obama is the literal and actual anti-Christ as foretold in the book of Revelation. They know this because their self-righteous wrinkled fearful little preacher man told them it was true and he doesn’t lie.  Of course, before Obama it was Clinton the Anti-Christ.  It’s always the Son of Satan with these people. Always.  It can’t be just a guy we don’t agree with, it’s got to be the Devil, it’s got to be the End Times, it’s got to be the Second Coming!  Oh noes!  The devil is everywhere!

People actually believe this silly horseshit.

People just like Michele Bachmann.

Here’s a question, how come if the Book of Revelation is God’s literal plan – which ends with all the bad people getting cornholed by the Devil and all the good people getting sucked up to heaven to party with Jesus and the earth gets destroyed anyway, period, no matter what, because that’s what God said, praise Jesus, then what in the hell are these people bitching about?  Isn’t that what they want? Isn’t that exactly what they pray for every damned Sunday?  By definition, America is doomed, period. Right? They’ve been waiting and praying for exactly that for two thousand goddamned years. If Obama is really the anti-whatsis, why aren’t they out in the street cheering?  I mean, the End Times are here, right? Two millennia of waiting over, woohoo! Why wouldn’t they be voting for Obama? If we elect Bachmann doesn’t that actually delay the end of the world? According to the Bible, the son-O-Satan has to be king of the world, right? If you don’t vote for Obama, it just delays the final takeover and therefore the big rapture. Seriously, I don’t get it, is Obama the anti-Christ or isn’t he? Do you believe the stupid shit you’re saying or don’t you? Which chapter of the Bible is this written down in?

Religion makes my head hurt.

God's message is just not for politicians but for all the world. Read Matt. 24. the Bible is Gods Holy Word. He said in this chapter there would be earthquakes, famines ,pestilences{incurable dieases} waves roaring meaning tidal waves or tsunamis ,There will be wars and rumors of wars. Pray that you maybe the accounted worthy to escape all these things. "Howl ye the day of the Lord for it will come as a destruction from the ALMIGHTY!" Yes, these are God's judgements. Noah escaped because he prayed and and God warned him ahead of time.to get ready. He obeyed and he escaped. Yes, in the days of Noah God repented he made man because of their wickedness. YES! he destroyed the whole earth , men women, yes even children. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God. Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah being warned of God of things not seen as yet , moved with fear and prepared an ark for the saving of his house." Jesus is your ark of safety today. If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead thou shalt be saved. God destroyed all flesh in Noah's day. The Bible says unless he shortened the days there would be no flesh. saved. But our soul can be saved if we believe in Jesus. HE IS COMING! [sic]

Seriously, how in the hell do you reason with that gibberish?  Earthquakes, famines, disease, waves, wars, and rumors? Oh like we haven’t seen this stuff before.  What’s next? An eclipse? Oooh, evil portents! What makes these earthquakes, famines, diseases, waves, and wars different from all the earthquakes, famines, diseases, waves, and wars that have come before? Let’s be honest here, these people have managed to ignore plague and famine and war and genocide and hurricanes and earthquakes and untold evils every damned other place in the world for last couple of decades, what makes this one so special? Because it happened to New York? Really?  That’s the sign? Please point to the chapter in your holy book that says so. Go on, I’ll wait.

I used to live in southern California, earthquake, fire, pestilence, and war are pretty much a standard autumn, if you could work in a little famine you’d have all four horsemen of the Apocalypse. How come that isn’t a sign of the Apocalypse? 

Personal pet peeve: we have the ability to cure disease and stop famine – we just choose not to do it.  Ditto war.  Earthquakes and waves? We can mitigate the effects of those things too – but just like global climate change, we’d prefer to stand in the path of disaster and argue about God’s big magic juju plan rather than take action. You ever wonder if maybe God is just killing off the stupid people? There’s this old joke about a guy trapped on the roof of his house in the middle of a flood, so he prays to God for rescue. Along comes a helicopter, but the guy waves it away saying “God will save me!”  The waters rise and the house shakes on its foundations. Along comes a boat, but again the man waves it away saying “God will save me!” The waters rise and the man is swept away and drowned. He goes to heaven and stands in front of God and asks bewildered, “Why didn’t you save me?” and God replies, “I sent you a helicopter, I sent you a boat, you fucking idiot, what the hell do you want?”

Obama admitted he is a Muslim to George Stenonolofuss on an interview but then George told Obama that he was a Christian and Obama agreed with him. Everyone knows it's OK for a Muslim to LIE to an Infidel. [sic]

Question: who the hell is The Stenonolofuss? Is that from the Doctor Seuss Book of Revelation?

There is no separation of church and state without freedom from liberalism.

I, uh, wait, what? (See how many things you can find wrong with that one sentence, regard it as a challenge)

Michelle is most likely right, but it also could be the fact that Matthew 24 and Luke 21 is being fulfilled before our very eyes! The problem is that the media is only giving problems to Christianity. What do you think one of those fundie muzzies would do if we attacked them for saying what they do About Allah? Even tohugh they think Allah has told them that they need to annialate America, and we just turn our backs on those threats in the name of being politically correct? Michelle shouldnt have backed down That alone says how weak of a leader she would be! Icedently folks, did you know that Hurricane Katrina formed right after this nation turned its back on Israel? Another hurricane is forming today, the day after Backman was attacked for what she said!!!! HHHMMM.....maybe she was right and God is going to spank this nation for attacking one of his own?! Reguardless, its called FREEDOM OF SPEACH!!!!!! Bachman was the constitutional RIGHT t osay what she wants, even if someone doesnt like it! YOU GO GIRL!!!! [sic]

Oh yes, you go girl.  Go out and maybe take an English class. Also maybe a couple courses in logic. Also make a science class or two. It’s been a couple of centuries since not-goofy people actually believed that gods and spirits cause weather … wait, hold on, unless you’re saying those ghostly images on the weather Doppler are, no way, couldn’t be! Holy shit, we can track God with radar!

Please tell me where anywhere in our founding documents it states that there is a separation of church and state? We have freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion.

Glad we cleared that up. Question: Anybody else find it odd that the Framers didn’t mention how religion was a requirement to be an American? Just me again, huh? Sigh.

And my personal favorite:

If any group of people need to be punished by God it is the states that were devastated. They all voted for the Antichrist not to mention are run by gays, socialists and are all broke. I leave out Va and NC from this because ACORN stole the election for the DNC criminals in those 2. Why is it that a blue state wont pay their bills? Try saving, frugality and getting back to God. Either u serve Jesus or Satan, we know how the Demomarxists feel, so hope they all enjoy hell. Leviticus 18:22-29. Read it and weep, Demomarxists.

I think you mean Demomarxist Nazi Anti-Christs!

 

Oh no, nobody would take Bachmann’s statement as anything other than jest.  Nobody at all.

Certainly not her target audience. No Sir.

When God hates all the same people you do, when God endorses your personal agenda by shaking the earth and smiting only the states of your political enemies, well, you know, maybe it’s time to reexamine your belief system.

Ask yourself something, what’s God trying to tell Texas? After all, the state is in the worst drought in a century.  If God sent down a deluge upon Vermont as a message to Washington DC to spend less, well then is the opposite true? No rain in the Lone Star State means God wants Texans to pay more

I’m hip.

What about all those wildfires in Arizona? Was that God trying to tell Jan Brewer to stop acting like a douchebag? Or does God only hate the liberals in Tucson? And Mexicans?

What was the message God was sending when he drowned all those deeply religious poor black people in New Orleans a couple years back? Anybody else visualizing that scene out of Blazing Saddles? Don’t move or I’ll shoot the n… No? Well, okay, what the hell was God saying then?

Pretty obvious God hates the ever living hell out of California.

Here’s the thing, Bachmann made that joke in the context she did because she damned well knows her audience.

And because she knows they think just exactly like the commenters above.

 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s raining out and I think God is telling me to have another beer.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Things That Chap My Ass About Going To The Fair

Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.” 

                                                     – Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes

 

Is it just me?

Or are there a whole lot more stupid people than there used to be?

Ever heard of The Fermi Paradox?

Back in the late 1950’s, a brilliant physicist named Enrico Fermi asked a simple question:  Where are they?

He was talking about extraterrestrial civilizations. He was talking about life, specifically intelligent life, elsewhere in the universe.

See, there ought to be a lot of them, detectable extraterrestrial civilizations that is. 

Except we can’t detect even one.

So where are they?

Another brilliant scientist, this time a radio astronomer named Frank Drake, formulated an equation called appropriately enough The Drake Equation (It’s officially the Green Bank Formula but nobody calls it anything but The Drake Equation) that basically takes the number of detectable stars in the visible universe and calculates the number of those that might have planets. Then takes the number of those planet-forming stars and calculates the number that might have earthlike worlds.  Then the equation plugs in an estimate of how many of those earthlike worlds are places where life might have formed, next you guess how many of those life bearing worlds might have evolved intelligent life, and of those, how many might have given rise to civilizations advanced enough to broadcast intelligible signals into space and of those, how many might be close enough for us to detect here on earth (I think Drake missed a step, to wit: and of the signals reaching the earth how many will arrive when there is actually enough public interest in science that the politicians would actually fund the effort to look for them. But I digress).

Now, up until very recently, those numbers were almost all guesswork and so scientists were very conservative with the estimates they plugged in. Nevertheless, no matter how you sliced it, the final estimate of the probable number of intelligent alien civilizations in the observable universe still should have been “many.” And guesswork or not, Drake’s equation provided a place to start when we went looking for evidence of alien intelligence.  

Of course we haven’t found any.

And that’s really odd given that recent advances in astronomy indicate that those conservative guesses were way off – turns out that there are a hell of a lot more stars in the universe than Drake thought back in 1961.  And I mean a lot, orders of magnitude more, unbelievable bazillions more,  whole googolplexes of stars and galaxies and stellar clusters, more than we ever thought – you can thank the Hubble Space Telescope and other advanced instruments for that.  Not only that, but one hell of a lot more of those stars have planets – far far more so than even the most conservative astronomers would have guessed.  We’ve seen some of them, those alien worlds, circling far distant stars, and we’re finding more of them every single day.

The universe, it would seem, is chock a block with worlds that could very likely harbor life – including intelligent life. 

There should be alien civilizations everywhere.

And yet, we have detected not a single one. Not one.

So we return to Fermi’s paradox: Where the hell are they?

 

I have a theory.

Stupid people ate them.

 

See, there’s an idea within the study of evolution that goes something along the lines of: when a species achieves intelligence, it stops evolving. 

Intelligence may not be a long term survival characteristic. 

Yeah, I know. Bummer, Dude.

It’s entirely possible that evolution will discard intelligence right along with T-Rex’s little stubby arms and the Neanderthal’s huge giant, uh, brow ridge.

See, instead of survival of the most fit, instead of weeding out the chowderheads, instead of letting the silly stupid bastards be eaten by sabertoothed tigers as nature intended, civilization keeps them around.  And since stupid people aren’t good for much of anything except getting smart people killed, mostly what they do is lay around watching Jersey Shore, eating Pop Tarts, and making more stupid people. 

Once the process of evolution stops, sooner or later you’re going to end up ass deep in booger eating morons and sooner or later one of them gets access to the nuclear weapons and it’s curtains for civilization.

Look around, doesn’t it seem like there are a whole lot more stupid people than there used to be?

There you go.

 

We spent yesterday at the fair.

Now, the annual Alaska State Fair is one of my favorite events.

I look forward to it all year.

I love fairs and always have, all kinds.  I like those crappy little carnivals and big top circuses. I enjoy farmer’s markets.  I dig small town celebrations and big city fests.  But I especially love state fairs – that’s where it all comes together, deep fried sugary deliciousness accompanied by the aroma of livestock and the sound of the monster tractor pull. 

But, man, I tell you, every single year it just seems like there are more and more stupid people. 

I’m telling you, the goofy bastards are breeding like mayflies! 

For example, like the Drake Equation, you can calculate the number of people in the world, and from that you can figure out the percentage who live in Alaska, and from that the number who might come to the State Fair and from that the number that might have small children and from that the number that might be pushing strollers.

And just like the Drake equation, you’d be wrong by a factor of at least a billion.

Math doesn’t lie, folks, but it sure can exaggerate the hell out of things.

There are few irritations in the world I hate as much as I hate stroller pushers.  If ever there was a group of idiots that should have been eaten by sabertooth cats long before they were old enough to breed, it’s these mouth breathers.  Now when I say stroller pushers I’m talking about people who insist on pushing their kid around a crowded fair (or zoo, or concert, or store, or anywhere other people gather in large numbers) in Jaba The Hut’s Party Barge. As I mentioned on Facebook, what in the hell is the deal with strollers?  Everybody is pushing a stroller.  People who don’t have kids are pushing strollers. And the modern stroller is not your parents’ simple little rig of wheels, aluminum and cloth that could fold up and fit behind the seat of a Mini Cooper.  Oh hell no, this is the SUV generation, this is the Super Size Me generation, this is the Raging Age of Viagra where bigger is better and loves you bang bang long time.  I’m talking about those drooling hard-ons who think their worth is determined by the immense size of their vehicles.  The modern baby stroller is a massive all-terrain juggernaut of plastic and chrome, a thunderous behemoth of immense earth rattling splendor large enough to transport a fully grown circus elephant.  They plow through the crowd like a Russian nuclear powered icebreaker smashing through the North Pole icecap. God help you should you get hit by one, it’s like being run over by a cement mixer driven by Rosanne Barr with Louie Anderson riding shotgun.

Hell, a mere grazing blow is likely to leave you crippled for life. 

If you’re really lucky, a herd of these cud chewers will come to the fair together, arriving in a caravan of SUV’s the size of Sarah Palin’s Great American Greyhound Leviathan of Patriotic American Liberty.  They move through the crowd in regulation chevron formation like an army of unstoppable lumbering brontosauruses crossing some Jurassic savannah crushing all beneath their monstrous tread.   The best part is when they congregate into a large bellowing group (what is a herd of strollers called? A diaper? A drool? A rectum?) and block pedestrian traffic in all directions.

Then there’s the guy I like to call The Camel’s Hump. He’s the clueless miscreant with the backpack. Now I’m not talking about some little sissy fanny pack, or a modest day sling, or one of those small fair bags they hand out for free at the BP Booth. No, I’m talking about the asshole who is lugging a pack that makes you think he’s off to climb Mount Everest.  What in the name of the rampant six trunked elephant god does he have in there? A piano? A moving van?  He’s off balance and tottering through the crowd like some clockwork drunkard and just about the time he’s right next to you one of his  stroller pushing asshole friends shouts across the crowd at him and what happens?  He whirls around like a humpbacked mutant Russian ballerina from the Chernobyl Ballet Company and BLAMO! knocks you flying – usually into the stroller that was being pushed up your ass by the impatient brontosaur behind you.

While you’re laying there, on the cotton candy coated pavement, praying to the shiny elephant god not to be crushed beneath the grinding stroller wheels, you can get an excellent view of Redneck Under Belly Tattoo and the winking five fingered Belly Button Ring of Horror.  Always a treat.  Unfortunately bleach and a power drill are the only way you’re getting that vision out of your brain.

Now, I’m sure you’re all familiar with the Standard Issue Cell Phone Asshole, but the fair brings out the special kind of stupid in these people.  I stepped into the restroom to do what you’d normally do after consuming a couple of excellent lattes from the Vagabond Blues booth and just about the time I’m in position, The Camel’s Hump staggers into port next to me.  On his back is a screaming little girl of indeterminate age lashed into one of those kid backpack contraptions like some kind of Siamese twin from hell.  I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time concentrating on my business when there’s a midget demon screaming in my ear.  But wait, it gets better – Camel Hump’s phone rings! Understand, Hump is midstream in the river so to speak, but, damn, you know that call might be important.  He’s fumbling in one pocket while holding Mr. Slippery with the other and the kid is screaming and kicking and let’s just say that Camel Hump begins to lose target lock.  Excuse me, says I, but let’s try to keep it in the urinal, eh? But Hump doesn’t hear me because he’s now shouting Hello? Hello?! into his phone and has completely given up on even a pretense of aiming.  With a superhuman effort equal to the energy required to move a Saturn V moonship from the vehicle assembly building to the launch pad, I choke off the flow and step back out of range.  If I had been wearing my waterproof hiking boots I would have stayed and damn the flood, but I was wearing clogs.  The small red faced parasite on Hump’s back waved to me and smiled a devilish grin as I washed my hands.

I fled the restroom and ran right into Fred Flintstone – you know him, the Neanderthal with the barbequed pterodactyl drumstick.  What in the hell is it with the giant fried turkey leg? Seriously? Lips smacking, scraps of skin and globs of grease flying.  Hey Conan, here’s a napkin and try chewing with your mouth closed.  For the life of me I can’t understand the allure of the giant turkey leg, or plowing through the crowd while eating it.  Hell, it’s the whole walking around, dodging strollers, while leaving a trail of soggy elephant ears and melting ice cream that gets me.  We were looking at RV’s and a woman came lumbering up the steps and pushed past us into the cramped space without so much as a pardon me – or even a ‘fuck you!’ though that might have been implied.  She was eating soup.  Soup, from a Styrofoam bowl with a plastic spoon.  Soup, which she proceeded to drip all over the inside of the $60,000 vehicle. Soup.  I suggested to the vender that maybe somebody should smack her upside the head with a fried turkey drumstick.

Speaking of trailers, ain’t it great when they bring the trailer park to you?

If these people were dogs, they’d be the kind what always stop at the most inopportune time to lick their balls in public.

You know the ones, those astoundingly obnoxious folks who fight in public. The horrifyingly loud women with the Pall Mall and the Twilight tattoo who’s wearing the way, way too small halter top and the over loaded stretch pants.  Who spends the entire fair making a scene. The one that had a couple  too many in the beer tent. Yeah, her. She screams at her kids and her husband (or the guy who this month the kids are calling “Uncle Bill,” whatever).  Sooner or later she’s going to be crying and telling somebody in uniform to fuck right off.

 

See that’s the answer to Fermi’s question, right there.

Where are they?

Oh, they’re out there all right.

But they’re idiots.

That’s it. The universe is full of morons.

They’re probably pushing strollers and waving fried turkey legs too.

 

 


Note: If you thought this post was fun, you might like the complete list of Things That Just Chap My Ass.

If you didn’t think it was funny, please feel free to stick a fried turkey leg in your ear.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The New Crazy, Same As The Old Crazy

Fiscal conservatives, I'm one of those. National security conservatives, I'm one of those. Social conservatives, I'm one of those. And the Tea Party, I'm one of those!

That was Crazy Eyes Bachman in South Carolina this past week. 

She used that phrase, or a variation, at each of her campaign stops. 

It’s not a surprising statement given her history and clearly stated positions.

But it’s more than a little bizarre given her desire for the GOP nomination.

It’s a statement that says basically, hey, sure I’m a regressive puritan with an obsessive compulsion to impose my hypocritical evangelically mangled view of morality on your bedroom, marriage, education, thinking, and life –and despite how appealing that is to a certain segment of America, I’m also a card carrying member of the fevered pointy-hat wearing fanatic fringe, a proponent of fiscal policies that crashed our economy and brought disaster on the world, and I embrace the Bush doctrine of Kill ‘em all and let God sort it out because that has worked so well for us over the last decade.

The phrase is supposed to reach out to more than just her little niche of puckered sphincter clenchers. 

Because, see, Bachman may be the bestest red white and blue genuine American patriot since Ron Captain America Reagan invented Democracy, but to actually win the Republican nomination for president she’ll have to appeal to more than just the hardliners and extremists. She’ll have to win over progressives and moderates too – i.e. those conservatives she keeps calling traitors and RINOs and unAmerican.  You know, the majority of the Republican party.

The funny part is that she actually thinks she’ll reach those people with a statement that says, in essence, “I’m a right-wing extremist.”

Michelle Bachman believes that the only real Americans are the ones who think just like her and the rest, the majority of not only the country but her own party, clearly do not count, but she figures she can flim-flam them long enough to get the nomination.

Poor Michelle, if only it was as easy to reprogram regular conservatives as it is to straighten out gay people.

Of course, Bachman isn’t the only one trying to appear something she’s not – and failing at it.

Mittens Romney, in a blatant attempt to appeal to the same extremists Bachman is currently attempting distance herself from, announced this week with a straight face that the Tea Party has been good for Washington.  Frankly I’m surprised he didn’t make that statement from a rowboat in the middle of the Potomac while wearing a pointy George Washington hat and brandishing a misspelled sign proclaiming Obama Tis Of Ye Old Devil.

The Tea Party is good for Washington DC about the same way food poisoning is good for the toilet paper industry.

TPer’s want to claim that they represent the average American and that their non-partisan goal is a smaller fiscally responsible government – and there may actually be some members of the movement who really, truly believe that horse pucky.  But the obvious and overwhelming truth of the matter is that the Tea Party is composed almost exclusively of white Christian conservatives who, even before the formal inception of the movement, were highly partisan conservatives who then and now clamor wild-eyed for God in government.  The Tea Party leaders may say that the movement’s goals are not religiously or politically motivated, but the rock throwers in the street have a different agenda.

There’s some real irony in a group of people who think they’re going to get less government intrusion in their lives by including God in government. I’ve been in countries run by religious extremists, including Christian ones, theocracy isn’t exactly big on personal freedom or letting you keep your money, but I digress.

Last June, Bachman claimed that the Tea Party was made up of sixty percent republicans, twenty percent independents, and twenty percent democrats.   Notably she didn’t bother to back those figures up with any actual validated data.  Probably because she pulled the numbers out of her boney white ass like well lubed love beads. Now, there are apparently democrats in the Tea Party, about nine to twelve percent, depending on which polling data you look at – the same percentage of democrats that coincidently voted for John McCain in the last election.  The Tea Party trots these folks out at every opportunity along with Herman Cain, their one token non-white crazy rich guy.

More telling than polling numbers however are the Tea Party’s candidates. 

Name one Tea Party backed freshman member of Congress who is a democrat.

Right.

If you look really hard on the local election level, you might find the one oddball Democrat endorsed by a local Tea Party chapter. But when you look at the so-called democrat candidate backed by the Tea Party, you find neither a liberal nor a conservative but rather a self serving conniving asshole who’ll say whatever he thinks will get him elected – you know, like Mittens.  Take sometimes Democrat Jack Davis, who ran on the Tea Party ticket in the recent New York special elections.  He ran three times before as a liberal, but this time suddenly he was a conservative (He got about nine percent of the vote and lost so badly that next time he’ll probably run on the Rent-Is-Too-Damned-High ticket just for laughs).

Like Herman Cain’s skin color in a frothing sea of pale mottled whiteness, the percentage of non-right wing extremists backed by the Tea Party is so low as to be utterly inconsequential.  The folks who back Michelle Bachman are far more likely to vote for Cannibal Hitler’s Head in a Pickle Jar than a democrat

Speaking of pickled heads, there’s Rick Perry, yet another Tea Party favorite who used to be a democrat before he and Jesus became drinking buddies.

No religious extremism there, no sir.

I don’t know which brand of booger eating crazy I find more unnerving, Perry’s pray-the-gay-away and give-us-some-rain-today theocracy or Bachman’s religion driven pseudo-science social engineering – together the two of them are like the second coming of Incurious George mixed up with eugenics and the lumpy art of phrenology. 

Actually, come to think of it, eugenics and phrenology might just explain George the Pinheaded, but I digress.

Anyway, so far my favorite part of this carnival house of mirrors is the part where Rick Perry proclaimed he’ll make a dandy Commander in Chief because the troops will respect him for his vast military experience.  I think I might have actually snorted chocolate milk through my nose at that.  Funny how an Air Force shave-tail C-130 cargo pilot with three whole years of peacetime service should automatically command the unconditional respect of the US military, but somebody with three purple hearts, the silver star and the bronze star is a scumbag deserving of nothing but contempt – if he’s a democrat and happens to be, oh, say, John Kerry.  That’s probably why Perry switched parties, so his military service would count for something.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this, given the number of TPer’s who show up here at Stonekettle Station and question my military service by making sneering references to the traitor Bradley Manning (which is a level of ignorance that boggles the mind, given my clearly stated position on that particular subject, but I’ve come to expect little in the way of rationality from these people). Perry claims he’ll get the economy moving again, he knows how to create jobs – just like in Texas where shitty minimum-wage jobs with no benefits in the oil industry are booming.  Funny how Perry never seems to mention that those jobs were created by high gasoline prices and at the expense of every other state in the Union.  What was Perry’s plan for scaling that up to the national level again? Drill for oil in Rhode Island? Fracking outstanding, folks.

Perry is the very epitome of the modern conservative: a religious fundamentalist who talks about liberty, a guy who claims to have created jobs in the technology sector while denying the most basic tenets of modern science, a politician who hates the federal government and yet aspires to its highest office, a man who claims to champion individual rights and freedoms and yet advocates Constitutional amendments that would deny those very rights and freedoms to a certain segment of the population, a lousy student who thinks he’s qualified to reform the education system, a man who claims to love America better than you and me and yet openly advocates seceding from the Union.  This is a man who talks about how conservatives must stick together to win back their America and then he screws over the other members of his party by making his big announcement on the same day as the Ames Straw Poll – a page he apparently took from the Sarah Palin playbook, oh look, it’s the American Juggernaut of Patriotic American Freedom pulling into the parking lot. Will she declare? Yes? No? Or will she just run over the bandstand and crush her rivals? Ooooh, the suspense is killing us! 

It’s a given that Republicans eat their young, but this kind of nonsense is getting a little out hand.

Who’s left?

Pawlenty? At least he had the sense to fold.

Newt Gingrich?  Is he actually still in the race? Or is he too busy screwing around on his third wife because he loves America so much? What’s the line? Put a flag over her face and do it for Old Glory? That’s Newt.  I mean honestly, what’s this guy up to? Stealth may be good for fighter jets but it sure as hell isn’t a way to run a presidential campaign.

There’s Jon Huntsman, seemingly the only rational one in the Republican lineup – and doomed from the start though you have to admire his optimism.

Oops, I almost forgot Ron Paul.  The guy with the magic mojo plan.  Every time I see him on the news, he reminds me of one of those yappy little dogs old ladies carry around in their purse –  the kind with the wiry hair and the little sweaters and that always seems to have some kind of skin disease and that black goopy crud in the corners of their eyes. 

Maybe Christine O’Donnell will run, that would be fun – for about five minutes, right up until the first interview where she’s asked to explain one of her bizarre statements in more detail.  Seriously, if there was ever a person who desperately needed to spend a long sweaty weekend in Cancun getting in some dirty barebacked jungle monkey sack time with a swarthy young guy named Manolo, it’s Christine O’Donnell.

Or Maybe The Donald will throw his toupee into the ring again.  I see he’s back on the birther kick this week and frankly this race could use some humor.

So, where’s that leave us?

Extremists, paranoids, religious nuts, know-nothings, the usual conservative sexual bugaboos, moralizers, hair gel, war mongering, flying monkeys, and the second coming of Ross Perot.

Forty years ago Republicans were serious men in white shirts and somber ties, the guys with the buzz cuts and slide rules, scientists and engineers who got us to the moon and back – while the liberals danced naked in the Age of Aquarius dreaming their hippy dreams and rubbing magic crystals to cure their case of the clap.  

Honest to Cthulhu, folks, what in the hell happened to the GOP?

Conservatives need to stop talking about taking their country back and work on taking back their party.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Into the Valley of Death

Half a league half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred:
'Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns' he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

 

A number of you wrote, wondering why I haven’t said anything about the tragic deaths of US Navy special forces who were killed during a rescue mission a week ago Saturday in Afghanistan.

The short answer is: I really try not to write when I’m pissed off.

I’m not always successful, and then later I sometimes have cause to regret saying certain things in certain blog posts.

I’ve started this post several times in the last few days, only to delete it.  The subject matter saddens me, but that is not what is getting on my nerves. 

No, what is pissing me off are some of the letters I’ve gotten and many of the comments I’ve read in the popular press.

 

'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismay'd ?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Some one had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & die,
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

 

I have replied to a number of you, and I hope that my responses weren’t too abrupt.

Understand, I have no problem with those who messaged with reasonable questions about military operations and I don’t mind answering as best I’m able. 

I certainly understand that many folks, hell even those with actually military experience, would have questions and comments when such a tragedy occurs. 

And I understand why you might ask me. 

As most of you probably know, I spent my entire life in the military. In the US Navy to be specific. I can’t discuss much of my career or most of the operations I was involved in, due to the nature of my specialty.  I wasn’t a SEAL. However, I was occasionally privileged to be involved in a few of their operations and rode along on a couple missions in a support role.  I likely know a bit more about them than the average person, but I’m certainly no expert on the intimate details of SEAL teams.

The only real experts on SEAL operations are the SEALs themselves.

Anybody who tells you different is full of shit.

 

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd & thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

 

I am, however, a qualified expert on war fighting doctrine, tactics, planning, and military intelligence.

I am a certified expert in various forms of weaponry and certain special operations.

I know a fair bit about helicopters too, having been a qualified Navy Surface Warfare Officer and having had the deck of a cruiser during more than one flight operation.

But I also know where the limits of my knowledge are, something that seems to be lacking in more than a few folks.

What pissed me off about the death of seventeen members of SEAL Team 6 and three of their support team, not to mention the Afghan special operations soldiers who were onboard along with the US Army flight crew, are the astounding number of people – news media talking heads, the usual pundits and politicians, and the average mouth breather on the street – who suddenly consider themselves experts on special forces, combat operations, military equipment, the Afghan terrain, and what should or should not have been done last Saturday.

The most common criticism seems to be summed up by the following comment (as usual, posted under a Yahoo news article):

The commanding officer should never had put those Seals in that aircraft. It was bad military tactics.

Technically, it was arguably bad logistics, not tactics – but I’ll try not to slap at the nits when there are larger targets.  Bad tactics? The commenter doesn’t bother to explain how he had access to the commander’s situational awareness or the classified details of the mission that would allow him to make such a post-incident assessment.  Details such as the real-time tactical situation on the ground, the latest threat assessment and intelligence, the availability (or lack thereof) of transport and its capability and equipment, the time sensitive nature of the mission, the number and make-up of mission personnel and their equipment load-out, the experience of the flight crew, the number of expected injured that might have to be lifted out, and about a thousand other things – all of which would have had to been assessed in seconds and decided on the fly. 

Whose tactical brilliance put so many of our elite in one vehicle?

Why 30 Navy Seals in the same Chinook?

All the copters in the US fleet and an idiot had to put all 30 on one...OMG...this person should be court marshaled....What an idiot sending only one copter, there should been 15 arriving with all out firing and shelling killing every single warm body creature in sight. Why does the US military fail to use "overwhelming" fire power at critical time in need????? What an unnecessary loss, if I were the families of these solders I be asking many questions and demanding answers and those responsibe pay a high price.

Why are they still using the vietnam era machine Chinook? Where is the V-22 Osprey?

Why wasn't the big bird escourted by smaller, agile birds. Who's mismanaging this whole mess?

Actual, real, military missions are not, at all, like playing SOCOM on your PS3.

No, really, they are not.

Being a steely-eyed snake-eating bad-ass motherfucker in Gears of War doesn’t actually qualify you to lead or plan real military missions any more than watching an episode of JAG qualifies you to ditch a crippled airliner into the Hudson. 

Real military missions are complicated, even the simplest ones have a thousand moving parts and ten thousand moments where things can go pear shaped.  The operating environment and the clock often relentlessly dictate what you can and cannot do – no matter what you might otherwise desire.  For example, atmospheric density has a direct and significant effect on the performance of helicopters.  The thinner the air, the less the bird can lift, the more restricted its ability to maneuver, the more restricted its speed, the fewer options the pilot has.  Hot air means thinner air.  Higher altitude means thinner air.  The difference of ten degrees or a thousand feet can make a huge difference in what the machine can carry.   Weather makes a big difference.  Rain, clouds, wind affect how the bird performs, especially in the mountains.  Dust and grit in the air affects engine performance and the ability of the pilots and gunners to see, so does smoke – and there’s often plenty of each above a battlefield.  The terrain of the LZ makes a difference, a helicopter with top mounted rotors can clear obstacles on the ground while making a landing far better than a machine with a tail rotor.  The design of the aircraft makes a difference, it’s a hell of a lot easier and faster unloading large heavy items down a tail ramp under fire than manhandling them through a side door –  don’t think that matters? Try lifting a full can of .50cal ammo sometime, or better yet jump from about six feet up while carrying a hundred pounds of equipment see how long your knees hold out.  Different aircraft handle the dangerous and dynamic conditions of a combat LZ in different manners. All have advantages and disadvantages. Every single military mission is a series of trade-offs.  Every single mission requires an ongoing series of decisions and assessments, often with only the bare minimum of information. Every single combat situation is chaotic and fogged and insane.   There is only one truth in combat and that is this: no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.

Why are we still using the Vietnam era Chinook?  Because it works, most of the time. Because it’s a proven design. Because a replacement costs billions that we don’t have.  Why weren’t they riding a fancy new Osprey? Would using a tilt-rotor have made a difference or would the SEALs have died anyway? You ever seen one of those things? They’re not exactly nimble either, especially while landing.  Why weren’t they riding in three or four or five smaller, faster, more maneuverable H-60 Blackhawks? Because maybe there weren’t four or five or six available. Because maybe there wasn’t room in the LZ to land four or five or six helicopters at the same time. Because every landing in a hot LZ is a risk, landing four or five or six helicopters multiples the risk by four or five or six or twenty.  Why weren’t they escorted by Apaches?  And etcetera and etcetera and etcetera.  I don’t know, I wasn’t there.  Most likely the answer to all those questions is, because the Chinook was what they had at that moment.  Because the SEALs and the Marines and the Rangers and the regular Army grunts ride into combat on the Chinook a hundred times a day, and most of the time they make it. 

As I said, any combat situation is a series of trade-offs. There are always things you can do better if you only have the time, or the assets, or the intel, or more firepower, or those special one of a kind weapons, or more men, or better communications or air cover or artillery support or some damned thing that you don’t have.  But you never do, you never have the time, you never have enough intel or firepower or assets.  So you have to make do with what you have.  The SEALs were on a support mission, coming to reinforce a Ranger unit pinned down under fire.  In such a situation the single most critical factor is time.  All those other things, firepower and intel and equipment and SEALs, don’t mean jack shit if you can’t get them into the fight before it’s over.  Very likely the answer to the question, “Why were the SEALs all riding on a single Chinook?” is because that’s what was available and ready to go when they needed it. 

 

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack & Russian
Reel'd from the sabre-stroke,
Shatter'd & sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

 

Most of the time we win, but sometimes the enemy gets in a lucky shot.  The Mujahedeen have been fighting on their own home turf for decades.  They are smart and experienced and cunning.  Nineteen of them killed nearly three thousand Americans with nothing more than determination and a couple of box cutters.  This isn’t a fucking video game, in real war real soldiers die – even SEALs.  Flying in a war zone is always risky. You take a chance every single time you get on a helicopter in the battlespace. Do it enough, and sooner or later the odds will catch up with you. We lose men and machines with terrible regularity - that's why they call it war.

It’s bad enough when armchair warriors and video game commandos second guess those who command the SEALs and the Rangers and the rest of our military, but then there’s this horseshit:

i am not buying it, something is fishy about putting the best guys in a large chopper and flying them over a hot zone, doesnt add up......

Why would a Seal Team be sent in to "rescue" Army Rangers? Rangers carry more firepower than Seals since they are light infantry, unlike Seals who are usually quick in quick out. Something about this doesnt add up...

It seems awfully coincidental that it just happened to be the same unit that eliminated bin laden. Something dirty is going on.

Like so many things since 9/11/2001, this story almost rings true, but not quite. The media account is a little too pat and reads like carefully prepared propaganda than honest news reporting...on over 100 sites...exactly the same story with exactly the same writer.

if you notice, in the article, it mentions that seal team 6 members were killed in this crash. makes you wonder if someone up top didnt want them talking about what ACTUALLY happened in/at the mission that killed osama

Something is fishy about putting the best guys in a helicopter and sending them to rescue someone.

We are only taking their word that it was none of the men who were on the OBL raid. They know the names of the individuals who died in the crash are going to be released and so of course they are going to deny that these guys were on the OBL raid. They said that the names of the seal's on the OBL raid would forever remain secret, so they can't admit that they were on the OBL raid.. DUH... By the way, I'm a conservative-tea party member who also thinks that 9/11 ( along with many others things) doesn't add up, but I don't believe in UFO's , or any of that other crap you knuckle dragers like to try and discredit us with. If you even did a miniumal amount of your own research into the FACTS of 9/11, you could come to no other conclusion then to have questions. I've met a hundred guys who were just like u until I told them to go home and watch "Truth Rising"..

This kind of conspiracy crap disgusts me. 

These silly paste eating bastards are the same droolers who think George Bush secretly snuck into the World Trade Center towers and planted demo charges without anybody noticing.  The idiot parents of these morons were the ones who believed FDR let the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor and that NASA faked the moon landings on a sound stage in Burbank.  It’s the same mental defect, the same faulty reasoning, that leads these same fools to believe they are somehow experts on engineering and crash analysis and metallurgy and physics and terrorism as they are in special forces doctrine. 

This nonsense deserves no respect whatsoever. Period. 

If you believe that the President of the United States, the US Military, and the SEALs faked the mission that took down Osama Bin Laden, if you believe that the Commander in Chief then ordered the deaths of an elite special forces team to cover up some vast conspiracy and you believe that the men and women of the US Military or the CIA or any other US organization would actually carry out such orders, then you are a fucking idiot. You deserve no respect whatsoever. Shut up.

Conspiracy nuts are not seeking the so-called “truth.”  They are not engaged in critical thought.  What these pathetic losers are doing is attempting to use tragic events like this one to get attention for themselves. Nothing more, nothing less.  The only difference between these assholes and any other con artist is that they deceive themselves into to believing that they’re a serving some higher, selfless cause – in this case they are attempting to use the death of real warriors to make themselves into the heroes they have neither the courage or the will to be in the first place.  They are no better than those greasy sacks of shit who jerk off to Soldier of Fortune and dress up in raggedy-assed camouflage and talk about how they could have been a Marine - but  the job of Mall Security was so much more rewarding.

I am sadden to say, it is events like this that I stopped my sons from entering the military. Just didn't want my sons to fall victim to the idiots in Washington and their political war. Lets send the immediate families of these powerful politicians to the front lines of combat and lets watch how stragety changes.

If you actually think that sending politicians’ families into to war would actually change how we wage war – especially for the better – then you are an idiot.  John McCain’s father, Admiral John S. McCain was the commander of all forces in the Vietnam theater, it didn’t keep his son from flying combat missions or ending up as one of America’s most famous Prisoners of War.  Hell, even Sarah Palin brags how she sent her kid off to fight like she was some kind of Spartan brood mare. And seriously, do you really, I mean really, want US military strategy influenced by politicians to protect their own kids? Really? If so, you’re a fucking idiot and your kids are probably fucking idiots too.  By all means keep them home, you’re doing us a favor. Because they are likely just one more set of fucking idiots the Chiefs and Sergeants and First Shirts don’t have to waste time deprogramming.

Why are we releasing this classified information??

Our enemy doesn't need to know that SEALs died in that crash AND they don't need to know that they shot it down.
Mis-information??

Announcing to the world that the Taliban had killed 20 SEALs from Team 6 gave the Taliban a feather in their cap and a morale boost.

Why don’t we let the commanders worry about this?  If the SEALs aren’t worried about the names being released, then I’m not worried about the names being released. The families of those men were proud of what they did for a living and who they were and how they died, and if their wives and sons and daughters and mothers and fathers want the names known and remembered and honored, then who the hell are you to question it?  Go ahead, threaten the families of SEALs, see where it gets you.   The insurgents who shot down the helicopter are now dead, hunted down and blown to into smoking hunks of burned meat – I hope they enjoyed their boosted morale while they had the chance.

 

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse & hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

 

And finally there’s this:

They should be back in Washington getting rid of those scums there.

Give thanks that we don’t live in such a nation where our military did exactly that.  The men who died on that helicopter last Saturday were US Navy SEALs, the very best of the very best.  They died doing what they believed in.  They died coming to the rescue of their fellow Soldiers. They died doing their duty, nothing more, nothing less.  They died not as heroes, though they are certainly that, but as American fighting men who were doing the job they were sworn to do.

To suggest that they would, or should, turn on the duly elected government of the United States, to suggest that they would forswear their oath and their duty, is the single most disgusting insult that could possibly be levied against their names. 

 

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder'd.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

 

 

 

 


*For those who don't recognize it, the poem woven throughout this post is Alfred Lord Tennyson's immortal "Charge of the Light Brigade.”

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What Rick Perry Is Really Praying For

Dear God,

Despite the fact that making it rain in Texas was too much to ask you for, even though it would have saved lives, eliminated suffering for tens of thousands of your biggest and most devoted fans, and, let’s face it, been nothing but a simple wave of the hand for your supreme awesomeness. I mean, come on, a little rain? For the guy who created, you know, light? The Heavens and the Earth? All the living things that walk and crawl upon it and fly above it and swim in the big blue sea? You made, what? Volcanoes and Earthquakes and cats? I mean how goddamned – excuse me – hard could a little rain be?  But never mind that, praise Jesus. 

So, even though a little moisture was too much to ask for, we’re here today to ask you to shake your big magic God stick and fix our economy.

Yep, we’re asking you to take some time away from running the universe, making kittens and rainbows, keeping the sun burning, smiting the sinners, handing out cleft palates and giving children leukemia and all that stuff you do so well, and meddle directly in our economy. Yep.  That’s what we’re asking.  We’re asking this based on case law, you know, all those numerous examples in the Bible where your Awesome Munificence reached down and just made money and changed stock markets and fixed credit ratings and generated new industry from the dust and you know, shit like that. Could you do that? Because, man, that would be so cool.

Now, as you know, Awesome Super Magic God, America is your most favorite of all nations. Even though that’s not actually written down anywhere.  We know it’s true, you don’t have to say it.  Wink wink. We know.  So, I’m sure you’ll have no problem answering our prayers, even though you never actually answered the last one – not that I’m complaining, Praise Jesus.

Now, to fix our economy, you’ll have to fix like the whole world’s economy – and as long as you’re doing that, could you maybe fix the trade imbalance, kill all the Mooooslims, and maybe unleash a Deluge or a smiting on those fucking Chinamen? Oh oh oh! And the Mexicans too! Yeah.  That would be really awesome.  Also, we’ll need jobs, lots and lots of jobs.  And, um, could you magically fix our credit rating too? And give us, like, cheap oil or maybe atomic cars?  Oh, and as long as you’re at it, could you maybe turn down the fucking heat just a notch or two? Because seriously, it’s like Hades in West Texas. If you’re cold put on a sweater or something.

Also, if it’s not too much trouble, could you please just reach into the minds of everybody we disagree with and erase their brains? Then we’d like you reprogram them into believing everything we believe.  Because, man, it’s just so darned hard to deal with those people.  They keep using science and facts and brains and pointing out our logical fallacies.  They suck.  So, if you could just make them like us, that would be great.  Dear Stupendous Awesome Brain Squeezer, never mind the morality of turning everybody else in America into magic meat puppets, as long as we do it in Jesus name it’s totally ethical.

In return, we promise to hate gays, Muslims, Jews, Atheists, liberals, progressives, moderates, brown people, the poor, the aged, the infirm, science, history, Europe, Al Gore, George Soros and that fucking anti-Christ Obama. We’ll shout your praises, we’ll sing, we’ll roll on the floor and bark at the moon and only have sex in the missionary position on our birthdays after fasting and prayer and oh yeah, we also promise to just keep doing pretty much the same exact thing we’ve been doing – you know, being selfish greedy assholes – because we know how much that pleases your awesomeness.

So anyway, in summary, as your chosen ones and despite the fact that fixing our economy is well within our own capability without any kind of divine intervention at all, we’d really, really, really, really, like it if you could just make it all better without us having to do any actual work of any kind whatsoever, or compromise with anybody else, or do anything other than what we’ve been doing all along.  

Okay? Great.

Amen.

Yours in humility, Rick.

 

P.S. I’d really like to be President. Oh and could I have a pony and a plastic rocket ship too? Thanks

 

P.P.S. We’re still waiting on that rain.

And So It Goes

Let’s review.

The President said we risked a national credit downgrade and default if we didn’t quit fucking around with partisan politics and reach an actual solution to the debt problem (Ok, he didn’t actually say “fucking around,” but you know he was thinking it.  The VP, on the other hand, likely did use those exact words)

The head of the Federal Reserve said we risked a national credit downgrade and default if Congress didn’t quit arguing and reach a real solution.

The head of the International Monetary Fund said the United States risked a credit downgrade and default if Congress kept acting like spoiled children.

The head of every bank in the world agreed and urged Congress to quit arguing and sit down like adults and work out a solution.

Every economist worth his slide rule concurred and repeatedly warned of the danger.

The head of each of the three major credit rating agencies cautioned the US and made threatening noises.

In other words, the folks who actually know something about this topic or are advised by people who are actually the world’s top experts on this subject, all said the same thing – compromise, fix the problem.

 

A significant fraction of House and Senate conservatives, including John Boehner initially, were willing to compromise on the issue and bow to actual reality.

Polls indicated that nearly seventy percent of Americans, on both sides of the political spectrum, agreed that a real solution to the debt crisis required both spending cuts and tax reforms.

 

Congresswomen Michelle Bachman, Tea Party Wicked Stepmother and Wannabe President said, “They’re wrong! We will not compromise!”

Sarah Palin, Princess of the Tea Party and Wannabe President said, “They’re so wrong! We must not compromise!”

Ron Paul, wizened Tea Party Grand Vizer and Wannabe President said, “They’re wrong! I can balance the budget in my first year in office.” (He didn’t bother to show how he would actually do this. It’s Magic! But I digress).

The TEA Party toads croaked in hypnotized unison from their lily pads, “They’re wrong! They’re wrong! They’re Wrong!  How dare Obama scare old people like that! If any of our delegates compromise on this issue, they’ll meet a primary challenge! No compromise! No compromise! Ribit! Ribbit!”

Mitch McConnell, Evil Counselor, said, “Consequences smonsequences! As long as we’re rich!”

 

So.

Somebody remind me, how’d that work out again?

As I said in The Inexorable White Whale, sometimes you can see disaster coming and there’s just nothing you can do about it.

All you can do is pick up the pieces afterward and consider the lessons learned.

And what have we learned from this?

So far, not a goddamned thing.

This morning the usual cast of characters, Bachman chief among them, scramble to shift the blame and dodge responsibility and ramp up the partisan fighting.  This is not surprising, considering their past performance.  Remember Palin’s rhetoric in the wake of the Giffords’ shooting? Same old, same old.  They’ll change history, and edit the Wikipedia to claim they were all for compromise. And they don’t regard the downgrading of the United States’ credit rating as anything more than a way to get what they want. These traitorous partisan bastards have the luxury of inflexible selfishness and self-indulgence. The President does not.

 

More later, after things settle down a bit. In the meantime, consider this an open thread for discussion of the subject at hand.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Government You Deserve

You know, it’s funny.

Funny ironic, not funny ha ha.

When I write something that calls for reason, for compromise, for listening to both sides of the debate  (whatever the debate might happen to be at that particular moment), I get more vitriolic mail, push back, and negative comments, than when I pen something far to either side of the political spectrum. 

Now, to be fair, I get hate mail no matter what I write, even if it’s about coffee shops, or auto maintenance, or kittens  who fart bacon scented sunshine and rainbows – and there’ll always be at least one guy who agrees with what I wrote but hates how I wrote it and writes to tell me what a pompous ass I am. 

And to be completely fair, I do get a marked increase in supportive correspondence from folks close to America’s political center as well.  But  when I write something people perceive as an attack on one side or the other, such as the America post, it gets shared all over the social media sphere. America and its two follow-up posts were shared over a hundred thousand times on Facebook alone, and continue to generate a  minimum of a thousand pageviews a day from sites like StumbleUpon. While it’s true that I had to close the comments under America because airlocking the trolls became a fulltime job, I got a lot more email that said, “HA! I can’t wait to show this to my jerk of a [coworker, friend, relative, spouse, gerbil, etc].” 

But write something about compromise, and people are almost embarrassed to share it.  I got a number of requests to share and repost the previous article, So, You Hate The Debt Deal, but not nearly as much as for the more partisan posts.  Now, I admit to the possibility that fewer people shared the post simply because they didn’t like it, didn’t agree with it, thought the writing sucked big hairy donkey gonads, and didn’t think it was worth inflicting on their friends or enemies – though if history is any guide, a lot of people pass along things they dislike just to irritate the people they also dislike. 

What puzzles me, and prompted part of this post, was the number of folks who emailed to say, in essence, “I agree with the spirit of your article, but there’s no fekkin’ way I can share this with my friends or my enemies because they’ll think I sold out…”

And that seems to be the general opinion in the larger political conversation too. Conservatives think John Boehner sold out.  The TEA Party thinks most of their representatives sold out.  Liberals think Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi sold out. And everybody thinks President Obama sold out.

As I was sitting here reading through my email and trying to decide if I wanted to write a post on this subject or just hit “Select All/Delete” and then pour myself another slug of Jameson’s, I came across a note from reader Norman Rea.

Norm asked me what I thought about an opinion piece that appeared today on CNN.  It’s column written by Colonel Paul Yingling, US Army.  The Colonel is no stranger to those of us who served and continue to write and read about the military. Yingling is no armchair officer,  he served five combat tours (three in the Gulf War, and two during the current conflict), and somewhere between deployments he earned a Master’s in International Studies, taught at West Point, and managed to graduate from the Command and General Staff College and School of Advanced Military Studies. 

And then, in 2007, as a Lieutenant Colonel, he took on the General Corps.

And if you don’t think that takes some big huge Oysters, you don’t know a damned thing about the military.  Yingling penned an article called “A failure in Generalship” which appeared in the Armed Forces Journal and where he made a strong case that the US Flag Officer Corps needs a serious reboot – which is where I first heard of him and started avidly reading the good Colonel’s stuff.  Here’s a quote,

the intellectual and moral failures common to America’s general officer corps in Vietnam and Iraq constitutes a crisis in American generalship

Intellectual and moral failures. 

Jesus Haploid Christ.

If you think that went over well with the Four Stars, you’ve probably imbibed more Irish than I have tonight.  Yingling is about as popular with the general officer corps as wet bird shit on dress blues, most especially because he committed the unforgivable sin of being right.

And yet –  and yet – he was still prompted to full bird colonel after saying that and much worse, which is as much a statement on the the correctness of his words as his action was a testament to his moral courage.

Today, he is assigned to the George C. Marshall Center in Germany where he is a professor of Security Studies and the deputy director of the Program on Terrorism and Security Studies.  Listen, seriously, you don’t get that job unless you really, really know history, global politics, religion,  law, demographics, current events, domestic and international military matters from bottom to top and sideway in all directions – along with about half a dozen other disciplines.

So, as I said, this guy isn’t any slouch, when he speaks, you should listen – I didn’t say you had to agree, I said you should listen. Carefully. Those generals, as pissed as they were, did. And still do.

In the article that appears today on CNN, Yingling takes on yet another General – and comments directly on the topic of compromise.

This time it’s Lieutenant General Russel Honoré (ret), commonly called “the Ragin’ Cajin” by his Soldiers and known to America as the Hero of New Orleans.

Honoré isn’t any slouch either, and he’s damned far from being an armchair general.  He’s loud, mean, impatient, outspoken, eats puppies whole and whimpering, and is the kind of guy who kicks ass and doesn’t give a crap what your name is.  Like Yingling, he’s a professor, at Emory and Vanderbilt Universities. You met him in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when he took over military relief efforts following the disgraceful performance of just about every other local, state, and federal authority. 

There aren’t many folks in Louisiana who wouldn’t cheerfully buy the General a beer.

On August 2, Honoré penned an opinion piece for CNN titled “For lesson in shared sacrifice, send Congress to boot camp.” 

The piece begins with,

Like most veterans, the men and women who have worn our nation's uniform to defend this country, I am furious with and disappointed in the state of indecision that plagued Washington these past few weeks…”

Then the general goes on to talk about shared sacrifice, shared vision, and shared purpose.  He opines that everything America military men and women fought and died for these last two centuries is at risk because our national leaders do not share a sense of common purpose.  Specifically Honoré says,

“They have failed to live up to their oath of office, to protect and defend the Constitution and the United States of America. Instead they strike partisan poses they hope will be remembered during their next campaigns. This isn’t leadership, it’s play acting. And we should all be disgusted.”

Boy, those thoughts sound damned familiar to me, except that I used the word “treason.”

On this point, General Honoré and I are in complete agreement.

But then he goes on to say:

It’s time to get draconian. […] I mean it's time to load our elected officials on troop planes and send them to Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Put them in tents with no air conditioning, have Army drill sergeants teach them teamwork and physical sacrifice. When they recognize their responsibility to the people of America, they can return to D.C., their upscale restaurants, and military plane trips, as though they were royalty.”

You know, I can’t say that I don’t completely understand where the General is coming from with that statement. 

And I can’t say that I don’t feel the exact same rage and disappointment and disgust, because I do.

As a career military man, myself, I can certainly understand the impetus.  Our military, no military, is a democracy.  We move together with a shared sense of mission, of purpose, of dedication, of sacrifice, of camaraderie and teamwork, of service.  We know who answers to whom and where we fit in the grand scheme of things and how things work.  Orders are given and the mission gets done

One of the things that we career military often find repulsive about civilian life is that it’s messy. It’s chaotic.  It’s disorderly. Civilians don’t follow orders and they grow their hair long and they dress like hobos and they slouch around and they’re lazy and they talk back and they do whatever the hell they want to do and you can’t stop them even if they’re doing something fatally stupid. They place themselves above others. They refuse to work together. They’re opinionated and not shy about expressing it. It makes us insane.  Not a day goes by that I don’t have the urge to start barking orders at you damned greasy civilians (never mind that I am now a damned greasy civilian myself), and sometimes I even give in to that impulse.  Sooner or later it’s probably going to get me a fat lip – or another fat lip, to be more correct.

We in the military often look upon the appalling self-centered self-involved self-serving shenanigans of Washington with something more than a little akin to contempt.

And so I can certainly say that I agree with spirit of General Honoré’s frustration.

But it is here that we must disagree.

Yingling says specifically that taken at face value, Honoré is advocating no less than a coup d’etat.

I disagree, sort of.  Or rather, I don’t think Yingling goes far enough. I think that taken at face value, Honoré’s suggestion of a military and political re-education boot camp for government officials is military fascism.

Oh relax, I’m certainly not calling the General a fascist.  Only an idiot would do that.

Just like only an idiot would call Robert Anson Heinlein a fascist for writing Starship Troopers (required reading at the US Military Academies by the way).  But there are damned few military folks who don’t have at least some sneaking suspicion that Heinlein’s military/service orientated government wouldn’t be a better way to do business (note: that in Troopers, one of the professors responsible for indoctrinating young citizens into the military dominated society says very specifically that their method of government isn’t the best, or superior, or even preferred – it was just the one they had.  That was Heinlein speaking. People tend to miss this paragraph, hence the persistent accusations of fascism).

No, I’m not calling Honoré a fascist.

What I am saying is that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. 

Constitution aside, how long do you think it would take, if we rounded up all the members of Congress and sent them to military style boot camp in Mississippi there to be indoctrinated by Army drill sergeants until they learn ‘teamwork and physical sacrifice,’ before Senators and Representatives and the President started awarding themselves medals and wearing military garb?  Before they all start thinking alike. Before the natural checks and balances of differing opinion and debate are removed?  Before the very pitfalls outlined by Colonel Yingling in A Failure of Generalship become evident? In his response, Yingling asks who decides when those prospective leaders are sufficiently reprogrammed? When have they learned enough to place service and the nation above self? Who decides that? The President? The military? The Generals? Ye gads!

Go down this road and sooner or later, you’re going to end up with military fascism. Probably sooner.

Even if it didn’t, lead to fascism, America as we know it would still be doomed.  Doomed to stagnation and uniformity.  The military is structured the way it is for very good reason and it works very, very well for us – but every single time somebody, including military folks, has tried to run a country in this manner, it is an utter disaster. 

This is, in microcosm, the immigration argument – and why building a wall around our culture is stupid and counter-productive. 

Change, dynamic interaction, chaos, are the very things that spur innovation and vigor and initiative and generate vision – the very vision that can, indeed, give our country, and the world, a true sense of shared purpose.  

Like Colonel Yingling, I suspect that General Honoré didn’t really mean what he said.  He’s a passionate speaker and writer, something I’m quite familiar with, prone to florid bombast and hyperbole – which doesn’t mean the rage and frustration he expresses is any less valid in any way.  Yingling speculates that the General is really “lamenting the partisan rancor in Washington when compared to the discipline of America’s military force.”  I suspect this is correct.

However, here’s the problem: there are going to be plenty of folks who read the Hero of New Orleans’ words and take them at face value.  I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to see this idea right alongside the balanced budget amendment on the TEA Party’s agenda - just as there those who seriously think  the government vaguely outlined in Starship Troopers is a great idea.  To quote Larry Niven, yet another great science fiction writer, there is no cause so right that one cannot find a fool following it.

Colonel Yingling goes on to talk about the Constitution and about its chief architect, James Madison (Yes, that is correct, the Constitution was not, in fact, written by Thomas Jefferson as so many Americans apparently believe, including the writers of last night’s episode of Franklin & Bash. But I digress. And I still love F&B).  Yingling quotes the Federalist Papers, specifically Federalist 10 and Madison:

There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes and the other, by controlling its effects. There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving every citizen the same opinions, the same passions and the same interests.  It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy that it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an ailment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish for the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency."

I would argue that there is a third method of reducing the mischief of faction.

The same method I’ve advocated here on Stonekettle Station many times and as recently as in the previous post, to wit: if you want a better republic, then you need to start with better citizens.  Rather than repurpose shoddy material, as General Honoré suggests, rather than shape it into a new mold by force, I suggest that you start by choosing better ingredients.  Get educated. Get involved. Vote with your mind, with reason, instead of your heart. If you’re a card carrying member of a political party, if you vote straight ticket every time, then you’ve given up your freedom. Become a registered Independent, make the bastards work for your vote.  Encourage others to do the same.  Get involved. Speak up. Speak out. Do not stand idly by while extremists take your country away from you.

If you see your neighbors as the enemy,  it should come as little surprise when your elected officials do likewise.

If you have no respect for the opinions of others, it should come as little surprise when your elected officials have no respect for you.

Like Colonel Yingling, I take issue with General Honoré’s assertion that he speaks for “most veterans.”

And I must respectfully disagree.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

So, You Hate The Debt Ceiling Deal

As a public service, Stonekettle Station provides the following Debt Ceiling comment template free of charge. Use this handy guide when composing your outraged debt ceiling deal response on FoxNews, Yahoo Forums, MSNBC, or any other place on the web were extremists gather to rub uglies and salute America:

Goddamn those [circle one: Faithless Bastards / Cowardly Sons of Bitches / Filthy Nazi Traitors]!  The stinking [circle one: Rethuglitards / Dumbocraps / ball sucking teabaggers] caved in and sold America out to [circle one: Wall Street / Terrorists / Satan]! America is [circle one: A Liberal Hellhole/A Conservative Nightmare/Cursed By Jesus]! Personally, I blame [circle one:  B. Hussein Obama / Dick “Deadeye” Cheney / Cats]!


 

Today, I’m reminded of a myth.

A myth called the United States.

It’s a cheerful myth. Triumphant, and inspiring. 

It’s not true, but hey, that doesn’t mean it’s not persistent and pervasive and widely held, this fiction of America.

You all know this story. You were taught it in school. It looks something like this:

Serious and respectful men, our founding fathers, weighted down by the gravitas of history and the importance of their task. They came together in Philadelphia, in a wing of the Pennsylvania State House, and led by General George Washington they forged the United States of America.  There they wrote the Constitution and the words and the ideals of that document were so profound and enlightened that they flowed inspired from the minds of these great men and onto the paper, perfect and true.  Afterward, their great task complete, the men of the Constitutional Convention shook hands, posed long enough for Chandler Christy to paint that iconic picture, and then went home to the adulations of a new nation’s citizens.

Right?

Uh no, actually. Not so much.

That’s the thing with myths.  They’re neat and tidy, shiny and simple.  Myths are made to inspire, to teach, to caution, to remind, to fit into a patriotic picture or into a single paragraph in a grade school history book.  That’s the problem with myths, they’re little more than a hollow mask, a shell, shaped to fit whatever particular agenda suits the current generation.

Reality, of course, pales in comparison. Reality is dirty and harsh and unpleasant and petty and complicated

The Founders and the Framers weren’t great men. I know, gasp! But it’s true, they were not great men, they were just men – no more noble and no less petty and no different than the people of today.

Yes, yes, I know, I’m talking sacrilege here, heresy – that’s what happens when you turn history into myth, into a religion. 

Sacrilege or not, those who framed the Constitution were just men.  Childish upon occasion, like Patrick Henry who stayed away from Philadelphia because he was sure the others were conspiring to create a new monarchy – or climb into bed with the old one.  Rhode Island wanted to go their own way and refused to send any delegates at all.  A number came with their own plans and their own agendas and a fierce determination not to give up the things that they held dear – such as their slaves.  At the Convention, the framers fought and they argued and they quarreled, often to shouting and sometimes to fisticuffs. The Constitution wasn’t perfect on the first draft, or the second, or the third, or even the fourth or fifth.  The Constitution sure as hell wasn’t divinely inspired by God, or any other deity for that matter. No, in the end, the Constitution was a product of men, of hard work and fierce passions and months of acrimonious debate and ultimately of compromise.  Of the fifty-five delegates, eighteen, nearly one third of the caucus, initially refused to sign the finished product (two later did) and thirteen walked out rather than participate in the final ceremony because they considered the constitution a failure.  In the end, they left many things undone, not the least of which was the Bill of Rights.

When they were finished and the document that would become the US Constitution was ready to be sent to the states for ratification, Benjamin Franklin said,

There are several parts of this Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them. I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain may be able to make a better Constitution.

In other words, they did the best they could.

In the end, they did what they had been sent to do.  They compromised.

And nobody was happy with the finished product.

Nearly two and a half centuries later, democracy is still dirty and loud and acrimonious.  It often comes to shouting and sometimes to fisticuffs.

And it’s still about compromise.

I’ve said it here before and I’ll likely say it again: if you always get everything you want, you’re not living in a democracy. 

The bill signed into law by President Obama this morning is certainly not perfect.  And nobody got everything they wanted. And that’s just plain how it is.

Liberals are unhappy.

Conservatives are unhappy.

And I have to smile, because after all of this, after all of the fiery rhetoric and stubborn obstinacy, we’ve come together in our unhappiness.

However, look around, really, look left, look right and see who you’re standing with.

Reading through the comments under the usual news sites today is enlightening:

This was no deal, democrats, got everything they wanted, and used fear, and lies, to scare the republicans, to give in!

Yeah, the democrats got everything they wanted. And those Republicans, boy, they sure folded up like a cheap card table, didn’t they? That’s why liberals are all so damned happy today. Yup.  Of course, I saw half a hundred comments that said, this was no deal, the republicans got everything they wanted…

The USURPER and THIEF will NOT be happy until taxes go UP for ALL and NOT just for the rich !! Just driving the U.S.A. into the ground

This was posted under a Yahoo article quoting President Obama’s post-signing address where he emphasized that the next step was to lower taxes on the middle class.  Of course, usurpers aren’t to be trusted. Birtherism, it just never goes out of style, does it?

AND WHY SHOULD I PAY MORE FOR BEING A SUCCESS TO SLIME THAT WON'T WORK????????? WELFARE LEECHES ARE KILLING OUR COUNTRY

Captain Question Mark to the rescue, and his sidekick, All CAPS Boy!

Wake up sheeple! RON PAUL is our only hope!

I’m picturing the commenter holding two cinnamon buns to the side of her head and chanting, Help me, Obi Ron, you’re our only hope!

Keep falling Dow yay down show how idiot Capitol Hill!!!

I have no idea what the hell this guy was on about, but I admire his enthusiasm.

Next up is bouncing your half-African a s s out of the White House

and

I guess Obama will be taking Zira and the girls on a vacation now that the debt problem is solved.

Nothing like a little racism to spice up the debate. Extra points for the Planet of the Apes ref. Well played.

This "Debt Deal" is no more than extension of the stimulus! Obama wants to spend more and tax more!

Right, because, you know, it’s not Congress who writes the budget. Excellent grasp of the issues, by the way, this guy should run for office, maybe Michelle Bachman needs a speech writer.

Obama say "Debt deal is only the beginning."  Beginning of WHAT?

What indeed? FEMA death camps? New World Order? “Healthy” Happy Meals? What’s going on?

Ahhh, the left wing nuts are about to get there socialist/communist empire. Only thing left on Obama's agenda is repeal of the 22nd Amendment so he can rule over his Soviet Styled Empire!!!

I’m hoping that after Obama waves his magic wand and repeals the Constitution and the Commies take over, the new totalitarian regime will  enforce strict use of the proper forms of there, they’re, and their (also, “a lot”).   The Gulag, I think, is not too much for violation of the grammar laws.

Now he [Obama] wants to punish those who have made smart moves and become wealthy.

LIke Charlie Seen and Paris Hilton. Or say John Thane, you know, the guy who was CEO of Merrill Lynch and managed to ass-rape about half of America before he went out the door with a twenty million dollar golden parachute.  Yeah, he’s probably suffered enough.

The anti-christ speaks.......

Question, how come the Anti-Christ gets to be president and Jesus only shows up on moldy cheese sandwiches? You ever wonder about that?

Quite simple to fix this problem now and into the future. Let people who have no job(s), no savings, are destitute, no hope for the future, are sick and a drag on the medical system, unable to adapt, all of them and types like them DIE!

We’ll call that plan B.

Run, Sara, Run!

In my head, I hear this in the Jenny voice from Forrest Gump.  Followed by “I am not a smart man…”

IMPEACH THESE DICTATORS!

Impeach the dictators? Why didn’t I think of that! I didn’t even know you could impeach a dictator. Why in the hell are they fighting in Libya and Syria, why don’t they just impeach the dictator?

Why have a commilson just ask republicans what they want make it law right obama or do you need tell it gona happen then make it law

I have no idea what the hell this guy is on about, but I admire his enthusiasm.

Where's Robin Hood when you need him? Our politicians have reality #$%$backwards! When are they going to figure out that feudalism doesn't work? It didn't work in feudal Europe and it doesn't work in corporate America, which is just an extension of feudalism...

Robin Hood? Like rob from the rich and give to the poor Robin Hood? Like redistribute the wealth Robin Hood?  So it’s sort of like Reaganomics then, only instead of waiting for wealth to tickle down, the poor hide in the ditch alongside the Interstate and wait for rich people to drive by? Interesting.

There’s more. Much, much more. The comments under the various Yahoo news articles number in the tens of thousands, all just like the ones above. 

As I said, look around and see who you’re standing with, I sure as hell hope it’s not these chuckleheads. If you want a better democracy, you need to start with better citizens – and these people aren’t it.

Sure, none of us are happy with this deal.

Liberals are pissed at Obama for caving on the tax reform issue and for allowing some changes to entitlement programs.

Conservatives are pissed that the cuts weren’t deeper.

The Tea Party is pissed because their silly balanced budget amendment nonsense got dumped. 

Everybody is afraid of what comes next.

Still, and here’s the thing, we didn’t default on our debts. Whatever comes next, we didn’t default on our debts. Try to remember that, because that was the important part.

This deal pushes the debt ceiling question out past the 2012 election, which means we don’t have this idiotic horse puckey as a distraction for the next year. Really, be grateful for small favors.

The super committee, folks there are a hell of a lot worse things that could have happened.  I’m not big on the idea either, but in a highly partisan environment going into an election year, the super committee was most likely the best option. Really.  This is how we finally bypassed the squabbling bullshit in congress and started getting rid of superfluous military bases after the Cold War – and that benefitted every single taxpayer in the US.  If we’d gone through the normal process instead of the BRAC Commission, congress would still be arguing over it.  People keep bitching about congressional gridlock. People keep talking about real debt reduction.  There is no way you’re going to get five hundred and thirty three politicians, especially in an election year, to agree to anything more than they already have. You’ve got a group of extremists, and yes I’m talking about these Tea Party terrorists and Michelle Bachman can kiss my big white hairy ass, that have demonstrated a willingness to crash the government. You just saw it happen. There are damned few ways around these suicide bombers.   The super committee is the only really workable solution in the current environment.

The extremists on both side are damned near apoplectic with rage. Some of them might have fatal strokes as a result.  But for the rest, well, you know who they are now. You know who the uncompromising bastards are now. If nothing else, this battle has smoked them out into the open.  Now, it’s up to you, vote them the hell out of office.

At the end of the day, the deal got done.

It’s not perfect. Just as the original Constitution wasn’t perfect.

There is still work to be done, just as there was back then. There’s always work to be done.

To paraphrase old Ben: There are several parts of this bill which I do not at present approve, but with some work and level headed compromise someday I might. I doubt that any other caucus could have made a better deal, for all of us.

Politics is the art of the possible and democracy is about compromise.

Ben Franklin had it right. Democracy is hard and dirty and sometimes it’s just plain downright ugly.

But it’s the best system we’ve got.

Unless you’d prefer to believe in myths.