Thursday, March 6, 2014

Fear and Respect

Obama, the perception of him and his ‘potency’ across the world is one of such weakness. Lookit, people are looking at Putin as one who wrestles bears and drills for oil, they look at our president as one who wears mom jeans and equivocates and bloviates. We are not exercising that peace through strength that only can be brought to you courtesy of that red, white, and blue that only the strength of the United States military can do.
- Sarah Palin, speech to CPAC 2014

Nobody should be surprised that Putin is making these moves because there is substantially less respect for the United States than there was four years ago. And no one should be surprised that Vladimir Putin is restructuring the old Russian empire. We shouldn’t be surprised at that. This guy was a former KGB operative.
        - Rick Perry, speech to CPAC 2014

Obama promised that if he became president, the world love us and respect us, and he would charm the snakes back into the basket.  Well, the snakes are not back in the basket. They're roaming all over the landscape, because nobody trusts that what he says means anything […] Every time the president basically tries to use an iron fist, it becomes a limp wrist […] Once again, what we've seen in American foreign policy is that we're going to have a little conversation. We're going to talk. Here's the problem. We treat our friends like our enemies and our enemies like we want them to be our friends, and we end up with no friends at all…
        - Mike Huckabee, interview with Arkansas Matters

Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.
- Albert Camus

I can’t get no respect. No respect at all…
       - Rodney Dangerfield



That’s the concern. 

Prestige. Standing. Reputation. Respect.

That’s what I wrote about in the last post here on Stonekettle Station, respect. And predictably I got some email about it, the gist of which can best be summed up as:

Nobody fears us any more and it’s all Obama’s fault. Woe, oh woe!

And that seems to have been the theme at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC for short. Just like Comic-Con where the most enthusiastic elements of nerddom get together to swap stories and bodily fluids, CPAC is where the most fanatical members of conservatism get together to share tales of their woeful oppression at the hands of Adolf Hussein Obama – they also swap bodily fluids, mostly spittle and bile.

No respect. The United States just doesn’t get any respect.

Nobody fears the United States, howled Sarah Palin, because shirtless manly Vladimir Putin wrestles bears! Bears!

Nobody defers to the US anymore, wailed Rick Perry, shirtless manly Putin was KGB! KGB!

Snakes! Snakes, everywhere! screamed, Mike Huckabee, it was supposed to be love and respect but it’s mother-fornicatin’ snakes!

Snakes and Bears and the KGB, Oh My!

The highlight of CPAC though had to be this bit of simpleminded jingoistic sound-bite wisdom:

“Mr. President, the only thing that stops a bad guy with a nuke is a good guy with a nuke!”

That was the Sourdough Shill herself, all walleyed and big-haired, blurting out what passes for deep thought and foreign policy expertise among the conservative lunatic fringe these days.


Boy, hell, that sure escalated quickly. Nukes.

When at CPAC, go big or go home, I guess.

With every sound-bite, with every Tweet and Facebook post, these people become ever more insane.

Nukes. Nukes, no less. Nukes. You’ve got to be kidding me.

Two days ago we were talking about economic sanctions, suddenly conservatives are threatening nuclear war?

Nukes, that’ll stop Russia, nukes.

Sure. Let’s nuke ‘em.

And nobody, nobody, stood up to challenge that insanity, instead the crowd cheered

Folks, the fundamental difference between Comic-Con and CPAC is that the geeks dressed up like superheroes with the fake space blasters on their hips are often above average in their intelligence and they know they’re living in a fantasy world, at CPAC the dimwitted nuts are armed and in deadly earnest and they’re aiming to get their sweaty little hands on America’s nuclear arsenal.

You want the rest of the world scared shitless of America? That, right there, will certainly do it.

Hell, I’m an American and the thought of these saber-rattling fanatics in control of the US military keeps me awake at night.

Trust me, you hand an automatic weapon and a sack of loaded high-capacity magazines to some raging violence prone imbecile with reality issues who claims to talk directly to God and plop them down in the middle of a crowd, and you can bet every gold ducat you bought from Glenn Beck that people will be scared alright – scared enough to band together and start shooting first in preemptive self-defense maybe.

The only thing that stops a bad guy with a nuke is a good guy with a nuke?

Yeah, let’s go right ahead and threaten Russia with nuclear war over some peninsula in the Black Sea that 99.999% of Americans couldn’t find on a map even if you gave them three tries and all the Google they could stomach. 

Fifty years ago you could maybe, maybe, squint your eyes and say, well, if we’ve got to atom bomb the Russkies and vaporize billions in the madness of mutually assured destruction, well, you know, we’ll at least be doing it to contain communism, we at least can claim we’re doing it for freedom and democracy and Yankee Doodle Dandy.  But nowadays? The USSR is long defunct and Russia is a democracy more or less and whether or not Crimea ends up part of Ukraine or part of Russia or decides to throw in with Timbuktu makes not one damned jot of difference to the freedom, liberty, and democracy of the U.S. of A – unless we were to take Palin up on her brilliant foreign policy expertise and, you know, start a nuclear war over it.

Now don’t get me wrong, certainly we, the West, we maybe have a moral obligation to protest Russia’s actions in the Crimea, maybe more than protest – or maybe not.

Ask yourself something, are we protesting Russia’s actions because it’s the right thing to do … or because they are Russians? 

If the majority of the Crimean population wants to join Russia, and I’m not saying they do but if they did, so long as the dissenting folks are protected and allowed to exit if they so desire, who are we to say different? How moral is it for us to force an ethnic population to be part of one nation or another? We did that in Iraq with the British Mandate in the 1920s, the Soviet Union did it to various populations across the breadth of their empire, the colonial powers forced disparate ethnic and religious populations together across Africa, and of course there’s always Israel, and look how those tone deaf efforts turned out.  Endless war, constant conflict, ethnic cleansing, genocide, unrest, boiling hatred and seething resentment.

Perhaps, perhaps, the moral course of action here is to allow Crimea self determination and then respect their decision – whatever it may be.

However it shakes out, there’s a huge difference between reasonable actions justified by international law and consensus, and threatening Russia with nuclear weapons even as a hyperbolic sound bite – and anybody who aspires to political office should damned well know the difference.

And yet, Palin thinks that threatening nuclear war is just and righteous and moral and, more, an actual viable option in foreign policy.  And the conservatives at CPAC all enthusiastically nodded their pointy heads in fanatical agreement and cheered. 

To date, no conservative has denounced Palin’s insanity.

Nuke ‘em.

If the rest of the world doesn’t fear us, then it hasn’t been paying attention.

If the rest of the world isn’t utterly terrified that America has a political system that just might allow a spiteful unhinged dimwitted fanatic whose most complex thought could fit into a Tweet with room left over within range of The Button, if the world isn’t afraid of that, well, then it damned well should be. 

Nuke ‘em.

Jesus Haploid Christ, what the hell is wrong with these people?

The only thing that stops a bad guy with a nuke is a good guy with a nuke?

Who’s writing Palin’s speeches? Ted Nugent?

Honestly, this is what conservatives think will win America respect? The threat of nuclear annihilation?

You’d better like us.  You’d better do what we say. You’d better bow down and kowtow and show some respect to America.  Or we’ll nuke ya! We’ll incinerate your nation, we’ll vaporize your cities, we’ll kill your fucking kids, you betcha – not just the first born, all of ‘em – and then we’ll scorch your country right on down to the bedrock. Better show us some Goddamned respect or else!

President Obama should threaten not just Russia but the entire world (because you really can’t just threaten one nation when you’re talking about nuclear weapons now can you?). Really?

Nuke ‘em.

You know what nations, what people, talk like that? North Korea. The Iranian Ayatollahs. Nazi Germany. Pol Pot. Idi Amin. Saddam Hussein. Josef Stalin. Hideki Tojo.

And just how much respect do you have for them.

Conservatives bemoan the (alleged) fact that nobody respects America anymore.  Do you wonder why? Do you really?

No one respects the violently insane

Certainly we Americans, as a nation, we’ve always been impetuous. We’re a nation of cowboys, of misfits and outcasts and the fiercely independent. What was it Bill Murray said in Stripes? Our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. And we revel in it. It’s in our history and in our DNA and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Coupled to reason and intelligence those traits lead to greatness, have led us to greatness.

But while we respect the bold and the forthright, nobody respects a foolhardy jackass who smashes through life leaving a trail of bloody wreckage without care or regard for others.

And while civilization might tolerate and even sometimes revere the brash depending on the circumstances, nobody respects those who can’t keep their impulse to rage and violence under firm and consistent control.

We might pity the irrational, we might work to make them whole or to restrain their violent hostility, but we do not respect them.

So, why should anybody respect a nation that proposes to act in a similar manner?

No one respects a bully

Certainly strength might be applauded and respected – depending on how it’s used.

We admire those who stand up and fight when necessary, who use their strength to defend the weak and the helpless, who come to the aid of others when called and give the last full measure. We respect and admire that kind of strength and rightly so.

But only a simpering toady pretends admiration for a bully.

Nobody respects those who go around picking fights, those who fight when they don’t have to, those who glorify strength solely because they think it makes them superior to those who are weaker, and those who use their strength to demand respect.

Those who use their strength for ill-considered and unrestrained violence, those who lead with their fists instead of their brains, and especially those who use their strength for the sake of intimidation, to make others fear them, and to force their will upon the world, those people – those nations – are not leaders, they are bullies and terrorists in the purest definition of the term.

There is a fundamental difference between fear and respect.

Others will stand with you out of respect and admiration, but no one willingly follows another out of fear.

The same is true of nations.

No one respects an ignoramus 

Lack of knowledge or awareness can be overcome.

Honest ignorance can be forgiven and often corrected.

But nobody respects those who loudly glorify vacuous stupidity as some kind of virtue.

We respect those with clarity of thought, who have the quiet strength of their well reasoned convictions, and most especially those who have the courage to admit when they are wrong or ignorant and then do something about it and move forward with new knowledge. 

But nobody wants to be around a fanatical extremist who is proud of their ignorant stupidity and can’t shut up about their pet bugaboo.

There is an enormous difference between healthy skepticism and dogmatic denial, between conviction and fanaticism, between critical thinking and conspiracy theories. 

When we speak of America’s achievements, of this nation’s place in history, from the Constitution itself to the day Americans last set foot upon the moon (now more than 30 years ago and, really think about that), it is science and philosophy and enlightenment we’re talking about.

History remembers a civilization for its universities, for its knowledge and wisdom, for its libraries, for its philosophers, for its scientists and engineers and visionaries.  Those are the very nations and the very people who our founders turned to for inspiration when they designed the United States. The legacies of those civilizations continue to endure long, long after they have gone.

But history also remembers the ignorant, the brutal, the stupid, the fanatical, the bigoted, the extremist, and the misguided – but nobody turns to them for inspiration.

No one respects the callous

The world is a tough place for a lot of people and it’s easy to grow hard of heart … and yet it is empathy we respect.

We hold the selfless and the generous in high regard, those who give more than they take, those are the people and the nations who compel our admiration.

No one respects the indifferent, the uncaring, the greedy, the rabble rousers bent only to their own self aggrandizement, those who steer into danger over and over with no regard for the trail of wreckage they leave behind, those who put profit over people, and the gluttonous who waste more than they can use while others go hungry and cold and sick.

We respect those who are generous to a fault, kind of spirit, tolerant of heart, open of mind. Those are the very concepts that define nearly all service organizations from the Boy Scouts to the Masons, and nearly all religions – most especially the dominant religion of America … and yet those are the very traits most often discarded and studiously ignored in favor of unsympathetic self interest and selfish insouciance.

We respect and admire those who help others not those who help only themselves.

No one respects the hysterical fool

We respect courage.

Or rather we respect true courage, that determination to continue steadily forward even when we are terrified.

No one respects the blustering bravado of the posturing braggart and the wannabe hero.

The present usually feels safer than the future for good reason and it’s always easier to cling resolutely to the past, to hide your head in the comforting sand of conspiracy theories and those who tell you only what you want to hear.   But it often takes raw courage and steadfast determination to embrace the uncertain ever changing future. It is perfectly normal to fret about what alien shore we will ultimately be cast upon by the tide of history, but there is a tremendous difference between the normal apprehension all humans feel for the future and fearful pessimistic hysteria.

We admire those who are afraid and yet manage to face their dread, wrestle down their alarm with quiet determination, and step forward into the fire anyway.

Certainly only a fool goes ass backward into the unknown without preparation, but the bigger fool is the one who turns his back on the future altogether. No matter how terrifying, it is always better to face your fate head on than to let it take you unawares from behind.

We might not know what the future will bring with any degree of certainty, but we can prepare our nation and the world for any eventuality. 

But that takes courage. Real courage. True courage. Not the blustering bravado of the coward.

It takes the courage to educate our children, especially when that knowledge allows them to see the world through eyes radically different from our own.

It takes courage and determination not to remain deliberately ignorant, to cast off the chains of dogma and the admonishments of those who profit from our fear of the unknown.

It takes courage to willingly alter our viewpoints and our worldview and to embrace the ever changing and uncertain future. 

It takes courage to discard the past or to at least regard it dispassionately and to not be crushed beneath its overbearing weight.

It takes courage to be selfless, to be sympathetic, to meet others halfway or more if necessary for the greater good.

It takes courage to remain kind of spirit, tolerant of heart, open of mind.

It takes courage to be an optimist, to face the future with anticipation and enthusiasm and hope.

It takes courage, real courage, to use our strength with reason and restraint and not just because we can, not just because it’s easy.

More than anything, it takes courage, true reasoned steadfast courage, to be the people that others truly respect and admire.

It takes courage, true courage, to be the nation we ourselves can honestly respect and admire.

It takes courage to be the nation history will remember with timeless admiration.

But it takes nothing to be the nation others fear.



Cut it out! Cut it out! Cut. It. Out! The hell's the matter with you? Stooopid! We're all very different people. We're not Watusi. We're not Spartans. We're Americans, with a capital ‘A.’ You know what that means? Do ya? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world! We are the wretched refuse. We're the underdog. We're mutts! […] But there's no animal that's more faithful, that's more loyal, more loveable than the mutt.
     - John Winger, Stripes, 1981


  1. Camus? Really?

    I mean if there is nobody an American is going to listen to, is a French Existentialist...

    (all joking aside, everyone should probably read 'The Stranger')

    1. Camus is appropriate. And don't limit yourself to "The Stranger." Read his essays.

    2. Oh, I most definitely agree! 'The Stranger' is really just a starting point (or I should say, my starting point)

  2. 50 some odd years ago, the Crimea was part of Russia. Khrushchev ceded it to Ukrainia (as we called the Ukraine in those days) because, really who cares? It was all part and parcel of the Soviet Union...the idea that we would go to war over what is essentially an internal struggle is...well, I'd like to say its outrageous, but unfortunately its all too common, since we're the cops of the world...

    1. As the late, much lamented singer Phi Ochs said a generation ago.

  3. This could have been a verbatim speech at CPAC this year:
    Bluto: What? Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!
    Otter: Germans?
    Boon: Forget it, he's rolling.
    Bluto: And it ain't over now. 'Cause when the goin' gets tough... The tough get goin'! Who's with me? Let's go!

  4. Superb piece. I see something of myself in there and I feel better about myself, I see something of myself in there and feel humbled and determined to change, I see something of a kindred spirit in there and feel encouraged to keep going.

  5. Ahhh, the global pissing match. Wonder whose peni... I mean *nuke* is bigger.

  6. "But only a simpering toady pretends admiration for a bully.
    "Nobody respects those who go around picking fights, those who fight when they don’t have to, those who glorify strength solely because they think it makes them superior to those who are weaker, and those who use their strength to demand respect.

    Those who use their strength for ill-considered and unrestrained violence, those who lead with their fists instead of their brains, and especially those who use their strength for the sake of intimidation, to make others fear them, and to force their will upon the world, those people – those nations – are not leaders, they are bullies and terrorists in the purest definition of the term."
    Well said, but sadly I think of George Zimmerman, who did exactly that, but on an individual basis.
    And he is admired by too many.


  7. Ahhh, the Moon - over *40* years ago (1972).

    1. My "favorite" space-related quote(oid): "I always knew I'd live to see the first man on the Moon. I never dreamed I'd live to see the last"---Jerry Pournelle

    2. Ah, beaten to it as I thought I would be - was going to note that myself.

  8. Thank you.
    The 'Palin/Perry/Huckabee' Crew scare me. You make me feel less alone and give me hope. So many Americans vote for these people ...
    Thank you.

    1. Throw in Cruz and that NRA guy (well, throw them all out), and you've really got something. Something very scary because there are other people who agree with them.

  9. Hey, if Palin wants to wrestle bears while she's topless, let her do it. I hope everyone else in the U.S. realizes she's spouting the same rhetoric as Kim Jong-un, and that's what really scares me.

    1. "The military might of a country represents its national strength. Only when it builds up its military might in every way can it develop into a thriving country."

      -Kim Jong-un, apparently Sarah's secret brother

    2. Be interesting to see Palin and Putin wrestle bears together... or each other... perhaps they will find something in common and Palin will move to Russia (oh that wouldn't be good, would it... Palin and Putin together... =:-o )

  10. I am also amazed at those who are making this ALL about the USA. While I understand that we have interests and friends in the area, and legitimate reason to be involved in international affairs, actively or passively or whatever, but, last I checked, Crimea wasn't one of our states and through all of this, Russia has made no negative move at us in the slightest. It's not all about us. It's actually all about other people, those who have their own goals and histories, etc... but you wouldn't know that from looking at our media.

  11. .


    Ema Nymton

  12. The thing that makes me wonder is that so many people would actiually vote for these 3 sub humans. I only hope that there is enough rational thinking people voting to make sure non of the 3 are ever elected to any office and or any like them.The post was excellant. Well said

  13. Editorial note: "the dominate religion of America". Believe you meant dominant.

    But that aside, Huzzah! Does it worry me when political leaders in America take their dialogue straight from the lips of every sociopathic drug kingpin in every 1980's supercop movie? Why, yes. Yes it does.

    Should we be concerned when their idea of "negotiation" and "diplomacy" comes right out of The Fifth Element? (**gunshot to the head** "Anybody else wanna negotiate?") I think perhaps we should be.

    (since we are using movies as examples & all)


    1. Greg - ETC(SW) USN - RetiredMarch 11, 2014 at 7:38 AM

      While we're nit-picking semantics, one of the "It takes . . . " is missing the "s" on "take." I'd bet it's a typo while Jim was on a roll.

      There's no doubt (in my mind, at least) that Putin is a megalomaniac, in the mode of Saddam, Quadafy, Milosovic, Pol Pot, and "name your dictator." And I think he's looking to revive the glory days of the USSR for his own selfish reasons. Complicating a response to that are the very real historical and cultural issues around Ukraine/Crimea, just as there were with Georgia.

  14. Thank you, Jim. The back half of that is the best 4th of July speech I've ever read. My hat is off to you, Sir. Lead on.

  15. Thank you, Jim. Because those wild-eyed frothy radicals scare me. Their siding with a leader who looks more and more totalitarian by the year blows me away. And by doing so, they tip their hand as to their own hopes and dreams.
    Chandra in MO

  16. "There is a fundamental difference between fear and respect."

    How dare Putin not do as we tell him, huh? Wow, feeling a bit entitled? Well conservatives feel the same about the US and the rest of their world: we should all do as they wish…or else! That's how they "govern"...

    Conservatives are using "respect" the same way that people do…in gangs and in prison!


  17. Beatitudes ("Sermon on the Mount") in reverse. Magnificent.

  18. Sadly, this behavior really has nothing to do with Russia other than to craft a new boogeyman for the radical right to wave at it's followers. With big terrorism dead, how else can we justify domestic spying and warrantless detention? How else can we justify the war in Eastasia?

    1. Why would we need to justify it? Haven't we always been at war with Eastasia?

      On a serious note, though, you're totally right. I can't remember a time in my 34 years when we haven't had a "mortal enemy" to fear and loathe. Every day I wonder when we begin the mandatory two minutes hate. Then again, there's already a 24 hours hate on FOX News, so there's that

    2. Creating a "mortal enemy" has been the keystone for the GOP since 1950s. The GOP agenda is all about keeping the voters focus on some enemy - communism, Blacks, gays, immigrants. They use this "fear" to gather and control the troops.

  19. I guess Sarah plans to take off her shirt and just throw our astronauts up to the ISS since she can see it from her front porch?

  20. Most excellent post Jim. Many in the US seem to be experiencing some type of "little man's syndrome," and it's a huge drag on the rest of us, who are confident in ourselves and the values on which our nation was built. That our priority isn't just what's good for our individual selves, but what's good for all of us, together. It's that we're in this together, after all, that is the real strength of our nation. That we don't live in fear. That we do what we know to be respectable, and thereby earn the respect of the world.

    The only criticism is that Christianity is the dominant (adjective) religion of America, not the dominate (verb) one.

  21. I dunno...dominate seems to work as well as dominant in this context....

  22. Possibly your best yet. Thanks once again, Jim.

  23. How 'bout we offer Ted Nugent in single combat with Vladimir Putin. The winner gets Sarah.

    1. Nugent would crap his pants. Again.

      -- Verdigris

    2. OK, that visual made me laugh Thank you
      Mike Morrow

    3. So would Putin - at the thought. =)

  24. Love the post Jim. Thanks.

    Sometimes, though, the comments make me wish for the FB "Like" button.

    1. Or (and I never ever thought I'd say this)...Disqus...

  25. Again, you say in great words what it would take me weeks to say, fumbling around with almost the right words. Thanks for your insight.

    Ally House/xenatuba, struggling with google accounts...

  26. Nothing worse, in my opinion, than the bloviators who beat the drums of war and instill fear in those unable to understand the only intent of said hot air machines is to win political office and continue to advocate for the capitalist, take money away from the people crowd.

  27. Great piece!!! It is so scary that Palin could have been a heart beat away from being President!

  28. Apparently we aren't dependent on it at the moment, but have been in the past -- the Northern Supply Route. Recall a while back when we somehow mis-identified a Pakistani border checkpoint as Taliban or something, and killed a few Pakistani troops? Our main supply route, through Pakistan, to our troops in Afghanistan was cut off, leaving only the Northern Supply Route, through... yup, RUSSIA.
    Could get awkward if tit-for-tat over sanctions gets out of hand.

    1. Excellent point! Interdependency is the surest path to mutual accomodation. Thus, a measure of equality is preserved, even if that equality is a part of the MAD (mutually assured destruction) philosophy of the Cold War. But do any reasonable beings really want to go back there? I do not think so. Unfortunately, the unhinged few have overcome the complacency and often outright ignorance of the many throughout history.

  29. Exactly who are we suppose to NUKE - Ukraine? Crimea? Moscow? If the US is not feared maybe it is because we keep invading countries.

    The CPAC would support Satan himself over President Obama and would trip over themselves being the best and most supportive of the devil.

    1. Bomb, bomb, bomb;
      Bomb, bomb Vietnam;
      Bomb, bomb Iraq;
      Bomb, bomb Iran;
      Bomb, bomb North Korea;
      Bomb, bomb Syria;
      Bomb, bomb Libya;
      Bomb, bomb Crimea;
      Bomb, bomb [fill in the blank].

      When your only tool is a hammer, and you are bereft of intellect . . .

  30. Reminds me of "Washer at the Ford", a sci-fi story by Michael E. Flynn. A nano-machine is developed that can reverse the effects of radiation at the cellular level, but the employees of the company that develops it have different priorities; the Japanese co-worker wants to make it infectious (jump from person to person) and freely available to the public, another wants to shelve all the research because it would make nuclear war less lethal (people wouldn't die of radiation, but the environment and all that it entails wouldn't be protected), and the principal owner wants to make money off of it.

    In the end, --START SPOILER-- they develop two different nanomachines; one that protects you from radiation and is infectious, and another that's spread out among the ruling classes that specifically prevented you from acquiring the immunity nanomachine. Starting a nuclear war would wipe out the governing class, but leave most of the population alive. --END SPOILER--

  31. I heard that comment the other day and got the same hair-on-the-back-of-the-neck feeling that was set off by the alert siren at The Rock back in the mid-80s. Creepy.

    This, on the other hand, is inspired:
    If the rest of the world isn’t utterly terrified that America has a political system that just might allow a spiteful unhinged dimwitted fanatic whose most complex thought could fit into a Tweet with room left over within range of The Button, if the world isn’t afraid of that, well, then it damned well should be.

    I hope to never hear that siren again - the shrieky one, either.

    Thanks, Jim - excellent post.

  32. From a foreigner point of view, if we don't fear the USA, it's also because we're too busy wondering if all these loonies are serious (which in itself is both hilarious and very sad) or if they are the most elaborate joke the USA will pull in the whole history of humankind (I'm kind of hoping for that one).

    We're also busy wondering why these crazy imbeciles find it so easy to talk about sending nuclear bombs to far away countries which happen to be closer and closer neighbours to us. How about they play nuclear war in their own garden for once, see how they like the idea of it happening close to home.

    In any case, thank you Mr Wright for, as usual, being the voice of reason, and accessorily my most (and only these days) reliable news giver over what's happening in the US of A.

  33. Yet again, Bravo!
    Every speaker at CPAC was scarier than the one immediately preceding. Even so, they seemed almost sane when compared to what was coming out of the Breitbart gathering.
    I am hoping that there will be a time, not so far in the future, when students in an Abnormal Psych. class read about this period in American history as a demonstration of aberrant thought. My opinion is that much of the fear and rage are triggered because this country is on the cusp of a real step forward and lots of people, most vocally the children of the Greatest Generation (it seems), are deathly afraid of that change. The president and former SoS Clinton seem to be the most visible targets because the two of them embody that forward movement.
    doesn't matter, I guess, because the whole lot of them are delusional, meretricious, or garden-variety hypocrites in unfortunate positions of power and visibility.

  34. We respect those who are generous to a fault, kind of spirit, tolerant of heart, open of mind.

    How many Conservatives--especially the CPACkers--would *not* scratch their head and wonder who the f!k you mean by "we"? By and large, they see all of those traits as character flaws. And goodness knows, they're all about "character"...

    1. And there in lies the problem. I had an epiphany one day while driving my middle child to school while listening to an interview with then-POTUS G.W. Bush in which he said very candidly that if Iraq was a mistake, he couldn't ever admit that because then the troops wouldn't follow him anymore. I realized that these very public "leaders" were undermining everything I (and other parents) were trying to teach my kids: rationality, justice, kindness, humility, tolerance, etc. They were behaving as if hubris were a virtue and humility, a vice, regardless of their protestations about American virtue or personal beliefs.

      I admire President Obama immensely exactly because he does not indulge in emotional, knee-jerk responses to situations domestically or abroad in order to seem manly and decisive. I view his steady, rational, non-antagonistic, non-jingoistic, responses and his desire to have as much information as possible before issuing orders or offering opinions as a mark of true courage.

      I have to chuckle: Professor Dumbledore gave Neville Longbottom an award for courage, saying, "It takes courage to stand up to your enemies; and even more to stand up to your friends."

      I pray—seriously, I do—that the majority of Americans are not charmed by this bully-boy vision of an America that mistakes rationality for weakness and quaking terror for respect.

  35. It really has nothing to do with what becomes of the Crimea anyway. It's the latest edition of "whatever Obama does is wrong" and "whatever Obama doesn't do is wrong".

    Which of these yahoos would even want to go up against Mr. Putin, their new hero? And which of them would not soil their pants if it came to that?

    However, topless bear wrestling between Palin and Putin could be (much as I hate to say it) a new revenue stream for Fox Sports.

  36. Ah CPAC. They don't have an original thought amongst them and the wet themselves in adoration of anyone they perceive as "tough" Not a "Statesman " amongst them
    And you are correct, most could not find the area much less the exact spots on a map that represent Ukraine, or Crimea. Go further, who is the most remembered person from the Crimean War? They wont know
    Mike Morrow

    1. who is the most remembered person from the Crimean War?
      Florence Nighingale

    2. Let's try that again - Nightingale (missed the t first time)

    3. And the most remembered events of the Crimean war is a massive blunder:

      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.

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

      Cannon to right of them,
      Cannon to left of them,
      Cannon in front of them
        Volley'd and 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.

      Flash'd all their sabres bare,
      Flash'd as they turned 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 and Russian
      Reel'd from the sabre-stroke
      Shatter'd and sunder'd.
      Then they rode back, but not
      Not the six hundred.

      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 and 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.

      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!

  37. "Hell, I’m an American and the thought of these saber-rattling fanatics in control of the US military keeps me awake at night."

    For a brief half-second there, I somehow misread the word "fanatics" as "infants" - and that word also fits really well perhaps even better. There seems to be something just about toddler level with the ranting and raving of the far-right crazies and the "we can't get our way we'll nuke 'em" tantrum.

    I don't think these CPAC whackjobs will ever get elected and I think statements like these and how obviously unelectably extreme is exactly why that is. I do think most Americans know and are far better than the CPACers.

    "Perhaps, perhaps, the moral course of action here is to allow Crimea self determination and then respect their decision – whatever it may be."

    There often seems a clash when it comes to territorial borders versus regions wanting to be independent states in their own right or even join another nation rather than the one they are in. I'd love to see an official legal procedure for cases where a whole group inside one nation wish to leave that nation and make one of their own instead. Some sort of official policy of, I guess, the UN (though that 's one messed up and flawed organisation) which sets out the steps and oversees them to avoid carnage and minimise suffering on all sides.

    Something like the people of place X (eg. Tibet, West Papua, Crimea, etc ..) put in a petition to separate from nation Y then the international community sends peacekeepers in to ensure a free and fair referendum and all sides are made to campaign politically but not militarily, the referendum is held and decided peacefully and all sides abide by its results. Thus we see more nations break apart like England and Scotland or the Czech and Slovak republics not like Indonesia and East Timor or ex-Yugoslavia.

    It reminds me of this great quote from my favourite author Isaac Asimov :

    "“The Earth should not be cut up into hundreds of different sections, each inhabited by a self-defined segment of humanity that considers its own welfare and its own “national security” to be paramount above all other considerations. There are no nations! There is only humanity. And if we don’t come to understand that right soon, there will be no nations, because there will be no humanity.”
    - Isaac Asimov, Pages 419-421, ,‘ I Asimov : A memoir’, Bantam Books, 1995.

    PS. Anonymous March 11, 2014 at 5:16 PM & Kerry aka Trouble :

    Thanks for the question and answer there. I must admit I would have thought hard and tentatively suggested the leader of the charge of the Light Brigade, whose name I don't recall. Florence Nightingale was a Crimean war veteran? (quick Wikicheck later) Yep. Had forgotten that.

    @ Mike Rudolph : "topless bear wrestling between Palin and Putin could be (much as I hate to say it) a new revenue stream for Fox Sports."

    Yes - but it would be very short lived and probably leave the bear with a nasty taste in its mouth!

    1. One quibble: Many of the CPAC speakers and prominent attendees are currently or were former elected politicians. Some, indeed, use their CPAC speeches as a way to establish their bona fides as being batshit crazy *enough* for the not-obviously whacko section of their far-right wing (which keeps moving right and gets whackier).

    2. Jim, belatedly reading this. What I have not understood for 5 years is why the supposed centrists of the GOP have not stood up to these CPAC guys. While they must have noticed that most were not winning elections, they offered nothing to lead the country. And we invaded Iraq, certainly were not invited. Seems as though we are not feared OR respected there. Marilyn Ciucci

  38. Do you want to play a game?

  39. Why are we giving this skank air time? Why?

  40. Nick formerly from the O.C.March 12, 2014 at 2:58 PM

    Another inspired post.

    My wife pointed out that the seeds of current foreign policy (including the constraints) are always sown long before the current President takes office. Always.

  41. I've been thinking a lot about “authority” lately. The right moans about the breakdown of “authority” churches and governments and how the last 40 years have been one institutional disappointment after another. I think the insistence of believing in an authority figure and unshakeable tradition is a downfall. Change is inevitable. Power corrupts and when we forget we are a democracy and avoid engaging in the messy business of governing we get the government we deserve. It is time to grow up and meet our problems head on.

  42. Reading the bluster from the Wasilla Whacko and the other CPAC Crazies, I was immediately reminded, of all things, of a Bugs Bunny cartoon I hadn't seen in decades: "Ballot Box Bunny" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkYPOCNKyHY). I'd forgotten the ending which, in light of the inspiration for seeking out the video, seems eerily appropriate. (Not gonna spoil it -- it's worth the 7-and-a-half minutes to watch it!)

  43. Wonderfully written. Also, I now have Randy Newman's 'Political Science' stuck in my head. :)

  44. And I was running Tom Lehrer's lyric "So Long Mom, I off to drop the Bomb..." through my head...

    The Russians will do a LOT to retain reasonable access to the Med.
    But the Republicans, tea-baggers (and seriously, did they not think about that name before they chose it?), and the rest of the of the Right (I was going to limit that to "extreme right" but who can tell where that line lies anymore?) are stark raving bonkers if they think this is worth saber rattling over.

  45. My main problem is that, as I understand it, the referendum that was voted on in Crimea was of the "Have you stopped beating your wife?" variety, summarized on NPR as asking, Do you want to join Russia now? or would you rather wait a bit to join Russia?


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