Thursday, September 26, 2013

Piling On!

It’s fashionable these days to be dissing Obama.  He’s weak.  He’s naïve.  Obamacare sucks.  He’s not doing a good job on the economy.  We are not respected overseas.  Etc., etc.

A more balanced assessment would show that:

We haven’t used military force in Syria while other options were still available.

We have said we’d talk with the Iranians if there were a chance talk rather than going to war was a viable option.

Obamacare will make health care available to 25 million people who until now haven’t had any insurance.

Republican strategy is organized around the basic operating principle that stopping Obama from doing anything is more important that the welfare of this country or its people.

Obama can have an impact around the margins but without Congressional approval there can be no meaningful immigration reform or gun control legislation or government spending appropriations or debt limit increase, + + +.

Yes, his style and demeanor can be frustrating.  He hasn’t been communicating effectively.  But is it a mistake not to be rushed into meaningless wars?  Is it a sign of weakness to not want to engage in the politics-as-usual game?  Is it a lack of leadership to stand against the tide of negative polling when self-serving lobbyists are manipulating the people responding to these polls?  I don’t think so.

Honest criticism is appropriate and useful.  Piling on because others do it isn’t!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Chicken Little Time!

“The sky is falling!  The sky is falling!”

The Russians got the best of us.  Conned us.  Gulled us.  Not only the Russians, but especially that big, bad, bare-chested bully Putin.  He took advantage of our weak, vacillating, naïve President.

I have to think something is going right when the Wall Street Journal is apoplectic, Fox News is sputtering with rage, and the right-wing fulminators are fulminating 24/7.

Not only did the Russians take the lead in opening up the possibility that we might not have to bomb Syria to show that we mean business, Bad Vlad made fun of us in an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times.  He even questioned our exceptionalism mantra: God ordained that Americans are exceptional and the rest of you around the world better believe it – or else.  Shame on you, Putin.  Bad Vlad!

We have a new Axis of Evil – the triumvirate of Putin, Assad and Iran.  Watch out for those guys.  They’ll fool you and take advantage of your weakness.

Enough!  The sky isn’t falling.  Nobody won or lost yet, except the Syrian people who at least for now won’t be collateral damage.  The Tomahawk missiles are still sailing around the Mediterranean.  Who cares if the Russians get more credit than we do?

Take a break.  Take a deep breath – and do something really important – like telling those special people in your lives that you love them.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

San Francisco Fog

This is very cool.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

The Fog of War!

I regularly read a few columnists.  I might not agree with their opinions but I often learn something.  This is true, for example, of David Brooks.  So when it came time to dive into today’s Sunday Review in the New York Times I assumed Syria would dominate the columns and hoped I would be enlightened, since I’ve not yet decided what I think the U.S. should or should not do in Syria.

I was mindful (and amused) by what Sarah Palin recently had to say on the subject:  “So we’re bombing Syria because Syria is bombing Syria?  Let Allah sort it out.”  Give her credit – that wasn’t bad.  Maybe one of the Times pundits could do better.

Tom Friedman knows more about the Middle East than most and I’ve found him particularly useful in recent months.  Today he said:  “Spare me the lecture that America’s credibility is at stake here.  Really?  Sunnis and Shiites have been fighting since the 7th century over who is the rightful heir to the Prophet Muhammad’s spiritual and political leadership, and our credibility is on the line?  Really?  Their civilization has missed every big global trend – the religious Reformation, democratization, feminism and entrepreneurial and innovative capitalism – and our credibility is on the line?  I don’t think so.”

OK, good so far.  How about Nick Kristof, who I’d think would shy away from any kind of military action:  “Syria is today the world capital of human suffering . . . So while neither intervention nor paralysis is appealing, that’s pretty much the menu.  I favor a limited cruise missile strike against Syrian military targets (as well as the arming of moderate rebels). . . Syria will be bloody whatever we do.”

Maureen Dowd:  “As commander in chief, Obama knows that if he doesn’t punish Bashar al-Assad, America and his presidency will be forever reduced.  He thinks a limited strike – not a war, as some are calling it – is the right thing to do.

“But as Barry talked to the press in St. Petersburg, his lack of enthusiasm came across.  He was not thundering from the top of the moral ramparts.  He made his usual nuanced, lawyerly presentation, talking about the breach of international ‘norms.’  It’s a weak, wonk word.

“Norms don’t send people to the barricades.”

Frank Bruni, not usually a foreign policy maven, also chipped in:  “The stakes are huge.  Bomb Syria and there’s no telling how many innocent civilians will be killed; it will be the first chapter in an epic longer and bloodier than we bargained for . . . we’ll be pouring accelerant on a country and a region already ablaze.

“Don’t bomb Syria and there’s no guessing the lesson that the tyrants of the world will glean from our decision not to punish Bashar al-Assad for slaughtering his people on whatever scale he wishes and in whatever manner he sees fit. . . What will our inaction say about our morality, and about our mettle?”

Finally, Ross Douthat, the most conservative voice among regular Times columnists:  “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to a foreign policy fiasco.

“All along, it’s been clear that President Obama has nothing but bad options in Syria’s civil war.  Now, though, he’s found a way to put Congress in a similarly unfortunate position.  When the House and Senate vote on whether to authorize strikes on Bashar al-Assad, they’ll be choosing between two potentially disastrous paths: either endorse a quasi-war that many constituents oppose and that this White House seems incapable of justifying on the merits, or vote to basically finish off the current American president as a credible actor on the world stage.”

OK, so much for the pundits.  Did all that help you make up your mind?  Me either!

Wednesday, September 04, 2013


Congress will approve limited bombing strikes against Syria.  So Obama will get what he wants.  Will it make any difference insofar as the Syrian civil war is concerned?  No!

Internecine warfare within the Republican Party will continue at least through the 2016 election.  I wish both sides all the best.  Long may they battle!

During the next year the Senate will pass an immigration bill.  The House will not!

The Microsoft-Nokia alliance to compete in the mobile phone market will have little impact on Apple and Google’s dominance!

Speaking of Microsoft – getting rid of Ballmer won’t change their fortunes.  It’s too little too late!

Pre-season college football ‘experts’ say Alabama is far and away the best team.  They won’t be saying that when the season ends!

And regarding football across the pond:  I’d like to see Liverpool and Arsenal do well.  I predict Chelsea will win in England, Real Madrid in Spain and Juventus in Italy.  Best team in Europe?  Bayern Munich.  Bummer!

The Generals in Egypt will free Mubarak and jail Morsi.  They will continue to rule with an iron fist!

Jon Stewart is back and will pick up where he left off being excellent without missing a beat!

I don’t have any predictions or opinions about what will happen as “Breaking Bad” concludes its run.  Who will be left standing?  Walter?  Hank?  Jesse?  Skyler?  Whatever happens, I’ll miss them all when they’re gone!