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You know, I had to do it once. I had to involve myself in at least one or two strange political diatribes with some bizarre foreigners and document the whole thing so as to chew it around and taste it.

I had to.

The whole thing started with a map of the US, and my Indian-born, African raised, English-accented roommate asked me which parts of the ‘States had the fewest “natch-rul disasters.”

To be fair, we had been discussing Tornados and Hurricanes, so I guess that’s the premise for a question that implies some great fear of our bizarre landscape.

So I pulled up Google Earth and started showing him how the really safe spots were right in the middle, north of Tornado alley and west of the New Madrid fault line. You know, Montana, the Dakota’s, Iowa, Minnesota and so forth. The boring shit.

He asked about the Rockies and the various other geographic hotspots. We zipped over to Africa, where he showed me Malawi, his home for most of his life. He’d been born in India, but the native tongue of former British colonial Malawi was English, British-flavored, which accounted for this bizarre mixture.

We spoke of geopolitical issues at the moment and the conversation landed somewhere familiar, Iran. Iran is a subject that arises almost instantly with any foreign student as an American taking various courses on government and politics. It is, for the Russian, German, Austrian, Indian, British, Serbian, Czech, Turkish, Pakistani and Spanish students, THE issue to prod any nearby American with.

When issues of the current Presidential election, or America as a foreign existence arises, they always ask some version of the same question:

“Is President Obama going to bomb Iran, and if so, what the hell, man?”
Usually it’s more broken, with heavier accents and the one atypical word that gives away their grasp of the language. And usually they say it with light in their eyes and with a little fire in their lungs, like they’re addressing a crowd of fervent supporters.

An Austrian economics student down the hall asked me the same thing, —in his own way — while we chain-smoked in the rain under our little concrete outcropping. He spoke of it like a certainty.

“And what is happening when you fight Iran? What is going to be consequence of that?”

“A complete fucking nightmare,” I said. “But don’t worry, Obama won’t do it, he isn’t completely incapable of reason.”

He laughed and turned, nudging me with his elbow and only half kidding as he says, “Ahhh, come on. You guys always fighting someone, and someone will need that oil, right? Valuable resources always will start war.”

I took a drag and laughed. He knew the oil argument was silly, he’d said so, himself twenty minutes before. He was a serious student of world economics, and he knew that most American oil came from Canada, and that Iran had to sell the stuff as much as anyone needed to buy it, and that it was going to hurt them not to sell it more than us not to buy it.

But he was serious in his tone about war, and I understood why. It hit me in a real way that Iran wasn’t exactly scary to me. St. Louis is 6,700 miles from Tehran, and the Iranians can’t hit me with an Intercontinental Ballistic Anything at that distance. Their technology hasn’t evolved to the level of global strikes.

But Vienna is barely 2,000 miles from Iran, the geopolitical equivalent of “across that pond and behind the tree.” Iran could do all kinds of damage in this part of the world by sheer proximity to its madness. Wounded animals, rabies-infested wild things, do plenty of damage just flailing about — it doesn’t have to be trying to hurt you in order to do it.

And that’s why everybody talked about it, like they’d be able to hear the gunfire down the street if we started a fight in their proverbial backyard.

I appreciated, for a moment, the wonderful comforting feeling of the two very large oceans separating me from the majority of violent organized enemy militaries. We have an incredible fortune, as Americans. With no major economic or military threat in North or South America to contend with, the United States effectively exists on an island, the most defensible natural position in the world.

Combined with our unsettling global-nuclear-strike capability, we essentially have established the safest sovereign nation in the history of mankind. A friend, just returning home from a 3-year stint stationed in South Korea, once told me about the sheer scale of our nuclear power.

“We literally have enough active nuclear subs in the water to level every major city on the planet a few times over,” she said this, laughing over a beer and a half-eaten roll. She looked up at the sky for a minute, like someone fighting the urge to laugh instead of throw themselves in front of t a bus. “It’s comforting, you know? I mean, it’s comforting as long as you don’t think about how many subs the Chinese, or the Russians or the Israeli’s must have, swimming around down there.”

“It’s amazing they don’t bump into each other,” I said gloomily.

“They will, eventually. That’s when it’ll stop being comforting.” She finished her beer and smiled. It was a hollow smile.

And yet, despite our world-wide-web of nuclear payloads, we still spend half our days acting like strung-out, coke-sniffing mosh-pit types leaving some raving underground punk concert at dawn, drunk on paranoia and sniffing around for a scuffle.

I never got worried about the nightmare scenario, because it doesn’t really exist anymore. Sure, Russia could nuke us back into oblivion, but we’d kill them with a massive, dying swipe of our nuclear paw before tumbling into the blackness. We’d wreck the whole place, nuclear winter and savage nightmares of a globe without any future.

But that scenario is gone. Russia doesn’t want to obliterate mankind because of some argument over Karl Marx that everybody would just rather forget about. Sure, they don’t like us, but we don’t like them either, and it’s all kind of about avoiding the kid at the party that we don’t enjoy.

With Kim Jong Il dead and his regime crumbling, his missiles with them, we can’t get all freaked out over the most dangerous peninsula in the world anymore.

The only real fear is some freaked-out religious radical with a big suitcase filled with awful stuff smuggled out of the old Soviet Union twenty years ago and rigged up by some East German car maker with glue and shipped to the highest bidder.

And we’re back to Iran. Iran, getting nuclear, and the people who live on their street have a bigger problem, because Iran doesn’t HAVE to get nuclear to mess with their worlds.

American Accidentalism, I like to call it: the unintended consequences of completely benign and occasionally benevolent actions. Totally separate from our tangible, obvious failures and crimes, this is the stuff we’ll never really notice unless we try.

It’s the difference between understanding why Japan might not be totally peachy-keen with us (hint: it starts with lots of burning American ships and ends with a mushroom cloud) and understanding why the 22-year-old Austrian economics student thinks America should reign in its “spread of military bases near the Black Sea.”

He doesn’t find America suspicious or potentially dangerous because he thinks we might wander into his country, plant a flag and pick a fight. He worries about us because he thinks we’ll blunder into the house across the street, accidentally set it on fire and then flee the scene of the crime in sheer terror, hoping his house doesn’t burn down too.


Without Reagan The Republican Presidential Race Is Bound for Turmoil———-Why Conservatives Can’t Win in 2012 Without a New Party Face like Reagan——–The Sad, Awful Story of the GOP Field As It Stumbles Fourth

An election is coming.  Universal peace is declared, and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry    ~George Eliot

For people like me, hopelessly addicted to the theater of politics and of course the grandest stage of all, the presidential race, it is hard to ignore the typical headlines from the desperate GOP race. I didn’t blink when Gingrich announced, because it was typically devious and wonderful. Gingrich has the muscle and the mind to be a major contender for the title (the nomination, for the nerds). Of course, he has to get past himself. And the man is a blundering, blithering gaffer on levels of Joe Biden magnitude. So instead of staying quiet, doing the rounds at whiskey-gentry fundraisers and backwater Texan donar-a-thons at $1,000-per plate, he’s decided to ruin his slim credibility to the current power structure.

In barely seven days, he practically sided with Obama on individual healthcare mandates, insulted the Republican can to slash medicare and reportedly short-sheeted Paul Ryan’s bed in his DC residence (reports are conflicting. Some have reported that Gingrich was seen leaving the Ryan residence at high speeds, carrying spray-paint and gasoline canisters. Authorities are searching for a bobble-headed man in a dark trench coat driving recklessly out of Virgina in an unmarked van.)

Hard copy publications of merit report his donors are bailing and his bridges are burned with the critical Tea Party 20% (trademark pending).

My suggestion to any and all remaining candidates: be insane. I mean that in the most level-headed way possible. Dutifully insane. Carefully insane. President Obama is an incumbent president with rising approval ratings. You’ll need crazy to win. To put in perspective, here is a list of incumbents beaten since 1900, and those that beat them:

Taft–lost to Wilson
Hoover–lost to Roosevelt
Carter–lost to Reagan 
Bush Srlost to Clinton

The simple truth, that incumbents are damned hard to beat unless you happen to be an anomaly, or you’ve got a scandal on your side. If you’re a voter hoping to watch Obama leaving sooner than not, you’re praying for either the incarnation of R.R., or for a white mistress to approach the Times or the WSJ and say that she, for years, has been doinking the Commander-in-Chief. And even then, you’d need hard proof.

Most liberals already know this. All it would take to derail the Obama Express is a white woman. Despite the racial catharsis his election may or may not have represented, plenty of people below the Mason-Dixon simply won’t tolerate that kind of behavior, especially from a man that good-ol fashioned white folks have to call ‘sir.’

But that is beyond the point. And I didn’t mean to get so lost in that nonsense. I meant to talk more about the rest of the field. Like Mitt Romney, the smiling former Governor of Massachusetts. Plastic Man. He can’t be real, because he looks too much like the man you’d hire to portray the president in a made-for-t.v. movie on the Sunday before the election.

WOW. Moving on. Mitt Romney is too ‘liberal’ to win the nomination and the field is too devoid of any astonishing charisma (or retired actors) to win the election on sheer force of personality. Ron Paul is, bless his heart, probably the most intellectually qualified. Paul tested the waters with his dangerously principled and unwavering Libertarian views with normal conservatives just last week on FOX News first Republican Presidential debate.

When asked about his views on gay marriage and whether he favored legislation in favor or opposition, Paul danced nicely into a careful condemnation in the federal government that comforted the crowd.

“I don’t support any legislation that outlaws gay marriage on the federal, national, level. Because these are things the federal government shouldn’t even be legislating. This is for the states only. We can’t impose values… values might not be yours…..the Fed can’t legislate values.”

And the crowd loved it. Imagine, a Republican advocating AGAINST forcing moral values on others and AGAINST allowing the Fed to legislate morality. But, Paul was dancing with the careful hypocrisy with two groups ultimately voting the same way. Family Values Conservatives and Anti-federalists.

Half the conservative population would gladly see the Fed grow and grow. These are the ones that yawned through eight years of George Bush emptying the bank int he form of wars, tax cuts and generally negligent behavior. It’s ok to spend, so long as it’s righteous, god-commanded, patriotic-type spending.

The other half are serious about loosening the power and scope of federal power. Usually, it takes nothing more than the mutual contempt of liberals that keeps them voting together. But if Paul has any real shot of getting people to look past his dwarfish demeanor, his hawkish little eyes, his determined, rounded head, he needs to unite the two sides. Paul reminds one of a stern teacher. He is edgy, surprised by his popularity. If only he could ad-lib.

But this isn’t the point. The point is that the field is so wide open, any crazy-person should dive right in, if not for the simple entertainment. Trump won’t be the clown this year, so who? If I were any Republican politician, be it Mayor or stumpville or congressmen or Senator, I’d be forming a committee and raising money.

Either that, or find out if there are any skeletons in No-Drama Obama’s closet.


No photos, no long diatribes. I’ll be brief. The GOP has already failed its voters, and this is from someone that votes Democrat and makes jokes about Christ.

The point is they’ve already fucked things up. They could have made a fool of Obama. A jobs bill as the number one piece of legislation that could be rammed through by sheer force of anti-Obama will through the House would have been golden.

But no, they went on the moral ground. They figure (rightly, I’m sure, to my great disgust) that the electorate will get all fire-and-brimstone when Boehner weeps those crocodile tears and goes on about “repeal and replace.” The GOP is more worried about Obamacare than creating jobs.

And this is where the real villany starts. You see, passing a jobs bill would be good for America, and bad for Republicans. Because when the new numbers came in, and America went back to work, a good White House spin doctor would notch that as a win.

You can almost hear the Press Secratary weezing on:

“The President is proud of this legislation, that was bipartisan supported and written by both sides of the aisle, which has helped to boost the economy.”

Yep, big ol O would go down as a President that created jobs with a feriocously hostile Congress. Re-election would be a gimme.

So no, keep the nation in shambles. Republicans are leaning on bitterness to win it for them in 2012. Go after abortions. Like Don Quixote chasing his stupid windmills, the republicans will win a few moral victories and get all fired-up for Church fundraisers in Nowhere, Mississippi that’ll bring in the bucks for some morally-righteous man.

That’s the gameplan, boys and girls, and it’s a good one. Keep the public distracted. Get them angry about PBS and their damned liberal bias.

Interestingly, the GOP is exploting the same “government needs to stay out of my health care,” people to fuck with a woman’s right to abort. Yes, apparently the “big government intrusion” doesn’t protect liberal women of exploring their pregnancy options.

Hypocrisy, ladies and gents. That’s the issue. NO BIG GOVERNMENT, unless it can stop some morally-bankrupt freaks from doing things that fall nicely into my own world view.

No regulations, but keep drugs illegal. No reckless spending, unless we are bombing some brown people to the tune of several billion a day.

Don’t stand for it. I don’t give a good bloody hell who you vote for, but don’t stand for this shit. Your intelligence is being insulted by this kind of boldfaced contempt for decency or reason. Do something. Write a Senator. March in a protest. Call voters. Anything. Anything.