Craw-Stuck By Netanyahu Visit

Not awestruck, but craw, as in “stuck in my….”

netanyahuJudging from my personal Facebook page, there is a loudly enthusiastic minority of Americans who have whipped themselves into feverish, Dervish-like fervor over the visit of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his address to Congress. Not coincidentally, I noticed a flush of fawning articles on fly-by-night propaganda sites with names like–well, I’m not going to give them a single direct click to grab hits, but they’ve all got jingoistic titles and make references to “patriotism” early and often.  The kind of shit sites the links to which your brother-in-law keeps forwarding you, unsolicited.

All share a glowing reverence for Mr. Netanyahu in the vein of “now THIS is a REAL leader,” leaving us little to wonder about who is not a “real” leader, in their eyes.*  Many feature photos of this fellow in his youthful incarnation as a soldier–the word “badass,” one of my favorite modifiers, is bandied about shamelessly, an echo of the awed salivating over Jordan’s King Abdullah which followed that bold leader’s justifiably furious response to the ISIS execution by immolation of Jordanian pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh.  No small irony there.

For all I know, Mr. Netanyahu is indeed a badass.  He’s certainly a savvy politician, as his recent, controversial visit to Congress has proven.  There’s an election coming up in a few weeks in Israel, something most articles about this visit fail to mention, but you can be damned sure the Israeli leader’s timing was carefully calculated.  There’s no doubt that flying across the sea to give his country’s patron nation the what for has played well with the Likud hardliners back in Tel Aviv. He’s doing his job and doing it well.

It takes a special kind of leader to spit in the eye of the hand that feeds you.  Aside from Afganistan, which is largely an American puppet state, Israel tops the list of foreign aid recipients by a considerable margin (the next being Iraq, yet another nation we pounded into dust).  We pay a great number of nations to either favor us over our enemies or to not be our enemies themselves, but we pay Israel just to be our friend.
Foreign Aid

Indeed, I must admit that I am honestly impressed by the weight of his balls, for lack of a better metaphor, although the crassness seems fitting in the context of a foreign leader who visited our country, stood before our leadership, and proceeded to lecture us on history, critique our diplomacy, dictate to us what our foreign policy should be, and directly insult the intelligence of a sitting President.  To put this chart in perspective, the $3.1 billion per year given to Israel annually could be spent alternatively by providing over $200,000 to EVERY one of the nearly 15,000 school districts in the USA. (More if leave out Wisconsin, whose governor says they already spend too much on education.)

Again, this isn’t about Netanyahu. He’s accomplishing his agenda willfully and effectively.  I can’t say the same for the Congressional Toads who kowtowed to him for no other reason than to agitate the Executive Branch.  If it were the leader of any other nation I’d feel the same way.  Hell, it pisses me off when that old Irish turd Bono finds his way to DC to lecture our leaders: you may be right, but it’s not for you to say so butt the hell out.

bull mooseNow, before you get all huffy and finger-pointy and start calling me bad words like “liberal,” let me tell you that you would be wrong. I’m about as non-partisan as you can imagine.  The only political party I fit into fell into history when Charles Evans Hughes lost the Presidential election to Woodrow Wilson in 1916.

I don’t trust Iran any more than Netanyahu does, but I don’t trust Israel either.  Why should I?  They have their own agenda, and despite their reliance on American tax dollars, they’ve never been shy about doing what they feel they need to do, regardless of it’s effect on us.

That doesn’t mean that I have to accept a foreign leader–ANY foreign leader–coming to Washington DC to loudly and disrespectfully shame and bully our government.  It is fine for me to do that, but I’m an American. It’s my yard, my dog can shit wherever it wants–but your dog..? No way.  And for the sake of argument, imagine if Democrats brought in French President Francois Hollande to give our Congress a piece of his mind!  Or Germany’s Angela Merkel?  The outrage would be thicker than Newt Gingrich’s iron hide.

John Boehner :: JamesonThe most shame goes to John Boehner, (my auto-correct desperately wants me to change that name to “Boner” and I’m just juvenile enough that sooner or later I’m going to do it) for being complicit to Netanyahu’s political stunt and inviting this outsider to raise his voice in what, by all accounts, is a family fight.  And shame on the media for reporting on the hissy fits and posturing while ignoring the finer details of this whole business–but then, if they can’t reduce it to a 90 second bit then they’d rather ignore it all together.

There has been precious little to respect about the Democrats lately, but I’m with them on this one.  And that sticks in my craw just as much as all the the rest of it.

 *The USA had a bona fide, decorated soldier who enlisted then volunteered for exceptionally hazardous duty, and was a documented killer as a potential President not all that long ago, but his service was slandered and his record largely disregarded by the same partisans who fetishsize Netanyahu, so the argument carries little weight.



John Boehner & His Executive Order Fetish

This post isn’t about my politics, mind you, but I do want to get my biases out front–I’m worse than a Liberal, I’m a Rational.  The closest analog I’ve been able to find is Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose Party, but that’s hardly a good fit.  You haven’t heard of us yet, much, but you will.  We are legion–and I’ll tell you all about it in another post.

Injun John BoehnerThat said, this started out as our third edition of Dumb Ass of The Week, but the more I wrote the more I realized that in order to accommodate Mr. Weepy Tanning Bed himself, Speaker of the House John Boehner, we would have to stretch the meaning of the term “Dumb Ass” to include “Ass Hats” and “Assholes.”  Then there would be the inevitable outcry from the “Ass Clowns,” demanding inclusion,  but we have to draw a line somewhere. So, as Boehner is clearly more of the “Ass Hat” variety, we’re giving the award to a more bizarrely cracked sumbitch, and that’s okay.  He’ll understand.

It’s important to note that Mr. Boehner wouldn’t have earned this award by himself, and should share it with the cabal of hardline Randian teabaggers and Fox news paint huffers who now drive the Republican Party, as well as those weak-spined opportunists who capitulate to the extremists and abandon their moral and intellectual capacities in order to court the teabag vote.

The thing is, Boehner knows better.  He’s smart, and he used to be an effect legislator, but no longer.  He fears the powerful extremist right and covets their contributions to his war chest.  What got him on the list is the absurdly wasteful and divisive lawsuit that the Speaker has begun, cagily timed to provide angry talking points for conservative candidates in the upcoming elections.  How much money will be spent, how much time?  What will the cost be of one more political stunt aimed to widen the rift between the two major, useless parties?

But what about these horrible EXECUTIVE ORDERS?  (That’s a link with some fascinating info regarding them–check it out in another tab.)  You’ll learn more than this:

Executive Order

A presidential policy directive that implements or interprets a federal statute, a constitutional provision, or a treaty.

The president’s power to issue executive orders comes from Congress and the U.S. Constitution. Executive orders differ from presidential proclamations, which are used largely for ceremonial and honorary purposes, such as declaring National Newspaper Carrier Appreciation Day.

Executive orders do not require congressional approval. Thus, the president can use them to set policy while avoiding public debate and opposition. Presidents have used executive orders to direct a range of activities, including establishing migratory bird refuges; putting Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II; discharging civilian government employees who had been disloyal, following World War II; enlarging national forests; prohibiting racial discrimination in housing; pardoning Vietnam War draft evaders; giving federal workers the right to bargain collectively; keeping the federal workplace drug free; and sending U.S. troops to Bosnia.

That’s the gist of it.  Executive Orders were included as part of the original establishment of our government, and the first President to issue one of these orders was George Washington himself.  In the intervening years they have been used by every President, including President Barack Obama’s predecessor,  President George W. Bush.  And how many of these evil, supposedly illegal manuevers did Bush perpetrate?  One?  Two?  Ten?  Twenty?

Ha.  In his first term, Dubya Bush signed 173 executive orders, compared to Obama’s 143.  In Bush’s second term, he was less aggressive, signing a mere 118 orders, while Obama is (through July 20) clocking in at a modest 36.

My point is not that Bush’s actions were even more egregious than Obama’s, but that this is how it works.  Presidents do this all the time–always have–and in while those numbers seem high, Obama and Bush both clock in as relatively restrained practitioners of the Executive Order.  Crazed liberals like Richard Nixon and Dwight Eisenhower averaged considerably more Executive Orders, and let’s not even talk about Truman and Roosevelt.  Ronald Reagan pulled the trigger 381 times over two years, and milquetoast Gerald Ford managed an astound 176 in little more than a year in office.  The scoundrel.

Let’s see the lawsuit expanded to throw Bush in there as a co-defendent.  Or Reagan’s gristly corpse.

What lets me feel good about trashing Boehner is that he knows this.  He has to.  I managed to educate myself on this subject in about 40 minutes, counting the time it took to go grab a glass of water and a handfull of Fritos.  I’m wagering that the Speaker of The United States House of Representatives might know a little more than I do about how the law works, of course maybe he doesn’t.

The thing is: he doesn’t care. Every Republican looking at an election this fall will face a plethora of rheumy-eyed mouth-breathing self-educated constitutional experts who demand to know what those candidates are doing about impeaching “Barack Hussein Obama,” as they love to say.  Forget that most of them don’t actually understand what the word “impeachment” means, let alone the process behind it–they want action.  With this lawsuit, the candidates will be able to say, “Look Mr. Cletus, we’re suing the closet Kenyan-In-Chief” and then they’ll all be friends.  Secondly, as less imperatively, the republicans are using this bull to raise funds–“help us win!”  Of course, the Democrats are pulling in just as much scratch–millions and millions.  What sucks about this is that millions and millions of dollars of government money will be spent prosecuting this case–and that’s the real kicker.

*As an afterthought, each time I mention Boehner’s name I’m compelled to point out that every spell-checking software I use, on every device, begs me to correct his name to “Boner.”  Could be the machine revolution won’t be as bad as Terminator and The Matrix led us to expect.



The Guv’mint Shutdown, Maureen Dowd, and Zombie Washington

First off, the disclaimer: it is my intention to steer clear of politics as much as possible.  My personal platform lies well outside the standard corruptions of the 2-party system, and nobody really cares what I think, anyway.  But enough is enough.  My friend Amy sent me a link to a must-read Maureen Dowd column, just when I thought Dowd had lost all relevance.  You ought to read it.  Kudos, Maureen.

Ted Cruz was born in Canada, and his father was a communist soldier in Castro’s takeover of Cuba? Fascinating–it seems Teddy might be over-compensating a little–who thought this was all about some blowhard’s Daddy Issues? Nevertheless, I find neither party’s platform and actions satisfactory, but let’s be honest here, Boehner needs to get his house in order. Maybe this is the moment the 2-party system should be put out of it’s misery, now that the right has adopted the “I’m taking my ball and going home” philosophy of governance. Let the Tea Party whackjobs be the Tea Party (and tell ’em to stop giving misanthropes such a bad name), the mainstream Republicans can dust off that photo of Dwight Eisenhower and get back to business with a couple different factions of Democrats, one of which won’t be overpopulated with timid sissies. The next round of elections should be really interesting. If only we could follow Dowd’s analogy and reanimate Tip O’Neill. He’d get this crap straightened out in time for cocktail hour.