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    • The End of the Rebels in the Ukraine and the Ukraine’s Future
      We’re down to street fighting in Donetsk.  The Russian leaders resigned in the last two weeks.  The rebels appear to be done, at least in terms of their conventional military phase (of course, I could be wrong depending on how much stomach Ukrainian troops have for house to house fighting).  It seems like that would [...]
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Well, Duh

What motivates Republicans?  Winning.  That’s all they care about.  They play to win.

You can never turn your back on them.

The 2012 election may have illustrated where their high water mark is.  They may never be able to capture the popular vote again in their lifetime.  But they managed to gerrymander the House so it makes little difference anyway.

And why do they want to win soooooo badly?  Why does anyone want to win?  It’s power and control.  When you win, no one can make you pay taxes.  That’s the gist of it.  It doesn’t really matter what happens to the rest of the country and all of the pitiful sob stories of downtrodden workers and students indentured for the rest of their lives.  They don’t need to care about that as long as they got what they spent all that money to achieve and that is control.  Control over their lives, completely unfettered from the responsibilities towards others.  That is worth a small fortune.

So, the NYTimes seems a little baffled as to why the Democrats waited so long before explicitly spelling out what the sequester was going to mean to state and local governments.  The NYTimes is surprised that the Democrats underestimated and misunderstood the Republicans- again:

The White House released warningsfor every state on Sunday in the hope that angry voters would besiege Republican lawmakers like Mr. McConnell and the House speaker, John Boehner, to stop the $85 billion in cuts, known as a sequester. President Obama wants to replace the sequester with a mix of tax increases on the rich and less damaging spending reductions. Republicans say they won’t consider any proposal that isn’t all cuts, so the sequester is all but certain to begin this week.

The White House strategy on the sequester was built around a familiar miscalculation about Republicans. It assumed that, in the end, they would be reasonable and negotiate a realistic alternative to indiscriminate cuts. Because the reductions hurt defense programs long held sacrosanct by Republicans, the White House thought it had leverage that would reduce the damage to the domestic programs favored by Democrats.

It turns out, though, that the defense hawks in the party are outnumbered. More Republicans seem to care about reducing spending at all costs, and the prospect of damaging vital government programs does not seem to bother them. “Fiscal questions trump defense in a way they never would have after 9/11,” Representative Tom Cole, a Republican of Oklahoma, told The Times. “But the war in Iraq is over. Troops are coming home from Afghanistan, and we want to secure the cuts.”

[...]

The White House should have released these kinds of details months ago, when there was more time to make a strong case to the public against these cuts. Instead, administration officials failed to discuss the consequences, fearing political blame while confidently predicting the Republicans would cave. The result of that miscalculation — and of the Republican disdain for the health of the economy and those who depend on government services — will become clearer in just a few days.

Ok, hold the phone for a sec.  Isn’t it the mainstream press that is always encouraging, cajoling, mocking, screaming, insisting that the Democrats “compromise” in some mysterious “bipartisan” fashion with the Republicans??  Why is the NYTimes surprised that the Republicans insist on nothing but cuts?  Why is that a shock at all to the paper of record?  Hasn’t it been reading its own news?  This is what Republicans do.

Republicans have made no secret about the fact that they want to cut their way out of any kind of shackles to the rest of the country.  It’s been staring us in the face for decades now.

So, now they are going to force the president to cut.  Duh.

And he’s going to do it.  Because he’s not as smart as all the 25 year old male Democratic activist assholes thought he was.  Oh, sure, he’s academic smart, sort of, but he’s not politically smart.  He’s no Bill Clinton.

Oh, THAT’S right.  We’re not supposed to like politically gifted people.  I mean, why would we need a politician as president? That’s so 20th century.

And sure the public is going to get all mad and stuff at the cuts.  But they’re not going to get mad at Republicans.  Noooo, they’re going to get mad at Democrats.  They’re going to get mad because there’s a Democratic president in the White House and the Senate is controlled by Democrats.  The Republicans only own the House.  Even the dullest Joey Bagodonuts out there can freaking count.

But Republicans are going to step it up even more.  Yeah, they’re not stupid.  They’re going to let go of their resistance to marriage equality.  Of course they are.  That’s a no-brainer.  Sure their base is foaming at the mouth, offensively homophobic.  But their base is dying.  They only used their base so they could engineer as much power as they could in the form of the gerrymander.  They don’t need them now.

How does that make you feel, you so-called Christians?  How does it make you feel that you’ve compromised every Christian virtue and become the intolerant, vicious, judgmental, mean spirited, ugly people that the Republicans goaded you to become only to be discarded when the Republicans realized that you were a drag on them?

And now that they’ve embraced marriage equality for gay couples, that’s just going to highlight the problems that the Democrats have with women.  And they DO have a problem.  It’s massive.  Why do you think Hillary Clinton is still popular in spite of all efforts by the party (and it’s her own party that’s doing it) to crush her?  It’s because women are desperate for some kind of rational human being with ovaries to stand up for them.  So, we can confidently predict that the next candidate for the Democrats is going to be female.  But unless she’s Hillary, who already resisted the siren song of the financier class only to be publicly humiliated by them in 2008, the female Democratic candidate is going to be compromised by them.  We’ll probably end up with some Kathleen Sebellius type who will continue to act like the presidency is some student council position where the status quo prevails and rocking the boat is not allowed.

I don’t even want to think about what is going to happen next year when the ACA kicks in and a whole new class of people are pissed off about what a mess healthcare reform is without cost controls.  Not only that but I believe the the McKinsey report about employers using it as an excuse to lay people off.  In fact, just signing the law was an excuse to lay people off far enough in advance so that there will be no obvious correlation when workers are hired back as contractors responsible for their own damn healthcare.  It’s a corporate shareholder’s wet dream to go “weightless”.  How conveeeeenient that it all happens during an election year and Fox News is not dead yet.

This is what you get when you put a bunch of 25 year old male activists in charge of the party and have them enthralled to the Machiavellian power brokers and Republican carpetbagging financier donors of that party.  You get a president who doesn’t have a clue about how to play even one dimensional chess against the Republicans during the worst economic crisis in 80 years.

Thanks for nothing, guys.

Danger, Elizabeth Warren!

Here’s how Elizabeth Warren started her Senate career yesterday:

Now, I think these are good questions and she elicited some very uncomfortable responses.  Any of us could have asked those questions because we want to know.  Why are only ordinary people prosecuted and persecuted with the government playing the role of Javert ruining people’s lives for what may be minor infractions, like drug abuse or petty theft, while the bankers get away with murder?

The problem is I think her own party is setting her up.  That’s not to say she shouldn’t be doing what she’s doing.  This is the kind of stuff we, the average citizens, like to see.  But because she is so prominent, right out of the gate, and such a threat to the right wing AND to the Democrats’ campaign warchests, she’s going to be put out there with enough rope to hang herself.

It’s hard for me to see exactly what angle Rush Limbaugh and the Glenn Beck types are going to use to neutralize her because there’s really nothing wrong with her line of questioning.  But I guarantee that she will become the next target of ridicule and misogyny before very long.  Both parties’ leadership want her out of the way.  They’ll do a Franken on her.

I hope she’s ready and that there are enough of us out here to push back the tide of nastiness headed her way.

Or at least that Paul Krugman can spare some time from his exhausting job tilting at windmills to put in a good word for her.

By the way, if banks are too big to fail or prosecute then the answer to our problems seems to be pretty simple- break them up first.  Voile!  We could prosecute them to our heart’s content.

*********************************

Matt Taibbi has a review of Neil Barofsky’s book Bailout.  Taibbi focuses on the political gamesmanship and back stabbing aspect of Barofsky’s book while  I was shocked by the sheer amount of money we allowed the banks to have access to without any oversight.  Anyway, it’s all connected with what is about to fall down on Elizabeth Warren.

It’s the best $9.99 you’ll spend at Amazon this month (for the Kindle edition).

Why did liberals vote for Obama again?

Just curious because they seem to be very whhhiiiiiny lately about what he’s doing.

I feel very parental right now.  If they don’t like the mess they’ve gotten themselves into, they should remember that a year ago, they had a choice to do something about it.  They could have threatened Obama and his minions.  They could have mentioned Hillary Clinton as a possible replacement.  They could have mended fences with some of the people they pissed off in 2008 so that we could all present a united front. All they needed to do was think strategically.

Not my fault they can’t get into an ivy league school don’t like the way the second Obama administration is going now.

What I do find very fascinating and disturbing is that the Republicans now feel safe adopting a “more moderate” Republican message.  They have decided that the Tea Partiers are too frightening to the kiddies so they need to tone it down.  But the new message sounds almost exactly like the Obama administration message of the last 4 years.  That is, there is a consensus that the deficit must be cut and that it will be accomplished via spending cuts to popular programs while preserving most of the GOPs sacred cows.

This could have some significant impacts on future elections.  If Republicans and Democrats now look almost identical, how can you tell the difference between them?  If the strategy of letting the crazy right wingers hang by their own ropes worked so well in 2012, how can you get it to work in 2014 if the wingers start moderating their tone?  The only way the Democrats could *possibly* win is by going left and cracking open a new vat of New Deal type policies.  And that’s not likely to happen because they’re chickens.  That’s right, they’re scared silly that someone will call them liberals like that’s a bad thing.  And you can’t expect Obama to move left.  He’s quite comfortable where he is.

So, what was the reason the Democrats didn’t try to get rid of him and put someone else in his place or at least threaten him?  Beats me.  I don’t think everyone in Congress is jumping to the plutocrats’ tune but they sure aren’t doing themselves any favors right now.  Hey, maybe Democrats could stop trying to knife each other and do their homework, think strategically and present a united front.

****************************

The last time an explosive convergence of meteorological events occurred over my house, it caused about $50 billion in damages to the region.  I hope this Nor’easter/Winter storm/Blizzard thingy isn’t as bad as the weathermen are saying but I am so happy to have a generator in case it is.  Thanks again, guys!

Maybe this would be a good weekend to head west…

This kitchen is going to need a loooooot of paint.

This kitchen is going to need a loooooot of paint.

Pathetic

Digby gives the old tired excuses on why she and so many other left leaning bloggers turned their backs on women during the 2008 election.  It wasn’t *their* fault.  Hillary just brought out the misogyny.  Plus, you know, like, there wasn’t a hair’s breadth of difference between them.

The whole post is just lame but the excuse that there wasn’t a bit of difference between Obama and Clinton is incredibly easy to shoot down:

1.) If there wasn’t any difference between them, why was such a tsunami of money thrown his way in February 2008 after she beat him in the big state primaries on SuperTuesday?  Apparently, SOMEBODY thought there was a difference.

2.) If there was no difference, why wouldn’t you go with the person who had the most relevant and comprehensive experience overall?  If you were worried about getting things done, wouldn’t it make sense to go with the candidate who might have a clue and be able to hit the ground running on the first day?

3.) If there was no difference, why wouldn’t you go with the female historic candidate who would represent more people overall including voters in the other camp?  It was even a winning formula among african americans because half of them are women.  I never understood this argument that african americans would walk away from the party if Clinton was nominated.  At the worst, I could see half of them walking away.  The other half would be thrilled with either choice.

And let’s not even get into the real, tangible differences between the candidates.  I can’t take seriously all the lefties who are screaming “neoliberal!” at Clinton.  If Clinton is neoliberal, what does that make Obama?  It’s a lot like the brain dead tea partiers who insist, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, that Obama is a socialist.  Note that Clinton has said over and over and OVER again in the past 4 years that she does not comment on domestic politics.  So, we have no idea how much she agrees with Obama on all the weak policy he’s driven in the past 4 years.  We can only assume that they agree on foreign policy.

But I suspect the bankers *did* know how much of a difference there was between Clinton and Obama back in 2008.  The real estate bubble was already clearly collapsing in early 2007 according to authors such as Michael Lewis of The Big Short.  They knew that the degree to which they would personally suffer was contingent on which candidate was nominated.  And the last thing they wanted was some kind of homeowner bailout.  How do we know that?  Because the last thing homeowners got in the last 4 years was a bailout.  The people who got bailed out were the bankers and ONLY the bankers.  They did not want to see Hillary Clinton implementing a HOLC style program where principals were crammed down and mortgages restructured.  I haven’t got time to track down all of the videos of Clinton on the early morning talk  shows from September 2008 where she discussed her HOLC proposal but there were at least 3 separate appearances. (readers?  can you track them down and add them to the comments?)  Of course, by the time she gave those interviews, she was already out of the picture.

Update: Commenter Rangoon found this op/ed piece by Hillary Rodham Clinton in the September 25, 2008 issue of the Wall Street Journal, laying out the argument for why it was so important to implement a HOLC program.  Regardless of one’s vague personal feelings about Clinton, there is a very good possibility that she wasn’t kidding about this policy.  Policy was her strong suit.  She did her homework.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that it was this particular policy more than any other that doomed her presidential career.  She knew it was coming, the banks knew it was coming and they didn’t want rehab.  They wanted an enabler.

She also gave an incredibly forceful defense of abortion shortly after she was confirmed as secretary of state.  You will never in a million years see or hear Barack Obama defending abortion like this:

No difference, Digby?  The issue of abortion and women’s reproductive rights are extremely important to you and yet there’s no difference?  How about gay rights, Digby?  Can you imagine Hillary Clinton inviting Rick Warren to her inaugural?  The same Hillary Clinton who ordered the State department to equalize the treatment of gay State department employees and their families as far as the law would go?

But, Ok, we’ll never really know, although I think given her record at State, Benghazi notwithstanding, that she would have been an exemplary president.  Let’s put that aside for now.  I don’t think she’s ever going to run again.  Why should she?  She doesn’t have the advantage of 2008 when all of the auspices were in her favor.  In 2016, it will be a different America and she’s smart enough to know this.  I’d rather she get her own column in the Washington Post or the New York Times.

Let’s talk about the suggestion that Hillary Clinton brought out the misogyny in the media and the parties.  Wow, I guess we could do nothing about that except become passive observers, right?  I guess we couldn’t threaten the party to walk away from it and their candidate if they didn’t stop using misogyny to further their chosen candidate’s goals.  I guess it would have been silly to point out that gratuitously taking advantage of that misogyny might backfire on women in general.

Ok, we know that our side had a fair share of cowards who were either unable or unwilling to speak up and defend a woman.  They would have defended a female candidate, just not this female candidate.  Well, it’s a good thing it was only one female candidate in 2008.

Except that Sarah Palin got it too.  Now, I don’t care whether you like or dislike Palin.  I don’t like her even if I thought she had a lot more political talent than the left gave her credit for.  For some bizarre, freakish reason, the left still hasn’t let up after 4 years of bashing her.  The left still seems to think she’s relevant even if she’s not.  That kind of obsession is pathological if you ask me.  There must be a reason for the persistence of the Emmanuel Goldstein treatment of Palin.  She’s useful for a good, unifying 3 minute hate, right?  That’s why the left just can’t quit her.  But she’s been useful for years to the Democrats.

With Palin, we saw the same kind of misogyny pick up where it left off with Clinton.  So, clearly, it wasn’t just Clinton that was bringing out the misogyny.  Misogyny became a convenient bludgeon because it worked so well taking out the candidate on the left so it was employed to take out the candidate on the right as well.  And who was one of the leaders of that club?

Digby.

Yep, day after day, week after week, we read how stupid Palin was, what a disgrace her family was right there in the posts of Hullabaloo.  Digby piled on with the rest of the left.

You can say a lot of negative things about Palin.  Justifiably.  You can attack her political philosophy, her conservatism, her opportunism.  All of that makes sense.  But the attacks on her in 2008 were horribly misogynistic.  Remember the effigies?  Remember the “Sarah Palin is a Cunt” T-shirts?  Remember the jokes about Caribou Barbie and the photoshopped pics of Palin in a bikini holding an assault rifle?  Remember the big fucking deal that Katie Couric made over the fact that Palin didn’t have an immediate list of national newspapers in her head that she read cover to cover before breakfast while she took on her responsibilities of running a state?  She should have asked Couric, “How many state budgets have you prepared in a year?”, because that would have been a good question for feminists.  She was a governor who got to be governor without family connections.  That’s something that Katie Couric hasn’t done.  That’s how feminism is supposed to work, Digby.  You are supposed to credit women for their accomplishments, not bury them with your stereotypes.

Whatever you think of Palin, dehumanizing her in 2008 was misogynism like I have never seen.

That’s what misogyny is.  It is the intentional dehumanization of females.  It denies women their personhood, dignity and accomplishments.  It’s belittling and relies on stereotypes, like the idea that a pretty woman must be a light weight or that women need to develop executive experience while men are born with natural authority.  And in 2008, it wasn’t the case that only Hillary Clinton brought it out.  Misogyny was used as an intentional campaign tactic just like rape is used in some countries as an act of terror and political strategy.  Just as the accusations of racism were used to shut up the supporters of Clinton in 2008.

Digby, YOU were part of that.  You decided to not buck your team’s leadership.  If you said anything, it wasn’t forceful enough to get them to stop.  You didn’t stick up for your half of humanity.  Even if you were right that it is Clinton personally that brings out the worst in people, that was no excuse for giving those people a pass to behave as badly as they did. Isn’t that like blaming the victim and don’t misogynists make an art form of blaming the victim?  You had an opportunity to stand up and make a difference even if it meant incurring the wrath and shunning from people who you thought were your friends.  To do nothing was to tacitly admit that Barack Obama could not win without using misogyny and racism.  What does that say about the candidate?  It said enough to me that I could never support him in a million years.

What kind of friends use misogyny to get their guy in at any cost, especially if that cost will have significant repercussions for half of the people living in this country?  Those people were not your friends, Digby.  They were financier class driven political operatives who would have killed their own mothers to get what they wanted from this president.

And this president is no hero when it comes to championing the rights of the socially disadvantaged. He’s certainly no Martin Luther King who famously said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

I don’t know why so many people on the left abandoned women and thought they were doing everyone a favor.  Or maybe they were so driven to elect Obama that the ends justified the means.  I’ve never found that sentiment to be very rewarding.  If fighting the misogyny had meant that Clinton had a fighting chance for the nomination, would that have been so horrible?  After all, NY, NJ, PA, OH, TX, MA, FL, MI, WV, KY, RI, NH, NV, MO, NM and CA (this list not exhaustive) voted for her in the primaries.  It’s only in a parallel universe where we would consider that candidate a failure against a guy who won a bunch of rural, prairie states with cheap, undemocratic caucuses.  I suspect the country would have embraced her and a Clinton/Obama ticket with her in the top slot would have been unbeatable even before the September crash.

But that’s not what happened, is it, Digby?

Don’t look to misogyny against Clinton as the cause.  Look at it as the method.  The bad guys got what they wanted. They got the weakest nominee and president.  If women got caught in that fight and got taken out, fuck’em.

THAT’S what you and your buddies were either too stupid or too complicit to realize.  It’s human nature to want to find a way downplay the effect of “follow the herd” mentality or cowardice or to find excuses (you should at least make an attempt at logic) or distance oneself from the fallout.  I understand that impulse.  We are all guilty of that in some aspect of our lives or others.

But ultimately, we are responsible for the effect of our decisions.  In 2013, women are feeling the effect of the 2008 election when the people who should have put their foot down on the brake hit the accelerator instead.  Digby can lie to herself about what happened in 2008 but she can’t lie to us.

*************************

Note to commenters: Sarah Palin has been talked to death here on this blog and there are filters in place to send all comments containing her name, or variations of it, directly to the moderation queue.  Please don’t tell me about how unfair the left has been to Sarah Palin.  There are very good, non misogynistic reasons for loathing her.  She might be worthy of human dignity but she’s no Hillary Clinton.  If you’re in her corner, you’re wasting your time here.

Whoo-hoo! Go, Hawaii!

Hawaii lost both of its senators in the last couple of months.  Senator Akaka is retiring and Senator Inouye, who was a senator when I was living there as a child, recently died at the age of 88.  He spent something like 5 decades in the senate.  Amazing.

But do you know what is even more amazing?  In January 2013, Hawaii may be sending not one but *two* women to replace these two senators.  Mazie Hirono is already scheduled to replace Akaka.  And Colleen Hanabusa was Senator Inouye’s preferred replacement for his seat.  She has yet to be appointed by Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii’s Democratic governor but we shall see.

Stop me if this is old news.  I don’t watch cable TV and news of Inouye’s replacement has been scarce.

So that would take us up to how many women in the senate?  Have we cracked 20 yet?

It’s progress.  I’ll take what I can get.

One other note.  Of the Congressional delegation from Hawaii, both Hirono and Hanabusa are Buddhists, first and possibly second ever in the Senate, and the new representative from the second district, Tulsi Gabbard, is a Hindu.

Hillary Falls on her Sword

She takes responsibility for Benghazi:

“I take responsibility,” she said in an interview with CNN. “I want to avoid some kind of political gotcha.”

Well, alright then.  Make of that what you will.*

She has also spent the last week laying out the reasoning behind the recent diplomatic decisions and missions to the middle east. (Probably hoping that Obama will “get it” before the debate tonight)  I’m not surprised.  It’s her legendary third ball talking and she’s a loyal Democrat.  It’s likely that she wanted to soften the blow of Benghazi on Obama this evening at tonight’s debate since Republicans seem to be heading for that train wreck full speed.

And as Secretary of State, it is ultimately her responsibility.  There was a failure somewhere and she needs to do a Cause Map and a Kazein Event and make corrections.  It might be the case that there are others responsible as well, like Congress or Defense or Obama’s national security apparatus.  And we can’t let the Libyans off the hook here.  There are some elements in Libya who are determined to be flaming fundamentalist jerks who could very easily derail the rebuilding process.  And dealing with fundamentalists of any religion is pretty close to impossible.  They’re not rational people.  So, we can’t rule out the possibility that the film that caused so much turmoil in the middle east was a deliberate inflammatory event.  And who is responsible for THAT?

There’s no question in my mind that the Republicans were prepared to take full advantage of Benghazi as a way to peel some voters away from Obama.  By the way, I am not aware of any team membership for the PUMAs.  We only joke about having a welcome package.  As far as I know, the PUMA thing lost its mojo after the 2008 election with many of the liberal ones relegated to observer status.  We didn’t lose our minds and become birthers or Tea Partiers or Palin loving authoritarian whip kissers.  We’re just here trying to talk some sense into the rest of the party.  We gave it our best shot to try to convince them to drop Obama before it was too late.  Have you seen the polls lately??  I guess it’s possible for Obama to win this but it’s going to be a nail biter and he didn’t do himself any favors in the last debate.

There are still a lot of people out there who are pissed as hell at the Democrats for dumping Hillary and sticking them with a lightweight who only ended up making their lives more difficult and futures more uncertain.  Yep, they are not going to let the Democrats off the hook.  In retrospect, sucking up to the donors while thinking that throwing Lilly Ledbetter at the base they ditched was going to keep them down on the farm was a pretty fricking stupid idea.  It’s so stupid that it could only be dreamed up by the “culture of smartness” that has invaded Wall Street and the White House.  It’s the kind of atmosphere that assumes that if you didn’t get your degree from Princeton or Harvard, you’re instantly dumber than a box of rocks and can’t think yourself out of a paper bag.  They think they can exploit what they perceive as ignorance and asymmetric information and you’ll just go along with it because you have nowhere else to go.

That’s not a winning strategy.

See, those people the party blew off in 2008?  They still have votes.  Lots of them.  It’s simple A-R-I-T-H-M-E-T-I-C.  They call the donors the 1% for a reason.

So, Obama goes into this debate as the underdog.  Hillary is taking the fall.  Obama looks like, “Wha? We didn’t know anything about Benghazi.  That’s Hillary’s thing.  See? She even said so herself.”  Then the Republicans have to say, “How conveeeeenient for you to have such a dedicated Secretary of State.  {{flattery, flattery}}  She’s pretty strong.  What a man to step up and take the blame!”

That could be game, set, match if Obama has no decent comeback.  He’s going to have to fake some bonafide Democratic credentials to get himself out of this one.  Too bad we can’t unsee what we’ve seen in the past four years and prior debate.  Even if he manages to come up with a reasonable response, who is going to believe him?

Like I said, I don’t have a dog in this fight anymore.  I can’t stand Republicans and my former party has been aerosolized.  Occasionally, we get a sniff of something Democratic in the air from Biden or Elizabeth Warren or Bill Clinton but the people in charge of the party sure don’t smell like Democrats and they don’t hang together like Democrats should with a sparkling top note, substantial drydown and long lasting sillage.

Anyway, bring on the debate!  I want to see which party praises Hillary more effusively.  It should be very revealing in so many ways.

*Sounds a bit disgusted at having to save Obama’s bacon again while she’s busily trying to keep things calm around the world.

Oh, Brother

The bro comes home.  (yeah, yeah, I know it’s Fox but in this rare case, it happens to be accurate. The footage has not been digitally retouched):

Check it out here.

Cool.

**********************************

Some of the comments I’m reading are encouraging readers to jump on the “Let’s pin the Benghazi disaster on Obama right before the election!” bandwagon.  Nah gunna do it.  Here’s why:

1.) It has been our policy here at The Confluence since 2008 to not propagate either party’s memes or propaganda.

2.) In this case, it would be disrespectful of the four embassy staff who died there to cynically use their deaths as a way to score political points.  I’d rather keep the investigation free of electoral politics.  There *is* a story there and people should be held accountable if they neglectfully or knowingly ignored warnings that put these people in danger but we must weigh this against the diplomatic mission and the current events and developing situation in Libya.  That will require a thoughtful investigation so that the State department and the CIA benefit from learning what went wrong and who spilled the beans, etc.  It will NOT benefit from a cynical election year ploy to undermine the State department and foreign policy in order to disgrace Obama.  Let him take himself down, he seems to be doing a pretty good job of it without any assistance.

3.) Hillary Clinton is a big girl.  Yes, she is.  This is her job.  Let her do it.  If she gets called to Capital Hill to testify, she can handle it.  The Republicans have inadvertently screwed themselves here.  She’s a seasoned veteran of cynical, hypocritical, politically motivated investigations.  I hope they won’t call her up before the investigation is complete but even if the House Republicans rush her, I feel confident that she will do her homework and do the best that she can.  Let’s not undermine her mojo by trying to protect her.  We overcome sexism and misogynism by taking on challenges and rising to the occasion.

4.) We let Bush get away with a lot of really nasty s%^&.  He started an unnecessary war in Iraq based on lies, he and his party drained the Treasury to reward their contractor cronies, they increased the deficit, refused to “cut and run” (it doesn’t get more cynical than THAT phrase) and the whole fiasco has destabilized part of asia and cost thousands of military servicepeople their lives and limbs.  If you weren’t upset by all that by demanding accountability from Cheney and Bush but you’re getting your knickers in a twist over Benghazi, then you have your priorities seriously messed up.  You need to do some soul searching.

The foreign policy debate is coming up between Romney and Obama and I suspect that much will be made of Benghazi.  Or not.  I think this could backfire on the Republicans because there is a way for Obama and the Democrats to go on the offensive here that might win them back a bunch of Clintonistas.  It would require Obama to fake passion about something.  And that’s the problem.  He’s not a passionate guy and he doesn’t appear to believe in much of anything so any attempt at passion will look forced.  I dunno, maybe one of the debate prep team members will slap him around and knock some sense into him.  We’ll see.  But if they’ve been paying attention, they will know what to do.  This could be the Republicans third rail if they’re not careful.

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