Monday, June 27, 2011

Obama Channels Nixon

28 June 2011

by Jeff Huber

Richard Nixon’s “peace with honor” has evolved into Barack Obama’s “responsible conclusion.” 

Candidate Richard Nixon promised in 1968 that if elected president, he would end the war in Vietnam.  In 1972, President Nixon, campaigning for reelection, assured the nation that “peace is at hand.”  

"We've ended our
combat mission in
In 1973, Congress passed the War Power Resolution to check the ability of presidents to commit the United States to war without approval of the legislature.  Nixon’s veto of the Resolution was overridden by a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate. 

On 9 August 1974, Nixon resigned from the presidency to escape impeachment for obstruction of justice and violations of his Constitutional constraints related to the Watergate affair. 

On 23 April 1975, in a speech at Tulane University, President Gerald Ford declared that the war in Vietnam was “finished as far as America is concerned.”   

On 30 April 1975, newly installed South Vietnamese President Duong Van Minh surrendered to the North, seven years after Candidate Nixon promised to end the war and after 116 years of continuous war in that country.

The most toxic denizens of our polluted information environment are calling to have Obama impeached over his illegal war in Libya.  John V. Walsh, one of the paleo-hooligan at The American Conservative (one of my former gigs), recently called for Obama’s ouster on the basis that his disregard of the Constitution is in stark contrast to the understanding of and devotion to that document displayed by Tea Bag Barbie Palin and her adoring idolaters.  One of the wags at Gordon Liddy’s beloved Washington Times (to wit: Eugene G. Windchy) wails that we’re “in a constitutional crisis” because of the way Obama is stiff-arming the War Powers Resolution, the law that, ironically, Dick Cheney and other leading neocons argue is unconstitutional because it hinders presidents from encroaching on the legislature’s exclusive Constitutional prerogative to declare war. It’s funny how you didn’t hear Windchy or anybody else at the Washington Times puling about any constitutional crises when Big Dick was in the saddle.      

As distasteful as I find the agenda of the political right, I’m inclined to sympathize with their desire to rein in the totalitarian tenor of Obama’s reign, but impeach the guy?  Come on.  Not even Denny Kucinich has a serious notion of doing such a thing.  In the age of the New American Centurions, we don’t impeach presidents for taking us into illegal wars.  These days we only impeach presidents for their inability to keep their orbs and scepters in their pants.

We’ve been in a constitution crisis since 1950 when Harry Truman committed us to a full-blown war in Korea that ended in a negotiated tie with a foe that still flares up on us like a wicked case of facial herpes.  The constitutional crisis Obama has created is just another twig on the pyre of our republic.  And after the Bush and Cheney administration flushed shame and irony and truth and accountability and the bill of rights all the way to the Congressional Cafeteria, who will ever impeach anyone for anything ever again? 

Nor is it likely we’ll ever be able to vote the warmongers out of office.  If you’re not sharing a pillow with the war profits machine you don’t get elected.  Remember all that yak from candidate Obama about 16 months and we’re out of Iraq?  It isn’t happening.  Did you hear the yak from President Obama the other night about how he’s going to draw us down from the Bananastans?  That prevarication had barely left his mouth before King David Petraeus was telling the little war correspondents embedded up his rump about how, well, he’d go along with it, but it wasn’t the way he’d like things done, no sir, if Obama was listening to his generals he’d be drawing down a darn sight slower, that’s what, so when we lose in the Bananastans it won’t be King David’s fault, no sir, it will be on Obama’s head. 

It wasn't long after King David’s press ploy that Obama started this standard shuffling retreat, and Admiral Mike Mullen, the military’s top bull feather merchant, announced that generals Obama was giving commanders “wide latitude” to execute the president's “broad timelines.”  What were those broad timelines?  In Obama-speak: "Starting next month, we will be able to remove 10,000 of our troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year."  What in the wide world of sports, arts and sciences is that supposed to mean?  I want to screen the video of that speech in slo-mo so I can see Obama’s tongue flicking in and out.  Donuts will get you dollars that by the end of this year, we’ll have replaced 10,000 uniformed cooks and bed makers with civilian contractors provided by KBR and Blackwater, and we’ll assign extra emergency medical technicians to our combat brigades there and re-designate them as “volunteer fire brigades,” wink, wink, nudge, nudge.      
Take us to your leader.

Obama has fed us another bowl of pet plop and told us it’s chocolate ice cream, but that’s not going to keep him from being reelected.  The only way South Side Slick won’t serve another term is if extra terrestrials reveal themselves to us and tell us that Obama not only wasn’t born in America, he wasn’t born on earth, and then produce the certified original copy of his Martian birth certificate to prove it. 

Support the troops.
The only way I see the public start demanding that we extract ourselves from what even Uncle Bob Gates admits are “wars of choice” (he’s “wary” of them now that he’s all but ensured that they never end) is if prominent political and media figures start stating in unvarnished patois that the likes of Obama and Gates and Mullen and Petraeus are using our troops as pawns, not to preserve our nation but to preserve the military-industrial complex that President Dwight Eisenhower warned us would acquire “unwarranted influence” over government policy if we allowed it to. 

Lamentably, the chances of someone prominent enough to matter exercising that kind of moral courage are profoundly slimmer than the odds that the little green men will step out of the shadows. 

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) is author of the critically lauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon on America’s rise to global dominance.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Daily Daoist Diary, June 25 2011

I'll write a glowing tribute to Clarence Clemons the second Wayne Shorter becomes a household name.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Obama’s Hypocrisy and Other High Crimes

June 21, 2011

by Jeff Huber

“Let me be perfectly clear: I have taught the Constitution, I understand the Constitution, and I will obey the Constitution when I am President of the United States."

--Senator Barack Obama, Feb. 26, 2008

Irony, sentenced the death penalty and executed by lethal bull roar injections during the Bush/Cheney regime, continues to claw at its coffin lid. 

The XJE2020 "Liberator"
Young Mr. Obama set a new benchmark in self-satirizing political posturing when he said in a speech last Thursday that he was copacetic about negotiating with the Taliban as long as they “renounce violence and accept the Afghan Constitution.”  This eclipsed even the pot-and-kettle hypocrisy we witnessed when young Mr. Bush used to admonish lesser tinhorns for not obeying the “rule of law.”

Obama’s embrace of violence has been so stark I suspect that most of us are too numb to fully comprehend it.  Bush was the first president to drive the country off a cliff in two optional and unwinnable wars.  Obama has embarked us on yet a third imperial snipe hunt, and he’s done so in a way that makes Bush’s contempt for the Constitution seem as venial as snitching a couple of extra cookies from the jar. 

Obama doesn’t want Congress to have any say so on whether or not he can commit forces to hostilities beyond 60 days as required of him by the War Powers Act of 1973, so he had some of the lawyers who work for him tell him the War Powers Act doesn't apply to Libya since all we're doing that's hostile, per se, is bombing some stuff with them predator drones so our troops aren’t subject to enemy fire.

By that benchmark, the destruction of Nagasaki and Hiroshima and Dresden in World War II, long after Japanese and German air defenses had been destroyed, didn’t amount to hostilities wither.  If tomorrow we decide to level Iran or Yemen or whatever other little country we’re displeased with at the moment with intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles, that won't amount to hostilities either. 

Blowing a fistful of Muslim wedding chapels to kibbles with cruise missiles launched from naval combatants at sea doesn't amount to hostilities any more.  When the Air Force brings its gizmologically supercalifrag Prompt Global Strike on line, presidents like Bombardier Barry will be able to make smithereens out of third world Palookavilles worldwide within an hour of pushing a button on his iPad, sort of the same way he signed the extension of the Patriot Act a few weeks ago and that won’t constitute hostilities.  When the Navy gets its cockamamie UCAS aka Unmanned Combat Air System aka “killer drones,” presidents like Chicago Slim can order aircraft carrier strikes on the south side of Tripoli and kill all the civilians they want to and it won’t count as hostilities.  And when the Army and Marines get their combat robots with cool names like “Swords” and “Warrior X700,” presidents like Barack “I won’t be like George W. Bush” Obama will be able to invade and occupy whole countries and even regions and that won’t constitute hostilities either.

It’s disconcerting to reflect that you bought the chump “change” slogan when you voted for Obama.  It’s even more cognitively disturbing to accept that your choice in 2012 will be between him and a staunch ally of Tea Bag Barbie.  But neither of those perceptive horrors holds a candle to the appalling realization that you agree wholeheartedly with something that came from the mouth of House Speaker Bill Boehner.  Of the administrations claim that our gun-barrel polka in Libya doesn’t amount to hostilities, Pumpkin said, “it doesn't pass the straight-face test."

No, it doesn't.  And yet it is with a straight face that Team O tells us why the boss rejected the advice of two top Pentagon and Justice Department lawyers when he decided to blow of Congress and its silly little concerns about the War Powers Act and separation of powers.  As the administration’s spin physicians told Charlie Savage of the New York Times to tell us, Mr. Obama decided instead to follow the advice of the White House counsel that said our activities fell short of hostilities, and that under normal circumstances the White House counsel’s interpretation of the law (Savage’s words, my italics) is legally binding on the executive branch.

The  top secret amendment to the Constitution that transfers judicial power from the judicial branch to the White House counsel must be the same amendment that allows FBI agents to ignore the Bill of Rights if, in their considered opinion, violating the first ten unclassified amendments is sanctioned by the broad guidelines of their bosses in the Justice Department.

Lord John Acton was divinely correct when he said that absolute power corrupts absolutely; he conspicuously did not add a codicil that said power only corrupts Republicans.  Obama’s extra-constitutional hijinks overreach even those of Richard Nixon.  Nixon was hounded out of office, in part because of a vibrant, healthy free press that duly performed its function as a fourth estate guarantor of our laws and freedoms.  That free press is now the Big Brother Broadcasting System.  Content-wise, the mainstream media and the rabid right tabloid outlets are virtually inseparable.  

I never imagined I’d look back on the Nixon era and think Those were the good old days.  

P.S.  The recent un-sourced announcements about Obama moving closer to ending the Bananastan bungle is exactly the same pre-election trick Dick Nixon pulled regarding Vietnam, not once but twice.  

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) is author of the critically lauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon on America’s rise to global dominance.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Obama's Law of Armed Conflict

June 14, 2011

by Jeff Huber

If young Mr. Obama is a representative example, the point of being a constitutional scholar is not knowing how adhere to the document but how to get away with using it to wipe your plenary keister.

Obama (left) and constitutional law
mentor Professor Lawrence Tribe
What makes Obama a “constitutional scholar” is that he studied constitutional law under some rooting, tooting, high-faluting constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School and he also taught the subject at the University of Chicago Law School.  I’m not sure if teaching a subject at the graduate level makes you a scholar in it.  All but about four of the faculty at the Naval War College didn’t know attrition from maneuver or their Clausewitz from their elbows or their Sun Tzu from a hole in the ground. 

Whether Obama is a legitimate expert on the Constitution or not, it’s become palpable that when it comes to making moral, ethical and legal decisions, he follows the example set by young Mr. Bush: rather than go through the troublesome chore of exercising his own judgment and moral conscience on weighty issues concerning the fate of his nation, Obama hired a herd of highly educated halfwits to tell him that whatever he wants to do is legal and ethical, and probably non-carcinogenic and low fat to boot.  (In a post-regime interview with NBC morning fop Matt Lauer, Bush said he thought water boarding was legal "because the lawyer said it was legal.”)

Eric Holder and the rest of the attorneys general conjuring legal positions favoring Obama’s tsarist policies make Bush era Svengali John Yoo seem like a decent human being in comparison.  Obama administration foreign policy wonks like Suzy Rice are neocons in Democrat's clothing.  As our ambassador to the UN, Suzy makes John Bolton look in retrospect like a blustering peace poofter.  And Obama’s top military advisers look exactly like Bush’s top military advisers because they’re the exact same herd of four-star hooligans. 

Boy George had the grace to let Congress rubber stamp them wars in Iraq and the Bananastans with a couple of them Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMFs).  Bush no doubt thought them two wars was legal ‘cause Congress said they was, and heck, Congress makes the dadburned laws so they ought to know what’s legal and what ain't, shouldn’t they?  Kid Obama hasn't even offered Congress a reach-around on his Libya deal. 

When our “days not weeks” commitment to Operation Odyssey Loser went screaming past the two month marker, Denny Kucinich and others did their best banshee impersonations about how Obama was in violation of the War Powers Act of 1973 because he’d exceeded the sixty day limit for committing U.S. troops to combat without a Simon Says from Congress. But the legislators behind the check and balance issues are just going through the motions and they know it.
Boehner, Graham,
McCain and Lieberman
say we should do
more in Libya.

Bad Bill Boehner shoved a “rebuke” of Obama through the House that amounts to a rap across the knuckles with a Nerf ruler.  Boehner’s resolution demands that the White House answer questions about the goals of the military campaign in Libya.  That’s probably because despite his resolution, Boehner is, along with his fellow Golden Girls of War in the Senate—John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman—in favor of continued if not escalated fighting in Libya, and he’s no doubt desperately searching for a plausible argument to justify his position. 

The warmongering ménage of McCain, Graham and Lieberman actually disagree on Libya: not over whether to escalate the fight there, but on how to do it.  Goober Graham wants to “cut the head of the snake off” (oh, Goobs, you little mongoose you) by bombing Ghadaffi’s strongholds.  Senator Ex-Prisoner of War wants to beef up the rebel forces so they can win the battle on the ground.  Joe Bag-o’-Bullroar says we’re only a “foot and a half” engaged and would like to see us plunge both feet firmly into our latest Manic Misadventure in Quicksand Land.

But even the Three Senate Sisters can’t toil-and-trouble up a real reason for fighting the war in Libya.  Oh, they toss around the “regime change” rubric faster than FOX News can fling a straw man, but circumcising the sovereignty from tinhorn heads of state like Khadafi is a means, not an end.  What real objective do we have in ousting Khadafi?  There are no weapons of mass destruction, there are no ties to 9/11 or al Qaeda and there’s no pressing humanitarian situation in Libya that doesn’t exist in Egypt or Syria or Somalia or dozens of other third world hornet holes that we aren’t engaged in militarily.  The reason nobody is coming forth with an “explanation” of what we’re doing in Libya is that they can’t.  Even Carl Rove can’t pull a bluster this big out of his hat.  What, we’re going to say we’re enforcing a no-fly zone over there so they can’t enforce a no-fly zone over here? 

So our leaders are motivated to circumvent our core founding document for the sake of the dope deals within dope deals they’ve cut with the Saudis and the Israelis and the military industrial complex and our Maker only knows what other malignant monkey shiners.

But whatever's going on, you can kiss the notion of the Constitution being a “living document” farewell.  It’s dropped dead away; it's as dead as irony, shame and integrity. 

Oh, happy Flag Day.  And support the troops, huh?

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) is author of the critically lauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon on America’s rise to global dominance.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

For Whom the Mission Creeps in Libya

June 7, 2011

By Jeff Huber

“Nobody wants to sit on the bench.”

-- Los Angeles Angels pitcher Bobby Wilson

One of the big Sunday stories was about how British and French attack helicopters deployed on amphibious ships have joined the fight in Libya.  Unnamed information warriors told Simon Denyer of the Washington Post to tell us that the helicopters give “NATO he ability to strike military targets in built-up areas with more precision than fast-moving, high-flying warplanes.”  

Attack helicopters:
Libyan chicks dig 'em.
That may be true in some cases.  Say, for example, you want to hover over a street for hours and blow off any human head that happens to stick out a door or window. Helicopters do that pretty well, as we’ve seen so graphically in Iraq.  In their first few days of Libyan operations, however, the Brit Apaches and French Tigers and Gazelles (adorable nicknames, huh?) targeted military vehicles, military command buildings, a radar installation and a checkpoint, all targets that can be struck with precision by laser and Satellite guided bombs dropped from fixed-wing aircraft flying well above the maximum altitudes of the sorts of tactical anti-aircraft weapons that typically chew helicopters into bite-sized morsels. 

So why are the helicopters involved?

Warriors, like athletes, don't like sitting on the bench come game day.  Like it or not, that’s a desirable and even admirable trait for military personnel to have.  We don’t want a big, expensive force of Sgt. Bilkos who, once a war breaks out, will move heaven and earth and their floating crap game to stay out of it.  There’s even a legitimate goal in utilizing an armed conflict, however minor, to “blood” as much of your force as you can get in on the action.  It is, when you get right down to it, a waste of perfectly good mayhem if you don't.  This is especially true of naval and air forces that, given the paucity of credible navies or air defenses among the have-nots we like to go to war with, offer little risk of suffering embarrassing levels of unsightly friendly casualties. 

But England and France didn’t send their amphibious helicopters to war because the helicopter crews and sailors wanted to fight.  The Euros need a justification to keep spending outrageous amounts of money on their naval air forces.  And if they don’t use their naval air strike forces in a war that just happens to be happening in the Mediterranean Sea where all the NATO members’ naval forces can get to, and that happens to involve doing air strikes on a country with a big coast along the Med, then why do they have naval air strike forces in the first place?  Come to think of it, why is there still a NATO two decades after the Evil Empire it was formed to oppose did a Humpty Dumpty off the Berlin Wall?  

Our lose-lose Libya lunacy is about preserving the Long War for as long as possible.  Yeah, there's a keep Russia's mitts off Libya's oil factor and a certain amount of doing the Bush family Saudi pals' bidding, but our play war in Africa has so little to do with national security that nobody behind the wheel of this brakeless bus is bothering to pretend that it does.  Worse is that the passengers seem oblivious to the cliff’s edge their leaders are in the process of driving them over.  (In the middle of an extended recession and during an era when we have no military peer on the horizon, our on-the-books defense budget is the highest it has been since World War II and plausible estimates peg our actual defense spending at $1.22 trillion, roughly a third of our total 2012 budget.) 

What started as UN Ambassador and liberal warmonger Suzan Rice’s wafer-thin no-fly zone for the purpose of protecting the freedom-loving peoples of Libya from Muamar Kadhafi’s Our Gang air force has become a strategic bombing campaign aimed at regime change.  The best purpose we have for wanting regime change comes from Bombardier Barry himself, whose present position is that regime change is the only way to protect the freedom loving peoples of Libya, as opposed his position in March that said regime change wasn’t necessary to protect the freedom loving peoples of Libya.

What unmasked poppycock.  The second we signed on for the no-fly zone we signed on for regime change, and boy, as war aims go, hasn’t that one worked out swell for us in the past decade?  We have yet to extract ourselves from the two countries we puppet rigged on young Mr. Bush’s botched watch, and Mr. Obama’s promised withdrawal timelines have proven to be pure “disassembly.” 

Five U.S. troops were killed in a June 6 rocket attack on an Iraqi base in eastern Baghdad.  I’m sure those troops parents slash spouses slash children will find great comfort in knowing that Obama ended their deceased parents’ slash spouses’ slash children’s combat mission almost a year ago.

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) is author of the critically lauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon on America’s rise to global dominance.