America Foreign Policy War

Pre-emptive Candy-bombing!

Since no one else seems willing to be President, I guess I’ll have to finally lay out my platform, officially. Despite all my rantings on widely varying subjects, I, heystupid, have only one plank to my Presidential platform: pre-emptive candy bombing. For those unfamiliar with the concept of candy-bombing, the original candy bomber, Gail “Hal” Halvorsen, dropped candy from his C-54 cargo plane to the children of Berlin in the aftermath of World War II. Soon, American candy makers were sending chocolate by the ton and Americans were mailing their own handkerchiefs to Halvorsen to use as parachutes. Almost 70 years later, Colonel Halvorsen was invited to carry the German team’s national placard during the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics. There’s a school in Berlin named for him. Check him out here:

This is a terrific example of winning hearts and minds at the price of about 12 cents per heart.

However, it occurs to me that it’s wasteful and unnecessary to bomb a country with ordnance before we bomb it with food, water, clothing, medicine, malaria nets, soccer balls and, yes, candy. We should be mercilessly pre-emptively candy-bombing (and potato-bombing and water-bombing and amoxicilin-bombing and …) dozens of countries, especially our enemies. Let them tremble before our charity! Hal Halvorsen said, of his act, “It wasn’t the candy that was important. What was important was that somebody–an American–knew I was in trouble. Somebody cared.” Imagine how many fewer countries we’d have to invade if the people of the world felt like Americans knew their struggles and cared.

So, if elected my first priority will be to redirect one-third of the US military budget to humanitarian and rescue efforts. The US military already does a lot of humanitarian work, and they do it astoundingly well. Coupling these efforts with military capability will help ensure aid is directed where most important. But, let us go into this venture with open eyes. There will be American casualties from this, despite our best efforts. What could be more noble than to die that families may have enough to eat?

I propose we raise a worldwide generation whose first memory of the stars and stripes is attached to a Hershey bar and a bottle of Pepsi (or a SodaStream!). HeyStupid 2016!

Foreign Policy War

TWIS: Either have a good plan or a long-term plan

It seems like you can always count on Dr. Ben Carson to provide a fresh, hot batch of stupid to save your (sorta) weekly column. He was interviewed by The Hill and said (as he had to), “I was never in favor of going into Iraq.” So far, so good. But his follow-up was priceless. “When you go into a situation with so many factions and such a complex history,” he said, “unless you know what you’re doing or have a long-term strategy, it just creates more problems.” Now, Dr. Carson might have meant we should have both knowledge and a long-term strategy, except that he adds “..and since we did go in, the big problem is that we didn’t secure victory there, and that’s a huge problem.” In other words, since you didn’t know what you were doing going in, you’d better make up for it by staying longer.

This is the unanswered question for the Right. Imagine you’re Barack Obama in 2009. You’ve inherited two wars. Both will be a decade old (twice as long as WWII) by the end of your first term and rapidly approaching the 100,000 deaths and 4 trillion dollar mark. What’s a traitorous, deficit-ballooning, secret Muslim election-stealer to do? Continue Bush’s folly, rooted in deception, greed and industrial-strength denial? Cut and run? Stay the course?

The answer from the Stupid, of course, is that you should have done the opposite of whatever Barack Obama did do. Since he left, then the right (Right!) answer was not to leave. But was it? By 2010, the government of Nouri al-Maliki, Shia prime minister of Iraq, was corrupt, sectarian and weak. It was heavily supported by Iran-backed, loosely-controlled Shia militia. It was complicit in the persecution of the Sunni minority. The actions of this government and its thugs really created ISIS in Iraq.

I’ve never heard a critic of Obama’s Iraq policy state what should have been the criteria for withdrawing troops from Iraq. How long, after all, should we have continued to prop up the Maliki government in contradiction of its own expressed wishes? John McCain thinks we should have stayed for 100 years. At least he has the courage to say so. Cowards like Carson make sideways allusions to some phantom fool-proof strategy that’s a bound to succeed. Clowns like Donald Trump comically state they have a secret silver bullet strategy, but won’t tell us what it is.

Politics is politics, of course, but now we have a chorus of GOP Presidential candidates who brazenly advocate for the reinvasion of Iraq. (Carson, to his credit, is not one of them.) For the GOP, and their defense contractor backers, war doesn’t need a goal. It is the goal. The more nebulous and unattainable the exit strategy, the better.

Madonna once said, “I prefer young men. They don’t know what they’re doing, but they can do it all night!” Looks like Dr. Ben and the GOP may have found another fan of their foreign policy.



Media Obama Race War

Beyond the “race card”

Charles Blow recently had some terrific things to say about race in the New York Times. In summary, people should stop “playing the ‘race card’ card”–trying to shut down dialogue about race because they see it as a facade for excuse-making. While it can’t be disproved that someone, somewhere deflected legitimate criticism by accusing her accuser of racism, it’s surely not the imminent threat to healthy dialogue its made out to be. Anyway, that’s Mr. Blow’s excellent point, expertly advanced in his article. Mine is different.

There are all kinds of silly ways conservatives attempt to shut down dialogue. Of course, as curator of a site called ThisWeekInStupid, I worry constantly about painting with too broad a brush. Not all conservative arguments fall into the categories described below. However, I’d like to coin a few new terms to describe some of the most ridiculous conservative arguments.

Playing the “stop playing the ‘Bush card’ card.” When cons play the “stop playing the ‘Bush card’ card,” they attempt to blunt criticism of GOP policies or defenses of liberal policies by asking liberals to pretend the world was created in 2009. No one is responsible for the rise of ISIS because there was no 2008. Budget deficits started in 2009. Obama should stop making excuses for the economy because it’s not like anyone else cratered the housing and credit markets. In one survey 20% of Americans faulted Obama more than Bush for the poor response to Hurricane Katrina in 2006. That’s some weapons-grade self-deception. Expect to see a lot of railing against the ‘Bush card’ in 2016 whether Jeb gets the nomination or not.

Playing the “Neville Chamberlain” card. In my experience, you cannot engage in a conversation about Khomeini, Putin, Kim Jong-Il, Obamacare or the Denver Broncos without someone invoking Hitler.  Ben Carson if no one else. And, whether he’s mentioned by name or not, the specter of Neville Chamberlain and his policy of Nazi appeasement will, inevitably, haunt the discussion. To listen to players of the Neville Chamberlain card, you’d think that, without their constant vigilance, we’d have a world war every other year (perhaps in off-Olympic years?). Don’t want to put troops in Ukraine? You’re probably the kind who would have just let the Nazis walk in to London. Worried about collateral damage from air strikes against Iran/Syria/Libya/North Korea/Belgium? You appeasing pantywaist. Neville Chamberlain would be proud.

Playing the “free speech” card. You can read literally thousands of pages of whining by conservative pundits and politicos that conservative viewpoints are not heard and that this is a grievous blow to the First Amendment. When college students protested the invitation of Condolezza Rice to speak at commencement, that was the “PC police” out to throw a wet blanket over the discussion. But all viewpoints do not get equal time. Stupid doesn’t get the same respect as rational debate. You have the right to spout whatever ridiculous nonsense you want on your blogs and cable channels, but it is not limiting free speech when I call it out as ridiculous nonsense. If your views are valid, let’s have a discussion. But stop playing the “free speech” card and explain to me how to distinguish your ignorance from garden variety bigotry and selfishness.

I respect your conservative views. I do. Just kidding. I can’t really pull that off. These days it seems to me the Republican platform is equal parts racial ignorance and denial, poor arithmetic and the mistaking of the 1980s movie Red Dawn for a documentary. But I’m glad to explain all of that to you, and to hear your responses. But as soon as you pull out the Neville Chamberlain card, I’m outta here.