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Vice President Dick Cheney smiles as he addresses the Heritage Foundation in Chicago, Friday, April 13, 2007. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Over the past couple of weeks, some of the Republican presidential candidates have been reluctantly taking a stroll down memory lane. Jeb Bush, haunted by his brothers disastrous war, has been reluctant to admit the obvious -- that the war in Iraq was a terrible mistake that cost thousands of American lives and around $2 trillion, not to mention America’s reputation. The simple question of whether they would have gone to war if they knew that the WMD’s were nonexistent has tripped up both Jeb and Marco Rubio, seemingly afraid to admit that the Bush administration was wrong at best, criminal at worst.

So, after failing to clearly answer the obvious question (which some neo-cons have now labeled a ‘gotcha’ question, like ‘what publications do you read?’), Jeb has followed a predictable course; blame Obama. “ISIS didn’t exist when my brother was president,” Bush exclaimed gleefully, “Knowing what we know now, Mr. President, should you have kept 10,000 troops in Iraq” Bush asked, president?”

Of course, this is nothing new; Republicans have been criticizing Obama as weak and undetermined for years. Apparently, diplomacy is a bad thing, and militarism is our only option in this dangerous world. “We need a president who is going to back away from that deal in Iran,” said Scott Walker, “We need a president who will affirm that Israel is our ally and start acting like it.” Ted Cruz, who has called Obama an apologist for islamic fundamentalism, said, “It is a time for choosing where we stand.”

Indeed, Republican’s have a good idea where they stand when it comes to war; they’re all for it. It is becoming clear what kind of reasoning the Republican candidates embrace for foreign policy, and it is no different from the reasoning of the Bush administration, illustrated perfectly by Vice President Dick Cheney:

“If there is a one percent chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response. It's not about our analysis ... It's about our response.”

And here is the reasoning that got us into the Iraq war, it didn’t really matter whether or not Saddam had WMD’s, as long as there was the slightest possibility -- a one percent chance. Scary to think what the Bush administration would have been like during the Cold War.

It is important to remember just how opposed the world was to the war in Iraq, and how belligerent and indifferent the Bush administration actually was to international consensus. “I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter. From our point of view and from the charter point of view it was illegal,” said the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, in 2004. Leading up to the war, the Bush administration regularly declared how little international consensus meant to it. In 2002, after Congress had given Bush support to attack Iraq, a senior Bush administration official said, “Right now we have accomplished what we had to do to take the action we need to take, and we don't need the Security Council...So if the Security Council wants to stay relevant, then it has to give us similar authority.”

The Bush administration quite clearly wanted war, and nothing was going to stop it. But this one percent reasoning, defined by Cheney, was not the reasoning of a frenzied leader, concerned solely for security, as he would have the public believe. It was simply the reasoning of a war profiteer, who had one year earlier been given a $34 million exit package from Halliburton, a company that went on to receive about $40 billion in U.S. government contracts, many given without bidding.

Today, there is plenty of blame to go around for the chaos in the Middle East. Obama wanted nothing to do with Bush’s destructive wars, just as the people wanted nothing to do with it. The Iraq War was Bush’s disaster, not Obama’s -- but his complete withdrawal and apparent indifference towards the Maliki regime and its sectorial behavior helped trigger some of the instability the country is currently facing.

However, anyone who denies the majority of responsibility to the Bush administration and America’s imperialist activities over the past few decades is simply blinding themselves. Obama has been a leader reluctant to continue wars, and quite clearly does not subscribe to the childish (and dangerous) one percent reasoning of the Bush administration.

But apparently, Republican hopefuls do. First and foremost, candidates are preaching aggression with “overwhelming force.” Presumable favorite, Scott Walker, has voiced a need for this, saying “I think we need to have an aggressive strategy anywhere around the world...I think anywhere and everywhere, we have to be - go beyond just aggressive air strikes...And ultimately, we have to be prepared to put boots on the ground (in Syria).”

Ted Cruz has tried to sell himself as somewhere in between the neocon hawks and the isolationist libertarians, laying out three rules in a recent interview with Daily Caller:

“If and when U.S. military force is required, proceed under three conditions...First, it should begin with a clearly stated objective at the outset. It should be directly tied to U.S. national security...Second, we should use overwhelming force to do that objective...Third, we should get the heck out.”

Sounds pretty simple. Its easy enough to directly tie anything to U.S. national security, Bush did just that for Iraq. Overwhelming force is certainly something the United States can do, and then “get the heck out.” Surely those foreigners will forget about those American’s who just used overwhelming force against them.

Republican’s continue to show the same mindset as the Bush administration. Remember how quick and simply the Iraq War was supposed to be? It seems the Bush administration more or less followed the Cruz doctrine, launching “shock and awe,” and then, hoping to get out quickly, mismanaging the aftermath, resulting in sectarian violence and the insurgency.

The letter to Iran also shows just how much the Republican’s continue to favor aggression over diplomacy. Ted Cruz has compared the Iran deal to the Munich Agreement, the notorious settlement in which the United Kingdom and France agreed to Nazi Germany’s annexation of parts of Czechoslovakia, to avoid inevitable war. Cruz said:

“I believe we are hearing echoes of history. I believe we are at a moment like Munich in 1938...I believe fundamentally President Obama and his senior team does not understand the nature of the regime, I believe they think it is perfectly acceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons and engage in containment. And they don’t appreciate the radical religious zealotry.”

What makes Cruz’s hardline paranoia particularly ironic is that a piece of deregulatory legislation he promoted just days after his presidential announcement would weaken the sanctions against Iran. Either he was ignorant of his own legislation, or was simply being a demagogue...or, maybe he finds militarism to be the only true answer.

Once again, Ted Cruz and his fellow Republicans seem to be ignorant and ahistorical when it comes to foreign relations. Cruz seems to believe that Iran hates America because of our freedom, while the truth is that Iran hates America (and the west) because of our imperialist adventures over the past century. It is probable that if a foreign country overthrew our Democracy and installed a puppet dictator, we would hate them with a passion also.

But this is not how Republicans think, and it was not how the Bush administration thought. Forget about how we got here -- forget about all of the CIA backed coups, the creation of the Taliban, the backing of Saddam, when he was a good puppet. After the nightmare of Iraq, one would expect our politicians to rethink using “overwhelming force” and quickly “getting the heck out.” The Middle East of today quite clearly shows that you cannot simply destroy a country, and expect them to just go away. The more military force we use, the more chaos will ensue. But, according to Jeb Bush, all of the disorder started a few years ago -- ISIS didn’t exist when his brother was around, so how could he be held responsible?

War should always be the last option, not the first -- and it is alarming to think that most of the 2016 Republican candidates seem to think of it as the first and only option. This mindset is based on the one percent reasoning; the kind of reasoning one would expect from a paranoid schizophrenic -- that Iran is equivalent to Nazi Germany. Iran is not Hitlers Germany, but his rise could provide a historical reminder of what happens when a country is made desperate by foreigners, when it is economically devastated or politically oppressed. Hitler came to power after promising to fix the ills of the German society, caused by the draconian concessions and reparations forced on them at the Treaty of Versailles.

The current disorder in the middle east is greatly because of our pointless aggression and ignorance of the society at large. We need to look in the mirror and realize our past mistakes, not double down -- something Republicans seem wholly unwilling to do.


Wed Jun 03, 2015 at 03:34 PM PDT

GUS: Fresh Starts, Big and Little

by Vacationland

without rain there would be no rainbowsGUS (Gave Up Smoking) is a community support diary for Kossacks in the midst of quitting smoking. Any supportive comments, suggestions or positive distractions are appreciated. If you are quitting or even just thinking of quitting, please join us! We kindly ask that politics be left outside. You can also click the GUS tag to view all diary posts, or access the GUS Library (the archived version for now).

Want to make sure you never miss us? Follow (♥) the GUS tag to keep GUS in your Stream and easily find the link to the latest one. It's just that easy!

A message to ALL quitters (and would-be quitters): You don't have to avoid GUS if you have a failed quit. We won't give you a bad time or nag you. We consider the failed quits as "practice" for the real quit.

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  I want to say thanks to Shaun King for sharing this story. I enjoy his writing a lot and follow him here on DK. I know a lot of people have other feelings about Shaun but I am fan. He sheds light on a world I hear about all to frequently lately. The mistreatment of people by authority. Too much lately Authority has been laying the smackdown on innocent people. This has to stop and quickly. Authority can be good but as we have seen and will see even more of in the future Authority can over step and when it does it needs to be stopped. Too often those who have Authority abuse the power and in the past there were little to no consequences for their actions. We need to shine a light on their unjust use of power and show them there are consequences when they abuse their power. As a result of Shaun's story I was moved to email the superintendent of schools, Jay Foster. I share the email below and will share the response if the power hungry idiot decides to respond.

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Hello, Genossinnen und Genossen.

Last week we discussed the truly abysmal state of democracy (here defined as the proximity between people's votes and the actual result measured in legislature seats) in last month's British election.  According to Political Scientist Robert Dahl, Britain is one of only four nation-states among the ranks of democracies and semi-democracies to use simple plurality, single member districts as the method for choosing their legislature.  (The United States, France, and Canada are the others).  To recap our problems with this system, let's briefly recount the offenses committed by First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) single member district systems

1. Huge numbers of votes are wasted,- extra votes for the winner beyond the second place finisher's total+1 are wasted as the range of outcomes does not change with the margin of victory, and no vote that went to someone other than the winner has any effect on the outcome anyway.
2. A Party/ideology's strength is determined as much by geography and gerrymandering as by popularity, which can produce gross over or under - representation as the case may be- see my previous article for examples from the recent British election
3. The system forces out minor parties by confining representation to groups that command local pluralities, rather than a consistent share of the electorate spread across the entire country, i.e. a plurality party in 1 district gets more representation than a party that has 20% support everywhere but no pluralities.  This has the following effects
1. - A subsidy to the largest one or two parties
2. Marginalizing the expressed views of even sizable minorities
3. creating a chilling effect on that expression, by making voting for alternatives meaningless except as a protest
4. - One positive effect- every locality has a legislator dedicated to advancing that region's interests.
It is particularly revealing that whenever we've been in position to dictate another country's constitution (Post-war Japan, Germany, Italy, several others) we've spared them the farce that is our voting system, acknowledging that political science has advanced since our constitution was written.

Now let's talk fixes, and more broadly what our ideal election system would look like.  For the purposes of this discussion, I'll be ignoring the titanic power of mega-donations as well as geographic imbalances (equal representation for unequal population) and focusing on how votes are cast and counted.


Would you want a MMMPR system in your state legislature?

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Wed Jun 03, 2015 at 03:22 PM PDT

Algebraic Politics

by Politcal Alchemist

My third diary

In algebra - which means restoration as it is derived from latin and arabic - there is, like logic, an act which maintains all properties of form when replacing the substance of an element considered, with that of its form. When removing the content of a container - say, a southern baptist priest - with what the form of the content conformed to, in this case, a teacher, the placeholder is removed, and the principle at work is made plain.

Now, unlike math, where you don't waste time adding 5 to one side of an equation to balance it by subtracting 5 from the other,  placeholders of political positions are doing that. We abide by the constitution of the united states as the law of the land. We ascribe duties to people to become placeholders for those principles we deem necessary to the functioning of a civilized society. 'Corruption' of the forms of our political and societal positions, where they say one thing and do another, requires a restoration, a sort of operator of the equation to say, that isn't the way of politics, and to somehow correct it.

The office which is supposed to operate on principles - like the properties of math wherein a commutatitive property may be used to say the same thing different ways, and the transposition and cancellation of terms to both sides of an equation are used to change the form but retain the balance - are concrete.

We imbue those principles to be carried out verbatim by the placeholder of the principle with due process of law should violations be found infringed upon by the person of office.

When a placeholder usurps the principle as the signifier, though, and fills the position he or she is but a vessel to, with his or her own principles, the equation becomes changed. A change, moreover, that we have made abundantly clear to charge them of, by virtue of their stature given them by us, to never to do under penalty of law.

This is why a person who does not wish to rule is more trustworthy than a person who does. They do not have a stake in the process and are reluctant to do any of it, much less more of it.

Follow below.

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The lead line on a story in the local Delaware County Daily times today was an eye-opener:  "Delaware County Republicans tapped a local trade union leader as its contender for the state House seat vacated by Joe Hackett..."  

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Wed Jun 03, 2015 at 02:58 PM PDT

Car Trip to Germany: Arrival

by Village Vet

Our Carriage in Frankfurt
Air Canada would not let us put our Smart car in the overhead rack. It is sulking in the airport parking lot back in Regina.

After many hours and three flights from Regina to Stuttgart, we're in Germany.

More photos and story below the orange clouds.


Should I continue this series of diaries?

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I have a friend who is staying with me in California for a few days.  He is a German guy who bought a car in Canada about a year ago and he drove down to the US.  He's been driving a while and I am his last stop before he heads into Mexico.  As he was preparing to head to the border he realized in shock that his registration had fallen out of a packet where he kept it.   There had been some ride sharing with some people and the packet was used to keep some other docs.  Well, he was both sure that it had been there and equally sure it no longer was.   A call to the ride share friends at their home in LA confirmed that they didn't have it.

I told him what he knew - that there was no way he could cross into Mexico without it.  You need to get a permit from the Mexican Govt to go anywhere outside of Baja and it absolutely requires a valid reg card.  

I was sure he was fairly screwed.  Having dealt with the DMV in both California and NY when I was younger I told him he should start thinking about skipping the Mexico leg of his road trip.

Check below the fold to see how Canada helped him out.

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I wonder if it's the most taboo word in journalism.

The L-word.  Nope, not Love.  Not even Liberal.


Take a look at the tap-dancing that happened at a panel of Wisconsin journalists the other night, talking about reporting on Governor Scott Walker.

Scott Walker and ‘The L Word’ (The Progressive, 2 June 2015)

DeFour, at a panel discussion Monday night, was responding to audience questions about the Wisconsin governor and Presidential aspirant’s record of saying things that aren’t true. He used an analogy, involving a media description of Walker holding a blowtorch and working with metal. “Are you looking for us to say, ‘Oh, he’s a welder?’ ” DeFour asked. “I don’t think you’re ever going to see the newspaper call him a straight-out welder. We’re not going to be like, ‘Governor Walker, he’s a giant welder.’ We’re not going to do that.”
Question: when does refusing to use the one word that best describes the subject of your story become... oh, I don't know... a LIE?

More below the orange web of lies and deceit.

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Wed Jun 03, 2015 at 02:32 PM PDT

40 minutes of Bernie

by smiley7

This interview received some attention here the other day when it was tied to one of Sander's important positions, voting against the Freedom Act; but, it wasn't embeddable at the time in cclub24's good diary, so here it is: 40 minutes of Bernie.

No matter who you may be predisposed to support right now, please spend a little time with Bernie and share this video widely, if you agree it's worthy and extraordinary.



The Columbus Dispatch announced that they have been sold to New Media Investment Group.  The Wolfe family, which for over a century dominated central Ohio media and Republican politics will retain ownership of its broadcast media and other investments in Ohio and elsewhere.  If anyone knows anything about New Media Investment Group, what their politics are, please comment below.

Link to story:

Natalie Carson
Natalie Carson of Westminster, Colorado.
Natalie Carson is a 19-year-old college student who has not had the easiest of paths so far. She was placed in foster care as a baby, in Colorado. She was adopted, moved to Georgia, and then found herself back in foster care, as her then-adopted family was abusive.
At 18, she aged out of the system. On her own for the first time, Carson took a bus back to Colorado.

"I really didn't know anything, but I knew I was born here," she said.

She found help at a shelter, earned a GED and is now taking college courses, with a focus in computer science. Now, turning 19, Ms. Carson decided to put up this simple ad:
Young Female College Student looking to "rent" family for birthday
Hi! I am currently a young female college student looking to rent a family that I can spend time with on my birthday in a few weeks. I aged out of foster care and I since (sic) was never adopted, I don't have a family to spend holidays or my birthdays with. I was placed in foster care after being severely abused by my parents, so spending time with my biological parents is not an option. I am not a weirdo or anything I was just inspired by another girl that rented a family from craigslist in California for the holidays. I just want one day that I can feel important and special, and like I matter even if I really don't. I have never had a good birthday so I figure why not this birthday. I am NOT looking for any monetary support as I also work. I can pay $8 an hour. Please no replies that are sexually suggestive because I will not answer. Thanks in advance!
There has been an outpouring of support as Natalie's story has gotten television news coverage and there's one family she has been in contact with through the Craigslist ad.
"I felt like having one day where it's OK --  this is about me and it's my birthday," Carson said. "I don't have this big elaborate plan or anything, I just wanted it to be good."

On Friday, Natalie said she's grateful for an outpouring of support but overwhelmed by a flood of emails as her story has received international news coverage. She's talking with people who have offered to help make her birthday special. Now she's asking others who want to help to instead support other foster care children or organizations that aid foster kids.

Watch the news story with interview of Ms. Carson below the fold.
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