Art of the Union

Hello, my name is Mitchell. I am an artist and writer creating politically charged content. My goal is to use art and humor to introduce people to politics and history.

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  • March 22, 2014 7:24 pm

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    Even in his retirement, Ron Paul is still managing to elevate my blood-pressure. The wily mage of shallow-end facts was at it again earlier this week with a USA Today OpEd, offering his version of a concise take on Crimea. I’ve been sitting on the piece since I’ve read it and I still have the same feeling that it’s run-of-the-mill editorial litter, so I thought a fun exercise would be to address the various points that irked me the most throughout his piece.

    Right off the bat we have an incredible reach when Paul equates Crimea’s referendum to other European nations toying with the idea of independence. It’s a long haul to reason that nation’s such as Scotland’s and Venice’s by the book procedures when you put that up against Crimea saying “que sera, sera” at gun point and getting the Stoli logo tattooed across its heart overnight.

    For instance in Venice, a case where the province may have economically outgrown it’s parent country, nationalist parties have been emerging for years - such as Liga Veneta in the 1970’s and Venetian Independence in 2012 - who have been participating in elections and referendums without units of masked gunmen in sight. There has been petitions to the EU, committees formed, and even recently a referendum was held just to see if Venetians were still open to the idea of being independent. Similarly, Scottish independence has been along time coming. The Scottish National Party was formed in 1934, didn’t win a parliamentary seat until 1945, and didn’t win their second until 1967. The SNP kept that Scottish stiff upper lip, though, and slugged it out until they won the majority of the Scottish Parliament in 2011. Yet still, only 32% of Scots say they’ll vote yes in the upcoming independence referendum. See, this is what the self-determination that Paul refers to throughout his piece looks like, not what is holed up in Ukrainian military bases under threat of unmarked foreign soldiers.

    Speaking of these unmarked soldiers, that fits well into Paul’s next documentation of wrong when he tries to compare Crimea to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. First off we need to get real for a moment, there is no comparison between the two. When Iraq was invaded in 2003, there was no question as to who comprised the coalition of the willing. When the U.S., United Kingdom and Australia began fighting towards Baghdad, they didn’t try to keep things a mystery by dressing their soldiers in Kangol hats and Ecco street wear (it was the early 2000’s). Putin’s attempt to claim that the armed troops with no insignia filling the streets of Crimea as spontaneous mystery fighters doesn’t bode well for Paul’s idea of “self-determination.”

    More to the point, even if you were against the Iraq occupation there is no denying that Sadam Hussein was a monster. Sure, Russian speakers in Crimea were being hassled by the hard right Neo-Nazi Svoboda party with legislation such as trying to ban all Russian media in Ukraine, but that can’t possibly touch the system of torture chambers and secret police the Iraqi dictator presided over that made fair elections impossible throughout his reign. So yes, despite Paul’s snark, it was a victory that U.S. occupied Iraq was able to have an election without the outcome being a 99% victory for a killer, as opposed to a country “secretly” infiltrated by Russia voting to join Russia.

    And, of course, it wouldn’t be a Ron Paul rambling without mention of those rascally markets. Accordingly he postulates that the U.S. or EU “can’t afford” to levy strong sanctions against Russia because naturally uninterrupted free markets are the only way to peace. No, it would be much better for the markets to just turn the other cheek and let the worlds second largest oil supplier keep using that fact to extort it’s neighbors. Wait … come again? The fact is that what Russia is doing isn’t all that great for the economy, with oil prices on the rise. And if there’s anything the market loves more than uncertainty it’s consumer panic. Many countries throughout Europe are fearing for the future now that Russia has taken up border expansion as a hobby. Nations such as Moldova, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and Poland are expressing alarm of an unpredictable Russia. Even Sweden is mulling over the idea of NATO membership due to fear of the Russian military. What country is going to want to freely trade with a nation that they think has missiles aimed at them?

    If Ron Paul’s takedown of the U.S. approach to Crimea seems too short and sweet, that’s because it’s leaving out a lot. It’s not just as simple as letting them eat their cake and moving on. In today’s globalized world, actions aren’t containable and it’s time that people like Paul awaken to that fact.

  • March 6, 2014 10:05 pm
    usofamerickson:  And wouldn't Putin (like all Russians before him) want to punch Hitler in the nose?

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    Yes, it is odd to compare a Russian to Hitler, a tyrant who dedicated part of his inhumanly evil itinerary to wiping out Slavic culture and destroying Slavic art.

    I don’t want to completely come off as a smarmy contrarian. I do partially get the comparison being made to Hitler in the terms of both figures seeking to ensure the freedom of their ethnic compatriots living abroad. As Paul Hockenos discussed in his Foreign Policy article yesterday, actions by Ukraine’s hard right such as taking away the Russian language’s special status may have sounded some alarms for Putin. But, as I said yesterday, I don’t think one coincidence in policy automatically equals Herr Wolf status.

    What particularly irks me about the Hitler comparisons is just how uncreative and lazy they are. Russia has a long and rich history of despots to tether Putin’s monicker to. Why not Ivan the Terrible? Ivan did have military action with Crimea, plus he took great strides to centralize his government and helped set up a class divide by aiding in creating a Russian serfdom. ”Putin the Terrible” - it rolls off the tongue.

  • March 5, 2014 9:28 pm

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    Here’s a sweet little glimpse into my inner workings - I have an immeasurable guilty pleasure for false analogies when it comes to politics. It’s the act of taking a pig of a fact and slapping enough make up on it to hopefully fool everyone at the prom into thinking that it’s your girlfriend, and the bravado needed to pull that off has me enamored. I’m talking about the type of article that takes something as menial as stumbling in a speech and screams “This is his ‘Bush pukes after bad sushi’ moment!” So you can imagine my excitement at the cornucopia of trash that the new Putin story arc has blessed us with.

    The most obvious would be the Putin to Hitler dot-connecting, and it’s so trendy that even possible presidential contenders are joining the party. Hitler invading the Sudetenland is like Putin invading Crimea? Well duh, Hitler sent in troops to protect the native Germans from persecution and Putin occupied Crimea to keep it’s Russian descendants safe - They’re almost somewhat identical kind of! How about Hitler and Austria? Hitler demanded that Chancellor Schusnigg turn the whole operation over to the Austrian Nazis under the threat of invasion, and Ukrainian President Yanukovych speaks Russian just like Putin and “asked" for troops to be sent in, so the connection is there if you squint hard enough and maybe tilt your head a little in a dimly lit room. Maybe we go even further back, what’s the market value on a slathered Napoleon analogy? Crimea could be Putin’s Waterloo … yeah, I’m going to just let that one keep sailing over my head.

    I’ll be damned if I miss out on the fun, too, so tell the conductor to lead the rhetoric train down my street because I’m throwing my hat into the ring. I raise you this - Putin is not Napoleon, is not Hitler, but is Otto von Bismarck and Crimea is his Schleswig. Wait guys, come back! It makes perfect sense. In 1863 Denmark annexed the German speaking Schleswig region and Bismarck took issue, leaving him with no other choice than to let the Prussian army do what it did best - Destroy until Prussia and the German Confederation was a Schleswig richer. You see what I’m seeing? Russia seems to not have been able to get over Ukraine claiming the Russian speaking Crimea after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with Russian troops having now been marched in. Mr. Publisher, my hand is primed and ready to sign that book deal now.

    Well there will be no book deal, at least not for now (wink) because all of this speculation is rubbish. This game of guessing Putins spirit despot has been interesting page filler, but ultimately worthless. Putin is not Napoleon, he doesn’t have the accomplishments or the romantic fashion sense. Putin certainly isn’t Hitler, he doesn’t have the popularity or military force to be. And begrudgingly I must rescind my suggestion that Putin is Bismarck, because that was absolutely ridiculous. Putin is actually  just a regular ol’, historically on point ruler of Russia.

    Peter the Great never died, he just now heads Putins foreign relations department. Russia seems unwilling to let go of the old European idea of immediate border expansion that was relevant in a time when the Mughal Empire was a world player and Johannes Guttenberg was a young man with a dream. Even as other European nations set out across the seas to turn Asia, the Americas, and Africa into a global flea market, the Russians stayed right at home, slugging it out with the likes of the Turks and Swedes. A look at any other European nations global empire would look like scattered puzzle pieces, yet Russia’s is a big mass of cold, connected sorrow.

    And as nation wars fell out of vogue in Europe during the latter half of the 20th century, there Russia was, picking on it’s neighbors to extend it’s influence radius. Afghanistan, Georgia, Abkhazia, Chechnya, South Ossetia, all regions that touched the Russian border. While powers such as the United States and Great Britain were getting bogged down world’s away, Russian troops were never more than a hop, skip and a jump from the motherland.

    One of the unfortunate consequences that comes from a period of tyrannical rule is that it erases all historical reference up until that point. Any action taken by anybody with negative intentions will undoubtedly appear somewhere with a little black mustache photoshopped onto their faces. Putin’s encroachment and disregard in Crimea may be tempting for the doomsayers, but it is better for the understanding of any conflict to learn the unique history that has boiled over, instead of automatically jumping from zero to Hitler.

  • February 18, 2014 8:12 pm
    Bob McDonnell Virginia, Republican
Crime: A thirst for looking fabulous.
Thanks in part to a disgruntled chef with Bond-like espionage talents and the need to look fly, Bob McDonnell was indicted in January 2014 on 14 counts of fraud. After being accused of stealing from the governor’s mansion, executive chef Todd Schneider began leaking information to authorities that revealed a sordid relationship between CEO of Star Scientific Jonnie Williams and the McDonnell clan. In exchange for lobbying on the part of his dubious medical products, Williams gave the McDonnell’s the standard political gifts that totaled upwards of $165,000. Perhaps spurred on by the fact that they were at the bottom of the economic barrel for a ruling class, the McDonnell’s used much of the gifts to pay off credit card debt and other common-folk priorities.

Chris Christie New Jersey, Republican
Crime: Trying his hardest to be a New Jersey stereotype.
What hasn’t Chris Christie been accused of at this point? He’s the rotund Shao Khan in the Garden States Mortal Kombat tournament. Closing down bridge lanes in a show of top tier ball-busting? Check. Extorting a mayor to tow a party line in exchange for hurricane relief funds? Check. Using said hurricane relief funds to film a campaign commercial? Check. The only thing missing in this Tri-State opera is a horse head under a sheet, but to make up for that there has been plenty of backstabbing to satiate a New Jersey party boss fantasy.

Bob Taft Ohio, Republican
Crime: Being the cheapest date in Ohio.
In 2005, then-governor Bob Taft was charged on four criminal misdemeanor counts for failing to report upwards $5,800 in undisclosed gifts. The list of lackluster presents that read more like last-minute Secret Santa scramble includes rounds of golf (obviously) with Republican fundraisers, tickets for the NHL’s most prestigious Columbus Blue Jackets (thanks?), and a photograph with accompanying medal from the Defense Supply Center (oh… you shouldn’t have). Even more embarrassing than Taft’s apparent taste is the fact that in 1999 he issued an executive order requiring ethics training for everyone in his cabinet. Now that’s practicing what you preach.

Eliot Spitzer New York, Democrat
Crime: Making every night ladies night.
In 2008 Eliot Spitzer’s trousers dropped and his career followed shortly after. After North Fork Bank threw up red flags due to Spitzer’s odd monetary transactions, the governor came under the ever watchful eye of the U.S. Government. While acting as a lawful Peeping Tom, the federal agents discovered an accumulated bill of up to $80,000 of taxpayer funds spent on putting ladies of the night “through school.” Facing potential impeachment, Spitzer would resign his office on March 17, assumedly due to exhaustion on account of his nightly calisthenics.

Mark Sanford South Carolina, Republican
Crime: Taking a “walk” on the wild side.
In June of 2009, then-governor Mark Sanford let his staff know that he was taking a vacation to go hiking on the Appalachian Trail, then he promptly boarded a plane to Argentina to simmer in the Sofrito of his Latin American mistress. The plan was fool-proof, except that Sanford decided not to answer phone calls while he was off on his own “Eat, Pray, Love” adventure, leaving everyone in South Carolina to assume that their governor was lost in the woods. The mystery was solved when a reporter intercepted the southern Carmen San Diego arriving from Argentina at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and not strolling in from the Appalachians with a walking stick and full-grown beard.

Rod Blagojevich Illinois, Democrat
Crime: Being too frugal.
In 2008, Rod Blagojevich was charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of soliciting bribes for, among other things, trying to sell off the vacated Senate seat of President-Elect Barack Obama. You see, maintaining gaudy hair like Blagojevich’s didn’t come cheap, and Rod knew it when he uttered the infamous quote “I’m not just giving it up for nothing.” Instead of getting campaign funds or a prestigious new job in exchange for the vacant seat like he anticipated, Blagojevich received the less enviable prize of impeachment and 14 years in prison. But lest Rod fear that it was all for nothing, he can take solace in the fact that he will go down in history as the seventh Illinois Governor to face criminal charges.  View high resolution

    Bob McDonnell Virginia, Republican

    Crime: A thirst for looking fabulous.

    Thanks in part to a disgruntled chef with Bond-like espionage talents and the need to look fly, Bob McDonnell was indicted in January 2014 on 14 counts of fraud. After being accused of stealing from the governor’s mansion, executive chef Todd Schneider began leaking information to authorities that revealed a sordid relationship between CEO of Star Scientific Jonnie Williams and the McDonnell clan. In exchange for lobbying on the part of his dubious medical products, Williams gave the McDonnell’s the standard political gifts that totaled upwards of $165,000. Perhaps spurred on by the fact that they were at the bottom of the economic barrel for a ruling class, the McDonnell’s used much of the gifts to pay off credit card debt and other common-folk priorities.

    Chris Christie New Jersey, Republican

    Crime: Trying his hardest to be a New Jersey stereotype.

    What hasn’t Chris Christie been accused of at this point? He’s the rotund Shao Khan in the Garden States Mortal Kombat tournament. Closing down bridge lanes in a show of top tier ball-busting? Check. Extorting a mayor to tow a party line in exchange for hurricane relief funds? Check. Using said hurricane relief funds to film a campaign commercial? Check. The only thing missing in this Tri-State opera is a horse head under a sheet, but to make up for that there has been plenty of backstabbing to satiate a New Jersey party boss fantasy.

    Bob Taft Ohio, Republican

    Crime: Being the cheapest date in Ohio.

    In 2005, then-governor Bob Taft was charged on four criminal misdemeanor counts for failing to report upwards $5,800 in undisclosed gifts. The list of lackluster presents that read more like last-minute Secret Santa scramble includes rounds of golf (obviously) with Republican fundraisers, tickets for the NHL’s most prestigious Columbus Blue Jackets (thanks?), and a photograph with accompanying medal from the Defense Supply Center (oh… you shouldn’t have). Even more embarrassing than Taft’s apparent taste is the fact that in 1999 he issued an executive order requiring ethics training for everyone in his cabinet. Now that’s practicing what you preach.

    Eliot Spitzer New York, Democrat

    Crime: Making every night ladies night.

    In 2008 Eliot Spitzer’s trousers dropped and his career followed shortly after. After North Fork Bank threw up red flags due to Spitzer’s odd monetary transactions, the governor came under the ever watchful eye of the U.S. Government. While acting as a lawful Peeping Tom, the federal agents discovered an accumulated bill of up to $80,000 of taxpayer funds spent on putting ladies of the night “through school.” Facing potential impeachment, Spitzer would resign his office on March 17, assumedly due to exhaustion on account of his nightly calisthenics.

    Mark Sanford South Carolina, Republican

    Crime: Taking a “walk” on the wild side.

    In June of 2009, then-governor Mark Sanford let his staff know that he was taking a vacation to go hiking on the Appalachian Trail, then he promptly boarded a plane to Argentina to simmer in the Sofrito of his Latin American mistress. The plan was fool-proof, except that Sanford decided not to answer phone calls while he was off on his own “Eat, Pray, Love” adventure, leaving everyone in South Carolina to assume that their governor was lost in the woods. The mystery was solved when a reporter intercepted the southern Carmen San Diego arriving from Argentina at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and not strolling in from the Appalachians with a walking stick and full-grown beard.

    Rod Blagojevich Illinois, Democrat

    Crime: Being too frugal.

    In 2008, Rod Blagojevich was charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of soliciting bribes for, among other things, trying to sell off the vacated Senate seat of President-Elect Barack Obama. You see, maintaining gaudy hair like Blagojevich’s didn’t come cheap, and Rod knew it when he uttered the infamous quote “I’m not just giving it up for nothing.” Instead of getting campaign funds or a prestigious new job in exchange for the vacant seat like he anticipated, Blagojevich received the less enviable prize of impeachment and 14 years in prison. But lest Rod fear that it was all for nothing, he can take solace in the fact that he will go down in history as the seventh Illinois Governor to face criminal charges. 

  • February 1, 2014 6:24 pm

    With President Obama ratcheting up the push for a higher minimum wage with his state of the union and subsequently taking the message on tour across the country, the retaliatory responses have been sure to follow. It’s the usual suspects that popped up last year during the same argument: Jobs would be lost, businesses would stop hiring, the four horsemen will descend the sky and lay waste to American business once they can’t buy a lawnmower for half off at Walmart, so on and so forth. But the argument that I take the most umbrage with is that if wages rise, prices will follow suit.

    Price control through poverty, and it’s a self defeating circle - Shoppers won’t buy unless prices are low, in order to keep prices low I can’t pay above this wage, people aren’t making enough to dispense with willingly so business’s don’t meet their expected profits. Moreover, it highlights the problem of American business replacing innovation with sales to increase profits, creating a coupon culture in which people expect to buy too much for too cheap.

    But even if prices were to increase, it would be so minuscule that unless you have a penchant for pinching pennies into pancakes, it wouldn’t matter. For example, the Center for American Progress reports if President Obama’s original proposed minimum wage hike to $9 were to take effect, prices would only have to rise .21 percent for a span of 2 years to cover any profit lost by the spike.

    The downside for some businesses is that they would have to adjust their ludicrous low pricing systems and become more in-line with average prices. Take for instance McDonald’s (the company who gives its product away for $1 and floods your mailbox with half-off coupons) - if the minimum wage were to double to $15, the price of a Big Mac would rise by $1.28 to $5.27, which is still considerably cheaper than more “upscale” burger chains such as Red Robin or Applebees.

    And when we look past the chicanery of saying that a rising minimum wage will make shoppers run rampant through the streets looting and pillaging due to rising prices, with the current wages Americans are unknowingly paying higher prices whether or not if they bargain shop by eating McDonald’s rubber shmeat. When Americans can’t cover their cost of living with minimum wage, they turn to welfare programs, which are paid for by everyone.

    A study released by Congressional Democrats suggests that just one Walmart super center can cost taxpayers upwards of $900,000 to cover the needs of it’s employees. And if you have your underwear in a knot because it was a report issued by a left committee, be assured that some on the right also recognize the fault of subsidizing low wages with welfare. Republican billionaire and former California gubernatorial candidate Ron Unz petitioned the state of California to raise minimum wage to $12 an hour, explaining that “It’s a classic example of businesses’ privatizing the benefits of their workers while socializing the costs. Forcing the taxpayers to supplement the salary of their own employees.”

  • January 26, 2014 6:04 pm
    Hear ye, hear ye! Today marks the return of my short run “Hack of the Week.” At the end of each week I take the one piece of news in which an individual portrayed the qualities of a supreme jackass and unleash their doings onto the world.

And what a week to return my series, it truly was an embarrassment of riches in fools on display. From political elites moonlighting as 18th century love gurus to a former gunslinger using stand your ground to murder art, it’s been one for the books. In the end though, it felt only right that the honor went local for the return.

On January 22, former Baltimore cop Lamin Manneh (not pictured above) pleaded guilty to running a small business venture in prostitution. 

In May of 2013, Manneh was caught playing the field in the job market when undercover cops busted him for prostituting his 19 year old wife while still an officer assigned to Baltimore’s Eastern District. 

So congratulations Lamin Manneh: Pimp Cop! On top of the five year prison sentence awaiting you, you have also been awarded the coveted title of “Hack of the Week.” View high resolution

    Hear ye, hear ye! Today marks the return of my short run “Hack of the Week.” At the end of each week I take the one piece of news in which an individual portrayed the qualities of a supreme jackass and unleash their doings onto the world.

    And what a week to return my series, it truly was an embarrassment of riches in fools on display. From political elites moonlighting as 18th century love gurus to a former gunslinger using stand your ground to murder art, it’s been one for the books. In the end though, it felt only right that the honor went local for the return.

    On January 22, former Baltimore cop Lamin Manneh (not pictured above) pleaded guilty to running a small business venture in prostitution. 

    In May of 2013, Manneh was caught playing the field in the job market when undercover cops busted him for prostituting his 19 year old wife while still an officer assigned to Baltimore’s Eastern District. 

    So congratulations Lamin Manneh: Pimp Cop! On top of the five year prison sentence awaiting you, you have also been awarded the coveted title of “Hack of the Week.”

  • January 24, 2014 9:32 pm

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    Lo, how the mighty have fallen. Two Republican mammoths who, in 2012 were being tossed around as possible presidential contenders are now campaigning for a room with a view in federal pen. Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and current New Jersey governor Chris Christie are wrapped up in particularly serious scandals that are noteworthy for their lack of breezy genitals. But for some reason, one isn’t being treated with the severity that it ought to.

    I think it’s safe to say that McDonnell is cooked, but it looks downright amateur compared to what Christie is being accused of. McDonnell’s pining for the bland, upper middle class caucasian dream lead him to accept the challenge of breaking Virgina’s lax ethics laws. After being rendered the political version of trailer trash (mansion trash?) when their real estate venture was given a haymaker from the housing bubble, both McDonnell and his wife Maureen accepted large gifts of cash and expensive items from Johnnie Williams in exchange for giving Williams’ company - Star Scientific Inc - a push. Some money was spent in the expected vanilla manner of golf clubs for McDonell and clothes to make Maureen look like a dusty Nordstrom mannequin, but it also went to paying off their credit card debt, their daughters wedding, paying off houses, and replenishing starved bank accounts.

    Now let’s look at Christie’s rapsheet, starting with when he compensated for  the George Washington Bridge not having kneecaps to break by shutting down 2 of the 3 lanes into Fort Lee, NJ. The talking point being peddled about this maneuver is that sure, Christie may have abused his powers and inconvenienced drivers, but it’s just a classic example of tough party boss politics. Unfortunately it’s a bit more severe than that - the lane closings delayed emergency response vehicles which possibly resulted in the death of an elderly woman, and moreover, may constitute a case of false imprisonment by trapping the drivers on the bridge. Beyond that, there’s also the side venture of putting the screws to Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer by withholding relief funds for Hurricane Sandy when she did not support one of his pet projects.

    So which is worse? If you have eyes then the answer that you should be screaming at your screen is Christie. But for some reason there seems to be a pacifism hive mind when it comes to giving Christie his due lashing. 

    McDonnell has been having the book thrown at him since July, aiding doubly as a prop to batter Ken Cucinelli’s campaign with, but really the only thing that was hurt in his scandal was good taste. Christie’s goon antics actually hurt people, yet he’s still pegged to do the less strenuous version of a jump back in time for 2016. Maybe it’s because the way he can pick a fight with one hand while masterfully conducting an ice cream cone with the other makes him a TV all star, or the desperation to peg a GOP presidential candidate is making some people more lenient, but it’s time to quit letting Christie off the hook for his behavior.

  • October 9, 2013 11:09 pm

    We’ve heard it from journalists across the board - John Boehner’s speakership is in jeopardy. He’s somehow worked himself into a corner, presumably in a soaked fetal position, as all of the scenarios to end the government shutdown have him personally damned. To keep his job, Boehner has to endure each painful cog of the world’s worst Rube Goldberg machine - It will shoot him in the foot, stab him in the back, douse him in booze, and all for the payoff of being universally hated. He can either concede to the White House and pass a clean resolution free of any Obamacare infractions, which would result in him having a very ticked off Tea Party caucus (we’re talking “show me your birth certificate” level of ticked). Or, he can press on with his gin-soaked stiff upper lip with no clean resolution and watch his party’s approval ratings sink.

    But this isn’t the first time that Boehner has had to have the contact information for his local unemployment office when it comes to his speakership, so let’s look beyond that. What I find incredibly curious is the process of picking a House Speaker and the oversight in the constitution that could potentially allow anybody to fill that seat, regardless of if they are a politician.

    The standard process for selecting a new Speaker of the House is fairly nebulous, but basically it boils down to a nominee having to win a majority of the total number of votes cast in the house. Note that it is votes cast in the house, not the majority of house members. For example: There are 435 representatives in the house. Let’s say 5 of them voted absent, now a nominee must win the majority of 430 representatives. You’re probably saying “of course dummy, that’s simple math,” - but it gets complicated. Imagine that nominee A gets 200 votes, nominee B gets 190 votes, and a darkhorse write-in gets 40 votes. Despite receiving the highest tally of votes amongst the 3, nominee A would not become speaker considering that his/her 200 is not the grand majority of all of the votes added up. Better hope Boehner left behind the keys to the liquor cabinet, cause the voting will need to continue.

    Before any of the voting happens though, it has to be decided on who to vote for. And thanks to a very loose wording in the constitution, it is believed that absolutely anyone can become Speaker of the House. Article 1, Section 2, Clause 5 states that “The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker…” which is believed to open the door to anything with opposable thumbs. Think of it like the mock presidential elections your teacher would make your class do in middle school. Remember how they would make you choose between whoever the 2 candidates were but there would be a handful of miniature stand-up comics who would write in Mickey Mouse or Terrell Owens? Now imagine Terrell Owens actually winning the majority of votes over the 2 politicians. Granted, this has never happened in the history of the House, but it certainly is thrilling knowing that there is the smallest of chances that we could end up with Charles Barkley as House Speaker.

    So if John Boehner ends up being forced out to greener pastures (assuming greener pastures is the name of the lobbying group he ends up at), don’t look at the election of a new House Speaker as a civics lesson bore, but rather a world full of wonderment and possibilities. Like Disney World, but with more old drunks.

  • October 3, 2013 8:13 pm

    It finally happened - after years of whining threats and hair trimming misses, the U.S. Government has closed until further notice. And don’t let any shortsighted crystal ball gazers lead you astray when they forecast that a shutdown won’t have much of an effect, because it will. The Small Business Administration will halt loan processing, National Guard troops were being put on hold in the effort to rebuild flood-damaged Colorado, the National Institutes of Health sent home scientists who are researching cases such as the cause of Autism, and a laundry list of equally depressing affairs. 

    So if asked to find the silver lining in this scenario, what would it be? As federal workers are furloughed and money flowing into the economy is strangled it may seem like a pittance to say this amid the mess, but Democrats could have finally learned to fight for their interests.

    Up until now, the Obama era batch of Democrats has approached policy debate with the strategy of being smacked around like a troublemaker in 50’s Catholic school. They’ve continually let Republicans control the course of dialogue and have offered a “good try” cower in the corner defense. Immigration reform, gun regulation, entitlement reform, sequestration, all of them had the dialogue dictated on the conservative side of the spectrum.

    And now we look at Obamacare as the battleground - a Democratic piece of legislation that, despite having all of the validation needed, has been allowed to be used as an instrument to induce blunt force trauma on liberal politicians. Democrats have been running away from the Affordable Care Act after they passed it and let Republicans name it Obamacare, even campaigning away from it in elections instead of embracing their signature accomplishment. But no more, it finally seems that Democrats have realized that the bones running down their back is their spine and are finally standing up for their baby. And it’s a better time than ever to do it, considering that the Republican effort to dismantle Obamacare is a farcical load.

    Let’s look at the last Republican offer before the federal government was stuffed with mothballs and packed away, in which they were willing to fund the government in exchange for a one year delay to Obamacare. This delay would be used to iron-out the laws problems, fix what needs mended. Now that sounds well and good, until you dig deeper and find out that Republicans have been trying to break the law as much as they could up to this point. Just a few items on the checklist - Republicans have tried to defund and overall stymie the Obamacare navigators and, funny enough, have blocked improvements to the health law that they now seek time to fix. If Democrats were to have capitulated on this negotiation, it would’ve meant getting sucked back into a circle of rhetoric that always ends with a steel-toed boot to their tukas.

    So while the government shutdown will be painful for many, if it took this to finally make Democrats mean business, then so be it. Remember, this shutdown is just a temporary taste of many things that Republicans are actively fighting for. Things like shuttering the EPA, turning national parks into a swiss cheese of gas-wells, and defunding WIC are all in the Republican crosshairs. The Dems will have to toughen up to make sure it doesn’t happen, because doormats are better suited for walking on than winning debates.

  • September 11, 2013 10:43 pm
    By now the fix is in for Syria. President Obama has laid out his 2 options: Either Bashar al-Assad becomes a Middle Eastern flower child and hands over his chemical weapons to the international community peacefully or The U.S. will use Tomahawks to transform select Syrian targets into glass factories. But then there’s the third, less bandied about option: Supply Syrian rebels with lethal munitions to combat Assad’s forces. It’s a plan that has been in the works since June, but if put in a historical context, it may not be the most beneficial route to travel.

In my last post I had written about the U.S. intervention that ultimately lead Afghanistan’s Mujahideen rebels to upend the the invading Soviet forces. A key deciding factor to the Kremlin bashing in Kabul was the weapon that The United States supplied to the Afghan rebels - The FIM-92 Stinger. The MANPADS (Man-Portable Air Defense System) missile weighed in at 35 lbs of commie crushing power, traveled at a pace of 1,500 mph, and would haunt the Russians until wars-end.

Prior to the introduction of the Stinger, the Mujahideen forces arsenal of AK-47’s and weaponized Kajagoogoo records paled in comparison to the Soviet’s arial onslaught. But in 1986, the new projectile would turn the tables. The once hapless rebels could now make mincemeat of the arial death machines from up to 5 miles away with the missiles heat-seeking sensors. Couple the Mujahideen’s newly found land-to-air dominance with the fact that Soviet tanks had been rendered worthless due to Afghanistan’s mountainous terrain, the rebels were able to follow their U.S. supplied itchy trigger finger to victory road.

Nothing beats a happy ending. So, what bookends this touching tale of cooperation? The Mujahadeen handed over the unused Stinger rockets to the outstretched arms of The U.S., who then tucked the inanimate war heroes into bed to retire to a hero’s glory.

Well, not quite. What actually happened was the United States government had to don the hat akin to a disgruntled librarian and go on a witch hunt to recover it’s absent property. Operation Missing in Action Stingers (I did not make that up) was launched in 1990 with a budget of $65 million, and it tasked the CIA with hunting down every last Stinger missile. Alas, like any hunt for 80’s memorabilia, the item sought proved illusive and terribly overpriced. The missiles were selling for up to a whopping $100,000 a piece, and by the mid-90’s an estimated 600 Stingers were still unaccounted for, with the search still ongoing into the most recent war in Afghanistan. 

Now we sit and nurse the idea of opening and arms bazaar once again, potentially learning nothing from history. In trying to nudge the president down this path, Senator Carl Levin opined that the weapons would go to “vetted” groups amongst the Syrian rebels, supplying them with an arsenal that couldn’t be turned on us. But doesn’t this lack a sense of foresight? The history of the Stinger shows that there is more damage that can be done from your weapons than just having them turned on you. Lost missiles turned up in the hands of militant groups, were purchased by aggressor governments such as North Korea, and have been dissected by the Chinese to learn their inner workings. Not to mention the large search-and-recover costs. All of this played against the United State’s best interests, even though it wasn’t through direct physical violence.

And that was all in the 1980’s-90’s. The world has become an even more globalized and borderless place since, letting any possible errant weaponry supplied to the Syrian rebels travel with much more ease. So now the question stands:  Are lethal instruments slipping through the cracks worth it to combat a potential national security threat? Or is it replacing one national security threat with another? In both the 80’s and today we seemingly answered yes to the first , and now we watch to see if history does indeed repeat itself. View high resolution

    By now the fix is in for Syria. President Obama has laid out his 2 options: Either Bashar al-Assad becomes a Middle Eastern flower child and hands over his chemical weapons to the international community peacefully or The U.S. will use Tomahawks to transform select Syrian targets into glass factories. But then there’s the third, less bandied about option: Supply Syrian rebels with lethal munitions to combat Assad’s forces. It’s a plan that has been in the works since June, but if put in a historical context, it may not be the most beneficial route to travel.

    In my last post I had written about the U.S. intervention that ultimately lead Afghanistan’s Mujahideen rebels to upend the the invading Soviet forces. A key deciding factor to the Kremlin bashing in Kabul was the weapon that The United States supplied to the Afghan rebels - The FIM-92 Stinger. The MANPADS (Man-Portable Air Defense System) missile weighed in at 35 lbs of commie crushing power, traveled at a pace of 1,500 mph, and would haunt the Russians until wars-end.

    Prior to the introduction of the Stinger, the Mujahideen forces arsenal of AK-47’s and weaponized Kajagoogoo records paled in comparison to the Soviet’s arial onslaught. But in 1986, the new projectile would turn the tables. The once hapless rebels could now make mincemeat of the arial death machines from up to 5 miles away with the missiles heat-seeking sensors. Couple the Mujahideen’s newly found land-to-air dominance with the fact that Soviet tanks had been rendered worthless due to Afghanistan’s mountainous terrain, the rebels were able to follow their U.S. supplied itchy trigger finger to victory road.

    Nothing beats a happy ending. So, what bookends this touching tale of cooperation? The Mujahadeen handed over the unused Stinger rockets to the outstretched arms of The U.S., who then tucked the inanimate war heroes into bed to retire to a hero’s glory.

    Well, not quite. What actually happened was the United States government had to don the hat akin to a disgruntled librarian and go on a witch hunt to recover it’s absent property. Operation Missing in Action Stingers (I did not make that up) was launched in 1990 with a budget of $65 million, and it tasked the CIA with hunting down every last Stinger missile. Alas, like any hunt for 80’s memorabilia, the item sought proved illusive and terribly overpriced. The missiles were selling for up to a whopping $100,000 a piece, and by the mid-90’s an estimated 600 Stingers were still unaccounted for, with the search still ongoing into the most recent war in Afghanistan. 

    Now we sit and nurse the idea of opening and arms bazaar once again, potentially learning nothing from history. In trying to nudge the president down this path, Senator Carl Levin opined that the weapons would go to “vetted” groups amongst the Syrian rebels, supplying them with an arsenal that couldn’t be turned on us. But doesn’t this lack a sense of foresight? The history of the Stinger shows that there is more damage that can be done from your weapons than just having them turned on you. Lost missiles turned up in the hands of militant groups, were purchased by aggressor governments such as North Korea, and have been dissected by the Chinese to learn their inner workings. Not to mention the large search-and-recover costs. All of this played against the United State’s best interests, even though it wasn’t through direct physical violence.

    And that was all in the 1980’s-90’s. The world has become an even more globalized and borderless place since, letting any possible errant weaponry supplied to the Syrian rebels travel with much more ease. So now the question stands:  Are lethal instruments slipping through the cracks worth it to combat a potential national security threat? Or is it replacing one national security threat with another? In both the 80’s and today we seemingly answered yes to the first , and now we watch to see if history does indeed repeat itself.