We Can’t Afford to “Intervene” in Syria

Not while this is happening right here in our very own World’s Most Powerful Nation, right now:

DYERSBURG, Tenn. — As a self-described “true Southern man” — and reluctant recipient of food stamps — Dustin Rigsby, a struggling mechanic, hunts deer, doves and squirrels to help feed his family. He shops for grocery bargains, cooks budget-stretching stews and limits himself to one meal a day.

Tarnisha Adams, who left her job skinning hogs at a slaughterhouse when she became ill with cancer, gets $352 a month in food stamps for herself and three college-age sons. She buys discount meat and canned vegetables, cheaper than fresh. Like Mr. Rigsby, she eats once a day — “if I eat,” she said.

When Congress officially returns to Washington next week, the diets of families like the Rigsbys and the Adamses will be caught up in a debate over deficit reduction. Republicans, alarmed by a rise in food stamp enrollment, are pushing to revamp and scale down the program. Democrats are resisting the cuts.

No matter what Congress decides, benefits will be reduced in November, when a provision in the 2009 stimulus bill expires…

Surrounded by corn and soybean farms — including one owned by the local Republican congressman, Representative Stephen Fincher — Dyersburg, about 75 miles north of Memphis, provides an eye-opening view into Washington’s food stamp debate. Mr. Fincher, who was elected in 2010 on a Tea Party wave and collected nearly $3.5 million in farm subsidies from the government from 1999 to 2012, recently voted for a farm bill that omitted food stamps.

“The role of citizens, of Christianity, of humanity, is to take care of each other, not for Washington to steal from those in the country and give to others in the country,” Mr. Fincher, whose office did not respond to interview requests, said after his vote in May. In response to a Democrat who invoked the Bible during the food stamp debate in Congress, Mr. Fincher cited his own biblical phrase. “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat,” he said…

Now if Congress wanted to mandate a targeted strike on Rep. Fincher, I would be on board with that, because his removal would be a improvement even if it just meant one less One Percenter parasite on the farm-subsidy teat. But since that’s not happening, I’m glad my new Senator (and former Rep) had the balls to vote with his brain, not his… instincts:

Markey said he cast his equivocal vote because he wants more time to analyze the situation. He said in an interview that the resolution was written too broadly and allowed for the potential that the United States would become far more entangled in the Syrian conflict.

“My one concern is that we not get on a slippery slope — that we understand all of the steps that this action could lead to,” he said. “It’s about the resolution being too broad. It’s about the need for more information. It’s about my worry about a greater involvement in Syria.”

Asked why he did not just oppose the authorization, as did some of his colleagues who had similar concerns, he said, “A no vote would have indicated I had sufficient information on which to base the decision. Which I did not.”…

It’s being said that the Administration has already dismisse[d] U.N. inspections in Syria of alleged chemical weapons sites”, because why wait around for a bunch of peacenik scientists when our own “U.S. intelligence community” assures us that we’ve got as much [redacted] information as we need. This would not be a great precedent under any circumstances. But why are “we” so eager to discuss the exact parameters under which “we” will splurge a whole bunch of million-dollar targeted munitions, when so many of our fellow Americans are suffering because “we can’t afford” to care for our own?

Why are “we” discussing global send-a-message military expeditions on the other side of the world, instead of talking about the various (GOP-manufactured) Fiscal Crises right here at home?

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit

229 replies
  1. 1
    Little Boots says:

    yup, but we will.

  2. 2
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @Little Boots: A. I doubt it’ll pass in the house, it will in the senate. B. Ever consider this might be a bluff?

  3. 3
    NotMax says:

    I don’t receive food stamps. My entire food bill for a month runs around $70, plus or minus a few shekels. And grocery prices are notoriously high here compared to the mainland.

  4. 4
    👾 Martin says:

    But why are “we” so eager to discuss the exact parameters under which “we” will splurge a whole bunch of million-dollar targeted munitions, when so many of our fellow Americans are suffering because “we can’t afford” to care for our own?

    Will not acting in Syria have any influence on food stamps? Does anyone actually think the vote on food stamps has anything at all to do with spending, particularly when everyone on the right is claiming growing deficits, that are actually shrinking faster than the CBO and OMB can keep up with estimates?

    There are times when Congress is forced to choose, but very, very few times. Food stamps cannot be used as an excuse against Syria because in reality it has nothing to do with Syria, not for Obama and not for any member of Congress. And if they raise it as such, it’s only because they’re looking for some excuse to avoid telling the truth. Congress isn’t avoiding the food stamp discussion because Syria is taking up all their energy. They’re avoiding the food stamp discussion because they straight up don’t fucking care.

    “U.S. intelligence community”

    UK and France, too. Not to mention a flood of spontaneous video reports. As the chemical weapons experts have noted – that would be impossible to fake. Not to mention Doctors without Borders and other agents that have no interest is covering up something like this who were on the ground reporting it.

    The suggestion that no chemical weapon attack took place is pretty out there. Fair to raise questions about who did it, but the UN has indicated that they will have no evidence nor are they interested in answering that question. So when the UN comes back and says yes, the following chemical weapons were used, but we don’t know by whom, will that actually cause anyone to change their mind on this? Doesn’t seem like it. Seems more like a lot of people holding out hope that it’ll provide the vindication that they never got from Iraq.

  5. 5
    Anne Laurie says:

    @👾 Martin:

    Congress isn’t avoiding the food stamp discussion because Syria is taking up all their energy. They’re avoiding the food stamp discussion because they straight up don’t fucking care.

    Bad idea giving them the excuse, then. Let’s get our house in order, instead of chasing distractions.

    The suggestion that no chemical weapon attack took place is pretty out there. Fair to raise questions about who did it, but the UN has indicated that they will have no evidence nor are they interested in answering that question. So when the UN comes back and says yes, the following chemical weapons were used, but we don’t know by whom, will that actually cause anyone to change their mind on this?

    The concensus seems to be that somebody used some kind of chemical weapons, but (as the linked article says) there’s every reason to wait two weeks, or less, to give the UN the chance to verify what it can verify. And while Congress waits, they can talk about domestic problems!

  6. 6
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @👾 Martin: Remember with Iraq, the administration had all the answers. They knew where the WMD’s were; North, South, East, West of Baghdad and Takrik. However, they pulled all of those answers out of their asses.

  7. 7
    James E. Powell says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    Bad idea giving them the excuse, then. Let’s get our house in order, instead of chasing distractions.

    You’re being a little vague. Who is giving whom an excuse? Whose house are you talking about?

    And while Congress waits, they can talk about domestic problems!

    As Bill points out, and as I am pretty they have demonstrated for many years now, the Republicans do not care about people who don’t have enough for food. For them, it is not a problem. When they behave in this way, they become more popular with their voters.

  8. 8
    mericafukyea says:

    Not that any of you idealist wanks and armchair geopolitical experts will get it.

    “the moral thing to do is not to do nothing.”

    President Barack Obama, Sept04 2013

  9. 9
    NotMax says:

    @mericafukyea

    Ah, so the president (any president) is the absolute arbiter of morality.

    Must’ve missed that amendment’s passage.

  10. 10
    raven says:

    @NotMax: Yea but you be eatin grubs and other hippie shit!

  11. 11
    NotMax says:

    @raven

    “Aw, grubs again. Grumble, grumble.”
       - Firesign Theater

  12. 12
    raven says:

    @NotMax: There it is!

  13. 13
    raven says:

    Joe and Howard Dean are having a fun spat.

  14. 14
    glasnost says:

    Will not acting in Syria have any influence on food stamps? Does anyone actually think the vote on food stamps has anything at all to do with spending, particularly when everyone on the right is claiming growing deficits, that are actually shrinking faster than the CBO and OMB can keep up with estimates?

    This. The food stamp article betty linked to displays a painful and sad state of affairs. I loathe the opposition to increased spending on food stamps. I would increase it if I could, but I can’t. The goddamn Republicans won’t allow it, and nothing I can do can change it directly. I’m already supporting efforts to get them out and supporting food kitchens via my money.

    Meanwhile, I’m also in favor of intervention in Syria, because if we intervene in Syria, the GOP won’t allow us to increase food stamp spending. And if we don’t intervene in Syria, the GOP won’t allow us to increase food stamp spending.

    Our sucky political system will not allow the better things to be done that we could in theory do instead. There are no votes for increasing spending on Syrian refugees. There are no votes for increasing humanitarian aid (except, maybe, thrown into a vote authorizing strikes). There are no votes for etc etc etc. There may be votes for trying to pressure and weaken Assad with bombs. I have no reason to oppose hitting Assad if doing so is a net good, even if there are other possible things to be done that would be even better goods, because in real life those other things are politically impossible.
    I wish they weren’t.

  15. 15
    Cacti says:

    Ed Markey cast a principled vote of “present”.

    Profile in courage, that guy.

  16. 16
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @raven: At least Halprin has a beard and not a goatee. Didn’t seem to make a difference, he’s still a dick.

  17. 17
  18. 18
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @raven: Joe doesn’t seem to understand that keeping Assad guessing about what and when we may or may not do might be a good thing.

  19. 19
    Cacti says:

    @glasnost:

    Meanwhile, I’m also in favor of intervention in Syria, because if we intervene in Syria, the GOP won’t allow us to increase food stamp spending. And if we don’t intervene in Syria, the GOP won’t allow us to increase food stamp spending

    .

    The House hearings with Kerry hammered home what a pack of amateurs the GOP are. Benghazi! Fast and Furious! I’m with stupid!

    Reasonable people can come to different conclusions about serious issues. But the talk radio branch of government would rather beat their meat about every non-serious issue they’ve concocted over the past 5-years.

  20. 20
    glasnost says:

    The concensus seems to be that somebody used some kind of chemical weapons, but (as the linked article says) there’s every reason to wait two weeks, or less, to give the UN the chance to verify what it can verify. And while Congress waits, they can talk about domestic problems!

    I can’t believe the incredible prevalence of doubts about who did it. What bothers me so much is that the admin released a summary of their intelligence. It is, in fact, an overwhelmingly strong case. It relies on stuff that you don’t need spies to figure out – like that Assads have the air superiority, artillery concentrations, and large available supplies of chem weapons to successfully make a massive strike like this and the rebels don’t. Furthermore, the strikes came from Assad-held areas of Damascus, and this isn’t just a line on a map. Assad parts of Damascus are fiercely defended in a running urban war. Sneaking one guy in there is hard enough, sneaking tens of rebel artillery pieces in is a ridiculous idea. And then, once they have the genius breakthrough that lets them do that, they turn around and fire all of this painfully assembled stuff (which there’s no evidence they have, and no reason they’d be able to get it) on their own people instead of the nerve center of the enemy 1/2 a mile away?

    It’s a deeply nutty idea. And that’s before you get to the intercepted communications from Assad folks saying “hey man, let’s drop sarin on these assholes”, or “OMG I can’t believe you dropped sarin on these assholes”, or whatever. Either you think the Obama admin is completely falsifying this intel, which is an unwarranted accusation, I think – or Assad’s forces did it.

    The circumstantial evidence is, on its own, already overwhelming. For god’s sake, read the admin’s summary.

  21. 21
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    Joe, I’m sure that our allies are relying on the news media for what the President thinks, being that he’s at the G-20. He might just run into some of those folk there.

  22. 22
    John S. says:

    @NotMax:

    Don’t be obtuse. There has been a philosophical debate about the merits/demerits of causing harm through action vs. allowing harm through inaction. Obama is not the arbiter of correctness on the matter, but he is clearly voicing his opinion.

    Some people agree with him, some disagree.

  23. 23
    Cacti says:

    @glasnost:

    I can’t believe the incredible prevalence of doubts about who did it. What bothers me so much is that the admin released a summary of their intelligence. It is, in fact, an overwhelmingly strong case. It relies on stuff that you don’t need spies to figure out – like that Assads have the air superiority, artillery concentrations, and large available supplies of chem weapons to successfully make a massive strike like this and the rebels don’t.

    That’s quite the head-scratcher for me too. It is known that the Syrian military have both the ordnance and the logistical capability to pull off a large scale, coordinated chemical attack like the one that occurred on 08/21.

    For the rebels, on the other hand, it would be a show of organization and sophistication that they haven’t demonstrated to date. In which case, those who say it was the rebels would be obliged to produce some fairly compelling evidence.

  24. 24
  25. 25
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @glasnost: It’s all just Mossad and the CIA and the big oil companies, all working hand in hand, trying to drive prices up at the pump.

    Besides, imperialism is imperialism, it’s eternal and immutable, and that goes double for US imperialism.

    I learned certain ways of looking at foreign affairs and foreign policy 35, 40 years ago, and they’ve always worked for me. I’m too old, too busy, and too damn tired, to acquire new ones.

    It’s all too depressing, and too much bloody work.

  26. 26
    Applejinx says:

    “The moral thing is not to do nothing” has direct relevance to what Congress does domestically as well. Might not be just Syria Obama is talking about.

  27. 27
    Cacti says:

    @raven:

    The UN commission, which is investigating human rights abuses in Syria since the start of the civil war, later released a statement distancing itself from the allegations. It said that investigators had “not reached conclusive findings as to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by any parties to the conflict”

    Sounds like Carla del Ponte is speaking for herself.

  28. 28
    Baud says:

    Is Assad still claiming his side didn’t do it? I haven’t heard of him offering any evidence to bolster his case that it was the rebels.

  29. 29
    Cacti says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    I learned certain ways of looking at foreign affairs and foreign policy 35, 40 years ago, and they’ve always worked for me.

    @Davis X. Machina:

    It’s all just Mossad and the CIA and the big oil companies

    And the first group that should be blamed is…

    The Jews!

  30. 30
    Baud says:

    Why are “we” discussing global send-a-message military expeditions on the other side of the world, instead of talking about the various (GOP-manufactured) Fiscal Crises right here at home?

    BTW, before Syria, “we” seemed to be spending an inordinate amount of time talking about Snowden, Greenwald, and the NSA and not what the GOP was doing to this country.

  31. 31
    Baud says:

    @Cacti:

    Perfect Rosh Hashanah comment!

  32. 32
    raven says:

    @Cacti: Yea, I wasn’t vouching for it. Lang has a number of links like that.

    eta And I guarantee he puts it on the Jews!

  33. 33
    Cacti says:

    @Baud:

    BTW, before Syria, “we” seemed to be spending an inordinate amount of time talking about Snowden, Greenwald, and the NSA and not what the GOP was doing to this country.

    Kay talked about what the GOP was doing to this country.

    AL, JC, and mistermix were all having months-long Snowden circle jerk.

  34. 34
    Baud says:

    @Cacti:

    Yes, Kay is awesome. She is my favorite blogger on the whole Internet.

    ETA: MSNBC seemed to be having an NSA marathon as well, so it’s not just the blogs.

  35. 35
    mericafukyea says:

    @NotMax: If you are only capable of childishly simplistic logic like that then by all means run with it. You will fit right in around here.

  36. 36
    fuckwit says:

    @mericafukyea: Indeed. The moral thing to do is to have the fucking UN– jeebus, maybe even the Arab League– take care of policing its member states.

    This is not our fucking job.

  37. 37
    pillsy says:

    @Cacti:

    A lot of the skepticism seems to be driven by the weird belief that if you think Assad used chemical weapons against the rebels, it logically follows that you think the US should get involved militarily. I don’t see why the use of chemical weapons renders all the other arguments against intervention moot.

  38. 38
    Cacti says:

    @glasnost:

    The circumstantial evidence is, on its own, already overwhelming. For god’s sake, read the admin’s summary.

    Speaking of

    HOW: Troops from Syria’s military unit that handles chemical weapons, the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center, prepared such weapons in the three days prior to the attack. Another Syrian military unit was detected preparing gas masks in readiness for such an attack.

    WHEN: On the morning of Aug. 21, at 2:30 a.m. local time, multiple streams of intelligence including satellite images show a barrage of rocket and artillery fire was launched from regime-controlled territory into the Damascus suburbs where the chemical weapons attacks reportedly occurred, approximately 90 minutes before reports of the attack started appearing in social media from affected areas.

  39. 39
    gene108 says:

    “The role of citizens, of Christianity, of humanity, is to take care of each other, not for Washington to steal from those in the country and give to others in the country,” Mr. Fincher,

    Seems to be a common refrain among right-wingers these days.

    Right-wingers “love charity”, so long as the aid is not provided by the government, in which case all the poor getting fed should just starve until churches can ramp up to fill the demand.

    Sort of turns the notion of “any means to an end” on its head, where the end result is immaterial and the only thing that matters is the means of delivery, no matter how inefficient it is.

  40. 40
    kdaug says:

    I hear 2 arguments pro

    “our credibility is at stake” – our credibility has been shot since Iragi WMDs to the east/west/north/south of Bahgdad

    “we have ironclad intelligence” – which contract 20-something at Booz-Allen is that from?

    Unconvinced.

  41. 41
    MomSense says:

    @glasnost:

    I can’t believe the incredible prevalence of doubts about who did it.

    @John S.:

    There has been a philosophical debate about the merits/demerits of causing harm through action vs. allowing harm through inaction.

    It is much easier to choose not to do anything about the use of chemical weapons in Syria if it is a case of causing harm through action while resisting the lying war mongering administration rather than confront the actual choice of which action is more moral, causes less harm, etc. It is one of those awful situations that puts our values in conflict no matter what we choose to do.

    Anne Laurie, we have been talking about the humanitarian crises of poverty here at home as long as I can remember but it never gets through to the Republicans because some of them are incapable of empathy, some of them are choosing to see poor people as simply lazy (easier to deny them food that way), and some of them are so beholding to the predatory companies who take advantage by paying poverty level wages or by not paying taxes that they will say and do anything no matter how awful the human consequences. I’m sure there are other horrific explanations for Republican behavior as well.

    They have just enough power to prevent us from doing the right thing on food stamps and a lot of other issues. We can talk about it and we do. I hope we will do more than talk about it and fight for Democrats to win both the House and the Senate this year so that we can get some damned help for the people who are suffering.

  42. 42
    Cacti says:

    @pillsy:

    A lot of the skepticism seems to be driven by the weird belief that if you think Assad used chemical weapons against the rebels, it logically follows that you think the US should get involved militarily. I don’t see why the use of chemical weapons renders all the other arguments against intervention moot

    .

    Whether direct military intervention is required is a fair question, and one that should be and is being debated.

    My skepticism is toward the “do nothing whatsoever” position expressed by some. A chemical attack on a civilian population should warrant an international response of some kind in lieu of the 1993 convention on chemical weapons.

  43. 43

    Why are “we” discussing global send-a-message military expeditions on the other side of the world, instead of talking about the various (GOP-manufactured) Fiscal Crises right here at home?

    Because everyone in Village loves them some Boom Boom. Makes them feel tough, righteous, and warm all over regardless of the actual outcome of all the human carnage they leave behind.

    Poor people? The Unemployed? It’s not sexy, not popular, doesn’t give that same warm fuzzy feeling.

  44. 44
    Cacti says:

    “we have ironclad intelligence” – which contract 20-something at Booz-Allen is that from?

    Unconvinced.

    Well, there’s the 3,600 people that Doctors Without Borders treated at 3 different hospitals, showing symptoms of neurotoxicity. And there’s the 1,400 dead people.

    ETA: I guess it’s possible they all ate a bad batch of mushrooms at the same time or something.

  45. 45
    gene108 says:

    @fuckwit:

    The moral thing to do is to have the fucking UN– jeebus, maybe even the Arab League– take care of policing its member states.

    You do realize the manpower the U.N. has to police its member states comes from its member states, like the U.S. of A?

    Being the richest country on the planet and the third most populace we are in pretty deep to committing manpower to the U.N. no matter how you slice it.

  46. 46
    Botsplainer says:

    @gene108:

    Right-wingers “love charity” in theory, so long as the aid is not provided by the government, in which case all the poor getting fed should just starve until churches can ramp up to fill the demand.

    FTFY

    The churches did such a genuinely shitty job of social welfare that it became necessary to create strong welfare states in order to get basic needs attended to. The needs as addressed by churches were done haphazardly, parsimoniously, and with a shload of god-bothering.

  47. 47
    Baud says:

    @Botsplainer:

    When right wingers complain about dependency on government, what they really hate is the freedom from dependency on them.

  48. 48
    Botsplainer says:

    @Baud:

    When right wingers complain about dependency on government, what they really hate is the freedom from dependency on them.

    It always does come down to control, doesn’t it?

  49. 49
    MomSense says:

    @Botsplainer:

    One could argue that churches could muster the resources to respond to occasional hunger crises-but not chronic hunger and poverty. Also, too churches rely on the contributions of their members and the members are affected by the same problems of poverty as the rest of their communities.

    This argument about charity vs. institutional support is just nonsense but it is meant to convey that people aren’t sociopaths they just want the help to come from somewhere else.

    The other problem with charity is that it is really hard to plan when you rely on volunteer support.
    Do they really think it is sufficient help for a family with children to say “if people donate enough canned food/money on Sunday we can give you something to eat this week??

  50. 50
    rp says:

    Don’t intervene in Syria because of food stamps? What are you, 14? Ridiculous post.

  51. 51
    Betty Cracker says:

    I’ve always hated the overly simplistic argument wingnuts trot out to discourage deficit spending (only while Democrats are in the White House, of course), i.e., “If your family spends more than it takes in, you have to tighten your belts.” This ignores the complex, multifaceted role government spending plays in the larger economy and the kajillion other ways government income and spending is not at all like family budgets.

    But that argument resonates, and not just with the 27% of hardcore nutters, because it is visceral and easy to grasp. So framing this debate in terms of “we can’t afford to police the world because we have to take care of our own” might be effective. Is it an oversimplification? Sure. Many effective political arguments are.

  52. 52
    Botsplainer says:

    @MomSense:

    This argument about charity vs. institutional support is just nonsense but it is meant to convey that people aren’t sociopaths they just want the help to come from somewhere else.

    You can see this in the bragging that will pop out on the release of tax returns from god-bothering pols in elections. Inevitably, you’ll hear about their charity, meaning the deduction they take from donation to their country club/social center, er, make that church.

    That is actually the furthest thing from charity.

  53. 53
    Keith G says:

    @fuckwit: & AL

    This is not our fucking job.

    I am pretty sure that this is not a relevant construct. When is it ever our job to influence better outcomes in international actions. Was it technically our job to create the Marshall Plan, to work to stem the bloodshed in the former Yugoslavia, or to keep Gadhafi’s forces out of Benghazi?

    No.

    The question becomes: Are there outcomes that we desperately want to avoid?

    Anything we do in Syria will be problematic and wrapped in uncertainty at best. Doing nothing assures that a humanitarian and refugee crises continues to grow. That growing crises will serve to destabilize the entire levant. I guess it is possible to fantasize that allowing more destabilization into the eastern Mediterranean will be just peachy, but I think it’s wise to have some doubts.

    If Jordan is (further) destabilized everything from Iranian containment to Israeli-Palestinian final status talks suffer. If Syrian armed conflict spills north or south (involving Lebanon or Turkey) other piles of problems come into play.

    Yes Obama is confronted with the ultimate shit sandwich, but it seem to me that the thinking is that we engage now with the hope that we can avoid a more extensive, more expensive, and more necessary engagement later.

  54. 54
    Emma says:

    @glasnost: Why bother about evidence? You’re dealing with the left’s equivalent of the Teabaggers. They know what they know and they want what they want. And what they want is to not to deal with international crises anymore but retain a posture of not being plain vanilla isolationists.

    And as far as this post is concerned, let me ask Annie Laurie how do we force Republicans in Congress to grow compassion and basic humanity. And please give specifics. None of the mealymouthed crap about “talking about” because the liberal Universe, including this blog, talks about it daily. There are people, including some of the posters and commenters in this blog, who invest large parts of their lives in trying to change what’s happening. Anything else?

  55. 55
    pillsy says:

    @Cacti:

    Well, I’ve got nothing against strong international condemnation that falls short of actually launching missiles at Syria, but Assad pretty clearly doesn’t give a shit about that, and I’m pretty sure no future dictator who’s thinking about dropping nerve gas on civilians will either. Maybe Assad would care if the Russians changed their tune, but that doesn’t seem likely anytime soon–they’ve got their crazy false-flag theory and they’re running with it.

    Of course, Russian intransigence makes the chances of getting UN backing for actual military intervention as roughly zero, even if we could ultimately bring our European and regional allies around. If we had a real coalition bigger than the US and France, it still wouldn’t answer questions about what, exactly, we’d be trying to accomplish with the military campaign.

    I really want to do something. I just have no idea what “something” would actually achieve the goals of punishing Assad for butchering his own people and detering future use of chemical weapons without getting us involved in an open-ended campaign aimed at removing him from power. I really don’t thiknk an open-ended campaign aimed at removing him from power is a remotely good idea.

    This truly would be less frustrating if I believed that by opposing air strikes on Syria, I was foiling a dastardly plot by al Qaeda and the MIC. As it is, I’m stuck advocating for what looks like the least shitty course of action out of an extremely shitty set of choices.

  56. 56
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Baud: Why should being of the Left be so much more work than being of the Right?

    Give me a couple-three simple ideas I can use over and over again in every situation, regardless of how apposite, and let me get on with my life.

    All of this case-by-case, on the one hand, on the other business is so wearying.

  57. 57
    The Pale Scot says:

    Has anyone noticed that Maher al-Assad story is eerily similar to Michael Corleone’s? Macho older brother Bassel stupidly get himself killed, so London opthamologist Maher who was never expected to get involved in the family business takes over.

    Unfortunately, there’s no Muslim Commission to go to to negotiate peace.

  58. 58
    weaselone says:

    @pillsy:

    If we had a real coalition bigger than the US and France

    The coalition is already bigger than the US and France. It includes Turkey, which didn’t even grant us the ability to transit their territory during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and several of the Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia who have offered to bankroll the strike.

  59. 59
    Punchy says:

    Did they use Whitey Pete? Because I hear that stuff is harmless…

  60. 60
    Vanya says:

    @Cacti: I don’t get the weird fetishism about chemical weapons either. Of course they’re bad. So are land mines. So is shooting children in the head with bullets or dropping conventional bombs on them. Deliberately starving populations to death is pretty evil for that matter. It seems frankly ridiculous to give Assad a pass all these years and yet now, oh, chemical weapons, well that just changes everything. Should the 1993 convention be enforced? Yes, but not unilaterally. If Russia and China won’t support us the convention has already been rendered moot as far as the world is concerned no matter what actions we take to punish Assad.

  61. 61
    Schlemizel says:

    this is not directed at anyone here but at our courageous and thoughtful leaders in Congress.

    Where the fuck were you guys 10 years ago when we needed you? What were you reading when both the UN and US experts reported those aluminum tubes were not usable for uranium enrichment? Who were you listening to when the weapons inspectors were reporting unprecedented cooperation from Iraq and the absence of any WMD? What did you say about the CIA report indicating the yellow cake story was not true? Where was this skepticism when it would have mattered? Why is the desire to slow down and look at this carefully just a recent phenomenon?

    Apparently the only thing you need to do to get Republicans to be against dropping a few tons of high explosives on one of those countries is to have it proposed by a Democrat. No matter how you feel about blowing up Syria a little bit more this one feature of the debate should be irritating and it should be highlighted until the dawn of realization appears over the fetid swamp that is modern America.

  62. 62
    Baud says:

    @Schlemizel:

    You could say the same thing about the deficit and a host of other issues. It’s a fact of modern political life and media that we just have to constantly push back against.

  63. 63
    weaselone says:

    When I looked at this post earlier this morning, I could have sworn I saw a comment which pointed out that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have indicated that they will pony up the cash for any strike on Syria. I don’t see it now, so I figured I would bring it up as it blows a massive hole in the Swiss cheese of an argument that a strike against Syria has an impact on the decision to cut food stamps.

  64. 64
    pillsy says:

    @weaselone:

    Sure. But we don’t have a lot of NATO support beyond France and Turkey, last I checked the Arab League (which obviously we aren’t even a part of) is only willing to support military intervention if it’s supported by the full UN, and the UN really isn’t interested at the moment. I don’t see anything there that we can point to as support for the argument that air strikes or worse are a legitimate expression of an international consensus against the use of chemical weapons.

    I don’t think that’s a sufficient condition for the US taking military action by any means, but is a necessary one.

  65. 65
    Baud says:

    @Vanya:

    I don’t get the weird fetishism about chemical weapons either. Of course they’re bad

    I think it’s a bit demeaning to call it a fetish. War is inherently a god-awful horror, but there are certain norms that have been developed throughout history about how it is supposed to be fought. One of those is that you don’t use chemical weapons. Would you be ok if Obama tomorrow decided that the U.S. would no longer honor the chemical weapons ban and restock our supplies? If not, I don’t think you’re being fair in calling concern about chemical weapons a fetish.

  66. 66
    raven says:

    @Punchy: Willie not Whitey.

  67. 67
    hildebrand says:

    @Baud: Bingo. I also remember that when anybody tried to talk about anything else, or try to widen the scope of the civil liberties discussion, they were hooted down as Obots or ‘were trying to change the subject.’

  68. 68
    danielx says:

    Why are “we” discussing global send-a-message military expeditions on the other side of the world, instead of talking about the various (GOP-manufactured) Fiscal Crises right here at home?

    Because those Fiscal Crises are not crises for the Very Serious People. David Brooks (to name a most egregious example) is never going to have to worry about his food stamps being cut, so it’s not a problem to him; it’s not part of his reality.

    Besides, it’s a lot more fun for the VSPs to think about Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy! being gifted by way of heaping helpings of high explosives than it is to think about hungry people here at home. Those People are just so tiresome.

  69. 69
    NotMax says:

    @mericafukyea

    On the contrary, it was a measured response to your vapid, name-calling comment which clearly implied that the sentence fragment you cited was the be all and end all and ought put any further debate to rest.

  70. 70
    MomSense says:

    @Botsplainer:

    And I’m all for donating to faith communities as I am a preacher’s kid because many of them do good work. It is simply not enough to deal with chronic poverty, food insecurity, and lack of access to health care.

    And yes, some of the pols and their contributions are BS! Pay some darned taxes and thank your God you earn enough that you can. How about if you love your country and think it is the greatest in the world, cough up some funds because it is starting to look pretty ratty. I don’t know where you live but our roads and bridges are full of holes and rust. Also, too our local post office stairs have been taped off in places for over a year because they are crumbling.

  71. 71
    cmorenc says:

    Representative Stephen Fincher… who was elected in 2010 on a Tea Party wave and collected nearly $3.5 million in farm subsidies from the government from 1999 to 2012, recently voted for a farm bill that omitted food stamps.

    “The role of citizens, of Christianity, of humanity, is to take care of each other, not for Washington to steal from those in the country and give to others in the country…

    The passages from Jesus about the Pharisees is totally lost on Stephen: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the Law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” (Matthew 23:23-24)”

    Steve, your meeting with Jesus probably isn’t going to go the way you’re expecting…

  72. 72
    ericblair says:

    @Botsplainer:

    Inevitably, you’ll hear about their charity, meaning the deduction they take from donation to their country club/social center, er, make that church.

    Yeah, I have a real problem with giving money to your church to buy a new high def AV system for the sanctuary and calling it charity.

    Remember Katrina? Biggest outpouring of charity I can remember; everybody was donating something. Ended up with something like $1.5 billion in private donations! Except the rebuilding ended up costing over $40 billion. So no, charity doesn’t cut it even for the biggest sexiest disasters.

    Back to the original topic: I certainly think there are good arguments against intervention in Syria, but trying to pretend chemical weapons weren’t used or some component of the Syrian military wasn’t responsible for launching them is just perverse at this point. It’s trying to make this into a replay of Iraq 2003 for ideological reasons. And does anybody on this planet actually think that in the (likely) event that Syrian intervention gets voted down in the House, they’ll get right to the food stamp issue? Really?

  73. 73
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Vanya

    : I don’t get the weird fetishism about chemical weapons either.

    Because regular armies can protect themselves to easily and civilians can’t Chemical weapons pretty much have no real military use unless beyond terrorizing civilians with. Even then they aren’t that effective – it’s not like the rebels in Syria have collapsed over Assassad use of it.

  74. 74
    J says:

    At this point, I’d rather that Obama appeased Assad than the Republicans!

  75. 75
    NotMax says:

    @NotMax

    Expanding a bit, I “get” what Obama was saying. As someone who intractably and to the very core believes that the act of killing is immoral, I also disagree with his statement and believe it is untrue.

    There can be justifications for killing, but to me it can not ever be moral. And certainly never morally superior.

  76. 76
    HRA says:

    I can agree about no one in this country of plenty should be hungry. I can agree we should not go to war in Syria. I cannot agree that one statement will serve to change the other statement’s message.
    There are conflicting reports and messages daily about Syria. One of them states Kerry is wrong about the chemical massacre. A new report says the Syrian rebels have attacked a Christian village.
    I am still against our intervention. This sounds all too familiar.

  77. 77
    Morbo says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    And while Congress waits, they can talk about domestic problems!

    You do realize that both houses of Congress would be on recess this week without these votes, right?

  78. 78
    glasnost says:

    I really want to do something. I just have no idea what “something” would actually achieve the goals of punishing Assad for butchering his own people and detering future use of chemical weapons without getting us involved in an open-ended campaign aimed at removing him from power. I really don’t thiknk an open-ended campaign aimed at removing him from power is a remotely good idea.

    This is a perfectly defensible point of view. It is not neccessary to overtly stick to the fairly ignorant doubts about who committed the recent chem attack in order to make decent arguments against intervention. I’m in favor of intervention, but I don’t think there aren’t good contrary arguments.

    It’s precisely because I don’t care about abstract concepts of credibility that I don’t have a problem taking limited measures to cost-effectively weaken Assad and help the Syrian rebels win the war, which despite the varying behavior of said rebels is the sole feasible way of stopping the horrific violence there. It’s not really about chem for me at all, it’s about ending, reducing, or mitigating the brutalities of every size and shape, which means ending the war, which means the rebels winning, sooner.

  79. 79
    kc says:

    Woukd that be the same Steve Fincher who has received almost $9 million in agricultural subsidies over the past 10 years?

  80. 80
    Tone in DC says:

    As another comment mentioned, these proposed food stamp cuts will not get through the Senate. Neither will these melodramatic attempts by Orange Julius, Cantor and Nathan B. Forrest’s ghost to roll back the ACA.

    Little by little, these independent/couldn’t decide on something if their lives depended on it/swing voters are seeing just how useless, mean-spirited and utterly full of shit these teahadists are. Obama’s approval rating is just under 50%, and the legislative branch’s is around 10%. It’s taken too long, but some people are noticing this, finally.

  81. 81
    Dave says:

    There few things more ignorant than slippery slope arguments. But there seems to be an epidemic of this kind of thinking.

  82. 82
    retr2327 says:

    @Anne Laurie:
    It has been repeatedly reported that the U.N. inspectors’ mandate does not include determining who was behind the attack, only determining whether such an attack occurred. So if we’re confident that a chemical attack occurred, waiting for the U.N. inspectors’ report really is grabbing at an excuse (and an invalid one) for inaction.

    And I say that as someone who is by no means convinced that action is an appropriate (or useful, or good, or productive) response. But I hear enough BS arguments from the red side of the aisle; I don’t want to hear them from our side.

  83. 83
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    AL, if you are concerned about food stamps and food insecurity, why not use the blog to push the issue?

  84. 84
    Jamey says:

    @NotMax: Wow, that helped…

  85. 85
    Ben Cisco says:

    Why are “we” discussing global send-a-message military expeditions on the other side of the world, instead of talking about the various (GOP-manufactured) Fiscal Crises right here at home?

    I believe I found your answer:

    Whatever resources and money it would take to launch a limited air strike on Syria, the idea that if we weren’t launching such strike, that money would instead be used to rebuild America is preposterous. Such an argument requires the belief that Boehner’s Tea Party filled House will somehow get around to approving funds for American infrastructure if only we don’t attack Syria. If that were the case, the Republican House has had two-and-a-half years to make those investments, and they have chosen instead to freak out the country with their abject lies “overspending.”

  86. 86
    cleek says:

    @Dave:
    and if nothing is done about it, it will be the only kind of thinking anyone will be able to do!

  87. 87
    rikyrah says:

    Why is Syria upsetting people so much. I didn’t see this kind of frenzy around Libya.

  88. 88
    Betty Cracker says:

    @glasnost:

    It’s precisely because I don’t care about abstract concepts of credibility that I don’t have a problem taking limited measures to cost-effectively weaken Assad and help the Syrian rebels win the war, which despite the varying behavior of said rebels is the sole feasible way of stopping the horrific violence there. It’s not really about chem for me at all, it’s about ending, reducing, or mitigating the brutalities of every size and shape, which means ending the war, which means the rebels winning, sooner.

    About that varying behavior — what makes you confident that a rebel victory won’t entail even greater levels of violence?

  89. 89
    cleek says:

    according to McClatchy & Der Spiegel, the gas attack was initiated by a temper-tantrum and worsened by incompetence.

  90. 90
    chopper says:

    wait, we can’t afford to spend 30 million on some cruise missiles because of food stamps? what?

  91. 91
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    There few things more ignorant than slippery slope arguments. But there seems to be an epidemic of this kind of thinking.

    Slippery slope arguments are being made on both sides here.

    However, slippery slopes thinking is a tower of iron logic compared to Ann’s argument that because the GOP is stripping the safety net here, we can’t have a foreign policy.

  92. 92

    @rikyrah: Just wait for the next dispatch from Snowden and they will forget all about Syria.

  93. 93
    gelfling545 says:

    Perhaps action on food assistance would be better received in Congress if the bill were named the Walmart & McDonald’s Assistance Act as these & other corporations like them have used government resources to bolster their bottom line by being able to avoid paying a living wage to their workers. Congress is all about these “job creators”, no?

  94. 94
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @chopper: among the other “strengths” of that argument is that it rules out spending money on all kinds of things we generally like. Why spend money on PBS if people are starving? Why spend money on museums or art? Why spend money on protecting endangered species? Why spend money on gay veterans and their partners? It’s spectacularly facile. Not surprising, but spectacular nonetheless.

  95. 95
    nemesis says:

    Other countries, UK and France for starters, should pony up for this fight of choice.

    The US should offer tactical and strategic support where none of our bombs or bodies are used to kill Syrians.

    There will always be an excuse to go to war. The notion expressed on the demon box I found most repellant was that if we didnt strike back over the use of chelical weapons use on the Syrian population, then we would be tacitly condoning chemical weapons use for future tyrrants. What bullshit.

    The US supported chemical weapons use when Saddam struck his own people. Then when convenient, we decided that strike was horrific and Sadam was killed for it.

    This shit never ends. No more. We should be in the streets with pitchforks and torches. Unfortunately, we will be in front of the 60 inch watching reality shows and complaining about our gummit going into another war of choice. We get the gummit we deserve I suppose.

  96. 96
    Betty Cracker says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: There was some Snowden news yesterday I was tempted to put on the front page (Putin’s remarks about Snowden, specifically). But I try to refrain from outright trollery, and that was close to the line.

  97. 97
    catclub says:

    @rikyrah: Syria is MUCH closer to being a proxy for Iran.

    Libya had no powerful friends.

  98. 98
    catclub says:

    @nemesis: “if we didnt strike back over the use of chelical weapons use on the Syrian population, then we would be tacitly condoning chemical weapons use for future tyrrants.”

    By this logic, Uruguay is ALWAYS tacitly condoning chemical weapons use. Also, Ghana.

  99. 99
    Barry says:

    “Now if Congress wanted to mandate a targeted strike on Rep. Fincher, I would be on board with that, because his removal would be a improvement even if it just meant one less One Percenter parasite on the farm-subsidy teat.”

    In Charles Stross’ latest novel, there was an extradimensional parasite which replaced people’s toungues (based on a real-world parasite!).

    I’d loooooooooove to get that guy ‘fitted’ with one.

  100. 100
    chopper says:

    @nemesis:

    The US supported chemical weapons use when Saddam struck his own people. Then when convenient, we decided that strike was horrific and Sadam was killed for it.

    so because some asshole republican administrations didn’t really give a shit about the use of chemical weapons, obama doing so is garbage?

  101. 101
    Chyron HR says:

    @nemesis:

    The US supported chemical weapons use when Saddam struck his own people. Then when convenient, we decided that strike was horrific and Sadam was killed for it.

    Gee, the way I remember it, there was this whole big ball of lies about how Saddam had the ability and the desire to attack the US with nuclear weapons, and that was what he was ultimately “killed for”.

    But no, apparently it was just Saddam gassing his own people, so it’s exactly the same as the situation in Syria. How convenient!

  102. 102
    chopper says:

    @Herbal Infusion Bagger:

    Ann’s argument that because the GOP is stripping the safety net here, we can’t have a foreign policy.

    it’s also completely submitting to the republican argument for destroying the government. next she’ll be telling us that the US budget needs to be worked out ‘like a family sitting around the table paying bills’.

  103. 103
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @chopper: by the same token, we can’t say anything about homophobia in Russia, because the US government until recently was, and many Individual Americans are still, homophobic themselves. Oh well, not our problem, right?

  104. 104
    Pillsy says:

    @glasnost:

    Yeah. I’m really frustrated how many people are building the case against intervention on doltish conspiracy theories.

  105. 105
    Betty Cracker says:

    @chopper: I think there’s a more nuanced point to be made here. Maybe I’m wrong, but let me explain it from my perspective as both a staunch supporter of the president and someone who is 100% against this Syria intervention. I believe Obama is sincere in his motives and that he is both a better man and exponentially better president than the Republicans in question.

    However, US history is what it is, and Obama (and Americans in general) own it. Part of the damage done by Bush and his fuck-up predecessors and the US’s general villainy in that part of the world is an erosion of trust that makes it impossible for us to credibly claim moral leadership on this issue and marshal broad coalitions to address it. This is reality, and we are hamstrung by it. We can’t just wave that away because Obama is a better man than Bush.

    I have other objections to the intervention, but to address the specific point you raised, yeah, the actions of past asshole Republican administrations (and some Democrats, it must be said) are relevant to this debate. We don’t get a clean slate just because we recently elected a non-asshole.

  106. 106
    What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us? says:

    So, working is a mechanic is, according to Fincher, not working and someone who does that is not deserving of government support because the bible tells me so. But…not working as a farmer is working and therefore deserves government support! Also, when did we decide that people who have cancer had to keep working or they didn’t deserve any help?

    Also, as a “farmer” you’d think Fincher might be capable of figuring out that it may not be good for his bottom line, as a “farmer”, if the Dustin Rigsbys and Tarnisha Adamses of the world can’t afford to buy food. Last time I checked, it wasn’t so good for your business to see your customer base shrink. Since farmers are in the business of growing food, it seems obvious that it would be bad for them if fewer people can afford to buy food. That’s pretty much the law of supply and demand. I thought republicans still believed in that, because they’ve contorted some phrase in the Bible into telling them so.

  107. 107
    lumpkin says:

    @NotMax: I am genuinely interested in how you are able to eat well on $2.33 per day. Please share some details. thx

  108. 108
    askew says:

    Ah, the bitter PUMA strikes again. I love the innuendo and fake outrage in the morning.

    As for reality, the food stamp cuts were always going to happen regardless of Syria. Using that as an excuse for not doing anything in Syria is like when the wingnuts complain about the cost of Obama’s overseas trips or our foreign aid. It’s moronic.

    But, not as moronic as trying to pretend that the chemical attacks by the Syrian government have been confirmed by multiple sources. But, AL is not the only one peddling in this nonsense. Maddow went full-on conspiracy nut last night on her show. Her ODS is getting to her I guess.

  109. 109
    👾 Martin says:

    @BillinGlendaleCA:

    Remember with Iraq, the administration had all the answers.

    And this is a different administration. If JoeinGlendaleCA lies to me, I don’t automatically assume that BillinGlendaleCA will lie to me as well.

  110. 110
    chopper says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    it’s true that the country still has some political PTSD after bush and iraq, but i find the blanket condemnations of the administration’s argument as ‘hypocrisy’ and bullshit because of reagan to be weak tea.

    yeah, scrutinize and doubt the effectiveness, worry hard about mission creep and escalation (it is the mideast after all), argue that it isn’t our job. but calling the current administration’s motives and veracity into question merely because reagan was an unmitigated asshole is worse than meaningless.

    obama wants to increase funding for mental health? pfft, fuck that shit, i remember when reagan deinstitutionalized everyone and kicked millions of mentally ill people out on the street. now they care all of a sudden?

    obama wants more food stamp spending? pfft, fuck that shit, i remember when reagan cut food stamps complaining about ‘young bucks in cadillacs buying t-bone steaks’. now they care all of a sudden?

  111. 111
    askew says:

    @chopper:

    Yeah, the whole Reagan did argument is idiotic and it is being used by liberals to ignore the real suffering in Syria.

  112. 112
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    it’s also completely submitting to the republican argument for destroying the government. next she’ll be telling us that the US budget needs to be worked out ‘like a family sitting around the table paying bills’.

    Only it seems that the US GDP household budgeting is that Democrat Mom gets told to scrimp on the kid’s meal, school, and college, and quit saving so much for retirement, because GOP Daddy needs to spend more on guns and showing his rich buddies a good time.

  113. 113
    Chris says:

    @gene108:

    Right-wingers “love charity”, so long as the aid is not provided by the government, in which case all the poor getting fed should just starve until churches can ramp up to fill the demand.

    And then ask them for private charity, and they’ll give you some variation of “it creates a dependency,” “they need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” “they don’t really need our charity anyway, $10,000 a year is a perfectly middle class salary.”

  114. 114
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Fincher is one of those fucking Mammon worshipers, who also revere his son, Jeebus.

    All of them should be destroyed.

  115. 115
    Matt McIrvin says:

    I remember Robert J. Samuelson taking a break from his usual depressive act to insist that we could fund the Iraq invasion from change found in the couch cushions.

  116. 116
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @askew:

    Dropping more bombs on Syria will do nothing to relieve the suffering in Syria.

    It will only add to it.

  117. 117
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @askew:

    Dropping more bombs on Syria will do nothing to relieve the suffering in Syria.

    It will only add to it.

  118. 118
    NotMax says:

    @lumpkin

    As you asked, and without going into excruciating detail, the first thing is that I have not eaten breakfast or lunch since 1964. Plain black coffee – no sugar, no cream – gets me through the daylight hours with gusto. Dinner usually around 8 or 9 at night, later if not hungry at that time.

    Second thing is that I have no problem with eating leftovers nor with eating the same thing for multiple days in a row, so buying the majority of groceries at places like Costco helps a lot.

  119. 119
    Chris says:

    @Baud:

    When right wingers complain about dependency on government, what they really hate is the freedom from dependency on them.

    You capture the essence of their beef with the welfare state beautifully.

  120. 120
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    Have those US intelligence agencies which determined to a certitude that the Assad regime was the author of the chemical weapons attacks also published their thoughts on what Syria might look like after the Assad regime is toppled?

  121. 121
    Cacti says:

    The most facile part of Anne Laurie’s argument is how readily it can be applied to pretty much anything.

    “If we can’t feed the hungry, how can we afford…”

    The National Endowment for the Arts

    NASA

    Road construction

    Medicaid

    The Corporation for Public Broadcasting

    and on and on.

  122. 122
    hildebrand says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    We can’t just wave that away because Obama is a better man than Bush.

    I agree, but the problem is that the debate is not being argued on the basis of this premise. The argument, in many corners of the left, is picking up where it left off with the NSA mess – that Obama is ‘not’ a better man than Bush. Frankly, we are seeing that on a pretty regular basis around here – I think AL, Cole, and Mistermix are definitely leaning in this direction (sometimes they have moved whole hog to that position – not always, but enough that is more than just a random occurrence).

    Yes, we have to understand the Syria disaster in the context of Bush lying us into the wars he unleashed – thus anything that Obama does will, naturally, come under greater scrutiny. I think that is right and proper. That said, I am starting to think that we could have (no this is not the exact case with Syria, not at all, but just go with the example) a real villain with plenty of evidence of blood on his hands, and a fairly clear-cut objective with a very solid chance of success (again, this is an example, not the reality on the ground) and plenty of people would still depict Obama as the same as Bush, or worse.

    The Syria situation is a pure ‘you-can’t-win’ scenario, yet it still needs to be dealt with in a way that shows some way forward – which means that the President (especially because the Congress is allergic to anything looking like work, and our Allies are more than happy to dump the decision into the President’s lap) has to make a painful decision that seeks to deal with short and long term problems – all the while knowing that the American people don’t trust the government to do the right thing because of our recent past. My guess, though, is that he recognizes that he doesn’t have the luxury of purity. Sometimes, it seems, folks around here forget that at the most inconvenient times.

  123. 123
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    Our rewards program gives us three free humanitarian bombings with every shooting war we put on the credit card.

  124. 124
    Betty Cracker says:

    @chopper: I get that, but I’m suggesting that maybe the argument these folks are making is more nuanced than that. Maybe what they mean is, look, we own our history, and we have to suffer some consequences, as a nation and as a player on the international stage, for past misdeeds.

    I don’t think AL is literally suggesting that redirecting funds from Syria to the food stamp program would fly through congress: I think she’s saying that we (Democrats) should be focused on pushing back on income inequality and alleviating poverty here at home instead of taking on highly controversial, expensive (in terms of money AND political capital) foreign entanglements.

    You may disagree, but it’s not a stupid or crazy position to take, right?

  125. 125
  126. 126
    Jeremy says:

    @👾 Martin: Also the German intelligence has confirmed that chemical weapons have been used by the regime.

  127. 127
    hoodie says:

    @Betty CrackerThat’s all fine, but understand that is a fundamental change in the US’s role in the world, and you may not like the alternative any better. Just think about what might happen if the Syrian regime launches another attack that kills 5-10k civilians, Israel or Turkey gets spooked and an all-out war breaks out. Then, where do we stand in terms of moral authority? Maybe we jump in then and kill a lot more people in a bigger war, but feel good because we didn’t try to assume a moral authority we didn’t deserve.

    Geez, this is not about us. Sure, we fucked up in electing Bush, and we should take a ration of shit forever for that. But a fat lot of good it does a bunch of innocent civilians who get gassed in the next attack that we decide that we need to sit this one out and contemplate our transgressions. We’re the only fucking ones who can do this, Hamlet. The only issue is how to deal with what happened in Syria in terms of whether the proposed solution will work or produce worse results than if we do something else. That is a tactical call, one we usually place on our elected officials, particularly the president. :

  128. 128
    Jeremy says:

    @hildebrand: It doesn’t matter because no matter what Obama does people will complain. That has been the story of the past 5 years.

    I can’t wait till Hillary Clinton becomes President because these same people who always complain about Obama will be complaining about Hillary and wishing that Obama was still President.

  129. 129
    Cacti says:

    @Jeremy:

    Also the German intelligence has confirmed that chemical weapons have been used by the regime.

    MIT Professor Ted Postol also examined some of the rocket parts and determined they were carrying up to 50 liters of toxin rather than the 2 liters that they were initially believed to be carrying. Only one of the sides in this conflict is known to have sufficient stockpiles nerve gas to fuel such a strike.

  130. 130
    askew says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    That isn’t necessarily true. If the air strikes can be used to disable Syria’s chemical weapons factories or reduce their stockpiles that would be a win. No one is talking about dropping bombs on large civilian populations here.

  131. 131
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I don’t think AL is literally suggesting that redirecting funds from Syria to the food stamp program would fly through congress: I think she’s saying that we (Democrats) should be focused on pushing back on income inequality and alleviating poverty here at home instead of taking on highly controversial, expensive (in terms of money AND political capital) foreign entanglements.

    Will intervening in Syria substantially affect the outcome of the 2014 elections?

    Do we have any idea who is likely to come to power if the Assad regime is toppled?

    If Saudi Arabia really is willing to pay the cost of our intervention, why can’t they just take some of the weapons that we sell to them in wholesale lots and do the job themselves?

    Just asking.

  132. 132
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @hoodie: If we could figure out a way for you armchair warriors to be the first one outta the bomb bay doors, I could prolly get behind a humanitarian bombing. In the meantime, it gets really fucking old hearing about how we need to step in and kill a bunch of people to make sure a bunch of people don’t get killed.

  133. 133
    eemom says:

    Liberally construed, the post is less about spending there vs. spending here than the more fundamental question of why we are the world’s policeman when we can’t get our own fucking house in order. Which is way too simplistic for the foreign policy experts here, but it is still the square that I personally am stuck on.

  134. 134
    xenos says:

    @Dave:

    There few things more ignorant than slippery slope arguments. But there seems to be an epidemic of this kind of thinking.

    Sometimes slippery slope arguments are valid. Arguably, this is one of those occasions. I don’t buy it, because this time our President in not a cretin, our Secretary of State in not a rank incompetent, and the Secretary of Defense is not a criminal. I trust their discretion even if there is limited opportunity to define whatever happens as ‘success’. But the slippery slope argument can really be valid in this situation, as it certainly was the last time this came up.

  135. 135
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @eemom:

    Liberally construed, the post is less about spending there vs. spending here than the more fundamental question of why we are the world’s policeman when we can’t get our own fucking house in order.

    We aren’t even the world’s policeman. We’re the world’s rent-a-cop

  136. 136
    cleek says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:
    we’re the world’s self-appointed neighborhood watch.

  137. 137
    xenos says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Dropping more bombs on Syria will do nothing to relieve the suffering in Syria.

    It will only add to it.

    Yeah, but some people who need to suffer are not suffering enough. So it is time to make a bit of a contribution, because why not? You want the Chinese to do it?

  138. 138
    Jeremy says:

    @askew: Also the ARRA (stimulus) which was the largest stimulus, investment, bill in U.S. history was derided by many emo liberals. The same bill which substantially increased food stamps, and now those same people are concerned about food stamp spending.

    In regards to Syria. Obama has done his best to avoid Syria so I don’t understand the conspiracy theorists who say Obama is itching for a conflict.

  139. 139
    LanceThruster says:

    Think of no war until domestic issues are dealt with as a “war sequester.”

  140. 140
    Betty Cracker says:

    @hoodie: As I said in the original reply, the “moral authority” thing isn’t my only objection to the proposed intervention, or even the most serious one; I was replying to a specific point, not urging everyone to sit around listening to sad music and picking lint out of their navels forever.

    You touched on some of my other misgivings while attempting to school me on our role as global hegemon: Dropping bombs on shit or NOT dropping bombs on shit both produce unpredictable consequences. You laid out a nightmare scenario wherein the present situation devolves into all-out war. As I’m sure you know, weighing in on the anti-Assad side can unleash all sorts of hell too, which is why the proposed action seems designed to keep Assad in place. But again, unpredictable consequences.

    That is a tactical call, one we usually place on our elected officials, particularly the president.

    Thanks, Schoolhouse Rock. But sometimes even good presidents are wrong.

  141. 141
    Cacti says:

    @eemom:

    Liberally construed, the post is less about spending there vs. spending here than the more fundamental question of why we are the world’s policeman when we can’t get our own fucking house in order. Which is way too simplistic for the foreign policy experts here, but it is still the square that I personally am stuck on.

    Are you stuck on the same square when we provide humanitarian assistance to areas ravaged by natural disasters? There are surely needy Americans who could have used whatever relief was provided. We’ve tried the isolationist route previously in our history and decided that engagement was the better course.

    Not to mention, intervention or lack of it will not make an iota of difference to the GOP’s intransigence on domestic issues.

  142. 142
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @cleek:

    we’re the world’s self-appointed neighborhood watch.

    And you know who else was a self-appointed neighborhood watch.

  143. 143
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    I don’t buy it, because this time our President in not a cretin, our Secretary of State in not a rank incompetent, and the Secretary of Defense is not a criminal.

    Also, Pelosi, who DIDN’T back the war in Iraq, has come out in support of intervention. Everyone here that was going NANCY SMASH! after she rescued the ACA from the brink of death should wonder why they are right and Pelosi is wrong.

  144. 144
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    Weirdly, we have to keep killing folks on pretty regular basis to get them to understand they shouldn’t be killing folks. I’ll be damned if I can figure out why the lesson isn’t sticking.

  145. 145
    Cacti says:

    @Herbal Infusion Bagger:

    Also, Pelosi, who DIDN’T back the war in Iraq, has come out in support of intervention. Everyone here that was going NANCY SMASH! after she rescued the ACA from the brink of death should wonder why they are right and Pelosi is wrong.

    Noted firebagger hero Howard Dean has also come out in support of intervention. It’s caused the explosion of many heads.

  146. 146
    cleek says:

    @Herbal Infusion Bagger:

    Everyone here that was going NANCY SMASH! after she rescued the ACA from the brink of death should wonder why they are right and Pelosi is wrong

    why? is the assumption that Pelosi is right on everything, always?

    fuckka that. even Einstein got it wrong now and then.

  147. 147
  148. 148
    LanceThruster says:

    “If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”
    ― Stephen Colbert

  149. 149
    xenos says:

    @Herbal Infusion Bagger:

    Everyone here that was going NANCY SMASH! after she rescued the ACA from the brink of death should wonder why they are right and Pelosi is wrong.

    I make it a point to never disagree with Nancy, because life is too short to be wrong about shit unnecessarily.

  150. 150
    joes527 says:

    @xenos:

    our Secretary of State in not a rank incompetent

    The dude showed up to a meeting with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and was blindsided by the question: “what if it doesn’t go as planned?” He ended up “thinking out loud,” and then spent the rest of the meeting walking back his answer.

    If he were a Republican, I’d call that rank incompetence.

  151. 151
    askew says:

    @Jeremy:

    I can’t wait till Hillary Clinton becomes President because these same people who always complain about Obama will be complaining about Hillary and wishing that Obama was still President.

    The opposite will happen. Those have been complaining about Obama will all of a sudden have no problems with anything Hillary does. A lot of the vocal criticizers of Obama have resentment towards him for beating Hillary and have been criticizing him without merit for years. AL is a prime example of that. And there is a line of racism going through a lot of the criticism of Obama. He’s naive and he needs white pundits/bloggers to tell him what to do. Rachel Maddow does this quite a bit and I don’t think she’d behave this way towards a white president. She clearly thinks she is smarter than Obama and it shows in her “reporting”.

  152. 152
    Chris says:

    @askew:

    Meh, PUMAs or not, there’s never been a Democratic president who couldn’t count on a “professional left” saying “[insert name here] is worse than [insert name here] he sold us out!”

  153. 153
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Great post, Anne, but unfortunately, the US always has money for wars. To hell with our fellow citizens who can barely scrape by, we’ll find a billion dollars to engage in military actions anywhere in the world.

    Having said the above, I respect the fact that the world community should have a stern response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its own citizens. The US should let the UN lead on the response, however, instead of taking unilateral military action.

  154. 154
    askew says:

    @Chris:

    No, but Clinton and Carter were never treated the way Obama has been by the professional left. They treat him like a stupid child who needs to have everything explained to him. It’s offensive. And considering Obama has accomplished a laundry list of progressive dream items it’s gotten old.

  155. 155
    Betty Cracker says:

    @askew: Can you provide specific examples of Rachel Maddow’s alleged racist treatment of Obama? Because I watch her show quite a bit, and I haven’t seen it.

  156. 156
    Jeremy says:

    Okay we get it. John Kerry is now the hated boogeyman in the administration now that Geithner is gone.

  157. 157
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @askew:

    So, we know with metaphysical certitude that Assad himself, in a fit of Cheney-like sociopathy, ordered the gassing of an area that was mostly under control of his forces, just for shits and grins?

    The problems in Syria have a great deal to do with economic distress as a result of prolonged drought. Our involvement should be in assisting Syria in relieving the underlying causes, not by dropping fucking bombs on them because John McCain loves to drop bombs.

  158. 158
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    @Betty Cracker: Don’t you always say not to feed the trolls?

  159. 159
    chopper says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I think she’s saying that we (Democrats) should be focused on pushing back on income inequality and alleviating poverty here at home instead of taking on highly controversial, expensive (in terms of money AND political capital) foreign entanglements.

    the argument was based more on affordability, than ‘attention’. i’m sorry, but a cruise missile strike is a drop in the bucket, budget-wise. this isn’t a matter of how do we pay for X when we decide to pay for Y? when Y is an expenditure of a few thousandths of a percent of the yearly budget.

    i mean, the US just authorized another 200 million in humanitarian aid for syrian refugees, making the total from the US about a billion since the civil war began. that’s about what, 25 times as much as this strike will likely cost? in aid for syrian refugees. if we can’t afford this strike, we certainly can’t afford that humanitarian aid.

    as to ‘attention’, every time a foreign issue comes up, there are people who argue that we should generally avoid or ignore it because there are poor people at home that need help. and vice-versa. the thing is, we can and should focus on more than one thing at a time. this isn’t some massive war where everything ends up focusing on the war effort. it’s a proposed cruise missile strike.

    i think the solid arguments against this intervention have been hashed out here ad nauseum over the last week or so. saying we can’t afford it, or that we need to pay attention to other things, is pretty silly if you ask me.

  160. 160
    askew says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    It’s an attitude that she has towards Obama. That she is smarter than him and he is naive and needs her to tell him what to do. The only other person I’ve seen her use that tone towards was Sec of Energy Stephen Chu when she conducted one of the most unprofessional interviews I’ve ever seen. I’ve had it with her since she had to re-do Obama’s Oval office address on the BP spill because Obama was too dumb to do it correctly. It’s not white robe racism, but I don’t think she’d talk about a white president the way she talks about Obama.

  161. 161
    Jeremy says:

    @askew: Obama has done more for the left than Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter combined. Both of them didn’t accomplish much domestically except for de-regulation, tax increases, and budget agreements. Jimmy Carter pursed alternative energy but Obama has done more on that front than any other president.

    Also I don’t like the fact that they talk down to the president, and say things like (he needs to grow a pair) when they said none of those things about former Democratic presidents. I also don’t like that they rarely ever give Obama credit for the things he achieved, and the lack of giving him the benefit of the doubt which was afforded to his predecessors.

  162. 162
    chopper says:

    @joes527:

    If he were a Republican, I’d call that rank incompetence.

    if you were a republican, you’d call john kerry’s haircut ‘rank incompetence’. you’d call the runny dump he took in the morning ‘rank incompetence’.

  163. 163
    askew says:

    @Jeremy:

    @askew: Obama has done more for the left than Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter combined. Both of them didn’t accomplish much domestically except for de-regulation, tax increases, and budget agreements. Jimmy Carter pursed alternative energy but Obama has done more on that front than any other president.

    Also I don’t like the fact that they talk down to the president, and say things like (he needs to grow a pair) when they said none of those things about former Democratic presidents. I also don’t like that they rarely ever give Obama credit for the things he achieved, and the lack of giving him the benefit of the doubt which was afforded to his predecessors.

    Yep, Clinton passed DADT and DOMA and Obama go DADT repealed and stopped defending DOMA in court, yet who is celebrated by gay rights organizations and the professional left – Bill Clinton.

    And the emasculating comments about Obama were never said about Clinton.

  164. 164
    joes527 says:

    @chopper: Reading comprehension. How does it work?

  165. 165
    chopper says:

    @joes527:

    if i were a republican, i’d say it involves making a decision before reading anything.

  166. 166
    hildebrand says:

    @askew:

    And the emasculating comments about Obama were never said about Clinton.

    Well, then, if Obama would shtup an intern or two (or MoDo), that would likely solve that problem.

  167. 167
    SGT Whammer-Pammer says:

    @👾 Martin: I LURVE Annie Laurie’s exaggerate-for-rhetorical-BANG writing style. But it would be nice if she’d drop the mask and give a little winkie when you sum up her fallacious assumptions so nicely: Will not acting in Syria have any influence on food stamps? Does anyone actually think the vote on food stamps has anything at all to do with spending…

  168. 168
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @askew: There was a pretty big chunk of the left that couldn’t stand Bill Clinton either, and barked about various aerial bombing campaigns and humanitarian interventions as imperialism with a human face. And it also converged with far-right complaints about things like the USS Cole and “wagging the dog” during the Lewinsky scandal. Maybe the tone of the complaints was less preoccupied with manly strength, but they certainly did complain a lot about Clinton and military force.

  169. 169
    Bruce S says:

    While I’m not a great proponent of striking Syria – mostly because I have no idea what it even means at this point beyond symbolism – I have to say I am totally disgusted by the outbreak of pacifism among Republicans. It’s opportunistic at best. Granted that there might be a few exceptions who actually believe what they are saying, either out of isolationist ideology or 2nd thoughts after Iraq, but I emphasize the adjective “few.”

    Most of these goons would be lapping up the idea of air strikes on Assad and ready for far more if a Romney administration were, with typical GOPer incompetence, prepping to insert itself into the Syrian civil war. Also, to all sides, this is not a proposal to go to “war with Syria.” Syria is already deep in a civil war – we aren’t declaring war on anyone. Obama’s proposition is that there must be some attempt to punish and diminish capacity for war crimes in real time. It’s not going to work very effectively – this is a foregone conclusion. But it’s not a proposition that is totally without merit, from either a humanitarian or a strategic perspective. Nobody knows how to force a better outcome to the Syrian civil war. Anyone who claims they have a plan is an armchair warmongering idiot (see “McCain” & “Graham.”)

    Obama is in sort of a box, partly due to his own rhetoric and partly due to the fact that “the world” did indeed lay down a “red line” regarding chemical weapons nearly a century ago. (Since then the notable American contribution to this ban has been Ronald Reagan helping Saddam track Iranian troops using American intelligence so he could gas them. Apparently this arrangement was confirmed in a handshake with Donald Rumsfeld, twice an alleged Defense Secretary.) Obama’s is not an enviable position. But it’s not total bullshit – like most of his GOPer opponents.

    Most Democrats are divided on this based on their own demonstrable beliefs over time – whichever party has controlled the White House. Barbara Lee will vote against this because she’s Barbara Lee, not because of who is or is not President. The GOP is just shit…opportunistic, slimy, lying and – in it’s current iteration – totally disconnected from even the most basic concerns for the good of our country, be it on the domestic or foreign front. Scumbags.

    Even a Rand Paul – who as a libertarian and given his father’s record, I can assume is “consistent” – is a useless turd, with “consistency” being the defining and perhaps only virtue one can impute to Libertarians. Like a fucking stopped clock. Useless and reliably wrong 23+ hours of every day.

  170. 170
    Mino says:

    @askew: You have a point, but a lot of the more liberal had no idea of the destruction that DNC policies would produce long term. Innocents, but much wiser now. And most Dems were just glad to make it out of the Republican era with SS and Medicare in one piece.

  171. 171
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    is the assumption that Pelosi is right on everything, always?

    She’s been right enough times about Very Important Shit that I’m inclined to treat her like Brad DeLong treats Paul Krugman.

  172. 172
    joes527 says:

    @askew: I’m not disagreeing that something is going on, but are you factoring in how media and the internet has changed?

    The internet as we know it (the cesspit where all manner of vile comments reside) didn’t even exist in the Carter years. CNN was just a baby at the very end of his term.

    The internet as we know it was coming into being during the Clinton administration, but the term “blog” wasn’t even coined ’till Clinton’s last years. (when most talk was already about his pecker) Yes there was discussion and increasingly wide interaction on the internet, but nothing like today. Fox News didn’t exist for much of the Clinton Administration.

    You won’t find a single criticism of Carter or Clinton when in office at the GOS, because it didn’t exist. Likewise, not a single tweet during either administration was in the least bit critical of the President. Despite John being an asshole republican during those years, not a single post on Balloon Juice criticized either Clinton or Carder in the years that they were in office.

    I’m not saying that the change in media and the internet completely explains the difference in how different Presidents are treated differently. But it seems to explain some of it.

  173. 173
    Suffern ACE says:

    Topic: If the house votes this authorization down and the president goes ahead and strikes anyway, would you support removing him from office.

  174. 174
    Betty Cracker says:

    @askew:

    It’s not white robe racism, but I don’t think she’d talk about a white president the way she talks about Obama.

    Well, then you’d be wrong: She’s ridiculed GWB as an incompetent buffoon countless times, ripped Bill Clinton for his dumb handling of financial policy, called the Clintons out on dog-whistles during the 2008 campaign, etc. Hell, she was in the center of every PUMA’s dart board back in aught-eight! She’s snarky — that’s her shtick — and you don’t have to like it, but to imply it’s motivated by racism? Christ.

  175. 175
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    If Saudi Arabia really is willing to pay the cost of our intervention, why can’t they just take some of the weapons that we sell to them in wholesale lots and do the job themselves?

    I’m no expert, but I believe that when the US makes arms sales, there are always lots of conditions attached. Like only using them for self-defense, not transferring them to third parties or other countries, etc. (Of course there have been exceptions, but usually that’s the case. Iran-Contra was an attempt to get around those restrictions, among other things.) So, unless the US said it was Ok (and there may be laws against the US doing that), it’s likely illegal for the Saudis to do so.

    That’s my guess, anyway.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  176. 176
    Bruce S says:

    @Jeremy:

    This is disingenuous. At best. The “derision” was over size, not the fact of a large stimulus bill. It’s now been well established that those calling for more stimulus were right on the facts. That the politics couldn’t be shifted toward a large bill is also a fact. But it’s bullshit to declare that anyone pointing out the evidence that the stimulus needed to be large was, somehow, complicit with those who would block food stamps. NOBODY ‘DERIDING’ THE BILL THOUGHT IT WOULD BE BETTER IF NO STIMULUS HAD PASSED. Even Summers knew the stimulus needed to be large if it was to be fully effective. The notion that folks who criticize legislation like the simulus or ACA by publicly discussion, with evidence, of where it might be improved and push for more are simply “deriding “, while pragmatists knee-deep in politics are our perpetual saviors is truly noxious in a democracy. Most intelligent 12-year olds can understand the need for both.

  177. 177
    Bruce S says:

    @askew:

    You’re obsessed with fucking nonsense.

  178. 178
    LanceThruster says:

    @Herbal Infusion Bagger:

    “Impeachment off the table” was horrendously wrong on important shit (IMHO).

  179. 179
    Suffern ACE says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: We sell them weapons, sure, but not sufficient weapons to make them into regional powers like that. If Saudi Arabia could hop over Jordan and invade Syria effectively, the people in Saudi Arabia might wonder why the princes couldn’t hop over Jordan and invade Israel.

  180. 180
    Bruce S says:

    @askew:

    Jesus – even dumber shit than the last…

    “It’s not white robe racism…”

    Thanks for that, you fucking idiot!

    Rachel Maddow has a style that is hers, like it or not, and it’s got nothing to do with Obama or race. This crap whining about some imagined insults by “the left” against Obama is a total waste of time. Do something that matters. This crap you post on Balloon Juice is a joke.

  181. 181
    Bruce S says:

    @Bruce S:

    Read “large” as “largER”…sorry.

  182. 182
    askew says:

    @joes527:

    You have a point about the rise in blogs, twitter, etc. has changed politics and the “professional left” (pundits, MSNBC hosts, etc.) are influenced by these new mediums. That doesn’t excuse the way some of the white professional left talk about this president. When you Rachel, etc. falling all over Bill Clinton as some great white savior while belittling Obama when he has done so much more for progressive issues than Clinton ever did, you have no choice but to wonder why the double standard in the way they are treated.

  183. 183
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    @Bruce S: What’s the S stand for? Supremacist?

  184. 184
    Bruce S says:

    @askew:

    The only actually insulting high-profile critics of Obama I’m aware of (with the exception of Ralph Nader) are both black. Smiley and West. They have become a couple of narcissistic clowns who constantly insult Obama in what are very personal – and racialized – terms. The folks at MSNBC treat Obama well consistently. Anything more positive would come off as slavish and mindless. (I know that wouldn’t be a problem for you, but wouldn’t work for most thoughtful liberals, who watch MSNBC.)

    Let’s face the fact that Obama is President of the United States. He’s not the leader of some progressive movement or a lower-level politician who can express himself as an advocate. If anything, responsible left liberals have been way too soft on certain of Obama’s executive policies, especially in the realm of Giethner’s “foaming the runway” for the banks and leaving folks with bad mortgages hanging out on a limb. That’s one which the executive owns and can’t blame on congressional obstruction. That was disgraceful policy.

    (For the record, I don’t agree with the leftish critics on drones – which are, like tossing a few grenades at Assad, likely the best of some very bad options.)

  185. 185
    askew says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    She may have attacked Clinton on policy, but it was never personal like it is with Obama. She’s never questioned either Clintons intelligence or political skill. With Obama she always gets personal and attacks his masculinity, his naivete, his intelligence, etc. She speaks of him with a derision that I’ve never seen her use with anyone else except during that interview with Chu. I have no problems telling the difference between her standard snarkiness and the way she talks about Obama.

  186. 186
    Bruce S says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader:

    What does the “Fuckhead” stand for? Oh, yeah. Right…

  187. 187
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    The problems in Syria have a great deal to do with economic distress as a result of prolonged drought. Our involvement should be in assisting Syria in relieving the underlying causes

    2011 called and they want their analysis back.

  188. 188
    Bruce S says:

    @askew:

    You’re watching a show that exists in your mind. Such as it is…

  189. 189
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @askew: It’s a little unfair to suggest that Rachel Maddow and other leftwing Obama critics are racially motivated. I have my own criticisms of President Obama from time to time and would laugh if anyone suggested that it was because of his race (especially since we’re the same race).

    Maddow probably will have loads of criticisms directed toward a future President Hilary Clinton. She’s a political wonk and digs deep into political stories. She’s one of the best hosts on MSNBC.

    Can you point to some specific criticism against President Obama from Maddow that was racially motivated?

  190. 190
    Thoroughly Pizzled says:

    This is toddler-level argument. It’s the same logic the right-wingers use when they whine about Obama. “The economy is terrible, why is Obama talking about race/gun control/climate change/etc.” There are many, many good reasons for us not to get involved in Syria, but “The president is only allowed to address one thing at a time” is not one of them.

  191. 191
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    “Impeachment off the table” was horrendously wrong on important shit (IMHO).

    And Mitch McConnell would have been solid delivering the eight Republican votes needed, right? ‘Cos Sens. Collins and Snowe were always reliable standing up to the rest of the GOP, so you can always rely on them voting for the Right Thing, correct?

    Pelosi went for healthcare instead of a feelgood gesture that would be doomed to failure. I’m failing to see how her political judgement is worse than yours. Let’s leave the futile Ragegasms to the other side please.

  192. 192
    Bruce S says:

    @Patricia Kayden:

    Of course this idiot can’t. How many of their comments have been tossed out with not a sliver of evidence as opposed to unhinged assertion?

    “A little unfair…” ???? Come on…”a little”?

    More like “deranged bullshit from someone who is obviously obsessed.”

  193. 193
    askew says:

    @Patricia Kayden:

    I’ve given my reasons for saying that about Rachel. And I certainly don’t believe all criticism of Obama is racially motivated. I have plenty of criticism of him myself. And I don’t think Rachel is racist. I do think she has some unconscious racism though because of the way she talks about his manhood, intelligence, naivete, etc. She never talks about white politicians that way. Ed Schultz, Alex Wagner, Lawrence O’Donnell, Krystal Ball, Steve Kornacki, etc. all criticize Obama and his policies without getting personal about his manhood, intelligence, etc. They don’t lecture him like he’s a naughty child the way Maddow does. That plus her flirting with the Pauls, the way she talked to Chu, makes me question her attitude towards Obama.

  194. 194
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Bruce S: Yes, Smiley and West. The two Jokers. Cannot stand either one of them. They have a talk show together on the radio. Sounds like torture.

    Askew is entitled to his opinion, but I have no problem with thoughtful criticism of President Obama’s policies. As the leader of the free world, criticism is part of his job and should be expected.

  195. 195
    Suffern ACE says:

    I do have to admit being happy to read the Neocons whining that they can’t back action because it won’t be enough for regime change. I’m assuming that they are pissed that the opportunity to roll into Syria didn’t present itself when they were in charge.

  196. 196
    Jeremy says:

    @Bruce S: I have no issue with criticism. I’ve been critical about some things the President has done including the red line talk, and my hesitation when it comes to supporting air strikes in Syria.

    I think that previous presidents were afforded more leeway and the benefit of the doubt. The same hasn’t been given to this President.

  197. 197
    LanceThruster says:

    @Thoroughly Pizzled:

    “The president is only allowed to address one thing at a time” is not one of them.

    It’s not so much “one thing at a time” as it is priorities. *Americans* are hurting…bad. Not getting gassed or blown up (except in the countries we send them to), but in dire straights nonetheless (as evidenced by suicide rates and other metrics). One party talks about what we can and can’t afford (though social welfare is a pittance compared to corporate welfare) but we can ALWAYS seem to afford to get our wars on.

    F that.

    I’ll support money for humanitarian help but blowing shit up is too much looking at every problem as a nail when all you’ve got is a hammer.

    To Syria/Syrians

    Brian: No, no. Please, please please listen. I’ve got one or two things to say.

    The Crowd: Tell us! Tell us both of them!

    Brian: Look, you’ve got it all wrong. You don’t need to follow me. You don’t need to follow anybody! You’ve got to think for yourselves! You’re all individuals!

    The Crowd: Yes! We’re all individuals!

    Brian: You’re all different!

    The Crowd: Yes! We’re all different!

    Man in crowd: I’m not…

    Man in crowd: Shhh!

    Brian: You’ve all got to work it out for yourselves.

    The Crowd: Yes! We’ve got to work it out for ourselves!

    Brian: Exactly!

    The Crowd: Tell us more!

    Brian: No! That’s the point! Don’t let anyone tell you what to do! Otherwise – Ow! Ow!

  198. 198
    Bruce S says:

    @Patricia Kayden:

    You’re exactly right. I detest Smiley in particular. He was taking money from Wells Fargo to promote subprime loans via black churches before the financial crisis (“Wealth Building Seminars” for black folks) and now he’s holier than thou. West recently called Obama “George Zimmerman on a global scale.” It would be fair to compare the President of the most powerful nation on earth projecting global armed power to a “policeman” – but hardly to some self-appointed racist vigilante. It made me want to puke. A couple of raging egos.

    Funny I rarely hear any of these folks who hate on Rachel Maddow or some of the progressive issue campaigns that push Obama from the left mention these two jerks. Maybe they are totally ignorant of anything related to black folks beyond Oprah and the Obamas. Who knows? And yes, this person is entitled to their opinion. So is Glenn Beck. They’re not entitled to promoting their own set of assertions without any evidence and not being called out on it.

  199. 199
    Betty Cracker says:

    @askew:

    She never talks about white politicians that way.

    I’m certain you’re wrong about that because I know she has ridiculed the hell out of George Bush and talked about him as if he’s a dim-witted buffoon, and she frequently rips other white male pols in similar terms (if you want to expand the category beyond “president”). I’ll be glad to dig up clips of this if you require evidence, but it’s pretty well known to anyone who watches her show regularly.

  200. 200
    Jeremy says:

    @Jeremy: I should clarify. I have been wary of air strikes against Syria.

  201. 201
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Bruce S:

    Obama is in sort of a box, partly due to his own rhetoric and partly due to the fact that “the world” did indeed lay down a “red line” regarding chemical weapons nearly a century ago

    Over a century ago. The first Hague convention prohibiting the use of asphyxiating gasses was 1899 — before they were ever used in a war. The ban was neither a response to the gas warfare of WWI nor the use of gas in the Holocaust, though its frequent renewals might be.

  202. 202
    askew says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    We’ll have to agree to disagree here. I watched her show for years before I just got sick of her schtick and I think her behavior towards Obama is different from the way she treats other politicians.

  203. 203
    Bruce S says:

    @Jeremy:

    We were in the worst crisis since the Depression. In many respects, by sticking with the advice mostly from Geithner and Summers, Obama proved to be deer in the headlights and quite timid in his response. Not his fault – he didn’t start running or developing policy in the midst of a crisis – it dropped in his lap just weeks before he won the election. But it wasn’t impressive – and certainly not in retrospect. Bad mortgages are still hanging in the system – the banks are “slow walking” the problem, which was Geithner’s strategy – and they have consistently screwed homeowners and the MBS investors. I’ve been immersed in this issue for the past two years and it’s very ugly. The administration did a crappy job. And, yes, everyone knows the stimulus should have been significantly large. There’s nothing Obama can do on the fiscal front now, given congress. But it’s a tragedy – unemployment is still at crisis levels, the “recovery” is stagnant at best, and the “too big to fail/too big to jail” banks, et. al. (the latter from Holder’s own mouth) hold the entire economy hostage. They’re doing fine – the rest of us are still stuck in their mess. There was policy that could have been taken by the executive when they had control of the TARP funds, while the banks were given a free pass and priority. Not pretty.

    What I found objectionable in your comment was the implication that somehow folks who were (rightly, in terms of policy) calling for a bigger stimulus are somehow implicated in not caring about folks on food stamps. That’s doesn’t even rise to the level of “cheap shot.”

  204. 204
    Jeremy says:

    @Bruce S: I agree. I don’t like Tavis and Cornel West because they’re hypocrites. A lot of their criticism is not valid and the main reason why they are attacking Obama is because he won’t invite them over to the white house.

  205. 205
    LanceThruster says:

    @Herbal Infusion Bagger:

    Pelosi went for healthcare instead of a feelgood gesture that would be doomed to failure.

    Are we talking about Syria now?

    I saw NP on C-SPAN Booknotes notes gushing about doing the right thing when selling her “Know Your Power: A Message to America’s Daughters” and wanted to gag. I am very pleased with and appreciative of Speaker Pelosi’s performance on issues I agreed with. I also retain my right to express our differences. I don’t want to be lectured about making hard moral choices by those who avoided doing the same when they had the chance themselves. Certainty of outcome is not the same as the need to take principled action.

  206. 206
    Jeremy says:

    @Bruce S: Well Holder announced a few weeks ago that they will be going after people who committed fraud during the Financial crisis. Many emo liberals decided to ignore it because then they wouldn’t have a nice shiny talking point against Obama.

    In terms of the response to the Financial crisis. Yes, Obama could have done more but Congress was not willing to spend more. And this is the problem that I have with emos. They blame Obama for everything but forget that Congress passes the legislation. I also tire of hearing that Summers and Geithner were the only ones the President listened to because it’s utter nonsense. A financial crisis takes a long time to recover from and FDR’s NEW Deal didn’t bring unemployment back to a normal range though it brought it down. In terms of Tarp the president had no good decisions. Nationalizing the banks would have also been a bailout( since we would have been responsible for those toxic assets), so at least the government made a profit off of it.

  207. 207
    Jeremy says:

    @Bruce S: The reason why I said the emos don’t care about the poor and working class is because the same crowd said “kill the bill” because it lacked a public option though the ACA was going to help a lot of people, and was the best we could do at the time. I heard the same stuff when it came to the ARRA. Nothing is ever good enough for those people.

  208. 208
    ruemara says:

    @NotMax: Why are you comparing what you know is an extreme diet to the issues facing a families who are already at 1 meal a day for the parents? If this works for you, great. But this isn’t an issue that comes out because people don’t want to eat leftovers or won’t buy in bulk. It most certainly isn’t an issue about people who aren’t willing to eat less. It’s about the fact that real food costs and people are not earning enough and need the help.

  209. 209
    Bruce S says:

    @Jeremy:

    Nobody who is working on this issue is ignoring these suits. But the recent settlements with BofA and Wells Fargo by the Justice Department were minimalist, at best. The national settlement over robosigning by states attorneys general was also minimalist and fraud continues. They used most of their penalties to aggressively promote short sales rather than loan modifications and principal reduction. You really don’t know much if you think that Holders’ recent pronouncements are a big deal.

    In terms of the financial crisis, I don’t think Obama COULD have done much more, in terms of stimulus. But he might have asked for more and not tried to oversell what he was able to get – his bargaining strategy is simply not impressive. And the overly optimistic characterizations by Obama’s team made the stimulus look more like a failure, rather than the semi-success it was in keeping the worst from happening.

    My main beef is over the way Geithner handled the TARP funds – “foaming the runways for the banks.” Geithner acted like a little shit from Wall Street – even though he never actually worked for Goldman or the rest, he was in the tank from his perch at the NY Fed. It became obvious in his actions – and inaction.

    And there is no question but that Geithner and Summers held center stage in the economic team. It’s pathetic to defend the administration on this stuff rather than acknowledge reality. TARP could have been used as leverage to force loan modifications. They didn’t even try. HAMP was a marginal program and more a failure than not. The issue of “moral hazard” was used to justify leaving poor saps who were victims of fraud hang out to dry, while they let the folks who cooked up the scheme totally off the hook. Disgraceful.

    And fuck this “emo” bullshit. The lame asses who defend Obama as though he’s not tough enough to be President and take the criticism that the office DEMANDS are the “emos.” That angle is ridiculous.

  210. 210
    lol says:

    @Bruce S:

    Plenty of lefties have insinuated the Obama intentionally reduced the size of the stimulus simply so that he could appear moderate…. despite the fact that the administration started with about $1.5 trillion for the bill and saw it steadily reduced once the actual hard work of getting people to vote for it ensued.

    Ditto for the ACA. Obama ditched the public option because he wanted to kick a hippie, not because there weren’t even 50 votes for in the Senate.

    And the ones that do acknowledge the votes didn’t exist will argue he could’ve gotten the votes if he only chose to use the bully pulpit or leaded harder; he just didn’t want it enough.

  211. 211
    Bruce S says:

    @Jeremy:

    Who the fuck said that – a couple of idiots? First of all, that’s got nothing to do with your implications around the stimulus debate. Second, I don’t recall any of the major critics of the ACA – which deserved criticism and needed to be fought over because it’s a minimalist bill that privileges the industries involved and was designed strategically to do that in large part in order to rally support – saying “Kill the bill!” You’re slandering the folks who debated the contents of the bill from the perspective of strengthening it by generalizations that involve very few. This is a crap way to argue. Name names…did Bernie Sanders or Rachel Maddow say “Kill the Bill?” Who are we talking about who matters in liberal politics to make these generalizations?

  212. 212
    Bruce S says:

    @lol:

    “Plenty of lefties have insinuated the Obama intentionally reduced the size of the stimulus simply so that he could appear moderate….”

    That’s not true. The criticisms were empirical regarding the needed scale and whether Obama’s bargaining strategy made the most sense. That’s it – unless you are listening to KPFA or some such garbage when you’re not whining about EmoProgs on Balloon Juice. You guys pull shit out of your asses. Quote somebody who matters in these public debates, or shut the fuck up.

    Regarding Obama “appearing moderate” – he IS moderate. It’s who he is and it’s one reason I supported him fervently after the Bush years. My former Republican sister in the Midwest liked him. I knew he had a chance of winning – when geniuses and experts like Mellissa Harris Perry claimed he couldn’t. What I underestimated was the scale of toxicity within the GOP and not seeing that their most racist and crazy wing would completely dominate. I guess that’s because I don’t have a PhD in political science…

  213. 213
    Suffern ACE says:

    Hmmm. Unable to come up with a response to the Syrian Civil War, the grand Imperial Republic collapses, defaults on its debts, and slides into the sea. I’m thinking well played Iran, well played. The future Gibbon will write that we would have held on longer if we had only kept the lead in the gasoline.

  214. 214
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Suffern ACE: I thought that the typing monkeys were going to do Shakespeare.

  215. 215
    Jebediah says:

    @cleek:

    according to McClatchy & Der Spiegel, the gas attack was initiated by a temper-tantrum and worsened by incompetence.

    Syria has Tea Party too?

  216. 216
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    Obama has done his best to avoid Syria so I don’t understand the conspiracy theorists who say Obama is itching for a conflict.

    There’s a fair argument that if Obama had rattled the saber harder in 2011 that the Ba’athist elite might have done an internal coup, as the generals would feel the pressure to do it before their rivals and get the “Get of The Hague ICC court free” card that being the one who offed Assad would bring.

    As it was, Assad, by doing a Milosevic and turning a struggle against a corrupt ruling party into a sectarian conflict, has left the Alawite ruling elite with no option but to keep backing him. Which is why Assad did it.

  217. 217
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    I don’t want to be lectured about making hard moral choices by those who avoided doing the same when they had the chance themselves. Certainty of outcome is not the same as the need to take principled action.

    What for? C-plus Augustus would have got to make a speech about how he did it all to protect the United States, the vote would have failed in the Senate (you’d have been lucky to clear 40 votes) which would have given Little Boots vindication, and the village would have been braying about why waste time on impeachment when the economy is tanking.

    No ACA, probably no stimulus or a much more anemic stimulus package, and no hope of even getting as far on a climate change bill as we did (and we would have got a climate change bill if the Democrat running against Scott Brown hadn’t screwed up her campaign).

    I’m not seeing the calculus working for your point here.

  218. 218
    LanceThruster says:

    @Herbal Infusion Bagger:

    I am not really disagreeing with your points, just that spotlighting precedent setting criminality by the administration was *very* important to me, win or lose. Hearings meant at least a glimpse of how bad we were lied to. Silence = assent. Bush got in by stealing an election with nary a peep, defied the constitution with a similar inaction, and murdered countless foreigners with impunity over a lie (9/11 which I also feel was a bushel full of lies that needed an honest investigation). About the only thing I was pleased with re: Bush was 1 fewer discretionary war for Israel than they wanted.

    As alternate history, it doesn’t matter because it went down how it went down. I am awful at regular chess let alone 11 dimensional chess.

    If ignoring certain functions of representational government representing their constituency does not fit their calculus, so be it. Nothing requires I be happy about it.

  219. 219
    LanceThruster says:

    @LanceThruster:

    The precedent of Bush being too big to prosecute set the precedent for too big to fail and too big to jail IMHO.

  220. 220
    Lady Bug says:

    @👾 Martin:

    Back to the original topic: I certainly think there are good arguments against intervention in Syria, but trying to pretend chemical weapons weren’t used or some component of the Syrian military wasn’t responsible for launching them is just perverse at this point. It’s trying to make this into a replay of Iraq 2003 for ideological reasons. And does anybody on this planet actually think that in the (likely) event that Syrian intervention gets voted down in the House, they’ll get right to the food stamp issue? Really?

    Thank you. If people want to argue that intervention is not in our national interest, or wrong, or not likely to succeed than fine. There are plenty of good arguments for not intervening in Syria right now. But to insinuate that there was no attack, or that the administration is purposefully making this up in order to bamboozle the country into another M.E. war, quite frankly is shameful and vile. Maybe I should, maybe I shouldn’t, but I expect better from Balloon Juice, or at least from the bloggers here.

    Furthermore, what would be the motives of: DWB, to accuse Assad of the CW?

    What would be Barack Obama’s motivation for lying about chemical weapons in a war that he’s been trying to stay out of for two years?

    Like I said there are plenty of good reasons not to support intervention in Syria, claiming that there was not attack, is not one of them.

    I am aware that the vast majority of people on BJ are not questioning whether or not there was a chemical attack.

  221. 221
    Elie says:

    @Keith G:

    This was an excellent comment — thank you for saying it clearly and to the point.

  222. 222
    LanceThruster says:

    @👾 Martin:

    I am so used to getting lied to that I do not see it as a shortcoming to be skeptical.

    http://www.paulcraigroberts.or.....g-roberts/

  223. 223
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Jeremy: And because President Obama didn’t speak or attend one of Smiley’s “Black People Airing Their Dirty Laundry In Public” televised conferences.

  224. 224
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Jeremy: The auto bailout was very unpopular at places like Daily Kos, because it propped up companies like GM who weren’t nimble enough to adapt to changed circumstances, asked too much from the unions, and further supported an unsustainable auto-centric culture — it was an opportunity missed to Shut It All Down.

    And that was the popular part of the Late Bush/Early Obama response to the crisis.

    The banking and insurance backstopping was even less popular. You could even find people of the ‘let it all go smash, the turmoil will wean us of our evil consumerist ways, and allow us to find peace and happiness in handicrafts and subsistence agriculture’ ilk.

  225. 225
    NotMax says:

    @ruemara

    Why are you pulling out of thin air intent and motivation sans evidence?

    I made neither comparisons nor recommendations; I was answering a direct question.

  226. 226
    Ted & Hellen says:

    brain

  227. 227
    Ted & Hellen says:

    we

  228. 228
    Bruce S says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    And then there was the serious, critical discussion among knowledgeable folks which dealt with complexities. But why pay attention to that when you can wallow in comfortable generalities about stuff that never mattered…

  229. 229
    Visceral says:

    That “true Southern man” has no doubt been voting Republican his whole life, and has no idea what’s gone wrong.

Comments are closed.