The arc of Iraq: Shock and awe morph into, well, you be the judge

Since the Phillies won’t swing through pitches until snooze time tonight on the Left Coast, President Obama is sneaking in a prime time address to remind folks that he accomplished a campaign promise by ending our combat mission in Iraq.
You, of course, remember Iraq. It used to be a real big deal when George W. first got into that dustup with Saddam. But there has been a considerable drop in decibel from the sonic blast of sound that used to accompany the Iraqi war like Tonto trailing The Lone Ranger. The whirlpool of American attention now swirls about jobs and the economy.
Apparently Obama won’t be taking a victory lap tonight in the Oval Office because Bush already did that with his mission accomplished routine. Besides, the reality is there is nothing to celebrate about Iraq. Its government is as unstable as a serial bride and its armed forces as meek as Quakers. Like certain soufflés, the current state of affairs in Iraq disappoints more than satisfies.
And while the U.S. can’t keep burrowing into firing zones playing the world’s cop (like we still are doing in Afghanistan), our withdrawal (except for 50,000 troops) from Iraq strengthens Iran.
And once Iran goes totally nuclear, a regional arms race likely will ensue as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey go nuclear as well to protect themselves from the nasty Iranians. And then there is Israel and its big chip on its shoulder.
You don’t need to be a gumshoe, doll, to find the powder keg in all of this.
After all, nukes and the Mideast are a more deadly combination than booze and car keys.
But the U.S. is no longer the last resort. God’s infinite mercy is the last resort. Especially in such a Biblical place as the Middle East.

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The deadly reality of Afghanistan is killing our troops

The need to be in Afghanistan still swims inside of U.S. foreign policy like a determined and deadly bacillus.

I realize the military and the hawks wave off any illusion to splitting from Afghanistan now with a grimace, as if they all were Tom Thumb being asked about his pituitary gland.

If anybody thinks we can win this war, they’re living in a galaxy light years from reality.

Our troops are over there lunging for a trace of enemy presence like a hunting dog with a bad nose.

Seven American service members were killed today in two separate roadside bomb attacks in southern Afghanistan.

The deaths bring to 14 the number of U.S. troops killed in action in eastern and southern Afghanistan over the past three days. A spike in U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan to over 120,000 has brought increased contact with insurgents and a rising death toll. Forty-nine U.S. service members have died in Afghanistan this month, still fewer than the 66 killed in July.

Granted, our troops can blow anybody off the map when we unleash all our firepower. But they are not equipped to stage a garrison operation. We are a civil country and we don’t kill for the sake of killing.
Neither the Nazis in World War II nor the Soviets in Afghanistan fell into a freefall between regret and revenge when their troops were killed. They would kill a 100 people for every 10 they lost … even if it meant murdering innocent women and children. And the Soviets still had to bail on Afghanistan.
Unless we trigger all our heavy artillery, our troops are fish in a barrel over there in a needless war of attrition.
They obviously deserve much better.

The resurrection of Glenn Beck — speaking in tongues instead of with a forked tongue

Not only did Glenn Beck blot out Martin Luther King Saturday, he erased Abraham Lincoln.
Glenn Beck now is America’s Greatest Orator of All Time.
Step aside, Abe. Your Gettysburg Address no longer is the American gold standard of speeches.

Beck punted on politics yesterday and instead threw a religious revival on the National Mall in Washington that even had the souls in heaven passing up the Real Housewives of New Jersey to listen in.
Halleluiah, brothers and sisters!
Never mind that Beck is a Mormon, he is rounding up a posse of conservative religious evangelicals called the Black Robed Regiment (as opposed to secular judges, I guess).
Beck brought his A game to D.C. Saturday and God must have been on his side.
Because Beck wowed at least one Southern Baptist leader into comparing him — splash me with some holy water, here — to Billy Graham himself.
Imagine that. I guess it was Beck’s line that “We’ve got to go to God Bootcamp” that resonated like a blessed Christian chorus.
I guess all those evangelicals who don’t consider Mormons to be Christians will just have to get over that silly notion.
After all, it’s a new country now and Beck is more powerful than a locomotive, faster than a speeding bullet and able to leap the Washington Monument in a single bound.
The father of a better country.
Yes, folks: I am now a Beck believer. You all can go back to calling me Zeke instead of Lefty.
Then again, it seems nobody will be calling anybody names any longer in America, even on this blog.
Who says so? Rev. Beck, that’s who.
In his “Restoring Honor” sermon, His Holiness actually mouthed this very words: “We’re dividing ourselves. There is growing hatred in the country. We must be better than what we’ve allowed ourselves to become. We must get the poison of hatred out of us, no matter what smears or lies are thrown our way … we must look to God and look to love. We must defend those we disagree with.”
Well, I guess that signals the end of The Glenn Beck Show and the $32 million his tonsils raked in last year. Because Beck’s show has pounded out a daily drumbeat of division, much like The Little Drummer Boy on steroids.
That was then and this is now. Beck has been reborn and America with it. The man who once said that “the government is a heroin pusher using smiley-faced fascism to grow the nanny state” apparently is no more.
Stand tall, Uncle Sam. Glenn Beck has got your back, putting steel into your spine. I guess Uncle Sam won’t mind the loss of flexibility.

Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally deserves a dishonorable discharge

Glenn Beck does have algae growing between his ears.
How else to explain his “Restoring Honor” rally tomorrow in front of an anticipated throng of 100,000 wingnuts genuflecting before the very same Washington Mall pulpit where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech exactly 47 years ago.
Beck should turn radish red with embarrassment by claiming the MLK speech anniversary is a coincidence of “divine providence.”
I guess some folks will believe anything if you sandwich it between the American flag and the Bible.
Beck’s messiah ego has him wanting “to reclaim the civil rights movement” and “pick up Martin Luther King’s dream that has been distorted.”
King undoubtedly will spend tomorrow rolling and rolling and rolling over in his grave.
Granted, one man’s dream is another man’s nightmare. And the gulf between Beck and King is oceanic.
Beck has called President Obama a “racist” who has a “deep-seeded hatred of white people” and repeatedly refers to health care legislation as “reparations.”
No wonder civil rights leaders would rather be dipped in seal butter and dropped into a polar bear’s cage before helping Beck hoist MLK’s mantle.
Joining the party will be Sarah Palin, who never misses a photo op.
But most elected Republican leaders are staying away, apparently much more comfortable spending their Saturday pulling crabgrass or grouting tubs or worshiping the George W. Bush bumper stickers stuck to the backs of their eyelids.

Obama stimulating change? Look deeper and he's making more change than a cashier

If we counted all the things folks don’t like about President Obama, that number would have enough zeroes to stretch to Mars.
The man sure does stimulate a response. A modern Pavlov’s dog, if you will.
At the focal point is his $787 billion stimulus package, which has been heralded as the biggest lemon since the Edsel. The biggest turkey outside of Thanksgiving. The Republicans claim it’s just a Big Government boondoggle that expanded the deficit bigger than Oprah and failed to shrink unemployment to the size of a pinto bean. Liberals rant that it wasn’t big enough.
But perhaps all that comes from looking at The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 through a straw. Widen that narrow sighting with a bigger perspective and the vision through that prism, at least in some eyes, is dramatically different.
The stimulus bill evidently is advancing like a forest fire in extending Obama’s agenda to change the country. And it’s about much more than jobs … transformative stuff like fighting oil addiction and global warming, an economy greener than peas, caulking the cracks in health care and education, and erecting a competitive 21st century economy.
Who can argue with that?
Multitudes apparently.

Primary colors … Palin and Quayle

Well, Sarah Palin sure had a bountiful harvest in Tuesday’s primaries.

I guess at this point even a liberal magician couldn’t make her disappear.

Then again, Palin seems to be pure magic at times at the polls. I don’t understand it. Then again, I don’t understand algebra, chemistry, Lindsay Lohan or why the Phillies are so offensively inconsistent either.

Palin keeps pitching the pabulum and keeps winking her eyes behind glasses big enough to skate across and she keeps winning.

If Palin has your back, you’re safer than a vault at Fort Knox.

Four candidates backed by Palin registered primary victories last night, while a fifth, Alaska attorney Joe Miller, appears to be on the verge of pulling off a resounding upset by defeating Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

If Miller is victorious over Murkowski, it will be Palin’s biggest 2010 win to date.

Hell, let’s get this miracle worker to back the Eagles this season.

In congressional races, Palin rode the winning horse in Arizona with Paul Gosar and in Florida with Allen West. She also endorsed Pam Bondi, who won the GOP nod for attorney general in Florida.

Not sure John McCain needed Palin’s endorsement but he got it and went to his right to repulse J.D. Hayworth’s challenge for his Senate seat in Arizona.

Good thing Palin quit her day job as Alaska governor so she has time to campaign.

One Republican who didn’t have Palin’s backing but won his primary for a House seat in Arizona anyway Tuesday was Ben Quayle.

Quayle had two major negatives but showed some Republican voters are even dumber than Sarah Palin.

Quayle has bad genes, being the son of Dan Quayle, the worst vice president in history.

Quayle also has more baggage than Southwest Airlines.

He was accused of writing for the site TheDirty.com under the pseudonym Brock Landers, which is the name of a porn star from Boogie Nights. Quayle allegedly compared his own physique to the Sistine Chapel and wrote things like, “Long story short, on a scale of 1-to-10, I’m awesome,” and, “My moral compass is so broken I can barely find the parking lot.”

And, can you imagine, he ran his campaign on family values. I guess the dude does have big stones.

Quayle also cut a campaign ad in which he called President Obama “the worst president in history.”

Well, that had to cinch his victory right there.

If Quayle wins in November, this guy is gonna be a real scream in Congress. C-SPAN may have to add a porn channel.

Toxic economics: Even Viagra can't prop up the housing market while Boehner and Biden tongue wrestle over Geithner and Summers

Well, things sure ratcheted up to the screaming point today.

Of course, the bottom line to anybody’s bad mood is money, or the lack thereof.

Setting the tone Tuesday was the report that the housing market has crashed even further with a violent thunk. Sales of previously occupied homes plunged last month to the lowest level in 15 years, despite the lowest mortgage rates in decades and bargain prices in many areas.

Housing used to drive the economy. But things change. The old drivers are gone. Jackie Gleason hasn’t driven a bus on The Honeymooners in years. Housing is a lousy investment these days and folks whose next job may be as shepherds in Tibet are too scared to pony up the mortgage even for a handyman’s delight.

No wonder House minority leader John Boehner today called for President Obama to fire Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and economic adviser Larry Summers.

Then again, Geithner and Summers likely have been expecting a huge trapdoor to open under them at any moment.

Vice President Joe Biden, notable for sticking his foot in his mouth, proved he’s double-jointed today when he stuck his tongue in his cheek with this response to Boehner:

“His chief proposal was that the president should fire his economic team — very constructive advice, and we thank the leader for that,” Biden said with sarcasm dripping like syrup on every word.

Granted, both sides are to blame. The Republicans drove the economy into a ditch like a 16-year-old kid taking his driver’s test blindfolded. Now the Democrats keep spinning their wheels in that damn ditch and the resultant dust is clouding over any consumer optimism.

But as long as the Republicans and the Democrats have fingers, they will keep pointing them at each other. And if they develop Alzheimer’s, it will be Irish Alzheimer’s — they’ll forget everything except the grudges.