Obama Invites Congress To Hold Hands and Jump

Nobody wants this to happen, but it probably will.

The entire policy of the Obama Administration toward the Syria mess is if we wait and keep looking the other way, somebody else will fix this problem.

Nobody has.

This is not simply Obama’s fault, but repeatedly drawing lines and daring Assad to step over them and doing nothing when he does has only emboldened him to unleash chemical weapons against his own citizens.

There is no taste for the United States to get into yet another war in the Middle East. Been there, done that and got the flag-draped coffins and maimed soldiers to prove it.

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad‘s decision to use chemical weapons on over a thousand of his citizens finally has forced Obama to move from talking tough to threatening to launch missile strikes against the dictator.

The United Nations, Congress, no public outcry for intervention and other factors have served to make the president’s response confusing, vacillating, ineffective and at times enabling Assad to commit steadily escalating atrocities (though the rebels have been accused of their share of war crimes as well). But the buck still stops at the desk of the man in the Oval Office and now that Assad has made it apparent he is not only willing to step over Obama’s “lines”, he will do so with arrogant impunity, it is up to the president to deliver a clear, strong and unambiguous response.

The President is doing the politically smart move, and that’s inviting Congress to climb in the barrel and go over the edge with him. There hasn’t been a Congressional declaration of war since WWII. They’ll authorize retaliatory strikes or “military action” but presidents have had a lot of leeway to pretty much go ahead and drop bombs on anyone that pisses them off.

Obama’s Saddam?

Congress doesn’t return from vacation until September 9 and a lot can change between now and then. I don’t think Obama really wants to intercede in the Syrian civil war, but the chemical attacks on his own people by Assad puts him in the same category as Saddam Hussein gassing the Kurds. For the U.S. to sit back and do nothing will only show Assad he can do anything he wants to cling to power and he will act accordingly.

Whatever move Obama makes he’s going to get blasted for. The U.S. public doesn’t want us messing around in yet another Middle East shithole, but the warhawks like John McCain are going to keep going on Meet the Press and calling Obama a punk for talking tough and doing nothing. IF Obama chooses to sit this out without even making a token gesture of disapproval, that only emboldens Syria and shows Russia and China, two of Assad’s allies that the U.S. won’t walk it like they talk it.

Whatever the outcome, if you drive a car, you might not want to wait before filing up. Prices are gonna be going up, up , UP.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, probably the most liberal member of the upper chamber recognized the gravity of the situation the President is presenting to Congress. “The use of chemical weapons by the Assad dictatorship is inhumane and a violation of international law. However, at this point in time, I need to hear more from the president as to why he believes it is in the best interests of the United States to intervene in Syria’s bloody and complicated civil war. I look forward to the Senate debate that will be taking place in the very near future.”

It’s a smart play. Get Congress on the record for bombing Syria (there will be no ground troops–bet on that) or if these towers of jell-o, hem and haw and dither and dick around, Obama can still say, “Hey, I consulted Congress. Not my fault if they can’t come to a decision.”

More importantly, it buys TIME and time works in the favor of the president in this case. With the exception of McCain and a few other bloodthirsty war-mongers, there’s no taste for repeating in Syria the mistakes the Bush Administration made in Iraq. The U.S. needs to stay out of the world cop beat, but Assad killing a thousand of his own people with chemical weapons and getting away with mass murder is only inviting future atrocities.

Doing something may not deter Assad from further atrocities.   Doing nothing guarantees there will be more of them.   But whatever decision is made, we’ve all had enough of allowing Grandpa McCain’s tantrums to set this country’s foreign policy.

Obama could go it alone, but he wants Congress to co-sign.

“Outrage.” Dragging the conservatives out of the Congressional closet.

Men's Room Larry Craig's mug shot.  Don't ask. He won't tell.

Men's Room Larry Craig's mug shot. Don't ask. He won't tell.

There was a rap song entitled, “Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury” and there’s few worse examples of gross hypocrisy that the number of closeted conservative politicians who privately enjoy the gay lifestyle, but publicly vote against any legislation that is remotely gay-friendly.

Filmmaker Kirby Dick debuted his film Outrage this week  at Robert DeNiro’s Tribeca Film Festival which name checks several current and former political figures whom have actively worked against gay rights.  Patrick Goldstein in the Los Angles Times writes,   “I know what you’re thinking. If you’ve seen the film, spill it already. So who does he out? Dick’s targets include Florida’s current  governor, Charlie Crist, who was viewed for a time as a front-runner to be John McCain’s vice-presidential pick; David Dreier (R-San Dimas), who was once a leading candidate for the House majority leader post when the Republicans still controlled Congress; Ken Mehlman, George Bush’s campaign manager during the 2004 election and former Republican National Committee chairman; former New York City mayor Ed Koch; the now-retired Idaho Sen. Larry Craig; Jim McCrery (R-La.), a ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee who retired last year; Ed Schrock (R-Va.), who retired in 2004; and — gasp — the prominent Fox News anchor Shepard Smith. “

The unfortunately named Dick doesn’t name any down low lesbians (Senator Barbara Mikulski?) at all and only goes hunting for closeted conservative gay men whom he considers traitors for working against other gays. 

Outing someone who hasn’t come out voluntarily is a morally debatable decision.  Nobody should be forced to join another’s crusade, but activists such as Larry Kramer and  Michelangelo Signorile defend the practice.   Both men are interviewed  in Outrage along with former New Jersey governor Jim McGreeveyand  two openly gay members of Congress, Democrats  Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin.  

The movie that send chills down spines in Washington

The movie that send chills down spines in Washington

It’s safe to guess Charlie Crist and the other Republicans named by Dick will dismiss him as a left-wing hitman grinding his axe, but the film also attacks the news media for their own “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and how it protects politicians who legislate against a lifestyle they privately participate in.

Strictly speaking, as a practice, outing makes me  uncomfortable.  As a journalist it would be completely unethical to reveal the details of someones private life unless it is somehow relevant to the story.   When someone like Senator Larry Craig gets caught in a compromising position and goes to extraordinary lengths to deny his homosexuality he makes it relevant.   But it’s not the job of reporters to serve as a crusading force against hypocritical politicians indulging in the pleasures privately they rail against publicly.

Still as a firm believer in “speaking truth to power” there’s few things as satisfying in catching a politician in a lie and closeted conservatives who wage war against others who share their sexual orientation are big liars. 

I’m repulsed by self-hating Negroes such as Clarence Thomas, Alan Keyes, or Ward Connerly who casually throw African-Americans under the bus if it pleases the White conservatives who pay their speaking fees, buy their books and underwrite their political ambitions.    I do get it that Dick thinks closeted conservatives are enemies of gay rights too  and deserve to be pitched under a rolling bus.

Outragegoes into wider distribution after it premiere at Tribeca.   It doesn’t sound like the type of film that is designed to draw in big crowds looking for a little escapist entertainment.    It does sound like the type of movie that could make all the right people extremely uncomfortable. 

You don’t have to be gay to enjoy the thought of right-wing hypocrites squirming like a kid with a weak bladder.

Bill Hicks, the late comedian once mused,  “Speaking of Satan, I was watching Rush Limbaugh the other day. Doesn’t Rush Limbaugh remind you of one of those gay guys who likes to lay in a tub while other men pee on him?” 

Gee, he does like sucking on big brown cigars and while sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, sometimes it’s not…