Friday, January 16, 2009

Everybody - Have a Wonderful Inauguration and Party Heartily

You all deserve it! We all deserve it!

And the world can't wait. Eight years has been too long for any generation of Americans to be pinching their noses, holding their breath, keeping their hats low over their noses, and flying the Stars and Stripes upside down. So, go shoot off some fireworks and raise the roof.

As for me, I'm going sailing. Virtually, anyways… But before I cast off, I have a few poorly-chosen final passing words for my declining readership to chew over in my absence.
They are really addressed to all of you who are advising those who advise Barack Obama's advisors. (You know who you are!)

Yesterday, I was overcome with disgust as I heard the lamest duck in American history deliver his lamentation swansong. It was on the car radio, driving home. My windows were up against the cold, so no one could hear my expletives. I smiled in anticipation of seeing how Keith O. and Rachel M. were going to slice and dice this pathetic peroration.

But I didn't get to see it. The kitchen TV was on CPAN showing Joe Biden saying goodbye to the his Senate as Senator. Did anyone catch that? That was moving. I ended up drinking my first three beers to Joe-the-Hunk instead of George-the-Punk.

My first criticism of how the President-Elect is conducting himself between election and inauguration is muted. It had been my impression that he was shooting his mouth off too much. This period is when he would be better off holding his fire and keeping his powder dry. (I remember POTUS-Elect Bill Clinton shooting his mouth off in 1992 before his inauguration about Haitian refugees and gays in the military.) There is only one president at a time, after all.

But, as it more and more becomes apparent that at this time - for some time - we have not had a President. (We might have a prime minister of Israel giving instructions to our Secretary of State, but no president.) So, in this complete power vacuum, it's probably helpful if the President-Elect begins some preliminary pre-inauguration waffling or telegraphing to help us all better discern between his vacuous campaign promises and his realistic policy initiatives.

Now as to what Obama would be well-advised to do? These are in no particular order of priority, because the first ten items in any list is to fix the economy. Right? Which I don't begin to understand. Some of the others would be:
  • I mention Guantanamo first, only because there seems to be a liberal stampede to raze it and/or give it back to the Cubans. It's a resource we are going to need. We're going to be catching a lot of bad guys around the world, hopefully. Not just us, the USA, but all of the countries holding on to their stature as part of the global economy. I'm speaking of Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Columbia and others. These polities do not have stable politics or secure prisons. And American courts do not have jurisdiction over combatants or bombers caught overseas. Needed is a destination-certain for these bad boys and girls to be sent to for protective custody. Gitmo will serve better for this purpose than the Hague. We just have to internationalize the security and make treatment of inmates residents & guests transparent to the International Red Cross, Amnesty International and other interested parties. Maybe the U.N. can provide a constabulary presence. (That's a detail.) No torture or enhanced interrogation. Kid gloves counseling, maybe. Make Gitmo a secure, escape-proof resort. No golf or swimming, of course. Just an extended stay, until guests can convince their therapists that they are too mellow to raise hell. So, I say mend Gitmo, don't end it.

  • End the economic hemorrhages in Afghanistan and Iraq. Both are draining desperately needed resources from our failed economy. We couldn't pay for Bush's foreign policy for the last eight years, we certainly can't afford it after he blows town. Obama will have to take this house of cards down sooner rather than later. Afghanistan, especially, is raising such a bow-wave of resistance among our allies, that our path there is piled high with more than difficulty. I don't have time to list the obstacles. We don't have enough dogs to hunt the Taliban. Bush let Osama run and hide - that's the history. Obama will have to act fast before he gets stuck with 'losing' Afghanistan. Diminishing prospects in Afghanistan cannot have escaped the vision of Obama or his advisors. The sooner he cuts bait the better for our national interests. The Bush wars should be closed along with the Bush war presidency because now we can't afford them, if for no other reason.

  • Recognize the government of Iran and staff an embassy there. Return an ambassador to our embassy in Damascus. All of this is statecraft 101.

  • Stop baiting the Russian Bear with an expansive NATO. Putin titrates the LNG for Germany. There's no future in pushing NATO membership for Georgia or Ukraine. Zippo.
That's all I gotta say for now. I'm not saying I won't be commenting on my readers' sites. I just won't be spillin'much blood or ink in my own pages for the next couple of weeks.

So, in the meantime, can someone give Barry a call?


  1. Re

    [...] * I mention Guantanamo first, only because there seems to be a liberal stampede to raze it and/or give it back to the Cubans. It's a resource we are going to need.



    Put that way, then I'm all for it.

  2. Hey Vig,

    Another thoughtful post! I'm re-thinking the closing of Gitmo. Your points are well stated, but I am not completely persuaded (yet). My sense is that Gitmo has become such a symbol of Busheney's torturing of prisoners and abdication of the rule of law, that its continued existence remains too inflammatory for some of us (as well as for citizens of other nations in our world community).

    I have to chide you for your comment about Obama's "...vacuous campaign promises...". Sounds like your knickers are all "atwitter". How about identifying the promise(s) you found "vacuous" and then telling us what you would have preferred? Absent such clarity, I'm left feeling that you are taking snide potshots at our President-Elect.

    After the selfish and destructive first two years of Clinton's presidency in which the members of his own party attacked and obstructed, mostly in the interests of their own ego-driven self-puffery, I am ultra-sensitive to anything that suggests that we on the left are continuing to "eat our own".

    Obama comes into office confronted with more disasters, each of which requires thoughtful and careful resolution, than has any other president in our history. Busheney and their cabal have planted mines everywhere.

    Obama needs those of us, who can't wait for 01/20/09 to arrive, to appreciate the enormity of the piles of manure he inherits, to accept that he cannot deliver immediately on all his campaign promises, to be patient, and to voice our concerns and disagreements in a constructive way, so that we contribute to the dialogue he invites, rather than being oppositional and obstructive merely to stroke our own egos.

  3. I want to touch on Biden's farewell speech, which demonstrated his masterful use of language and historic reflections over almost 30 years. This is the CSPAN link. Yes, I know the clip is an hour, but is well worth your time. He recounts that when he started as Senator, his seat was between those of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster.

    Emily, your final paragraph in particular sums up my perspective, also. I don't envy Obama or Biden: they need to clean up eight years of decimation and greed, as you rightly noted. I absolutely agree with you: this administration needs more of our patience than any in my lifetime.

    Bush's inarticulate ramblings and Cheney's snide, condescending responses to questions are on the edge of over. As a love of language and rhetoric, I am overjoyed to see a 180 degree turnaround with Obama and Biden.

    Vig, enjoy yourself, wherever your sails take you! What a profound post. Gitmo can continue without the policies and politics of torture. And, I don't know about your declining readership, but I feel those of us who are here are enriched by your intelligent, thougtful observations.

    In sum, Happy Inauguration to All.

  4. ...a few poorly-chosen final passing words for my declining readership...

    With that out of the way I agree complete about Gitmo. Russia on the other hand is not just an injury Bush inflected on the United States but an infection Obama will have to control. Russia is once again prowling the world working to restore its prestige the Russians feel they lost after the fall of the Soviet Union and the chaos of the Yeltsin years.
    Yes the expansion of NATO pissed them off, oil revenue gave them some cash, but most of all they feel their power is on the rise with us in decline. I honestly don't know what worries me most oil prices going back up and Russia getting rich and continuing to have an attitude or oil prices staying low and a desperate Russia becoming militarily adventurous to keep their population under control.

  5. Fascinating.... I'm sort of surprised. I find your Guantanamo proposal very interesting. It is a logical and pragmatic approach to a world wide problem.

    But I am concerned about your observations on Afghanistan. While I fear you might be correct in your situational analysis, I can't agree with your "cut bait" proposal. The issues here are too great. And I'm tired of condemning people to slavery, torture and death. No. There has to be a better approach. I know I'll be writing more on this later......

  6. Wizard, at the end of the day, it is not us who can afford to customize and reorganize Afghan society in Bush's "Freedom" image. You will come to realize that two more years or more down the line. That is the real tragedy: the time, money and most of all, American blood which will have to be squandered. That is the real tragedy. We can't afford Bush's wars. Anymore. And we don't realize it this late in the game.

  7. I'm glad I didn't get punished by any of my friends over my Gitmo statement. Emily rightfully busted me over my "vacuous promises" phrasing, however. And I'm glad Stella looked up and appreciated Biden's farewell speech. I agree with Beach's wary assessment of Putin. Who was it who said when he looked into Putin's eyes, he saw no soul: just the letters, K-G-B?

  8. Vigil I agree with Beach in regards to your odd comment about "final passing words...." WTF??

    Anyway, to serious matters: I agree that Gitmo should not be razed and returned to Cuba and I don't believe that will happen, at least not in our lifetimes. Furthermore I never discovered that suggestion in my extensive research, but I can imagine some wide-eyed liberal groups proposing such nonsense.

    As you mentioned we need to clean up Gitmo and make it a Super Max South where it will be regulated like America's other prisons.

    With regard to your isolationist view of Afghanistan I don't agree that we need to get out. Some wars need to be fought and some organizations such as the Taliban and al Qaeda need to be destroyed. Both present a clear and present danger to the United States. I had not read that there was substantial international opposition to the Afghan mission, at least no serious opposition and I don't really care.

    As to Georgia and the Ukraine, they are our allies and we need to support them. If we fail to do so we will find ourselves without allies.

    We must not crawl into our shell and become isolationists. The world needs us and we need them. We need to use our power and influence for good, a refreshing change indeed.