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Stephanie's books and other things

I like books. I like art. I have opinions.....you've been warned.

Currently reading

A Clash of Kings
George R.R. Martin
The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto
Tavis Smiley, Cornel West
The Wind Through the Keyhole (The Dark Tower, #4.5)
Stephen King, Jae Lee
Master Strokes: Watercolor: A Step-By-Step Guide to Using the Techniques of the Masters
Hazel Harrison
The Mad Art of Caricature!: A Serious Guide to Drawing Funny Faces
Tom Richmond (Illustrator)
Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power - Rachel Maddow My dream Democratic presidential ticket for 2016 would include Rachel Maddow. I’m thinking if Joe Biden doesn’t want to do it (and I don’t think he does) then Al Franken, John Stewart or Stephen Colbert should be the other half. That would be an entertaining and smart duo to run the country. Maybe Colbert would be the smartest pick since his satire is so genius it might fool a few on the right to vote for him.

Everyone should read this book. It’s a non partisan commentary, it takes to task the presidency itself and how it has changed from what the founders envisioned it to be. And it’s really fucking scary.

Let’s start off with the invasion of Granada, Operation Urgent Fury, (good God, does that mean I’m in a big damn hurry to be angry) in 1983. At that time I was way too deep in a fog of Aqua Net to be politically aware. I have a vague memory of it happening but the details were fuzzy. Apparently Ronald Reagan, during World War II, was in the military but was too near sighted to actually fight in it. He was given the job of “playing” a soldier in training films (produced by the military) and never left the studio back lot he had been working on since before he joined. He played a gung-ho-rata-tat-tat-shoot-em-up-bang-bang-gotcha soldier, and he liked it. When he got to the White House (early Alzheimer’s sadly was likely affecting him) he had that deep seeded need to be that macho cowboy soldier and wanted to get those Commies. In Granada he saw some Commies (possible-maybe-someday Commies) a military coup ousted a revolutionary government and became a bit touchy and unstable, ripe for Commies.

Regan new that he would never get congress to Ok a strike on Granada (because it was nutty) , so he did an end run around congress, went ahead with it, and told them it was happening when it was too late. Tip O’Neal was rightly pissed. From the very start of this nation no one person could declare war on another country. Congress has to OK such actions. But Regan didn’t think the president should bow down to congress, so he basically gave them the middle finger. This set a dangerous precedent.

Then there was Iran-Contra, where Reagan tried to get the ok from congress to take action to free hostages in Iran. Congress cut funding to the operation. Unable to take no for an answer, Regan decided to solicit other countries for money. One way of getting cash was by selling weapons, which he did to any country (no matter how sketchy) that would pay, like Saudi Arabia and Iran. WTF? He got caught and “communicated” his way out of the mess. Shocking.

Since, all of the following presidents have used their executive power to make war, against the founding fathers express instructions that no one person should be able to take the country into war. All (the current president does love his drones). It’s just too easy and no president wanted to give up that ability.

War sucks.

Currently the way we go to war (and it’s been perpetual for some time now) is insulated from the general public, unless you are a family member of a soldier. Troops are re deployed over and over, this has been devastating on their emotional health. In the first five years of the Iraq war the suicide rate of military personnel doubled. In the last ten years we have lost more troops to suicide then in combat. Something is wrong here. The Reserves are not used as reserves anymore, they are no longer civilian soldiers, and they are called up to war just as often as the regular military. We use contractors extensively. There are currently more contractors in Afghanistan then US military. They are not bound by the military for their conduct, they are paid better then the troops and we never hear of their deaths. It doesn’t affect us, so we don’t yell about it much.

Nuclear Bombs………you do not want to go into that particular stinky restroom, peeeeuuuuu.

-We have lost track of 11 nuclear bombs, and we keep track better than most countries. Yikes. Currently there is a nuclear bomb buried in a swampy field in Goldsboro North Carolina, it was too swampy to dig it out so they just left it there. Yay. Currently we have aging bombs in silos that we no longer remember how to fix properly, some have wing fungus.

It’s amazing to me each day we get through without becoming a giant smoking crater.

Here is the end of the epilogue which sums the whole thing up nicely.

“And finally there’s the Gordian knot of executive power. It needs a sword something fierce. The glory of war success will always attach itself to the president, so presidents are always be prey to the temptation to make war. That’s a generic truth of power, and all the more reason to take the decision making about war out of the hands of the executive. It is not one man’s responsibility. The “Imperial Presidency” malarkey that was invented to save Ronald Reagan’s neck in Iran-Contra, and that has played as high art throughout the career of Richard Cheney, is a radical departure from previous views of presidential power, and should be taught and understood that way. This is not a partisan thing. Constitutionalists left and right have equal reason to worry over the lost constraint of the executive. Republicans and Democrats alike have options to vote people into congress who are determined to stop with the chickenshitery and assert the legislators constitutional purgatives on war and peace. It would make a difference, and help reel us back towards balance and normalcy. None of this is impossible. This isn’t bigger than us. Decisions about national security are ours to make. And the good news is this isn’t rocket science, we don’t have to reinvent fogbank here, we just have to revive that old idea of America is a deliberately peaceable nation. That’s not simply our inheritance, it’s our responsibility.”