August 27, 2013

Let's Get Chemical: Do We Have to Bomb Syria? Or: President Obama & the Jeopardy! Principle

Jumpin' Jack Bassar uses gas, gas, gas...

As I recall, I used to have certain "Canons of Construction" that I would use to interpret or predict George W. Bush's likely course of action based on things he said.  Blogspot gives me a search engine on this site that might turn them up if I get motivated enough to look.

With President Barack Obama, things are much easier.  You only need one Canon, what I call the "Jeopardy!" principle.  In the game show, the right answer is usually the most obvious or "Zeitgeist" answer, the fact or factoid that you would guess most people would guess.  So if the question is, what black athlete is credited with breaking the color barrier and ushering in the era of integrated professional sports? your answer will, of course, be "Jackie Robinson."  Maybe you could have a complicated rationale for answering, Jesse Owens, or Satchel Paige, or even Jack Johnson,  but you know that won't be right, because only one answer floats in the collective consciousness as the correct guess.  Baaaah!  Alex Trebek: Wally? Wally:  Jackie Robinson!  Alex Trebek:  That's right, for two hundred dollars!

President Obama is the same way.  What utterly boring, hyper-conservative, fossilized Beltway attitude can I adopt as my "policy" toward this latest hairball?  Some Beltway sage tells him what the "Obama Administration" ought to do, Obama gives a listless performance at a press conference where he tries to project the general feeling he cares, and then he heads out to the golf course.  Another day at the White House.

On any issue, this is a highly reliable Decoder Ring for guessing what the O Man will do.  A whistleblower informs the American people that every byte and pixel they utter in their daily lives is hoovered up illegally by a massive spy apparatus.  Obama: We will hunt this traitor to the ends of the Earth.  The general consensus is that marijuana use is certainly no more harmful than alcohol or tobacco, no doubt possessess genuinely positive applications, and numerous states have moved toward one form of legalization or another.  Obama:  It is the federal law of the land that marijuana use is a controlled substance, and we will crack down mercilessly on anyone caught rolling a doob.  The endless, pointless war in Afghanistan, which kills many people and doesn't seem to have anything to do with anything, is going badly, to the extent that a war with no point can go any other way.  Obama: We will surge the troop force and prevail, adjusting our position according to the facts on the ground.

It might save time if President Obama commissioned a creative person to come up with a Presidential Magic 8-Ball that would float such canards to the answer hole.

There now seems to be a strong possibility (a long way from proved) that President Bashar Assad dumped the poison gas Sarin on a town in Syria that no American has ever heard of.  Of course, many Americans have never heard of "Los Angeles," so this is not definitive.  So our fearless warriors must intervene on the side of ...who again?  Hamas?  The Muslim Brotherhood?  Al-Qaeda?  Well, not actually our fearless warriors.  More the X-Box and GameBoy Brigades joysticking cruise missiles and Predator drones down on the general areas where maybe people aligned with Assad are.  Boom!  Will that be enough to get rid of Assad?  Why do we want to get rid of Assad again?  Oh yeah: because he runs a "regime," whereas the Good Guys always have an "Administration," sort of like the Department of Motor Vehicles (h/t: Andrew Levine).  Bashar Assad is an evil dictator who uses poison gas on his own people.  Let me know if that has a familiar ring.

We can probably get rid of Bassar Assad after, that is, Tom Friedman is allowed a daring midnight raid to rescue Bassar's fetching wife Asma.  Then Syria, like Egypt, Libya and Iraq before it, can enter that wonderfully creative, anarchic state of complete chaos called Mass Mayhem, where everyone kills everyone else until the military, the last bureaucracy ("administration") with its shit usually in one bag, takes control.

Well, what can we say?  Congress doesn't declare war anymore.  Even the War Powers Act, that 1973 legislation designed to rein in war adventurism in the White House, has fallen into complete disuse under President O.  Starting a war now is about as controversial as the Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn.  Anyway, Americans usually don't die in these kinds of remote-control wars, where we use cruise missiles, drones and high-altitude bombers, as in Kosovo.  Once ze rockets go up, who cares where zay come down?  Not our department.  Chemical weapons were used (white phosphorous, depleted uranium and napalm are all chemicals too, but those aren't what we're talking about here), so we must intervene.  The Beltway can't even understand why you don't understand.