Maureen Dowd, in a rather half-hearted piece being universally lambasted for its mean girl tone, adds poor leadership qualities to the legendary lack of Obamian schmoozing ability to explain the Senate defeat last week. A front page article in today's New York Times lamely ascribes a lack of Johnsonian arm-twisting skills for the failure. None of the Times writers saw fit to mention the lack of the so-called "nuclear option", as perennially threatened by passive-aggressive Majority Leader Harry Reid. Filibuster reform theoretically could have passed background check legislation without a 60-vote supermajority (the final vote was 54-46).
Obama, according to The Times, also could have used threats against his own party's outliers, such as Mark Begich of Alaska and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. He could have made crucial financial support for their campaign war chests and pet projects in their home states contingent upon their support for his gun control measures. For some weird reason, according to The Times, he just doesn't use the standard quid pro quos at his disposal. He hasn't learned how to play dirty politics. He's no LBJ.
Which brings us to another important story that The Times is choosing not to cover, possibly because it proves that the conventional portrayal of Obama as a principled but weak Mr. Nice Guy is hilariously and patently false. According to The Guardian, Obama is very adeptly trying to bribe those recalcitrant boobs in the Senate with a nuclear option that even the faux-gridlocked dinosaur leadership could love. Even as he calls for more and more crushing domestic austerity, Obama's budget proposes spending $11 billion to retrofit our entire stockpile of nuclear weapons. He wants to make them every bit as accurate and streamlined and precise and surgical as his beloved predator drones. Plus, those drones are coming back to haunt him. He might need the nuclear option backup plan.
Obama, who campaigned on a pledge to reduce our stockpile of nuclear weapons, is now reneging on that promise in order to reward the defense industry-heavy districts of Congress critters whose votes on other deals he may need in the future. That's according to the various anti-proliferation public policy groups quoted in the piece. This has nothing to do, mind you, with his failed domestic arms control legislation. It's a backdoor gambit has everything to do with enriching the Military-Industrial Complex which, in turn, enriches legislators with campaign donations, who then line the pockets of defense contractors, and ad infinitum.
Domestic gun control failed because life is cheap. The bank accounts of corrupt politicians and merchants of death are more precious than the lives of 20 six-year-olds, more precious than the lives of the estimated 30 people killed every single day by guns in America. It failed because the United States is the biggest arms dealer in the world, with annual sales of almost $67 billion now constituting almost 80% of the world market, actually tripling in the past few years.
But back to that Other Nuclear Option That is Not Filibuster Reform. According to The Guardian,
Under the plan, nearly 200 B61 gravity bombs stockpiled in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Turkey would be given new tail fins that would turn them into guided weapons that could be delivered by stealth F35 fighter-bombers.
"This will be a significant upgrade of the US nuclear capability in Europe," said Hans Kristensen, a nuclear weapons expert at the Federation of Nuclear Scientists. "It flies directly in the face of the pledges Obama made in 2010 that he would not deploy new weapons."
In its Nuclear Posture Review in 2010, the US undertook to do reduce the role and numbers of its nuclear weapons, in part by not developing new nuclear warheads, and pledging it would not "support new military missions or provide for new military capabilities".Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, said he believes Obama is displaying a "schizoid" mindset, because although he "sincerely" wants to reduce nukes, he also needs to expand nukes in order to buy off his political frenemies. "I'm convinced the president wants to the continue his efforts to reform US nuclear policy," he said.
What will be going back to Europe will be a guided nuclear bomb," he said. "Especially when you combine it with F35 with stealth characteristics, that expands the targets you can hold at risk from Europe, because by placing the explosion closer to the target you can choose a lower explosive yield. That is very important as there is less radioactive fallout. For many people this is a great concern because it means making nuclear weapons more 'usable'."
The Guardian article should have explained that Cirincione's own apparently schizoid thought processes might have something to do with his serving on Secretary of State John Kerry's international advisory board as well as on the Council on Foreign Relations.
I suppose that this impossible melding of opposing viewpoints in one brain is an example of what is known as progressive pragmatism in contemporary Newspeak. Obama wants to reform nuclear policy by refining weapons, making them humanely more accurate in order to spare millions of innocent bystanders a hundred miles away any genetic damage affecting future generations. It's kind of like impoverishing current seniors in order to save Social Security for the unborn. It's like removing government food inspectors from poultry plants. People will die, but look at how much cheaper a Pic-of-the-Chick pack will be in your local Walmart! Look how the plutocrats will prosper! The benefits will radiate and then they'll trickle down, down, down to the permanent underclass.
Win the Future, look toward the North Star, ignite that ephemeral middle class engine. As Obama says, we Americans just refuse to be terrorized:
If anyone wants to know who we are; what America is; how we respond to evil and terror – that’s it. Selflessly. Compassionately. And unafraid.
Through days that would test even the sturdiest of souls, Boston’s spirit remains undaunted. America’s spirit remains undimmed. Our faith in each other, our love for this country, our common creed that cuts across whatever superficial differences we may have – that’s what makes us strong. That’s why we endure.Now watch in amazement as the biggest arms dealer in the world, that brave purveyor of streamlined weapons of mass destruction known as USA, deflects attention away from itself by elevating a pair of psychopathic losers to the status of an invading rogue nation, complete with their own unsanctioned weapons of mass destruction. Be not terrified of them, but abide in your awe of America the Compassionate. Gaze upon distant mushroom clouds through rose-colored glasses. Duck and Cover.