Just when you thought it was safe to think life might return to some measure of sanity, two public figures whacked the stuffing out of that concept.
First: Texas congressman Joe Barton, the senior Republican on the US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, apologized (presumably in the name of the GOP and all Obama-hating conservatives) to BP CEO Tony Hayward. Barton stated that BP’s commitment of at least US$20 billion to mitigate the financial and environmental damage of the oil disaster on us citizens and the Gulf environment that was reached the previous day with the Obama administration was a “shakedown”. He made this incredible apology to BP just before Hayward’s “I’m not responsible, and I know nothing” testimony before the Energy and Environment subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing investigating BP’s role in the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and subsequent historic oil spill.
Barton has since been criticized by just about every human alive. He was almost immediately forced to retract his apology by his own republican party. But the damage was done, and there was truly no way to reverse it, nor the damage done by Barton to his own political career and to his party, the oil-industry-and-big-corporation-supporting GOP.
In fairness, Barton did get some support from far-fringe right-wing extremists such as Republican Study Committee chairman Tom Price, who described the US$20 billion BP fund as a “Chicago-style political shakedown”, and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who told CNN that Obama is using BP as a “permanent ATM card” in an effort to take over “private industry.” Or republican Mississippi governor Hailey Barbour, who claims that forcing BP to invest money for the purpose of paying out claims robs them of money to use for more offshore drilling so that they could make more money to pay out claims. (??)
Actually, though, they kind of add to that special “WACKO” atmosphere, don’cha think?
Second: Perhaps even more bizarre, US Army general Stanley McChrystal, appointed by president Obama in early 2009 to command the war in Afghanistan, along his staff spoke freely (if you can even believe it!) to none other than Rolling Stone magazine, bashing the civilian policy-makers of the Obama administration and even mocking US vice-president Joseph Biden‘s last name, purposely misstating it as “bite me”.
Even if one dismisses the fact that constitutionally, in the USA the military takes its orders from the civilian government leadership, the fact are clear: The USA is in its longest-war ever in Afghanistan. This war was triggered by the 9-11-01 attacks on the World Trade Center twin towers in New York City and Pentagon building in Washington DC. The USA allowed itself to be militarily distracted with the unnecessary and extremely expensive 2003 invasion into Iraq, which unfortunately (but predictably) allowed the insurgency in Afghanistan to regroup, rearm and reestablish itself. Had that not occurred, it is possible that the war against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan would be over by now.
As a result of all of that, the Afghanistan war today is much more difficult, and requires at minimum a united allied effort to succeed. But how on earth can a united allied front be presented when the commanding US general in charge of the entire military effort in Afghanistan is seen and heard mocking and insulting the folks he answers to? After all, one would expect this commander to understand the absolute need for unity, right? So what does it say about General McChrystal telling Rolling Stone magazine anything that demonstrates just the opposite to the entire world?
To give credit where it’s due, McChrystal did apologize humbly and publicly last night for the exercise of poor judgment in this debacle. President Obama ordered McChrystal to present himself at the White House today to offer an direct explanation of his words and deeds But evidently McChrystal could not adequately provide convincing justification to the Commander in Chief for his act of disunity. As a result, McChrystal was asked to resign.
it’s hard to fathom how folks such as Barton and McChrystal can rise through the extremely competitive and challenging ranks of political or military service and not learn the most rudimentary lesson that discretion is often the better part of valor. People who are insane or sociopathic can behave in this manner, but commanding generals? Elected congressman??
People who observe such weird human behavior with secret amusement must be smiling at the almost endless parade of WACKOs and their unjustifiable acts and statements. And the folks who support these WACKOs because of their fanatical and warped view of the world are just as much fun to observe. They provide reaffirmation that humanity is far from being very superior or even very intelligent, all scientific evidence to the contrary.
One can expect more “WACKO” stuff to emerge as midterm election approach and as certain folks in power forget that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
But let’s face it: A great human pleasure comes from watching bizarre and/or unbelievable behavior of others and being able to ask:
“Are you for real???”