All too slowly, the mainstream media is learning the value of the explainer.  But any progress is good progress.  In this article, Washington Post's Max Fisher does a very good job of explaining the tangled web of past and present histories that can easily muddle anyone's process when trying to understand just what the Syrian conflict is all about. At the same time, he illuminates just what a thankless job President Obama has in trying to mitigate the worst of the possible outcomes.

For me, the money graf was this one:

So why would Obama bother with strikes that no one expects to actually solve anything?

OK, you’re asking here about the Obama administration’s not-so-subtle signals that it wants to launch some cruise missiles at Syria, maybe with the United Kingdom, which it says would be punishment for Assad’s strongly suspected use of chemical weapons against civilians.

It’s true that basically no one believes that this will turn the tide of the Syrian war. But this is important: it’s not supposed to. The strikes wouldn't’t be meant to shape the course of the war or to topple Assad, which Obama thinks would just make things worse anyway. They would be meant to punish Assad for (allegedly) using chemical weapons and to deter him, or any future military leader in any future war, from using them again.

Yes, the goal of Obama's proposed air strikes is not to influence the outcome of this conflict. It is to make it very expensive, politically and economically, for regimes and their generals to use these gruesome weapons, which the world has been more unanimous about opposing—and signed more treaties to prevent—than almost anything else on the global stage.  It's not rocket science. This proposed action is about destroying several billion dollars of offensive and defensive weapons, and the massive command and control networks they require. It is absolutely not an "invasion," nor a "war."

Precision targeting of facilities and weapons is a deterrent measure that telegraphs to these vile regimes that using these horrific weapons will generate immediate and costly blow back from the rest of the "civilized" world (loosely speaking). Militaries hate having their toys destroyed. Especially when they need them to kill civilians the old fashioned way—with bombs, bullets, and other sorts of conventional bloodletting that has stood the test of time in man's overwhelmingly persistent inhumanity to man.

It's all feels very embarrassing to me. Not because Obama wants to do something about it, but because so many nations and their peoples, whose parents and grandparents had been previously dedicated to doing so, now posture that they do not.

Read the story

Then pass it around. This chemical weapons problem won't go away. I personally feel it's one of the few places we can put our foot down and draw a definitive line against evil.  Obama wasn't wrong to lay down the line. He was wrong to forget that strong moral positions make for even stronger political targets for people more concerned with political rather than moral imperatives.

 

The Supreme Court has just flipped America the finger. Their Voting Rights Act ruling was a last straw rubbing up against my last nerve.  I have just had it with them, and with the entire radical conservative agenda. Something has to start changing, and I'd like to do anything I can think of to nudge that change along. I think recent events show that it's way past time for running down the hall with our hair on fire. We all need to do something, and soon, because things really are that bad. And they're getting worse.

I have a very simple idea that could prove useful in getting people off their butts and into voting booths where they can help vote these venal obstructists out of Congress in the 2014 midterm elections.

The project needs a research volunteer to help compile a few key voting facts and statistics. These will help tell a story on the project's website and motivate people to participate. It shouldn't be more than a few hours of work for anyone with modest research skills.

If you'd like to help me out with this, please email me using my Contact form.

If I don't know you, please give me a little background on you and your skills. As happened when I assembed the team behind StopRush.net, these kinds of crowd projects can swell pretty fast. And if it doesn't need you now, it probably will later if the idea catches, so having your name around will save time down when and if it needs more human resource.

Thank you.

 

We now know that Issa asked for very results the Inspector General gave him. The IG was asked to look for "Teaparty" targeting, but no one tells us until now that IRS had been looking for "Progressive" and "Occupy" groups all along, too. Issa just didn't ask for those. This entire "scandal" was a god damn hoax. We were played. Perfectly and completely. 

Considered alongside today's Voting Rights atrocity in the Supreme Court, I can't even quite articulate the level of disgust I feel for my country right now. We should bill that fucking car thief even if he does apologize.

Salon:  Darrell Issa’s credibility is over

Now it’s clear Issa played us this whole time, thanks to new documents that show the IRS also targeted “progressive” and “Occupy” groups, in addition to Tea Party ones. And if it targeted groups on both sides, it wasn’t really singling anyone out (the only group actually denied tax-exempt status was a progressive one, after all) and the whole scandal falls apart.

HuffingtonPost/Sam Stein: IRS Targeted Progressive Groups, Too, Documents Reveal

The Morning Plum: Darrell Issa backtracks on IRS scandal

The news that progressive groups were also targeted by the IRS should, in theory at least, prompt reporters to press leading Republicans on a simple question: Do you still stand by your insinuations that the White House or Obama campaign were somehow behind the politically motivated targeting of conservatives?