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JTMcPhee

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  • Wrong Again, Sen. Graham: Cole in Truthdig
    • I guess I haven't been paying attention. I thought that the recent sale of Treasuries went pretty well, and now there's news that maybe the possibly-not-inexhaustible-but-still-very-rape-able small business inventiveness and resourcefulness and sticktoitivity has maybe jump-started "job growth" again. And where in the military hahhah "budget" do you see any CUTS, even to the "rate of growth," which is all Gates said he was even going to take a potshot at anyway. And the MIC sort of self-funds by selling those High Tech High Dollar Weapons of Mass Delusion to competitor states and actual enemies (in some books), like Blackhawks to the militarists in the People's Republic of China that the WSJ implies today are rolling out a (gasp!) STEALTH FIGHTER of their very own! Terrorists! (Huh. I wonder -- is selling US-developed weaponry like F-35s to the Saudis [oh, minus those double-secret-probation add-on thingies like the AN-AMQ-Rootietootootie blister pack that only OUR fighter jocks will have the use of], and GIVING them to the ISDF in exchange for maybe thinking about possibly considering the opportunity to discuss slowing down the slow-motion invasion of Gaza, West Bank and all those not-reactionary-zionist lands in the neighborhood of the City of Peace and Love, is that not maybe best characterized as "treason?" Just asking...)

      And of course there's a bunch of money to be grabbed and converted into war toys by stripping what's left of the "middle class," killing unions and selling public highways for a song to privateers who will turn 'em into toll roads. C'mon, if the Reds prevail, you can count on a Forever War and 2-Minute Hates until the cockroaches rule in Glockamorra...

    • Just in case nobody else reads and links stuff like this, if anyone cares about how "we" get to where "we" are, take a read of Tom Engelhardt's latest post: link to tomdispatch.com

      Yep, war is a drug. It is also way too profitable, and way too much fun... if you are the guy steering the Predator/Reaper/Raptor...

  • Taliban Getting Stronger, As US Public Support for Afghanistan War Collapses
    • Russ, you got a great future writing action novels "with Tom Clancy." So much fiction in so few words...

      US arable land is 18%, and shrinking fast with all the Red development. The world does not feed the Pakis or the Haitians or the Sudanese. Ah hell, your hypothetical horribles are really scary simple BS. Go read Schroen's "First In," and I am sure the professor could suggest some other background that the stuff that comes out of Rupert Murdoch's arse and the muzzles and other orifices of the "conservative think tanks." Yah, "we" just gotta stay the course, wouldn't be prudent to do a 1973 again -- after all, "we" fucjked up Cambodia in pursuit of geopolitical gains against the "gooks," so I guess Jane Fonda is toblame for Pol Pot, just another one of those sneaky revandhist reactionary bastards like Dickless Cheney, who get their noses under the tent flap and then tear the place altogether up before "moderates" know what hits them. (I believe it was #2 buckshot that nailed that lawyer "friend" of Cheney's?)

      "and set upon the world well trained and financed terrorists." And where are the Talibanners going to get their terrorist money and training? from the CIA or NSA or other Unnamed US State Security Agency? from the Israeli equivalents?

      Go grind your teeth in righteous patriotic Game of RISK!-World of Warcraft rage.

      BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLsheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet.

    • "leaving Afghanistan now would definitely have a number of disastrous consequences for the future of the country."

      All right, I'll bite: how about sharing your list of "disastrous consequences" with the rest of us?

      And which "country" were you referring to? Notagainistan? Or the US of A, that would maybe have a little challenge re-absorbing, without a psychotic break or even more apparent moral and fiscal bankruptcy, those hundreds of thousands of US and contractor military personnel who have been fighting a "war of cognitive dissonance and illusion" and have absorbed and internalized quantities of pain and hatred and grief, and rashers of revenge, and passed out of the body of ordinary civilians into that Band of Brothers that is so much stronger even than Republican party discipline?

    • I'm curious: Is there actually a monad, a unity, an entity that can accurately and honestly be called "the Taliban," or is the phrase just one of those convenient and deluding reifications and personifications and hypostatisations that make up so much of the Language of Policy?

      I don't doubt that the US ("NATO") military invasion will eventually result in some coming-together of some significant fraction of the people in what we arrogantly call "Afghanistan," simply to kick out another Common Enemy so they can get back to their usual and comfortable-to-them lifestyles and feuds and such. It might even be under the banner of something called "the Taliban," if the warlords and leaders and "commanders" of that nomenclature can get it together to become the organizing attractor against the US as a Common Enemy.

      But I wonder, from the perspective of one who gathers and sifts all kinds of information and evidence, and offers mostly dispassionate highlighting and analysis of What's Going On Over There, is there a "the Taliban" to be "getting stronger?" Or is it just that GIs and CIA/contractor drone-gamers have killed, robbed and raped too many non-"militant" (or whatever the current approved War Department/MSM moniker is today) civilians, kicked in too many doors, done too many stupid and vicious and paradoxical deals, so that what used to be honorable, when it was called "resistance," is hardening?

      Not, as you know, that this matters. Not when a trillion-dollar enterprise, hidden in its own self-generated "fog of war," will go on about its business, willy-nilly, while the "patriots" at home who pay for all this still believe or are misled in enough numbers to keep the tax and Chinese-provided dollars flowing, and all those rosy promotions in rank, and all those sexy, unauditable, accountability-free weapons and tactics...

  • Racist Letters Roil Israel
    • Nothing I could scribble could add much on this subject to an opinion piece by Bradley Burston in Ha'aretz yesterday: link to haaretz.com

      One trouble with all the yakkety-yak about complexities like Notagainistan and Palisraelistine is that pretty much nobody is interested in finding the 'right thing to do,' in the sense of what's going to produce the maximum kindness and stability and sustainability, that old Golden Rule stuff, which is where I think the species has to go if we are to have a prayer of persisting on the planet. But between tribalism and self-interest and all the stuff that zooms around the ol' limbic system, and our wonderful skills at rationalization and ratiocination and cognitive dissonance, my long bet is that ain't gonna happen.

      Which leads to the Pampers commercial I just saw on the 'tube: Perfect, sleeping little babies from around the world, all unaware of the motivations and behaviors that await them, then that tear-jerking picture of our wondrous planet floating in space, the sweet female voice-over singing part of "Silent Night" (particularly that "sleep in heavenly peace" bit) and a logo line reading "Let there be peace on earth."

      Pushing a product made from petroleum, that's OIL, boy, that transports human fecal matter from your dear baby's bottom to the trash can to the transfer station to a landfill somewhere, at that place where we so glibly talk about throwing stuff "away" to, where with any luck it will be available for the archeologists among the rats and cockroaches to excavate and puzzle over and maybe even eat, somewhere down the road...

  • Al-Maliki: US Troops Out!
    • "What is ending is George W. Bush’s departure into expensive and anachronistic games of direct imperial domination."

      Well, maybe as to ONE of the made-up "states" sketched out on the proverbial cocktail napkin by those guys in top hats and diplomatic tails 'round a perfectly varnished conference table what, a hundred years ago? Playing the original game of RISK!, with real, bleedable "men" on the board to be ventured and swept away by random throws of the dice?

      Notagainistan (which may become an actual real nation, or some fraction of the tribes with flags within the arbitrary borders may eventually) might be another story. $7 billion in on-the-books US tax-and-borrow money, a running total of US and "Coalition/NATO figleaf" dead and wounded (link to icasualties.org), continued policies of body-counting (not for public consumption, of course,) the same noise and now, dare one say it, "droning" about "achieving success" and "winning" without either a "goal statement" or "identification of national interest or security threat to the Homeland" or any of those beloved "metrics" by which the Cloud Computers, of the Networked Complicated, Prone-To-Serious-Failure, Grotesquely Expensive To Build And Maintain,Make-Contractors-Grossly-Rich, Incompetently Asymmetric Battlespace, are supposed to report 'Mission Accomplished.' And a President WannabeCinC, who either doesn't Get It, or has motivations that would (maybe will eventually) sicken pundits and historians if they ever become manifest.

      Of course, the jackals could just be tasked with Terminating Maliki With Extreme Prejudice or ginning up a coup a la Diem's Last Stand, with a New Face who's now Our Guy to dissolve Parliament and go back to fiat rule. Using, of course the New Iraqi Army, trained up by guys with CIA and School of the Americas creds.

      I have never understood how the most of us can accept the notion that the shortest path to Democracy Among The Wogs is to buy some of them weapons and teach them, not the "right" way or even the "wrong" way, but the "Army way." And by setting up a national police force that, presto change-o, with a little encouragement from the Great Game players, turns into a state security apparatus of repression and terror. How many examples of the way that invariably turns out does it take to persuade "us" that there's a number of reasons why Costa Rica (recently invaded by the US military, by the way) is not like the Congo.

      But the thing always to remember is the admonitions of REAL citizen-soldiers, from some of them ancient Roman generals who eschewed picking up the imperial fasces, to of course D.D. Eisenhower (old "military-industrial complex" himself) to Smedley Butler, who turned his back on a long career as a brave but pure-racketeer gunsel to teach us, if we were not so stupid and venal, that "War is nothing but a racket." Of the worst and most persistent kind.

      Too bad "we" can't keep in mind all that wisdom, and shed the blinders with the patriotic symbols on them that keep us from (or help us to continue to avoid) seeing the whole complex movement of money-and-materiel and its surrogate, "influence," that goes along with our guys killing their guys killing our guys (who, what a surprise, there being a fair number of nascent sociopaths even in America the Beautiful who are sprung from their social bonds by the close ranks of The Military, do murder of inoffensive Hajjis and each other, and who rape the US women who for some reason think it is "liberating" to "go to war" as an equally unconstrained "brother in arms," and of course the Wog women who catch their horny GI eyes when no one else is watching.)

      But one can hope, can't one? Maybe the next sentient species to top the food chain will do better...

  • Top Ten Myths about Afghanistan, 2010
    • Oh, Joe, you're so smart! and such big biceps too!

      "al Quaeda's headquarters"? What, that's a nice building like maybe the Pentagram, where the Asymmetric antisocial personalities that make "us" jump and dance, every time they mail an audio tape to al Jazeera, sit and do their stuff?

      Gee, too bad "our" paramilitaries, and now 140,000 GIs and maybe what, 200,000 "contractors" of various flavors, could not bring themselves to "off" or even find bin Ladin, who of course came to his present state in large part because "we" taught and armed and gave money to him, and "our" presence in Notagainistan, Act I, kind of set the stage for the little presence of the little thing known as al Quaeda to be tolerated by a certain set of warlords among many there, and gee, the news these days is just full of episodes of various plain old fashioned police agencies intercepting "terrorist" plots and plans, without even the benefit of a tiny part of the trillion or three dollars of Networked Battlespace Carry On, sir! "war-fighting" (actually logistics management and supply chain management) "capability" that the rest of us are paying so dearly for in that old "blood and treasure," and paying Wogs not to shoot at the convoys bringing munitions and fuel to the Currently Defined Battlespace, and sowing the seeds of more death and conflict to keep the contractor guys I just read about who maintain the software and hardware through which "our" great military strategists currently filter their perceptions and prognostication by paying techs something like 13 times what a GI with the same qualifications gets paid and who likely actually does the actual work while the contractors sip vodka out of each others' butt cracks and navels, ET fucjking CETERA, AD fucjking NAUSEAM.

      So you can sit and pontificate about how this is all "necessary" to swat the little annoying bug that, if you look at it through the wrong end of the microscope, appears simply HUGE and MENACING, so that when its puny biting parts are displayed (with enhancements, of course) on your 96-inch-class HDTV, why, it looks just like a REAL ENEMY!

      Stop me if you heard this one:

      Guy is walking down Fifth Avenue in Noo Yawk City with an elephant gun under his arm and an XM-25 slung over his shoulder.

      Cop stops him and asks, "Whynthehell are you carrying an elephant gun and an XM-25 around downtown?"

      Guy, being a really logical fella, says "Obviously, to keep the wild elephants away!"

      Cop says, "Hey, bub, there's not a wild elephant within 8,000 miles of here, and they're almost killed off anyway!"

      Guy says, "See? It works! Now you just let me go on about my business."

      Not to worry, though -- your gritty, steely, squinty-eyed "patriotic" take on how things ought to go forward from here is going to prevail, and "we" the taxpayers and payers-off-on-Chinese-owned-debt will be making the world safe for the military-industrial complex and petropeople far into the increasingly dim future.

    • Yah, once the first Wog kills the first GI, that tribal, band of Brothers instinct kicks in and it's not over until everyone is exhausted and a couple of generations have been born into and died out of it. And "we" at home buy into the sub silentio rationionalization that Our Troops' Sacred Blood has been shed to Preserve Our Freedoms (often courtesy of an IED made from Made-In-America, US-supplied artillery shells and bombs, which quasi-religious sacrifice myth people will magically-thinking-believe as they read their Popular Mechanics featuring the cover article "One Shoot-One Kill" on the magical Reaper/Predator/Merchant of Death drone series, while standing with arms raised so the TSA guy can grope their crotch and fondle the privates of their wives and children...

    • "Nothing in this that makes sense"? Sure it does! "We" are moving what, $7 billion a month from the pockets of American taxpayers and the Borrow From China accounts in the Treasury, into the insatiable maw of the military industrialists and the logisitcalians and procurementologists? And funding how many little sneaky-pete destabilizing "black ops" in yet more quarters of a planet that per the US military is nothing more than a set of "areas of responsibility and operations," forget those idiotic passe political boundaries and governments, by the folks who know how to siphon and disappear billions of dollars at a single whack? And putting how many General Officers a rung or two up the promotion ladder?

      See? It's just a matter of what chair you sit in, as to how you view the sense and sensibility of The Great Game!

    • It could be the case that the moon, where astronauts have not yet landed on it, is made of green cheese. Are you in the military? Are you on the ground in Notagainistan? Just curious how you can offer the notion that the US actions, that a fairly dispassionate look-see by lots of different people characterize as dumb-shit disruptive and totally ineffective asymmetric incompetence, are providing even "not very much security." Unless you mean job security for Karzai and Company, and warlords and mullahs profiting from "our" idiocy in throwing money at them. "We" are doing damn nothing to provide any "security" because there is a total diaconnect between the stated goals and missions of the US military establishment and what actually happens day to day. Hellfires for dinner, any one?

      Spare "us" the little debater's tricks about "nonresponsive."

  • Collateral Damage in Pakistan: Cloughley
    • "achieved control?" Of what? Where? Other than facilitating
      the game that the jackals and cowboys love to play, hiding behind a
      smokescreen of "national interest security legitimacy," where they
      can pretend that by definition, ipso facto, QED, the "hajjis" they
      "light up" are nothing but Turrists or Auxiliary Turrists or that
      wonderful fraud of a catch-all, "insurgents," or would be if they
      weren't killed first. This first link is to the War Department's
      own "mandatory dictionary of military terms:"
      link to dtic.mil The connoisseur of
      irony, euphemism, futility and obfuscation will find lots to savor
      here, pretty much on any page. The narrower focus (click on "I")
      gets to the definition of "insurgency," conveniently broad enough
      to encompass Whatever The Brass Decides To Do: "The organized use
      of subversion and violence by a group or movement that seeks to
      overthrow or force change of a governing authority. Insurgency can
      also refer to the group itself." Interesting to contrast this
      recently revised definition with that of a few years earlier,
      before the present stage setting of the Forever War: "An organized
      movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government through
      use of subversion and armed conflict." Under the new fig leaf, you
      will find that an "occupying power" is a "governing authority." The
      cynic just has to love the circularity conjured up in such
      contexts. The Wiki article, despite some redundancy, has some
      interesting takes on the "legitimacy" of various actors and actions
      involved in David Petraeus' exegesis of modern asymmetrical
      unconventional irregular warfare (I guess I missed something -- is
      there any other kind?): link to en.wikipedia.org For
      all you folks out there who believe your grand military is busy
      with nothing but activities that Protect Your Freedoms, you might
      do yourselves a favor and wander the fat and growing stacks of the
      War Department's increasingly insane musings (as in "gone off into
      their own private version of reality"). Here's a tiny example of
      the kind of stuff Our Brave Troops spend their days doing, there in
      the various Rings of Power in the Pentagram and the top tiers of
      the Crystal City Jungle:
      link to usacac.army.mil
      And of course there's the famous PowerPoint slide, that McChrystal
      supposedly said "When we understand that slide, we'll have won the
      war:"
      link to guardian.co.uk
      A slide privately COPYRIGHTED by a British contractor paid several
      million dollars (a drop in the bucket) to develop, and presumably
      fail to explain to the generals who supposedly are trying valiantly
      and mightily to Win That War and Be Successful, whatever the
      Hellfire that means. Drone warfare: an idea whose time has
      obviously come. The New Legitimacy for the Forever War. Unless the
      whole idea is to do like other terrorists do: keep stirring the
      witch's brew of human passions, to keep anything from settling out.
      Or pretend to be fixing the chronometer, by striking it repeatedly
      with a big hammer?

  • 80 Killed in Bombing, Military Strikes in Pakistan
    • Can one ask what "chief threat to order" means, in this context? What "order?"

      What's described here, seems to me, is what humans have done since "civilization" appeared, nominally in the Fertile Crescent if I remember right. Tigris and Euphrates. (How quaint that "Shock&Awe" should follow the elevation, in major part via the machinations of our CIA and "policy people," of one Saddam Hussein, right there in the middle of the former Fertile Crescent.)

      "Civilization," if I have this right, consists of people figuring out how to breed up grains that can be planted and watered to produce not only enough for the daily bread, but a surplus that can be planted on larger fields next year, and stored behind walls against the needs and greeds of less inventive humans, and to support a ruling class and various kinds of artisans and parasites. Requiring the kinds of organizations that settled agriculture and increasing population and the insatiable appetites for milk and honey demand, over and above the skills needed to hunt and gather or nomadically herd. Like bureaucracy, record-keeping, and all kinds of division of labor. And skills at building and maintaining walls and granaries. And then, once you got a concentration of stealable wealth, lots of dedicated warriors with armor and arms, both to protect your surplus and go knock down others' walls and steal their stuff and put them to the sword." And a priestly class, to add divine sanctions to the duty of the slaves to work the qanats and fields in anticipation of the seasons, and the Natural Ascendancy of the Aristocratic Hierarchy.

      And so it's not so long, in areas where the available resources are slim and a quirk or three of the development of politics and mores gives you the Pashtun and other tribal approaches to Honor and the Social Order, before you get the kind of endemic misery and pride- and the-pleasure-of-violence-driven tit for tat and slippery loyalties that lie beneath the surface reporting of this post.

      May I recommend, once again, a wonderfully inadvertent book, somehow released for publication by the CIA, by Gary Schroen, CIA field guy? The so ironically titled "First In: An Insider's Account Of How The CIA Spearheaded The War On Terror In Afghanistan." There is so much wrong with even the title, but once you get into the blandness and banality of the evil inside the covers, any observer not blinded by American tribalism will get a wonderful pastiche of the reality of the human animal in something very close to its native state. In his own words: link to msnbc.msn.com

      Too bad the book ends before the latest chapters in this we-do-it-because-we-can lunacy, including trying to buy the "loyalty" of shrewd and self-interested tribal leaders and warlords in Notagainistan by providing them with Viagra.

      So the examination of entrails continues, looking for clues to the proper understanding of aggregate human behaviors and individual acts of Jihadicide and vengeance and Hellfire assault that all seem, to this jaded curmudgeon, to point to a vast human death wish.

  • Iraq has a Government: Can we Please Come Home Now?
    • There is this thing called the Army Corps of Engineers, which is fiscally unable to do stuff like levee New Orleans and dredge the Mississipi and the Intracoastal Waterway and a host of other projects that Congress has dumped on that group.

      In the more uniformed service, the field units of the engineering battalions of the military are really up on earth-moving and building (and destroying) stuff like bridges and buildings and their parts of the Grand Fucjking Networked Battlespace Vampire Squid That Covers The Face Of The Entire Planet Now, and overseeing contractors (well, more like "overlooking" them and their scams.) What's the gig against moving more troops into the latter, and dedicating them to pumping up the former, here at home? We have an enormous backlog of infrastructure repair, the construction industry and its employees have already been bled out, and GIs get paid a lot less than even Mexican concrete workers.

      Seems like a natural fit, no? And what a nice way of keeping the Bands of Brothers together, and maybe easing them out of the "everyone else is The Enemy, shoot first" mindset and into more useful long-term employment. What was it Bush 41 said? "Not gonna happen. Wouldn't be prudent."

      The area formerly known as the nation of the United States of America, at the tipping point...

  • Hating Muslims in America
    • But you see, like with the Great International
      Comm-yanistism Conspiracy that carried the world so far down the
      hole we are presently in, our lords and masters and those who
      profit from the Forever War want us to read, learn and inwardly
      digest the "lie" that there's this great worldwide
      internetconnected franchise operation called Terroristism,
      Dedicated To The Destruction Of Our Holy Way Of Life And Freedom.
      Elements of self-fulfilling prophecy here, since drone warfare and
      CIA sneaky-pete "engagements" and Israelis training South African
      Apartheid Police and the US military's "School of the Americas" and
      such both create "terrorist tactical units" very directly put
      "users of terrorism" in the field, as it were (remember the
      "Contras," those "fathers of their country" and "heroes of
      democracy (sic sic sic)?), and of course set up the fertile fields
      of fire that bring out the asymmetric warriors to do it back, or do
      it first, or whatever you want to name the stage in the puerile
      state of human interaction that obtains today. Not worth arguing
      about, because most folks will comfortably swallow the Narrative,
      with a hemlock and lotus blossom chaser, as the species waltzes and
      staggers toward the cliff... The Borg have won by just staying on
      message...

    • I just HATE to leave a misapprehension unanswered. I don't think I said anything about most terrorists being white supremacists (that was in the original post), or Muslims for that matter. The links are just a quick scan of readily available sources. My impression is that "terrorism" is just a new buzzword hot button name for the berserker actions of a small faction of the human population, a fraction that I bet would be pretty constant over time from the point that there were maybe 10 million of us (just a guess) to the present, and on into the possible future. Being as we are such stupid tribal creatures in aggregate, it is pretty easy for an "IRA bomber" or an "anarchist" in Chicago or some gaggle of gung-ho dipshits in Mumbai or a few dorks with ambitions and personal axes to grind in Oklahoma or Oslo or Beirut or Jerusalem to send the tribalists into a tizzy and derail any tiny motions toward "pacification."

      So those links were just intended to be illustrative of the range of "terrorist" types, of which a moderate number are disaffected or just weird White Guys (like the assholes who bombed that church in Birmingham, AL or Ted Kasczynski or Timothy McVeigh or any of the Jihadicidists who walk into a crowd of fellow humans and detonate the shrapnel-laden bomb they have strapped to themselves.) It is just stupid to conflate all these incidents into a Great International "Enemy" Movement (inheritor of the "Com-yanist" mantle, apparently) that somehow can be stopped or managed by trillions of dollars of imperial bases and "game-changing" weapons like rail guns and XM-25s and V-22 "crash-by-wire" heloaeroplanes.

      And I did not say or imply you are ignorant, and isn't it nice that all this exchange will disappear into the endless, asymptotically growing noise of bitspace...

      So in the greater scheme of things, who fucjking cares? In the end, sooner or later, we are all dead. Whether by 'terrorist" acts or a small-caliber bullet to the brain stem or some equally effective and less costly alternative, of which there are so many thanks to our wonderful adaptive inventiveness...

    • Well, there's the Wiki article, link to en.wikipedia.org

      And the Loonwatch take, link to loonwatch.com

      And the brag piece from the FBI, at link to fbi.gov

      You can draw your own conclusions from the reported materials on the net, particularly whether you would consider the Symbionese Liberation Army and the Jewish Defense League as "white supremacist." But it's kind of inescapable that "moozlums" are small potatoes in the domestic turrorism game.

    • There were/are lots of pieces to "the IRA." link to en.wikipedia.org Conflicts like that seems to me to activate or create a fair number of sociopaths (whoops, "antisocial personality disorders") and psychopaths. A lot of what the Provos and Paisleyites were about had little to do with British overlordism and much to do with tit-for-tatting of the kind that would be very comfortably familiar to the Pashto and the Hatfields and the McCoys or how things used to be in Albania and may yet again.

      I have a lot of problems with what I understand is King's level of support for "the IRA." Not that that will have any effect on what happens next.

    • You maybe have a part of it. What about that beer-drinkin' pickup-drivin' gun-lovin' Stars-and-Bars-wavin' person in the bowels of (cue the banjo music) Alabama, who has never met an Arab or other practitioner of Islam? But that doesn't keep him (or her) from just knowin' that the the Towelhead Hajji is his im-mortal Enemy? Just like the Hippies and other Commya-nists? Or how about the folks in Valley A on the island of Borneo, who just know that the identical but differently scarified critters in Valley B are "the enemy?" Latter case is closer to what you mention. The former? Less so, I think -- more of attaching a particular nomenclature to a free-floating blackness that "everybody knows and recognizes." And holds so lovinglliy within them. So often with the same characteristics: tiny eyes, fangs, claws, all that stuff.(And ooh, sexual appetites and capabilities. 72 virgins, y'know...)

      I still sense that there's something deeper and inherent in our souls and our limbic systems that needs "The Enemy." Most folks have one (or more) in their deeper closets. Kind of like is said of God: If God doesn't exist, Man must invent God.

      How many frakkin' generals have said something like "I have met the enemy, and he is mine"? Why does "the enemy" become a singular grammatical form? Why do we say "he/she/they is/are The Enemy"? And when the reactionary revanchists (link to en.wikipedia.org) who are killing our Once Free Culture start to yakking about "our enemies," seems to me they are talking about multiple singular entities, not just hordes of sneaky Hajjis who have the audacity and cruelty to dare to asymmetrically snipe or IED our Valiant GIs? (Those same GIs who murder non-combatants, out of boredom or the dehumanizing that comes from seeing some of your Band of Brothers killed and blasted this demanding the same vengeance the Hajjis will exact for "NATO"-collected "body counts," rape their female fellow GIs, use the drugs, engage in various black-marketing activities, eventually will start 'fragging' their brass, and the beat goes on... Milo Minderbinderism in plain view all around them.)

      No answers, only questions and observations and a fear that our biology condemns us to that cartoon endgame image from Gahan Wilson: the brute, battered, heavily armed soldier, looking up wide-eyed from his combat stance at the blasted landscape around him, nothing but death and destruction, saying in wonder, "I think I won!" link to blog.timesunion.com (page down a bit to see the image...)

    • "Enemy." You recognize the word, but what does it really MEAN to you? Or any of us?

    • I'm just a low-paid nurse, but I have to ask if maybe the conventional approaches to chewing over and tsk-tsking about manifestations of hatred (maybe not the best word to capture the syndrome) are not a lot like some older forms of medicine.

      The practitioner observes symptoms and signs, the unfolding pits and details of this Klan or that neoNazi or the other "fundamentalist" eruption, and works from the diagnostic tools (s)he has learned. Lots of peering at skin tones and examining excrements, but seemingly mired in shallow and misleading analytics, whether it's notions of the "humours" or "noxious vapors" or even passe understandings of immune system disorders and cancer. Nothing changes in the physiology and etiology of the repeated outbreaks and endemic presence of the disease, which continues to appear in the population, but sometimes there are leaps in understanding of the processes, and in treatments and prevention techniques and behaviors.

      What seems missing, to me at least, in talk and scholarship about "hate," is efforts to strip away the shallow, idiosyncratic surface details of the presenting illness and understand the mechanisms that produce the illness. And particularly the mechanisms that facilitate the spread of the disease through a population.

      Maybe I am just a dilettante and I have this all wrong, but it's long seemed to me that along with all the other archetypes in our little brains, there's one labeled "the enemy" that is pretty much unstudied. We all know "the enemy" intimately and on sight, it appears. And of course all the worst we can imagine, of qualities and behaviors and beliefs, is welded to the carapace of that "enemy," who thus looks, in a painful mimesis, link to en.wikipedia.org, just like what we know ourselves to be.

      Thinkers and researchers are mulling the biochemical roots of tribalism and greed and violence and altruism. We are soma and psyche, complicated beasties at best. Why the apparent reluctance to turn the critical gaze on the notion of "the enemy" as an archetype? Do we love our enemies so much, the way the jailer loves the prisoner, that we just can't bring ourselves to examine the fundamental nature of the relationship?

      I'm not smart or deep enough to take this very far. Given what I have seen, from taking part in a lot of human behaviors from holding my newborn daughter to going off to war against the pre-"terrorists," those "dirty commies," it seems no one is interested in standing back and getting a clear view of the stage or the game board or the world outside Plato's mythical cave, wherever we actually live while living out our illusions and so very comfortable and profitable and satisfying "hatreds."

      So maybe the best we will ever do is maybe come up with some cream or salve or poultice that mitigates the more painful dermatological signs and expressions of some much deeper organic illness. But I do hope that the species lasts long enough to both get a clear view of what really is at play in the dance of mutual antipathy and predation, and maybe collectively figure a way to get past that to a kinder and quieter way. Golden Rule, and all that. Maybe when there are only a few hundred thousand of us left...

  • Senate Repeal of DADT in Global Context
    • Want a bit of juicy history? Maybe you already know something about Roy Cohn, one of the worst of the bunch on the Wrong side of the political cloud. link to en.wikipedia.org

      Why is it that evil SOBs like this are always described biographers and commentators as "complicated" and "troubled?" They are just mean and crazy and the worst kind of hypocrites, as far as I can tell.

    • "it is clear that fear-mongering on gays will no longer win elections in the next generation..."

      My bet is that this is not "clear" at all.

      The "Anti-Gay" button is still very prominent in the control panel of the lexicographers of the Wrong-- oops, we are supposed to say "Right," right? Because that's a strong, reassuring word. Out of the Black Sabbath political missal whose first printing came out of the fecund, horny imagination of one Newt "Slimy Amphibian Adulterous Liar" Gingrich, in the form of that famous little memo, now viral and with lots of genetically improved versions, "Language: A Key Mechanism of Control." link to fair.org.

      As to homophobia on the "Wrong" side of the political spectrum, maybe there's some religious component to that, but there's an enormous dose of their hallmark Hypocrisy. Like the tight-assed, bigoted and hateful Director of Christian Education at a church I once attended, who wore starched collars and preferred young men for personal gratification. And I think I remember that many male Nazi leaders had the hots for young Aryan males, and of course the well-documented preference for pretty young boys. So as with that viciously destructive self-hater, Roy Cohn, and J. Edgar Crossdresser and any number of "Right"-eous politicians and military leaders, have their closet preferences but find it convenient to trigger that emotion we call "hate," for lack of a better short descriptor, but which is a lot more complex that that. Something tied to individual and group identity, like all the other "litmus tests," pro-war and pro-death-penalty and anti-abortion and anti-most-Bill-of-Rights-rights, and of course that amorphous but apparently well-sensed, if not well-comprehended, and needing-constant-reinforcement identification of The Enemy.

      Another example of what looks, physiologically analogizing, like cancer or an awful immune-system disorder, causing the body of humanity to destroy itself from failure to properly and honestly recognize its own nature.

  • Lawsuit over Drones in Pakistan forces CIA Station Chief to Flee
    • Sez you, oh master of the talking points in favor of the Forever War. You start with the lie that there is a "global war on terror," and follow up with the falsehood that the US military and I guess they are still called "neocons" push, that every square foot of the planet is just one more "area of responsibility" where any of our warlords can decree that some individual or little group of Wogs is by their decree "terrorist."

      I really love your bald, insupportable assertion that drone/missile/"smart bomb "warfare" (undeclared, of course, except by fiat by the Generals and GS-15s in the "government") is "functional, ethical and often necessary." This is action and "policy" purely by technical capability, "We do this because we can do this," nothing more. "Fascism" is an overworked term, but to the extent that it still means "power for the sake of power" and "killing for the sake of killing" and "we do what we want because you can't stop us or have been suckered into believing that it's the 'right' thing to do."

      How many screw-ups, killing the wrong people for the wrong reasons without oversight or any of the checks and balances that ought to apply to "waging war" does it take to make an idiot's dozen? How many times does a murder of this sort result from a desire to cover up some other misdeed by the Powers that Be, with the barest nod to "fear the terrorists?" How many "terror" plots have been forestalled by this kind of military action, as opposed to the plain old police work that seems to have been the only effective tool, at least when it's not hamstrung and derailed like the 9/11 information that the 'crats in DC declined to act upon?

      Ah, screw it. The kind of people who field and use these coward's weapons, and the people who offer these apologias for murder, will not be deterred by anything. The Borg have landed, and humans offer more and more proof that we are a dead-end species, incapable of keeping ourselves alive.

  • The Costs of War: Afghan Civilian Casualties Spike, says ICRC
    • And Our National Interests and War Goals and Indicia of "Victory" for this profitable-for-a-few-but-futile-for-everyone-else are just what, again?

      Follow the money, remember the un-spun truth that War Is A Racket, and if you are not a "fighter" or a refugee, just a taxpayer ignorant of cause, effect and motivation, consider yourself blessed.

      Just the latest echo of American imperialism -- take a look at the history of US Marines' involvement in Central and South America and the Caribbean starting in the late 1800s -- "interventions" behind smokescreens of "national interest" or "invitation by governments," leading to exploitable chaos and kelptocracy.

      Now the latest Spandex rationale for keeping it going is that "Pakistan," whatever that hypostatization-reification might be, needs to do "more," to allow the US to achieve Victory in Notagainistan. Whatever that means. Go, Pakis! Win one for the Gipper!

  • NIE Questions Progress in Afghanistan
    • We are prisoners of our language.

      Phrases like "risk of FALLING TO the Taliban" and "COUNTER-whatever" and "PACIFYING" infect the Narrative discourse, activate reflex (not "reflective") responses, and seamlessly divert even fairly rational people into parallel-universe game playing and that usual, profitable, comfortably futile road to ruin. (How do the generals and policy-drivers actually hope to "pacify" all the districts and compounds of Notagainistan? It should be pretty clear that they DON'T, since they have already set up the excuses for why they will fail to produce that undefined and moving target, "victory:" Once again, lack of the necessary "will to win (enough troops and money and sophisticated destructive devices,)" the failure of their chosen "strong man" and forced embodiment of the nation they pretend to exist, coupled with that geographic fraud, the "porous border with Pakistan." If only "we" could plug the "leaks" in the Border, as if it were a children's summertime swimming pool...

      I'm guessing our host is well aware of the realities of day-to-day attempts at military occupation, and the latest initiatives of, and responses to, The Won't-Play-Fair, Refuses-To-Fight-The-War-We-Spent-All-This-Money-Prepering-For, Deviously-Asymmetric Enemy. The Enemy being that complex set of self-interested groups and individuals who fracture and re-combine moment to moment like blobs of mercury spilled on a table. (The construct of "The Enemy" itself being an unexamined obscuring notion.)

      But "we" still persist in the comfortable and yet completely fraudulent and so easily manipulable modes of thought. link to dailymail.co.uk

      And so "we" all suffer under a system that rewards creators of conflict and violence, who profit in their careers and their purses from the kind of idiocy that pays "insurgents" (transmogrified momentarily from "hajji Taliban implacable enemies" into a convenient labor pool) to drive trucks hauling $400-a-gallon fuel and hugely expensive munitions past armed and capable gaggles of other "hajji Taliban implacable enemies," bribed not to attack the convoys en route to the "front" or district or province where the Networked Battlespace Managers (US generals) decree is "the place where 'we' will win great battlefield victories and pacify next." So they can announce, serially, that "the surge is working" and "there's light at the end of the Panjshir (or whichever) valley" and us Narrative Eaters at home will continue to support their game, or at least remain ignorant and unconcerned by this futile, wasteful, perpetually destabilizing hidden-ball-trick idiocy.

      I wonder how many person-hours (Not "man-hours" any more -- the War Department has gotten on board, in its efforts to protect its conquered territory and resource base here at home, with courses for its managers on sensitivity and political correctness) are being expended on that other front, the vicious endless war within the rings of the Beltway and the Pentagram over who gets to decree the terms of the Narrative and how to undercut any undercutting of the ""doctrine" of More-of-The-Same that might result from publication of the NIEs that are the focus of the present post.

  • Egypt: Israel's Nukes Destabilizing to Region (Wikileaks)
    • And we are not supposed to talk about the US naval vessel "Liberty," bombed, strafed and torpedoed by the Israeli military starting on June 8, 1967, killing 34 Americans and wounding 170 and nearly sinking the ship. link to en.wikipedia.org Which was collecting electronic intelligence in international waters in the Med during the Six Days' War. And which the spinners and obscurantists and propagandists have given the Swiftboat treatment to, so that hardly anyone remembers, or attaches any significance to, that much more real and actual provocation than the supposed "Gulf of Tonkin Incident" that was the casus belli for the whole Vietnam racket. Or remembers Jonathan Pollard, link to en.wikipedia.org, or some guy fortuitously named (renamed actually) Marc Rich. link to en.wikipedia.org

      But then, Uncle Sam is one rich, noted and highly gullible "freier." link to doingzionism.org.il

  • Enormous Truck Bomb Kills 6 US Troops in Afghanistan as Constitutional Crisis Looms
    • All of which is statistically very interesting, but of course blows completely past those silly fundamental questions.

      Like what "our" strategic and national interests were and are, what in aggregate the people in Notagainistan might want and need to arrive at some kind of stability, what are the actually achievable Great Goals for the next one, ten and 50 years, and what possible utility there is in having another militarized gaggle of hash-using, largely un-civilized (as opposed to half-trained-warriorized tribespeople) subject to being "re-deployed" under what "we" would call an "unfriendly" warlord/dictator or otherwise running amok. Since "we" have shown such military and statecraft genius at creating fertile ground for what "we" would call Bad Seed. Hussein and the Shah and so many others rose up and prospered with nutrients and munitions and "training" (like that provided at the School of the Americas) supplied by our really wise geopoliticians.

      So take the mindless militaristic approach, and start with that demonstrably false assumption that "an army" is a force for social good or even political stability. Take comfort that, if your selective sources are correct, the reports of defection and disaffection in ANP and AUP may be somewhat exaggerated. If things go as our planners appear to intend (they having shown such powerful skill sets in war and post-war planning in the past,) you will have a quarter million heavily armed males, with warrior genes and traditions and tribal loyalties that are far stronger than any "esprit de corpse" that could ever be induced by those mercenary "trainers" and any amount of speechifying by "our" warlords.

      Those dudes will be looking to apply their new skills (consisting not of nation-building but of head-busting and "lighting up") to SOMEbody, in aid of some strongman's purposes, and in pursuit of personal gain and family security and the satisfaction that comes from being powerful and pretty much free from civil constraints.

      The wealth of nations makes armies. Armies don't make nations, they make and maintain empires. People who find themselves part of a nation ought to get to choose whether they want to support the cancer of a large standing military, but the guys with the guns tend to dictate the "choice."

      Good luck with the math on that.

  • Visser: Spin-Doctors and the Changing Nature of Imperial Power in Iraq
    • So this is the triumph of the "neo" warwonks? The grand apparatus of "Projecting Power" devolved to the passing of notes in class, with the latest who-hearts-whom, drawings of fig leaves using the letters of acronyms for four-word Futility Initiatives that will somehow signal "Victory" in that whole trillion-dollar, million-life cursive exercise?

      "David's acronym trumps Mahmuds!"

      How can there be a "Responsible End" when the beginning was as irresponsible as it gets?

  • Mubarak: W. Naive, controlled by Subordinates
    • "someone who is tough but fair, who ensures the basic needs of his people." Says Mubarak.

      Given that elites and oligarchs and now kleptocrats will always end up ruling, even here, as the United States morphs into Rome II or some variant on that model, maybe the old Pharaoh has a point about what works best for most of the people, most of the time, in what seems to me to be the real test of humanity: How to go about maximizing the number of people who manage to satisfy at least the first three tiers of Maslow's Hierarchy of NEEDS (not 300-foot megayacht and Gulfstream V and private-army WANTS) without descending into cancerous or predatory dead-endedness.

      You'll never, in this Brave New World, have the mythical "freedom" and "liberty" that so many believe they have, or had, and will not have "representative government." Seductive myths, to be sure, and they can be used by cynical rulers for decades to keep the rabble distracted and in check, but that's not how humans work. A consumptive paternalism descends into simple and terminal parasitism.

      And "John Galt" is not gonna work either; all you have to do is observe what's happening in the hyperspeed functions of the "financial industry," where capitalizing on instantaneous weaknesses and momentums and inertias in the wider world to grab huge chunks of Made-Up Funny Money that bankrupts whole nations, is the fundamental business model.

      And the military industrialists and the state security apparatus will keep on weaponizing everything and bending every technology to creating new "threats" and ever-more-lethal Force Structures and ever-more-unstable-and-repressive political structures, right up to the point where the species dies of what looks functionally, for all the world, like "disseminated intravascular coagulation." link to en.wikipedia.org

      So how, one asks, when fortuity and savage self-interest and huge ego and the other items that move an individual and his associates to win the local game of "King of the Mountain," does the species, either collectively or in smaller groups, raise up those "benevolent dictators" that do not force their serfs and slaves into that state of "destructive destruction" that is the hallmark of history? And keep them in place, when Colonel Hamid, and then Lieutenant Oksana, and then Sergeant Louis, and finally Private Doe masters the model, and serially run their own assassination-and-coup, each level more vicious and destructive than the last?

      I have no idea. Anyone? Class?

  • Obama Should Let the UN apply Economic Sanctions to Israel
    • Yah, people who are "into" geopolitics, whether out of self-interest or boredom or because the game of RISK! and its real-world counterparts are so fascinating and compelling (Think of it! You can TAKE OVER THE WHOLE WORLD! AND OWN AND CONTROL AND DICTATE, OH, EVERYTHING! bE THE UBERMENSCH!), always reduce things to that lazy or disingenuous shorthand called Reification (also known as hypostatisation, concretism, or the fallacy of misplaced concreteness) link to en.wikipedia.org.

      So that "Iran" is or does or isn't or doesn't do this or that, or "The US," or "Europe," or "the Palestinians" (which is at least in the plural form) or "Israel." As if the tiny "capture word" actually embraces in any substantial way the net vector of all those loving and hating and indifferent humans born and dying within some arbitrary boundary or set. And then the Wonks go on to explain in equally simplistic terms, and advocate for, this or that "policy," which their selection of characteristics that they propagandistically impose on the hypostatisized much-bigger-reality that is then obscured behind the shorthand thought-curtain, e.g. "Israel," just has to be followed or implemented or funded or what-ever. And all the other so-serious deep thinkers then have to run their version of the same program, coming "obviously" to very different conclusions. And sex and other pleasures, and violence and killing, and accumulation, and domination, seem to be the real drivers that grab hold of that "limbic system" where our all-too-human impulses and motivations reside and from which they issue like the plagues from Pandora's notorious jar. link to en.wikipedia.org Our eleemosynary and friendly and altruistic impulses are apparently limited to a pretty small circle or band or tribe, and the reality is that states and nations, or "tribes with flags," can be hijacked by "leaders" and "rulers" and "statesmen-and-women" serving their own wants, like a virus hijacks the cells of your body to make more of its own kind, to sicken and weaken and eventually kill the whole body.

      Too bad all the "forces"-- corporate profit-seeking and externalizations of huge general harms, nationalism, tribalism, militarizationism, weaponizationism, rampant and idiotic "technological progress" at a pace that leaves wisdom and common sense in the dust, self-aggrandizement, anomie, and maybe a great hidden wish for Ragnarok (link to en.wikipedia.org) or Gotterdammerung,(link to 209.161.37.11), all seem to push in the same cliff-ward direction: "If I am not to survive, if I must die, then let my funeral pyre burn the world."

      Seems like somehow the "survival instinct" has been so thoroughly submerged in "policy" that there's not much left of a "future" for the old species.

      Too bad our 7-billion-person, grotesquely complex Real Reality never seems to comport with or react in accordance with the Pronounced And Put-Into-Practice Policies that really come about via influence, accident, error and ignorance. Stupidity, cupidity, avidity, futility... Why does it seem that the final term in the progression is most likely to be extinct-ivity?

      On the other hand, why should the evil-minded folks who have grabbed the levers of power in Israel, the businessmen who like having a large cohort of Arab/Palestinian virtual slaves to work for them, the obsessive religious so busily fractionating into smaller and smaller and more and more vicious little subgroups, and the depressed or fearful or indifferent or otherwise-occupied rest of the residents get a pass on behaviors that threaten the things that keep the species alive -- meta-stability, sustainability, a necessary modicum of amity and tolerance?

      Not that it matters. The Borg have landed, and "resistance is futile."

  • Can 'Desperate Housewives' Defeat al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia? Wikileaks
    • Humans are equal-opportunity fornicators, or maybe any-opportunity. It seems, what a surprise, that there's even a bit of genetic code that predisposes us to yield to the blandishments of the pleasure centers in our limbic systems and "get a little on the side" whenever and wherever we can, and of course a huge 'literature' of 'moralists' (sic) pontificating against the tendency. link to icr.org

      Wilbur Mills and Fanne Fox humping on the steps of the Capitol? No problem, man. link to zimbio.com "Family Values 'Conservatives'" doing the nasty with this, that or the other? Bill Clinton's semen stains, and Larry "Wide Stance" Craig? link to en.wikipedia.org The tight-collared citizens of Utah, and other "social conservatives," being the most avid consumers of PORN on the INTERNET, in the sight of GOD? link to newscientist.com What an incredible surprise, who would have thought? That poisonous reptile Newt "Family Values Includes Screwing Another Woman Or Several While His Wife Struggles With Cancer" Gingrich, with his comment that 'people will listen to what I tell them, and pay no attention to what I actually do' remark.

      What is simply amazing, or ought to be, is the wonderful way hypocrisy thrives in repressive terrain. Seems the urge to procreate or at least get it on is far more compelling and irrepressible and native to the human behavior set than usually acknowledged. (How many predatory pedophilic priests does it take to finally lead to a conclusion that this group has infiltrated and essentially mastered the Holy See and its external manifestations to create a centuries-long 'safe haven' for that destructive bunch of pleasure seekers?) Jimmy Swaggart, the Bakkers, all that jazz?

      Why is it that Fundamentalists, who all want to take the "Fun" out of everything for everyone but themselves (cf. Pashtun dancing boys), do so well electorally and when seizing power by other means? Maybe just because organizing pedophilia and adultery and rape behind closed doors requires better organizational skills than those of people of a more "liberal" and "tolerant" disposition? Maybe that's genetic, too?

      Why do humans consistently decline to acknowledge what they are, and deal with the reality more sensibly? Of course, that's just a rhetorical question...

  • Israelis Jettison Peace Talks in Favor of Massive Land Theft; Brazil, Argentina Recognize Palestinian State
    • "the US needs to look coldly at what is in its own best interests. " A little example of one fundamental problem with "analysis" and efforts to "control" the world in the Great Game of RISK!(tm).

      However convenient and simple it makes things, statements that "the US" or "Israel" or "Iraq" or "Timbuktoo" ought to do or not do this, that or the other, are simply an obscuring fallacy that kills any chance of effective parsing of interests and motivations. It's called hypostatisation or reification or the fallacy of misplaced concreteness. link to en.wikipedia.org. "We" are in "Notagainistan" to Prosecute The War on Terrorists, Save The Women and Children, Stabilize Pakistan, Prove The Validity of Career-Important Concepts and Tactics of Counterinsurgency Even If Ther is No Central Government To Be "Insurgent" Against, Kill Wogs Who Dare To Oppose US, or a whole host you-pick-from-the-Chinese-menu reasons. Like making our warlords and MIC guys and "investors" rich, and giving our neolibericons a playground for their Chicken Hawkery and War Wimpery games. All that stuff happens because a relative few of "us" or "them" have sucked the rest of us into thinking in terms of, and believing in, the shadows and frauds they project on the walls of our caves. Because those patterns are so nicely consistent with the processing pathways our brains come encumbered with.

      For a relatively few USers, what's happening in Notagainistan and Iraq and Costa Rica and Ethiopia and all those other places where "we" are engaged in Imperial activity, is just thre greatest thing since sliced bread, which in their case is buttered heavily with the pork lard of career advancement and revolving-door MIC jobs and "capitalist" access to the world's declining natural and human resources. "War" is a reified obscurant shorthand for the whole complex of profit and rape and murder and all that tribal stuff that happens at the Band of Brothers level while the Generals maintain a muythology of "success" and "victory" if only the right weapons and tactics and quantum of Will are provided to them.

      "Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it." Mark Twain
      " Patriotism is the last (or maybe first) refuge of the scoundrel." Samuel Johnson
      "War is a racket." Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler

    • I like the unofficial but very apt Israeli "11th Commandment," or by some tellings the First: "Thou shalt not be a freier." Here's a brief article that gives a nice flavor to that word, and illustrates how it fits into the Israeli psyche and colors the external and internal behaviors of that collection of peoples. link to doingzionism.org.il

      "Freier" is an unofficial Hebrew/Yiddish term meaning, very loosely and without all the cultural seasonings, "sucker, sap, dupe, dunce, patsy, dope, idiot, schlemiel (link to thesaurus.com), pick your favorite doofus synonym. It is, from folks I have heard, used to describe Uncle Sam. That's U.S. Uncle Sam, also known as Uncle Sucker.

      Give the Israeli war leaders those F-35s "in exchange for" what, again? What is with OUR war leaders, that they seem not to have the slightest inkling of how things work in the ancient art of politics and statecraft in the Mideast, and not the faintest clue of how one behaves in the bazaar, or the necessary awareness of real self-interest that would give them half a prayer of standing up and haggling, rather than bending over and doing the other thing?

      Of course, maybe this is just part of the working out of what "Christians" say is written in the Bible, God's immutable word, in the purely fortuitously included Book of Revelation?

      Nothing is ever what it seems, but it does seem that our species' ability to process complexity and think collectively about its survival is far outstripped by our ability to stepwise approach annihilation, piecemeal or wholesale. After all, we don't want to be "Freiers," now do we?

  • Why our Afghanistan War Dead don't Seem to be News
    • Maybe the notion is not an exact fit, but I don't see a lot of evidence for the idea that people confronted with the falsity of some belief structure via a deluge of facts undercutting it will "back away from the belief."

      I bet all across the country there are people who believed every serial bullshit sally from Joe McCarthy and R. Nixon and Roy Cohn, completely ignored the flood of contrary reality, and now, today, are gloating about a restoration of HUAC and the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, so those "commya-nists" can finally be rooted out of their deep-cover holes in that Beast, the Big Government. Cf, of course, Farhad Majoo's wonderfully depressing, futility-anomie-and-who-cares-inducing work, "True Enough." link to crunchgear.com.

      As to treatment of the Hallowed Dead GIs, so many of whom like Pat Tillman were killed by, ha ha, "friendly fire" (a growth industry, it seems, compounded by "improved lethality" of "smart weapons" fired by excitable young males predisposed to shoot first in fear of being shot first), or by IEDs most often made from just-left-lying-around or given-to-"friendly"-warlords 105 and 155mm artillery shells and 500- and 250-lb bombs, all Made in America:

      Here in the Tampa Bay area we have the HQ of CENTCOM, at MacDill AFB. The theatre set, on which the Noble Sacrifice Morality Play is being played out, is the route from the airfield at MacDill along one of the main arterials to the cemetery in the Home Town from whence the Noble Warrior set out to Make the World Safe For Democracy by Killing Wogs Who Dare Resist Invasion, Pacification and Democratization, or Dare to Kill Any Of Their Band of Brothers. There's a mawkish story in all the local papers about the young high school sports hero or bad-kid-turned-good-by-a-dose-of-military-discipline, how he loved his mother and little sister and was a good Scout and all that, the route of the cortege with the Flag-Draped Coffin is announced, and then the route is lined with American Flags and weepy-eyed patriots with media photogs angling to make it appear like a continuous wall of people over the entire 10 or 15 mile route. (I happen to have one of the flags used to drape coffins in WW II, which was placed over my uncle's dead remains when he was planted in an earlier manifestation of this ceremonial.)

      There are other enormous asymmetries at play in all of this. What is actually happening, day to day, in what the Military has determined is its "area of responsibility," and what people insist on rolling out and painting Red, White and Blue to let them be comfortable that the Great Drama is unfolding according to the pre-ordained feel-good script that has absolutely nothing to do with that ugly reality. And it will go on until the mercenaries finally sack the capital and there's no more concentration of wealth to break down, divert and steal into more futile acts of attempted conquest.

      Shades of the late Roman Empire, or the Third Reich, or any number of dead-end Great Nations of the past...

  • Egyptian Official: Israelis Might be Behind attacks by Sharks, which seem to be Beasts of Prey
    • One more exhibit in the longest-running trial in history, likely leading to a ruling and judgment by Mother Nature that humans are a failed species, too smart to take care of themselves and too stupid to take care of the planet that nurtures them.

      Remember the '80s wall poster, that picture from the Apollo capsule showing that telling view of Earth, "Behold the blue planet, steeped in its dreams," with Michelangelo's Hand of God from the Sistine ceiling, and the cartoon balloon from the right-hand border reading "Humans, you got 15 minutes to vacate the premises. I found a much better tenant"?

  • Israel's Mega-Fire and Climate Change's Drying Mediterranean
    • Is this the point where we do the usual, and veer off the main path into the rocks and rice paddies, and start arguing about whether it was Hamas or Hizbollah who "started the fire," or maybe "Iran" or maybe some really devious Mossad or people from the National Religious Party or Yisrael Beitenyu or United Arab List? Or maybe one of the HDTV "Christian" sects, Over There doing their damndest to get Armageddon back on track to the predestined date at the end of history?

      I mean, those kinds of visceral textwars that really get the tribal blood and drums to pounding are so much more.. familiar, and comfortable, and enjoyable... than worrying about oh, root causes and what can or can't be done to keep the fears and greeds and wants and demands of 7 or 9 billion humans from totally destroying the Big Board on which the Great Game is being played by the few who know their lives will be comfortably over before the pawns being sacrificed out of generations unborn learn how badly they have been rooked...

      It's no help for them that "We Didn't Start The Fire." link to yeli.us

  • The Ottoman Empire, 1798-1923
  • Bad "Weather" between Obama and Karzai Forestalls Meeting
    • I wonder -- was this maybe a singular manifestation of the "fog of war" I hear so much about?

  • The Karzai Problem in Afghanistan: Wikileaks
    • Do you have some secret inside track that makes you privy to the "strategic objectives of the US across Central Asia and the Middle East?" Maybe you could share that information with the rest of the world, so many of us seeing only once again proof of the Peter Principle, Gresham's General Truism, Murphy's Law, Heisenbergian uncertainty and that old saw about the only persistent principles in the universe being accident, error and stupidity could come to that soul-satisfying belief that not only are grownups in charge, they actually have a Grand Plan and know what they are doing.

      As the CBers say, Gotcher ears on? Come back, good buddy!

    • "The purpose of war is war." In the fog of which, lots of stuff happens. Jackals and Sneaky Petes get access to large, unauditable bales of money to apply to their pet stratagems and complicationizing. Contractors and camp followers slice their gobbets off the dead flesh on all "sides." Players of the Great Game get to force everyone simply interested in getting along and getting on with daily life to fund their perversions. Those among us who get their meaning in life from being a Loved One in one Band of Brothers or another, or get their jollies killing and maiming and torturing ("The purpose of torture is torture.") others, of "lighting up the Towelheads" or killing the "emissaries of the Great Satan" or tickling one of the other pleasure receptors in that great sponge of Good and Evil, the human brain, get to indulge themselves, again at the expense of the uninterested or ignorant or "patriotic." And all you have to do is review the career of one Milo Minderbinder, as expounded in "Catch-22," to get a pretty clear picture of Why We Were In Vietnam. That, and the career paths and life's ends of McNamara, Westmoreland, Abrams and the rest.

      Of course the Tarbaby labeled "Crusade" that our leaders have "democratically" stuck our fists feet and forehead to, is a particularly sticky form of the lowest cuts of Saudi Arabian crude. And the necktie around Tarbaby's neck is Karzai, just like Arafat was the millstone around the necks of the Palestinians (bearing in mind that none of us are saints, and each have more or less presence of the Evil One in our innards.) link to theatlantic.com

      The only way out that this Vietnam vet can see is what I would call the exhaustion principle: Sooner or later, the Real Economy of the US will run out of money to funnel into this execration, and sooner or later the people living in the areas we confabulate as "Afghanistan" will outlast the, ha-ha, Coalition Forces and go on about their ages-long playing out of their own games of politics and murder and revenge. And maybe some day someone or some plurality of us humans will Imagine, and there will be Peace and Love and however many of us are left after the Ragnarök, link to en.wikipedia.org, upon the precipice of which we now stand, will be able to go on about the simple business of living simply so that others may simply live. heh heh.

  • Jahanpour: US following Israeli 5-Point Plan on Iran: Wikileaks
    • OOOh, thank God we have Tough Guys to keep us marching in step toward Armageddon!

      Face it folks, War is not only Great Fun, ask any of the maybe billions who spend megayears "playing" World of Warcraft and now Black Ops and those "games," it is one of the few enduring institutions that, if you look at and continue to reward the reality of what goes on, the corruption, theft, abuse, murder, all the rest, as opposed to the Glorious Facade, that humans have consistently been really good at. Whoring is another.

    • Can one ask what possible motivations the various "deciders" are impelled by, in this danse macabre between the, I was going to say "hawkish" but I think "Komodo dragonish" is a better fit, policy players in Israel and their opposite numbers in America?

      Is it just advancement of the Neocon Nightmare, coupled to the Armageddon Engine, with a nice fallout of hundreds of billions of dollars into the coffers of the war machinery suppliers? Bearing in mind the awful symbiosis between the nominally Israeli manifestations of the Krupp and Speer models, and supposedly "American" munitions and war toy makers like General Atomics and Lockheed-"We never forget who we're working for"-Martin and Northrop-"If you keep at it, eventually you will get the billions to build a flying-wing bomber"-Grumman, and Boeing, and Sikorsky, and on and on, which make up a truly globalized industry, sharing technologies and tricks of the trade, without loyalties except to the geometric increase in share of the world's gross wealth and productivity.

      Do these folks have an aiming point for all their "policy" weapons, do they act just out of inertia and congealed habits of thought, do they have real "beliefs," are they simply cynical profit-and-rent-takers, or are they just doing what they do out of a horrible and fratricidal-suicidal momentum? Or is the reality a pixellation of all of the above and even uglier stuff that is submerged and hidden and festering beneath the rhetoric of "ally-dom" and "democracy" and "security through ever-increasing teetering fragile balances of huge piles of weaponry and cynical manipulations of tribal passions?"

      How is it possible, any more, to impel our obscenely wealthy warlords to incorporate some elements of the notions of stability and sustainability and species survival into their rules of the Great Game? Or are enough of us infantilized and infatuated and intoxicated by war drums and bugles and all the really cool stuff of war, the oldest and apparently most durable human institution?

  • Blair, Hitchens Debate Religion
    • Oh, no sir -- MY religion was divinely revealed to me directly by God Herself! To oppose that TRUTH is BLASPHEMY!

    • Which is pretty much the case already. Some learn certain things from their mothers and teachers, seed in fertile soil as it were, and others -- well, the parable is found in most of the major religious traditions.

  • Political Cartoon: Obama's Stitches
    • Also known in some quarters as "Notagainistan?" and "Justonemoretimeistan?" or "Nextistan?"...

  • Swanson: "'Freedom Watch' Threw a War and Nobody Came"
    • Glad you think so highly of Obama, kind of puts him right up there with LBJ "trading" movement on the Great Society for millions of GIs and billions of dollars and all the other stuff that's going on in Notagainistan in that made-a-few-people-very-rich-and-powerful thing I got to go fight in called the Vietnam War.

      Tell you what, Obama IS the nominal Commander in Chief, and he IS signing off on those findings that support all that Secret War stuff, and he is OK with assassinating US citizens, and groping them, and oh so many other bits of reactionary crap that anybody paying attention in 1970 would see was on the horizon as this country "developed." You keep cheerleading for the guy and making excuses.

      I would not mind him being a one-termer if the next guy in line is a sensible progressive with the cojones to risk murder by his Praetorian Guards, as at least one Emperor did, to try to derail the juggernaut that leads to the world of the "Terminator." Where the autonomous battle robots already in the pipeline and the inevitable future have killed off all the weak, frail humans.

    • This kind of eloquent and accurate description, and such focus as you can bring to bear on the national-socialist madness, in a country dominated by The Narrative that has been so artfully captured by these creatures, is all well and good.

      Seems to me the question is how can this juggernaut be tipped over? Like the man says, the "Christian Armageddonist loonies" have been filling the decision nodes with their people for a long time now, and there is so much momentum to the whole machine that converts Real Wealth, generated by people who might be of good will if not duped by the Rovogingrinchians, into what we suffer now, the end-game of the MIC.

      All the vectors point straight at the cliff, and the grade of the terrain is steepening, all downhill from here...

  • Pashtuns lose Parliament, Violence up 70% in Afghanistan
    • Oh, if only... if only there was a prayer, in any language, in the intonations of any religion, or the formulations of any set of politics or traditions of any tribe, that would impel humans to build ANYthing of decency and kindness and stability and sustainability. Will the Pashtuns be inclined or able to step up to that aspiration and make a go of it?

      Let's be thankful for what we have, I guess -- at least (it is reported) only a few Afghans and Iraqis and and Pakistanis and Indians and Filipinos and Somalis and Yemeni and Sudanese and Nigerians have been killed in idiot violence yet this Thanksgiving-morning-in-America, and the hostilities have not fully resumed on the Korean peninsula, though our Western warlords are hard at it, getting ready for resumption of the only sets of behaviors they can manage, the ones they reward themselves for... Maybe look at link to dtic.mil for a tiny taste of the Futility and Reality of the Bureaucracy from Hell that invests, in the classic military sense, our planet and too much of our thinking.

    • This ain't the "Star Wars" series, amiga – Don't personalize it to Obama, he may hold a certain title but he is a puppet too. If you follow the news and read between the lines, and spend some time at tomdispatch.com and read the books and screeds that tell it like it is, and take an occasional look at aviationweek.com and the raft of special-interest pubs and sites about this or that wonderful weapon system or initiative, you see that we are all in it together, and it's not "the president" but a whole host of corrupt, lying, big-bang-big-buck-loving politicians and industrialists and careerists who make their very good livings off making the world an ever-more-dangerous, ever-poorer place for the rest of us. And it is truly a fully globalized enterprise, with lots of interlocking bits to make a horribly seamless web. The president is just a detachable face in this madness.

      A cynic might even opine that effectively, the human species has a death wish, expressed through our tolerance of this incredible construct -- certainly a death fixation, if you follow our literature and movies and other media for plot lines and body counts.

      Turning 7 billion people away from consumption-until-it's-gone with the concomitant spew of threat analyses about resource wars and the rest, and Grand Strategies reducing all human endeavor in the future into just elements of a grand game of Risk! (remember that board game? Predates World of Warcraft by several generations...), is likely an impossible task.

      And so you end up with that most eloquent of cartoons, penned during the Vietnam idiocy by one Gahan Wilson -- the squat, conscienceless Supersoldier standing in the blasted landscape, death and destruction all around, looking up in wide-eyed surprise and saying, a little incredulously, "I think I won!" link to blog.timesunion.com (page down to see the pic.)

      Good luck with all that.

  • Scammed in Afghanistan
    • "President Obama made only a vague reference to the size of the al Qaeda presence in his speech at West Point, when he said, "al Qaeda has not reemerged in Afghanistan in the same number as before 9/11, but they retain their safe havens along the border."

      A spokesperson at the White House's National Security Council, Chris Hensman, said he could not comment on intelligence matters.

      Obama's National Security Adviser, Gen. James Jones, put the number at "fewer than a hundred" in an October interview with CNN.

      Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., referred to the number at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee in October, saying "intelligence says about a hundred al Qaeda in Afghanistan."

      As the President acknowledged, al Qaeda now operates from Pakistan where U.S. troops are prohibited from operating. "We're in Afghanistan to prevent a cancer from once again spreading through that country," he said. "

      link to abcnews.go.com

      Is that your referent? Maybe you have a formulation of the "real" reasons "we" are dumping $4 or $7 trillion into this occupation/futility?

      And I can't quickly find them, but I recall multiple administration justifications for "engaging" in Notagainistan based on the intent to find and kill off all the "al Quaeda" bacteria in that graveyard-of-empires land. And "we" are doing just what over there, again?

    • All one can say is "D'Oh!" It's all just too much.

      And to think that we are "led" by such a congeries of mean-spirited, violent, deluding and delusional "freiers..." link to doingzionism.org.il (I am assured by a person who ought to know that the scammers who run Israeli business and government -- so much the same thing -- glibly and gleefully refer to Uncle Sam as one giant "freier.")

      And of course it's not like there's not endless history of these kinds of idiocies. Some of the participants even kind of brag about it -- in public utterances like Gary Schroen's fraudulently named book "First In: How the CIA Spearheaded The War On Terror [sic] In Aghanistan." In-credible.

      I wonder -- Did the US guys who gave the fake Mansur "a lot of money" at least get some of it back in the form of a "gratuity?" Or skim a bundle or three of those $100 bills before passing the baksheesh along?

  • Tyger, Tyger, a fire snuffed out
    • It doesn't take an immortal hand, just an AK-47 or FAL or deadfall. And think of the gentlemen of so many cultures who will experience the eerie arousing placebo effect of powdered tiger penis or pancreas or spleen or a dusting of rhino horn on their daily laxative.

  • Looking for PETN, Scanning Grandma at the Airport, and the Future of Air Travel
    • Same question with thousands of tons of other munitions including dumb bombs and artillery shells made in the USA and given to Saddam to do something or other with. Which have been used to kill and maim tens of thousands of humans, some in the fraudulently named "coalition forces" and many in marketplaces and at prayer.

      Had to leave something for the inevitable opposition to arm themselves with? to ensure there would be continued combat to justify the occupation and all that? Or just stupid, squared? Or all of the above and more?

  • Bush-Cheney Use of Torture Derails Ghailani Prosecution
    • Maybe it's just a matter of semantics: Torture, as in "the purpose of torture is torture," may very well not be intended to produce "testimony," only moans. Who cares whether the bubbling flood of spittle, tears and blood, and a tumble of words is "true" or not?

      And "testimony" is normally "a declaration by a witness under oath, as that given before a court or deliberative body." Which for very good reasons is subject to cross-examination and the power of the finder of fact to weigh its truth or falseness.

      But hey, let us recognize that there's a Beast side to humans, that gets off on the "24" approach to life, that hangs people up over slow fires, and closes the Iron Maiden so exquisitely slowly, and glories in the shrieks elicited by the turn of the screw or the crank on the rack wheels or the burning of flesh by hot steel or bamboo slivers beneath the nails or all the nearly infinite inventive ways humans have found to TORTURE one another for fun, profit, tribal satisfaction or simple boredom.

  • Species Loss Threatens Humankind
    • Hey, what's the big deal? It's all on video -- If I want to see "nature," I just go to youtube. There's no present profit in Saving the Whales -- they don't take part in the Free Market or anything. Ronnie Reagan had it right -- You see one sequoia, you seen them all. Turn the rest into furniture and chipboard. And he had it on good authority (Reader's Digest, no less!) that Trees Cause Cancer -- those conifers in the Blue Ridge Mountains, emitting terpines that are suspected human carcinogens, after all.

      I hope Mother Nature can take a joke -- or there's a good chance she'll chew all of us, not only the greedy and violent and thoughtless and heedless, into a giant cud, and expectorate us out into the vacuum of space. Unless some zealot decides to use our newfound, unrestrained, unlimited technical skills to manipulate some virus and kill us all off more compendiously before we can do any further damage.

      And yeah, I know that's already a plot in books and movies. Wonder why? (remember that our State Security Apparatus pulled together all the writers of "thriller" books and movie scripts to brainstorm about what "the terrorists" would pull next -- I wonder what they came up with?)

  • Some Attackers Escaped After Karachi Blast: Dawn
    • Humans are smart enough to do all kinds of good and bad things when they set their minds to them. I would not be awed by the audacity and success of the attack reported on here.

      When the bonds of common humanity are dissolved by the acid of tribalism and the ascent of anomie, hey, anything goes. After all, look at how the Shah got installed in Iran, and read CIA guy Gary Schroen's "First In: How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror (sic, sic, really sic) in Afghanistan" on how the Game is really played, and recall what happened to Salvador Allende and Ngo Dinh Diem (though he deserved it, in humanist terms.) link to en.wikipedia.org. And gee, how tough was it for a bunch of gentlemen from the Mideast to learn to fly well enough to ram two commercial jets into the biggest corporate phalluses in New Yawk?

      This is just about a bit of training and some easily available weapons and what happens to any military/police HQ -- "leaks in the secured perimeter." Remember Mumbai?

      There is always a segment of the population that needs only the waving of the tiniest, most diaphanous bit of "patriotic" bunting to turn them altogether loose. They are everywhere, and treating them as representatives of one "side" or the other completely ignores the fundamental(ist) fact that they are all from the same subset of humanity and have much more in common with each other (and tend to gather and train together even across otherwise violent partisan divides) than with the tribal set in which they grew up.

      But again, does anybody care? Nope, trillions supposedly for a "War on Terror" that is really served most effectively by local and national police, plain old investigatory shoe leather cops and agents ane what, alert baggage handlers? And the few keep getting richer and richer, spinning their webs right across and in complete disregard of those Game of RISK! notions that people in all those nations cling to.

      We are one freakin' stupid purblind species.

  • Crowds Protest Corruption of Afghan Elections, demand New Polls
    • Where are the crowds protesting the corruption of the American electoral process and legislative process and judiciary and executive? Could it be that Afghani people are closer to the Jeffersonian ideal than those of us who have left it far behind in our purfuit of Profit and Hegemony?

      And don't point to the Michigan Militia, or the "I don't know what I want but this isn't it" adherents of the Tea Party "inspiration," as an exemplar... They and their kind will just bring you a return to 14th century Europe -- warlords and mercenaries and little oases of order waiting to be overwhelmed by the barbarity.

      Oh, and of course the several iterations of The Crusade...

  • Energy Committee Chairman Candidate Says God Promised no More Catastrophic Climate Change after Noah
    • And the Bible sayeth:

      9:11 I will establish my covenant with you; neither will all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of the flood; neither will there any more be a flood to destroy the earth."

      9:12 God said, "This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

      9:13 I set my rainbow in the cloud, and it will be for a sign of a covenant between me and the earth.

      9:14 It will happen, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow will be seen in the cloud,

      9:15 and I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh, and the waters will no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

      9:16 The rainbow will be in the cloud. I will look at it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth."

      9:17 God said to Noah, "This is the token of the covenant which I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth."

      No flood, BUT...
      heh, heh

  • On Paladino and Taking People Out
  • 27 US Fuel Trucks Torched as Pakistan Blocks US Supplies at Khyber Pass for 2nd Day
    • Repetition is insanity. This Vietnam vet can report our "allies" often shoot at "us" out of anger, boredom, differential allegiance, sense of abuse, self-defense, provocation, Fifth-Columning, what-ever. It's not a dumb-simple game of Risk!(tm), though too many treat the world as if it is.

  • Update on German Terrorist Plot
    • Foiled by huge war-machinery expenditures and invasions, or like most effective anti-terrorism by ordinary police work? Talk about bang for the buck...

  • Netanyahu Blows off US; Mahmoud Abbas pleads for Settlement Freeze
  • Rumsfeld, Bush and the Supreme War Crime
    • Travis, thanks for saying what I think. "Rule of law" any more is just a bit of the dead myths that once kind of held citizens here together. Not that the idealized notion ever actually existed, and in truth it probably can't because as nations under strict Code Law have learned, just like our constitutional, common-law structure, there has to be a certain amount of "slack" in The System or it grinds to a halt. How much slack is tolerable? That's a big question. When the slack swallows the culture, and that's all there is, all you have is Hobbes' state of nature.

  • Ahmadinejad as Cyrus the Great?
    • Delusions of grandeur and avaricious expansionism trip up so many otherwise graceful realpolitikians.

      Back in 1979 or '80 I wasted a lunchtime at a "seminar" put on by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. The presenter was one Tariq Aziz, and his pitch was how nice it would be for the world if Iraq were to "return" to its "natural and traditional borders." Under the benign rulership of one Saddam Hussein, protector of the faith, eminent strongman, would-be Caliph, etc., etc.

      How entertaining that so many of the policy wonks in the Chicago set, from neocon to limp-wristed liberal, applauded this bit of chicanery and felt, ah, "increased in stature" by standing around this little Iraqi after the presentation and lionizing him, not so very long before April Glaspie told Saddam himself, on behalf of the US government and presumably the rest of us mopes, that the US took no position on those intra-Arab disputes, like whether Kuwait was part of "natural Iraq."

      Same stuff from Ahmadinejad and his coterie inside "natural Iran." How long before the next idiot US president will say, maybe not in jest, "the bombs are falling as I speak"?

      We are a stupid species with a death wish, as far as I can tell.

  • Top Ways 9/11 Broke Islamic Law
    • Or a Catholic, or a Mormon, or a Jew, or an agnostic, or even a Universal Unitarian. Or anybody nominally Christian (not Paulist, but a person who concentrates on trying to follow the tenets of Jesus of Nazareth as reported in the Gospels) who gets crosswise with Jerry Falwell or John Hagee or all the other Christian Talibanners, those people whose Bible stops at Malachi 4:6 and picks up again at Romans 1:1, and circles around Revelation like it has no history behind its happenstance inclusion in the stuff which they select out in choice bits and then always say "And the Word of God says..."

    • Professor Cole:

      ONE bad thing about hydropower dams is that they suck in, grind up and spit out huge numbers of living things, despite the pretext of weirs and screens that are the "civil engineer's" seeming fixes for that problem.

      Too bad, of course, that critters that go with the flow pay no attention to that wise old carp, swimming upstream in search of a peaceful rill to rest in, telling them again and again they are most definitely going the wrong way to a bad end. And giving them chapter and verse explaining WHY.

      What, AQ is NOT an Ubernational Franchise like Ghalib-urton, threatening to bring about The End Of Life As We Know It? (As opposed to the Global Militarization Project?)

      I wish you all the best, with your larger voice, in turning back upstream some of the critters bent on or indifferent to or excitedly going along with being sucked into the turbine blades as part of the American Imperialization And Power Generation And Projection Authority's Destructive Destruction Project. It's a harder direction to go, but hey, our species doesn't do too well if it's chopped and crushed and blasted out the discharge from the damn Narrative Dam, now does it?

      Did I pick up the right phrase here?

      ﻚﻴﻓ ﷲا كﺭﺎﺑ

  • They used to Burn Catholic Churches, now they Burn Mosques
    • Professor, on the subject of words and their meanings as connected to larger manifestations of human behavior: Has a word or phrase occurred to you, other than "hate," to more accurately capture the nature of "nativism" and whatever-it-is that has so many foaming at the mouth from a rage that has no name until some set of incidents and sheaf of supposed "WhatdidItellyous" and "They'realllikethats" gives it a range and bearing to a target? I understand that in an exorcism, correctly naming the demon-in-possession is one mandatory step on the way to its expulsion, if it is expellable at all.

  • Iraqi Soldier Kills 2 Americans, Wounds 9
  • 'Burn the Qur'an Day' Endangers US Troops: Petraeus
    • A-Mens, brother, from a guy who went through Basic in 1967 and did a year and a day with the First Cav in Vietnam.

      Oh yes, Our Brave Troops, Sacrificing Themselves For Our Security And Protecting Our Nation And Our Way Of Life, by doing what grunts have always done, and always will, thanks to how we are wired. Down under the Announcements of New Strategies and Doctrines, and the Embedded Puff Pastries, the myths are so many layers deep -- Did it become apparent to you that Basic exercises like the Tear Gas Hut (work up a sweat, don your gas mask, march into the hut full of CS gas, remove your mask, take a deep breath so you can try to recite your name, rank and serial number for Sarge, still wearing HIS mask, and repeat until he was satisfied , run outside to gag and puke with eyes and skin flaming) were infinitely less about Preparing You For War and infinitely more about Sergeants Getting Their Rocks Off Harassing The Dumb Troops?

      Or how about Hand-To-Hand Combat, where they taught you by strangling or flipping or punching you, then advised you that if, with your 16 hours of their tutelage, thought you were now Real Tough, if you went into a bar with the idea of kicking ass and taking names, some REAL brawler was going to drop you for the ambulance guys to scrape up?

      In "my" war, one favorite pastime was desecrating (or is it "defecrating"?) the many ornate and humble tombs. Wonder how the Band of Brothers would react to having "gooks" or "Hajjis" smear shit on Granny's tombstone and write imprecations equivalent to what THEY wrote on the whitewashed walls of those Catholic and Buddhist and Cao Dai funereal shrines?

      If Wiki is right, them Godless Commies, who make our Walmart shirts and slacks and are now magically transformed into Naval Partners for us'ns to conduct joint naval maneuvers with (preparing for WHAT war, again?)-- here's how FAUXNews plays it-- seem to manage the coexistence of many religious traditions a lot better that Bubba and Yahoooo do.

      But we all live only in the moment, now don't we, and ever fewer of us with eyes for a wider world and our history and prospects. Humans are not a very nice species, and as tribalism merges with the ability and intent to bring WAR to the whole planet, we are getting nastier and nastier. (You might take a read of a little book by C.S. Lewis, a REAL Christian, titled "The Screwtape Letters": Hell is a noisy, soul-eating bureaucracy, and so is the Pentagram, and our "world's greatest deliberative body," and those way-beyond-trans-to-Uber-national corporate entities that are sucking the blood and souls out of us now.)

      Jesus wept. (John 11:35)

      Or so those who were embedded there and then are reported to tell us.

    • Always glad to encounter a True Believer in the "progress of our arms."

      How many examples of futility and stupidity and arrogance and policy-driving does it take to make a dozen? How much damage do the Generals get to do before they get relieved or moved to other commands? Are you ex-military, or a Krauthammer Hawk? Do you know what goes on at the micro level in the great game of war, pay any attention to all the "politics" that drive procurement and deployment and the turgid, churning mud of doctrine? Everything from troop suicide to $400-a-gallon petrol to Oops! attacks from on high to drug use, compulsory for "depression" and PTSD, voluntary because our Troops are just a subset of our drug-using culture, crammed once again into a place where Futility is the real Doctrine and Grand Strategy, and they know it. Ever heard of Pat Tillman? Read stuff like this?

      This ain't moving markers on a sand table, or a kids' game of RISK!, it's screwing up not only what's left of civil society at home, and taking the Great Military-Industrial Franchise global, as if The Generals have any answers to life's great questions or a "vision" of anything other than a Threat-Based Analysis And Reaction in their trillion-dollar Networked Battlespace, that can't even begin to "achieve victory" in asymmetric reality except by "killing 'em all, and letting Allah sort them out." Nothing other in their playbooks than the desire to be able to pronounce "I have met the enemy, and he is mine." Albeit with a huge amount of detailed logistics and strategy-for-hire "experts" and infusions of huge amounts of wealth to be sure the greens on the base golf courses are kept up, TriCare is funded, and the private jets are ready to fly on a moment's notice.

      The Military Approach is a bubble, as sure as the dot.com and derivative scams, and it just keeps inflating, behind the myths of Power Projection and Threat Perception. Yah, believe it is a zero-sum game, but it looks like pure negative-sum to me.

      Most Americans see the whole Forever War thing at the shallowest of levels, Good Guys Protecting The Homeland By Invading Evil Axis Foreign Wogland versus Spittle-Dripping, Hook-Nosed Terrorists, and as long as none of what's going on happens to hit them immediately, they have no notion of looking ahead or seeking tools and tactics that lean toward stability that might give their offspring a chance to be something other than wage slaves to the tail that so vigorously is wagging the dog. Your insistence that Generals don't drive politics is naive or just disingenuous. Did you happen to notice that the Official Pentagram Dictionary got revised lately? Seems the definition of "insurgent" used to say something about "violent attacks directed at the overthrow of a legitimate central government." Gee, that doesn't work for places like Iraganakapukustan or Notagainistan, so let's just re-write the definition to leave out the part about "legitimate government," start shooting, and then nail 'em when they dare to shoot back.

      Ah yes, the teary-eyed waiting in Patriotic Suspense for the "last patrol" to report in... What do they call that? The Pathetic Fallacy?

    • Yah, Gen. Petraeus is a man to admire, all right. Great job, getting almost to the top of the heap of Generals and Bird Colonels who with their talons drag us along through futile but profitable-for-some-including-themselves stages of the Forever War. What's to admire about a guy who bribes His Enemy not to attack Him? or His convoys of ever more expensive war stuff on the way to becoming more expensive trash in more foreign lands? A real expert in Counterinsurgency, a "doctrine" that is fuller of holes and dumb ideas and failed notions than an invasion of Somalia. Or Costa Rica.

      You got any idea of the huge gulf between what Our Leaders pretend is going on, and the real nitty-gritty (how appropriate, given the terrain of Notagainistan) of the Milo Minderbinder business that's playing out? This is not really a nice War College simulation or four-dimensional game of RISK! (tm). The premises are false, the reporting is false, the actions only make more violent conflict inevitable and continually profitable. So in Iragheadistan, "we" kind of sort of pretend that, haha, lookit all the Good Stuff we did, we're going home now or most of us are. Wonder if there will be a repeat of that photo op, with CIA guys punching women in the face to keep them from overloading the C-5s and Blackhawks taking out the last Few Good Men and leaving just what? behind? We gonna buy our share of the Huge Surprise Deposits of Rich Ore and All That Oil from the Chinese, or the Japanese, or the Russians?

      Since when, in a long unbroken string from McClellan to MacArthur to MACV to McChrystal, with side trips to the Newly Fundamental Christian Air Force Academy and Curtis LeMay Memorial, has there been any sanctified purity of Military-Only stayoutofpoliticsand"policy" amongst the General Orders? Now it turns out they lied about the Bomber Gap, lied about the Missile Gap, lied about the Window of Vulnerability, sucked trillions out of the civilian economy for war toys of zero relevance to Providing For The Common Defenfe, fighting the most savage battles in the War of the Rings of the Pentagon where the sharpest knives are not for the Big Budget, but to cut the n_ts off the people pushing other "services'" procurements, and tell me why "we" invaded Costa Rica, according to the Armchair General Narrative?

      "Good policy?" Do me a favor and define two words: "Freedom," as that nebulosity is used in the common parlance, and "policy," that all purpose buzz. And then put them together in a sentence that means anything for the survival of the nation as an extension of what was laid down by our Old White Guys in the brightness of the Enlightenment?

      If only there were some agreement on definition of terms, maybe It All would be McChrystal-clear...

    • "Many of the famous Muslims in Islam were kafirs once. "

      And Saul of Tarsus became the Apostle Paul, the Great Huckster of what has become Christianity. Went from denouncing and crucifying the followers of Jesus, the REAL Jesus of Nazareth, to peddling the whole set of epistles that have magically have become The Word Of God, to make one enormous sales pitch for a really interesting notion of The Divine.

    • Heavily armed and hair-triggered, maybe, but there's a snippet from a PBS Embedded Reporter schlockumentary on the First Big Helmand Marine Putsch, where after the Colonel tells the Soldiers that what they do in Helmand will be something they can brag about to their grandchildren, big brave words about Bringing Freedom and Democracy and all that, segue to a scene where a cocky, aggressive, disrespectful young Marine is telling a bearded, turbaned man that "his people" MUST move back into the village that Warlord Warriors chased them out of. To re-establish "normalcy." To start up the local market again. Because that's what the present counterinsurgency doctrine requires. Skeptical silence. The GI says "No need to be afraid, we will protect you..." Says the villager, "With all your weapons and technology, you cannot even protect yourselves from the warriors. How are you going to protect me and my family? You will not even be here when they come back."

      IEDs, snipers, ambushes, Hellfires, excited testosterone-poisoned young men BEGGING for authorization to "light up" some "terrorists" with 30mm cannon fire, that oblique retaliation where US troops kill people who had nothing to do with the original attacks that nonetheless raised the Band of Brothers, kick-the-fire-anthill, knock-over-the-beehive reaction and triggered the latest episode in the present cycle of vengeance... and Pashtunwali kicking in, along with the ancient antipathy toward The Invader. Out come the gallons of diesel and fertilizer, and the US-made munitions, 105 and 155mm artillery shells, supplied to those once and former Freedom Fighters, and guys like Hussein, for "good geopolitical reasons," and the Jihadicide Vests and Jihadicide Car and Truck and Motorcycle and Bicycle Bombs. And $50 or $100 or $200 billion to the Joint IED Defeat Organization in the Pentagram, the "JIEDDO Knights," to find that magical high-tech device to defeat the evil Asymmetric IEDs that it's NO FAIR for the terrorinsurgentmilitants to use, but coming to the conclusion that letting GIs spot some bombs and be blown to flinders by others is The Best We Can Actually Do (maybe if we got some more money?)...

      Round and 'round.

      Professor, you do words and meaning. Have you happened to pull together a little lexicon of the words Our Troops, our Noble Protectors of Our Way Of Life Troops, use to name and describe the "wogs of the moment?" Towelheads, Hajjis, Sand N---ers, Camel Jockeys, there's no doubt a whole bunch more, there certainly were for the gooks, dinks, slopes, slants etc. that now sell us Commie-made clothing through the medium of Walmart (and get invited to do joint naval maneuvers with US, for Jesus' sake, right out there in the Gulf of Tonkin where It All supposedly started) since the guys from my war did what GIs always do, de-humanize, Other-ize, reify-the-Enemy-ize... Humans in Helmand, and anywhere else, cannot, will not, get past that kind of behavior, it's what we are and what we do.

      Law? what, are you kidding me?

  • Shiites Choose Adel Abdul Mahdi as PM Candidate
    • Want to see something impressive, hey? Other than giving candy to ragged kids, and taking oil from the warlords?

      Well, just click right on over to Spiegel, which runs this nice little piece on that giant Embassadorial proof that the US military-destabilization-petroleum consortium is in it for the long haul.

      Something like 3,000 people going to work there every day, "collecting intelligence (sic)" since they don't seem to have any themselves, handing out baksheesh and bullets like khat-laced candy to very well-dressed people, plotting stratagems and playing out little private war games that end up driving "policy" on grander scales

      While I was a peon in the army's First Cav Division in Vietnam, us mopes had to do our own KP and guard duty and general taking care of ourselves, while the command structure brought in locals to lick their boots and stuff. Interestingly enough, it turned out that the guy who trimmed the General's and colonels' hair was at night a Forward Observer directing mortar fire dropped in by the Viet Cong. I wonder how well this latest example of the futility of arrogant stupidity will manage the art of sorting the sheep from the goats.

      But it's Big and Impressive, would you not agree? I wonder if it will be as "permanent" as that "embassy complex" in what used to be called Saigon? At least the Vietnamese are now invited to engage in joint naval maneuvers with Our Navy, and I can buy some pretty good clothing Made By Vietnamese Communists, The Ancestors of Terrorists, in any Walmart in the land.

      Happy Labor Day, to all my fellow mythical-service-economy wage slaves, who are so foolish as to beat up on each other under the false flags of "liberal-hating" and "conservative-baiting," and who so ignIraqantly support the Grand Game of RISK! that your "leaders" play out so profitably for themselves, free of any consequences for their actions and scams, in destroying any chance for a sustainable and stable human presence on the planet.

      And guess what? Humans being what we are, it's not ever going to get any better...

  • The Speech President Obama Should Give about the Iraq War (But Won't)
    • "Iraq is a country of widows and orphans, of the unemployed and the displaced."

      Starting to sound like America the Beautiful:

      America, America!
      God mend thine every flaw!
      Preserve thy soul in self control,
      Thy liberty in Law!

    • Nice words, Professor, as usual. Thorough and complete. That are kind of like a bent twig on a pomegranate tree inundated by the flood of blood and treasure puked out by the World Militarized Culture, a flood that dwarfs the horror of the Indus Valley. One would pray that people were listening to something other than their own tribal drums.

      Speaking of which, “we” have now reached the exalted status of having raised up the Self-Justifying War. It seems Our Troops Are Being Killed, over there in Notagainistan. After a decade of a different approach to the mortal shattered remains of Our Troops, there’s a New Openness about the Hallowed Dead.

      Remember when, not so very long ago, if you looked real carefully, you could barely almost see that GIs were dying over there. (Every OTHER death is a “terrorist,” you know.) See how fast we go, from sneaking the dead carcasses of our Service To Their Country sons and daughters stateside to a secluded, far-from-the-prying-eyes-of-The-As-Yet-Not-Fully-Trained-Media corner of Dover AFB, and burying them in secret at undisclosed locations, all fearful that the immanence of Real Actual Dead Sons And Daughter Guys And Gals would Weaken Our Will, to this latest shamelessness in the effort to keep the Forever War on the rails.
      Now the jungle drums are beating out a new tune, the same martial music as the Malleable Press People who publish stories like this one, complete with wonderfully unconsciously ironic pronouncements like

      Some time after he joined the Marine Corps, Nathaniel Schultz filled out a questionnaire asking him why he had signed up.

      “Self reliance and ability to protect my family,” Schultz wrote. “Decided if I go to war I might as well be the best, most well-trained. To fight for righteous, individual freedom for myself and all children of God no matter where they were raised.”

      The story reports that the newly minted Lance Corporal was “killed Aug. 21 during combat operations in Afghanistan’s war-ravaged Helmand province.” And war-ravaged, exactly WHY, again? I guess them Hajjis ain’t no children of God. Or so it might seem from the bumper sticker I just saw: “Kill ‘Em All, Kill Every One Of Them, And Let Allah Sort ‘Em Out.”

      And that article follows this one in February, and this one in March, and this one just a few days ago.

      Too bad there are no dams or “barrages” to stand in the way of or even divert slightly the overtopping of this insane deluge.

  • Kurashige: The Islamic Center and the “Pearl Harbor” Analogy
    • Well gee whiz, Jackie, which tirade are you referring to? And what kind of spirtual merit does it supposed to have if it is to be valid or whatever?

      Just a quick google away is a bunch of stuff on Japanese shrines and temples in, well, maybe a little more distant greater "proximity" to Battleship Row and Hickam Field and such actual Pearl Harbor Never Again Shrines than the said "mosque" is to Our Sacred Former Skyscrapers. Like the one described and set in its scene in this article by, God help us, a Professor of Religion at Illinois Wesleyan University.

      And never forget, Cuba is only 90 miles from our shores. And Guantanamo Bay Naval Base is only ZERO miles from Cuba, well, actually a good part of it is kind of within the boundaries of the Commie Bastion we USED to hate and fear and is now just a pawn in South Florida politics. And it's not like "we" didn't set up that Bay of Pigs thing, however it all really went down, etc.

      Which conclusions are unpremised? It's a good thing always to be willing to hear and learn -- I must be missing something, though. Maybe a blackboard, or would it have to be a whiteboard, for a history lesson from the Beckerhead?

      This former lawyer is not hearing anything that rises to the level of "reasonable doubt."

  • Maddow on Manhattan Mosque
    • Is it "racism," or just "otherism?" At least as far as the present nativist behaviors goes. I know, "racism" gets more sympathy for the dis-raced, and increases their Balance of Rights in the Big Bank of Culture, as against the "racists." So it ain't going to get a more accurate name, too much is riding on the way things are already limned.

      Trust only the people with the same hates and fears you do -- in other words, your tribe. Arab and other Muslims I have known do not appear to be "brown"-- maybe a little olive and pale yellow and with overtones of ochre, but then I' m a Guy, and all colors are opaque to me. My WASP skin tones seem to be pink and yellow and maybe cream and add a dash of tan in the summer. "White" is the color of the upper skin of dead Caucasians in their coffins, which some folks of different eths apparently think we-all should maybe be. The people who are called "black," simply aren't, but a wonderful melange of all the brown shades, and gold, and ruddy, sometimes with a touch of blue. "Yellow" people aren't, either.

      But there it is: we all have agreed to certain comfortable conventions in labeling and "branding" and self-versus-other identification. Forget about all that stuff that says human genetic material is pretty much mostly all the same -- your "pure blood" can still be "corrupted" by "miscegenation" and "intermarriage." Hey, it turns out Hitler apparently did have "Jewish blood" and "African blood" perking around in his odious veins. But don't let facts get in the way of a good manipulative old tribal meme-o-trope, now.

  • Stewart: Fox Smears Owner Alwaleed bin Talal!
    • African-American rich person funding a "Stepin Fetchit" remake? Hey, if there's a good ROI, why the heck should (s)he care? How clear does it have to be that bucks are the most important thing, Trumping even the most fun-damental of tribal drives? And didn't Sun Tzu and Macchiaveli have some advice on how to use your next enemy's strength to defeat the current one, in that grand complicated Game of RISK! and WAR! we are all embroiled in?

      Those with the Liberty to indulge live in a new world where everything is "Wag The Dog" hot-button made-for-TV-and-Netspace moments, where there are only string-of-pearls moments of "truthiness" and "factoids," as explicated so neatly by Farhad Manjoo in his "True Enough: Learning To Live In A Post-Fact Society":

      There's something wonderful about this new freedom; we're no longer
      reliant on an institutional media for our facts about the world.

      But the shift also creates a problem. In the book, I discuss dozens of
      psychological studies that suggest we humans have an innate preference
      to seek out information that confirms our worldview. That's just how
      our brains work: If given a chance, we'll avoid news facts that we
      don't like.

      Digital technology allows us to indulge those human desires better
      than we could in the past. On the Web, television, radio, and all
      manner of new devices, today you can watch, listen to, and read what
      you want, whenever you want; seek out and discuss, in exhaustive and
      insular detail, the kind of news that pleases you; and pursue your
      political or social or scientific theories, whether sophisticated or
      naive, extremist or banal, grounded in reality or completely insane.

      [There's been] a fundamental shift in the way
      Americans are thinking about the news. No longer are we merely holding
      different opinions from one another; we're also holding different
      facts. Increasingly, our arguments aren't over what we *should* be
      doing -- in the Iraq War, in the War on Terrorism, on Global Warming,
      or any number of controversial subjects -- but, instead, over what *is
      happening*. You can go so far as to say we're now fighting over
      competing version of reality.

      Bumper Sticker: Ah, The Comforts Of Cognitive Dissonance! with the small-print reminder of that wonderful absolution, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines."

  • Bombings Kill 32 in Pakistan NW;
    US Drone Strikes Kill 20;
    As Floods Advance on Sindh
    • Time for some neologisms? How's about "Jihadicide," and now "dronicide," new words to add to the already large lexicon of "icides," new entries for our ever-inventive skills at coming up with new ways to kill one another and keep the pot with the witches' brew of hatred and vengeance in it overflowing and on the boil.

  • Taliban Ambush Kills 30 on Road Crew in Helmand;
    60% of Americans Oppose Afghan War
    • Any suggestions as to what the people controlling Kabul could do to let the air out of the "Taliban" tires? Other than just more "counter-insurgency," and continuing the self-promotion, baksheesh collection, and prayers for their own survival and prosperity and for a quicker advent of the exhaustion with disorder that might really eventually pause, end or at least reduce the ambushes, murders, mutilations and hypocritical abuses?

      Any guesses as to whether all the players might allow any motions that might lead more quickly to a stand-down to a more stable condition? Or is the world to continue to pollute itself with the crowd's affection for Futilitarianism, in the form of exciting, Youtube-visible asymmetric negative-sum games in Networked Battlespaces here, there and everywhere? Taking heart from reports of "progress on the battlefield," and "successes" like the security company reporting that its guards eventually fought the Taliban off before "international assistance" arrived?

      And has "the Taliban" in fact become a political and military entity, rather than a convenient moniker for a hodgepodge of competing little bands?

  • Iraqis differ in Reactions to US Combat Troops' Departure
    • So it would seem that various groups in Iraq have both National Pride and National Misgivings about the supposed withdrawal of US forces from "combat" in that land area. And are thinking very hard about whether defensive or offensive behaviors toward their neighbors are most likely to improve their positions in Whatever Comes Next. I wonder about the feelings of people in that place called "Vietnam," and the highlands of Laos, and Plain of Jars in Cambodia, in, say, 1969-70, as the Same Imperial War Machine, having spilled blood and treasure in similarly copious amounts, started the "Vietnamization" drawdown and marched pridefully off to the next Asymmetric Mission:Impossible.

      Seems to me that politics in the reification shorthanded as "Iraq" are kind of where they may be in a few years in Our Own Formerly Great Nation Under Our Version Of God -- they just accept the realities of tribalism a little easier, have already torn up, blown up and burned the social contract, and are now re-negotiating it, and doing that in an environment where everybody has guns and leftover munitions to make Jihadicide vests and IEDs out of, and has gotten long since past the reluctance to murder and battle that we namby-pamby, tough-talking people living within the porous US borders still suffer from.

      Professor, you keep a lot of the various pieces of the jigsaw-puzzle clearly in mind, and the relations between them, and provide informed judgments on the relative correctness of the "positions" and "policies" and on-the-ground "actual as opposed to PR-spun behaviors" of the many players. And you have justifications for the US and its nimbus of "coalition partners" doing what has been done so far. But does the deeper mental processing point to ways to try to nudge the Enormous Edifice Of Perpetual War And Other Forms Of Apparently Uncontrollable Consumption And Waste toward a broader stand-down, and onto a path that takes us all more in the direction of stability and sustainability, and some diminution of those touchy sensitivities, fractious and factious "loyalties" and greeds that are working overtime to direct the whole shootin' match right over the cliff?

      I ask, because my second grandson was just born, and I wonder if his destiny is to be a collateral-damage "soft target," cannon fodder, or worse yet, the last human on earth, armed to the teeth, looking around at all he has destroyed and pausing to say, "Huh! I think I won!".

  • Last US Combat Units withdraw from Iraq
    • Professor, bless your devotion to ground truths. Dare I ask if two pasties and a G-string on a Big Green Monster suddenly turn it into Paris Hilton?

      As you write, and as noted in even the MSM reporting here in the Shining City on the Hill, there's still 50K "somethings" with weapons and GI uniforms, and a whole bunch of "contractors," still in the joint with lots more to come.

      But hey, if the "Arab world" chooses to believe, as "proven" by various polls and other metrics, that "the US" is for once holding to a stated "policy," far be it from me to argue that Reality is anything other than what people are willing to believe it to be. What's the recent book? "True Enough"?

      One other cavil -- as to the two supposed justifications for invasion (one being aggressive military action by Hussein's army,) I have to ask again whether the history that counts is not the essential Green Light by Bush Senior, communicated through April Glaspie, his ambassador, to Hussein to go ahead and waltz over Kuwait because the neocon vision at that time thought getting the oil through Iraq, as the new overlords of what had been Kuwait, was just as good as dealing with the Kuwaitis. To steal from my last comment:

      Did not a young lady named April Glaspie, speaking ambassadorially on behalf of one George Sr. Bush on April 25, 1990, tell Saddam Hussein for the record that “We [the US government] have no opinion on your Arab – Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary (of State James) Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960′s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America. (Saddam smiles).” link to whatreallyhappened.com

      Help your younger brother bulk up at the gym, and encourage his picking on other kids and "standing up for himself." Stick your little sister's nose in his face and tell him it's okay to slap her. Then beat the crap out of him when he does, and then "justify" the beating to the other kids and parents on the basis of the slap? Given that Message From Garcia-Glaspie, what UN-Order-quality justification was there for Gulf War I?

      And as to the apparent clout of the US Power Projectors now, there was I think at public-television story on one of the early Marine expeditions into Helmand province. In which an inappropriately casual and aggressive young US Centurion is telling a venerable former resident of a little market village that he and his tribe need to move back in now, because the US forces have now "secured" it, and current policy for "the war" calls for that. Says the villager, "You, with all your weapons and planes and men, cannot even protect yourselves and make yourselves secure against the warriors [whichever set drove the people out of the village and threatened death for any return to "normalcy."] What reason can you give us to believe that you can secure and protect us?"

      Even elephants and rhinos and Cape buffalo succumb to tick-borne diseases, in the veldt and the jungle...

  • Bolton was Contradicted by Bush on Iran's Bushehr Reactor
  • 59 Dead, 120 Wounded in Iraqi Suicide Bombing;
    Iraqi Parties reject US Power Sharing Proposal
    • Im a veteran with a little (dated) in-country experience in the land of Our Great Nation's newest naval-geopolitical partner, Vietnam (this link to a Big Non-Story should be worth a laugh or two.) Might I offer that Dr. Cole's characterization of the motives of "guerrillas" applies equally to the GIs doing their daily rounds of walking and driving around as "living IED detectors and triggers," aggressively doing what they are trained to do which unfortunately is just the complete wrong set of behaviors. Kill one of MY Band of Brothers, goes the refrain on all sides, and you can be damn sure that the next time a Hajji/GI head pops up, I'll turn it into a pink mist as quick as thought. Whether he or she is even RELATED to the people who did that last killing...

      Seems to me also that there is no more "serious political agenda" for the Forever War Imperial Trooper Power Projectors either -- it's all about plowing and shooting ahead and too all sides, behind the miasma of Being On A War Footing and the myth that there is a "mission" out there someplace. Almost makes you want to break into song, with apologies to L. Bernstein: "

      "There's a mission for us,
      Somewhere a mission for us,
      Peace and freedom and open air,
      Democracy Over There..."

      Except for the pulls of tribal loyalties that assert their claims, including the ones that hide behind "Support Our Troops!" and "Press On to Victory!" and "Protect Our Sacred Exceptional Way Of Life," as far as I can see there is not a damn thing to choose between Our'n and Their'n.

      One hopes that the Exhaustion Phenomenon will set in soon, like it did in Beirut and Belfast and such places, and enough people will become sick of the killing and the death of civic life that all that will be left of the combatant forces is busy little Special Ops and CIA de-stabilization paramilitary "experts" and little fragmented sub-sub-cadres of the original Great Armies of God.

  • An Israeli Attack on Iran would reduce Barack Obama to a One-Term President
    • Why is one tempted to say, "Oh, heck, Professor, leave it alone. There ain't no way to deflect the Juggernaut from its acolytes' impassioned pull-me-push-you, world-crushing path."?

      Not enough of the right people, the ones who have enough strength of purpose and power to actually do anything about the grand enthusiastic "religious" procession toward an Apocalypse that I bet will be a real downer and disappointment for the leaderfolks who live long enough to experience it, to leave us a chance of escaping the war of all against all and descent into warlordism and armed and hostile bands that is the handwriting on the wall.

      All the players mouth the words that "democracy is the Highest Ideal" and the goal, the summum bonum of all their efforts to "free us." Well, if demos (δημος, or "the people") and kratos (κρατος, with all their ineluctable "force" or "power") want to plow ahead to Kill The Enemy, whoever that is this week, why, in the higher order of things, who's to deny them?

      (By the way, it sure does not look to me like the "Coalition" and mercenary forces are actually going to "withdraw" from the fractionated humanspace we shorthand as "Iraq," let alone eschew some kind of attack on the place we so conveniently personify, reify and enemy-ize as "Iran." But thank you for trying to keep the players and their game at least on the top of the table -- not that most folks give a rip about their real roles as little markers in a game of RISK! (tm) Too much FUN to just let the whirlygig neurons of their own personal limbic systems grab the controls and take the rest of the Thinking Mammal for a wild ride. Kind of like what has been given to us through recorded history as the "berserker rage," which sounds a bit like Rushbo on a roll, except he is a complete personal coward:

      This fury, which was called berserkergang, occurred not only in the heat of battle, but also during laborious work. Men who were thus seized performed things which otherwise seemed impossible for human power. This condition is said to have begun with shivering, chattering of the teeth, and chill in the body, and then the face swelled and changed its colour. With this was connected a great hot-headedness, which at last gave over into a great rage, under which they howled as wild animals, bit the edge of their shields, and cut down everything they met without discriminating between friend or foe. When this condition ceased, a great dulling of the mind and feebleness followed, which could last for one or several days.

      (Read more about what we are capable of at link to en.wikipedia.org . Kind of makes you proud to be a Human, right?)

  • Portugal's Green Energy Revolution and the true Cost of Gas, Coal and Oil
    • Great exposition of one of the libertarian credos. Doesn't matter, but while agree that the whole trade-war-money-elites system does not "work" for the vast majority, if you throw away "government" without trying to fix what's broken (collapse of any notion of governance, complete freedom for the harpies and tapeworms from consequences, Black Hole "economics" and the rest) you really do court descent back into the Mad Max world before Leviathan. There WILL be government and rulers and leaders, the species is wired that way -- we will not regulate our social conduct ourselves, and whether by George Washington, or Pol Pot, we will be led and ruled. The notion of the mystical self-regulation of "the marketplace" is magical thinking of the worst sort.

      Get rid of government? What's left to limit excesses and inherent recourse to abusive and predatory conduct? It can't be an either-or proposition, any more than your body can do without its homeostatic physiological mechanisms.

      If you want to contend for something, press for systems and structures that drive our desires in the direction of the Golden Mean and the Golden Rule and satisfaction of real needs, not outrageous, solid-gold toilet seats and 500-foot "gold-plater" personal yachts. The chimaera known as the "free market" ain't gonna do that, though competition and pricing and all that Hayekian disaggregated stuff are a part of the always-being-re-solved puzzle.

      If more people voted, in all the ways they can, for sustainability and meta-stability, it might prolong our species' tenure on the planet by a bunch more generations, with a lot less suffering.

  • Cutting off Aid to the Lebanese Army Hurts US Interests
    • Dr. Cole, do YOU have any clear idea of what the leadership of Likud and the top brass and the other political power groupings in Israel, and other "tribes with flags" in your area of concentration, "want," scanning the whole complexity of the scene as you are fortunately able to do, and with, as far as this little observer can tell, an eye mostly to what is fairly descriptive and right and true versus what is Tribal and "our narrative, right or wrong?"

      Or any clear idea what the less-than-visible groups that influence/control the US's public behaviors toward various parts of the Middle East cluster bomb (like the various "Christian" Armageddonist sects) "want?" Or why humans organize themselves into what looks for all the world like that sardonic phrase, the "circular firing squad?" Or what the endpoint is for a world of humans in which so much of "foreign policy" apparently devolves just to the whole belief-and-profit-driven "decisions" on who gets what weapons and other baksheesh?

      (I see "we" are getting from the Saudis some $30 billion, in some form or another, in exchange for a bunch of F-15s, which were developed at great US taxpayer expense by a polyglot transnational obscure consortium of war contractors for some purpose or other and which certain Israeli power centers insist be delivered without certain bits of weapons systems and avionics. I guess this "sale" is a rook move, in a game of chess that seems to have an infinite number of squares, and pieces that change properties randomly or by covert intent, and "rules" that are as variable and inventive as the ones 5-year-olds apply in their kind of "play," and no "goal" other than to keep the play going until Mom calls them in to dinner or the house burns down.)

      And whether, other than down into some Mad Max hell on earth, there are paths we all can walk that lead to something other than a plain old negative-sum game? A game brought on and played by people who gain those great comforts, wealth and power -- Yasser Arafat comes to mind, along in the present context with a host of Israeli business-polilticians, and of course our "American" financialists -- today, at the expense of the potential decimation of our and so many other species and the ruination of the wonder that is Earth?

      And if there are any actions little people like myself can take, to not just shout about the madness and idiocy of it all, but give some tiny nudge to the Dreadnaught/Juggernaut in what might be a healthier direction?

      Or are we cursed to just be along for the ride, some few of us thinking we can see the precipice ahead, the rest ejaculating cowboy whoops of delight and shouts of encouragement for our collective "progress," or grim grunts from their efforts at the ropes and wheels and levers, or just screams and groans and claims of Victimhood and calls for Revenge, Revenge?

  • 2 Marines Killed, Base Attacked in Afghanistan;
    Civilian Surge in Doubt
    • Brian, it must frustrate you to no end, all these people talking in Big Terms about what is going on "on the ground." People who don't get, don't even WANT to get, the complex-enterprise nature of what they glorify and reify as War. Too smart, too elevated, maybe too successful in youth playing the board game called RISK! and now World of Warcraft. Too disconnected from any desire, even, to see the huge disconnect between the chimerical imagos that they play their tough-sounding, war-wimp, eagle-eyed mental games with and the actual stuff that is being done in their names and with their wealth, and to the actual detriment of their "security."

      You'd think that they might learn what a real threat to one's life and culture looks like, but so many of us stand there like half-asleep sentries, loaded and locked but completely unaware of the staff sergeant sneaking up behind to cut our throats, take our weapons and sell them to the people we just HAVE to identify as The Enemy. Too stupid to recognize that if our Wise Leaders put armed guys in the face of people who are also armed, live in the terrain, have real tribal patriotism and a tradition of declining to be ruled or even occupied by furriners, they are going to successfully and at retail and eventually at wholesale kill a whole bunch of Our Boys In Uniform, because they are smart and adaptable and have appropriate "technology" and much more appropriate tactics and motivations.

      Yet our Smart Geopoliticians, working with their mythical and fraudulent intellectual tool kits, keep the Game going, because they or someone they favor gets rich off it. And they don't give a shit because of the game they are ACTUALLY playing, or are too stupid to see, that they are "sowing dragon's teeth." For me, there's enough learning in just four books to inform them, but hey, they got million-dollar PowerPoints and Really Deep White Papers By Really Smart War College Generals And Colonels and Intelligence Estimates that Make It All Seem So Necessary and Right. "Catch-22," by Joseph Heller. "First In," by CIA braggart Gary Schroen and I have to wonder how that ever got published. And "Where Men Win Glory," by Jon Krakauer, that kind of lays out in futile detail the whole sorry scenario that makes it possible for old men of bad faith to suck testosterone-driven young men with dreams of Valor Under Arms and yearning for Community in the Band of Brothers into one foolish, wasteful but oh-so-profitable fray after another. And "War of the World," by Niall Ferguson. The latter is really the kind of portrait that ought to make all of us nauseous at ourselves. But won't, of course.

      I don't know what your take on the Grand Strategies might be. Maybe you think there are Great Manichaean Conflicts that "we" ought to engage in and this is just one little stupid sidelight, or maybe you go along with Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler's indictment of Great Power wars of the 20th and now 21st century as nothing but "a racket." It's pretty obvious that the disconnect between the Popular Image of the War on Terror, and what's really shaking, is huge and growing and presaged by guys like George Orwell. "We have ALWAYS been at war with EastAsia..."

      Any thoughts on "fixing the situation," even if the situation is limited to what is going on in Afghanistan as we do our little blog thing?

  • 12 Million Affected by Pakistan Floods
    • I wonder how many of my fellow Americans reacted to this sorrowful situation with the same smug cruelty that John Hagee and people like him displayed, saying hurricanes inundating New Orleans and tsunamis clobbering the shores of the Indian Ocean are "God's judgment" on those wicked infidels. I hope that American "assets" and behavior in the field, as it were, will prove better than that kind of tripe what the good side of common humanity can be. At least tell the CIA Contractors to stop playing with their Reaper joysticks, squirting off those Hellfires, for a week or three...

  • Israeli and Lebanese Armies Trade Fire; at least 4 Dead
    • Uhh, and in case you can't get the message from what I wrote, it's not "Israel-bashing," it's "Stupid-Human-bashing."

      But of course we all have to hear and see through our personal filters, now don't we? And understand only through our own personal sets of loyalties? Including you and myself.

      D'Oh!

    • My tribe can beat up your tribe any day.

      I'm sure Wiki has THIS wrong too, right? link to en.wikipedia.org . And of course there is a great deal written in Hebrew and Arabic and all the other languages on just this subject. The Wiki links are just a good start.

      I was taught in Basic Training back in 1966 that the US Soldier is the Best In the World, Superior Morally And Physically And Mentally To All Others. Bet the Swiss and Argentines, et al., and such all get the same message.

      And the whole point of my little observation is that when it comes to what humans have put most of their capital and energies into, the great global war thing, there is nothing to choose between the kid sitting on the hump and the kids sitting next to the windows. They are all stuck in infantile behaviors. And not likely to change. Because we are as a species too small and fuddled to think or love our way out of this corner we have painted ourselves into.

    • You just do not get my point -- that humans will always find reasons to taunt and oppress other humans, and reaction and retaliation in and endless cycle is the best we can do as a species. We all have relatives who fought in Grand Justified Wars and Battles -- I was dumb enough to enlist in the US Army in 1966, half-buying the nonsense about "dominoes" and Defending America Against The Commies. We all have friends and relatives who have taken front-line roles in the Great Game of RISK! that is the best we can manage to put ourselves to as a species, broken down into yes, groups of tribal warriors. My dad went off to the South Pacific to oppose The Evil Japanese Colonialists to Protect American Colonial Interests that Dr. Cole illuminates so often here. He did not die then, and maybe he was a hero, but it's all part of a Your-Tribe-My-Tribe running racket that leads nowhere but to eventual extinction. At least as far as I can se.

      May I suggest that your reaction to what I wrote illustrates the principle?

      The horror is that humans can do better in spurts, but seem incapable of sustaining decency and goodness and sharing and all those other squishy, non-Heroic virtues outside a very small radius, tossing them down and picking up the clubs and spears and Hellfires and nukes at the slightest provocation.

    • When I was a little kid, my two sisters and I sat in the back seat of the family's white-over-red Chevy BelAir. Hot vinyl upholstery, great big driveshaft hump that somebody had to straddle, and (gasp!) no air-conditioning.

      You think Israeli soldiers, fed a diet of Superiority and Neveragainavictim-think, and the tribal warriors on the Lebanese "side," whether in uniform (and carrying US-made M-16 derivatives, from the pictures) or just keffiyehs, pressed up against each other in a physical and emotional equivalent of a hot back seat but writ very large, hold a candle to the viciousness and tenacity and appeals to Higher Authority of the Border Disputes about first, who gets Humped, and next, exactly which seam or pleat in the upholstery defines the territory of one or the other, and whether an Incursion Has Occurred? Or the sneaky provocateurial pinching, nudging, staring, blowing-on, and making-faces-at, leading to scratching, punching and eventually the Stopping of the Car until Behavior Improves? With the expectable but unintended consequence that the Stopping of the Car just took away the cooling breeze through the windows, and made it worse?

      Isn't it nice to know that certain behaviors are not only universal but persistent, carried forward on large and small scales, because we as a species have not, and thanks to our mental and cultural limitations and biology, are likely never going to give our progeny the chance to Grow Up?

      Stop the dam' car -- I want to get off.

  • US Military Mission in Iraq ends not with a Bang but a Whimper
    • This thread seems to have run its course, but for anyone who forgets what a venal and venial piece of excrement McCain was and is, you might do worse than revisit some old news, the bit about his "safe walk through the Baghdad market that proved the progress the US was making toward success and winning and overcoming back n April Fool's Day, 2007. "Walked freely," wearing body armor and accompanied by 100 USGIs and three Blackhawks and two Apache Gunships and a partridge in a pear tree. And was able to buy 5 Persian Rugs for a couple of bucks! And the US legislators who accompanied him got THEIR little souvenirs FOR FREE except for the cost of the transport and security and all that.

      link to thinkprogress.org

      Ah, shoot, there's so many pieces to the jigsaw puzzle that individually, if you look close, fractally all carry images of nothing but death and destruction, and fit together show nothing but giant FUBAR for the foreseeable future...

      What's the remedy for all that? You'll find it somewhere between "No Exit" and "Waiting for Godot."

  • Take that, Dennis Miller; Climate Change is Real and Dangerous
    • Maybe you ran across this little explication of what might be behind the Manufactured Reality that Miller and others profit from:

      The State of America? Hysteria

      In which the writer offers,

      Back in the early 1970s — an era whose tumult we yet may come to regard as benign — social scientists here and in Britain coined the term "moral panic" to describe what can happen when groups of people are seized by an exaggerated fear that other people or communal forces threaten their values or way of life. The scholars described those who promoted the panic's spread as "moral entrepreneurs" — a term that takes on a deep resonance when you consider the commentators and politicians who have attached themselves, and their interests, to the "tea party" and its attendant movements.

      In the midst of moral panic, inchoate indignation stands in for reason; accusation and denunciation supplant dialogue and argument; history and facts are rendered malleable, merely adjuncts of the moral entrepreneur's — or should we say provocateur's — rhetorical will. As we now also see, a self-interested mass media with an economic stake in the theatricality of raised and angry voices can transmit moral panic like a pathogen.

      Looking around the United States in the summer of 2010, hysterical moral panic seems an apt description of our fevered political condition.

      Maybe "immoral panic" might be a better label, or something else that does not occur to me right this minute.

      The Tammy Faye-John Hagee-Mullah Omar effect, which of course is spreading like wildfire across the planet as our Surging New Global Economy crashes into our tribal sense of sanctification.

      'Course, this just reminds me of stuff composed by medical people describing their symptoms and sensations as they lie dying. For the benefit and illumination of those to follow.

  • Taliban influence Spreading in Afghanistan
    • Does it ever occur to anyone that the mental blocking that insists on postulating everything as a zero-sum game, with "us" on the one side and "the enemy" or "our enemies" (the latter being a collection of other reified "entities" as misleading as the phrase "the Taliban"), is just simply WRONG?

      As wrong as a couple of 16th century physicians arguing whether the buboes on the plague victim were a result of the black bile or the yellow bile, or maybe one of the other two "humours" that was all there was to the "science" of medical causation, diagnosis and treatment way back when?

      Seems to me that "the enemy" is an archetype as powerful as the Mother, the Father, the Dying God -- but the Great Thinking and research and pondering about this particular archetype seems curiously truncated and pretermitted. We just jump to the desired endpoint: (Enemy BAD, We GOOD, anything we do to Enemy A-OK, even Enemy agree with that, since He think same way). The closest thing I can find, anyway, to any substantive and subtle analysis of The Enemy as Archetype is a little bit under "mimesis:" We pretend to know who WE are by pretending to know who The Enemy is, that construct being simply, and fraudulently, and dishonestly, "that which we are not, and to whom we can do anything we want with impunity because HE would do it to US if HE could." As in, "Never mind, (s)he's just one of The Enemy."

      Moving half a million troops, contractors, camp followers and hangers-on, and all their sexy hardware and software, half way around the world to "Do Something!", is a little like using a car crusher to cure an engine knock. The only people who win in that game are the recyclers who police up and melt down the scrap metal. Like the Japanese, who made a killing buying up the scrap of "battle losses" piled up over 20 years of that enterprise called "war" that was conducted in that place called Vietnam that now sells socks and shirts to Walmart for sale to us Real Americans.

      And to wrap it up all nice and neat, how about this little article on the bubonic plague out of Wikiland? Is it not interesting how the ingenious little Japanese used plague-infected fleas on their fellow humans? And how "we," if we thought we could get away with it, would do the same? Because The Enemy DESERVES it. And the people we anoint to Defend us and Protect Our Security and Insulate Us From the Moral Cost Of Our Actions get off on having such neat tools in their kits.

    • "Objective analysis," in this kind of context, is a complete myth. Use of objective-sounding terminology and diction just conceals the viscera and wealth transfers and ego-drives and what are so kindly called "personal agendas" and all the other stuff that make up the stupid game of RISK! by which our geopolitical whiz kids and militarists are pissing away our wealth and future.

      Want just one tiny example of "objective analysis?" Take a peek at this little link, and bear in mind that we taxpayers paid a British outfit several million dollars to produce the PowerPoint slide in question, to which they have the temerity to claim COPYRIGHT. More important, if you can zoom in to the detail, is that it should be perfectly obvious that there is no way to "objectively analyze the situation." Starting with the old fundamental thing about having to have a recognizable objective in the first instance. You might as well try to "objectively analyze" the Krebs/citric acid cycle. It just IS, and all you can do is try to keep a few of the working parts in mind at any one time.

      "War" is, as Gen. Smedley Butler put it, A RACKET. A notion wonderfully skewered in the fiction realm by Joseph Heller in "Catch-22" and others who are not taken in by the Patriot Games that activate the reactive, stupid parts of all our brains, in the areas collectively known as the "limbic system." Where Sex, Fear, Anger, Aggression, Pleasure and a lot of other strong emotions gather for the orgy of Feeling and Acting that makes a mockery of pretensions to Objective analysis. This war, "justified" this week by the Pity The Women And Children motif, is no exception. Where in the "objective analysis" do you put the total of human net miseries, and where the hundreds of billions of dollars that have simply disappeared into the baksheesh-and-hash-enhanced "fog of war"? Or the Wonder of Military Genius that had "us" giving Saddam and sundry warlords and mullahs lots of 155 and 105-mm artillery shells, which convert so very nicely to "roadside bombs," and even in Iraq where "we" knew pretty well where they were, failing in our Objective War Planning to either secure or destroy them?

      The list of idiocies and incompetences and unintended-consequences is huge and endless, and the bottom line is that humans, as a group, are a failed species once you pass a certain population level.

      Yes, many Pakistans, many Notagainsitans, many Israels and Palestines, and way more than one America. No number of "authoritative links" can be hammered into a blog post to even approach what might start to be thought of as the precursor to the beginning of an examination of the factors that might arguably be incorporated into a Realistic Objective Analysis.

      At least as far as I can see.

  • Dems Souring on Afghan War as 25 Killed by Roadside Bomb in Nimroz
    • Yah, the Democrats in Congress went along with the war fever, but who ran the military and the intelligence and who was the CinC and all that? I know, it's all just about which set of partisans gets in the last word. But face it, bubbie, it's a neocon paradise these days -- especially since the folks on that side reap the profit while guys like me, who were sucker enough to buy the "commies will be taking over Long Beach next if we don't hold Khe San" line, end up on the receiving end of the asymmetrical explosions.

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