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Total number of comments: 2524 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:37)

JTMcPhee

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  • China offered Qaddafi Armaments in midst of war
    • That bit about Brazil not having anything to fear is irony or sarcasm, right? Last time I checked, years ago now, there were targets in Brazil for some of our thousands of strategic nukes, just because why should THEY get to survive and prosper if our militarialists pull off that final boneheaded idiocy of a thermonuclear war? And I saw some preliminaries recently to the drumbeat leading to an assertion that the Brazilian nuclear power program was really a cover for the development of their own nuclear weapons. Boy, get on THAT list and you got troubles... Unless you are the nuke-lovers like Pakistan's heroic A Q Khan and our own beloved Edward Teller, in a place like Israel...

    • Almost as hilarious as the thought of the CIA and its jackals, the US being the vastly biggest part of NATO to the point of swallowing any notion of distinct member interests, intervening in, say, Chile, or Guatemala, or Venezuela or gee, how about that stupid little nation of Costa Rica, unwise enough not to have its own huge military establishment, which the Leader of the Free World is now apparently going to provide, whether wanted or not: link to globalvoicesonline.org

      Seen anything in the way of reporting on how well our Gyrenes are doing "interdicting drug trafficking" or what-ever down in that little post-colonial space?

      On the other hand, who cares, really? this stuff just happens...

    • Oh, who cares?

      We got this wonderful world-wide arms souk, where corporations, all a long ways post-national, and those wonderful marketing guys aka arms dealers, and all the stupid violent humans that just LOVE to blow things up, shoot things up, screw things up and leave corpses and sorrow everywhere, busily engage in the exact same species of commercial/consumer behaviors that are the daily bread of WalMart and the fast food industry and the automakers, etc.

      There are discussions like the one Professor Cole stimulates and moderates, all these little surface debates about stuff that has only a tiny little bit to do with the underlying reality of the money aspects and destrictive seduction of militarizationism. And there's the huge industry fomenting and growing the business of the movement of explosive and destructive stuff of war, the manufacture and sale of which "informs" and largely drives all the policies and behaviors that get generated and debated and effectuated and then commented on in spaces like this.

      But in partial answer to your question, Thivai, here's a more exacting summation: link to zerohedge.com , and here's one little piece of it. And now Libyans will once again get the oil flowing, and be back in the market for more weapons to stuff in their war locker, with new salesmen coming in all the time to peddle the next "game changer" to give their generals a seeming edge in the planetary arms tail chase, a meaningless Ouroboros. link to en.wikipedia.org

      How's it feel to be nothing more than a soft target in such a target-rich environment? And how's it feel, every time you fill the fuel tank or fire up your yard blower, to be a "consumer participant" in that huge, mostly invisible-in-plain-sight, market? How's it feel to know that the processes for "improving the lethality" of every kind of weapon, "kinetic" and pathogenic and chemotoxic and nuclear and all the rest, are busily grinding away, all kinds of really smart people bending their awesome intellects to "improving" the killing capacity of everything, building us all into a world of autonomous battle robots and more and more and more of the same... all part of one giant idiot's dream of a "networked battlespace?"

      Oh heck, who wants to give any attention to all that? Where's my iPad? I feel the need for a quick hit of "Call of Duty..."

      And we live in a myth, that somehow there's any kind of control of all that, and any future other than the kind of world that was dominated by the "Terminator's kin...

  • Israeli Likud Gov't Buffeted by Turkish Suit, Massive Protests
    • Yeah, taking us down by being organized from the bottom up. That's ALEC, the scum, who have apparently all read James Michener's "The Covenant," which explicates so very clearly how that little bunch of ambitious Afrikaners in the Broeder Bond managed, over a generation or so, to "take over" the whole nation. By filling the civil service with like-minded people, one little job at a time, and filling the ranks of teachers with their Fifth Columnist buddies, and on and on until voila, you had how many generations of Apartheid and the attendant theft of all the wealth of the nation to satisfy the greeds of the Few. Why are the most of us so stupid, time and again, to let the few of us steal everything from all of us?

      And it ain't like ALEC is the only active bunch in that attempt to Take It All, to clear the table, to score that ultimate GOOOOOOOOAL! For all you poohpoohers telling us there's nothing to worry about from our fellow American Talibanners, lookie hear: link to dailykos.com That's a tasty appetizer, no? The best selection of Buffalo Wrong Wings on the menu.

      For a main course, how about a Bourbonnaise of EspritdeCorps? link to yuricareport.com See how easy it is? And it's like termites or scabies or bedbugs - the resistant little shites are the very Devil to get rid of, once they get a foothold, beachhead, Parrot's Beak in hand...

      And for dessert, or is it "desert," link to destination-yisrael.biblesearchers.com Not to worry, think of all those well-trained soldiers, coming from that controlled and captive environment in the military, where groupthink is so compelling, moving right into the big-biceps, tactical shooting, "security" functions brought to us by the New Private Armies of the Night...

      Oh, it's all just Conspiracy Theories, now isn't it?

      Maybe you have never read Michener's "The Covenant," or don't care to remember how the Afrikaners, on the slow bu accelerating Long March to Apartheid, figured out how to quietly fill the ranks of civil servants and school teachers with "their kind," leading to the ass-endancy of the Broeder Bond? Naw, that kind of stuff doesn't happen any more, does it? Sneaky, evil, greedy little Nabobs, using the touching faith (or cultivated ignorance) of the many in the ruleoflaw, in the inherent goodness and fairness of Government Officers, as the path to a very unhealthy kind of power? Gee, do you suppose DeLay and Newt and the Koch brothers and the rest might have read that, and other texts on "self-help," or "helping themselves," in their personal Pilgrim's Progresses?

  • NATO Refuses Ground Troops for Libya as "Friends" Conference Opens
    • Respectfully, might I ask why so many laptop geopoliticians insist on propagating that Game of RISK! level of reification/personification/hypostatization that truncates the huge sets of greeds and behaviors of nation-sized creatures into itty bitty pronouns, "we" and "our" and "them," and tacitly assumes that "interests" that embrace the whole "nation" actually exist on a nation-scale level, as opposed to the kind of "interests" that have Marines and CIA jackals "removing" elected governments or even "unfriendly" dictators? Leaders of other large groupings who happen to fall afoul of the desires of the United Fruit Company or Del Monte, or any of our extractive industrialists, or hey, just because they dissed our president's daddy?

      I know it's convenient, that lazy shorthand, and it fits the format of the blogspace and the usual narrative terms. But it invites the kind of desiccated, reductionist "analysis" and discourse that seems pretty inevitably to lead to a kind of dead end for the species. Not to mention its tendency to activate the tribalthink parts of the brain, and the not-very-nice parts and practices that are attached to them.

      "We" did not invade Iraq, either time. A subset of players with interests, if you have to call them that, that sure seem very much at odds with the old General Welfare, as opposed to the Welfare of the Generals, managed the procurement and logistics and deployment and the covering fire of "diplomacy" and the obfuscation and fog-of-warring that has "our all-volunteer military plus an equally large number of very much better paid contractors" still engaged in that futile, asymmetric, disjointed computer game in the Networked Battlespace over there in Notagainistan. How many trillions into the War Machine? What's the mission, the goal, how do "we" know "we" have "won" something of value to "our national interests?" Sure looks to me like this is "about" wealth transfer, pure and simple, a flux in several directions and scales, justified purely and simply by reference to that stupidest of symbolisticisms, "they kill some of our Band of Brothers, so we kill us some Hajjis, so they kill some more of our Band of Brothers, so we kill us some more Hajjis, so..."

      But hey, it worked for that Vietnam thing, and hey, there's still real wealth and borrowing capacity that have not been converted into militarizianationism at every possible scale and node on the planet, which by assertion of the Pentagram's doctrine generators is all just part of that Grand Networked Battlespace. Which as far as "our" General Officers and the CEOs of the various war toy manufacturers are concerned, is all the "national interest" they need to squeak about to get the rest of us mice running faster on that stupid treadmill we so patriotically have set ourselves to spin.

      "We?" "Our?" I don't think so, and if you scratch the surface of even a lapel-flagged Tea Bagger, and get past the powder-coated, made-in-China True Blue surface, you can usually get agreement that the whole exercise is futile.

      But of course the habits of discourse and the motions of the crowd pretty quickly drop them back into the Conventional Narrative, now don't they? Ah, the magic of perpetual propaganda...

    • Speaking of informing oneself before commenting, I would love to know, Mr. Metzler, where you find authorities to support your assertions about the nature and history of Islam. And while you are at it, you might spend a few worthwhile minutes looking up the antecedents of the Tea Party and the so-called "Christian Right" in America, and think about their collective positions on the continuation of all the basic rights considered intrinsic to western society for centuries.

      And gee, there's so much more to say about the actions of white-boy terrorists in America, and the activities of the CIA and other skulduggers here and there acting under color of presidential findings (or not bothering even with that kind of cover), and so little allowed space in the comments to Professor Cole's observations. You think these creatures are "better" than those people you so conveniently assign to the category "jihadist?"

      Not to worry, though, as he notes, propaganda and identity groupings and "organizations" like the Afrikaners and the way they rose to power and wealth, are so much more powerful than "historical fact or what-ever."

  • The Great Tripoli Uprising
    • Makes one kind of wonder if there will ever be a net map of the advance of Freedom Fighters working their way in from Alexandria to Crystal City and up from Baltimore and down from Silver Spring, converging on the Capitol, at the point, wherever it may be, that people here get to that same point of revulsion and the desperate knowledge that things are never going to get better with the current set of rulers and their hereditary successors and the current power connections and flow of wealth...

    • May you be right that a government of national unity will coalesce before Daffyduck the Common Enemy leaves the stage. One keeps hoping that some magical transformational change in the way humans organize and manage themselves will materialize (or is it spiritualize?) out of the current crop of revulsion-and-aspiration driven regime changes. One also hopes that the slimy little jackals and sneaks from the "security services" of fading empires like our own will fail to gain any kind of hold or influence in a move to Something New and Something Better.

      But then a cynic, which I obviously an one of, is sometimes defined as "a disappointed romantic." Plenty of precedent for serial disappointment, as individuals in pursuit of their own private pleasures and position pervert those around them. Maybe this time...?

  • Campbell: Egypt’s Spring Becomes a Long Hot Summer
    • Is that the best "impeachment" you can offer?

      You got anything substantive on the "careful-watching" level of interest of Our Fearless Leaders in expecting the Egyptian authorities to extend the protections of the "rule of law" and "due process," presumably of the "American" kind that no longer actually exists for the most of us, to a dictator with bloody hands and a long history of really large corruption? Especially that strange notion that an Arab, largely Muslim country, where the legal system is a mashup of, get this, Sharia law, and the Napoleonic or Civil Law Code, neither of which have a lot to do with the British system we borrowed when it was kind of at its Nadir of Justness, ought to be applying what, Common Law traditions and the Bill of Rights, in acting out a marvelous stable-cleaning. Criminal procedure under a Napoleonic system is rooted in the "inquisitorial" process, which might seem a little strange to a person who watches a lot of "Law and Order" episodes, or even Court TV.

      You got anything to offer on that front? Or on the point that the US government supported and aided and abetted Mubarak and of course many other dictators to, ah, "suppress" the "rule of law" rather vigorously against the local population? Oh, that was all "in our national interest," wasn't it? Wasn't it? A simple yes or no will suffice.

      But of course the new governments of the people, from the people, are expected to hew to a much higher standard, since The People rebelled, and ran their insurgencies, from a higher moral plane.

      Not to worry, though -- Reactionaries always end up on top. It's all that baksheesh, you see...

    • Do I recall rightly that a number of American politicians and "Statespersons" had their knickers in a twist about the NERVE of the people of Egypt to put their old Pharaoh on trial? Here's one little snippet, from our Secretary of State:

      WASHINGTON (Reuters) 06/01/11 - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday the United States hoped Egypt would ensure due process when former President Hosni Mubarak is put on trial in August.

      The United States was also concerned over reports of a crackdown on journalists, judges and bloggers, Clinton said, adding that Egypt appeared to be drifting from the ideals expressed during pro-democracy protests centered in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

      Mubarak was ordered to stand trial in August for the killing of protesters during the uprising against his rule.

      While emphasizing that it was up to the Egyptians to decide whether to prosecute Mubarak, Clinton said any trial should be conducted to the highest standard.

      "Obviously we want to see the rule of law," Clinton told reporters.

      "We want to see appropriate due process and procedures followed in anyone's trial, and particularly in such a highly charged trial as that will certainly be," she said during an appearance in Washington with Brazil's foreign minister.

      link to townhall.com

      A connoisseur of irony might find a particularly piquant set of examples in this obviously deeply held conviction of our almost-President. Ask Bradley Manning and so many others how it works here in the "Land of People Dumb Enough To Actually Believe They Are Free." Tried to use your cell phone to organize a flash mob recently? Especially in San Fran?

      Gee, with all these Kleptocrats being knocked off their thrones by pissed-off, abused, plain old citizens, you have to wonder if even our Fearless Leaders maybe have just a frisson of unease in the pits of their bellies, and hope to instill a widespread belief in the populace that the "rule of law" and that due-process thing that they so flagrantly deny to others ought to be accorded them if Homeland Security and the armed services and Xe and Halliburton can't keep the lid on the pressure cooker, that the fairness and justice they gleefully deny to others will be the precedent, procedures and rules of decision in the event they face their own righteously angry crowd.

      Note that there's practically Zero coverage of this remarkable event in the MSM. (Sssshhh, don't give the rabble any ideas...)

      Is Hypocrisy a certifiable religion, or just a convenient political construct? The Gospel according to Gingrich, et al.: "Do as I say, not as I do."

  • Downgraded US Credit Rating: What comes of Coddling the Super-Rich
    • Let's remember that S&P likely has a bunch of stuff in mind in publishing the "downgrade." Those people were the ones who morally underwrote the whole bubble of derivativosecuritization by stamping those bags of crap called CDOs and CDSs as AAA "investments." Their credibility is their fortune, and while that good-will component ought to be valued at a lot less than zero, a lot of people who are sitting at the casino tables are going to do really well on various "trading strategies" that will produce gains on the "bad news" that S&P supposedly is so seriously announcing.

      Most people are pretty ignorant and also stupid, bred to that state by steady diets of fraudulent information. See how easily everyone takes the word of a known cheat and liar, that took a lot of money from the entities whose fraudulent "investments" it touted with those high ratings, compounded by a noise machine that has to fill the air with fear and "content."

      Where are the prosecuting attorneys that ought to be cross-examining that liar, that fraud, and enlightening the jury of public opinion on the nature of the beast and getting down to that "Were you lying then, or are you lying now? Or is it both?" set of questions?

      (PS- on that Fourth Estate thing, my local St. Pete Times has a front-pager lauding the "detailed information" put out by Nicholas Schmidle on "the Osama takedown," which appears to be another NYTimes sucker job being "taken seriously" by our carefree, fact-impaired media types.)

  • Eissenstat: Turkey's Generals Resign
    • I'm sure there was not a scintilla of irony in Prof. Cole's highlighting of Dr. Eissenstat's observations on Turkey.

      Gee, do any of the "features and benefits" of Turkey's General-ridden society recall any of the dysfunctions of our own? Pure rhetorical question, of course.

      And it's the measure of the depth of the kleptocratic sickness that the powers that be can tolerate even the small degree of divergence that you find in blogs like this (albeit with close observation for any signs of effective calls to action.)

      Was it Chomsky who observed that the kleptocracy can even tell the actual working classes, the ones who create the real wealth that parasites like our political and military and corporate tapeworms live on, right out loud to our distracted faces exactly what they are doing, because us working stiffs are so bemused by the imagery of "freedomndemocracy" and the myths of mobility that we pay no effective attention?

      And one wonders, given the tenacity of military elites and the human tendency to grow and protect and prolong any advantages of wealth and power, whether in fact they have stepped away from the levers of power at all, or if so for how long.

      You can pretty much take Dr. Eissenstat's exposition of current Turkish political economy as a checklist, and match it up point by point with our own former republic, the one Ben Franklin warned us we might have a little difficulty keeping...

  • The Irrelevance of the Knights in a Global Society
    • Bear in mind that "civilization" is one of those words like "sophisticated," with a wide variety of paradoxical associations. "Sophisticated" used to mean "adulterated," as by adding "sugar of lead" to crummy wine hiding behind a fake label.

      And "civilization," apparently first appearing in the Euphrates valley, consisted of learning how to grow food crops that produced a year-over-year surplus. That allowed the development of granaries, which required walls to protect them against residual hunter-gatherers (the "grasshoppers" in the "ants-vs-grasshoppers" fable.) Which required militias and then tax-supported armies to both protect that surplus, and turn it into arms and armor and the gewgaws and ornamentation favored by the inevitable "royal" elites. Armies to also attack and steal the grain and enslave or murder the "they're not really human" populations of other walled towns. And priests to manage the myths and help keep the servile population in line.

      Seems to me we have already got a "global civilization." Careful what you wish for, and all that.

  • White Christian Fundamentalist Terrorism in Norway
    • Yeah, gee, that is so UNFAIR!!!!! It's like there's no actual history of people claiming the Cross of Christ (speaking of false-flagging) as their guidepost engaging in this kind of stuff....

    • By the way, for those of you who haven't tried it, violence is FUN, it's EXCITING, there's not much in the way of feeling really human to compare with pulling off a totally effective ambush, or dropping various kinds of ordnance on people who don't know it's coming.

      The best part about terror, and I hope some of the Drone Drivers will ultimately expose this aspect of that enormous institutionalized act of terror, is when you can do the murder remotely, from far away, and without consequences. Go check the popularity of "drone strike Hellfire insurgent" actual combat videos in YouTube, or the mass participation, with gusto, in "Call of Duty" and "World of Warcraft" and the like. The US Army uses a "combat simulation" as a gateway drug in its recruitment web site (and also spends hundreds of millions of your tax dollars getting "product placement" presence in NASCAR events.)

      I speak as a guy who spent a year in a place called Vietnam, 1967-68. Yak about violence and who's Left and Right -- what you got is plain old exemplars of human behavior, with a thin veneer of nominal attachment to some Larger Category to "legitimize" it in the minds of the killers. And a bunch of members of our human set of "tribes with flags" to either deplore it when "others" do it, or cheer the behavior when "their team" sweeps the field.

    • So "phallacy" has got to be a truly wonderful pun, right? As in "No True Scotsman wears anything under his kilt"? So his "phallacy" can breathe free?

      Still waiting for a listing of "left wing terrorist" groups, and it ain't circular, far as I am concerned, it's recognition that people who cross the boundaries of the taboo on murder have more in common with each other than with any particular ideology or religion.

      Maybe people who point to the "Weathermen" as violent leftists might recall that when those "hippies" ended up confronting a bunch of construction workers in Manhattan, they got their "elitist" butts kicked by the people who are closest to the real violent soul of our species. Beer muscles and bar fights don't come from "left" or "right," they come from human nature. And assigning otherness to one set of violent antisocial cretins as a way to prove the superiority of a category one has affinity for or allegiance to just destroys the ability to parse the reality and see if there's any way around the likely end game we are heading for. In my very humble opinion, of course.

    • Yah, it's all in the definitions and the mental assignments of "entities" to particular "categories."

      When advising others to refer to "history" to bolstger your conclusion that "both left and right are equal opportunity terrorists," it seems to me you might also reflect on the history of what gets categorized as "terrorist activity" and maybe note that a very large disproportion of the many individual acts of violence originates from disaffected and maybe what one might call "deranged and anomic" persons. There's no light emitted by that fake Left-Right dichotomy, only blood heat and excuses for more of the same.

      You want to label Mao as a "leftist?" Why, because he and his cadres made some totally fraudulent noise about "Marxism and Leninism" on the way to establishing their dictatorships? Is "collectivization" and "authoritarian central control and planning" the touchstone for political polarity? Gee, how hard is it to find examples hidden behind both simplistic labels? The basic drive is to domination and feudalism from any orientation.

      How about maybe looking at a little more of the actual functions and actions of "leftists" and "rightists?" Or do people who have "studied history" just need to protect their biases and explanations and world views?

      As Professor Cole points out, most "terrorist plots" are forestalled by POLICE ACTIVITY, plain old gumshoeing. That says a lot about the nature of the beast. But armchair geopoliticians have got to have their categories, now don't they? Keeps the money flowing in the "right" direction...

      We are ruined as a species, because of the way we are wired. We are burning the planet, ALL of us, and pretensions to rectitude and invocation of the "forces of history" that come from whichever set of kleptocrats you happen to prefer, to sucker the rest of us into "following their lead," are just that, pretensions and shell games.

  • Qaddafi was Linchpin of Corrupt Dictatorships in Tunisia, Egypt
    • I wonder what Mr. Barkell means by "Left-leaning." Just that convenient Wrong-Wing (they are in no sense of the word "Right") label that so many "conservatives" (sic) toss around so freely to cement their solidarity of the "against?" B. above is one small illustration of how bankrupt the notions of "Left" and "Right" are.

      Should be pretty clear that those who grab for the Ring of Power are all pretty much Kleptocrats, and that the impulse to "state security" is inherent in every "government" on the planet. Simply because certain kinds of people are attracted to concentrations of power and wealth, and human nature is what it is: Tribal, violent or submissive, greed-driven or just productive.

      Yes, a narrow picture, 7.5 billion of us have many variations on the basic themes. But show me a place that has escaped for long the idiocy of Ozymandias and Stalin and Gaddafi and the rest.

      It's actually kind of humorous, watching my own country ratcheting down into pure kleptocracy, as the SOBs operating the ratchet beat their chests and shout Patriotism and "freedom" and all the rest. Humorous, and miserable, for those of us suckered by the "Shining City on the Hill" notions in our youth... And the capper is watching all the sincere and brave "revolutions of revulsion and hope" get captured time and again by the Dantons and Robespierres and Castros, or crushed by State Security.

      Hierarchy and autocracy (now in its fully refined and largely perfected kleptocratic form) seem to be pretty clearly the fate of every human population. It's the best we can do, though some of us still resist...

  • Cole, ACLU, Sue CIA, FBI seeking Bloggergate Documents
    • Thank you, Professor, for having the strength to pursue this behavior. Not to be a wet blanket, but if one charted the strength and depth of the state security penetration into the "exceptional freedom" that we Americans are so hubristic to believe we have, the curve would have a steadily upward trend.

      I regret that I did not FOIA my FBI and other files during the Carter years, to see what "the government" had made of my participation in a Quaker peace group in the early 1960s and activity in antiwar organizations after I got out of the Army. My experience in being vetted for a security clearance while I was in the service made it pretty plain that such files, such what did Claude Raines call them in "Casablanca," "dossiers," existed.

      Any more, a request like that, for us little people without the large-scale public presence of a person like yourself, would seem to just invite the evil little bureaucrats to "re-look at" the requestor, and maybe do a little vindictive and irremediable damage to the requestor from their little obscure offices, "secure" in the knowledge that there could never be any redress or retribution.

      Yeah, paranoia, some will say, but I did spend 13 years as a government attorney and I have a pretty good picture of what little faceless bureacrats have done and can and will do as the American Stasis and ISIs ramp up. (I see that several universities are offering degree programs in various "government security specialties." This cynic can't see much up-side for our "untidy democracy" in the current trends.)

      Bless you and your work. I hope you marshall enough heat and light to at least deter a few excesses by some of the people flocking to "secure" jobs in the "security agencies."

  • Anthony Case Index
  • 10 Ways Arab Democracies Can Avoid American Mistakes
    • Eric, the TPers I know hold no "reasonable beliefs" about government. Most "believe" that "government," the part they personally don't like (mostly safety net, except for "their" Social Security and Medicare), should, in G. Norquist's horrifically telling phrase, be shrunk to where it can be "drowned in a bathtub." The notion that you cure a metabolic disorder (like diabetes) by cutting off the patient's head, which is what I think the prescription for "curing abuses" of regulation and policy, might be as effectively fatal as drowing the baby, if the Kochs et al would actually let it happen, but all you are likely to see if the TPers' eminence grises get their way is empire in decline, and a country even the most rabid "don't Tread On Me"-er would not want to live in. Too bad the TPers "see Red" so overwhelmingly, so they don't get what part of "government" is really skinning and filleting them.

  • Rudolph: US Inequality Quiz
    • 390, you describe a big piece of it. Can I tender another?

      One little inescapable feature of kleptocracy that I seldom see any discussion of is "time frame," and how that affects the motivations and behaviors of Dimons and Kochs and Blankfeins and Rockefellers.

      Humanity, the project, runs on a lot of different tracks, most of which feed a few lines back into the main line before dead-ending. It's a long, long process, and societies, including rapacious kleptocratic empires have relatively short durations, relative to the whole as-yet-indeterminate end point and that initial maybe-bonobo-chimp divide. But the individual kleptocrat, barring medical techniques (I would not call them 'advances') that will likely prolong the lives of the wealthy and make the thievery more immune to any limits, only live a bit over 80 years, and what happens after they graduate from B-school or pull of the coup d'etat, up to the time they die, is all that matters or counts or means anything to them. All that "socio-economic" activity of all those parasitic, cancerous pairings is a net-net of a whole lot of rationalization of desire, and justification, or just predatory and parasitic pursuit, of plain old diddle-my-touchy-parts pleasure. Power is pleasure -- ask Henry "Power izz dze uldimade avrodisiac" Kissandtellinger.

      You got a pretty small set of people who are both sharp enough to figure out the angles on how to take almost all the marbles, and aware that their mortality will render them comfortably dead before there can be any negative consequences or retribution for the pain and horror they cause.

      So as one blogger argued a few months ago, it is "irrational" NOT to be a Gekko Greedhead, because if he didn't use his skills that way, somebody else would, and he would miss out on the serially and necessarily heightening orgasms of consumption and domination that too many human nervous systems are wired, without any apparent negative-feedback controls and limits, to pursue. He would be, in the wonderful Yiddish lexicon, a "freier."

      Recall the Rhesus monkey with the fine silver wire inserted into his pleasure center. When he presses lever A, he gets a food pellet. When he slaps lever B, he gets a 3-volt orgasm. And he will press B, fondle it and manipulate it as fast as he can, until he starves. Anyone out there watched a high-end Type A in action, hacking away at workers and other "costs," and of course other less-potent and less-Ubermenchen Type As, as if there was no tomorrow? Hey, for him there isn't, at least in the sense that there will ever be consequences. And every little human bug crushed into the Aubusson in his office is just a little bit of frisson, a press of lever B.

      So Mossad took down Adolph Eichman, international pressure and revulsion nailed John Demjanjuk at what, age 91, and the feds perp-walked Madoff (after he audaciously robbed RICH PEOPLE.) Anyone see Blankfein in cuffs, being led out of that $4+ billion corporate Goldmine phallus on the south end of Manhattan?

      Every little kid learns that you can keep doing, and doing more of, anything that there are no negative consequences for. These kleptocreatures, these pedunculated malignant tumors suckering us into growing ever larger arteries of commerce to pour more of our blood into making them ever larger and more terminal, these tapeworms lying all cozy in our guts and eating the life out of us, smugly sip their 100-year-old brandy and say to one another, "IBG-YBG," "I'll be gone -- you'll be gone," so there is no mortal hazard for diving into the moral hazard and drinking their fill. Either dead painlessly in bed, attended by the best medical care money can buy, or out of here to some subtropical or mountain-eyrie retreat, protected by Blackwater and their sycophants in the halls of power.

    • Professor Cole, it seems to this casual observer that the "Arab Spring" is in large part about knocking down more brutish forms of the same kleptocracy that is stealing most American real wealth under cover of a perverted "rule of law." I would characterize the Arab Spring broadly as a "revolution of revulsion," at the slow accretion of insults and thefts and finally unbridled use of force that leads to a triggering event like the murder after torture of a 13-year-old boy by the thugs (in the Indian sense) attracted to "service" to the kleptocracy. And as a revolution of rising and frustrated expectations.

      As you note, there are many would-be Robespierres and Dantons hoping to ride the revolts into another round of kleptocracy (maybe disguised as a "theocracy") under new rulers, and lots of little and large jackals circling the fight to the death between predator and prey. But there seems to be a large number of just plain folks with more honorable driving forces there.

      You are sensitive to maybe an integrated view of what might be the "average" motivations of Mideast peoples in revolt. I wonder whether you see any parallel accumulation of righteous anger and frustration on the move here in America, as our own kleptocracy accelerates its implacable process of piling up "breakaway wealth" and completing the perversion of that "rule of law." And have any prognostications about tipping points and sea changes in America, and whether a spasm of collective revulsion either here or there has any significant chance of ending up in anything other than another round of "more of the same?"

  • Gates: Winding down the Wars
    • Yeah, I knew about the "Business Plot," link to en.wikipedia.org ,from a jaded old history prof and reading about Butler. The thing is, I bet there are a lot of people who would "react badly" to a coup, including a lot of past and present GIs.

    • I hear Xe/Blackwater and Halliburton and any number of our Kleptocratic Overlords, including Our Florida Governor, Skeletor Scott, and hiring lots of Seeecurity Staff people... And Matt Yglesias is happy that there will be lots of opportunities for unlicensed yoga instructors and other personal servants...

      On the other hand, if you wander around in the ex-GI sites like military.com and various veterans' sites, you read stuff that is redolent of the kind of emotional content and sense of gross betrayal that led up to the Bonus March...

  • Repeal the PATRIOT Act is the Lesson of Bush White House Spying
    • Fus, you are one heck of an apologist. Keep chipping away... I hope, if you end up on the "winning" side, that you and your heirs, if you have any, enjoy what you gain by it...

      "overstatement?" What bunk. link to scn.org
      link to msnbc.msn.com
      and I am sure you can pull up lots of WRONG Wing cites that "prove" your "position" too.

    • What's to wonder? "Government," particularly imperial/regal government, has always attracted a self-selected bunch of authoritarian, tyrannical, despotic, rigid, doctrinaire humans, who then go about systematically assembling institutions and staff that in a wonderful, cancerous positive-feedback loop, create the conditions for more such grow-in-the-dark fungi to prosper. And like virulent, untreatable cancer, eventually kill the patient.

      And from all I have ever read and studied about Rome -- the Empire, and the various royal and ecclesiastical courts of Europe and Asia, what we suffer today from the Beltway Bubbleheads is nothing new. Lobbying, fraud, theft on a grand scale, repression, "state security" generally, sycophants aplenty, control of information and "management of reality," threat creation, all of it. And many totally cynical participants, who know their sinfulness and wallow in it and the pleasures that power and unaccounted wealth bring (a la Kissinger and his "Power is the uldimade avrodisiac," and in case you're too young or callow to remember, link to en.wikipedia.org) and a lot more mopes who just go along because "everyone else is doing it." See the "Milgram experiments" and similar trials.

      Ain't a-gonna change, no, not ever, unless there is some grand surgence (can't be REsurgence, since we ain't never risen up to a high moral state ever before)... It's who we are, what we are, where we are, why we are. Best we can do is make little enclaves for ourselves and our families and near, dear friends, like the band of semi-decent people in their compound in good old "Mad Max..."

      Apologies to Professor Cole, and all the others who have been given the on-the-way-to-the-Gulag treatment by "those people." I wish I and a huge number of others could say that I've, we've, tried harder to keep the toadstools in check...

    • The Patriot Act is "unconstitutional" only if a majority of politically appointed Supreme Court justices say so. And the slow-drip court-packing since Reagan pretty much ensures the permanence (barring some kind of American Arab Spring) the difference between "rule OF law," as the rabble understands it and beeeleeeeves it to exist as a barrier against arbitrary overlordism, and the "rule BY law," where the Kleptocrats take full advantage of The People's weepy belief in how "the constitution" enshrines and protects Their Freedom, using legislation and regulations and judicial decisions to render "not illegal" all the stuff that's being done to them and to protect and defend the theft of all the Real Wealth that they work so assiduously to create.

  • Ret'd. CIA Official Alleges Bush White House Used Agency to "Get" Cole
    • Hey -- you're FAMOUS! Way to go! In the best American new tradition, does that mean you get your own reality TV show (sic, so very sic)?

  • Pakistan Arrests CIA Informants in Bin Laden Case
    • Those who learn nothing from burning their hands on a hot stove ought to have their feet shoved in the fire too.

      Where is there a "safe haven" from the essential nature of "US" activities on the global scale, which Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler so accurately described as a "RACKET," and various military officers and Sneaky Petes bothered by fits of conscience since Butler have so honestly and clearly limned as nothing more than hired thuggery for a limited set of very powerful business interests?

      What did YOU do in the Cold War, Daddy?

    • Since when is the US a "responsible democracy?"

      Gee, "we" have what, in an honest press and political climate, would be described as a rogue set of spy agencies amd military commands, a pretty compendious demolition of the "quaint" notions of personal liberty and government behavior in our faded Constitution, and a lot of people clamoring for more, and more intrusive, State Security apparatus. And applauding "extra-legal," and totally high-handed, remote-control terror-bombing of oops! was that a group of "terrorist Taliban insurgent militants," or oh well! a wedding party? And how about those unChristian payments of "blood money" for plain old murder?

      And do you seriously contend that our country's leaders "control our security forces?" If they do actually run the many deadly, corrupt sideshows, of which a few occasionally leak into visibility, then "we the people" are more seriously screwed than one might think.

      But hey, "we" are bigger and better armed than anyone else, so WE declare the rules of Calvinball as played on the board of the Great Game of RISK! tm -- right? Too bad "our" fearless Networked Battlespace, "lead-from-the-far-rear war managers" have not a clue on how to force asymmetric warfare by little tribal bands into their neat little categories. Here's what your grim militarists are really all about, other than feathering their nests for a comfortable post-uniformed career and retirement:

      link to guardian.co.uk

      And here's what happens to anyone who points out the Emperor's sagging, naked arse, while everyone else exclaims over his marvelous new clothes:

      link to news.yahoo.com

      And gee, what an unpleasant notion that nobody running the Battlespace knows, or cares, what "win" and "victory" and even "success" (other than personal advancement and enrichment) even mean -- "we the people" are stupid enough to accept the simple repetition of the mantra "victory is just a few trillion more dollars away." Fool me once, and all that...

  • Libya not a War for Oil
    • I have to ask -- did you really like the idea of the neutron bomb, then, hey? And that assertion about how the war/rebellion/whatever you want to call it results in "more deaths and destruction of property" than leaving a Daffyduck Dynasty in power there? I wonder how narrow you have to draw the parameters and perimeters to come up with that unsupported accounting assumption?

      How many years of state-security disappearances and how much vampire corruption does it take to equal the current spasm of violence? I bet the Shadow knows, but I bet you do not...

      But not to worry -- as one poet puts it,

      Ah, love, let us be true
      To one another! for the world, which seems
      To lie before us like a land of dreams,
      So various, so beautiful, so new,
      Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
      Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
      And we are here as on a darkling plain
      Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
      Where ignorant armies clash by night.

      I'm sure that to the geopolitical Jerkmeatery, the "harsh reality" all makes perfect sense.

      There's irrefutable logic behind the layering of Hell, too, I am told...

  • Top Ten Green Energy Good News Stories
    • That's the kind of thinking that is killing the planet -- "Why buy now?" Because after all, that would be money out of YOUR pocket, the way you limit your calculations, and the smart, selfish person waits until other people have paid off all the development and externalities, so that the maximum amount will stay in the pockets of you, and the rest of the humans that think that way, to tickle their pleasure centers to the max.

      "Break even point?" What a sorry way to calculate personal gain to a nicety, without regard to all the stuff YOU can leave other people to pay for, just the maximum benefit to yourself. But of course I saw the same thing pointed out in an Economist blogwar, and the self-interested person representing your viewpoint, noting that so many other people reckon the same way, decreed he would be a fool to do otherwise.

      And another thing that is going to kill the species is time frame and greed-shriveled notions of comity and horizons: People who think this way, who speculate on petroleum and dump crap into the water and air and steal everything they can from the Real Economy to enrich their own living-large, know that they are immune to the consequences of their actions.

      Like the Wall Streeters say, "I'll be gone - you'll be gone." Off to some residual semi-tropical paradise of pleasure and ease, before the crap really hits the fan or, like the dictators fleeing the righteous anger in this Arab Spring, just ahead of the sans culottes, with a private jet and a bunch of hidden bank accounts containing the birthrights of the people they dominated. They will die comfortably, cared for by the best nurses and doctors money can buy, long before the desperate and destitute and desiccated rabble can get to them and exact some retribution.

      By the way, a solar panel is not a computer. Technology may leapfrog what you buy today with an increase in efficiency and of course cost reductions as people convert, but 40 to 80 year life spans are right there to see. link to envirocitizen.org , and any number of other googleable articles. The ones that light my boat and run the refrigeration are 10 years old and going strong. Gee, how many coal- or gas-turbine or nuclear-fueled power plants can match that kind of service life?

      But never mind, your kind of thinking dominates, now doesn't it?

  • Gates & NATO: Misery Loves Company
    • Gee, you do a search on "how to attack a pipeline" and 33 million hits, and a lot of good ideas on finding the many vulnerable spots and how to trash them. You think that Camp Bondsteel or any of the other hundreds of "bases" are going to "provide energy security" for the dead-end end-of-game consumption behaviors Our Kleptocratic Rulers are forcing us into, as a way of stealing almost all the real wealth and assets of the planet for their personal pleasure domes?

      As long as everything is just set pieces in the Great Game, played out in the Networked Battlespace, there is no security, and no future. But not to worry, those who dominate play today are in no danger of losing their hegemony over the lives and fortunes of all the rest of us.

    • Of what possible relevance and utility is "NATO" any more, especially in its current vastly-US form, except (like its evil cousin, the US military industrial complex) to the people for whom it provides a very good job, a great if deadly-to-the-planet career path, and cover for really evil "war is a racket" activities in the marvelously expensive and expansive Networked Battlespace, in various out-of-the-way parts of the planet?

      Of course, it's a nice game piece in the armchair game of RISK! tm that so many "policy wonks" and chicken hawks and war wimps and former general officers shilling for the Pentacle try to force all of us to play, as pawns and "soft targets" -- and to pay for.

  • Top Ten Things Anthony Weiner has Said that are Worse than Sexting
    • From the comments, one might surmise that the Rabid Right has decided that trolling and pugnacity here in favor of that End Of the World vision of Greater Israel is a waste of time.

      Those folks, ReZionists and Christianists and general revanchist reactionaries (yeah, redundant but it bears repeating), are sure all over this elsewhere that the "serious people" attend...

  • Qaddafi Accused of Systematic Rape, War Crimes by ICC, UN
    • Generous of "Spain," or some fraction of that nation, to offer such help to the people of Libya. But taking kind of a broad look, how have such largesses worked in the past?

      In the first, the goal would be to draft a constitution and establish new institutions to build a “democratic, united, independent” state.

      According to Jimenez, the European Union “could lead this task” and the economic one, which would be a matter of cooperating to ensure that the wealth generated by Libya’s natural resources, mainly gas and oil, benefit the Libyan people.

      "The US" sent a bunch of "high powered lawyers" to Central Europe after the Soviet collapse, to "help them set up constitutional government." I happened to cross paths with one, who was gleeful at the opportunity to write lawyerly-sneaky Trojan horse language into those documents to 'make the world safe for involvements and opportunities in those markets' by his US clients and other predatory West Bloc business interests generally.

      One enduring and enraging bit of slapstick is Charles Shultz's many iterations of Lucy van Pelt suckering Charlie Brown into trying to placekick that football while Lucy promises, "this time, TRUST me" not to jerk the ball away and dump Charlie on his back again. What's the almost invisible story of oil extraction "contracts" in Iraq, again? Being used "for the benefit of the people?" And one hopes the people of Libya, and the new crop of leaders, are smart and honorable enough not to get suckered by the Lucy van Pelts offering to hold that football for them this time.

      But of course corruption, like many other diseases that plague us, is everywhere, and usually prevails. The only hope is that it can be kept to a tolerable level, and that collectively we can avoid a universal greed-induced die-off.

  • Leonard Nimoy to Palestinians and Israelis: Live Long and Prosper in Two States
    • Recent bumper sticker, with Star of David, Crescent, Cross etc., and the slogan, "Let's Just All Kill Each Other And Let The Biggest God Sort Us Out."

  • What if Everything Ran on Gasoline?
    • We're never going to have a "Leaf culture" as long as we have a "leaf blower culture."

      Yeah, the ubiquitous, noisy, 300-mph gasoline-powered backpack blasters and underarm shooters wielded by aggressive property owners or their "yard guys." Where the idea is to whip up a little roll cloud of the "mulch" and leaf litter and dog crap and random plastic detritus of other "users" of our disposable petroleum-plastic culture, and either blast it into the "neighbor's" bushes and monoculture lawn, to be blasted back and/or onward in a wonderful parody of distributive justice, or off in a diffusing wave into the public streets and sewers -- our "commons," as it were.

      Heaven forbid that "we," or our usually Latino "yard boys," should do like our grandparents and use those gym-toned or working-stiff muscles to rake and sweep the dang stuff up, rather than spewing it onto "others," and then maybe compost the biologicals and recycle the rest.

      Until there is a spiritual change on a huge scale, the sum of all selfish and fearful little individual decisions, responding so gratefully to the blandishments of our great marketing overlords, in the way we go about "externalizing" one's waste as an "exercise of democratic consumer choice freedom," will be 2 or 3 or (if the marketeers really succeed) 666 million "leaf blowers" and "weed whackers" and "edge and hedge trimmers" and of course every yeoman suburban farmer's riding- or "Tool Time"-hyperpowered microprocessor-controlled lawnmower, will be nothing but fat "consumers" blasting "citizenship," in the form of doggie poop and dead greenery, onto the next guy's yard and into our communal gutters.

  • Was there a Yemeni Revolution?
    • I'm a little ineffectual Johnny One-Note, I know, but here's another clang of the bell, triggered by the monkey-business-as-usual highlighted above by Professor Cole (thanks for his constant attention and spotlight.)

      What makes for stability? One can't hardly even say "meta-stability" any more, now that Netese makes "meta" something ugly, at the risk of misunderstanding and failed communication. But our bodies, 24/7, manage to keep in metastable equilibrium, link to answers.com, a system more complex by far than the human planetary political economy and ecology. We live as individuals (and eventually die) by the sensitivity and negative-feedback mechanisms and efficiency (and eventual failure) of the homeostatic and immune functions of our individual bodies' 75 trillion little cells (and the 750 trillion bacteria and fungi and archaea that live in mostly symbiotic or indifferent tolerance on and within us,) all of which, unless they become cancerous or pathogenic, are wiser than all our power-seeking, wealth-grabbing "heads of state" and "state security apparatuses" put together. All these little details of Imperial American Proconsuls, and Long-View Chinese, meeting with their satraps in places like Sa'naa and Baghdad and Kabul to try to "manage" the unfortunate consequences of imperial diddling and kleptocracizing of all those national governments. So IMPORTANT and PORTENTIOUS and (if the proles don't catch on) PROFITABLE!

      All this concern about "unrest spilling over into Saudi Arabia," with the presumption, I guess, that the most important element in the whole complex not-even-meta-stable world is the price of oil. Everything's about oil, and the force-feeding of unsustainable "growth" of pan-global consumption, with just a very few of the 7 billion and increasing number of us thinking about and working on what it might take to keep all of us from being a totally failed experiment in incorrectly and insufficiently specialized and generalized biology. And a whole lot more of us designing ever more deadly weapons and ever more hairy triggers for them, and ever-more-idiotic and divorced-from-stability Grand Strategies for warfighting in a Networked Battlespace that the War Managers are forcing all of us into and under at an accelerating pace, and cooking up ever more futile schemes for World Domination or at least some nugatory hegemony. And all this heated debate and "Yes, I'm right!" and "No, you're not!" about tiny little elements of stratagems that lie (that word again) behind the simplistifrakulation that is The Narrative and the shallow little slogans and the flag pins that keep the tribal stupidities going, with the cynical Power Players picking their pockets and enslaving them while they screech and shoot at each other. Too bad there's not any energy being put into figuring out the secret, the spiritual fix, to the most puzzling (though it shouldn't be) of all questions: "Can't we all just get along?"

      Too bad the only tools that our deep thinkers and geoploticians (yes, intended spelling) seem to be able to deploy are the ones that underlie (emphasis on "lie," as the principal and operative mode of communication) the Game of Risk! tm, and not the ones that inform the various Sims, which at least are all, or mostly, about trying to create and maintain something healthy.

  • Yemen's Saleh Narrowly Avoids Death, Civil war Looms
    • On that "10 percent less, or do without" point: I forget the term in economics, where people who can't afford or don't have access to something tangible figure out ways to cope and substitute other stuff. Does one get points for discovering that oil in large ships goes through the Bab el Mandeb? Do we have a global problem with human survival that results from all this consumption, and protection of consumption, of petroleum?

      If this is all just about keeping the rich folk well-oiled, well maybe it's time to change out the game board and try a different way of life?

      Implicit in the bit about "choke points," of which there seem to be many, including the Suez Canal itself (easily blocked by a few sunken ships,) the whole Red Sea gauntlet, the already "troublesome" bit of piracy a little east of that "we've got to hold it whatever the cost, just like Khe Sanh, it's the key to the whole position" little point of land, which a brigade of Marines and "our" wonderful new ":littoral combat" Navy could presumably "pacify" if the need was really critical.

      And it's not like "we" are doing such a good job of the spreading-democracy pretext stuff "we" all feel justifies propping up dictators for "convenience" against revolutions of revulsion and rising aspirations, at "securing" the West's immutable "right" to lines of supply for the stuff "we" are too freakin' stupid to start finding substitutes for just because the Oiligopoly and its kleptocratic pet governments want us to continue our addiction.

      I live pretty simply myself, not like the average Yemeni of course, but my solar panels provide much of my domestic electric needs and a couple more could cover all of it, and I can cut even further into my personal use of gasoline, plastics and such. The Great Game/Game of Risk! tm problem is the greedy sickness that some are coming to call MOREism, a refusal by too many of the overprivileged to "give up" any of their "consumer rights," their G_d-given "natural rights" to as much of the planet's natural resources as they can dig, beg, borrow or steal, refusing to do what is honorable and necessary as a way of keeping their species and even their families alive.

      "We" are all about pleasing OURSELVES, for the span of our puny little destructive lives, and then hey, as the Wall Streeters are fond of saying, to their partners in crimes that they have paid legislatures to render "no longer illegal," as they steal all the wealth, "IBG_YBG:" "I'll be gone, you'll be gone." So no consequences to them at least, on the path to the land of Soylent Green, and you can bet more than one of these paragons of the Gordon Gekko Mantra of Success is already planning to open the national and eventually international chain of suicide parlors, for those who finally give in to the despair that greed inevitably creates.

      I for one would happily do without the loads of woe that go 'round that little southwest point of Yemenland and between it and all that other potentially hostile terrain. And without the whole apparatus of sorrow that goes along with that. Ten whole percent? Wow. Gee, maybe if the concentration was on moving FOOD where it is needed, and farm machinery, and PEOPLE dislocated by the geo-hypertrophic changes that are already under way, it might be an important issue that some bandito tried to plug up the flow. Oil? Even small amounts are poisonous, y'know...

  • Time to Begin Leaving Afghanistan
    • This Vietnam vet seconds the motion. The US military is a Godzilla gone to fat, a huge bloated grasping careerist-driven doctrinaire appendage of a broken political system and industrial monstrosity that is driving the nation and the world ever deeper into a giant black hole, a coruscation of Grand Strategies and ever-more-lethal technologies that have no meaning and no end except satisfaction of the greeds and ambitions and random thrashings of a very few self-selected humans. It's a cancer, and feeding it should be the last thing any of us not "serving their countries by killing Others and converting real wealth and true security into scrap metal, splattered corpses and dead-end games.

      The joke, of course, is that the Machine has so much momentum and inertia that there's not a snowball's chance of halting it or even changing the course a little. "We kill some of their people so they kill some of our people so we kill some of their people so they kill some of our people...." all while cramming billions of unaudited invisible dollars into the backs of SUVs and private jets. Bunch of BS.

      And this Memorial Day, be clear what you are actually doing when you "thank us for our service." You have no tiny idea of the reality of the self-serving, self-indulgent, I would even say "traitorous" nature of the military leadership, or the huge amount of wasted motion and wealth, featherbedding, goofing off, bureaucratalifornication, play-acting and other assorted idiocies that you believe, you BELIEVE at least, constitute that institution that you have been suckered into "supporting" on the totally specious notion that it "protects your way of life." Your "way of life" is, in increasing measure, in fact dictated and warped by the military overlords, who every once in a while thanks to languid incompetence or whistleblower conscience let us get a glimpse of what they are really up to -- like using psyops staff to sucker ant delude Congressmen, and "buying the loyalty" of "insurgents" with Viagra and flat monetary bribes to not shoot up those long-supply-line-over-the-Kyhber-Pass convoys before the weapons and $400-a-gallon-delivered-to-the-active-face-of-the-Networked-Battlespace gasoline and diesel.

      It's been said so many times that apparently nobody believes it any more: "War is a racket." Per Maj. Gen. and 2-time Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Smedley Butler. Oh, and when you are next in Walmart, check out the shirts and slacks, good stuff too, "Made in Vietnam." Tell me, all you yellow-ribbon "patriots," what THAT was all about again? Other than a trillion-dollar transfer of real wealth to the war toy makers? And some kind of sick, perverse, fraudulent "jobs program?"

  • An Arab Spring for Women: the Coles in Tomdispatch
    • I guess the "fundamentalist" males, there and here, have actually had real reasons to fear women whose families and lives are trashed and crushed by Kleptocracy and hypocritical religiosity. Bearing in mind that women are also matriarchs and actors in Kleptocratic families.

      Thank you both for inspiring observations and words. Too bad we humans can't more uniformly be better than we are...

  • Israeli Soldiers' Brutality at Prison Camp for Palestinians
    • Welcome to the present manifestation of the doctrine of "Purity of Arms." And is the bit of the first video at 0:38-40 the shooting to death of a prone, pleading prisoner, a breathing, complex fellow creature, or am I missing something?

      Too bad this is what we humans have always descended to. It should make us sick of ourselves -- but too many just get excited by it, justify it, look for the opportunity to do it, or do it "back." "Faces of Death, Part XXX."

  • Asad's Speech Falls Flat in Syria
    • Speaking of instability and interventions, and for the benefit of all the True Believers in the efficacy of "air power" in the Libya and any other similar conflict, one might do worse for anecdotes than the ones in this article from al Jazeera:

      link to english.aljazeera.net

      Kind of too bad that the most common words in the "air assets'" lexicon, in the context of counter-insurgency,are coming to be "Oops!" and then various circumlocutions around the concept of "Sorry." All these hair-trigger troops and devices, and no way to tell who's who, and then more sophistication on the part of the PR spin doctors and outright, butt-covering liars who try to put a good face on a warthog. Lipstick and vaseline on the lens don't do it.

  • Qaddafi Forces Advance on All Fronts Despite Bombardment
    • I guess France post-1789 is a "notable exception." There are of course many others.

    • If our war leaders and sachems and Solons put even a tiny fraction of the energy and treasure dumped into war and preparations for war and nattering about war and "conflict" into one single little task -- identifying the detailed shape and contours and contents of the category "victory" -- that might give the rest of us enough insight to overcome our lizard-brain natures and look for a better way to get along. Like "freedom," "victory" is the worst kind of chimaera.

      I doubt our great Networked Battlespace war planners and operators, who have become about as clumsy and inept as one imagines the great dinosaurs to have been, have a freaking clue about what would constitute "victory" and how the gigantic, multi-billion-dollar enterprise they are now "managing" would most likely go. And since their lives and livelihoods are all based on the process of warring, maybe they are willfully blind to other options. And of course generally adverse to visions of changed human conditions that might reduce the likelihood of Gaddaffyducks in the future. Since folks like that are their playmates in the Great Game...

      On the other hand, maybe half of the 7 billion humans live so deep in Plato's cave that there's zero Hope that there ever will be any Change...

  • Obama on Libya vs. Trump, Palin, Bachmann, Romney, Gingrich and Carrot Top
    • I have to acknowledge I've not read any Malread Maguire, do know a bit from the others you name, but I would argue that the tenor and tone of your comment make it plain why there ain't gonna be no "peace." A word as carelessly used, and as undefined, as "victory" and "freedom."

      You personally, and maybe a small circle around you, might have drunk deeply at the well of calmness and tolerance and affection and empathy, but you still have to offer your rebuttal from a presumed superior position. With just a soupcon of that annoyed, lizard-brain, maybe condescending approach to someone who writes yearningly for a spiritual change on a scale that is, in my reading and experience, impossible.

      How are you proposing to build those structures, in a flood plain of violence and greed? Scientists, some of them, state that tribalism and all our other strong emotions (affection, tolerance and empathy and that other squishy stuff not being "strong") are built into our limbic systems via a long slow process of evolution which has been lapped repeatedly by the speedy development of the world the way it is, fostered by those strong emotions and the unfortunate capacities of our cerebrums.

      On all fronts, we are driven to competition and parasitism by the seductions of self-indulgence and those violent images of war and battle. You got tens of millions spending their days immersed in the acute violence of "World of Warcraft," just one of thousands of virtual exits from fleshy life into "heroic" warplay. You got maybe half a billion of us humans immersed in the building of weapons, and the jesuitical manipulations of the theories of their use, and their actual deadly use on other humans, and millions more profiting from their financing and transportation and maintenance and repair. You got state security (sic) apparatuses across the globe, doing what they do. A huge "illegal drug" opaque economy, built on violence and dominance and satisfaction of the pleasure centers or deadening of existential pain. You got hordes of governments and their "nations," built on consumption of resources over which wars have been conducted and which our war planners, looking ahead to scarcity and control, are getting ready for still more compulsory violence.

      All of this in a world where, from what I read, there actually already is enough to go around, to sustainably meet all those basic NEEDS of even 7.5 billion of us, if only there were no individual and collective greed and arrogance and urge to accumulate and dominate and destroy. And that so-easily-activated urge to follow a flapping flag, assault rifles in our fists, "war faces" in place, rage in our eyes.

      So there are these small packets and pockets of sweet, charitable, gentle thoughts out there by the few of us humans who wish we were other than we are. Where are the parts of the human melange that are going to carry the species out of its present darkness and into some time of even just a major reduction in conflict and competition? Who will figure out how to short-circuit the basic nature that is so patently expressed everywhere? It's a tautology to offer only that it's up to us to build the structures. HOW is that going to happen, short of a huge die-off and return to small-group living, in a world where all the resources we have assumed to be our birthright have largely been consumed?

    • Nah. As GHWBush put it, "Not gonna happen. Wouldn't be prudent."

    • Funny, isn't it, and sad, that people are so mired in the details of conflict, the weapons and capabilities and rationales and the "law of war" and "rules of engagement," that they have no interest in or ability to think about what might come after. How maybe next time it might be different. How some manifestations of democracy are maybe mor stable than others, and how hard it is not to devolve so quickly back into tribalism and corruption. How to be something more than a yelling, fist-pumping, V-for-Victory-signing, AK-47-shooting-into-the-airing face in a crowd, ready to be taken in by the next Sergeant Doe or Colonel Sanders.

      We have instinctive models and design limitations, apparently, for making our world and our part in it what they are now. Where are the models, the drivers, the incentives, the counter-irritants to move people off just another increasingly well-armed turn of the same old wheel? Where is the spiritual change that lets the altruistic and charitable and empathic parts of the brain get the upper hand over the part that lives for the thrill of killing and dominating and blasting? Where are the institutional forms and frameworks that limit corruption in all its manifestations? How can self-interest grow a larger set of eyes and a capacity to identify with the species, not just self-pleasing or the emotions that stop at the boundary of a tribal group?

  • The War for Libya's West: More Qaddafi Massacres
    • I wonder -- how do you say "troll" in Arabic?

    • "40 pro-Qaddaffi tanks." "Anti-aircraft batteries." The toys of war. "UN" planes and UAVs drop "smart bombs" and missiles, million-buck-a-pop Tomahawks more or less "hit their targets" and "degrade the enemy's assets." New tanks and batteries are delivered FOB Tripoli, and so it goes...

      Let's not forget the words of Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler, who knew the Beast first-hand: "War is a racket."

      What I love about the whole international game of Risk! is that active players like QGadhafffiduck or whatever his name is, and his military corps, and of course "the UN forces," are on the board, all using weapons and uniforms and vehicles gleefully supplied to them by a less-than-visible bunch of industro-terrorists, whose creations make it all possible. Deploying and employing that stuff, all without the smallest insight into the world outside the game, or into the idiot behavior driving the people who keep bringing them crates of ammo and sexy new guns. After seeing stuff like this, link to youtube.com how you ever going to put the djinn of War back in the bottle?

      Without an endless stream of AKs and RPGs and SAMs and depleted uranium shells and various arcane "electronics packages" and hosts of acronyms to track and master, link to itunes.apple.com The Game would of course be very different.

      And why is it that all this thought is given to how you change the behavior of the few at the top, to stop the killing and economic anthropophagy of the Lower Orders, and so relatively little is given to the long-running rackets of the Lockheed-Martins and Bofors and General Atomics and all the rest? Do we love the Game so much, love being able to kill and destroy, that we won't look seriously at a pretty obvious set of fundamentals? link to globalissues.org

      Not, of course, that this once-a-soldier, having experienced a bit of that adrenaline-saturated world of warcraft, has the slightest hope or expectation that humans, with so many of us taking short-term profits from the industry of WAR, always seeking new expansion opportunities following the "world business model," link to reuters.com , will ever figure out better ways, until we slam ourselves back into much smaller tribal groups in a much smaller total population... Assuming the war industry, and it is pretty integrated across the globe, aligning itself with national and sub-national groups just to "increase the size of the market" and do a little competing for market share, doesn't spit out something so lethal that we are all dead -- just because the technology is "really cool."

  • Earthquake/Tsunami reminds us of Futility of War
    • Hooeeey! This is a nearly perfect example of the reasons why the species homo tribalensis hateandkilleveryonewhoisnotjustlikeus is a total, abject dead-end biological failure.

      Sweetheart, surprisingly, out in nature, the most durable and useful relationships are symbiotic, not murderously and smugly fratricidal and zero-summed. Ask your gut bacteria and your mitochondria and the tiny little mites that live in the follicles of your eyelashes and clear your limpid orbs of the dead skin cells, dust and actual parasites that blow in, how that works. link to people.tribe.net

      Peace and love, darlin'. Thanks for tuning in.

  • Qaddafi Son Incites Massacre of Protesters
    • British Prime Minister David Cameron’s hopes of convincing his allies to establish a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent bombings like the one on Monday are running into resistance from other NATO members, many of whom already feel militarily stretched in Afghanistan and who appear to feel that a no-fly zone might draw them into use of land troops, which most don’t have to spare (not to mention the expense, at a time when Western budgets are broken).

      Exactly. Trillions for war toys and Games of Risk! (tm), but not one red cent for Right Conduct. link to tomdispatch.com

      Just wondering: Will "revulsion revolutions" possibly palliate tribalism, and the horrible pandemic of MEism and MOREism that is killing the human species? And dragging so much of the rest of the biosphere down too? Will the egos in uniforms and diplomatic tails and "bespoke" business suits imbibe the spirit of Rodney King, and come up with a positive answer to that plaintive "Can't we all just get along?"

  • Clueless in the District of Columbia (Engelhardt)
    • And... you see what a difference that has made in what has become of us, subjugated as we are by the successors and assigns and heirs of the Big Fella with the Common Touch. We get to be, some of us, who go to the Carnegie liberries, educated enough to appreciate how well and truly we are screwed. 2,200 dead at Johnstown -- how many since, in a world where the Blessed Few can justify themselves by repeating that mantra -- "A certain amount of killing has always been a tool of business."

    • I hear the "serious insiders" and members of what they call the "policy community" without any sense of irony, there inside the Beltway, also refer to their neither-fish-nor-fowl District of Columbia and its corporate-leech environs as "The Village." Too bad "The Village," as represented in so many tiny ways by the parasites of K Street and the C Street "Family," seems mostly populated by the kinds of wealthy idiots who bought the reservoir above Johnstown, PA, for their private fishing hole and summer retreat, and then for their convenience, weakened the restraining dam which so spectacularly failed in 1889. link to en.wikipedia.org (I particularly like this bit from the Wiki piece, as a former lawyer who sickened of the reality of our phony mythical "rule of law" and moved into nursing:

      After the flood, victims suffered a series of legal defeats in their attempt to recover damages from the dam's owners. Public indignation at that failure prompted a major development in American law—state courts' move from a fault-based regime to strict liability.

      Like that has anything to do with "reality."

      And Professor, as you know, the people who have consigned all the rest of us to bit parts in the Grand Networked Battlespace, are still playing roles in a silly board game of "Risk!" where real people get to die and suffer for the sins of their "betters."

  • 30% of Libya in Hands of Youth Movement
    • "Seven Days In May," "Dr. Strangelove," and I hope they choke on their precious bodily fluids. Yeah, I'm too well aware of the "Christian Air Armada," though somehow I wonder how it connects up with the notion of Rapture, this idea that these Oathbreakers are likely ready to use the nuclear weapons the rest of us have been suckers enough to pay for on us "consumers."

    • Interesting.

      This Vietnam vet, who was Over There when it started to become clear that the GI's real enemy was The Brass and the political leaders who kept things going, and saw some of the antics that conscripted soldiers whose indoctrination began to run at odds with the actual real ground truths would pull.

      We heard of guys shooting NCOs and officers who kept sending and taking them on "gung ho" missions of futility and getting them ambushed or blown up by mines or speared by "punji sticks," again with no possible "mission" but to seek out shootin' combat (not "pacification" or "bringing democracy") which is all the troops were good for (and pretty good at, though that was no recommendation then, any more than it is for the GIs doing their thing by "lighting up" the Wogs in Notagainistan, trying to force-fit a ridiculous, incongruous image onto that landscape and its people.)

      I personally am aware of several incidents, one somewhat evocative and resonant even today: I was in an Army aviation unit, and our pilots, commissioned and warrant officers, were commandeering our "Class A" (fresh food) rations and trading them to Air force and Navy units with even better high-end stuff, getting fresh-delivered-via-C-130 steaks and chicken and pork ribs so they could have nightly barbecues while us troops ate ancient nasty canned stuff. That went on for a week or so, until one night 4 or 5 riot gas grenades got tossed in, out of the night.

      Armies are predatory and parasitic. They don't exist without surplus wealth to raise and arm and feed them. Maybe some of the officers know this, and know they have to keep some modicum of belief and willingness of the polity, not just the fear of gunfire, to survive.

      I wonder how well "discipline" will hold in the world's various armies. History tells of how imperial armies devolved over and over to bands of mercenaries preying on a waning population in a blasted landscape. It is heartening to me to see evidence that trained soldiers would see the tru nature of their interests, and line up with people whose actions are about moving toward some kind of stability freed from the excesses of greed and demands for ever more of everything from kleptocrats and oligarchs. I wonder how well our huge military bureaucracy, which has maybe 10 or 20 "support" people (and an equally large number of "contractors") for every combat troop -- a large fraction being Reservists and National Guard, with very different provenances.

      As the "Egyptian flu" spreads across the world, bringing more Revulsion Revolutions to auto-kleptocrat-ridden populations, I wonder how the US GIs will act, as push increasingly comes to shove as the greedheads try to make deeper and more permanent the hole they are shoving the rest of us into.

  • Egyptian Crowds Reject Mubarak Speech, Pledge Massive Friday Protests
    • And I almost forgot -- "US crude hits 10-week low after Mubarak quits." link to reuters.com This is only one little data point, but what does it say about "business" being fearful of "doing business" with a shall we say more "liberal" set of leaders in the Oil-Rich World of Arabia?

    • Why do we say "stepped down," when his first stop was what is charitably called his "estate" in Sharm el-Sheikh, there to get a briefing on where all the billions he and family have stolen are stored away?

      Common characteristic of all these SOBs: Steal really big, take it out of the country (in so many senses of the phrase), and be ready to scoot if the proles start to shoot. Just ask another one, in whom so many placed such regard and who did such lucrative business with so many others, once again drumming his chest about Nation and stealing the birthright right out from under "his people's" noses: link to theatlantic.com

      And of course, in the same link, you get a bit of a taste of the grotesque hypocrisy these "leaders," including quite a number of nominal Israeli Jewish versions.

      Amazing how well trained most of us are, to hew to the narrow Narrative path, looking neither left nor right, and certainly not daring to make any effort to look behind the curtain to see what those charlatans are really up to...

    • Good ol' Selective Enforcement, and his brother-in-law, Prosecutorial Discretion. Yah, having been a Federal (and state) Regulator/Enforcer, I am well familiar with the whole family.

      Good link for any who are not familiar with concept or degree.

    • Maybe it's time for a new entry in the social science catalog, "the science of 'slack'."

      Every society has rules and norms and laws and the exercise of power and authority. Every society, including even Switzerland and the Vatican and the Scandinavian countries, has corruption and cops who will take 50 euros/dollars/renminbi to not give you a speeding ticket. I recall reading that the most common crime in America is remodeling your house without getting permits.

      There is a necessary, tolerable amount of "slack" in the ties-that-bind-us, everywhere there are humans. I recall a science fiction story where a Puritanical mayor and council bought "police robots" programmed to bust EVERYONE who committed a crime or infraction, and uploaded every statute and regulation and ordinance into the cop-brain. Pretty soon, everyone, including the mayor who spat on a sidewalk, had been Tased, tie-wrapped, and dropped into a holding cell. Not enough "slack," obviously, and a careful-what-you-wish-for moral to boot.

      I also recall reading a conversation between a US GI and a Vietnamese, in maybe 1969. They were discussing the US initiative to force "democracy" on the country. The GI touted the benefits of freedom, and voting every couple of years. The more pragmatic Vietnamese pointed out that his language had two adjectives to describe politicians and rulers: one translated to "full," the other to "empty," relating to the process whereby the "elected" reduce their demands for graft and baksheesh over time, as their fiscal bellies get stuffed. He asked the GI why a sane peasant would want to take the chance, every 2 years, of trading a set of "full" politicians for a new set of "empty" ones.

      Obviously, the present autocrats and oligarchs of many nations (our own included, I think) have passed that point of tolerable exaction of wealth and high-handed flouting of even the minimum modicum of RuleofLaw that is required to claim Legitimacy. Greed is not good or even survivable when it exceeds the tolerable quantum of "slack" that exists in any human polity.

      The kleptocrat/autocrats might benefit from retaining some Wise Economists (if there are any such creatures) and Social Scientists that advise them on how much they can steal and how predatory their demands for baksheesh can become, before they face a Tunisian Trimming or an Egyptian Flattop.

  • Egyptian Protests Swell in Response to Ghonim
    • I'd say there's really no irony in Suleiman's "warnings" about a "military coup" as one possible outcome of What's Happening.

      If I remember a poli sci class I took some 45 years ago, even way back then there had been serial "military coups" in a lot of African and South American and Asia states. The generals displace the king/shah/elected government, whatever, the colonels get frustrated at the "brass ceiling" that keeps them from really cashing in on the baksheesh and "business opportunities" and kick out the generals, and so on with majors and captains and lieutenants until finally some charismatic, violent Private Doe gins up a cadre of personally loyal "soldiers"(warriors), to complete the defecation of the competent and educated and honorable, and institution of the Hobbesian Horror. Shaka Zulu knew now it worked... And the Egyptian army is all conscripts under largely corrupt officers, as I understand it. Opportunities of all kinds, in the present state of flux.

      The wiring for that charmingly repeated sequence is in place, in our brains and hearts, right alongside whatever amazing, lyrical wiring is driving people toward decency and honor in and around that place we now look to for hope, Tahrir Square. As so many once looked to Tiananmen Square... God forbid that the proles and wage slaves should ever see that order and honor and justice are possible, and legitimate government, free from the overwhelming kleptocracy and repression that too often seem inevitable.
      That's a potential pandemic that terrifies the Takers.

  • Egypt's Google Gandhi Released, Interviewed
    • Thank you for continued reporting and perspective on the other third of the planet. Maybe you are already writing something about this little report in the LA Times, link to latimes.com, that seems to indicate that OUR "homegrown, Made-in-USA" pluto-klepto-autocrats are going to hang in there to support Mubarak and the rest of "our loyal allies" in your specialty region. And elsewhere.

      As a former roommate from New York used to say, "It is to laugh, otherwise you have to cry." Prayers of intercession for the brave and persistent in Tahrir Square -- may their example inspire a billion others to better things...

  • Top Ten Accomplishments of Egypt Demonstrators
    • There's another adage too, a rueful and bitter and experientially validated one: "Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill." And enthusiasm. Every time.

    • Too bad the fog of language conceals and confuses so easily. We glibly use the phrase "Ministry of Interior" to refer to what I understand is something like the "secret police" and "state security apparatus," when "Ministry of Interior" sounds so innocuous and helpful, like our own US Department of the Interior or the Minerals Management Service (that nonetheless employs playful bureaucrats who take drugs and sex in exchange for granting huge discounts to mining companies who buy up the public resource wealth of the nation for an untidy profit.)

      Too bad it adds words to a story, to append a parenthetical like ("secret police") to a bland and fraudulent descriptor like "Egypt's Ministry of Interior." Leaves too many with the false impression of worthiness of that set of bad actors.

  • Mubarak Defies a Humiliated America, Emulating Netanyahu
    • Obama and predecessors and the whole Kermit "The Frog" Roosevelt-style "foreign policy (foreign to the nominal aspirational statements of Shining City America, at least)" apparatus have routinely, over a century or more, nudged, shoved or shot their way into popular political and economic decision-making in other countries. And here at home: (see Chile, Nicaragua, Iran, etcetcetc., "Red Squads," J. Edgar Crossdresser, etc.)

      How can there be any question about "what more should/could President Obama (and the apparatus he figureheads) do" in this situation? These guys can do plenty to UNdo popular waves -- I think the politico-economico-social physics are reasonably well understood, and if "they," those faceless jackals and hyenas, want to, they can engineer Hope and Change in a furrin land.

      It's just like it always is -- a pushmepullyou, mostly hidden, calculus between "interests," whether oil and financial and whatever "deals" can ensure that the Power Projectors have access for "installations" and "bases" for the spread of the great American imperial armies and their Force Structures. Too bad these parasites and predators can't figure out a way to make (a reasonable amount of) money and ensure the flow of petroleum working with a "messy" and supposedly unpredictable republican-democratic kind of government, most of which are always defending themselves against their own military-oligarchic "domestic enemies."

  • Million-Person Marches and the Army Backs Off
    • "the military recognizes the demands of the people." Or something.

      Most everywhere you go, "the military" may even be aware of its true nature as a parasite tending toward pathogen. They don't grow food or create wealth, they live on exactions from the people that do.

      Sometimes they (speaking inclusively of the whole state security apparatus) can work the politics and imagery and the fear that comes out of that gun barrel to keep the productive people toiling to feed the cuirassed class, since the citizens know that they and their children have to eat and have that biological imperative of self- and species-preservation.

      Sometimes, rarely, the praetorians actually embody the national myths and ideals, stuff like US officers and enlisted swear to do -- that "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same" stuff.

      And maybe decency, and more likely enlightened self-interest, the old don't-kill-the-Golden-egg-laying-goose thinking, will lead the Egyptian Army officers and "conscripts" to support or at least not suppress something like what is happening in Egypt and Tunisia. (Gee, tell me again why the Pentagram wanted to do away with the draft and go to an All Volunteer Force Structure?)

      Is the Army "throwing the other state-security branches under the bus?" Or just creating a healthy distance, much as the golfer in a thunderstorm is well advised not to stand next to a solitary tree or flag pole?

  • Egypt's Class Conflict
    • Sir, may I ask if you perceive any set of influences or forces or conditions that will keep this "Revolution of Revulsion" from being hijacked by, shall we say, chaotic forces and interests?

      All I've read about revolutions leaves the impression that most of the energies and motions of those periods of intense flux and desperation and yearning for legitimacy get as they say co-opted or perverted by people who recognize the pathways to power and often false legitimacy, and are willing and able to act to occupy them.

      There are exceptions, of course. Any chance that legitimate aspirations, and aspirations for legitimacy, will drive enough people to keep the jackals and generals from doing what they so often do?

      And isn't it interesting that some military cadres recognize that their troops and their armaments and their marching orders come from an "economy" that requires healthy surpluses that usually come from a growing store of Real Wealth, and that "taking over" might be killing the egg-laying goose? Too bad that in the US and a few other nations, the MIC has such a huge reservoir to draw on, and the opportunity to do the imperial thing and take Real Wealth from less-well-defended people?

      But hey, that's been the model since "civilization," as in grain surpluses and walled towns and granaries that need defense or can be pillaged, has existed. I love the irony that the Cradle of Civilization, as some would have it, the Fertile Crescent, has been the scene of so much that is the worst of what humans as "civilized creatures" can do...

    • Seems to me the US, at least the oligarchic and imperial fraction of the nation, still has a large and covert and destabilizing and repression-encouraging presence in Latin America -- just what are 46 warships and 7,000 Marines and a whole lot of attack aircraft doing under "invitation by the government, snicker" in Army-less, non-MIC-ridden Costa Rica? link to eutimes.net

      And gee, I wonder if Hugo Chavez, speaking of legitimacy versus power, sleeps like Moammar Gaddafi (or Saddam Hussein, former US "friend") in a different location every night?

  • Mubarak's Response to Demand for end of Military Rule
    • Did I just see in the streamer under FOX that Mubarak said out loud that all this "anxiety" is the result of Outside Agitators? Always the same sad stuff from autocrats, including our own...

  • Egyptian Demonstrators Rev up for Big Friday as Regime Cracks Down
    • Too bad Obama apparently misunderstands the meaning of the phrase "bully pulpit." That's not supposed to be about preaching sermons of comfort to the bullies of the world.

      If you think about a body politic as maybe a little analogous to our own bodies, what's going on in Egypt and so many other dictatorships maintained by state security apparatus is like a mix of a really bad auto-immune disease and cancer. The secret police and army guys, trained by US and Israeli and South African and other experts in "repression and suppression," bust the visible and effective leadership of what I would call homeostatic reaction to the inevitably terminal effects of kleptocratic oligarchy. Just like human physical disorders kill off or co-opt white blood cells and other elements of the immune system, and pervert physiological reactions that struggle to restore some kind of health to the overall organism.

      I doubt very seriously that given aggregate human nature, expressed so clearly as "what's happening now," there's going to be any chance of serious long-term change in the way we infest the planet. As scarcity increases, Living Large is going to require ever more predatory and parasitic and suppressive actions by the Haves and Have Mores.

  • The US Corruption Game - Cole in Tomdispatch
    • Please don't apotheosize Yasser Arafat until you at least take a while to read this little article on his predations on "his people:" link to theatlantic.com

      Kind of takes the reader to a "richer," more interesting level of reality, the one that lies under and behind the flag-flapping and rockets and bombs...

  • Protest against Aljazeera Leaks in Ramallah; US Dictated Leadership to Palestinians
    • It seems to me that at some point, the arbitrary, self-interested, greed-pride-arrogance-momentum-driven behaviors of all the "international players" adds up to sufficient proof that there is no such thing as "international law." Except maybe as a set of convenient hooks for PR spinning, fictions to hide behind, or "rules" to be swallowed by closely-reasoned exceptions.

      Marx had this notion of the state withering away. I wonder if he had even a tiny inkling of what would happen as Corporate Persons became the agents that apply the financial and military acid and poison to all those states...

  • US Case Against Wikileaks' Julian Assange Collapses
    • Such a large and widening gulf between the myth of "America the Beautiful," where "alabaster cities glean, undimm'd by human tears" and Liberties are preserved in Law, and "America: The Reality Show," where the background music is the Marines' Hymn, particularly the part about how "Our flag's unfurled to every breeze/ From dawn to setting sun;/ We have fought in every clime and place/ Where we could take a gun. "

  • Aljazeera's Leaks Reveal Sham 'Peace Process,' Israeli Stonewalling
    • Costa Rica does have a military now -- a large number of US troops, immune to local law and able to "go anywhere" to "fight drugs." link to mostlywater.org

      I wonder when people are going to get it -- that the ordinary folks, who just want to live in relative peace and quiet, raise their families, work on their communities, maybe do some business, are well and truly screwed by the whole Great Game thing in all its manifestations.

      I'm not sure whether it's more accurate to say "Humanity HAS an aggressive, metastatic cancer," or "Humanity IS an aggressive, metastatic cancer." Maj. Gen Smedley Butler on how it works: "War is a racket." link to prisonplanet.com

      Good luck to people of good will who try to swim against that torrent of shite...

  • Iraq's Civil War Grinds on, with 62 Dead, 200 Wounded in Karbala Blasts
    • Yo, Spork -- what planet are you actually from?

      I may not have been to Iraq while one of the current rounds of shooting were going on, but i did spend 1967-68 in a place called Vietnam, where as is always the case in the Game Of War, atrocities were committed on both sides. I was actually stationed a short distance from a little village called My Lai, something I learned only years later after, well, you ought to know that story.

      Proud of your service time? Think you did good stuff for the Hajjis? Did you ever use any of the other pejoratives, "towelhead," "sand n____r," stuff lke that, when you were there? If you were policing up IEDs, did you happen, on the larger scale, to notice how many were made from Made In The USA 105 and 155 mm artillery shells and various sizes of US-made bombs that the War Planners were stupid enough to leave around after the Imperial Invasion aka "shock and awe, shucks" for the Wogs to police up and use? Have you read a book called "Where Men Win Glory," by Jon Krakauer, that weaves a nice narrative of who and what kind of young male actually wears the the BDUs and stomps around in desert boots, lost between all that training in "finding, fixing and killing 'the enemy'" and weird, morphing notions of "the mission" to pacify the Wogs by one childish stratagem and then another, and another, the most effective being bribing them not to shoot at "NATO Coalition" forces for some period in some location? And as to who thinks "Iraw" is a success, your reduction of my general broadside on who might buy into that notion to two inaccurate categorizations does not begin to capture the flavor of the reality. go read stuff by Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler, an actual war hero given not one but TWO Congressional Medals of Honor and a bunch of lesser ribbons for prowess in the kind of imperial warfare that he finally came to see in its real, hegemonist, predatory-capitalist nature, so much so that he coined the phrase "War is a racket," and then went on to show so very clearly how true that is? Here's just one resource for your review, Google Smedley Butler and you'll find a whole lot more: link to fas.org

      I don't know what your background and issues are, but tossing out "Jessie Macbeth" as impeaching the views of a whole lot of GIs who have learned about Notagainistan, as I learned about Vietnam, that "we" are a stupid people on the whole who let Judas goats lead us up the chutes of the imperial slaughterhouses time and again does not begin to poke holes in the "ground truths."

      And tell me again what you might know about that missing $9 or $10 billion in cash, which is in addition to the maybe $200 billion in fraudulent, unnecessary or "treasonous" scamming of those "contractors" over there? I would not be particularly defensive about people doing GI jobs for 10 to 50 times what GIs get paid to do them, with much better benefits as a rule, guys who kill civilians without consequences, and slurp vodka out of each others' butt cracks and belly buttons. And a bunch of other stuff that if you look around and are honest has gone down and happens every day "over there." Blackwater, if I read it right, has become Xe, and is still very much "in operation" over there, along with KBR whose electricians electrocuted several GIs and on and on...

      What do you get out of continuing this discussion here anyway? Your people have won the battles and the war, and for the rest of us, "resistance is futile." Many of us just want to shout out a little before we are dragged down by the barbarians and mercenaries.

    • A failure? Sort of depends on your viewpoint.

      Ask the young males you can read about in sources like Jon
      Krakauer's "Where Men Win Glory," who get off on killing Wogs and that rush you get in combat and as many of them will tell you, that intimacy and comradery that can only be experienced by one of the Band of Brothers.

      Ask Xe and KBR and Sikorsky and Lockheed-Martin and a host of others, and all the myraid people in the Supply Chain, and all the logisticisians and general "managers," and 'whoever' drove away with $9 or $10 billion in unmarked, non-sequential $100 bills conveniently shrink-wrapped in blocks on pallets, and maybe even Kristol and the rest of the tapeworms who brought the monster to life, and I am sure they will tell you it's a great success. At splitting the idiot American polity, and separating all those people who actually generate the Real Wealth that every Nation requires from their hard-earned money, making the rest of the parasitic agenda of the Right so much easier to sell to the dopes at home (Boy, we gotta get rid of that DEFASIT, don'cha agree? But we must PRESERVE OUR WAY OF
      LIFE AND FREEDOM AND SECURITY at the same time...)

    • Prof. Cole, I wonder if maybe some new categories and definitions are worth academic discussion.

      Maybe the closest fit for a descriptor for the daytoday in Iraq, from the current informed and dispassionate thinking and writing on the subject, is the cited pronouncement on what constitutes a civil war, post-Colonial style. But maybe some other words, even neologisms, might even better capture the situation, gain the necessary "traction" in The Narrative, and help guide the Thinking Class, and maybe even the Great Game of Real World RISK! players, into urging bits of policy and behavior that might lessen the circular and chaotic nature of All That. Even if the drivers of the Situation, the profiteering and political-power-seeking and Baksheesh-bobbling and fundamental(ist) fact that humans with their tribal wiring still intact find semi-organized violence and freedom from RuleofLaw just so, well, liberating.

      And FUN! I mean, can you appreciate how much FUN it is, adrenaline-rush exciting and viscerally satisfying too, waiting for wary and yet unaware Enemies to walk into the killing field of a Claymore mine, or drive over that stack of 155mm artillery shells the most recent Imperial Invaders lost track of and you have wired up with the appropriate detonator? Or waiting for some random person to raise his or her head above a shattered masonry wall long enough for your perfectly aimed .308 bullet to turn that skull and all those beautifully organized and interconnected neurons into a Pink Mist? Especially if the reaction from The Enemy is to kill some other people on YOUR nominal Side, thus continuing the flow of Otherhateandfear-driven nutrients (guns and money and shelter and parades) to you and your large or small Band of Warrior Brothers? And there are no consequences to you personally at all, or none that you in your mindset care a whit about?

      Here's a couple of nominatives that occur to me, off the top of my head:

      Anomiculture
      Qantuminsanity
      Limbication
      Mosh Madness

      Of course, words are not really adequate to capture all the complex nature of the socioeconomicopolitico-neurologicanimustication that might be glimpsed through one linguistic lens or another, with its field of view necessarily limited by the optics preferred by the observer. And just like with the realm of engineering, particularly bioengineering and "social engineering," scant attention is often paid to unintended consequences of New Applications and "fixes" and profit opportunities, or such reservations are buried in hubristic shouts of "We know what we're doing!" or "I don't care, this is really cool and I've made a career out of implementing it!" People who are immersed in the bouillabaisse of random or slightly directed violence in places like Iraq and Notagainistan and Sudan and such, fully invested in some perverse and dead-end world view, are loath to write off that investment in a hope, repeatedly vain, that Something Better might arise. (Maybe the people of Tunisia will be the exception that proves the rule, if the jackals and Sneaky Petes and Lenins among them can be kept at bay.)

      Physicians look at complex presentations of symptoms and try to figure out root causes and diagnoses and prescribe treatments for the fundamental aliment(s), in the hope of curing the patient or at least palliating the disease. Often all they have to offer is placebos, opiates and the comfort that attention of a caring human gives, but the emotional and cognitive processes that drive them are so very different from the processes that are active in most of the rest of us, up to and including "martyrs" willing to commit Jihadicide, and "commanders" managing Multi-Trillion-Dollar Networked Battlespace and the endless strands of MIC DNA that determine so much of the public physiology of the species.

      I wonder: If we understood those better, and were willing to see them in action in ourselves, and were willing to be behaviorally cured of atavism and troglodyterie, if maybe "civil war" by any definition might go away?

      Naw.

  • No News is Good News (for Them)
    • Yeah, not the least tiny bit intentional. No such thing as a captive "mainstream media" thingie. No cooperation amongst various stakeholders in the Great American Ripoff to keep the proles and anyone below Beta Plus rank blind to anything more than Dances With The Stars and those beautifully packaged and displayed Golden Globes in the receding bodices of those Versace gowns...

      Or were you tossing out a bit of that evil mindgame called "cynical irony" there?

  • New Tunisian Government Declares Total Liberty of Information, as the Opposition Demands more Change
    • Unless you're in the SA Directorate at the CIA, or one of its competing equivalents, or are as fortunate as our Founding Fathers to have the time to build the necessary degree of New Legitimacy once things start to go into serious flux, it's so darn hard to plan and manage a Revolution of Rising (or Crushed, for that matter) Expectations. The Crowd keeps getting out ahead of you, shoots off on perverse tangents, and all these sneaks and Dantons and Robespierres keep looking for their opportunities.

      Best wishes to all the people of good will, in Tunisia and Egypt and all the other places where there are folks who just want to live lives that leave everyone with Maslow's basic needs satisfied...

  • King on Guns, War and Non-Violence as a Social Movement
    • So here we humans stand, sit or lie, somewhere between "No Exit" and "Waiting for Godot.

  • New Wikileaks: US Knew Tunisian Gov. Rotten Corrupt, Supported Ben Ali Anyway
    • Hey, David, would you contest that a whole lot of the "Third World autocrats" were actively and/or covertly put in and maintained in place by the actions of one or more of the many hidden hands that make up the nominal "American" instruments of "foreign policy?" And that often those stratagems involved frustrating and undoing activities by the inhabitants of those countries and sub-areas that looked suspiciously like "democracy in action," albeit with election outcomes that Our Leaders and Rulers did not happen to cotton to?

      "Dedicated to the destruction of the US?" Where do you get your notions on the subject? Is some desire for local self-determination, or anger at being killed by machines, willy-nilly, now to be Authoritatively Stated to be rising to dedication to US destruction? And maybe you could read a lot of history about WW II and the Cold War and maybe come to the conclusion that it's a lot more complex and ambiguous than you can fit in a little blog comment that requires one to reduce complexities to simplistic certitudes and reaffirmations of Matters of Faith?

    • Of course, "the US" and "we" are in policy-world reality a set of very disparate parts.

      I doubt that there's any consensus around the odd notion that "US objectives are usually best served by stability," which if you are talking about the interests of the mythical Average Person may be compellingly true. But if you are talking about the various CIA directorates and the "military intelligence" and Special Ops and ambitious general-officer fractions and NSA and the rest of the state security apparatus that tolerates insects like us who maybe see and speak too much about what "they" collectively do, along with the many who have used the compromised polity and fading wealth of the American Experiment as their springboard to power and wealth and self-interest, that's pretty demonstrably "true" only in the small sense that serial corrupt dictatorships, aided by School of the Americas-style population control, achieve a kind of meta-stability in which Oliver North and his successors and simulacra can thrive.

      So you can bet that the tiny fraction of "us," the "we" who attended the Bilderberg gathering, link to en.wikipedia.org, at Palm Springs in October of last year were concerned about "stability," only in the limited sense that the currencies in which their liquid wealth is held, and the titles to their many properties, and the rules that apply to the businesses they represent or own, remain "stable," at least stable enough to allow their "people" to spot and take advantage of, or actively foment, instability of the kleptocratic and "anti-democratic" kind.

      Reification and hypostatisation and personification are justly known as "fallacies." Maybe it would be best for the larger body of humans, kept in ignorance and driven to poverty and incited as we are into partisan hatreds and disaffections and open warfare for the benefit of a few, to have "the US sit on its hands." Which of the many visible and hidden hands of "the US" do you think will sit out this and all the other geopolitical dances that are performed upon the severed heads of Average People?

    • I once read some social psychologist's speculations on the nature of what he called "slack." Referring to the difference, as I recall it, between a polity's "norms" and what actually happens in the street (or on the Street, these days.)

      The stated rules of a society, he noted (well aware of the manifest jejune nature of the observation,) are always a lot stricter than what is actually enforced in the way of tolerable and excusable behavior. So the drunk-driving teenager or older person may get a pass from the kindly-disposed or just tired cop, or prosecutor, or judge. The Congressperson takes bribes and violates campaign finance "laws," but as long as he or she keeps the gates of the local Army base open and earmarks flowing, guess who keeps that high office nominally dedicated to the "general welfare?" And if all the laws and ordinances and regulations in effect were strictly enforced with active, constant investigations under way, pretty soon we would all be in jail.

      So there has to be some "slack" in "the system," what engineers call "play" or "working tolerances," or just like a car engine with zero clearances on bearing surfaces, it would grind itself up and full-stop, and not run again without a complete rebuilding.

      Too bad for us -- as long as the individual human consciousness and behaviors are modulated by the pleasure centers of the ol' limbic system, designed or accommodated by happenstance to reward excess and encourage pleasure-seeking in parallel with other old-brain functions like the tendency to tribalism and the kind of "altruism" that expresses itself in Syndicate-type loyalties and self-dealing, we are gonna have a problem.

      Interesting that ad hoc reactions of large numbers of people very occasionally rise to some kind of revulsion, some maybe atavistic shock of recognition that the Tunisian virtual aristocracy/kleptocracy (and maybe our own military-industrial-Congressional-financial "industry"-media-education syndicate (an awkward synechdoche, unfortunately) has mutated from more-or-less-tolerable symbiosis, to less tolerable parasitism, to outright aggressive metastatic cancer that can only be terminal for the rest of the body politic.

      And of course, "revolutions" are too often a simple turning of the wheel, with a lot of death and violence, winding up with a Lenin or Robespierre, as those who see the levers of power standing ungrasped and with the wit and impulse to grab them, do the usual, and it's just pure fortuity whether you end up with a George Washington, or a George Washington Plunkitt. link to barrypopik.com "Honest graft" may be a tolerable manifestation of the principle of "slack." The Ben Ali level of corruption in a "climate of frustrated expectations" was not.

      I wonder if David Petraeus and Lloyd Blankfein or any of the many less visible but equally pathological members of our own "Trabelsi family" will, as they used to say in Vaudeville, finally "get the hook..." And what, if anything, might fill their niches in the political economy.

  • Tunisia between Democracy and Anarchy
    • With all the hype about Wikileaks and Twitter, it should not be forgotten that most democratic transitions succeed only because the military allows them to or splits and becomes too divided to intervene.

      Getting to be maybe even true of and applicable to our own "democracy?" Follow the progress of the long interpenetration of the War Lovers and War Industries and our Republic's Elected and Appointed Leaders and politicization of the US MIC and general officer corps and "service academies?" All those gluttonous eaters of Real Wealth? I wonder if the rank and file GIs who profess their love for Freedom and Liberty and sign up to Protect the Homeland and Their Families and recite that "oath" to support and defend the Constitution will, when putsch comes to shove, place that "obey all orders" thingy ahead of the other phrase.

      Here's what OFFICERS swear or affirm or aver:

      "I, (state your name), having been appointed a (rank) in the United States (branch of service), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the office upon which I am about to enter. So help me God.” [Scalia's Constitution, or Jefferson's and Adams's?]

      Nothing about "obeying orders." A little different take from what the enlisted yokels have to say (which they usually do en masse in a large room with other guys who are a little nervous about what they are getting into or are itching to get their hands on REAL guns and Go Light Up Some Hajjis to Even The Score For 9/11:

      "I, (state your name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

      You, the guy with the battle gear on and boots on the ground, got to go to secondary sources to learn that "obey the orders" only includes, supposedly, "lawful" orders, and that you might have the "duty" to disobey "unlawful" orders (not consistent with the Uniform Code of Military Justice, written by guess who?) As pointed out in thousands of places, 'Military discipline and effectiveness is built on the foundation of obedience to orders. Recruits are taught to obey, immediately and without question, orders from their superiors, right from day-one of boot camp.'

      So what happens if there's a Seven Days In May kind of crisis, or some concatenation of failings in our economic and political hierarches, or maybe just that butterfly's OOooohh, They-have-a-stealth-jet wingbeat in Peking, that rises to the level of a critical failure of the sense of "government" legitimacy? Or one of these? link to en.wikipedia.org

      Don't think for a minute that our War Planners in the War College have not gamed all this out. link to youtube.com! Remember, the MIC runs on MONEY and OIL and you have a huge number of people who will obviously do anything to protect their careers and retirements and power and the source that feeds that insatiable mindset that has to define everything in terms of threats and force structures and power projections and daily increasing the lethality of all those War toys...

      And about all we ordinary creators of Real Wealth can do is sit back, stay low, and try not to be enslaved or crushed by the Juggernaut...

  • Over 9,000 Murders by Gun in US; 39 in UK
    • Actually, if the stuff I read is right, the vast majority of "militia" carried French or British-style smooth-bore muskets, not that NRA Sacrosanctity, the flintlock rifle. It was an early logistics issue, after a fashion; you needed to be able to deliver the paper cartridges with a lead ball of a consistent caliber that most of the weapons on Your Side could fire. Muskets could be loaded and fired a lot faster than the rifles of the day (no 33-round magazines and gas-operated or blowback or recoil-operated actions), and unless you were Mel Gibson playing "Patriot" games in the woods, slaying Hollywood-extra Lobsterbacks at will, your "militiaman" was very much an auxiliary part-timer with limited skills, limited sticktoitivity and limited interest.

      Here's a few words on the subject from an "historian" working from primary sources:

      These historians note that the role of the militia is easily misunderstood and that it has to be judged by different standards than those applied to a professional military force. ...

      From the earliest years of English settlement, colonists had depended on local groups of part-time citizen soldiers to defend themselves from the Indians or at times to maintain law and order. By the time of the French and Indian War, American colonists had come to rely more on British troops and volunteer provincial units for protection, but even though the militia system had deteriorated, Americans held fast to their faith in the concept of the citizen soldier. Beginning with the Stamp Act crisis and extending throughout the Revolution, the Americans’ experience with the British Army only strengthened their hatred of standing armies as implements of monarchy and tyranny and a threat to civilian government.[Any echoes in any of the heads out there, all invested in the MIC and American Hegemony? Any appreciation of the irony? the futility?]

      ...While the militia could not be counted on to stand up to trained, regular forces, it could and often did perform other important roles that were less obvious but crucial elements in the winning of independence.

      link to historyisfun.org

      Myths are really hard to displace with facts.

      RSH has one thing right: There will be no GUN CONTROL in America, because guns are too sexy and powerful and tied to parts of people's identities and are so easily profitable and so much damn FUN to shoot off, and sex and killing are inseparably linked in the ol' popular consciousness as "good things." And there will be no "militia" in the 2nd Amend sense either.

      We are a cruel and violent and ultimately self-destructive species, by by God we will go down shootin,' and take a whole lot of Them, whoever They are, with us...

    • Hey, RSH, been to any of the weekly or continuous "gun shows" lately?

      There's one or more in every large, and many small, metropolitan (and redneck-backwoods) area. You are the one who has to be kidding. There is a HUGE "black" (well, maybe camouflage sand-and-spinach) market in guns, guns that if you hang around with the people at these shows you know damn well are simply about being able to kill other humans with. Silencers (excuse me, "supressors",) drum magazines like the one that fits my little .223 rifle that hold 90 rounds and there's a simple conversion kit for just about every semi-auto that lets you shoot it as a full automatic weapon -- a "machine gun." And scopes and sights specifically designed for "urban combat," and laser pointers so you really don't even have to be able to aim your weapon all that well.

      Here's a Gunman-eye video view of a "gun show,"

      link to youtube.com Note the Highest Rated Comment: "If I were the president, there will NO gun control laws. it is called FREEDOM, and LIBERTY!" (All errors of thought, syntax, grammar, punctuation and patent idiocy in the original.)

      And here's an investigator's view:

      link to gunshowundercover.org

      Juan, do you get it? It is indeed cultural, and biological, and just exactly "human," and it's a large and growing carbuncle that is shooting some pretty noxious emotional and "intellectual" bacteria and toxins, including lots of steel-jacketed lead, into the old body politic.

      We do not have even the useful bits of Pashtunwali and similar traditions to keep us from going absolutely batshit crazy, given some likely stimulations that to me don't seem so far down the road.

      See how much traffic, or should I say FIRE, this little post has drawn? You ought to see what happens in "progressivespace" sites like dKos when guns start getting attention. This is magpies or crows swarming a cat or owl:

      link to youtube.com

      The "human" analogue happens in geopolitics and bar fights every stinking day.

    • Thing about Gun Men and Women is that they always have to get the last word in. I looked at the .pdf report that is part of the link above on "violent and sexual crimes," which is I guess John E's crimes against the person. Seems the Brits have a much more touchy and civil notion of what constitutes same, and on reporting to the nearest Bobbie that Cyril just gave Cedric an uncivil bit of a shove, like. A quick read through shows physical crime going down (like here in the US) even though the Brits don't have much in the way of private handguns. The selective fact-picking of the pretensively dispassionate gun-fixated is irrefutable. In their minds.

      The Gun People will never be overcome or "reformed" by logic or arguments from facts or ANYTHING. The instrumentalities of sex and death are too much part of their identity. (Why do reporters routinely describe people who kill with guns as "gunmen?" Why that "lone gunman" phrase? Is there a sociological or biological species identification there?) Guns (as in killing somebody to death with bullets) are so nicely and intimately tied to sex in every kind of medium, from Ian Fleming to the comics pages to the videos of which I link a tiny sample in this thread to the rapes in Africa and the ones by Our Own Troops committed against their own presumably armed and combat-trained female soldiers (and Wog Women) in Notagainistan.

      The People of the Gun have won the battles and the war, but they still have some mopping up to do apparently. You waste your breath talking at them. (By the way, I acknowledge the visceral and gonadic thrill that comes from the barrel of a gun, and am not shy about shooting mine. Doesn't mean that my higher brain functions don't identify that as a non-survival - speaking of the species, not "High Noon" mythology - feature.)

      Welcome to the end game of humanity.

    • I say, or link, again:

      link to youtube.com

      and

      link to youtube.com

      The seductive power and attraction of firearms works pretty well, apparently, on both the right and left halves of the brain... and X and Y. If you bother to jump to the videos, you will see that they are just little tiny entrance wounds into the enormous wound cavities that are blown into the body politic by guns, of which I have several myself.

    • Good pitch, Prof. Cole. Too bad it's way high and outside of any possible effective strike zone.

      Got any idea how many Americans just KNOW that if they were standing around in that meet-the-Congressperson session, handguns conveniently to hand, they would have been able to whip out their own Glocks or Tec-9s or S&Ws or any of various flavors of 1911-type .45ACPs and "taken down" or "capped" or otherwise terminated Loughner before he could have got a shot off? Without harming a even hair on the head of anyone else in the neighborhood?

      There's upwards of 250 MILLION firearms in private hands in America, and an entire significant fraction of the culture that is intoxicated and titillated and engorged by the very thought of, touch of, lubricious in-and-out action of, seeming power of, guns (and other even uglier weapons) of all types. Nothing anyone can say has a prayer of tricking the (concealed-carry, hidden) Jinn back into the bottle.

      Take a field trip to a gun range in your neighborhood. It ought to scare you, if you aren't already hardened to this king of Family Fun. And here's this little sweet snippet, a taste of what's out there in Youtube-land.

      link to youtube.com

      And here's what you too can do with a Glock!
      link to youtube.com

      And then there's this young lady, getting an early start...
      link to youtube.com

      The Kalashnikov Culture is well on its way to establishment in America too...
      link to youtube.com

  • Another US Quagmire? Lebanon Government Falls
    • 4,000 US nuclear weapons, from about 10 kilotons to a couple of megatons. Lots of options there.

  • Palin Borrows 'Blood Libel' from Israeli Far Right
    • A long time ago I realized that an automobile is four wheels, an engine and drive train, seats and steering and brakes. All the rest is sheet metal and plastic, or for the Blessed Rich, leather and burled walnut.

      Seems to me that so much of the analysis of "political" behavior partakes of the rapturing or sniggering over the appearance of the sheet metal and trim, with little attention (except for how "visceral" the engine and exhaust sound, and the "visceral" kick of longitudinal and lateral accelerations and decelerations.) We are offended and angered and polarized by the color or shape of a fender or bumper, and from familiarity never pay any attention to the nature of the underlying mechanism. Which may take us on nice shopping trips, or motivate us into the world of "Grand Theft Auto."

      I tend to harp on what I consider a horrible failure, the blindness humans have when it comes to trying to understand that "auto-motive" function that leads to "identification of The Enemy," "The Enemy" seeming to be an archetype that is the key to a really hot set of "wheels" of behavior. Analysis and understanding and the potential to manage and control the neuronic structures we are born with seem to stop at the point of identifying individuals to groups that are either for us or agin' us, temporarily cooperating or indifferent or hostile-ly competing or actively at war. And to parsing the particularities of the Parsee or Pashto or Farsi or renascent revanchist Israelite. Seems to me that other than a few saints or the oblivious or impaired, humans love their Enemy -- only in the tiny, narrow, friction-generating, black-body-enormous-heat-radiating sense that "The Enemy" they all unconsciously place, or have cynically placed by others, in their intellectual or blued-steel gunsights is a necessity of life, without which organization and meaningfulness and even the higher virtues like altruism and empathy will not manifest.

      Folks love their SUVs and Lotus Europas and Maybachs, and can give you chapter and verse on why that particular consumer of petroleum, steel and coal is "the best" body to carry their aspirations and sense of self and their cherished offspring or trophy spouses around. The whole functioning part of the transport may be vaguely sensed, especially when some part fails or makes annoying noises, but is largely out of their conscious awareness even though deeply present in their consciousnesses.

      What Prof. Cole writes above seems to me a piece of the necessary hood-lifting and undercarriage-poking and troubleshooting. The stuff that the SOBs who run the dealerships, and the guys who engineer the doorframes and weather seals and latches to produce the "solid" sound signature, and the chemists and behavioral psychologists who compound mix of aromatics that prolong that New-Car Smell, that tell the average unconscious Consumer that this is Their Kind Of Quality Vehicle, don't want you to be consciously aware of at all. So we subdivide into partisans for Dodge or Ford or Chevrolet, to the point of beer-muscle bar fights and internet exchanges that include "hate speech" of the most vehement and incite-ful sort. Yasser Arafat and Netanyahu and Obama and Palin and a whole planetful of other used car salesman don't want the freiers drawn to the car lot to look under the hood or under the bodywork and really understand what-all it MEANS to locomote, to "See the USA in your Chevrolet," to "savor the Cadillac experience." Because everyone NEEDS "wheels" to get around in, right? The whole culture is built on that presumption...

  • White Terrorism
    • I kind of have to opine that "libertarian" is the most opaque kind of catch-all, a convenient dumping ground for a totally inconsistent and anti-homogeneous bunch of would-be leaders all looking to be followed. Based on the ones I have known and argued with.

      Here's a graphic take on the question "Just who and what is a libertarian?"--
      link to leftycartoons.com

      Good luck herding that bunch of cats...

    • Maybe Clarence Thomas has already registered, copyrighted and trademarked the phrase as a business alias, in case he somehow needed to find post-sinecure employment...

      Eeeeeewww, where did THAT come from?

    • Interesting how quickly the Wrongs (I refuse to call them "Right" on any score) fire off their warnings to the rest of us not to rush to judgment on why this guy (and maybe accomplice, and who knows what else) shot up the joint. So many noises, so quickly, in so many places I've looked, comments to the NY Times articles, LA Times, Yahoo!, etc., you get the same thing from "the other side." Stuff like claims that the shooter was a demented liberal looney-toon motivated by his reading of Marx. And every flavor of conspiratorialist nonsense (or who knows, maybe it IS all "government Mind control" to keep us from going back on the Gold Standard and to pollute our precious bodily fluids... After all, even The Government has just come out out with a determination that there's TOO MUCH FLUORIDE IN OUR WATER AND DIET, so you see, it's all part of the same big One World Government Thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

      Oh, who gives a rat's ass anymore? It's to the point that our weaponry and machinations have so far outstripped our capacity to manage complexity, and our inherent outrage generators, down there in the limbic systems in our brains, are only capable of generating outrage against some randomly defined, cognitively-dissonant-and-impaired, notion of "the other..."

    • As to what's loose in the world, who knows? Mix guns and tribalism and beer-muscled idiocy and what do you get?

      Here's a link that may still work to a cartoon published as part of a "weekly best-caption contest" by a regular on RedStates, a nice window into the id -- link to tobytoons.com

      I guess the "target" is supposed to be of John Boehner, maybe? Bear in mind that this is not some left-wing imagery, but a pic put up (and taken down, in some kind of reaction to the AZ shootings) by folks who think a 'scope sight picture targeting politicians IS IN NO WAY ANY KIND OF INCITEMENT TO MURDER THEM, wink wink.

      Humans, meet death wish.

  • Today in Apartheid
    • Too bad ordinary people of good will can't bring themselves to recognize a fundamental of human nature: In EVERY population, tribe, nation, clan, even family, there's a fraction that does what the "terrorists" and "militants" and even the "lovely ladies of SuperTerrorism" highlighted a post or two ago, and of course the jackals (in the CIA/state security sense) and all the other folks that satisfy that very human Cain-slew-Abel urge by killing other humans, do daily and nightly.

      My view is that there is nothing to choose, ethically or morally or even just survival-of-the-species-wise, between any of these doers of evil deeds. Yet for some reason, it's ok with others of the same tribe or nation or "people" that these (I would call them) monstrosities do and get away with what they do, again and again. Each act just being one small bit in a huge cycle of murder and revenge.

      Why is it that it is so easy to derail "peace processes (sic)" and silence the calm blandishments of decent people who recognize the futility of that cycle and work to stop it? Just a couple of rockets, the knocking down of houses that have stood for centuries, an assassination or three, blowing up a busload of people from another religious tradition (and tribal group, of course) -- it's so easy and so predictable.

      And back in the shadows squat the ugly trolls, the cynical Machiavellianists, the would-be kings and emperors and their "people," the warlords, the makers of weapons, and all the others that profit from instability and fear and hatred.

      But hey, wander the comments sections of the internet at random, maybe just start from the stories on Yahoo!'s opening page, and you see how much of the population runs on mean-spiritedness, tribalism, antipathy toward anything or anyone who can be painted as "the other" -- Well, there's days when the skeptic might easily be convinced that there's not a thimble-full of the mythical Milk of Human Kindness in the whole lot of us -- and way too much, oceans of the real, violently corrosive and reactive acid of "humankind"-ness that seems to be our real blood and substance...

    • Travis -- good take on part of what's wrong (at least if one is the bug on the slide, rather than the guy peering through the microscope.)

      Have you run across this piece of what I would consider "fundamental wisdom," something that should be taught and reinforced everywhere and at every opportunity?

      link to cantrip.org

      THE BASIC LAWS OF HUMAN STUPIDITY
      by Carlo M. Cipolla

      The author does a wonderful job of spotlighting the fundamental nature of "the human problem." It's really a kind of re-statement of one popular notion of the Second Law of Thermodynamics -- every closed system tends to maximum disorder over time. There are a whole lot of "bandits" in the world, and more, and a larger percentage of us, are learning the trade over time. And a corresponding steady increase in the number and prevalence of "stupid" people too, aka "freiers" does not help.

      I don't think Prof. Cipolla is very salubrious about the species' chances at long-term survival. Nor am I. Best we can maybe do is a little anti-entropy in local areas...

  • Wikileaks: US Offered to Block anti-Whaling Protesters
    • "the earth may not be able to afford them for much longer."

      I know despair is not fashionable presently, but a lot of the reason I think humanity is headed for the genetic dustbin is captured in that sentence.

      What I think it comes down to is what I took to be the real theme of the movie "Soylent Green": That the few who "rule" know they will live only a certain few years, that their pleasure is more important than others' pain, and that since there's a Hobbesian-Malthusian cliff up ahead, the idea is to live our your days with your own situation being protected, your own pleasure centers receiving maximun titillation, and what happens to the rest of the species is "just how things worked out for them." So there is a moral mismatch between the few and the many, but more important, the few know and believe that there are no consequences FOR THEM to predation and parasitism. And that mismatch is amplified by the huge temporal mismatch of the life span of the privileged individual and that of his, and other, species, and of the rate of degradation of our shared living space.

      The vast majority of humans live at a certain narrow scale. They don't have the foggiest notion of what's happening to "the earth." Their lives happen at a pace that is nearly infinitely slower than the large-scale geomorphic and climatological changes that are occurring. They have needs, and a few are successful at satisfying greedy, pleasure-seeking "wants," that lead, e.g., to slash-and-burn agriculture and suck-all-the-oil-out-now political philosophies and corporate behaviors. There is a total mismatch between perceptions of negative change, and the immediate visible circumstances around your new dwelling in the bleeding edge of the Amazon rain forest, or your cellblock apartment in Shongjiang. There's no intellectual or emotional tools being taught that would let the vast majority do anything other than go along with the rest of the locusts eating their way across the landscape.

      So stability and survivability and sustainability are not only foreign concepts to most. The notion is firmly implanted, that "growth is the ultimate good," and that everything comes down to monetization as the only acceptable standard of value. Even environmentalists try to argue these days that a more careful monetization of all the world's resources would lead magically to healthy balance and all that. A losing notion from the get-go, to which I think people turn because the "rule of law," such as it is, only operates in a money-or-equivalent frame.

      So it's comforting, or something, to think that "the earth may not be able to afford them much longer." But they have the power and wealth to satisfy themselves, in every possible way, without reference to what may happen 50 or 1000 years from now.

      What was it the Bourbon king said, out there in Versailles, where the aristocrats peed behind the doors and servants patrolled with mops and perfumes, and the gossips and intrigues and rivers of wealth of Empire swirled around? "Apres moi, le deluge..."?

      I think the unrecorded rest of that phrase was likely "mais tant que je vivrai, je vais prendre mon plaisir!"

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