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

JTMcPhee

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  • Three Republican Bears and none Just Right
    • Sir- given the reach and subtlety of the propaganda corps that will eat how many billions of dollars in "agit-propping" this "election," adding fetid mud to the miasmic swamp of cognitive-dissonance-loving electoral turtles and amphibians and sludgeworms, my thought is that it can't be credibly claimed that flip-floppery can be turned into a terminal millstone around Romney's scrawny neck.

      Nor, I bet, will people whose tribal instincts, shibboleths, frailties, and fears will have them closing ranks, against all real personal and even family interest, behind the whole 1% apparatus, lose sleep over the history and antecedents and current versus past "positions" of Romney or any other piece of work that the Wrongs might field.

      Not that the Dems will do any better, or any different. Ol' Milton Bradley's Game of Life, American-style, is pretty much over and put away for good. The Game of RISK! is what's on the dining room table now...

  • Reading in the New Millennium: Cole at Truthdig
    • Sure seems to me that there's a lot of very smart and well-funded people doing exactly that. Homeland Security, infinite extensions of FIS and now the NDAA, and similar "1984" dissections of those "liberal" virtues. I do so wish it were possible to go against the flow and explore some kind of "New Federalism" or other ways of directing the inevitable accumulation of power into more humane channels. Sure does not seem, to me at least, that squishy "secular humanism" has a prayer of overcoming or engulfing the beetle-browed, scowling, happily violent critters that populate what ought to be called the "Wrong" part of the political color wheel.

      But keep working at it. Maybe a critical mass of Occupation might develop, and stay ahead of the tools of repression and enslavement.

      One version of the Pandora myth (not the jewelry fad) has it that the last plague on humanity to escape that mortal coffer was "Hope..."

    • And then there are the Tiv of what we call Nigeria. Quick glimpse: link to en.wikipedia.org . Yep, all is mutable, over time and with enough pressure or incentive or violence or, in the case of the Nacerima, generations of dumb-frakkin' ignorance and inattention and consumption... link to en.wikipedia.org

      Is your post an invitation to get sucked into that other kind of Paulism, "RonRandial," as opposed to the "Saint" flavor? Just asking.

  • Will his New Sanctions on Iran Cost Obama the Presidency?
    • And for anyone who doesn't get it, fails to understand (or now exults at) what goes on between "the US's" ears, please to read the comments to the so-very-tweetish Yahoo! article "explaining" how to Deal With The Wogs, Iranian-bred, and illustrating so "penetratingly" and "explosively" how effective decades of The Narrative have been in excluding rational thought and decency from the common tongue of most Americans: link to news.yahoo.com

    • "Impudence," or "imprudence?" Though much of a sameness.

    • It ain't "the US" that's doing all this stuff, it's a small, self-selected, self-interested cadre of numbnuts. Including the only President We Currently Got, and his band of merry men and women.

      Time to review a bit of other-Imperial history?

      link to en.wikipedia.org
      link to en.wikipedia.org

      Wonder which of the cast of imperators ol' BHO most closely corresponds to?

  • Iraqis Celebrate being Free of US Troops, Fear US Meddling
  • 2011: End of US Hyperpower & its War with Islamdom
    • What, you mean our Warfighters don't have a model for projecting this horrific threat to our freedom onto the Big Screen of the Future, and lots of contractors working diligently to produce PowerPoint slides to exobfuscate the salient maturations of synergistic response?

      C'mon, there has to be a Plan B on the shelf, other than "nuke Beijing via B-2 or Trident or Minuteman III..."

      God forbid that anyone in Power would be looking to create a playing field that is all positive-sum games (with the exception of the places where the money flows, so deep and still and fast, into the hands of those who live to create ragged-edge states of fear...)

    • "...be at peace."

      What a wonderfully futile aspiration.

      Most humans do not know or even want to explore what "peace" is, as far as I can see.

      Something like a quarter of the world's economic activity is tied into an entirely futile inter- and trans- and post-national tail-chase of "threat" and "counter-threat" and little and large tit-for-tatting ("you kill some of us, so we kill some of you, so you kill some of us, so we kill some of your neighbors..."), funded by simple theft of the real wealth that would, if directed differently, make living "peacefully" possible.

      The participants in the War Market hold to no national loyalties, being quintessential New World Order "capitalists." The "Call of Duty" seductions and popularity, not to mention what really goes on in a meatspace "war zone," make pretty clear how deep in our individual and collective beings the pleasure of killing "the other" penetrates.

      There may be emotional (and temporary) pockets of resistance to participation in the enormous racket that is the MIC and its resource-hungry clients. But as with human cultures on the planetary scale, everything is about consumption, and a universal faith maybe best described as "MOREism." Money, the magic carpet to satisfaction of insatiable human lusts, trumps decency and fellow-feeling and altruism every time, over the long haul. "Economic" motivations will batter emotional and spiritual motivations into the dust, usually in very short order. Good luck defeating the attraction of largely infinite tax and debt money for ever-more-foolish and deadly complexities like "autonomous battle robots" and the whole "networked battlespace" construct.

      The US War Department cadres have developed many tools to try to manage the whole Milo Minderbinder enterprise. One is a dictionary of terms and abbreviations which, if you read it, gives a fuller flavor of the idiocy of the whole. There is no entry for "peace," per se, though there are definitions in the 2002 version (it's updated regularly, at the cost of hundreds of millions per edition), link to blackpony.org, that include the term:

      peace building — post-conflict actions, predominately diplomatic and economic, that strengthen and rebuild governmental infrastructure and institutions in order to avoid a relapse into conflict. See also peace enforcement; peacekeeping; peacemaking; peace operations. (JP 3-07)

      peace enforcement — Application of military force, or the threat of its use, normally pursuant to international authorization, to compel compliance with resolutions or sanctions designed to maintain or restore peace and order. See also peace building; peacekeeping; peacemaking; peace operations. (JP 3-07)

      peacekeeping — Military operations undertaken with the consent of all major parties to a dispute, designed to monitor and facilitate implementation of an agreement (ceasefire, truce, or other such agreement) and support diplomatic efforts to reach a long-term political settlement. See also peace building; peace enforcement; peacemaking; peace operations. (JP 3-07)

      peacemaking —The process of diplomacy, mediation, negotiation, or other forms of peaceful settlements that arranges an end to a dispute and resolves issues that led to it. See also peace building; peace enforcement; peacekeeping; peace operations. (JP 3-07)
      peace operations — A broad term that encompasses peacekeeping operations and peace enforcement operations conducted in support of diplomatic efforts to establish and maintain peace. Also called PO. See also peace building; peace enforcement; peacekeeping; and peacemaking. (JP 3-07)

      peacetime force materiel assets — That portion of total materiel assets that is designated to meet the peacetime force materiel requirement. See also war reserves.

      peacetime force materiel requirement — The quantity of an item required to equip, provide a materiel pipeline, and sustain the United States force structure (active and reserve) and those allied forces designated for United States peacetime support in current Secretary of Defense guidance (including approved supply support arrangements with foreign military sales countries) and to support the scheduled establishment through normal appropriation and procurement leadtime periods.

      peacetime materiel consumption and losses — The quantity of an item consumed, lost, or worn out beyond economical repair through normal appropriation and procurement leadtime periods.

      Don'tcha just love the total logicality and internal consistency of it all? How "realistic" the thinking is? But: What part of any of that indicates anything other than the presumption, well warranted given the momentum and inertia of the War Monkey on our backs, the Monkey that in Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler's righteous formulation is "nothing but a racket," that "peace" is anything but an aberrant condition between application and projection of "force," and exists only by constantly feeding ever more wealth and blood into the ever-expanding complexity and futility of that insatiable "peace-keeping" bureaucracy, loyal only unto itself and its self-perpetuating, self-aggrandizing "mission?" The one that reads "We gotta be ready for ANYthing, ANYtime, ANYwhere!"?

      For the sake of my grandchildren, I wish it were otherwise...

  • Gascoigne: Syria, the Invisible Massacre
    • Mr. Evans speaks with such an authoritative voice. A skeptical armchair geopolitical junkie might dare to ask from what depths of expertise and knowledge (bearing in mind that "expertise" so often has a negative correlation with "competence" or "decency," see, e.g., Condoleeza Rice and so many others) he lays down such terse, seemingly unanswerable assertions and injunctions.

      "The media" pays attention to "the Syria story," far as I can see, to about the same depth as the "So You Think You Can Dance," "Survivor"-level handicapping and box-scoring and poll-surfing of the US presidential race, and the leading=bleeding reporting about whole-family murder-suicides. Does that mean that all that "content" output, with millions of Goggle hits in nearly infinite categories, provides the baffled citizen or foreign observer with any of the information that might inform voting decisions on who, of the beasts in the stampede, might actually be best for the whole country? Quantity and quality are two very different, only occasionally overlapping categories.

      One might infer that Mr. Evans thinks Bashar "The Basher" al-Assad sits on a legitimate throne, and anyone critical of the net efforts of "the media" and "the players" in the Great Game, directed apparently at enhancing the chances of a less kleptocratic and despotic, more democratic political economy in Syria just doesn't know what they are talking about.

      That's a little broad, don't you think?

  • Christian Priests Brawl at Jesus' Birthplace
    • Speaking of cheeks, one might hope that Zla'od had his tongue planted in one of his when he wrote this paragraph. My recollection of the Bible, refreshed by a quick look at Matthew 5:39 and Luke 6:29, fails to support the writer's notion that "evil persons" and "anyone" only get one unavenged slap on the cheek.

      If not tongue-in-cheek, might I offer it as one more exhibit in the long-running trial of humanity for the growing crime of being a failed, dead-end species, on its way to defacing a whole planet in the name of tribal cul-de-sac-ism and self-indulgent consumption?

      What "rights" are at issue here, in this slapstick annual ritual? Please explain...

    • Peter, applause.

      But good luck getting any significant number of people, our fellow humans, to adhere in any significant way to what the Sacred Texts (and commentaries thereon) of all those various religions instruct us are supposed to be the best of human behaviors and spiritual intent. Or even to sign on to the parts of the collected testimony that are about love and kindness and honor and truth, rather than the hard, mean, patriarchal parts full of judgment and putting-to-the-sword and how to cleanse yourself of all kinds of defilement and uncleanness, as in Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, even stuff that flies in the face of the Ten Commandments.

      Ain't gonna happen.

      And what you get is what "followers of Jesus," and followers of various other subsequently-transmogrified Truly Good People (or mythical and instructive constructs) who become the prophets and messiahs and saints of one religion or another, come up with to make it all okay to do that stuff with little boys and girls, to kill or dominate "others" who are busily trying to kill or dominate them, with the same "divine blessing" in their heads and blackness in their hearts. And toss it off with a dollop of Universal Grace and Forgiveness, and a Reaganesque "There you go again" chaser. And a conviction, born of selective parsing and repetition, that "God wants you to be rich. Rich! If only you plant that $100 seed gift right now, operators are waiting for you to answer God's call..."

    • Professor, you are talking here about that most fundamental of all things, Identity. Which is sacramentally espoused to the notion that "my group (or the few in it who Truly Understand The Truth, a smaller and different doctrinal kettle of fish) is Right with G_d, and therefore Ought To Rule." (And besides, those benighted Armenians/Orthodoxys wear THE WRONG HATS!)

      Ain't no friggin' way that a squishy secularism, the antithesis and anathema to Revealed Dogmas, will ever trump the stirring flood of mostly androgenous juices (women, notably, also produce sufficient quantities of testosterone and adrenalin to overcome the former feminist myth that letting women run things would Make Everything Better) that fire up the Anti-Otherism that animates so much human behavior.

      And as the almost 7 billion of us flounder in a rising unknown sea of lost identity, where the patina of Apparent Legitimacy that coated everything that we assumed provides order and meta-stability gets washed clear, so we can see (if we choose to) the ugly reality, the jaws of Moloch that lie beneath, the clever and most selfish among us will do an Aaron, and hammer out new idols for the insatiable, the heedless, the negligent, the unconscious among us to worship and follow, and direct the procession of.

      Tribes with flags, we are, and every game is really a variation on the oldest -- Capture the Flag. The antithesis of the Golden Rule. Blessed, and otiose, are the peacemakers...

  • Iranian Navy Menaces Oil Exports from Hormuz
    • About this latest manufactured "crisis:" What was it that wise old Forrest Gump said? "Stupid is as stupid does"?

      But if "we" are gonna do stupid yet again, all you Serious Brow Furrowers and Pronunciamentators out there get ready to justify and/or deplore, as your tastes run...

      Follow the money. Wisest advice ever for anyone trying to understand what's really going on...

    • Hey, as our former Cheney-and-Chimp act proves once again, it's a lot easier to maintain a kleptocracy if there's a handy, credible "external enemy" around which the rulers can conjure up "patriotic fervor" and that old "blind obedience" to the rule about "not switching horses in midstream." I'm not even going to cite all the examples where that's worked in real life -- but in the filmic world, there's always jokers like "Wag The Dog."

      Sure helps to "prop up unstable regimes," and paper over "serious economic problems," including of course those engineered by our Game of Risk!-playing CIA and related Jackals and Jackasses...

  • Israeli Hardliners attack Police over Women's Segregation
    • If you put aside the Pecksniffian doctrinal details and "naming rights" and loyalty issues, when looking at the oxymoron that's called "hardline conservatism(sic)," it's at least a little interesting, from a social-psycholgical perspective, that there's damn-all little to distinguish our US "social conservatives" and "evangelicals" from Salafis from Haredrim from what we so loosely call "Taliban" from mean-spirited, hierarchical, patriarchical androcracies or would-be's all across the planet.

      Gee, could it be that humans have some real problems with "seeing themselves as other see them?" Some vampire-mythical deficit like not being visible in a mirror?

      Given that what many would characterize as Bad People, with the same identifying characteristics, reproduce in numerous spots all across the planet, could it possibly be advisable to stop fussing and feuding over little doctrinal bits and tribal reliquaries, and focus on what might be done to cure or excise these little cancers of oppressive and destructive self-interest? Since when is the sum of all goodnesses advanced, on the scale and vector of "freedom," by securing "freedom of religion" to this set of critters? Rights are supposed to come with correlative duties and responsibilities -- you can't have it both ways for long, before there's an adjustment needed.

      Over the long haul, does the Golden Rule indeed have to rule, for the species to survive? At what cost in pain and fear? Or are we humans in fact an evolutionary dead end, like other branches of the primate tree, sitting up here and pelting each other with our feces and diddling ourselves and ganging up to beat down the weak and the strong alike?

  • Christians in a Changing Arab World are Making their own Destinies
    • Super, el Ron Hubbard beat him to it, and he will have to compete with Amway and several BeautyProducts (sic) entities that already occupy a lot of the high ground. Anybody know whether the Slimy Amphibian is playing "allies" footsie with the Koch Brothers and their establishment yet?

      I wonder if there's a constant that you can multiply the rolling tote of human live births, given by those many "population clocks," that will indicate how many suckers are being born every minute?

    • Super, a wise post.

      The Lord---! has laid it---! on mah HEART---! that you---! will be seated---! for ALL ETERNITY---! at the Right Hand---! of the Father in Heaven!!! Halleluyah Jaysus!

      And for only four Seed Gifts of just $29.99 (plusshippinandhandling) I will send you this here 4 gram bottle of Holy Spikenard Oil, personally blessed by the Reverend Dick Cheney, guaranteed to bring you Big Money in God's Holy Wealth-To-Believers Lottery!!! Remember: The Bible Says(tm).

      And it's too bad there's nothing new about any of this. Just in the selection of the letters of the alphabet that make up the labels. Want a look at earlier versions of this kind of self-justified hypocrisy and violence? Pick up or click up a God'sHolyWord "Bible," of which there are now hundreds of versions, with competing, fully partisanized texts to choose from, all supposedly representing the Inerrant Absolute MustBe-Obeyed WordofGod, and start reading at Genesis 1:1.

      Most of these Jesus-jackers take their "theBiblesays" dogma from that front end of the Sacred Texts, and what's left comes from that old con man, Paul. "Christianity" really ought to mostly be called "Paulism," when you get right down to it.

      Just another set of Tribes with Flags. Ready to take Dominion in God'sHolyName, forget about that "stewardship" heresy... And did I read that 60% of the officer caste in our military adheres to the Bible According to David?

  • Bombings Roil Iraq as Sunni Arabs Re-arm
    • Seems to me, if you follow the money and the "news," that both those groups, neocons and war profiteers (which overlap quite a bit, I would bet) have "learned" pretty darn well. They're having a lot more success controlling the shape of the board, the position and value of the pieces, and the rules of play than anyone else, even if their skills at actually defining and achieving any kind of "victory," other than perpetuating and extending the incursion of their disease, in the increasingly divergent asymmetry of the reality outside the parameters and perimeter of the Networked Battlespace, are pretty demonstrably slim.

      I would bet that a lot of the "Muslim hating" is just window dressing and eyewash, in service of that hegemony and wealth-transfer thing.

    • Gee, what a surprise! "We" create armed and half-trained battalions of men with no honest work, then when "the war is officially over," what do they do next? Ask Osama bin Laden or a bunch of others...

      Many of them have discovered you can live pretty well on what you can take at the point of a gun barrel, especially where there's pallet-loads of shrink-wrapped $100 bills being handed out by spooks and geopolitical creeps and hacks with Stratego on their minds? Where corruption is so thoroughly institutionalized, and shielded from view by the blinders of tribal rage?

      Many have also discovered that once the thin veneer of civilization is skimmed off by that "training" and participation in organized violence, well hey, killing other humans, especially ones you already have a tribal authorization to whup up on, is just so much dang FUN! It's exciting to set an ambush! Blowing another human's unaware head into pink mist from a thousand meters is a stitch! It's a real giggle to detonate a car bomb in the middle of a crowded market or even in the midst of nominally fellow believers! And Ethnic or Sectarian Cleansing? Wow, what could be more satisfying than removing the "roaches" from your compounds and village markets and places of worship? And gee, what opportunities for would-be warlords to gather a following, create some destruction, and snowball the violence into personal power and wealth?

      Old, old story. Another chapter was written out by Barbara Tuchman, about the 14th century in Europe, under the title "A Distant Mirror." Not so distant at all. And now the same "military geniuses" and "policy specialists" who have brought "victory, Vietnam-style" to Iraq and will bring "victory, Vietnam-style" to Notagainistan, and maybe Iran and where-ever-else, are about to dump a bunch of half-broken humans out of their military cocoons and into the bazaars and souks of America the Beautiful. A real mix of the sociopaths, the True Believers, the PTSD-hobbled, the actually patriotic in the best sense, the just-trying-to-earn-a-living, and a lot of other flavors of people who enlisted to take part in the imperial exercises that make the Milo Minderbinders of our age rich beyond (well, almost beyond) greed. Dumped by "the Pentagram" from the parallel, parasitic culture that feeds and clothes and arms them, with wealth taken by fear and force from the "civvie" real-wealth-creating culture, just so the real warlords can keep cadging tax money and debt from the rest of us to keep building generation after generation of weapons, all in search of that ultimate Game Changer, that Universal Autonomous Thingie that will guarantee some general officer ultimate hegemony over the rest of the planet. If, like Dr. Frankenstein, or Rabbi Loew, he can control the creature.

      A whole host of our fellow humans, skilled in the REAL game of "Call of Duty," stripped of the heavy meds and support of their Bands Brothers and Sisters (not without the marks of Cain amongst them, of course) that let them continue day to day in the idiocy of "counterinsurgency" and the "war on terror." It's kind of amazing how adaptable humans are, and what they can do, and can get used to as business as usual...

      Gee, I wonder what will happen as "the troops we support" (a physical and financial truth and spiritual falsehood) come "home" to a place they find stranger than Helmand or Fallujah, a directionless and bottomless and mission-less consumer pit, where the kleptocrats are currently on the ascendant? Where weapons are so freely afloat in the populace? Where anomie is the order of the day? Where the effort to form up a national paramilitary fitted out with the tools and tactics of oppression and control is well under way?

      Gee, I wonder what the Dickkopf contingency planners in the Pentagram have up their Networked Battlesleeves to deal with what might happen next?

  • Suleimani: The US Decline in the Middle East
    • William, re translations and interpolations: If you do strip away some of the rhetorical tics that Suleimani's speech writers inserted to localize the message, and compare it to the dreck that comes from our own Joint Chiefs and the warlords of so many other MIC-ridden nations with their own slatherings of localization (how about those North Koreans and their proverbial verbal bellicosity and unfeigned tribal affection for their Dear Leaders?), well gee, the same garbage seems, I guess not surprisingly, to be the sum and substance of Leader-talk pretty much across the planet, right through time.

      We may be getting older as a species, but we sure do not seem to be getting any wiser. Or evolving anywhere near as fast as the most agile and greedy and ambitious among us. Or even staying on the same lap with the war machine that is racing toward creation of a "Terminator" future, where humans are just easily killed vermin with little annoying stingers.

  • 60 Dead in Baghdad Bombings; Iran and Al-Maliki
    • "Snark" indicator, that is.

    • I guess the indicator got left off my little bit of satire above. Of course the truth about all of this matters, all the various bits and pieces of reality that get shuffled and dealt off the bottom of every deck in play in the world of "geopolitics." But hey, fundamentally, most folks do not give a toot about the "realities," the real nature of various groups in relation to one another and the survival of the species. The point is that the "lists" put together by the state security apparatus and the parties interested in the money to be made from encouraging fear and conflict are nothing but dreck, and only by random luck actually happen to include real actual sickies that do bombings and attacks on resorts and all the rest of the pot-stirring idiocy that keeps us all in a swivet. Of course, the list-makers pretty much are invested in other activities than actually doing the stuff that over time would reduce (you can never eliminate it entirely) the aberrant viciousness of some of our fellow critters.

    • C'mon, Joe, you know that the MEK, LIKE EVERY OTHER TERRORIST ORGANIZATION THAT OUR MIGHTY AND WISE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELOAN OBSCURITY PUTS ON THOSE CAREFULLY COMPOUNDED LISTS, MIGHT STRIKE AT ANY TIME, THAT'S WHY WE ARE CONDUCTING A $4 TRILLION-AND-COUNTING GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR!!!! BECAUSE THEY ARE OUT THERE, AND THEY ARE PLANNING STUFF EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY EXCEPT WHEN THEY ARE KNEELING ON THEIR FUNNY LITTLE RUGS AND PRAYING TO THAT ALLAH GUY AND TRYING TO FORCE SHARIA LAW DOWN OUR THROATS SO WE HAVE TO STONE OUR WIVES AND CAN'T COLLECT INTEREST ON LOANS AND ALL THAT!!!!! IT DOESN'T MATTER WHEN THAT LAST ATTACK WAS, DON'T YOU GET IT? THEY ARE TERRORISTS!!!!!!

  • Massacre alleged in Syria
    • I bet the folks who plan "our" foreign (and the subsumed "domestic") policy here in the US (like most other people, I have given up calling it "America," if only to save keystrokes) are watching very carefully to see if Bashar Bashad and his people can successfully suppress the people who dare to ask for a little more of the wealth and benefits that their 1% have in spades. by simple military smashing, or by divide-and-conquer, or by any of the other little stratagems that will maintain their kleptocracy in place and in power. And what lessons will they draw from whatever happens over there, with or without whatever "US" interventions might be happening, for good or ill?

      It seems to me that there's a fairly clear sense of a growing yearning for decency and fairness, seasoned with what, jealousy of the perks of the few at the expense of the many, or just righteous sentiments occasioned by the gulf between the myth of "justice under law" and the reality of kleptocracy, that's gotten to be like an angry boil or an impacted wisdom tooth - infected and inflamed, and waiting for some trigger or process to break out and either heal, or become a systemic disease that kills the whole body...

  • Egyptian Women Rally against Police Brutality
    • I'd argue the notion that "we have been struggling to get away from this sort of evil barbarism." Maybe a few of our fellow humans have developed the spiritual strength to resist the oh-so-easy step into the role of torturer. But the numbers are few. Sure seems to me that the evidence, as it were, is pretty strongly on the side that violence, destruction, tribalism, that mad berserker thing that drives so many humans to answer the "Call of Duty" and buy so stupidly into the notion that a "foreign policy" that's based on "We kill some of them, so they kill some of us, so we kill some of them, so they kill some of us..." is Wise and Serious, are the real nature of humans in the mass. Along with dumping a quarter and more of the whole world's wealth into more weapons, more conflicts, more militarized populations. Follow the money, folks -- it's the best indicator of the reality that hides behind the flapping of flags. Any of you (except for the creatures who profit from the whole Forever War schtick) think you are getting your money's worth?

      Until people learn to face what they really are, what they and their "neighbors" are so easily capable of, and hopefully experience that spiritual change that so very few of us have attained, the crapheads who manipulate the tools of public discourse to turn everything into "agitprop" will keep on ensuring that a sick, depraved, vicious, careless few of us will continue to get rich, to "live large," off the impoverishment and debasement of the most of us.

      And on the way, the most of us will still argue endless little angels-on-pinheads points about who is "right" or "wrong" on some tiny and deadly local conflict, or buy into the grand and fraudulent visions of stupidities like the "global war on terror," and Shia-vs-Sunni, and all the rest.

      Good luck with that happening. That is not what humans are.

  • Iraq on the Brink: Court Forbids VP al-Hashimi from Leaving Country
    • "You break it, you fix it," said the largely-disappeared Colin Powell.

      Nope.

      First, "we" didn't "break" it, though "we" did stumble through the shards on the china shop floor. Next, "we" have no freakin' idea how to "fix" anything, and of course no right (other than the one claimed by the Right, and of course many on the nominal Left, the one that's asserted by the exercise of Might) to stomp back Over There and once again Put the Fix In.

      Our "leaders" are living high on the hog, somewhere between cynical self-interest and monumental stupidity, and of course "we," having been thoroughly propagandized, are gonna keep rolling along, creating real wealth with our day labor and energies and inventiveness and optimism and enthusiasm in the face of monumental rip-offs by the Kleptocracy, wealth the Kleptocrats can churn into autonomous battle robots and similar "Terminator" technology. Devices that are reliably going to do what they are programmed to do, without the inconvenience of a human conscience that might be pricked, despite years of "indoctrination" into the sanctity of "the mission," at being "tasked" to do murder for hire, and decline to obey those unlawful orders...

      Now that "we" have shattered and stirred the shards of the Limoges and Haviland, will "we" have the collective intelligence and decency to keep "our" fat frickin' boots off the ground, and take care of what really needs doing here at home? Or are we just a right fur piece up on the apparently inevitable arc from "democracy" to republic to aristocracy to monarchy to dictatorship to die-off or revolution?

  • Egyptian Protesters Demand Military Step Down in Wake of Blue Bra Beating
    • If you were in Grant Park in Chicago in 1968, well gee willikers, guess what? Apparently a lot of Red Blooded Americans in our police paramilitary bashing heads and shoulders and kicking and kneeing and choking young, old, protesters, dopes just trying to get home, whose parents taught them something but who knows what?

      And there's dozens of other examples -- check what's happening to Occupiers and anyone in the area when the po-lice are sent in to "evict" and "clean up," and ask anyone who met an axe handle in Alabama in the days when "civil rights" had a narrow compass indeed (and the direction "we" seem to be headed once again.)

      It's very much a "human" thing, real easy to start, and hard to control once things start churning and blood is spilled. Our species lacks some bit of DNA or brain structure that might let us get beyond this set of behaviors to something kinder and gentler.

      And I am still waiting for some "realist" to document why what seems such a patently fundamental truth, that there's actually enough for all of us, enough to go all the way around the table, except for the pigs in suits on the far side who grab all but one cookie and then sucker the rest of us into fighting over that and the crumbs, is wrong.

  • Post-American Iraq by the Numbers
    • American ideals are (falsely) stated to be all about "freedom," of various sorts. Ike's comment seems to me to carry within it the unstated presumption that people living half way around the world ought to organize and manage themselves according to a neat Classical structure, like civilized nations (pretend to) have done. "Blaming" millions of people for living in, and maybe even preferring to live in, tribal and clan-based and family-linked cultures, fortuitously and unfortunately on top of "extractable resources" that New World (and now China and India) consumers demand to grab for their increasingly gluttonous lifestyles seems to me to be the most fundamental kind of cynical or unconscious hubris.

      Maybe these countries should look towards internal reform more than simply blaming outsiders?

      It's kind of hard to engage in "internal reform," what a wonderfully presumptuous notion, if the CIA's paramilitaries and jackals and sales people from the MIC and neocon functionaries and all the other predators are circling, watching, stirring the pot, and shooting physical and fiscal and doctrinal Hellfires into the mess that yes, they and their predecessors set the structure for.

      Follow the money, and what do you see?

    • Joe, might it be additive accuracy to note that another significant purpose of the Iraq thing was to take, as in TAKE, all that oil, which "we" were assured would be "ours," to reimburse "ourselves" for the cost of sending in the army "we" had, not the one we might wish we had?

  • Christian Hate Group Targets Peaceful Muslim-Americans
    • Bill the Smart will tell you the Muslims are only committed to killing everyone who does not convert...

      For those who enjoy notions of religiosuperiority, how many of you have your little bottles of Spikenard Oil and little plastic ampules of 2 ccs of Holy Water from any of a number of TV preachers who also actually preach "holy war" on made-up enemies, while fleecing the True Believers of endless little Seed Gifts to assure the suckers of inevitable Prosperity.

      "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" link to bible.cc (The cool part about sites like that link is how many different versions there are of what "the Bible says...")

      Ah, the Gentle People of G_d --- link to bible.cc

    • That is so, like, DEEP. And so totally into an interesting worldview. I wonder if Prof. Cole will offer any thoughts on the, like, larger, more "popular" meaning of "jihad." Which is a little onomatopoetic word that sounds an awful lot like what Slim Pickens, as Major "King" Kong, was hollering after he kicked the ol' H-bomb loose from the shackles and touched off the Doomsday Machine that your worldview has actually kind of created. What was it again? "Yeee-Haww!"

      Too bad we all can't find wisdom in the words of Stephen Maturin, the Irish-Catalan bastard Renaissance Man created by Patrick O'Brian: “But you know as well as I, patriotism is a word; and one that generally comes to mean either my country, right or wrong, which is infamous, or my country is always right, which is imbecile.”

      One just has to love the grim realismication of all the "patriots."

  • Climate Change Disaster looms despite Durban Agreement
    • Thanks, but no thanks. If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve. Or rule. Whatever.

      Tiresias was blind, and poor. Cassandra had a hard time staying alive, for all her clear sight. Prophets don't do well as Emperor Palpatines... And the "we" is a pretty small minority of all the Effectives in the human populoblob.

    • Super, you got it. In our physical bodies, every day, our homeostatic physiology keeps electrolytes at living levels, takes in O2 and dumps CO2, and sends nutrients and hormones where needed, and maintains an immune system that spotlights the cancerous cells we are all always developing and polices them up and breaks down and recycles them (except where by biotrickery the cancer succeeds in obscuring its real nature, persuading the macrophages and T-cells that it is really "just more of us home folks.")

      No consequences, no accountability, no restitution or retribution or deterrence, none of the metastabilizing negative-feedback mechanisms that at individual scale, keep us screwing-up-the-planet humans individually alive. Instead, our social tumors have mastered the art of fiscal angiogenesis, tricking the rest of us into growing huge new arteries to dump more and more of our joint energy into building ever more tumor tissue, displacing vital organs one by one until the cachexic old carcass dies, completely oblivious, at the corporate scale, to the suicidal nature of Growth. This week, I bet another half a trillion or more in CDOs and CDSs and more refined bets, pay-off-able not by the bettors but by we who are neither parties to nor beneficiaries of the "wagering contracts" that used to be "void as against public policy." And the cheerleaders are out, rooting for the so archly named "Keystone XL" Job Program and whole bevies of new dronebirds and autonomous battle robots (nobody ever heard the "Terminator" story, apparently, or took the lessons to heart.)

      It's getting harder to care...

    • Why is it always only "all about us?"

      A potential Earthfart on a scale that maybe sends "us" down a Martian- or Venusian-form atmospheric blind canyon comes down to "hitting fishing yields?" "OMG, I might not have my perfectly seared rare ginger-wasabi-arugula yellowfin steak available at Chani's tomorrow night! And I have lusted after that perfect taste, and the chest/abs/glutes on that waitperson, for a WHOLE WEEK!"

      A Change sort of seems to be in the air, as it were, on a scale that life on earth shrinks to the point that maybe the critters that live in and around the superheated, hypermineralized jets shooting up from the deep-ocean plate boundaries are all that's left.

      Super, I bet your heart is in the right place, but maybe there's no possibility that any kind of thinking, other than the sort that monetizes everything, the sort that knows the price of everything and the value of nothing as they say, is possible any more for the Consuming Masses and especially the Soylent Corporation types that dominate the commercial landscape, except for the few deranged souls who are stuck with some apparently larger perception of All The Stuff That's Happening.

      I recall a sci-fi novella from >50 years ago -- the politicomilitarists have set off some kind of Doomsday process while striving for world hegemony. A few of the Powerful are still holed up in bunkers, slowly discovering how totally they have burned their own houses in trying to arsonize their "enemies." The endpoint for one pair, who in other more hopeful stories would be the new Adam and Eve, as pumps fail and groundwater starts to fill the mile-deep room they are finally stuck in, has them engaging in coitus atop a file cabinet, and strangling each other as they screw, to maximize that last pleasure by killing as they are, in both present and Victorian senses, dying. (And don't try to tell me that killing another human isn't exciting fun, for a very large percentage of our fellows. Much better than dropping a deer. Pink mist -- love it in the morning...)

      And it's not like skills and techniques and processes and actions are not in motion that might bring us some gynormous Murphy-mediated Oops! in the realm of genetic Lego games or nanotech 'bots or cyberpathogens or, if you follow the bleeding-edge of militarization, it is just so humorous how "we" are busily building the whole framework for the 'Botworld that is the future from which the Terminator traveled back in time to be sure the human roaches are finally extirpated. Here's one tiny peek at what's happenin', made more piquant, ginger-and-wasabi-sharp, by the wonderful flavor of the comments: link to wired.com

      Not to worry, though -- the paychecks and pensions and revolving-door futures of way more than a critical mass of humans are secured by the mass idiocy of our way of -- I was going to say "life," but that's not quite right...

      History belongs to those who write it. Obama may be smart enough know that he need not worry about his place in History, since there's a non-zero and apparently increasing chance there won't be anyone there to write it. In the meantime, we can pustulate about Netanyahoo and the searing of Syrians and old Saudi men worried that a witch might flaccidize their membrum virile... you know, the Important Stuff that keeps our daily juices flowing...

    • As the morning terminator sweeps across the spinning planet "today," billions of people (those not already hard at work, making donuts or "derivative" bets or Big Important Political and Economic and War decisions or rousting or digging about in the various "oil fields" and "mine fields") will rise from their silk sheets or straw pallets and go about the self-interested tasks of accelerating the real Change, the one you highlight above.

      Billions of people, cooking breakfast with charcoal or coal-fired electricity or "natural gas," kitchens aswim with the plastic detritus of Consumer Success or landfill gleanings. Millions of them "earning" a relatively huge paycheck by marketing Xmas crap or "But wait, there's more!" as-seen-on-TV crap or hugely-profitable-but-hiddenly-deadly medications. Millions more "invested" in Energy Production Via Extraction And Combustion (EVAC), via bidnesses like B"I want my life back"P and Halliburton and and ADM and LockheedMartin.

      All the while, the "externalities" get just a picofraction more bad for living things, including asthmatic children and 10-year-old girls experiencing the menarche, and all those disappearing species which the Wise are telling us is no big deal because hey, our enlightened successors and their cloning machines will bring back anything that's really needed somewhere down the time line. And hey, they say, the real solution is to model the aliens in that silly movie, "Independence Day," and get off this planet and go on to Consume whole new worlds!

      Juan, how you going to reverse, or even slow, the momentum of human-consumer infestation and investing (as in "besieging") of our only home? The accretion of badness is a process that proceeds at a speed that is apparent only to those who collect data and see trends. And that awareness is only of value to the species (singular and plural) if the motives of the humble data gatherer are in line with achieving some kind of meta-stable homeostasis, as opposed to doing analysis for the Investor classes that seek only to profit from the new aridity of one place and the new fecundity of another. And already, people are buying up currently upland properties, betting that they will soon be waterfront.

      Too many people are either so immersed in the dreams of achieving Maximum Consumer self-Titillation that they are stupidly or willfully blind to the coming deluge, or "wise" enough to know that they, personally, have nothing to worry about (unless some technobreakthrough lets them buy more decades or centuries of life, which, if it happens will only further cement the ascendancy of the Soylent Corporation.) The worst of us know, like Gingrich and Blankfein and Lay and those African and Middle Eastern kleptocrats, that they will die comfortably of old age long before the turd hits the turbine blades. With billions of us waking to work and live every day in a mass world economy where the dominant faith is Logical Positivism, the dominant doctrine is Moreism, and every business and captive-government and social structure that counts is all about extraction and consumption, you tell me how that Juggernaut can be deflected, let alone dismantled?

      Far as I can see, there's no wellspring of global altruism that will defeat the concupiscence of the critical mass of us. Love to be wrong about that, for the sake of my grandchildren and yours. Don't think so.

  • Iran has US Surrounded, All Right
    • As my only exhibit, I offer in evidence the following link:

      link to wired.com

      But the webspace has a million more to choose from.

      Species: Idioticus Americanae
      Extinction date: Within a decade of 2020

    • It's at least ELEVEN dimensions, man... At least!

      And of course Obama is merely a convenient, current personification/reification for the whole rotting sickness that is the American-style excrescence of the repeating-rifle thing called the Grand Imperial Dead-End. Our Prez is just the immediate Sum (and convenient focus, for the moment) of all Hopes, all Tribal Hates, all Manipulable Fears (including Fear of Inevitable Change, almost totally For The Worse.) To credit him with sole authorship of all the crap that is flying toward the turbine blades is just, like, totally wrong.

      Some of us cynical curmudgeons actually rub our hands together in anticipatory glee, one of the few impulses we share with the sh*ts who are, in a zillion little personally profitable stratagems and Games, moving us toward our own apocalypse, at the thought of a "President Gingrich" and Veep Sara and John Bolton as SoS. Kewl! And all that will hasten the cleansing, the Ragnarok... link to en.wikipedia.org

    • Oppression of its citizenry? You mean, kind of what is practiced here at home in the Grand Old Republic of America? And gee, what a great thought, that people in locales here on Our Soil are "resisting the influence of the Bad Parts of the Kleptocracy and the subset called the MIC..." Oh, and I see today that privatized prisons are going to start charging inmates for their "room and board," up to $150 a day, which I guess they will be able to offset by doing slave labor in the industrial side of the prison-industrial complex! US Great! Everywogwhere Else Bad!

      Oh, I get it now, Seth -- you were being IRONIC, right?

    • And just in case everybody missed or overlooked this little gem, kind of on a par with what Bacevich sort of did, here's a voice of SmedleyButlerism from the present:

      link to tampabay.com

      Can't hardly wait to look this up on the 'net and see how many Red-Blooded Pin-Headed 'Murkans call Col. (ret.) Yngling a Commie Traitor. Or something similar.

      We have reached the point of rapid upward inflection on the asymptotic curve of "Stupid" versus "Time As An Empire..."

    • No, Professor, you've got it all wrong! Iran is Threatening Our BASES. Doncha see? "We" or our patent hegemonists have the Absolute Exceptionalist God-Given (OUR God, that is) Right To Put Little Americas Anywhere We Damn Please, for good, bad or indifferent reasons, all of which are By Definition In The National Interest.

      Faugh.

  • Iran Displays Drone, Complains to UN
    • Maybe Brian could be asked to serve out helpings of whatever yellowcake evidence he might have to show that "the Iranians have a nuclear weapons program," and the intelligence estimates on what "they' might be up to, in the broad, ever-less-honest, CIA analysis divisions kind of, you know, analysis, of real motives and ranked potentialities?

      "Everybody knows" is what I learned in math is called a "null set."

      Don't let the chickenhawks turn the discussion into a burden-of-proofery, where careful people are forced or suckered into trying to Prove The Negative because they are too nice to call the chickenhawks by their proper names.

      Maybe Brian is all for the kind of "balanced, accurate perspectives," all free of "whitewash" or "eyewash," that FOX News (and similar "outlets") spews?

    • So not so long ago, we learned that our Infinitely Inventive MIC's Drone Wars Networked Battlespace Force was hackable via what, a cell phone, link to online.wsj.com ,to see what the drones were seeing, because apparently a War Force that is all about keeping the citizens who fund it from seeing any part of what the Troops and the Command Structure really do via TopSecretizing everything, could not bother to encrypt that video. And their "defense" was cost-too-much, get it, COST? and even more funny, that the Wogs would not have any way to really use that information, since they would have no idea what the dronies were looking at. Right. link to articles.cnn.com

      I wonder if "we the people" will ever find out, for real and true, whether the Evil Iranians actually were able to hack and take control of that Lockheed "We never forget who we're working for (whoever pays us)" Martin love bug, or whether it's just another example of the many failures of technomythology that preach how superior "our" arms and armaments are.

      And if some Iranian smarties were able to do it, I'm sure that will be turned into another casus belli, 'cuz, ooooooooh, "they" might let the Rooskies or Chi-Coms look at the Secret Innards! Let's see -- send armed drones over another nation, get all pissed off when that nation's defenders take one down, so let's bomb the capital as an act of revenge. Sounds like John Bolton to me...

      Cartoon in "Playboy," circa 1968: View over rice paddies, in the background a smoking F-4 nose-down in the mud, two irate young white male Air Force pilots with .45s drawn, slogging toward a "gook" rice farmer in a conical hat and breechclout, the "gook" holding up his hands in supplication and saying, "Oh no, sirs, it was not I that threw the rock that brought down your great screaming silver bird..."

      Don't "we" just hate it when "they" play a different game, and refuse to just lie down and behave, or die, like good little Wogs? "We" know how to keep the "ass" in "Asymmetry," all right. All this just has to make one Proud to Be an American. "We" sure know how to get our money's worth, at least when it comes to buying mass quantities of Futility.

  • Gingrich slots MEK terrorists' supporter John Bolton for State
    • "Close ties." Is that the new standard of rectitude?

    • In our New World Order, we don't really have "laws" in the US any more -- just suggestions, that can be followed, or not, according to one's station in life. Unless your station is amongst the peasantry, of course, where you can get canned into a Prison Industrial Complex facility for a nickel bag of weed, and do forced labor for years and years. And of course a big part of the Neocon Kleptocracy modus operandi is to make sure to control the "law-giving" and enforcement functions, to both render formerly proscribed acts "no longer illegal," and be able to exercise that deus ex machina called "prosecutorial discretion" in favor of oneself and one's buddies. "We need to look forward, not backward. Enhanced interrogation is, by our new definition, not torture any more." Et bloody cetera.

  • Hizbullah Leader Condemns Syrian Opposition
    • Oh, what a tangled web we weave...

      Strange bedfellows, indeed.

      Too bad it's the best humans can do.

  • Kepler 22b and Climate Change: Instead of Obsessing over Earth-Like Planets, lets Try to Keep this one Earthlike
    • The other cool part about Science is that the same set of processes is used to discover how to make DDT and chlorofluorocarbons and semiconductors and really big machines to mountaintop-mine and PET plastics and of course nukular weapons and other Really Cool Stuff, which if "deployed" in large enough numbers, a fine research project in itself, might make just enough Nukular Winter to counteract both the Arab Spring and the Long Hot Global Summer.

      Seems to me the real question, to which I very much doubt Science (or religion, or metaphysics for that matter, certainly not "economics") can provide an answer, is "Whether humans are smart enough to think their way out of the coalsack their limbic systems have led them to create, using all the tools of Science and the arts of Politics, or whether we are at the point in the long, terminal velocity Fall where we are just about to hit the pavement."

    • Well gee, if the end of the world is nigh, it must be high time to make it possible, by stripping the wealth of the planet we were originally stuck with, for the 1% to gather up their wealth and their retainers and zoom off to f**k up some other world!

      Wasn't that what those admirable aliens featured in "Independence Day" were all about? A perpetual locust swarm, or maybe March of the Army Ants? Eating everything, for the simple motive of making more of themselves, titillating themselves endlessly?

  • Pakistan and the US: Quarrel or Divorce?
    • Oliver, in case you missed the moreofthesameness of all that stuff in your link, you might enjoy (?) reading a book by one Gary Schroen, CIA field operative/paramilitary, titled "First In: An Insider's Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan." Gee, how things in that tribal, Byzantine part of the world, with its terrain and people, have changed (not) and how interesting that one can do all kinds of tactical and strategic shit and be nothing but a sucker drawn into the local games, dreams of empire in one's head... But then, it's mostly about wealth transfer, anyway -- Schroen 'disbursed' many millions in shrink-wrapped blocks of US $100 bills, to "buy the loyalty" of this or that "commander" or warlord. Worked great, right? Like Our Boys paying local "militias" (what you call them instead of "taliban" when you are 'friending' them) to not attack US truck convoys, or to "change sides" in some Operation or other... Or how about CIA guys bragging about "buying the loyalty" of a warlord by supplying him with Viagra?

      "We" are a huge, dumb, rich-on-the-way-to-poverty brute -- even a lot of Israelis refer to "us" as Uncle Sucker...

    • Take a run to Walmart or K-Mart or a lot of other stores, and check out the "made in" labels on the clothing shelves and racks. A lot of 'em read "made in Vietnam." And gee, "we," that thing people are simple and Stupid-Patriotic enough to think of as "the US," left behind, when "we" finally killed enough "gooks" and got up and left, maybe half a trillion dollars in thank-you-very-much "bases" like Cam Ranh and Ton Son Nhut and Chu Lai and Da Nang, and a shitload of gear. All "paid for" by borrowing against the future earnings of the Real Economy, not that uniformed parasite that drains a third of everything to "fight wars" which is itself a euphemism for a power game accomplished by huge wealth transfers into a parallel "economy" and culture that produces NOTHING and is structured for obedience to patently venal command and is all about killing and blowing shit up. In the name of "security." So tell me, Bill, and folks who buy into the Standard Model of US Hegemonics, just what was that whole exercise about, again? Other, of course, than the Smedley Butler Reality, that fundamental truth behind the "patriotic' and "realpolitik" sloganeering, the one about War, The Business Model being just a Racket? I know, "This time it's different." Right?

      For those of you who are all weepy-eyed about Our Troops and how they are "protecting our freedoms" by killing Wogs and maneuvering-and-firing and whooping over what a 2000 lb bomb does to a couple of Wogs in the open, this veteran suggests you sign on to military.com and get your secret, private, covert Call of Duties jollies from passively watching the videos from "gun cameras" and helmet-cams and the imagery from drone IR sensors and video taken by embedded "reporters." One video title bragged about killing, via Hellfire explosion, a bunch of "taliban," but if you look close it looks more like a family with two adults and three little kids just walking along a berm. "Taliban." Right.

      There's of course lots more of the same kind of "we do it because we can" crap, hidden in the BS about the "fog of war," like the recent "kill team" that "lit up" civilian "hajjis" just because it's fun, and there are practically no consequences. No weapons in sight, even. And listen closely, in the helmet-cam and embedded-reporter videos, to how your sons and daughters refer to what my generation reduced to "gook" and "slant" and "slope" and "dink." And how they are all fired up to "take revenge." This is what your grand stupid strategy is buying with all those trillions of dollars. That strategy that is pretty much "We kill some of them, so they kill some of us, so we kill some of them, so they kill some of us, so we kill some of them, so they kill some of us..." Oh, and dumping more trillions into the Maw of Moloch known as the MIC, to buy more "game-changing weapons." Faugh. A pox on all of it.

      Proud of yourselves, folks? Proud of your imperial force projectors? Happy that your MIC, in all its various parts and perks, is spreading itself like some fetid, fecund slime mold across the whole planet, force-fitting everything into its Networked Battlespace frame, loyal only to itself? Feel more secure today?

    • Just another bottle of "unserious" whine (my personal vintage) --

      I know it's just the problem with short text formats, crippled additionally by a grammar and lexicon that seem better suited to boxing and football and gunfights than the complexities of "relations between nations." But it would be so nice if someone would create a notation that gets away from the ol' reification-hypostatisation-personification shallowness that drives so much of geopolitical pontificating and punditizing.

      "Pakistan" and "US" are convenient handles, but by habit of use the various players apparently fall into the notion that the cognomen is the whole, and that all the little bits and pieces that are actually in action are moved and driven by "its" motivations. Don't we live in an increasingly post-national world, where corporate interests so largely grow their positions off playing the "players" against one another? Where obscure rogues, public and private, can initiate little tactical idiocies for ego satisfaction or "the best of reasons/intentions" or just because they can, tiny tails wagging huge dogs so that they inexorably bash their heads together?

      The foreign affairs mental processes everywhere in the world likely partake of the same shallow push to force-fit the universe into the categories the bossmen and "experts" (who are so almost universally proven wrong on some elephant issue they overlooked or dismissed as a mite on a flea's back), time and Lucy-and-the-football time again, find personally aggrandizing and advantageous.

      If the hard sciences tell us anything, it seems to me the fundamental truth is that the universe (and the tiny subset that is human domination of this planet) is a lot stranger and more complex than we can imagine or know, especially far more complex than our rulers and industrialists either know or care. Maybe it's just that our species is wired to self-destruct, in the pursuit of "legitimate self-interest" as defined by the basest and greediest and most hateful among us. Krauthammer and Cheney and Netanyahooo and your gang, and the "interests" that lie behind you, I'm talking about you. Hard-science people have developed quantum theories to account for the surprising little bits; nothing like that in International Relations, which freeze up at the level of dominance and violence and rapacity.

      And what of the fundamental truth that by definition, we are all in this together, like a couple of tabby cats that some prepubescent Jeffrey Dahmer has tied together by their tails and hung over a clothesline, tearing at each other rather than cooperating to chew through the string? And the other truth, that there really is enough of everything that really matters to go all the way around the table if Mr. Piggy can be made not to grab all the cookies but one, and sucker the rest of us into fighting over that last macaroon?

      Talking endlessly about "the US," and "BRIC," and "the Eurozone," and "Myanmar opening," just makes it easier for Mr. Piggy to swallow all the cookies and sucker the rest of us into laying out another plate for him.

      Seems to me, on a smaller scale, that one category is missing from the US-Pakistan analysis: The billions in overt trade are there, but in the "follow the money" vein, how much US Real Wealth flows to the various players in the map area called Pakistan every year, in the form of "military assistance" and various overt-opaque and covert "programs?" No doubt our policy-makers think they get some kind of quid-pro-quo for this gifting, but then they or their predecessors thought it would be a good idea to butter up with weapons and wealth the same Iranian government that is being demonized and called the latest "Wag the Dog," Hollywood-fraud "pariah state." (I hesitate to even use the phrase, every repetition only adds "gravamen" to the BS.) Does that flux of wealth help or hinder any of the various games in process?

      Tell us again, what is/are the goal(s) of The Game?

  • Senate Bill Allows Arrest of Americans by Military Anywhere
    • Bill, I read and re-read your original statement, and then your later reply to Mr. Metzler which is where you added the explication about "No one that I know of has made the claim that torture can defeat terrorism and insurgencies."

      Maybe it's just my cloudy perceptions, but there seem to be a lot of people who make exactly that claim, or at least the claim that torture is one of more effective the ways to "cut the head off the snake." I will maybe read up some more on the French-Algerian conflict, which might add some illumination about another corner of the futility of the great warrior violence that is so much of human behavior, but "we Americans" have the Phoenix program as one example of how successful torture, murder and decapitation, literal and political, can be in dealing with annoying Wogs and their petty insurgencies.

      It's kind of all about what people value -- power, money, glory, really complex tactics and strategies and doctrines and weapons and domination and "victory," kindness, the chance that the species might survive for a few more millenia, among the many choices. What is the mission, again?

    • Joe, meet Bill (above.) Looks like you have stuff to talk about... Maybe you could conference in Jack Bauer.

      The purpose of torture is torture. The purpose of power is power. Pretending to national moral superiority or claiming survival necessity is simply BS.

      But then that's pretty much the best that humans can manage, now isn't it?

  • Britain Closes Tehran Embassy
    • And the grim and greedy old men, and too many of the young ones also, smirk and rub their bloody hands together, hding behind their myths, gleeful at the prospect of another pleasurable and profitable and personally consequence-free Red Zone in the Networked Battlespace.

      What a stupid species. We deserve to join the passenger pigeon and various large predators and the dodo and the others that our kind have so busily extinguished.

      How's the hymn go, the one that is never sung in Prosperity and Apocalyptic Churches?

      In Christ there is no East or West,
      In Him no South or North;
      But one great fellowship of love
      Throughout the whole wide earth.

      God And No Quarter!

  • Iranian Students attack British Embassy
    • One just has to love the subtlety and monopolarity and unidirectionality of "The Elementary Rules of International Diplomacy."

      "If the Iranians want to be treated as sophisticated players on the international scene, they should begin behaving accordingly." Or what, Bill? We'll nuke 'em back to the Stone Age, as the Implacable Enemy du Jour? I mean, it ain't like OUR "diplomacy" includes things like overthrowing elected governments and installing convenient appliances like Mohammad Reza Pahlavi? And then not being "sophisticated" enough to even do what it takes to keep a Ruler in place?

      Don't worry. Nobody cares. Except the people who are getting rich and famous off our tribal stupidity.

  • Letter on Bahrain to Secretary Clinton
    • Sectarianism and taboos are antithetical to democracy, which is about building consensus on issues important to the Republic.

      Pretty strong evidence, if that's the test, that there ain't much in the way of Democracy in America, apologies to de Tocqueville. Or maybe it would be true if you add an "ans" to the capitol-ized noun up there...

  • Empire by the Numbers
    • Joe, do you track the weapons programs and procurement process? And follow or look up more than summaries of budget numbers, which some critics point out do a really marvelous job of showing how creative accounting can hide things like entire wars (off-budget), and the growing category of black ops, and the growth of private armies under the State Department, and such-like?

      Even if the "20%" number would be rated as "half-true" by something like PolitiFacts, the reality is that more and more of the nation's wealth is dumped into Really Cool Weapons Programs and Grand Strategies and Winning Doctrines, which time after time prove to be the Wrong Stuff, on so many levels. And the "conservative" cheering section for that game is just fine with cutting the number of GI boots on the ground, who used to be the folks that did the actual important military functions, and the "benefits" those GIs thought they earned by Serving Their Country. Military.com tracks the hacking away of pay and benefits for us.

      You know sorting out the reality of the MIC funding and machinery is complicated, and your referenced summary is a little hard to measure against any what you might call audited numbers that include all the actual categories of military spending. There's no room here for the dissertation it would take to critique the one chart you reference, and reducing it to simplistification hides the reality very nicely. That reduction you rely on, '91-98,swapped readiness for more Really Great Airplanes and more capital ships for admirals to hang their flags on, not the greatest deal when, per Rumsfeld, in response to a GI whining that he had to dig up scrap metal to weld to his Humvee for protection:

      "As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time."

      He added: "If you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up."

      link to washingtonpost.com

      Here's one quick search result, from a more jaundiced perspective:

      The December 2010 Report of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform proposed cutting $1,230 billion over the period 2012-2020 from the security category, which constitutes about two-thirds of the discretionary budget. Security includes all defense spending, although for purposes of the caps war spending was addressed separately. It also includes spending on nuclear weapons, homeland security, veterans, and international affairs. Spending would be frozen at 2011 levels in 2012, estimated at $688 billion, and brought down to inflation-adjusted pre-crisis levels in 2013. [One study puts 2011 at over $1.2 trillion, almost double the given number.] This path would require serious belt-tightening to begin in 2012, followed by substantial nominal cuts in 2013. This would be done by holding spending growth to about half the rate of inflation. Although the Report is not overly explicit, this seems to entail a cut [from the President's budget] of about $60 billion in 2012 and $100 billion in 2013.

      link to globalsecurity.org There's so much more at that link, for those who want to deal in something other than sound bites.

      Your comfy chart kind of omits the thing that Panetta said some time ago, that what will happen to the Pentagram is a "reduction in the rate of growth" of the wealth transferred to the MIC. In my book, that is not a "cut." And gee, "we" sure get a lot of "success" and "victory" and "winning" for all that money. I bet you are ok with the notion that Defense Spending ought to be a percentage of the nation's GDP, a notion that has absolutely nothing to do with real security.

      But of course you and I are looking at very different parts of the beast. I see something a little less benign than a smiley face embroidered on a US flag sewn to the latest of five new battle-dress uniforms that the Pentagram has procured over the last what, eight years, at $40 or $100 million a pop? There are people who just can't live without the loom of some huge war machine, lots bigger than all the rest of the planet's war machines combined, "protecting them" from something or other, and giving the warlords on Our Side more "options" for "projecting power"....

      Nice try at impeachment, though.

    • Pentagon "cuts?" Maybe what could charitably be called "paper cuts," which in my war (Vietnam) could get you a Purple Heart, if you connected to Management in the right way.

      Go on over to Tomdispatch, read a little history of the REAL wars that our Service Branches fight, there in the Rings of Power and Wealth Transfer in the Pentagram. You got to understand the whole process, of peddling Doctrines and primping Threats and pumping up the organs of Power Projection, and the whole Procurement Apparatus with all the stake-holders always on the attack trying to drive that stake through the heart of any SoftonCommunism wimp who might dare to say, from a committee position in the Capitol, "That's enough, already," and the entire set of partisan tribes that "support" and get rich off of this, that or the other weapon system. And of course the entire cultural jag that shows so brightly in our addiction to both meatspace and bitspace implementations of the "Call of Duty."

      Go read the NYT or the "Defence" (the preferred International spelling) trade press on the bitter, vicious Black Ops being carried out to "protect" the "jobs programs" that are supposedly the V-22 "Osprey" (a bird that defends its territory by vomiting up half-digested fish parts on its 'enemy') or the F-35 or F-22 or any one of a thousand other Procurement Exercises that are all about building shit that won't work outside the projection rooms of the Networked Battlespace that the Brass have mostly succeeded in turning the entire planet into.

      Not going to happen. It's an addiction, worse than crack.

  • Top Ten Things Americans can be Thankful for 2011
    • Wondering, amidst the bits of Wonderful pointed out here, and as I gather the elements of my own potentially wonderful family-and-friend Thanksgiving gathering on a beautiful post-cold front Retail Thursday Before Black Friday:

      If Tunisia is now an Arab Mediterranean democracy, with about 20% larger population than Israel, albeit less than half the GDP, with a bit of petroleum extraction and some motions toward "green energy," and presumably subject to the same manufactured-"defence"-demand for military hardware, software and "training," will the parts of the US political economy that are so dyseconomically engaged with Israel, on the ground (among others) that the nominal form of government is a "democracy," now be pitching for similar involvement with the powers that will come to be in Tunisia?

      And since the Tunisian PTB, past and delicately present, are engaged with French elements to build a couple of nuclear power plants as part of their national energy mix, will we all have to live in fear that a world conflagration might start with the blathering and manufactured controversy of some set of Armageddonists and hegemonists and defenceniks over a fee- and profit- and personal-power-generating initiative to bomb, bomb the nukes before the engineers can get too far into construction? (Not, given the realities of seismicity and Murphy's Immutable Law and the other happenstance-ities of the Universe, with the unfortunate and now largely invisible examples of Chernobyl, TMI, and Fukupshima, that Atoms For Peace is or ever was such a good idea... link to en.wikipedia.org)

      Gotta add that around here, our grass roots are afflicted and their growth warped by a nasty, persistent, self-serving set of kleptocratic parasites, home-grown and invasive (from Kansas, I understand, and other places.)

  • Egyptian Revolution 2.0?
    • The part I personally like is when maybe the military types suddenly remember that they are only annoying and potentially fatal parasites, that they thrive best when out of sight, that they don't make or grow or fix anything, that they pad their wallets and feather their nests only by stealing from healthier activities, and that if they cause a little too much itching and pain, the long-suffering patients might lose patience, direct some unwanted attention and pesticide at them, and shuck them off.

      Moderation in all things, including moderation.

  • Top Developments in the Arab Spring Today
  • Army vs. People in Egypt
    • Humans need some kind of government, large or small. Humans, many of them, have a fair idea of what's decent and honest and based on survivable behaviors, none of which are characteristics of what we are 'protected and defended by' today, all of which is about what in my mind is the most important word Professor Cole used above:

      Legitimacy.

      It seems there really maybe is some kind of "consent of the governed," as long as people are willing to "vote" by immolating themselves or standing in front of a column of tanks or when the front man for the sellers of the notion of "unAmericanism" finally faced that last question from a fed up man: "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?" link to en.wikipedia.org (Hey, Bill, look! Another link to Wikipedia!). And willing to Occupy and use the new tools of marketing and communication to try to figure out a better way to achieve what is so totally, glaringly missing in Our Sacred America, Land of Whatever I Say The Founding Fathers Intended Or Meant: One word, pretty simple to recite, actually, but with such a freight of meaning:

      Legitimacy.

      We are ruled, befuddled, abused, dysdirected (not a typo), have our "demands manufactured" by cynical, careless, conscienceless, insatiable people, a very few people, who have squandered the Holy Legitimacy of the Great Constitutional Experiment, who have resurrected the dead hand of that mythical perfect marketplace to strangle the rest of us in our long, ever-less-comfortable sleep, who have figured out how to pervert the reality of the Ruleoflaw that hides behind all those grad-school civics indoctrinations, to insulate themselves from any negative consequences for their predatory and parasitic behaviors (at the expense of the rest of us and the rest of the planet.

      Good luck establishing a new, healthy, durable Legitimacy. I hope the Occupy people don't morph into just another round of "Occupay," like our existing "parties," and do indeed find a healthy and durable way to use consensus to do what's right.

  • OWS under Pressure: Banks Bailed out, People Sold Out
    • It's a little late and maybe slightly off topic and really relates to the post on how conveniently similar the "crackdowns" ("smackdowns?") of the Occupy activities across the country were, and Professor Cole, I know your "Where is your proof, poor scholarship" critics will never be so gracious as to apologize, but gee whiz, it's sure starting to look like yes, indeedy, the city governments that have been beating and spraying and corralling and otherwise abusing Occupy citizens were indeed working under "suggestion," dare one say "direction," from a central voice, an NGO (CREEP and PNAC and the John Birch Society are in that same category) called the Police Executive Research Forum, which, surprise! is very closely tied to the monster called the Department of Homeland Security, a simply wonderful euphemism.

      Here's a link to a bunch of links, for you pseudo-academics who get all exercised about "no facts" as a way to try to sow doubt and stifle discussion:

      link to dailykos.com

      Look it up for yourselves. What a surprise that there really seems pretty clearly to be a there, there. And gee, I hope you people are all okay with the end-of-Empire destruction of all that stuff we are supposed to value, our "rights," our putative "freedom" and "liberty" that maybe a pinhead's worth of us could even take a literate stab at defining, in the pursuit of whatever idiot's dream of hegemony and consumption you favor as personally best for yourselves...

    • Diffuse the issue, cloud it by pointing fingers at Also Unindicted Co-Conspirators -- since when is that beast called "Congress" responsible, other than in the sense of passing the national kidney stones of screw-the-general-welfare legislation, for what's transpired? Ever heard of "regulatory capture?" That's the part where the Kleptocrats who benefit from the activities you would lay at the doorstep of "Congress" send in phalanxes of lobbyists with piles of money, or go themselves with greens fees and checkbooks in hand, carrying briefcases loaded with conveniently pre-drafted "legislative proposals" that, with little change and spurious debate and a flood of "corporate speech" propaganda, cut away, little by lot, at the ol' Pillars of American Democracy. "Tax reform," "regulatory reduction and efficiency improvement," "just a little pork for me and you," all the BS that the special-pleaders use to activate the mechanisms that confer a fraudulent legitimacy (that is fast shredding into simple grasping tyranny) on the Rule of Law 2.0.

      If I read my Taibbi correctly, and remember past episodes like the S&L thing, the banks have been treated well to trillions of real-wealth dollars more than just that one time, all-hands, bail-IN of the nation's real wealth. That thing you shorthand as "the Pentagon" is just part of the corporate wealth transfer apparatus. Nailing the category of parasites that hides behind the residue of trust that people still have for those formerly friendly bankers, as with the punchline about "what do you call 5,000 lawyers chained together and drowned on the bottom of the ocean?", is "a good start." Deflating the false front of the Pentagram, revealing the reality that the incumbents there neither serve nor protect, but rather mortgage and consume, the nation they feed so greedily off of, would be a nice second course.

  • Serri: Iran's UN Inspectors are Repeating the Iraq Mistakes
    • All right, that's the detail view of this current bit of petty machinationism. Now, what are the prime movers, the ratio pre-decidendi, and of course, what are all the pieces of the money trail? Or are we all just a bunch of Mr. Bills, just KNOWING we are the ones who truly Understand The Great Game, mouthing, for possibly excusable or maybe more likely sneaky little reasons, all the Narrative Platitudes fed into the mix by the few who have figured out how to keep this crap going, and going along with some tribal idiocy in the working out of a species death wish? "Comfort ye, my people... Armageddon is a Good Thing, and that's just the way things are..."

      Mastering the arcanae of some role-playing game, assigning comfortably dishonorable roles and motives to The Others, stumping around accumulating the gelt and power tokens and Secret Knowledge in the Cave or the Dungeon, becoming Masters and Magisters, ain't the same as being for-the-good-of-our-great-great-grandchildren wise and cautious. The Id defines the Doctrine, under which Tactics become exalted as Strategies, and the very few of the worst of us define the goals and parameters of the Game for all the rest of us.

      But then most of the scowling, pursed-lipped iCognoscenti are either still in pimples or a little long in the tooth, have found that they can get off or get rich touting the Game, feeling like they are either riding the crest of the Great Wave of History, or at least hanging around with the Student Council and Debate Club members, and they know that even if they are towing and spreading great loads of Evil down the timeline, like the Cheneys of the world, there will be no negative consequences for them, personally -- quite the opposite. They will live out their lives comfortably and in pleasure, cocksure about the Rightness of their actualization of their Narrative. And with any luck, they will get to literally Make History -- forcing results that are senseless and maybe terminal, species-and-planet-wise, but oh so personally gratifying.

      Can't we do any better? Wait, wait -- don't tell me -- I know the answer to that one.

  • GOPers Promise you War on Iran & Torture & Poverty
    • Everybody is all so intense about the nitty-gritty of this or that little or large conflict. I guess because so many of us are used to thinking in terms of reified, personified, hypostatizationified "nations" acting like patrons in a redneck bar. How about taking a step back and looking at history-as-data-set rather than some kind of glorified game of RISK, where "we" get to put one over on "them?" And get rich in the process? Instead of "Et Carthago est delenda," our little empire's got "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb-bomb-Iran." Much catchier beat. And a host of idiots telling us why it's the Right Thing to Do.

      Here's a nice little "cliodynamical" take on the very likely not-so-distant future for America, the Empire: link to tampabay.com

      With all the chatter about the rise of China, our possible economic collapse, and climate change, it is little wonder that Americans might be growing preoccupied with our nation's staying power. Is the rise of the United States a fleeting moment in world history, or simply the beginning of many centuries of American ascendancy?

      It might seem like a question for pundits to argue over, pessimists against optimists. But there is another way to answer the question as well: with some data.

      History is filled with examples of powers much like America — nations whose wealth and influence allowed them outsized effects on the world. In the past, they were empires; America doesn't usually see itself that way, but its wealth and influence put it in this peer group. And once we place it there, we can look at the lifetimes of lots of empires, see how long they've lasted, and use this to gain a bit of insight into our American situation.

      This kind of approach, using a quantitative approach to understand history, is part of what has recently begun to be called cliodynamics...

      Each civilization thinks that it is exceptional, and it might be frustrating to see the survival of empires as so deeply unpredictable. But it's also deeply humanizing to think about history this way. The human story is full of individual details, but it also has pattern and overall mathematical shape. And when we start to see it that way, we recognize that each civilization, no matter how alien or familiar it may seem, is but a single value within an overall distribution that enfolds us all.

      Naaaah, that couldn't be right -- could it?

      Of course, maybe the Occupiers have tapped into some kind of hive mind that might lead to a homeostatic econoecologiculture. Or maybe not, since the Libertarians seem to be dominating a lot of the Assembling, with their particular brand(s) of Dissembling.

      Beware the Ides of March, and lean and hungry men, and women, and overweight ones too.

  • Perry's Lapse likely owing to Bad Faith and Destructive Politics
    • I personally think it was G_D that done it -- sending us all a message that we better stop listening up to a bunch of false profits, prophets, whatever... You can be damn sure his campaign manager yelled "Jayzus Chrahst, Perry, what in the name of Holy He-ell came over you?"

  • Iraq, Iran and the Nuclear Phantasm: We've Seen this Picture
    • Oh, c'mon, Cyrus -- We have just been told, up above there, that the IAEA report, full of jingoist, pseudo-scientific, neo-dork BS and shading, and simple misrepresentation, is "consistent" with "something or other:"

      But let’s face the facts straight on here. It is well within the realm of possibility that Iran is seeking an existent nuclear deterrent, and just just breakout capability. The information in the IAEA report is perfectly consistent with either scenario.

      Which facts are those again?

      And I guess it was well within the realm of possibility that Saddam was going pell-mell for his own nukes and chemical and biological weapons, too. But hey -- in the minds of the Serious Senior Players (why do you hardly hear that adjective "serious," any more, or maybe I've just stopped reading the BS Press where it is so fraudulently employed?) in the fool's game the rest of us are just soft targets and extractable wealth generators in, who cares about actual facts? The Narrative is the only truthiness we need. Right, Joe? It fits so neatly with that Manichaean/realpolitikal worldview, where countries are conveniently treated as individual players, and with the ebbs and flows of all that money'n'power...

      Says the lawyer, cross-examining a witness whose solid testimony gives the lie to his client's defense, "But it is possible, Mr. Smith, that you could be wrong, now isn't it? Remember, you're under oath here..."

      Yeah, "within the realm of possibility." So is a K-T-level asteroid strike 71 minutes from now, and the Cubbies winning the World Series...

  • Iran Looks to China, Russia to Break out of US Sanctions
    • Too bad that through most of our species' presence here, we the people have not figured out a way to keep the netan-yahooos and Cheneys and Ahmacrazybads and Qadaffyducks from "rising to the top." Along with the endless stream of Brass and profit-seekers and camp-followers and imperial-court sycophants and High Priests of one stripe or another.

      Too bad our collective powers of "innovation" can't come up with something other than a bunch of different ways to bump uranic atoms hard enough to release all that pent-up binding energy. link to hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu Or stick a Hellfire or Scud or Shavit where the sun don't shine.

      So we have all these convoluted stratagems, this Game of RISK! played by exotic, inaccessible, sneaky, subtle, sophisticated people who have not a clue or care about the possible range of behaviors of the game pieces or more than an extractive interest in the nature of the game board, and not a whit of empathy or fellow-feeling for the little tribalists who slave away making the wealth that gets skimmed to fund all those self-perpetuating, potentially mostly negative-sum, power plays and projections. So spme of us can believe that "China is holding all the cards..."

  • Newt's new Crusade against the Arab Spring
    • He's had a lot of company, over the years -- PhDeople pushing Manifest Destiny and Exceptionalism and nativism and even national socialism and LeninStalinism, among other virtueless notions. A degree does not equal an honorable conscience or, of course, wisdom.

  • Godzilla Carbon Emissions in 2010 Unprecedented
    • Oh, I know, any criticism or skepticism about The Latest New Technological Fix is just Luddite-ism. But gee, in 1952, the same set of logical positivists were all excited about "atoms for peace" and "the infinite free energy from nuclear fission." There seems to be some huge burst of enthusiasm for "liquid fluorine thorium reactors," as the Next Big Thing, right up there with Shale Gas and Perpetual Motion. Wonder how many people are betting on the companies who would be doing the design, construction and operation of this costless, wasteless, millenium-long technology that will let "us" keep doing the same old shit. No problem with dealing with an extreme high temperature liquid (as in molten) fluorine salt, all that silliness... Anyone ever heard of a guy named Murphy?

    • What it's gonna galvanize, I would bet, is the marketing that goes with people piling on, for personal profit, to the "trends" in that godawful disease called "growth." Too many humans wired to seek personal advantage, personal pleasure, the disease of MOREism, for which there is no cure. Even paleolithic indigens did a pretty good job of screwing up their locales and extinctualizing other species for food and fun. "Coal" is a growth industry, and "coal futures," what a sick, sick, ironic notion, are a "good investment."

      Don't you just love David Brooks, who tells us now that In Shale Gas Is Our Salvation: link to themarcellusshale.com

      Stupid effing humans.

      To my great-grandchildren, if any there be, my apologies for making possible your birth into a world dominated by stupidity, greed, self-interest, consumption and mindless militarism. We are collectively too dumb to see we are paying, dearly, for the "thrill" and "privilege" of a barrel ride over the falls.

  • Would Obama Greenlight an Israeli Attack on Iran?
    • Travis, in the US-Israel interaction, I recall a long-ago article in Ha'aretz that pretty flatly stated the Israelis who count refer to the US government and polity as "Uncle Freier." The latter being one of those wonderful unofficial Yiddish condescensions, meaning, very weakly translated, "sucker."

      For a more nuanced, meatier view of "freier"ness and the real freight of meaning of the word, I do have a link, to the same source: link to haaretz.com

    • Sir, hope you are right, but in your weighing of powers and forces I wonder where the vanishing myth of civilian control of the military comes in.

      You must know the degree to which our current crop of MacArthurs and Westmorelands live in their own cosseted, secure Networked Battlespace world where, as with every dogma in history, the acolytes and high priests spin ever more fanciful notions of the universe, in this case amplified by the incredible proliferation of low-cost, conscience- and consequence-free weaponry and phalanxes of jesuitical War College BMOCs all vying to be the next purveyor of the winning doctrinal thesis.

      And "contingency plans" and "strategic simulations" take on a horrible life of their own -- not just "this is what we could do, if" but suddenly, "we can do this thing, now." The whole shootin' match is posited on the existence of The Enemy, and as some say of the divine, "if God does not exist we need to invent Him," the same could be said of The Other. It's a totally seductive, almost irresistible structure.

      Too much stolen wealth, needed to feed and expand the military culture, too many present and revolving-door careers of intelligent and tactically astute Battlespace Managers and procurers, a president afraid (and rightly so) of the Praetorian Guard -- a little snippet of what has gone before, smelling a lot like what we pay a quarter of our nation's real wealth for, is here: link to en.wikipedia.org

      Oh, say the Realists, still believing in the New American Century, that could never happen here -- nothing at all like that Rome thing. Huh. When a bunch of the O-6s and up are Raptural Christianists looking to advance Armageddon into the present generation, maybe Tehran becomes Babylon The Great?

      There's a reason the Pentacle has five sides, and five rings...

  • A Hot Wet Thousand Years and 10 Green Energy Stories to Avert it
    • For everyone who is all excited about thorium reactors and the latest and greatest in High Technology, might I offer two words: "Fuku," and "shima." And maybe two more: "Murphy's Laws." For those of us who have so happily forgotten about those rivulets and buckets of corium working their gravitationally mandated way toward some gigantic "oops," down there under the TEPCO ex-reactors, here's a little update, albeit from Dirty F___ing Hippieland over at dailykos:

      link to dailykos.com

      The link links more authoritative links, before you reject it out of hand.

      All this stuff "we" are so sure we need, and want, and are able to do, to the face and form of old Mother Earth, all of it under "enough" control to keep it from killing most or all of us. And then there's the "too big to f___ with" SURPRISES! that pop out when that guy Murphy, link to murphys-laws.com, initiates an enforcement action under the "IACGWIWATWPTITWPW Act of 1563," "If It Can Go Wrong It Will, Etc."

      Can't hardly wait for the biotech boys and girls to give us the tools to free ourselves ultimately from death, to let us grow horns and tails if we care to, to gin up plagues the likes of which have not peopled the dreams of all but a few Hollywood types and thriller writers, and of course the Threat Creators who dot the ranks of our military overlords. (Gotta be READY, both offense and defense, for ANYTHING the enemy might throw at US, or release us from all moral bounds to throw at HIM...

      Not so long ago, the leading-edgers were all about how the true marker of civilization was the amount of energy it consumed, from one manpower to oxen plus yokes and horse collars and water wheels and steam engines right on up to nuclear fission and oooh, fusion too!, and all on about building Dyson spheres, link to c2.com, to enclose the solar system, and eventually, at the interim acme of Everything, to enclose and capture the energy of the GALAXY, to do what, exactly, who knows, but it's gonna be WONDERFUL. Just ask Dave! All these worlds...

    • Alec, re that cycle thing:

      It's unfortunately not insane for all those people who profit from extracting and developing and producing and marketing and advertising and transporting and warehousing and retailing all those gadgets.

      For them, because they have near-zero concern for the survival of our species or even their own offspring, and their time horizons start with their first hire date or IPO and end with their own personal, very comfortable, well-cared-for death, it's all about maximizing their personal pleasure and relative wealth (as measured by a purely monetized scale.)

      But hey, who can dare to stand against the huge momentum of the mooniemantras of GROWTH and INNOVATION? That's, we are told, the iKeys To The Kingdom Of iHeaven On Earth. So what if there are a couple of fundamentals that underlie it all, that we really are all in this together, whether we want to be or not, and that there truly is enough to go all the way around the table, if we could only keep the few creeps from taking all but one of the cookies off the plate, stuffing their mouths, and suckering the rest of us into fighting amongst ourselves over the last cookie, the last crumb? As long as I got my Maybach and my 15 personal mansions all over the planet and my private jet to blow out of town if the rabble get restless, screw the suckers. S-C-R-O-O-M.

      What you get when there are no consequences for really bad acts. Generations of US Steel and BP and Enron and Krups execs and all their willing, wanting enablers have died and gone wherever, without feeling the slightest remorse or compunction, much less sanction, for crapping up the planet and impoverishing and killing their fellow humans at various incremental rates.

      Massive, positive-feedback concentration of wealth, spiritual bankruptcy, life without meaning. My bet is that is the very best humans can do, barring some kludge re-wiring of our limbic systems... Which a number of bio-entrepreneurs are busily trying to make possible and personally profitable. And with their narrow little focus, not giving a whit about what comes next. As with murder, and priestly predatory pedophilia, and anti-personnel mines and cluster-and-neutron bombs, just because one CAN do something, it ain't a give that one SHOULD.

  • Mahoney: New Leadership in Kyrgyzstan Fateful for US Bases in Central Asia
    • OT-- If you take the view of our Battlespace Managers, there are no "peripheries," just active and less-currently-active areas on, under and over the surface of the planet, which has arrogantly been divvied up into "Areas/volumes of Operation," where Everything is reducible to a "threat," and the whole 6.75 billion of us that are not part of the military-industrial-geopolitical in-group are just "soft targets," that conveniently and bovinely create the wealth that lets the warplayers fund, apparently to infinity, their mindless, dead-end modeling and gaming and enhanced lethality of every kind of kid's dream killing device, to apply randomly or "for impeccable strategic reasons" to the rest of us. And of course all those officers' clubs and swimming pools and golf courses and food courts and mini-malls in all those "bases," in a sick parody of, and parasitic play on, the nominally dominant and actually productive part of the culture.

      What happens when the indigenous people in one of those areas/volumes decide that maybe having "bases" in their midst is not, on balance, such a great deal? Maybe like Costa Rica, that now "hosts" thousands of US Marines (a host-age situation they are historically used to, from the days when Gen. Smedley Butler was running "War: The Racket" for previous generations of kleptocrats) and a bunch of deep-sea and "littoral combat" vessels? link to huffingtonpost.com All nominally and facially springboarded not off the War on Terror, but the War on Drugs. Another intentionally losing conflict. It's all the same, y'know.

      What's "the mission," again, other than diggin' up some conflict to project some power at, in aid of the PNAC fool's goal, and more capital ships and big bases for general officers to hang their flags from?

      Some here are probably sure they know, and there's scare-quotes (or at least marks of skepticism) a-plenty here to poke at...

  • Kabul Bombing of US Bus Leaves 13 Dead
    • For Ted: Sir, I think you are getting angry at the wrong creature.

      This ex-GI has zero use for post mortem "respect" and "honor" professed by stay-at-homes, tuned in only to the propaganda machinery, for those mutilated and killed on a fool's mission. It sickens me that our cynical leaders, having hidden the deaths of so many volunteer warriors for a decade, now use their PR skills to set up show corteges from places like MacDill AFB to funerals for Our Brave Ones who have given The Last Full Measure, carried between rows of pre-positioned flags and a few "patriotic" civilians and the obligatory honor guard to their Final Resting Place.

      The "nation" needs to exalt valor, sacrifice, heedless obedience to orders, willingness to accept "the mission" and attempt to perform whatever tactical actions the Brass and the geopoliticians come up with. And in so many cases, to take the license given by the fog of war to form "kill squads" and "light up" non-combatants and all the rest. Endless taking and retreating from and re-taking Porkchop Hill and the next trench over. Ever since the old Cro-Magnon chief in the back of the cave said "Someone's got to go out there and kill that Neanderthal that's been eating our women and children," and the most testosterone-poisoned young men all growl and grab their spears and CHARGE!

      There may be some military actions justifiable on the ground that they actually improve the chances for the species' survival. Your military leadership, and ours, have a lot of different games going, including the simple one of justifying the continued existence and increase of their realm, the military, by picking and participating in others' fights. Like unarguably valorous, and gleefully murderous, participation by Australian and Korean units in my idiot's exercise, Vietnam, where lots of medals were awarded for "valor," extending from paper cuts, to jumping on live grenades, to flying overhead and managing the battlespace.

      I took a couple of armed-and-fearful rides on buses and deuce-and-a-halfs, out among the people whose hearts and minds we were winning by napalming their villages and assassinating their chiefs, into the landscape of ambush and command-detonated mines. Maybe I have a sense of what some of the Afghan people feel, and for the "valor" that goes into those fearful truck rides in hostile terrain. There is a huge difference, far as I can tell, between the propaganda mythology that creates that affection for and attraction of young males (and now females) going "where men win glory," and the reality of day-to-day occupation and kick-in-the-door patrolling and of course joystick-Hellfiring.

      From the little I read in our propaganda, Canada's military forces are just like ours -- coming up with endless new "threats" that just HAVE to be countered if the Great Nation is going to Survive, or endless forays into the field of Provocation, all in the name of justifying transfers of huge wealth, at an increasing pace, to fund a parasitic culture that parallels and apes in its quiescent corners the "civilian" culture it pretextually "protects." In the poet's phrase, the despair of "To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!" link to artofeurope.com

      So please don't get peeved at one among millions of little failures of reporting on valor and attribution to the wrong unit. It's another old tradition that goes right along with the others.

    • Joe, so glad you have your "enemy" so clearly in mind. And a "remedy" for the "threat" you ascribe to "him."

      And I guess you and I read and hear (and obviously believe) very different stuff about both the Scale and Scope and Nature of "al Quaeda," and the nature of the 2001 "government of Notagainistan's alliance with and support of that thing we love to quiver about, al Quaeda," an "enemy" it sure seems to me that "our government" in its faulty gamesmanship and incompetence (at all levels) largely created, maintains the conditions for it to prosper, and is trying to use a world-sized hammer to squash a little fuzzy bug that would be better addressed by a squirt of more effective plain old local, as opposed to "world," police work. The former being the way that most of the interceptions of "terrorist actions" have been accomplished, since "we" seem to be so omni-incompetent in keeping buildings and navy ships and busloads and barracksloads of GIs safe from the horror-movie outcomes that feed our fears and impoverish us morally and financially.

    • Seems to me, having read reporting, and subsequent Sonorous Resounding Pronouncements of Gritty Determination Not to Be Deterred, of similar incidents for maybe 55 years now (including my time in Vietnam,) the purpose of the reportage is most often simply to provoke a juicy, self-righteous flow of vengeance. With the goal being to create and further a self-sustaining casus belli: "They kill some of us, so we kill some of them, so they kill some of us, so we kill some of them, so they kill some of us..." A repeating decimal, like Pi, though nowhere near as useful or well-defined.

      Leading to the inescapable conclusion that "We're here because we're here because we're here because we're here because we're here," and that's all the justification OUR warlords need to keep the wealth of the nation flooding into their complex Networked Universal Battlespace idiot's dream.

      Leading further to some ineluctable drive to punch the Tar Baby with the other fist, then both feet, and finally to add a concussive head-butt that scatters whatever little bit of wits the nation might collectively ever have had.

      Prof. Cole, do you have any insight into what "winning" means, or "victory," or "success?" Any reference to help the rest of us digest and focus on, from behind the trumpeting of the jingoists and "patriots," the real nature of the game they get to force, or sucker, all the rest of us into playing, or at least providing the huge, debilitating dumps of wealth that make it all logistically possible? To the point that there can be any kind of sensible (I will not say "rational," given the abilities of so many pundits and armchair generals and Great Game aficionados to construct "rationales" for entire "campaigns" against "the enemy" on their very own pinheads) thinking and eventually action regarding the stupid and futile World of Warcraft/Call of Duty behaviors of our Captains of Military Industry and our would-be "War Presidents" and Hoo-ah "Love those campaign contributions" Congresscritters?

      Just asking, of course... knowing that what we have is likely the best that we humans can manage.

  • If American Land were Distributed the way American Wealth Is
    • Super, general agreement, but I guess you and I have read and been taught by very different people, when it comes to the runup to and fall of the Gilded Age and American labor and capital.

      Those "patriotic" American capitalists and bankers had no problems supporting and further enriching themselves off the growing authoritarian regimes in Europe, or as with Henry Ford (who modeled a culture as significantly as Jobs has done -- what's the phrase?" ), who wanted to put soldiers with machine guns on the roofs of his plants to "keep order." If patriotism is defined as "holding fast to one's group," and the kleptocracy is the group, I would maybe agree.

      Steinbeck on the Ford Fenomenon: link to goodreads.com

      Hitler on Ford: link to traces.org

      And of course old Henry was not alone in his antiSemitism: link to en.wikipedia.org

      Minimal concessions, just enough to keep the lid on while the more unruly were suppressed or co-opted. Nothing new there.

    • HJ, I would dearly love a reference or three to support the proposition that "the rich" were socially responsible in the early 20th centure." I don't believe even the Beards or Niall Ferguson would buy that notion.

      But i would whole-heartedly agree that the maldistribution of consequences has a lot to do with how a few of us humans can "afford" those $300,000 wrist chronometers and $140 million Superyachts and Gulfstream IVs and private islands hither and yon. The few get to "fart through silk," as it were, and the rest of us get to suck increasingly unbreathable wind...

      And why does it seem, against all the violence of history, that the simple expectation, the demand, if you will, that there be a limit to predatory kleptocracy, is being effectuated by people who largely eschew that all-too-human urge to lop heads and disembowel and all that so-viscerally-satisfying stuff? Where so many are apparently being moved by images of righteously indignant men in white shirts, standing up to block the advance of "People's Army" tanks, and similar acts of revulsion?

  • Islamic Law not a problem in Bush's Afghanistan & Iraq, but a Problem in Libya?
    • Interesting that David would apparently consider his two examples of Saddamism to be dispositively probative of the net total nature of that thing we call "Iraq," as a (oooohh, shiver, grimace) "Islamic state." (Please excuse me if I misunderstand the gravamen of the comment. Like all of us, I'm only human.)

      Hey, how many of our shibboleths are blazoned with that wonderful Xtianist Americanism, "In God We Trust," or its patently hypocritical cousin, "One Nation, Under God"? Been to Utah or backwoods Appalachia or upstate Maine recently, or a lot of Catholic (dys)robing rooms, when it comes to the state of women and children?

      We are supposed to sit back in our smugness, let our "Uh-oh, Enemy Identified, Ignite HateandFear Torches" buttons be pushed by a bunch of pretextually jingoist kleptocrats, fertilized and rooted in good old Disingenuous Patriotism, and swallow wholesale the misrepresentations and simplisitiFOXifications, and Rush to judgment in a show trial where the only "evidence" the pre-biased jurors are allowed to see is either sieved from a very large litter box, or simply manufactured to suit a Narrative?

      "But you know as well as I, patriotism is a word; and one that generally comes to mean either my country, right or wrong, which is infamous, or my country is always right, which is imbecile."

      link to tvtropes.org

    • The mind boggles.

      One might wonder, from a limited understanding of the huge body of "Sharia" law, whether there might not be some wisdom there (in among the hyped and misrepresented "fundamentalist" bits) that the triumphant West might learn from.

      As in, as I understand it, proscriptions on the kinds of lending and central banking and securitization and derivitization that are done in the daylight, all around the planet, right out in front of G_d and everybody, building up incomprehensible piles of debt, which they magically transform into incomprehensibly grotesque piles of personal-to-them "wealth," in the name of "liquidity" or something.

      I bet a lot of fundy Xtians would feel mostly right at home in a world run mostly on what they assume are "Islamist" principles, as long as they can drink and dope and fornicate and all that stuff that hypocrites so religiously do, whatever their dress and degree of facial hairiness, and drive huge cars and live in huge houses with pools and shop at Walmart and Macy's.

      But hey, who's counting? This is all about Us versus Them, or something, right, Rush?

  • Karzai: Afghanistan would Side With Pakistan in War with US
    • "The core U.S. goal in Afghanistan is, presumably, to avoid a terrorist attack on the U.S."

      Sure seems to me like this is kindly meant but wishful thinking, springboarding off the Narrative. Sure looks to me like the "core US goal," if there is one, is simply to continue to operate and, in the capitalist lexicon, to "grow" the grand enterprise called War, along the lines pioneered by one Lieutenant Milo Minderbinder.

      There are lots of little complex vortices that spin off the violent, profitable "corium," link to en.wikipedia.org, of that enterprise, of course -- gives Great Game players excuses to steal operating funds and engage in practice drills and hone their joystick skills and line up private, unaccountable "assets" out of the cynical and perverse cast-offs and opt-outs who learn their trades at American public expense, pretending to play a game called Spreading Democracy and the Benefits of Western-Style Business and Government Practices, while setting up huge piles of palletized money, conveniently delivered by C-5 or C-7 or C-117 to a loading dock near their operating areas.

      Sure seems to me like the Byzantium that "we" foster and fund Over There, and the Creature From The Black-Ops Warroom that we have disturbed into motion, are as far beyond any simple game theory or interest analysis as that lately Hubble-sighted "most distant radiating body in the universe" is beyond the nearest Walmart...

      But I truly do wish to be wrong about that, and it would be so nice if all the players and their facilitators and components and opponents would line up and play nice.

      By the way -- any word from Fukushima, lately? Too bad the Powers That Be are nowhere half as good at covering up a spewing reactor as they are (with our tacit turning away) at covering up the scope of another industrial disaster.

      Oh heck, who cares any more?

    • I would dearly love for some actually knowledgeable person to critique "the Taliban" as a reification of What We Believe We Know Or Want To Believe About An Amorphous Bunch of Afghanis.

      There's all kinds of Really Deep Policy Analysis And Public Pronouncements that's seemingly developed around the notion that "the Taliban" is a monolithic entity with "religious zealotry" (with the overtones of "Satanic Evil Muslim Extremism") at its immutable, incorrigible, simplistic core. And the wonderful neosimplistic magical conjunction of "Taliban/Haqani," that with an instantaneous keyboard /slash, makes a mental mountain out of two tiny molehills that threaten "us," and "World Peace and Order," just how, exactly?

      Sure seems to this observer that the narco warlords in Mexico pose a bigger danger to "us" than any of the crap that "our" involvement in Notagainistan has catalyzed, but then I have not a tiny fraction of the perspective of a Juan Cole on this point. Yet it seems pretty clear that those who are scrambling for a "logical" peg on which to hang the profitable dream of staying the course of worldwide, all-continents Networked Battlespace "deployment" of US troops and paras and war toys.

      I hope the energies and maybe the seemingly deep, native wisdom that apparently drive the Occupy group mind will apply a little attention to that other fraud, that deeply economically and socially and politically destructive fraud, the one labeled "military-industrial-political solutions to every problem." Or at least that the whole monolithic MIC culture, that parasitic excrescence, is nothing but a really sick front for an enormous theft and transfer of wealth from production to destruction by way of the worst possible form of consumption.

      So what, pray tell, is "the Taliban," again? Please distinguish between what it is convenient to believe, or comforting to those whose relations to their world requires them to have an "enemy" onto which to project their own worst traits and natures by way of distinguishing themselves as "better," or at least "different," and the best informed observation of the reality, which obviously requires some distillation but hopefully not to the point of logical fallacy.

    • Let's see -- reports say Gaddafi has stashed $200 billion in stolen wealth, here, there and everywhere outside his "country." link to aljazeerah.info

      Any estimate on how much Karzai has squirreled away? link to guardian.co.uk

      Do we forget the Iraqi "defense minister" who flew off in a private jet bought with stolen US "war funds," "retiring," apparently without consequence of any sort, to some undisclosed location? link to iraq-businessnews.com

      How about them big brave Nazi "leaders" who, toward the end of that "war" thing, took off for Central and South America with Europe's art treasures, bank vault contents and the gold from the teeth of millions of burned and buried carcasses?

      And of course in more recent times, you have Yasser Arafat "doing business" with some Israelis, sweeping in huge sums from various Western governments, and stowing it all in banks in countries where concealing stolen wealth and blood money is a principal business model. For anyone wanting a long read that so very nicely lays out the likely model that Karzai is following, you might glance at the Atlantic's long article, "In A Ruined Country," that paints, exhaustively, the picture of how "leaders" go about raping the "countries" they prey upon. link to theatlantic.com.

      Re Pakistan, the diagnosis is the same: "Institutions are weak whereas individuals are powerful." The speaker, the Punjab Chief Minister, calls it "the dengue [fever] of corruption." link to nation.com.pk

      And one would have to be pretty blind not to recognize the huge disconnect between the shallow "Game of RISK!" level of understanding and analysis of "relations between nations" and the nature of various justifications for that idiot enterprise called "war," and the reality of huge grabs of wealth for personal aggrandizement and pleasure.

      There's a class of humans that is connected and wired to pull this endless scam on the rest of us. I have no idea if they communicate with one another, a la "interlocking directorates" that were one path to past kleptocratic successes like the Great Depression, but the parallels are obvious.

      This cancerous and parasitic set seems to be an endemic infestation. A blessing on anyone (or anyones) who can figure out a way to significantly limit the quantum of debilitation caused by Baksheesh and its cousins and bastard children to a level that does not threaten the survival of the species...

  • Is an Iranian Drug Cartel Behind the Assassination Plot against the Saudi Ambassador?
    • ForEc, why would (allegedly) the CIA "use" the Mafia to try and deliver poisoned cigars or a femme fatale to Fidel Castro? link to edition.cnn.com There's a lot of Keystone Kops in the staff of the World Security Apparatus... including the FBI using guys with criminal records for all kinds of

      Only thing I get out of the Castro games and this current idiocy and all the other geopolitical jerkmeatery that our "leaders" and our "security apparati" is that once again, the proof is manifest that humans are a dead-end species. A few of us want to just live simple, decent lives, whether we wear Brooks Brothers or Dickies bibs or any of the tribal costumes from the Arab/Muslim world. Then there are the other shites, who do the other thing in their little black ops "We're So Dangerous" little darkened rooms and corners, and leave people like those who post here to try to figure out, and of course argue over from their tribal perspectives, what the bare facts might possibly, actually "mean." "Plausible stupidity" is all it is.

      Does it really matter? Some things just ARE, more's the pity...

  • Ballen: Terrorism Can't be Taken out and Shot
    • Gee, I wonder if Ron Paul gets booed for a wider set of reasons than his apparent take on the wars of choice. The cool thing about Libertarianologists, a lot of them, is that they know how to dangle one little issue that might draw an audience as a way of getting the disaffected to buy the whole Randian-pseudoHayekian schtick.

      There's a cute little cold fish that uses much the same kind of strategy -- the anglerfish, of which there are many species. If you want to see how it works, lookie here: link to youtube.com If time is pressing you, jump to 1:00.

    • I bet many of the guys (and gals) in the drone trailers, manning the monitors and playing with their joysticks and loosing Hellfire into the green-shaded night, might on careful examination be almost indistinguishable, morally and mentally, from many of the "jihadicidists."

      The Technicolor screenshots might show different skin tones and degrees of hirsutism, and of course a fully armed Predator being steered in Realtime Networked Battlespace is neither an IED nor an RPG nor an AK-47 nor, for that matter, a vest encrusted with Semtex and ball bearings. And of course one might observe a slight difference in the degree of what the rest of us usually view as part of "heroism," exposing oneself to hostile fire in "protecting" or "advancing" some sociopoliticaleconomic notion or other. That apparently indefinable, except for that same-as-pornography, "I know it when I see it," daffynition of "national interest"?

      And it would be interesting to try to tease out the motivations of CIA "contractors" and those young folks raised on "Air Combat" and "Call of Duty" and "Mission Accomplished," and line them up against the motivations of Pashtun tribalists and Saudi Whoop-and-Hollerers and Somali desperadoes. One wonders if the "Freedom-Loving" versions would be as readily disabused of the assumed nobility of their actions, on finally learning the depth of corruption and hypocrisy of their "lead-from-the-far-rear-ers," as the author indicates the Muslim true believers might be. Though the "Prosperity Christianists" who are busily infiltrating the US military establishment seem pretty sure where their bread is buttered.

      What's the difference between "jihad" and "war of choice?" Other than cost, and degree of harm, and whose "side" we think we are on?

  • Palin was Right About those Government Death Panels
    • Bill, it's good to have somebody with your worldview posting here, so people with a more, maybe "humane" set of yearnings can keep clearly in mind how many (and how deeply implanted in the state security apparatus and the set of Our Fellow Americans) are the old Cold Warriors, for whom every act that tickles their limbic system's tribal neurons is ipso facto, quis erat demonstrandum, fait accompli, absolutely purely "Not unAmerican" and just one more step on the path to social perfection.

      A "war against al Quaeda, albeit asymmetric?" You are one odd but too-common puppy. $4.6 trillion and counting, to "take out" a couple of people who by all accounts, got to their behavior and mindset through the "American" exercise of "projecting our perfect power" all over the planet?

      Would you maybe at least acknowledge that this is a self-creating circle? We kill some of them so they kill some of us so we kill some of them so they kill some of us so we kill some of them... using virtual pinpricks into the excuse for turning trillions in Real Wealth and Future Wealth into weapon systems and nice retirements for a bunch of general officers and MIC executives? In a process that warps and trashes our declining culture? Not to mention our economy?

  • Pakistani Newspapers Respond to US Threats, call for War Readiness
    • Robert: Most folks just kind of assume that there's a category labeled "national interest," which by just mentioning it causes all the Serious People in the room to bobble their heads in unison. EVERYbody just sort of knows what the talking heads mean by "the national interest." It's like the word "enemy," no antecedents or definitional flavoring are needed -- it's one of those "If you have to ask, you're a traitor" kind of things.

      I would really like for some Truly Wise and Honest Person to define for the rest of us what the few policy peddlers think they mean by that buzznoise.

      What it looks like to me is that we are saddled by a bunch of drovers, wrapped in flags that conceal large bulges of stolen wealth and sneaky, sophisticated weapons hidden about their persons, sending us up the chutes onto the killing floors of one meaningless conflict after another. And as the honorable personage named Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler pointed out, and Joseph Heller so beautifully deflated, "War is nothing but a racket." (Was it "Bill" who called Butler, a multiple Medal of Honor recipient who declined to lead a direct coup by the Kleptocracy, just a "disgruntled employee?" What a hero, whoever that was, is.) "They" are the only people who are "getting their military ready to defend their 'national interests.'"

      The rest of us, because we are at root a bunch of tribal savages who can be led by our fears and our amygdalas and our adrenals and gonads and all the sum of our idiot, dreamy mythologies, happily march along behind, dumping a moiety of our wealth and all of our future into the capacious coffers of the class of predators and parasites that is eating the rest of us "soft targets," eating our livers with some fava beans and a nice chianti.

      Why are we so freaking stupid? And again: Without reciting the simple idiot phrase, can anyone out there give a principled definition of of "our" or any other "nation's" "National Interest?"

      The interest of a state, usually as defined by its government. Two broad usages may be identified.

      (1) Use by politicians in seeking support for a particular course of action, especially in foreign policy. Given the widespread attachment to the nation as a social and political organization, national interest is a powerful device for invoking support. The term is used by politicians to seek support for domestic policy objectives, but here it is less persuasive given the normal extent of differences on domestic policy and hence employed less. In foreign policy in contrast, the term invokes an image of the nation, or the nation-state, defending its interests within the anarchic international system where dangers abound and the interests of the nation are always at risk.
      (2) Use as a tool for analysing foreign policy, particularly by political realists, such as Hans Morgenthau. Here national interest is used as a sort of foreign policy version of the term ‘public interest’—indicating what is best for the nation in its relations with other states. This use of the term emphasizes not merely the threat to the nation from the international anarchy, but also the external constraints on the freedom of manoeuvre of the state from treaties, the interests and power of other states, and other factors beyond the control of the nation such as geographical location and dependence on foreign trade. This analytical usage of the term places much emphasis on the role of the state as the embodiment of the nation's interest. The realists' use of the term national interest in evaluating foreign policy has focused on national security as the core of national interest. ‘Interest of state’ and ‘national security interest’ are closely allied terms.

      The difficulty with the analytical usage of the term is the absence of any agreed methodology by which the best interests of the nation can be tested. Some writers have argued that the best interests are, nevertheless, objectively determined by the situation of the state within the international system and can be deduced from a study of history and the success/failure of policies. Other writers concede that national interest is subjectively interpreted by the government of the day. In this version, national interest is similar to the politician's rhetorical usage of the term—the national interest is merely what the politician says the national interest is.

      link to answers.com

      NOW we're getting somewhere, if there is an "anywhere," on the circumference of a circle...

  • Lindsey "Dr. Strangelove" Graham & War with Pakistan
    • The analysis, as usual, is excellent and informative, and one hopes will draw attention away from the smoke 'n mirrors deployed so vigorously by our Kleptocracy.

      The structure does highlight one of my pet gripes, the reification fallacy. "The sovereign nation of Pakistan" (or just "'Pakistan' does this, and wants that, and is the enemy of something or other") is a very obscuring shorthand, as the above makes clear, for 170 million people divided into tribal and bureaucratic and socioeconomic sets that appear always to be in flux. The very model of "Byzantine." Just like Notagainistan, and Iran, and Israel, and why does it seem that the shorthand for Our Country, "America" or "the United States," has kind of disappeared from public discourse into twitter-sized "US?"

      The reification/hypostatisation tic just plays to the kind of idiocy that sees the world as just a big game of RISK!, that rewards SOBs like Graham and Netanyahoo and those kinds of tax-revenue-dispensing folks with semi- or massively-obsequious visits from Joint Chieftains and other Big Names, making it seem for all the world like there really are Grown.Ups. in control of everything, or at least ready with a violent, expensive response.

      A couple of questions from the student side of the classroom: Dare I ask what is meant by "a prayer of succeeding in Afghanistan"? With or without a "Pakistani partner"? Have you maybe gotten a feel, from your own experience, of the "rogue cells" within our Sacred Republic? Is the best my grandchildren can expect a long slow march into oblivion, the outcome of that complex game you describe so well, these polygamous "marriages of convenience" with "partial partners"?

      These "difficult alliances" may be nothing new in "US" history. But is it obnoxious and uppity to ask if "the US" will even HAVE a history, if the Great Game keeps getting played by rules that hardly worked before nuclear weapons, let alone the other stuff that's coming down the pike? If there is any way to derail, or at least slow or stop the Juggernaut? Or, as I at least suspect, is this the best "we" can do,, and "we" have to just hope that a few people at fortuitous nodes in the complexity will keep The Worst Thing from happening, somehow?

  • Muslim Brotherhood Rebukes Erdogan for Advocacy of Secularism
    • Is the disease of "conservative reactionaryism" going more viral across the planet than it already is? The "right wing" (should read "WRONG wing," there's nothing remotely "right" about that set any more) bloggers and chatterers and of course our "leading nights" in Republican-space have read, learned and inwardly digested the same reflexive, self-serving, cynical lizard-brain-stimulating Gingrichization handbook, but I guess it's nothing new anywhere, any more than the breathless (as in "anoxic brain syndrome") reporting that instantly flags, repeats and amplifies the effect of such tiny-isms.

      Not a big deal at the dorm or frat house or tailgate party level, before or during or after the Big Game, but when you scale it up to nation-size, we got a problem, don't we? With no wise Deans or Provosts to tamp it down and counsel the offenders or expel them...

  • 77 US troops Wounded in Truck Bombing of Base in Wardak; Top Reasons US should get out of Afghanistan
    • I wonder about the assertion that democracy is the inevitable form of human government. In the narrow sense that revolutions happen when the kleptocrats over-reach too far, maybe some truth. But my little keyhole view of history and anthropology and sociology and even economics sure makes it look a lot more likely that the kleptocrats are a lot better at organizing and achieving hegemony and eventual dominance.

      Seems to me that we are kind of wired to be nobles and serfs/slaves; I know a lot of people who bow and scrape and defer out of instinct, and a very few who have that grasp of the jugular that marks the true Vampire Squid.

      "We," under the rule and dictates of our "leaders," are in no way (as far as I can tell) trying to "spread democracy." Installing and supporting convenient dictators, undermining and overthrowing elected governments, spreading Imperial Troopers across the planet, operating from "policies" that are simply about "projecting power" and stealing resources and selling weapons and training state-security types across the whole planet to "make the world safe for Lockheed Martin and United Brands," and proving over and over again that Smedley Butler, link to en.wikipedia.org, that honest fella so disingenuously defamed by "Bill" earlier as a mere disgruntled ex-employee, was absolutely right to call "War - nothing but a racket." And this: link to warisacrime.org :That's not spreading democracy. Hey, Bill, gonna give me an "F" this time too?

      And of course as Joseph Heller so wonderfully limned the reality in "Catch-22," the profit-seeking and smug dominance of "corporate persons" drives all our "foreign policy," with a few exceptions when a glimmer of decency and honesty happens to peek through.

      Could I change the frame a little? "We," the people who are supposed to be citizens and who are discovering how yielding to the pleasure principle and devolving to numbnutz "consumers," are starting to see what our inattention to the duties of citizenship have cost us. The predators are more agile than the sheeple, and until we huddle up in a herd and trample and gore enough of them, "we" will continue to fund the predations of "them," the folks who concentrate not on making decent lives but on accumulating power and wealth. "We" did not "go to Notagainistan" or "Vietnam" (I speak as a 19-year-old idiot who actually ENLISTED in 1966). "They" suckered us into it, and a relatively few Machiavellians are all it takes to keep the Great Game going. And the MoneyAndPower game of RISK! is maybe too massive, short of actually running the Juggernaut over the cliff into Chaos, to deflect from its course. Of course, the Top Predators will likely jump off and skip along to their private islands, like so many of the Nazis after WW II, before that giant crash.

      A few people do really well off the smoke, mirrors and fog of war. The rest of us? Really, well, what can I say? Res Ipsa Loquitur...

    • Seems to me that whether or not a fraction of the "enemy effectives" up there in the NE corner of Notagainistan can "hide" in the FATA, there's no possible way to achieve "a decisive victory over the Afghan insurgents" who are by all reports, all over the landscape. Though our generals surely remember how to open a Parrot's Beak or dangle a Fishhook, once again with the same result. There ain't no way to "fight and win" an asymmetric imperial-invasion war any more.

      Support the troops, folks? Bring 'em home, now. All of them. We've got levees and bridges that need reinforcement and repair, and lots of other stuff they could be doing that does not involve sowing dragons' teeth and further warping our home culture.

      "Military victory" is a plain old oxymoron any more.

    • Please forgive a strong reaction to the following, it's clear your personal preference is to get our troops out of Notagainistan: "A decisive victory over the Afghanistan insurgents cannot be won as long as they have safe havens in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) of northwest Pakistan." My concern is that standing alone, extracted from the text, it supports the bankrupt scam of the Present Administration.

      Is driving "insurgents" from the FATA seen as a condition precedent to "Victory," or just one more reason why this is a fool's errand? And what, since nobody else seems willing or able to define the term other than "We'll know it when we see it" or "If you don't know, then you are beneath notice," just what the hell is "success," or "victory" or "winning"? Last time I checked, there's no way an imperial power can "win" an asymmetric war of this type and scope. All they have to do is wait the war-gamers out.

      Sure seems to me that "victory" in the Pentagram's terms is most importantly defeating any effort to rein in infinite extraction of wealth from the US and any other Imperialized and subjugated nation, including the huge "income" from weapon sales to anyone, friend or potential or existing enemy, with the cash to buy.

      Since when is there the remotest possibility that the US military-industrialists (the apparently unhealable running sore currently hidden under the "NATO" Band-Aid) can achieve any kind of "decisive victory" over the multiple bits and pieces of Afghan resistance to the imposition of some kind of police-state "security" there? Is it really likely that the wishful-strategic-thinking, white-board notion of routing the 'insurgents' out of the FATA would in fact be any more effective in "destroying" or "defeating" resistance to American occupation and Kabul Kleptocracy than was the General's notion of sending GIs between the dutting edges of the Parrot's Beak, or dangling a new Fishhook?

      "Vietnamization" ain't working, and while there may be a few new Capitalized Nouns and Acronymic Adjectives in the Pentagram's Playbook this go-round, it sure seems to me that the Doctrine is as pre-defeated this time, over there in Notagainistan, as it was in 1964. Of course, like the last time, my bet is that the "Doctrine" of "creating security" (and Marching Forward to VICTORY!) is nothing more than window dressing and three shells with a pea under none of them, to put lipstick on the pig that is the insatiable procurement-logistics-waste-and-fraud monster that keeps these idiocies going.

      In the meantime: 30 dead GIs here, 5 over there, 13 wounded, wedding parties killed (oopsy, fog of war, nobody responsible or accountable), a bunch of apparently dunderheaded CIA guys and contractors blown up by what, a relative of one of the people killed by "errant" drone-launched missiles, and now 5 Afghans of unknown persuasion, and 77 GIs "wounded slightly," all fodder for the idiot's game of "we kill some of them so they kill some of us so we kill some of them so they kill some of us..." all because, you know, no death or wound can go unavenged? All while "we" are paying bribes to warlords and mullahs to get gasoline and diesel at $400 a gallon across the Khyber Pass and to wherever our Brass has decreed is the Active Face of this mine that collapses behind our troops as they dig?

  • Sadrists to Demonstrate in Baghdad against US Troops Remaining
    • And the strategic doctrine boils down to "we're there because we're there because we're there, we're there because we're there because we're there!" to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne."

      Economically, it resolves down to "suckers working hard and paying taxes to fund our infinitely expensive war-gamery in the magical mystery Networked Battlespace."

      And tactically, it's even simpler, and so consonant with the fundamentals of human behavior: "We kill some of them so they kill some of us so we kill some of them so they kill some of us so we kill some of them so they kill some of us," with the body count never coming out even because by definition it is an irrational number. link to thefreedictionary.com

  • China offered Qaddafi Armaments in midst of war
    • Oh Bill, you set such high standards, and we all love the demand for substantiation as a way to try to stifle your opponent by sad little cross-examination techniques.

      Here's one litany of US involvement in our southern neighborhood, link to en.wikipedia.org

      Here's a mixed-blessing take from the Cato Institute: link to cato.org

      Then there's Joe Stockwell, link to informationclearinghouse.info

      And here's a nice convenient tabular summary for you, covering not just those neighbors, but most of the rest of the world:

      link to academic.evergreen.edu

      And I know you won't do it, but if you Google "covert us activities in south and central america" you will find a lovely assortment of various "interventions," "covert" and "overt." Our MIC is just as Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler described it: "A Racket."

      And your cavil about the cited leaked cables in no way makes it clear that "our boys" did not have a hand in the "regime change" in Brazil in 1964. It does make it perfectly clear, on any honest reading, that the CIA sneaky petes were on the scene, in the process of establishing that thing called "influence," and gee, how many times have those fellas been involved in "interventions" in local politics and culture, leading to assassinations, revolts and all that jazz?

      I particularly like the one entry in that table that reminds us that our heroic CIA, in 1963 in Iraq, conducted a "command operation," that "CIA organizes coup that killed president, brings Ba'ath Party to power, and Saddam Hussein back from exile to be head of the secret service." But I bet you would think that was a GREAT Idea, right? Really contributed to the net goodness and stability of the world, right? Helped secure the blessings of freedom, and promoted the general welfare, right? Maybe about the same degree as "supporting" Jonas Savimbi's UNITA in Angola, who attacked us mining interests there to the point that Cuban Commie troops had to be deployed to defend the I part of the MIC from the skulduggery of the M part. It's all just a game, right? You know, RISK! with real bleeding humans as counters. Except people get killed and maimed and whole nations get trashed, for the profit and fun and pleasure of a very few...

    • There are really good reasons it's called "the arms business" and "the arms trade." Got nothing to do with any of the grand normative notions that move nations in the Great Game... It's just all about money, and that disgusting (to me) dry enthusiasm for the sexiest of war toys. Threat and counterthreat and counter-counter threat or is it counter-threat threat? It's a dog chasing its own tail.

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