Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday Reggae Redneck Music Blogging

Looks like we ain't done with Reggae just yet. Heh.

Johnny Roquemore and the Apostles of Bluegrass include David Ross on Bass and John Nipper on Mandolin on this song. It's a great story of Little Davey and his Broomstick Pony told to a Reggae beat in a charming island kind of way mon...


Thanks to bluegrassrootstv.

Eliminate the middle man?

Priorities ...

We haz dem! D-cap:

...

9. Congress (who apparently really live in a Video Game) took weeks to find $33 billion to help 2.5 million Americans fighting to keep food on their tables, but took about an hour to to find $60 billion to help Americans fight 50 Al-Qaeda members in Afghanistan.

...

Headlong into obscurity ...

We're on our way. Greenwald via Mimus:

...

Second, as was painfully predictable and predicted, the bulk of political discussion in the wake of the WikiLeaks disclosures focuses not on our failing, sagging, pointless, civilian-massacring, soon-to-be-decade-old war, but rather on the Treasonous Evil of WikiLeaks for informing the American people about what their war entails. While it's true that WikiLeaks should have been much more careful in redacting the names of Afghan sources, watching Endless War Supporters prance around with righteous concern for Afghan lives being endangered by the leak is really too absurd to bear. You know what endangers innocent Afghan lives? Ten years of bombings, checkpoint shootings, due-process-free hit squads, air attacks, drones, night raids on homes, etc. etc.

...


As we, and many of our commenters, have said here on many occasions, we are heading the way of the Roman Empire.

Saturday Emmylou Blogging

From Letterman 1990


Emmylou Harris ~ Rollin' And Ramblin'

Thanks to 1000Magicians, UK.

Friday, July 30, 2010

I know everybody's got it ...



But ... fuck yeah!

Afghanistan Is Our Welfare State

El Rude-o

One of the less glamorous aspects of the release by Wikileaks of oodles of secret documents related to the sad circle jerk that is the Afghanistan war is the clear demonstration that the actual day-to-day existence of Afghans is dependent on the occupiers (or, you know, mostly us). Sure, it's important to talk about the other revelations (or confirmations): the collusion between Pakistani intelligence and the Taliban, the ill-equipped troops in battle, and the bullshit Afghan forces that have the discipline of a pack of brain-damaged cats. But, as Evan Hill writes for Al-Jazeera, the mundane and quotidian aspects of Afghan existence demonstrate a level of dependency on NATO and the United States that'd make an opium dealer jealous.

The NATO provincial reconstruction teams (PRT) essentially decide who has power and who does not, who gets paid with reconstruction cash and who goes home empty-handed, and you can bet that every one of those decisions simply leads to the inevitable creation of more enemies that need to be fought.

Cut to the chase:

What you get from these less sexy documents is a portrait of soldiers and officials attempting to transform a country into something it is not. It's impossible. And what Wikileaks has forced us to see is that it's madness to continue.

I have nothing to add to that. Well, one thing:

As we're leaving we should simply make it abundantly clear to the Afghans, Pakistanis, Taliban, to the most disinterested casual observer in the whole fucking world, that if ever another attack like 9/11 comes from there, we will turn that whole diseased region into perfectly-arced-to-the-curvature-of-the-earth self-lighting glass.

92,000 pages of misery

Mark Morford has (cough) analyzed the 92,000 page Wikileak.

I have scoured all the data, factored in the countless bombings and roadside detonations (and there are, seemingly, millions); I have made pie charts and bar graphs, plotted points of interest on special war paper, geo-located all the various deadly flashpoints using Google Earth, all while making 10,000 little explosion sounds with my mouth, just like George Bush used to do in the bathtub when Uncle Dick talked about "liberating" the Middle East.

I have come to some important conclusions. First off, as mentioned just about everywhere -- including by the president himself -- talk of these documents "putting lives at risk," is complete and utter BS, and is merely meant to discourage and intimidate anyone from doing anything like this ever again, because it's all been just hugely embarrassing and humiliating to U.S. intelligence, sort of like Tiger Woods' pervy text messages appearing on the front page of USA Today. They hate that.

War is hell. Have you heard that before? Of course you have. Do you know what it means? From what I can tell from the WikiLeaks scandal, here is what it does not mean: It does not mean war is some sort of rugged Herculean manly uberpatriotic exercise in glorious freedom, justice, truth, that just might also, whoops, get a little bloody. It does not quite mean a noble force for good and democracy. It might have meant that once, long ago, for a shining moment, maybe, on the back of a coin somewhere. It hasn't meant anything near that for 1,000 years. Capitalism saw to that.

It's sort of like evil. We love to imagine evil to be this towering, fanged menace, this spectacular fiend, a creepy and gruesome beast borne of a thousand horror movies. The truth is at once far less interesting, and yet far more terrifying. Because evil is more like Dick Cheney's tiny sneer, the religious nutball's weakest synapse, the wheezing death of the soul.

[...] The truth is, we will all be dead before we know the full costs of these wars. A generation or two will have to pass before we can get them in scale and perspective, and even then, like so many before them, they still won't make any goddamn sense.

They don't have to make sense as long as they make money.

"Not just Cheech and Chong"

Quite a long piece at AlterNet on Prop 19, the California initiative to legalize mota.

Prop. 19's newly hired field director, James Rigdon, thinks marijuana legalization has a lot more going for it than other issues. "There's something appealing about this for everyone -- helping the economy, incarceration issues, personal freedom ideas, public safety concerns. People from all walks are willing to come out and support us," Rigdon tells me. "Our supporters aren't just Cheech and Chong. They're everyday people who support this because it's good for everybody."

This is tied to another worry Gutwillig observes. "The research and focus groups I've seen see the whole revenue thing as gravy -- it matters to people who've already made up their minds about supporting Prop. 19. But it's not the reason someone is going to come off the fence. [Talking about revenue] doesn't resonate with voters, nor should it," he says. "But what does resonate is the other side of the fiscal coin, which is the opportunity to save and redirect scarce law enforcement resources. That message makes a big difference. People's instincts tell them there is something fundamentally hypocritical about marijuana prohibition."

Prop. 19 hopes to appeal to the instincts of Californians who believe the drug war has failed.

Prop. 19's most vocal opposition comes from the top. Gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown don't see eye to eye on much, but they both seem to have decided it's politically expedient to oppose the measure. Senator Dianne Feinstein also recently came out against it.

"I was at a party with doctors who said they used to light up with Jerry Brown," says Garzon. "But you know, the reality is that we know that politicians aren't going to lead on this issue."

Much, much more and quite a few comments, some good, some inane.

I guess if we're going to have to vote for Democrats, it makes sense to vote for legalization of a substance that can numb us a little to the way Dems do things.

That's better than having the Repugs in power. The only thing to numb us to their way would be legalized suicide and euthanasia.

The Enthusiasm Gap

First and last ¶ of a piece by Paul Krugman:

Why does the Obama administration keep looking for love in all the wrong places? Why does it go out of its way to alienate its friends, while wooing people who will never waver in their hatred?

Just to be clear, progressives would be foolish to sit out this election: Mr. Obama may not be the politician of their dreams, but his enemies are definitely the stuff of their nightmares. But Mr. Obama has a responsibility, too. He can’t expect strong support from people his administration keeps ignoring and insulting.

His point is hold your nose and go vote for Democrats.

Who knew ...

Phyllis Schlafly was still alive?

Modern Feudalism ...

To hear the other side tell it, we'd be better off if we were all serfs, under the 'protection' of our local billionaire lord. 'We must keep rich people rich so the rest of us can scratch out a living serving them.'

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Blame Gordon, once again ...

See, he put up the wandering Jew music and I immediately thought of this.



Bond - Korobushka


Looks like the Reggae thing has been put to bed. Heh ...

Well maybe ...

One more. The King, Bob Marley ... heh ... at ... heh ... Harvard. Heh ...



Bob Marley - No Woman, No Cry

National disgrace ...

Our girl Martha Raddatz (honey's seen more time in war zones than I have) has a look at the PTSD epidemic in the US Army:

...

The figures in recent years are staggering.

The number of soldiers committing suicide has increased since 2004, surpassing civilian rates in 2008. Use of prescription drugs has tripled in the past five years; prescription amphetamines use has doubled between 2006 and 2009. One third of soldiers take at least one prescription drug and 14 percent of soldiers are on some form of powerful painkiller.

Crime is rising every year as well. Each year has seen an increase of 5,000 misdemeanors over the previous year, meaning soldiers are expected to commit around 55,000 such crimes in 2010. Sexual offenses have tripled since 2003. Domestic abuse is up 177 percent in the past six years.

Non-combat deaths among the force have increased steadily since 2001 to the point where the report says that in 2009 more soldiers died as a result of accidents and "high risk behavior" than at war.

...


They're strung out, drugged out, and suicidal (been there) and they'll make the scale of Vietnam vets with PTSD seem like a drop in the bucket.

Another note: Like I said about Michael Ware, it's time for Martha to get on a different beat. She's starting to show the stress herself.

Quote of the Day

Mr. Supertrain:

There's definitely a strong strain of thinking among elites in this country that the biggest problem this country faces is that our poor people have it just a bit too good ...


That's it. Unless the poor live in conditions resembling the Mumbai slums, they ain't gettin' any of our largess.

Totally Bored Thursday Mountain Music Blogging

I was sorta lookin' fer something to help Fixer come down from his ganja music kick. I like old-time mountain music and stumbled across this. This oughta do it.


Thanks to MsShai1990, Israel.


Totally awful afterthought that I will live to regret:

Would a dispute between Mountain Jew families be known as the Hatfeld-Mc Oy feud?

Sorry. It clawed its way outta my brain.

Headline of the Day

Are the American people obsolete?

Okay ...

Last one and I'll get off the Reggae kick. My man Jimmy Cliff:



Jimmy Cliff - The Harder They Come


Off to work.

Later ...

And then baste with red wine ...

Against the backdrop of a Senate that can't seem to grasp the reality of climate change, NOAA has issued "The 2009 State of the Climate report." It's just a scientific study "based on comprehensive data from multiple sources," so there's no reason for anyone in the GOP to take it seriously. They eschew science anyway. But, it's really happening:

...


And, like everything else, the Republicans will delay and obfuscate (solely to protect their corporate paymasters' bottom line) until the problem is intractable. Climate change is the greatest danger facing humanity as a whole and the Republicans treat it as a political toy instead of doing the responsible thing. By the time everyone wakes up it will be far too late.

Christ ...

David "Bobo" Brooks dresses up as a Dem.

Hey, let’s join David Brooks on a fantastical tour where every Applebee’s has a salad bar, every tax cut creates three beeeellion jobs, and everybody, including Democrats, takes David’s advice. All you have to do is put on a magic green jacket. No, seriously.

...


It's like Bobo won the Masters, but different.

...

Why Democrats can only save themselves BY ACTING LIKE REPUBLICANS AND NOT LIKE DEMOCRATS! (Who could have seen that coming from Bobo, huh?)

...


It's the old saw: Democrats can only be bipartisan if they do everything the Republicans want.

We'll get by ...

Poor BP:

In case you were wondering how BP will find the cash to put into its oil gusher escrow fund (assuming BP ever does actually put cash into it), you need not worry. Marketwatch explains that BP will take a $32 billion charge against earnings, due in part to the oil spill--which means it will get a $9.9 billion tax credit.

$9,900,000,000.

...


How does any corporation, in the most lucrative business in the world, qualify for any sort of tax credit?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Blame Fixer...

I like Harry Belafonte's Jamaica Farewell (wiki*), I really do, and I remember it from my younger days when it was a big hit for him, but it's awfully white bread, even for Calypso which is a heckuva lot older and more laid-back genre than Reggae.

*
In his album "My Son the Folk Singer," Allan Sherman included a parody of the song: "I'm upside down, my head is turning around, because I gotta sell the house in Levittown!"

Well, OK, not that white bread! Anyway, here's a livelier instrumental version played on de steelpans, mon:


Thanks to SteelDrumMusic.

Yo, justify ese, feds

Hanna Liebman Dershowitz in the LATimes. A 'must read' if you're interested in legalization of mota:

The law is the law. If we unquestioningly accepted that maxim, imagine where we would be today. Jim Crow would be alive and well, rivers and skies would be polluted, and women wouldn't be allowed to vote.

But the law is neither absolute nor infallible, and that's why Californians can — and should — legalize, regulate and tax marijuana-related commerce.

Let's think this through. If Proposition 19 passes, two important balls roll into the feds' court. The first is that the sole responsibility and expense of enforcing marijuana prohibition will be shifted to them. After Nov. 2, marijuana "offenders" could be arrested only by federal agents, prosecuted only under federal law, and sentenced only to federal detention.

This is good on its face - federal prisons are soooo much nicer than state ones.

The second ball is even more significant. Voter approval of Proposition 19 would shift to the feds the responsibility and burden of justifying marijuana prohibition in the first place. Now, the Washingtonians who have never questioned decades of anti-pot propaganda can explain to the people of California why we cannot be trusted to determine our state's marijuana policies. Let them endorse the prohibition laws' usefulness as a tool of oppressing minorities. Let them celebrate how minor marijuana violations cost people their jobs, their housing, custody of their kids, and entrap them permanently in vast criminal justice databases. Let them justify the utter hypocrisy of the legal treatment of alcohol and tobacco, as compared with the illegal treatment of marijuana. Let them tell us how many more people will have to be prosecuted and punished before marijuana is eradicated, how much that will cost, and where the money will come from.

Much more.

Yes on 19.

Parts of AZ law on hold

LATimes

PHOENIX — A federal judge on Wednesday blocked the most controversial parts of Arizona's immigration law from taking effect, delivering a last-minute victory to opponents of the crackdown.

The overall law will still take effect Thursday, but without the provisions that angered opponents -- including sections that required officers to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws.

The judge also put on hold parts of the law that required immigrants to carry their papers at all times, and made it illegal for undocumented workers to solicit employment in public places.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton ruled that the controversial sections should be put on hold until the courts resolve the issues.

This was put in the paper about 15 minutes ago. More details as they become available.

Note to Mamacita: You can set the samovar down for a minute. Heh.

Nostalgia ...

This whole Reggae thing I'm on has got me waxing nostalgic about my youth. My dad had a great voice and used to sing me to sleep when I was a child. Harry Belafonte was a staple. This was one of dad's regulars.



Harry Belafonte - Jamaica Farewell


Late for work ...

Anatevka ...

Looking at the news, we see Hispanic immigrants (documented and not) packing up to leave Arizona ahead of the horrible "immigration" law going into effect. Legal or not, they all fear persecution and harassment; being stopped by police and harassed by those civilians who would do the government's work (usually after a stop at the bar), whether they are American citizens or not. It will get ugly.

...

Latino activists are encouraging their community to check their tail lights, not to travel in large groups and even to remove the Catholic rosaries from their rear-view mirrors.

Erika, a 23-year-old undocumented student, came to Mesa, Arizona in 1998 at the age of 11. She says her family was escaping from her abusive father. Erika dreams of being a counselor one day but is bracing to be separated from her family.

"I've been looking forward to being able to do what I studied for, what I worked so hard for and show this country that immigrants can also be good people," she said. "We're not here to take over."

..
.

When I heard this, I immediately thought of Mrs. F's grandparents. A century ago, my wife's people came from Russia, Jews who had to leave their homes, families, and lives for an uncertain future in the US or other places who would have them. Her grandmother's samovar sits in an exalted place (she carried it all the way) in our house to remember their suffering to give their children a better life.



Click to see my dining room in actual size.


It wasn't all sweetness and light in the shtetl, but it was their home for generations and were forced from it. Granted, situations are different than they were in Russia at the turn of the last century but persecution because of race or religion is the same all over, at any point in history.

You will have children, born in America, American citizens, taken to places that are as foreign to them as the shores of America were to Mrs. F's Russian ancestors when they landed at Ellis Island. Innocent children who have no responsibility for their predicament, for the choices their parents made years, even decades, before, will either end up in the nightmarish foster system or leave the country along with their parents.

It is about fear and an "ethnic cleansing" of sorts and we've found over the years that fear is a great motivator. It is somewhat understandable in the Tsarist Russia of a century ago. It is unconscionable this will take place in 21st Century America.



Fiddler on the Roof - Anatevka

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

No, Joe ...

They don't want to kill you for getting married to someone of the same sex, they want to kill you because you're gay to begin with. The conservatives and Jesus freaks just can't come out and say it that way.

Blame Gordon ...

Which I do every time he gets my brain going on a tangent. As most regulars know, my dad was a British subject born in Jamaica. Reggae is my soul music. Since the old man brought up the subject of Peter Tosh (my favorite Reggae artist next to Jimmy Cliff), I had this tune going through my head. Here he is with one of his more mainstream hits, along with one of the whitest white boys with rhythm.



Peter Tosh and Mick Jagger - Don't Look Back.


Thanks, Gord! I been dancin' around the house (puffin' up a fattie) all evening.

Rock Concert Pooped Out

LATimes

ST. LOUIS -- Pooping pigeons forced the Kings of Leon to abandon their St. Louis, Missouri, concert after just three songs Friday night, the rock band's management said Saturday.

Yeesh. Everybody's a critic...

Blood Raids In Iraq

NYT

MOSUL, Iraq — Members of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia have been holding up blood banks and hospitals at gunpoint, stealing blood for their wounded fighters rather than risk having them arrested at medical facilities, according to Iraqi doctors, employees at health centers and the Sunni insurgents themselves.

The Iraqi security force members that guard medical facilities have often stood idly by as the armed robberies take place, according to workers. This has reinforced doubts about Iraq’s ability to take on even a diminished insurgency as the United States continues to reduce its troops in the country.

Yeah, we "won" in Iraq. Wrong again, McLame. I'm sure glad The Ghost & Mrs. Moron aren't President.

What is not clear, however, is whether the stolen blood would do an injured person any good. Imperfectly matched blood can prove fatal. “Even if you had the same blood type, you’d have to make a perfect match,” said Dr. Yaseen Ahmed Abbass, director of the Red Crescent Society in Iraq. “It is not an easy procedure.”

But some Iraqi doctors working in Sunni areas believe that Al Qaeda has its own specialists who perform blood transfusions and treat shrapnel and bullet wounds — and carry out more gruesome procedures as well.

Hey, I've got an idea - get a buncha diseased blood, mislabel it so it's even more of a game of roulette, and keep it right on top like keepin' "mugger money" in yer jockstrap, and let 'em have all they want.

Go read the rest. The minute we're outta that shithole it's going to be worse than it's ever been since Saddam. We coulda saved ourselves a lot of trouble but for the neocon wet dream.

Two US polls show marijuana legalization support growing higher and higher

A tongue in cheek (spliff in jibs?) play on the word "higher". Heh.


In the garden with Fixer

Raw Story

"Every man got to legalize it, and don't criticize it," Reggae legend Peter Tosh sang in 1976.

While US support for marijuana legalization may never hit the "every man" level -- at least not publicly, that is -- two recent national polls definitely show that it is growing higher and higher.

Please read the rest. It bodes well, mon.

Why I Don't Give a Damn About What Charlie Rangel Did

Good rant from Words of Power:

Lessons in Accountability for Senate, White House & Board Room: Why I Don't Give a Damn About What Charlie Rangel Did, & Why I Hope He Beats the Rap

To put the US body politic in touch with the truth and consequences of the foolish military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the excesses of the military-industrial complex in general, Charlie (who actually served in the U.S. military) proposed reinstating the draft:

I absolutely agree with the way he proposed to do that. No-deferment National Service would be an excellent class leveller, which is why it won't happen. The elite do not want their kids levelled with those of the Great Unwashed.

To pay for meaningful health care reform for the poor and the middle class, Charlie proposed slapping a surtax on the wealthiest:

His biggest sin in the eyes of many, no doubt.

Is Charlie Rangel guilty of the charges of corruption on which he faces accountability?

I don't know, and I don't give a damn.

There are plenty of lessons in accountability that are past due in Beltwayistan, Banksterstan, Infotainmentstan and the Oiligarchy, and only once the backlog is cleared up, will I entertain the issues related to Rangel, or acknowledge any validity in the calls for his resignation.

When Donald Rumsfeld has to follow in the footsteps of Idi Amin and seek refuge in Saudia Arabia; when C-level executives at BP; Goldman Sachs and Massey Energy are indicted; when Scooter Libby does prison time for the crimes he was convicted of; when those who wrongly imprisoned Don Siegelman are tried for what they did; when those responsible for Bin Laden's escape for Tora Bora (HINT: they were suits, not uniforms, and they were politicians not intelligence officers) are held accountable; when the full documentation on Cheney's secret energy meetings is released; when Bush stops raising money for his library, and has to raise money for defense lawyers instead; when mainstream media exposes the Chamber of Commerce's role in the propagation of denialist lies about the Climate Crisis; when John Yoo is forced from UC Berkeley, and has to lawyer up and turn on the "Commander Guy" he served; when someone can explain to me what happened to the federal investigation of Tom DeLay, and why his trial in Texas has been delayed eight years, then I will give a damn what Charlie Rangel did or didn't do to deserve this investigation.

Fuckin' A.

Enough right-wing propaganda

E.J. Dionne with nothing we don't know, but at least he's saying it out in the open. We need more of that.

The mainstream media and the Obama administration must stop cowering before a right wing that has persistently forced its propaganda to be accepted as news by convincing traditional journalists that "fairness" requires treating extremist rants as "one side of the story." And there can be no more shilly-shallying about the fact that racial backlash politics is becoming an important component of the campaign against President Obama and against progressives in this year's election.

The administration's response to the doctored video pushed by right-wing hit man Andrew Breitbart was shameful. [...]

The traditional media are so petrified of being called "liberal" that they are prepared to allow the Breitbarts of the world to become their assignment editors. Mainstream journalists regularly criticize themselves for not jumping fast enough or high enough when the Fox crowd demands coverage of one of their attack lines.

On the terrible threat of the New Black Panthers (both of them?):

And never mind that, to her great credit, Abigail Thernstrom, a conservative George W. Bush appointee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, dismissed the case and those pushing it. "This doesn't have to do with the Black Panthers," she told Politico's Ben Smith. "This has to do with their fantasies about how they could use this issue to topple the [Obama] administration." [...]

Now, Adams is accusing the Obama Justice Department of being "motivated by a lawless hostility toward equal enforcement of the law." This is racially inflammatory, politically motivated nonsense -- and it's nonsense even if Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh talk about it a thousand times a day. When an outlandish charge for which there is no evidence is treated as an on-the-one-hand-and-on-the-other-hand issue, the liars win (my em).

When out-and-out lies by a few Project Obama Fail agenda-driven whackjobs and lyin' sacks of shit are given the moral equivalence of the larger truth, or even plain old facts, we all lose. The spinelessness of the MSM added to that of the Dems guarantees it.

Headline and Quote of the Day

If We Learned Anything Last Week it Was that Right Wing Propaganda Works If There's No Pushback

It works so well they're getting sloppy at it, and it still works on the DEQ and the Dems. Yeesh.

Why should ...

My Facebook pals have all the fun? I posted this on my page today:



Circa 1977. I'm the one on the left. Dig the hair*?

I got nothin' this morning so have a good laugh at my expense. Heh ...

*Quite Phil Lynott-ish, don't you think?

Monday, July 26, 2010

The "good" war ...

Stays on top today - G

Ain't going so good:

A six-year archive of classified military documents made public on Sunday offers an unvarnished, ground-level picture of the war in Afghanistan that is in many respects more grim than the official portrayal.

The secret documents, released on the Internet by an organization called WikiLeaks, are a daily diary of an American-led force often starved for resources and attention as it struggled against an insurgency that grew larger, better coordinated and more deadly each year.

...

The documents — some 92,000 reports spanning parts of two administrations from January 2004 through December 2009 — illustrate in mosaic detail why, after the United States has spent almost $300 billion on the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban are stronger than at any time since 2001.

As the new American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David H. Petraeus, tries to reverse the lagging war effort, the documents sketch a war hamstrung by an Afghan government, police force and army of questionable loyalty and competence, and by a Pakistani military that appears at best uncooperative and at worst to work from the shadows as an unspoken ally of the very insurgent forces the American-led coalition is trying to defeat.

...


Long, with a ton of documentation.

What this article tells me is we have no coherent strategy in the Afghan theater. If we're out to "win hearts and minds", you can't have SOF teams roaming the countryside with a "license to kill". If we want the locals on our side, we can't go killing them wholesale with unmanned drones these people see, in their 10th Century way, as the closest thing to Aliens. But (9 years on) it's too late to "unring" that bell.

Had we done any research on the culture over there (and the arbitrary political divisions the British drew up before they were chased out left), and began to understand it, before we went in, we wouldn't have enlisted the Pakistanis in our cause. We would have known that ethnic boundaries overlapped borders and many in the Pak government had allegiance to those across the border. We would have known we could only buy their loyalty for so long and that money, like water, does not run thicker than blood. At this point, they're just extorting as much as they can from us before we finally pack up and leave.

Had they asked any of us who'd played a part in "Charlie Wilson's War" 30 years ago, they would have learned that the only reason we saw some success then (we paid through the nose at the time too) is because the US, the group that would become Al Qaeda, and the Pakistanis had a common enemy in the Soviets. They didn't detest us any less than the Soviets but we served their purposes (Stinger missiles, unlimited small arms, ammo, explosives, and, of course, money) until the Communists were gone.

I'm sure there were some in our government, at the time, who knew this Afghan adventure would only end up with the result we have now and counseled against it. But, if you'll remember, we were out for vengeance; "Dead or Alive" and all that good shit and nobody listened to the levelheaded folks. If you weren't gung-ho, you were a traitor.

Personally, I thought it would be quick, Osama's dead ass hung from the fence in front of the White House, and that would have been it. Then they blew it at Tora Bora as all eyes were on the prize (oil) in Iraq. And the "war" drags on.

My dear friend Gordon believes our mission might have been right-minded at one time and might have met with some success had it been run better from the beginning. I'd like to think so too but with the Bush administration (Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld) holding the reins, Afghanistan, like Iraq, was doomed to failure. To them, Afghanistan was merely an entry point, taking advantage of a national tragedy to put us on a war footing, to allow them to realize their primary goal, taking the oil fields of Iraq. There was no commitment to do anything related to "winning".

Afghanistan is lost. There is nothing we can do now to "win hearts and minds" and "bring democracy" to that place. There is nothing we can do but pack up and leave. Hopefully, this article will cause enough people to wake up and smell the coffee and realize we're throwing hundreds of billions of dollars down a dry hole.

Putin Rides American Iron!

Everything today is about the Clusterfuckistan war's "Pentagon Papers" moment and Fixer covered that, so until the brouhaha sorts itself out a little (and there's more to come) there's not much use in my adding to the din.

Here's something a little more fun. Prime Minister Putin could no doubt have ridden anything he chose to this Ukrainian biker rally, but he chose a Harley-Davidson Lehman trike. Hey, why ride something practical (or Russian!) when you can go hideously expensive and flashy?

Note how he leads his motorcade, followed by what appears to be a Honda Gold Wing trike, possibly an older model Lehman, pursued closely by (I think) a Dodge van which is no doubt full of his security detail and parts that fell off the trikes.

Let's see - The Harley-Davidson is from Milwaukee WI and York PA, the Gold Wing was probably assembled in Marysville OH, the Lehman is from Spearfish SD, and the Dodge...well, perhaps the less said about that the better, probably Hecho en Mexico. Heh. A pretty good representation of American products for a bike rally in Sevastopol, I'd say.

The rally is like bike rallies anywhere. Badass lookin' guys young and old, pretty girls, a vast assortment of 'sickles smokin' an' roarin', probably food, music, booze, vendors and tattoos.

Note to Tony Hayward of BP: Shave yer head and let yer beard grow. You'll fit right in at next year's rally.

From motorcycles.about:

According to the Associated Press, the leader-- wearing sunglasses, black jeans, fingerless gloves, and no helmet-- proclaimed motorcycles as "the most democratic form of transport," and praised the free spirits of bikers.

Tell us something we don't know, Mr. Prime Minister.



Thanks to nocommenttv and euronews.

Oh, the irony...

Ironic Times

Paper: Intelligence Community Has Grown Out of Control
One in four Americans now operates clandestinely.

Pakistan: Elite Pay Few Taxes, Causing Huge Gap Between Rich and Poor
Unlike U.S., where rich pay no taxes.

Jobless Reap Windfall as Congress Extends Unemployment Benefits
They laugh condescendingly at working stiffs with regular good-paying jobs with health plans and pensions and a chance for advancement and lifetime security who aren't eligible to receive such government largess.

The last time I got unemployment bennies, it was $55 a week. I really lived it up!

Marijuana Use by Old People Rises
Widespread reports of grandparents eating cookies meant for grandchildren.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Quote of the Day

Digby:

Did you know that you can attend Glenn Beck University for the amazing deal of only $9.95 per month? The thing is that most of [us] would probably agree that $9.95 a month is $9.90 more than we would be willing to spend.

...


Digby, honey, I wouldn't part with the nickel.

Sunday Hot Rod Rock 'N Roll Music Blogging


Thanks to bulletroll, Estonia.

RedState’s Erickson to GOP: ‘Stop lying’

Yeah, like that'll happen...

Think Progress, with video:

Yesterday, ThinkProgress caught up with RedState founder Erick Erickson and asked his thoughts on the “Party of No” moniker. Erickson took the GOP to task for clouding the issue. He advised them to “stop lying” about being the “Party of No” because “everyone knows you are”:

TP: They are saying, if you accuse them of being the party of no or not having ideas, they will say “oh no!”

Erickson: That’s such crap. Say you’re the “Party of No.” Of course you are. Everyone knows you are. Stop lying.

Bozo The Neoclown sums it up in 'comments':

pretty bad when red state starts attacking you…

Heh. Even the wingnuts don't like the Repugs. For all the wrong reasons, of course, but at least it divides them and that's good.

Quote of the Day

From a column in Time by Joke Line entitled "Apocalypse Not: Are the Dems Really Facing Doom?":

[...] Charles Krauthammer, the neoconservative columnist, argued that the worst part of Obama's failure was that he was succeeding — he was reversing Reaganism [...]

Heh.

There’s a Battle Outside and It Is Still Ragin’

Daddy Frank on the GOP/Teabagger racism of the past week:

This country was rightly elated when it elected its first African-American president more than 20 months ago. That high was destined to abate, but we reached a new low last week. What does it say about America now, and where it is heading, that a racial provocateur, wielding a deceptively edited video, could not only smear an innocent woman but make every national institution that touched the story look bad? The White House, the N.A.A.C.P. and the news media were all soiled by this episode. Meanwhile, the majority of Americans, who believe in fundamental fairness for all, grapple with the poisonous residue left behind by the many powerful people of all stripes who served as accessories to a high-tech lynching.

[...] But an executive so easily bullied by Fox News has no more business running a government department than Ken Salazar, the secretary of interior who let oil companies run wild on deepwater drilling until disaster struck. That the White House sat back while Vilsack capitulated to a mob is a disgraceful commentary on both its guts and competence. This wasn’t a failure of due diligence — there was no diligence.

[...] But one thing was certain: the N.A.A.C.P. was wrong to demand that the Tea Party disown its racist fringe. It should have made that demand of the G.O.P. instead.

“You think we have come a long way in terms of race relations in this country, but we keep going backwards,” Sherrod told Joe Strupp of Media Matters last week. She speaks with hard-won authority. While America’s progress on race has been epic since the days when Sherrod’s father could be murdered with impunity, we have been going backward since Election Day 2008.

Backwards is as backwards does. Its poster boy is the GOP/Teabaggers.

America: The New Pakistan

Curv3ball:

...

By Saint Reagan’s ghost, is there any doubt that Pakistan’s productive class, unfettered by taxes, is free to strike their globe-straddling poses in full libertarian regalia, molding wonderment with their copious amounts of untaxed money – selflessly allowing second-hand benefits to trickle down the benighted masses who would be lost without their stewardship…what?…oh, wait:

...


Gotta love the trickle-down ...

"Activist Judges"

As with everything Republicans do, if they're bitching about the Dems doing it, they're probably doing it already:

WASHINGTON — When Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and his colleagues on the Supreme Court left for their summer break at the end of June, they marked a milestone: the Roberts court had just completed its fifth term.

In those five years, the court not only moved to the right but also became the most conservative one in living memory, based on an analysis of four sets of political science data.

...

If the Roberts court continues on the course suggested by its first five years, it is likely to allow a greater role for religion in public life, to permit more participation by unions and corporations in elections and to elaborate further on the scope of the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. Abortion rights are likely to be curtailed, as are affirmative action and protections for people accused of crimes.

...


The End is nigh ...

Thanks to our pal Montag for the link.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

"He'll steal yer woman, then he'll rob yer head..."

I suspect this song of having some cleverly hidden drug references...

Panama Red was a big hit (funny vid!) for NRPS way back when, but Peter Rowan wrote it. This video is ancient! Then again, so am I...


Peter Rowan ~ Panama Red

Thanks to coyotesahowling.

Waitin' For the Hard Times To Go

Videos of Mary McCaslin (wiki) and Jim Ringer are thin on the ground so when I find one I put it up.

Their album The Bramble and the Rose is probably my all time favorite. I wore out two vinyl copies and am working on the CD. This song is on Waitin' For the Hard Times To Go.


Thanks to coyotesahowling.

V.A. Easing Rules for Users of Medical Marijuana

NYTimes

DENVER — The Department of Veterans Affairs will formally allow patients treated at its hospitals and clinics to use medical marijuana in states where it is legal, a policy clarification that veterans have sought for several years.

A department directive, expected to take effect next week, resolves the conflict in veterans facilities between federal law, which outlaws marijuana, and the 14 states that allow medicinal use of the drug, effectively deferring to the states.

The policy will not permit department doctors to prescribe marijuana. But it will address the concern of many patients who use the drug that they could lose access to their prescription pain medication if caught.

This is a good thing. Much more in the piece.

Headline of the Day

Strongest ever beer served up in dead squirrels

American Psychosis

Today's 'must read'.

What happens to a society that cannot distinguish between reality and illusion?

Just go.

Saturday Emmylou Blogging

No video. Close your eyes and enjoy this pretty song.


Mary Black & Emmylou Harris ~ A Woman's Heart

Thanks to AlbanachNEireannach, Ireland.

Friday, July 23, 2010

CAFKIA can crash with me ...

But if Zach Wamp wants Tennessee to secede (or if any other state wants to for that matter), I say we let 'em go.

Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN), who is running in a heated three-way Republican primary for governor of Tennessee, has a dire warning about the new health care reform law: If a new Congress and president aren't elected in order to repeal the bill, states might just have to secede.

"I hope that the American people will go to the ballot box in 2010 and 2012 so that states are not forced to consider separation from this government," said Wamp, who has also promised to refuse to implement the law at the state level if he is elected, in an interview with the Hotline.

...


The Union is in tough shape financially, and if they're offering to go, I say it'll save us some money. See yas!

Palin's Shocking Admission

Excellent piece by David Corn:

Sarah Palin can't expect anyone to take her seriously as a presidential candidate -- not after what she said this week.

Thanks, Dave. That's a load off...

But Palin was offended. In responding to The Daily Caller piece, though, she conceded a major point about herself: She does not posses a hardy enough constitution to be president. In that interview, The Daily Caller reports, Palin

said the media became a key reason she decided not to finish out her term as governor.

Consider that for a moment. Eight months after the grueling 2008 campaign was over, Palin, by her own admission, was not tough enough to handle the media and had to quit her job as Alaska governor. After confessing that, how can she possibly present herself as presidential timber? If she allowed herself to be hounded out of office in Juneau by the big bad press, could she withstand the slings and arrows of the media while under pressure in the White House?

This part of her reaction to The Daily Caller article is a tell. Looking to scapegoat the media for her decision to quit -- a decision widely described at the time on the left and right as bizarre -- she displays her own weakness. Does a true commander in chief turn tail when "sick puppies" bark?

Usually they just delegate their Quick Reaction Spinmeister to respond.

I wonder if Palin meant to reveal this much. Possibly, she was lazily exploiting the latest Journolist revelation. Bashing the liberal media is good for Sarah Inc. It sells books and six-figure speeches. And it's good politics, for this theme is an oldie-but-goody relished by the GOP base and Tea Partiers -- the sort of voters who will dominate the Republican Party's 2012 presidential primaries. Still, saying that she could not do her job in Alaska because of pesky reporters is a true admission of weakness. If you can't stand the heat from reporters (including the ferocious liberals of Journolist), how can you be strong enough to deal with the Russians, the Chinese, the North Koreans, the Iranians, the Taliban, and, oh yes, the terrorists? They're a bit more fierce than Katie Couric.

There's a phrase in there that bears repeating:

...the GOP base and Tea Partiers -- the sort of voters who will dominate the Republican Party's 2012 presidential primaries.

The candidates they select could be the best thing that could happen for this nation. As long as Non-Brain Dead Voters outnumber the Dead End Quarter in the general, we're safe. The results aren't in on that, of course. Let's wait and see how the teabagger candidates do later this year.

Headline of the Day

CNN's Cooper detonates Breitbart's NAACP applause falsehood

Somebody's gotta call bullshit and keep calling it on Breitfart and F**Prop for the liars and scumbags they are. Get 'im, Andy!

Run, Sharron, Run!

I get exactly one Reno TV station and I watch it for a half hour every evening M-F because I like Jeopardy! The three commercial breaks are chock-a-block with political ads these days. The back-and-forth between Reid and Angle is like watching a Roadrunner cartoon as Wile E. Angle trots out her Acme politics. The poof!s and puffs of smoke are coming fast and furious...

The Ostroy Report, with video:

It was the first time since she won her Republican primary over a month ago that Nevada Senate candidate and Tea Party darling Sharron Angle invited the press to one of her speeches. At a local business Thursday she spoke for three minutes about her pledge to repeal the estate tax. She then stepped back and stood in line with workers as a moderator announced she'd be taking questions from the press. At that point she did a military-worthy 90-degree turn and bolted out the door like a fleeing shoplifter as reporters chased her down asking why she's refusing to answer questions....at her own press conference! She hurriedly got in her SUV ("S" for "Safety") and sped off. Not very Senate-worthy behavior.

Let's face it: Sharron Angle is a right-wing fringe candidate who seeks to abolish the Education Department, the EPA, Social Security, Medicare, seeks to repeal health care reform, supports Wall Street excess, called the $20-billion BP fund a "slush fund," claims unemployment benefits deter people from looking for work, and scoffs at global warming. These Tea Party radicals like Angle and Kentucky's Rand Paul lack any real political experience, and for some strange reason salivate at the chance of joining a government they don't believe in. They're all about freedom and freedom of speech, yet refuse to follow conventional practices like being accountable to a free press and a voting public.

It's hard to imagine how Angle can recover from this sort of constant public humiliation. Outside of her teeny Tea Party constituency, she's giving mainstream Republicans and independents absolutely no reason to vote for her. Her repeated refusal to face the media and answer questions about her positions demonstrates a supreme lack of confidence and a mortal fear of public embarrassment. Neither of which are qualities we want in a U.S. Senator. To Reid, she's the gift that keeps on giving, and his best asset in his campaign for re-election.

Harry needed someone like her to run against him or he was going to get beaten. After this latest incident I'm more positive than ever that she's a Reid plant.

Shudder...

Here's the first and last ¶ of a disquieting piece you should read by Paul Krugman:

For a couple of years, it was the love that dared not speak his name. In 2008, Republican candidates hardly ever mentioned the president still sitting in the White House. After the election, the G.O.P. did its best to shout down all talk about how we got into the mess we’re in, insisting that we needed to look forward, not back. And many in the news media played along, acting as if it was somehow uncouth for Democrats even to mention the Bush era and its legacy.

Again, Republicans aren’t trying to rescue George W. Bush’s reputation for sentimental reasons; they’re trying to clear the way for a return to Bush policies. And this carries a message for anyone hoping that the next time Republicans are in power, they’ll behave differently. If you believe that they’ve learned something — say, about fiscal prudence or the importance of effective regulation — you’re kidding yourself. You might as well face it: they’re addicted to Bush.

And if they get back in power, our nation will be found dead with the needle still in its arm.

Quote of the Day

From David Aquarius in a comment on yesterday's post:

The way out of this economic shitstorm is sitting just across the street waiting for someone to dart into traffic and bring it back. Pres. Obama, on the other hand, insists on waiting for the light to change.

I was reminded of a cartoon I saw once. I looked for it and couldn't find it. Showed a cobweb-covered skeleton sitting in a car at a stop sign. He had been waiting for something to change that wasn't going to.

Like a battered spouse ...

I keep coming back for more. I think I'm either a masochist or insane ... or both.

Running late this morning; go surf the blogroll until the old man gets his ass outta bed.

TGIF!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Don't have a problem with it ...

Some people just need killin' ...

Quote of the Day

Digby:

...

As a blogger Palin/Gingrich is nirvana. As an American it's the 7th circle of hell.

Speaking as an atheist ...

I'd say God's pissed:

First Glenn Beck, now Rick Warren? WTF is with all the hypocrites going blind?

...

The Funniest Marketing Fails Of All Time

Photos
This is a quickie. Run your mouse over the thumbnails. "Fun day at the funeral home!" is a particular favorite.

Update:

If you're in the mood for this kinda shit, check out "Crap At My Parents' House: An Homage To Mom & Dad's Terrifying Belongings". Captions if ya click on 'em.

Headline of the Day

The Story Behind the 1965 Killing of Sherrod's Dad

Scaring white people for fun and profit

From Maddowblog. Long, but worth watching.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Weasels (them) v Chickens (us)

David Sirota on the latest 'weasel word':

Over the last few days, Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner have made the case that Harvard professor and Congressional Oversight Panel chairwoman Elizabeth Warren is essentially too controversial (potentially not "confirmable," in Dodd-speak) a figure to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). This, then, raises the revealing question of how Washington defines "controversial?"

Yada, yada. Cut to the chase:

The message to both today's generation and the future generation of citizens who may aspire to work in government is pretty clear: If you are personally/financially connected to private for-profit corporations that underwrite political campaigns - even the ones that helped destroy the economy - then Washington has no problem with your appointment to a position overseeing those same private corporations. But if you forge an independent path and are not connected to those corporations and to that sluice of corporate campaign cash, you are suspect - and probably will have trouble getting a job in government. Why? Because the former cadre of insiders poses no real threat to the economic status quo - while the latter kind of independent outsider like Elizabeth Warren might actually rock the boat. Defining "controversial" this way, thus, creates a perverse incentive system: Going through the revolving door is rewarded as noncontroversial, while refusing to go through the revolving door is effectively punished as too controversial.

This is how corruption tends to work most often in D.C. On a day to day basis, it's far less the brazen money-for-votes schemes, and far more the narrowing of the political debate and the distortion of political language itself. In this case, it's the hijacking of the concept of "controversial" so as to marginalize an agent of change. And if that hijacking ends up preventing Elizabeth Warren from heading the CFPB, then, indeed, the status quo will - once again - have won.

In Ms. Warren's case, 'controversial' is literally a 'weasel word' - a word used by the weasels who want to be in charge of the henhouse and look out for the best interests of the weasels as opposed to someone who might actually do what they're supposed to and look out for the best interests of the chickens.

Shorter: same old, same old.

What I don't get ...

Well, I get it, but the rank, obvious hypocrisy of it just boggles the mind.

Opposition to the construction of mosques has skyrocketed in cities and towns across the country, scholars and advocates of Muslim culture tell The Upshot.

Public protests against three planned mosques have made news in the past week: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin joined others in opposing the building of a mosque a few blocks from the World Trade Center site. Hundreds demonstrated against a proposed mosque in a small town in Tennessee (pictured above). And some residents of Temecula, California, are opposing the local Muslim community's plan to build a bigger mosque, saying it could become a hotbed of radical Islam.

...


Now, aren't these the same people who wrap themselves in the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, and all those other good documents the Founders turned out? Aren't they the ones who claim there has been a bias against Christianity in America?

And yet, assuming an answer of "affirmative" to those questions, they wish to deny the right of worship to their fellow Americans despite every admonishment within those documents.

I guess, what I don't get, is the fact regular folks who vote Republican (not the apparatchiks) can't make the reach, can't see they are protesting against every principle they supposedly stand for. It would be like me saying everyone I don't agree with should be silenced (one way or another), when the freedom of speech is something I hold most dear. While I wouldn't mind seeing the likes of Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, and especially Breitbart spend some time in a hole in the deepest, darkest prison in Turkey, I won't deny them their right to say what they will provided they don't incite violence. What works for me should work for them, and vice versa.

The right to worship as you please, or not, or where you please, or not, is one of the things that makes us Americans. To deny a particular group that freedom is morally equivalent to denying them their freedom of speech. How people can support this discrimination is beyond me. It diminishes us* as a nation.

*And we've been diminshed enough in the last decade thanks to the conservatives.

Thanks to Dr. Attaturk for the link.


Update:

Seems I overlooked something:

...

So, just to clarify, apparently the only Amendment that means anything is the second half of the Second Amendment.


Silly me ...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Question of the Day

Comrade Misfit:

So Why Not Fire Tom Vilsack?


Yeah, why not?

Quote of the Day

Herr Doktor Krugman:

...

What’s shocking here isn’t the behavior of the right, which was par for the course. It’s the seemingly limitless credulity of the inside-the-Beltway crowd. I mean, there’s a history here: ACORN, Climategate, Vince Foster, Whitewater, and much much more. (Someone recently reminded me that the GOP held two weeks of hearing on the Clinton Christmas card list.) When the right-wing noise machine starts promoting another alleged scandal, you shouldn’t suspect that it’s fake — you should presume that it’s fake, until further evidence becomes available.

...


Fool me once ...

Yeah right ...

Chris Matthews is still an idiot:

Sadly Chris Matthews gave his Fox "News" counterpart Bill O'Reilly far to much credit for possibly being capable of doing the right thing and not towing the Fox line that Andrew Beitbart's heavily edited videos in his hit piece on Shirly Sherrod should be considered credible now that the full video has come out.


Ol' Chris has been a part of the Village for 35 years. The only thing he knows is The Game.

Shopping Day

'Tis over the hill and through the woods to Costco we must go. It's a nice day. Even Mark Morford is pretty calm today. Enjoy. See yas later.

The heroism of Shirley Sherrod

Glenn Greenwald on Ms. Sherrod:

As much value as Sherrod's NAACP speech has for everyone, her conduct in the face of this massive onslaught is even more instructive. It ought to serve as a template for how people respond to all of these low-life, right-wing smear campaigns: with unapologetic clarity and resolve about who the actual wrongdoers are. To the extent the gross injustice of her firing is reversed, if the grotesque slander to which she was subjected is nullified, it will only be because she stood up to the right-wing smear machine, the establishment media, and even the Executive Branch, which were all jointly operating -- with different motives -- to destroy her. That isn't easy to do, but this is obviously a woman with uncommon courage and principle -- exactly what is required to stand up to and expose the group of thuggish bullies trying to smear her and the cowardly government officials willing to play along. This will be an extremely valuable episode if her conduct inspires future targets of such smears to respond similarly.

She should be an inspiration to us all - never back down or apologize when you're right and have done nothing to apologize for. Stand up to the bastards.

White House, take note.

You know ...

When the Roman Empire fell (which didn't happen overnight), the first thing to go was the infrastructure farthest away from the power center (Rome ... generally). Out in the lands where the Barbarians lived - England, France, Germany - the great Roman road system turned back to nature and the aqueducts began crumbling due to lack of maintenance. From this article, I figger the "heartland" will go back to horses and buggies any time now:

SPIRITWOOD, N.D.—A hulking yellow machine inched along Old Highway 10 here recently in a summer scene that seemed as normal as the nearby corn swaying in the breeze. But instead of laying a blanket of steaming blacktop, the machine was grinding the asphalt road into bits.

"When [counties] had lots of money, they paved a lot of the roads and tried to make life easier for the people who lived out here," said Stutsman County Highway Superintendant Mike Zimmerman, sifting the dusty black rubble through his fingers. "Now, it's catching up to them."

Outside this speck of a town, pop. 78, a 10-mile stretch of road had deteriorated to the point that residents reported seeing ducks floating in potholes, Mr. Zimmerman said. As the road wore out, the cost of repaving became too great. Last year, the county spent $400,000 on an RM300 Caterpillar rotary mixer to grind the road up, making it look more like the old homesteader trail it once was.

...


But heaven forbid we go and raise taxes on anybody. I can't wait until someone will get the idea that they don't need indoor plumbing anymore. If this weren't so sad it would be laughable.

By the way, I wonder which county official has a brother-in-law who's in the heavy equipment sales business?

Thanks to Gaius Publius for the link.

Dear Mr. President ...

Oliver Willis:

You screwed up. Secretary Vilsack may have been the one who executed the decision, but the buck stops at your desk. Cabinet secretaries don’t work in a vacuum. Even if you were never consulted on a decision, the decisions they make are done with the full imprint of your office. The decision to fire Shirley Sherrod was a mistake, and it happened with your authority.

...


With the exception of a handful, most Dems are fucking wimps.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Unwieldy ...

Stays on top today - G

At best. Our national intelligence apparatus is beginning to rival our military industrial complex:

...

What started as a temporary fix in response to the terrorist attacks has turned into a dependency that calls into question whether the federal workforce includes too many people obligated to shareholders rather than the public interest -- and whether the government is still in control of its most sensitive activities. In interviews last week, both Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and CIA Director Leon Panetta said they agreed with such concerns.

The Post investigation uncovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America created since 9/11 that is hidden from public view, lacking in thorough oversight and so unwieldy that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

...


Like I've said since I began blogging here (6 years so far), the War on Terror was won on 12 September 2001 by Al Qaeda. They managed to turn the United States into a cowardly, bankrupt, quivering gelatinous mass. In our quest for "safety", we've willingly given up our civil rights and given the government almost complete control over our lives. We've thrown away our money in two theaters of war and given the rest to billionaires and corporations, yet we can't help out the worst off among us.

I have a friend who was with MI-6 during the Cold War (probably still is), covered as a western businessman working behind the Iron Curtain (fighting an enemy with millions of times more resources than a couple goat fuckers in a cave). Some of the things I've become privy to were amazingly simple, cheap little operations that netted high-value intelligence. To this day, he can never get over the way we (CIA) operated. The term that comes up most is "cowboy", the second most popular is "arrogant". He couldn't believe the amount of money and resources we wasted in order to achieve questionable ends, so this article comes as no surprise to me.

If there's anything we do well in this country it's bureaucracy. There is probably some kind of theorem that states American bureaucracy expands relative to the amount of money available to it. After September 11th, the doors to the Treasury were thrown open. In a delirium that allowed us to abandon common sense, we bought into any suggestion that promised "more safety".

So, 9 years later, we have a military engaged on 5 continents with no clear mission aside from "get the bad guys" and an intelligence infrastructure that is so big, information coordination, distribution, and oversight happen at sloth-grade speeds. We've spent hundreds of billions of dollars for a system that does not operate any better than it did on September 10th and we are no safer than were were on that date.

It's time for streamlining of the intelligence services and a complete rethink of our military's mission (it sure as hell ain't anti-terrorism and counterinsurgency) but I can't see that happening when the Republicans can make political hay over "surrendering to the terrorists". Until a bigger portion of America reaches out and embraces reality, we will never get out from under.

Think about this. In the past 9 years, thanks to a single terrorist attack (bad as it was), we have completely changed our way of life and not for the better. To me, that defines success for a terrorist. We have yet to define what winning means to us.

Update:

I put the word "safety" in quotes because we've allowed it to be defined by the scare mongers and disaster capitalists. What exactly is safety? Who the fuck knows. A terrorist could blow your ass up in a train or a bus, or you could get run over by a bus stepping out your front door. You can die in a plane flown into a building by a terrorist or you can die in a car hit, or driven by a drunk. You wanna be "safe"? Buy a Michelin Man suit and stay in your house for the rest of your life.

My career change ...

If D.I. Ermey can do it, so can I. I'm gonna be a therapist. Heh ...

Heh ...

Ran into my old buddy Jimmy D today. He imparted this on me:

Guy is running down the street, huffing and puffing. He comes upon a nun, in full habit, and stops; looks at her and says "Sister, I'm requesting asylum, the cops are chasing me and I need a place to hide. Can I crawl under your skirts until they go away?"

The nun looks around and sees a couple Army MPs turning the corner. She says "Quick, get under there."

The MPs get to her and the sergeant asks "Sister, did you see a guy come running past here?"

The nun says "Yes, he went that way." And she points up the street.

The sergeant doffs his cap and says "Thank you, Sister." And they take off up the block.

Guy crawls out from under the nun's skirt and says "Thank you, Sister, I'm gonna make a donation this Sunday."

Nun considers him and asks "If you don't mind me asking, what do they want you for?"

He says "I'm a GI and I'm AWOL. I've done two tours in Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan and I ain't going back. They've been chasing me for a week."

Nun says "God will forgive you. God wants peace."

He says "Thank you, Sister, that means a lot." He looks her up and down and says "If you don't mind me saying, while I was under your skirt, I noticed you had a nice set of legs."

She looks at him and smiles, and says "If you would have looked a little higher, you would have seen a great set of balls too. I ain't going back to Afghanistan either."

We've Got Empire Stress Disorder

William A. Collins

One day the deficit will force us to bring all those troops home, like it or not

Whatever works...

It's a lot of work being an empire. Expensive, but well worth it. Americans make up only 4 percent of the world's population, but we get to use up 25 percent of its resources. That's pretty high living and you don't get to pull it off by being a wimpy socialist nonentity. We also get to spew 25 percent of the earth's unsustainable pollution. Sure, this all has to come to an end eventually, but no matter; it's been a great ride.

In addition to military bases, any empire needs management infrastructure. Thus the Mothership of World Domination is now moored in Baghdad. It's the largest embassy on earth, covering 104 acres. In true Iraq War fashion it was shoddily built by corrupt contractors, but will henceforth serve as our Middle East and Central Asia nerve center. Presently it's busy insinuating U.S. corporations into Iraq's juicy, if decayed, oil fields.

There's more too. Iraq is now viewed as Asia's rail gateway to Europe, with deepwater harbor plans being drawn for Basra and rights-of-way being organized for trains all the way from there to Germany.

But such domination can be messy. There is always stuff like having to bribe the rulers of Kyrgyzstan to keep our air base, supporting coup plotters in Honduras so as to hang onto our base there, paying Ethiopia to occupy Somalia, etc. Plus the wars. It's all so terribly expensive.

Indeed, it's the cost that will probably take our empire down one day. We have built this global fortress on financial sand. Despite our momentary debt reprieve when Europe went bust, our deficit can't keep mounting forever. One day it will force us to bring all those troops home, like it or not.

Just like Rome, The Decline And Fall Of The American Empire is well underway.

CIA now pretending contractors are CIA officers

Raw Story, with links.

The Washington Post's Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Dana Priest drove another stake into the heart of the US military industrial complex in today's Post:

In June, a stone carver from Manassas chiseled another perfect star into a marble wall at CIA headquarters, one of 22 for agency workers killed in the global war initiated by the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The intent of the memorial is to publicly honor the courage of those who died in the line of duty, but it also conceals a deeper story about government in the post-9/11 era: Eight of the 22 were not CIA officers at all. They were private contractors.

For-profit mercenaries are now being enshrined as selfless patriotic public servants. God help us.

I wonder if the four Blackwater idiots who got themselves killed in Fallujah and caused the death and injury of hundreds of Marines are chiseled into the wall?

Just as an aside, go read about the First Battle of Fallujah, which was called off for political reasons when it was nearly won at great cost to the Marines, which led to the Second Battle of Fallujah after the bad guys had time to regroup, and which was won at great cost to the Marines. I read No True Glory and it made my blood boil at the political incompetence and disregard for our troops by Bush and everybody else involved in that clusterfuck. Still does.

Wrapped around portrayals of men at combat, West has written an insightful account of how high strategy, low politics and obstructive bureaucracy dictated the bloody fight for Fallujah.
...

The singular lesson of the Fallujah campaign is almost intuitive: when troops are committed to battle, let them finish the fight. This axiom was violated by virtually everyone in the confused civilian and military chains of command stretching from Washington to Baghdad to the Fallujah theater. [...]

I would gladly trade the lives of every mercenary we've ever hired for the lives of the fine young and not-so-young military men and women who've been unnecessarily killed in the service of corporate and neocon America.

Mercenaries as CIA officers? The CIA and the mercs can kiss my ass.

Headline of the Day dos

68% Say Political Class Doesn’t Care What Most Americans Think

Like duh. I'm glad that, just for once, when 2/3 of Americans agreed on something, they got it right. Not that it matters.

Headline of the Day

A BuzzFlash headline:

BP To Up Iraq Rumaila Field Output By 100,000 Barrels a Day. Hey, Why Do You Think Tony Blair Joined Bush and Cheney in Seizing the Oil Fields in Iraq?

It was all about the oil. Never forget.

BP's Secret Ticket Request Line


MoJo

For more than a decade, BP has operated a hush-hush phone line that California lawmakers can call to request box seats to NBA games and concerts at the Sacramento stadium named after its West Coast subsidiary.

In the past five years, BP has given state officials more than 1,200 complimentary tickets to the Arco* Arena, hosting them in its corporate suite to see Sacramento Kings games, World Extreme Cagefighting matches, and Britney Spears and Lil Wayne concerts. Getting the tickets is as easy as calling the BP ticket request line, an exclusive, unpublished phone number that appears to exist for the sole purpose of granting freebies to lawmakers, regulators, and their staffs.

"You make a request, leave it on the voicemail, and at some date the tickets either magically appear or they don't," says a legislative consultant who gave me the ticket line's number and spoke on condition of anonymity. "They don't talk to you; you just see 'em or you don't." The ticket line's message was taken down sometime in the past week, shortly after I began my reporting. You can still listen to the original recording below.

*Acronym for Atlantic Richfield Co.

Stern says the ticket giveaways illustrate why California's ethics rules need to be tightened. "These tickets, in a sense, are worth more than their face value," Stern says. The third-smallest stadium in the NBA, the Arco Arena has some of the basketball league's highest ticket prices and sells out nearly every game. It's also unclear whether the face value of the free tickets, which BP has reported as being as much as $170 for Kings games, reflect their actual cost to the company. Arco Arena would not disclose the price of a corporate suite.

Now that the BP ticket request line isn't picking up, lawmakers may have to find a new way to score free tix from the world's most-hated oil company. But the persistent can always give it a try: (916) 444-7968.

Everything BP does pisses me off. They're not the only ones doing this kind of bribery either, just the only company that's coming under scrutiny right now, and this is just one insignificant little offshoot of just one Hydra-like company.

The corporate-political system is rotten and corrupt from top to bottom. I think we'd have to destroy the village to save it.