31 August 2009



I've had to rethink elements of my earlier post on Thomas P.M. Barnett's grand strategizing, and I'll post the rethink once its arguments will have matured.

Report From Afghanistan


Michael Yon's exemplary, arresting report from Afghanistan is not to be missed.

30 August 2009

Fool, Britannia!


The Times reports scandal: Moslem mass-murderer of two hundred-seventy innocents over Lockerbie released from life sentence by Scottish Chief Justice Kenny MacAskill, who knew from Jack Straw's letters to him that the UK government's negotiations for a £multi-million oil deal with Libya hinged on Libya's demand for the bomber's release.

Pity, Britain. "You were great once. Time to be great again"

But, like America's, Britain's leaders have eschewed greatness and, indeed, leadership, and have instead preferred submission so that Britain is no longer great, no longer "Land Of Hope And Glory," no longer "Mother of the free," though it is living down to How shall we enthrall thee, who art born of thee. Another lyric begs emendation to: "Fool, Britannia! Britannia, foolish knave! Britons henceforth always, always, always shall be slaves."

God help you, my dear British cousins, for your elect have, as have ours here in America, determined that they won't.

29 August 2009

A Man For No Seasons


At Esquire we find Thomas P.M. Barnett, the risen Darth Vader of Grand Strategy, who loves to prate about "rule sets" while being forgetful, perhaps defiant, of our Constitution: "Obama has the right instincts to avoid criminalizing past policy mistakes even as he corrects them...."

Avoid criminalizing "policy mistakes"? As if President Bush and Vice President Cheney had mistaken to repeal No Child Left Behind or their tax cuts (though they did by their torture regime hand gratis to al-Qaida, and to Moslems worldwide, a colossal propaganda gift that keeps on giving - to the enemy). Barnett applies the euphemism "policy mistakes" to President Bush's orders to Americans to torture, to specious legalistic "excuses" for torture, and to the infliction by Americans of torture - for each of which war crimes Allied tribunals in Nuremberg and Manila convicted and sentenced to death, or to long prison terms, Axis commanders of torturers, law-perverting attorney-enablers of torture, and low-on-the-totem-pole torturers. Bush and Cheney made no "policy mistakes": they, and their complaisant underlings, committed deliberate, cold-blooded, calculated war crimes.

Barnett seems reluctant to observe, or maybe he's incapable of recognizing, that torture violates US law, that it violates the Geneva conventions to which US is signatory - this from Mr. Rule Sets! He seems to be ignorant of, or sly enough to avoid telling that he recognizes that, these deeds cannot be criminalized - because such orders, excuses, and deeds are already, by definition, criminal violations of US law. This from the man who seeks to persuade us, the Pentagon, and whomever happens to sit in the Oval Office to believe that the US military exists to enforce "rule sets" over the entire land and sea surfaces of our wobbly globe. Rule sets! Talk about brass balls forged in Pittsburgh.

As he goes on Barnett attempts to hoodwink with this nugget of bait-and-switch: "[T]he [CIA IG] report...depicts a defensible performance under impossible conditions."

Defensible to whom? Torquemada? Heinrich Himmler? Lavrenti Beria? Ho Chi Minh? Charles Manson? Pol Pot? Not to me. Never to me. Never under our Constitution.

Barnett's next sentence is an equally appalling cynicism: "But its [the IG report's] sheer existence says the CIA knew this day would come, thus proving the existence of its institutional conscience."

Which begs the question: Why, Mr. Barnett, did the CIA, from Day One of its torturing captives, act immediately to cover its ass if it did not believe that the torture its public servants and contractors were committing was a) illegal, was b) immoral, and c) would slam dunk its "institutional" asses in hot legal water? Dare I point out the obvious? - that institutions cannot and do not have a conscience any more than a wet rag can or does have a conscience. That, absent the fictive "institutional conscience," institutions have public servants whose sworn duty is to uphold, protect, and defend our Constitution and the treaties and conventions to which the US is, as a signatory, legally, morally, and constitutionally bound. There is not one word, not one phrase, not one hint in any government employee oath or employment contract that pledges its taker or a contractor to cover his own ass for his or for his institution's breaking US law.

Barnett's Esquire piece and his other works - especially his breathtakingly cavalier blog posts but also his books, advertise successfully that he's a minor league political seer; but it's impossible to miss that his works show nothing of, and lack grounding in, Enlightenment Liberalism or Humanism. Like Marx's and Hitler's theoretical-political screeds, Barnett's perfervid grand strategizing lacks a human dimension, lacks even so much as reference to, let alone allowance for, human nature. His entire thesis is economic reductionism at its abjectly soulless, arrogant, myopic, and most pitiless form. He has, it seems, convinced himself that he knows not just what's best for our United States, but for the whole "Core and Gap" Globalizing world. If Barnett's not megalomania incarnate, then I'm a monkey's aunt.

So I'm not surprised to find on his blog Barnett ejaculating, "I catch 'Inglorious Basterds.' And I loved it like I love and worship all Tarantino." (There Barnett seems to have exceeded his cinematic idol's misspelling acumen.) Barnett "loves and" worships - worships! - every frame of gore-porn cranked out by the stunted, amoral, juvenile cretin-auteur. My late WWII-veteran father would have seen two minutes of a Tarantino movie, heard two minutes of his adolescent talk show ejaculations - or read two of Barnett's hubristic paragraphs - and of Barnett or his cinematic idol diagnosed solemnly, sadly: "There's something wrong with that boy."

The more I read his gobsmackingly hubristic manifestos - which, by the way, are chock full of stunning self-contradictions and iced all over with fantastic bombast, the more Barnett and the rest of our constitution-contemptuous elite seem to give testimony that for them in high places the Enlightenment is dead; that Enlightenment principles and those who hold them sacred have become superfluous; that our Constitution is merely a paper that denotes "rule sets" to be rigorously, contemptuously ignored and evaded by the Bushes, Cheneys, Obamas, and Barnetts of the world - who pay lip service to Enlightenment Liberal principles while they evade and traduce them.

The more I read of Barnett's fulsome megalomaniacal "strategizing," the more I apprehend that Mr. Barnett is not about right or wrong, not about upholding our Constitution, not about any kind of American - let alone Catholic - ideals; the more it becomes plain that he's just another one of our time's legion, morally squalid, meretricious mountebanks in feverish pursuit of fame and Big Bucks- A Man For No Seasons.

Yet I fear that Barnett may prove to have been prescient about one thing, with which he introduced his Esquire pontification: "The closer you read the newly released CIA reports and read into the Justice Department's torture probe, the more you realize nothing much is going to come of them...."

That will ensue because we, the people, have not troubled ourselves to have yet noticed that we've ceded to our elected and appointed officials the power to suspend habeas corpus and the absolute power to torture whomever they will choose to torture. Do not mistake that if President Obama fails to hold the previous adminstration to the rule of law, those who pretend to represent us, who pretend to uphold our Constitution, will not choose again, and again, and again to torture.

You'll not find anything so boldly Hitlerian as an Enabling Act behind the sordid Bush-Cheney torture regime. Those two didn't bother with an Enabling Act, or even with an Emergency Powers Bill: instead they simply and brazenly, to the sycophantic regurgitative narration of our brown-nosing mainstream media elite, and with the ex post facto paper contortions of obeisant careerist lawyers, trod on our Constitution as if for them it was the convenient doormat beneath the gaping portal to their arrogated tower of power. We, the people, aided by the honest reportage of a media of genuine conscience, were supposed to form that gate's portcullis. But we did not, and we've not yet, let ourselves down from our couches, set aside our video game joysticks, or peeled our eyes away from American Idol to hold these Beltway Bandits monumental criminal odium to rule of law, and to punish them and everyone who enabled and executed their successful criminal takedowns of our most fundamental constitutional rights.

None of us should wonder why we now have the prophet Barnett propounding his Big Picture Long View Super-Realist notion that Mega-Finance and Globalization, that perpetual American military world policing and wide open borders - instead of the sober, wise, healthful bounds written by our Founders into our Constitution - must be America's (mis)guiding anti-principles. Barnett, on what nowadays passes for the intellectual Right, appears to form the perfect, and no less hideous, mirror image of the Left's unhinged Moslem barbarism apologists and mum-keepers. Barnett's and the Washington and media elite's myopic mantra is economic reductionism, which is wilfully and dangerously ignorant of Islam's Comprehensive Tyranny; the Left's is merely its parrots' bankrupt, narcissistic, fashionable ideologicial posturing blended with its terror-enabling romantic notions of the "value" of barbarous cultures.

Before you, I, and Mr. Barnett came into this world our American and Allied parents and grandparents recognized grasping, arrogant Barnetts for what they were; and these forebears in their marvelously demotic citizen armed forces had the sense and the guts to cut them down to size. Now that our Constitution is under vicious assault from within as well as from without, will we have the sense and guts to cut down to size America's war criminal torturers, Moslem supremacists abroad, and Moslem hate-spreading imams and cells that have insinuated themselves and the poisonous tentacles of their sharia throughout our very society?

As the Bush-Cheney torture war crimes rise to prominence in our national discourse, bear in mind that it's utterly immaterial whether information compelled by torture from detainees was accurate or inaccurate: because even if the detainees' cohorts-at-large had attacked the US or its allies, even if under torture the detainees gave information about future mass-murder attempts that spared Allied lives, torture is under our rule of law always a crime. Torture is even a crime before the fact of a future enemy attack - and two wrongs do not make a right. Ever. Let that put a proper end to Cheney's and his morally adrift apologists' crowing about the "value" of information compelled by torture, because that crowing is their cunning attempt to divert focus from the crux of this matter, which is that under our Constitution torture is illegal, and the ordering, "excusing," and infliction of torture are war crimes.

If President Obama determines to overlook war crimes committed by Americans from top to bottom of the chain of command, if he determines to "move forward" without his first having brought to justice the whole rotten roots-and-tree-and-branches-and-fruit of the many, many bad apples who played their criminal parts in the (it sickens me to write it) American Torture Regime, then he will have mistaken to have erected America's future on a rotten foundation, and he will have doomed the whole American enterprise to catastrophic collapse or to slow self-asphyxiation.

27 August 2009

Social Security Freeze Pays For West Bank Arabic Road Signs?


Freeze Social Security increases for America's needy - who'd paid into the Social Security system, but lavish $20 million on Arabic road signs and "services" in the West Bank. Your Government not at work.

Money quote: "The sign project accounts for about $175,000 of a three-year, $20 million U.S. aid project to improve services in the West Bank."

Why is our US Government - yep, the government that supposed to be governing the US, not the West Bank - pouring money into Arabic road signs in the West Bank while, in the middle of a painful recession, it's slamming a two-year freeze on Social Security cost of living increases for disabled and senior Americans? And this "improve services in the West Bank" project isn't the only Big Giveaway that Uncle Sam's been laying obsequiously at the feet of other exemplary Arab causes and groups, such as that Nobel peacekeeping bunch known as the Palestinian Authority.

Galling. Just. Fucking. Galling.

Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment 2-YEAR FREEZE


Five o'clock local news telecast just announced that annual Social Security cost of living adjustments will be frozen for the next two years. This, the SS Adminstration says, is because inflation has been "negative." Despite gas, electricity, phone, rent and grocery costs having been anything but negative.

I hope Mr. Obama understands that this SS COLA freeze is not going to help his party win votes in next year's mid-term congressional elections, and that it won't help him to persuade those of us who have to live on Social Security to vote for him if he should decide to run for a second presidential term.

By the way, when was the last time we saw Congress freeze its wages or cough up some its deluxe employee bennies? Let me know when Congress gets around to freezing its wages and giving up a benefit or two so I can have my lethal shock heart attack too, okay?

Ellie Greenwich, RIP


Songwriter Ellie Greenwich died. Just thought I'd post a link to her obituary because it's been drowned out by the media's tsunami of saccharine sanctimony now breaking over you-know-who.

Her music.

"Be My Baby" alone is a worthy lifetime achievement. I only set myself to learning to play it, by ear, about four years ago - and discovered that it sounds deceptively simple but it's got a marvelous, unusually complex, startlingly counterintuitive - as far as most much simpler rock songs go - chord progression. A splendid accomplishment for a twenty-two year-old songwriter. Greenwich also co-wrote the Ronettes' superb follow-up single "Baby I Love You" - later covered by innumerable solo and group acts right up to now, though none has surpassed in quality the Ronettes' original. (And Ronnie is still the all-time sexiest female rock star.)

"Be My Baby's" intro line is perhaps the all-time greatest pop song hook: "The night we met I knew I / needed you so!" It's ardor incarnate - the antithesis of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction's" peevishness.

"Da Doo Ron Ron" is just a great, foot-stomping, hand-clapping, press-the-pedal-to-the-metal deliriously happy rocker. The usual three basic blues/country/rock chords, but harnessed to Phil Spector's Wall of Sound and thundered with tremendous tom-tom licks, it'll kick ass forever.

"Chapel Of Love" I rushed out to buy the first time I heard it on the radio; still have the 45. Now it sounds saccharine to me but it still holds a place in my heart. Greenwich also co-wrote the Dixiecups' follow-up "People Say" and in the same year the Jellybeans' hit "I Wanna Love Him So Bad" and Lesley Gore's top ten number "Maybe I Know."

I like to think that the angels welcome Ellie with "Have I ever told you / how good it feels to hold you? / I can't help it if I feel this way."



I've nothing to say about EMK; not least because Mary Jo Kopechne hasn't either.

Steven Wright Moment


Why do we call them "pain meds" when they're actually anti-pain meds?

Think about it:


But when it comes to pain, it's "pain meds." Wha hoppen wit dat?, she asked in her best Chico Marx voice. Who takes meds to have pain?

25 August 2009

Lux et Veritas


At Harper's Scott Horton has the goods. No wonder that Dick Cheney today snarled in full attack dog mode - he has much to be worried about, much to be called to account for.

Whenever I tried unsuccessfully to conceal my adolescent misbehaviors my Dad resorted to this lovely saying: "It all comes out in the wash."

Let our Department of Justice - if it will want to continue to qualify for its name - do the wash, let its investigators and prosecutors lift the redactions from the CIA IG's 2004 report, look also into torture inflicted by members of our armed forces, and indict and try those Americans who ordered, attempted to excuse, and inflicted torture.

Lux et Veritas: without which we have not democracy.

24 August 2009

Liberty and Justice for Some


Glenn Greewald has it nailed: "This quite likely sets up, at most, a process where a few low-level sacrificial lambs - some extra-sadistic intelligence versions of Lynndie Englands - might be investigated and prosecuted where they tortured people the wrong way. Those who tortured 'the right way' - meaning the way the OLC directed - will receive full-scale immunity." [boldface emphasis in original]

Read the whole thing - then be afraid, because what this means is that we have become two nations, the second of those two consisting of most of us who find ourselves under power-arrogating elites whose well-heeled, well-connected members cover each others asses (including the MSM which, led by the NYT, punted on torture all along), with liberty for some and injustice for all.

Oh, by the way: I never believed Obama's campaign promises about "transparency," and I hope no one else fell for that b.s. either.

Two Wrongs...?


AP's write-up contains this description of CIA disingenuousness: "Investigators credited the detention-and-interrogation program for developing key intelligence. One CIA operative interviewed for the report said the program thwarted al-Qaida plots to attack the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan, derail trains, blow up gas stations and cut the suspension line of a bridge."

Did no one teach these "investigators" that two wrongs don't make a right?

CIA Inspector General's 2004 Report


Heavily redacted - black magic-markered - but it's here in as full a version as the CIA today released following the ACLU suit for its release.

Now what about the torture videotapes the CIA took it upon itself to destroy?

What about Bush and Cheney - the men who ordered these war crimes (and those committed by members of our armed forces); what about their underlings who cobbled together "legal" excuses for their ordering it; and what about those who obeyed those orders, those who inflicted the torture?

CDC Gets Snippy


American males: does this mean the time's coming to for you to think twice before you drop your shorts and turn your heads and cough?

Ah, well, there's more than one way to get "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" head start on that Obesity Epidemic, isn't there?

Pun in preceding sentence most certainly intended.

23 August 2009

Detroit Dieseled?


About midway through the Cash for Clunkers bonanza this question began to bubble up my brain stem:

Since the US auto industry's shrinking and struggling to not disappear, why wasn't the C-For-C bill written to award more - say $5K - for buyers of US marques, and - say $4K - for foreign models?

22 August 2009

Dhimmi of the Month: Kenny MacAskill

Scottish Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill apparently lacked the perspicacity, the simple capacity to have taken so much as a hint from past Moslem behavior, and failed to have anticipated that his release of Lockerbie mass-murderer al-Megrahi would bolster, as it indeed proved to have, Moslem belief that al-Megrahi had always, under sharia, been innocent. MacAskill - seems also to have ignored that from the moment of his apprehension al-Megrahi's insistence upon his innocence was based completely in sharia.

In al-Megrahi's case Scottish, indeed Western, compassion would have consisted entirely of dosing the convicted mass-murderer with adequate cancer pain-killers for the duration of his life sentence; letting al-Megrahi go free amounted not to compassion but to abject submission.

Following MacAskill's release of al-Megrahi come - after all, this is the new Britain of Londonistan now, isn't it, the country whose government refuses admission, denies Freedom of Speech to Geert Wilders while its government funds mosques and ignores deliberately their sharia-spreading, hate-preaching imams - reports that Britain may have released al-Megrahi for profit from an energy deal with Libya. Libyan dictator Muammar "Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, said al-Megrahi's release was a constant point of discussion during trade talks."

Has Britain betrayed the lives of two hundred-seventy innocents, and the lifelong grief of their surviving relatives and friends, for...gas? Even if there had been no energy-for-Megrahi deal, it is and it remains a repugnant moral abdication for MacAskill to have sprung the coldly-calculating mass-murderer of two hundred-seventy innocents.

More Ugly American Facts


AP tells: "[R]eport by the CIA's inspector general reveals that agency interrogators conducted" - in deliberate, blatant violation of federal law - "mock executions of terror suspects."

Further along in the piece, this: "[F]ormer CIA Director Michael Hayden said...that the review also credits the harsh interrogation with yielding information on al-Qaida's basic infrastrucutre, which...allowed the CIA to fight the organization behind the 9/11 hijackings."

As if that excuses Americans who ordered, concocted legal "excuses" for, and inflicted, torture.

As if torture "allowed the CIA" to nail Bin Laden.

As if Americans' infliction of torture didn't hand to the enemy a colossal, irrevocable propaganda advantage and powerful recruiting appeal, which not only negated Bush and Cheney's ill-founded, rash expectation of a torture intelligence bonanza but also multiplied the enemy's ranks and maginfied worldwide Moslem approval of Moslem terrorism. Did we taxpayers pay these guys - from Bush and Cheney and on down their torture chain of command - for their, you know, intelligence?

These brilliant expert powerful officials forgot conveniently or they'd never troubled themselves to have learned Napoléon's maxim: "In war the moral is to the material as three is to one."

God's Pinwheels


Lost your marbles? Get a fresh spin: "[T]the Milky Way and other spiral galaxies operate like a giant, spiral-grooved funnel into which billions of marbles are pouring."

21 August 2009

Sane-itary Napkins


The Universal Health Care tangle explained on napkins - now why didn't our Guvmint or Media think of that! Start by clicking on Napkin #1 (clicking on a napkin enlarges it for those of us of the bifocal persuasion).

(Hat tip: Chris Bodenner, subbing at the Daily Dish)

Shine a light!

Back to MSM's Classic Game Show! - Media Manipulators!

MSNBC, in tune with the rest of the mainstream media, drones the sanitized narrative its corrrect thinkers want us to see and hear.

Money quote about MSNBC's propagandist reporting à la Joey Göbbels: "Contessa Brewer... used tape of that same black man carrying an assault rifle and said 'there are questions about whether this has racial overtones….white people showing up with guns.' "

Scroll down that page, see and hear the local ABC affiliate's brief interview with the armed black male citizen whom Brewer's "report" so conveniently erased for worldwide consumption.

Think For Yourself Moment: Does the MSM's manipulation of its "reports," to make them agree with with its "correct" stereotypes of African and White Americans, make the MSM guilty of racial profiling?

No report yet of whether the MSM will howl for President Obama to invite Contessa Brewer -and the armed black male citizen whom Contessa's "report" conveniently erased, to the White House for, you know, a Brewer Summit.

20 August 2009

Bear Fashion


Do polar bears wear white for snow camouflage - or do they wear white so that during the long dark Arctic winter night they don't bump into one another?

Why else would polar-bear-white-colored human apparel be called winter white.

That was just one from among a vast assortment of thoughts that struggled its way up to float upon the surface of my brain soup.

Tune in again, and find out the latest floating thoughts.

Here's where you're supposed to say, "Thanks for the warning."

Or couldn't you throw my thoughts a life jacket?

(Of course I know that polar bears hibernate the winter - can't bump into one another in their dens while they're slumbering, can they?)

19 August 2009

Cash for Clunkers?

CENTCOM C-in-C General Petraeus appears to be overlooking the obvious problem that Pakistan has in retaking its Taliban and al-Qaida-run northwestern areas, and he's asking the Pakistanis the wrong questions.

Pakistan needs no extra help from the US to knock the Taliban out and to destroy al-Qaida. What Pakistan needs is to stop worrying about an Indian invasion and shift an adequate force - from the 90% of its army now massed along its eastern frontier against India - to its western regions to wrest control of them from the Taliban and al-Qaida.

First Petraeus should insist that Pakistan shift troops from its eastern frontier to fighting the Taliban and al-Qaida in its northwestern areas. Why is he accepting, seemingly without question, Pakistan's excuses for Pakistan's failure to prosecute a vigorous ground campaign against Taliban and al-Qaida forces? Excuses such as this last Tuesday gem from Pakistani "Lieutenant-General Nadeem Ahmed...who said...the [Pakistani]...army was attacking militants with aircraft and artillery with the goal of 'wearing them out.' " (Like Bill Clinton's cruise missile attacks wore out al-Qaida?)

Second, Pakistan's government says no to shifting enough and better troops to its northwest, yet it still wants this latest US help in arms and training - so why isn't Petraeus saying no gear, no training, unless Pakistan gives US/NATO ground forces, which are now prohibited from crossing from Afghanistan into Pakistan's lawless tribal areas, permission to attack the Taliban and al-Qaida forces in Pakistan's tribal areas?

" 'It is part of a substantial effort to strengthen U.S.-Pakistani military cooperation.' " said US envoy Richard Holbrooke, apparently unaware that that the US has repeatedly handed billions in military aid to Pakistan and that each gear giveaway has failed utterly to interest Pakistan's leaders in holding up their end of the "cooperation." And why is the US spending billions on equipping and training Pakistani forces in view of India having confirmed that at least two Pakistani army officers were among the the nearly 100% Pakistani terror assault teams that savagely tortured many of the 159 innocents those thugs murdered in the 26-29 November attacks in Mumbai? Why is the US feeding more billions of quarters into Pakistan's Whack-A-Mole double-dealing terror game?

When do our presidents, envoys, and generals stop caving in to ludicrous, habitual Pakistani upturned palms - and cut off military and economic aid until the Pakistanis hold up their end of "military cooperation" against al-Qaida and the Taliban? And why did President Obama and Congress neither ask themselves, nor answer for the American people, that question before Congress approved $400-million for the extra US military gear and training for Pakistan's forces?

Out Now

Having thought this matter over, here's my take on it.

Seven years of democracy in Afghanistan. Five years of democracy in Iraq. After the arrival of U.S. troops both countries wrote and established their “democratic” constitutions to be subordinate to Moslem sharia. And the Iraqis and Afghans are still murdering one another - and driving out and persecuting Christians, Zoroastrians and every other non-Moslem minority - with guns, clubs, knives, bombs, fires, electric drills, and anything else that they can make or adapt to commit murders on a horrifying scale. That’s what our boys and girls have been, and are still doing over there: fighting and dying for sharia.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink it.

18 August 2009

Have His Cake AND Eat It Prize

Over at normblog Norm Geras lets Richard Dawkins tell us that Dawkins likes to have his cake and eat it.

Geras first quotes Dawkins: "Beliefs and tastes, political biases and hobbies, these will tend, at least statistically, to pass longitudinally down generations, and nobody would wish it otherwise." [my italics]

Fine and dandy, isn't that? All very scientific and tidy; Nature at work, wot? But then Geras quotes Dawkins' also having written, "To slap a label on a child at birth - to announce, in advance, as a matter of hereditary presumption if not determinate certainty, an infant's opinions on the cosmos and creation, on life and afterlives, on sexual ethics, abortion and euthanasia - is a form of mental child abuse."

Well, I'll be a monkey's aunt: from Science to name-calling - child abuser - in One Easy Lesson.

"Beliefs...pass...down generations, and nobody would wish it otherwise" works for Dawkins so long as those beliefs are any but them thar religious beliefs? For Dawkins only religious beliefs passed "down generations" are a "form of mental child abuse"? Whom, Mr. Dawkins, would you nominate to decide which beliefs are fit and which are unfit for a parent to pass on? Belief in the UN? - chockablock with brutally repressive sharia states that have been tripping all over themselves to impose sharia as global law? Belief in Her Majesty's government which has privileged Moslem men to have four wives - all of whom may suck at the dole teat - while non-Moslem men, and all women may not have more than one spouse? Do you believe that belief in the UN and belief in Labour are beliefs which merit passing down?

Who, Mr. Dawkins, gets to be Boss of Approving and Disapproving Adherences for Subsequent Survival (BADASS)?

There's a cake you won't have and eat, Mr. Dawkins, even if Mr. Geras seems to favor your enjoying it both ways.

17 August 2009

The Value of Taqqiya To Illegal Aliens

Patrick Appel, substituting at the Daily Dish for the vacationing Andrew Sullivan, is not so slick as Mohammedans are at taqqiya when he tries to sneak this sort of b.s. past those of us who happen to be literate.

Someone whose first act - his very first footfall - on US soil is a crime which he then compounds immediately with his second crime of staying on US soil, is not "undocumented." He is illegal.

Were he not illegal then why should Mr. Appel, and his fellow sketchy practitioners of taqqiya, resort to such sleight of word - "undocumented" - to try to persuade Americans to accept that a foreigner who comes and stays here in violation of US law needs "Legalizing"?

And the study Appel's post links to, the study that purports to show that amnesty for illegal aliens is good for Americans - it was done by Australians. You can't make this stuff up.

12 August 2009


What's with all the Among-Us-They're-Too-Dangerous alarmism, and squirming, and hand-wringing over shifting Gitmo captives to prisons on U.S. soil?

If one of those captives escaped a Kansas prison his prospects for remaining at large would, by a dozen orders of magnitude, be worse than those of WWII Allied POW escapees. Besides, WWII POW's who did escape Nazi camps - and then also managed the far more hazardous escape from Nazi-occupied Europe - were invariably helped by Nazi-conquered people hostile to the Germans, people frantic to help Allied servicemen regain their liberty. So fast forward to 2009...and the badassed Gitmo Gang brazenly transfers its headquarters to Kansas, and then one of its Gitmommando captives escapes, and from among 350-million of us continental Americans there would venture - what? - fearful swarms of secret terrorist-sympathizers hell-bent to aid Gitmommando and spirit him halfway to Waziristan?

Well, Allahu Arkansas.

If you're really that anxious about lodging the Gitmo Gang in our frightfully incontinent jails, maybe you could rehab one of those FALLOUT SHELTERS left over from the Cold War. And keep your ear pressed to the CONELRAD station that broadcasts all those prison breaks that have monotonously sent us, tails between our legs (well, between at least half of our legs), scrambling into our lead-lined bunkers before the murderous escaped cons could blow us to Kingdom Come with the radioactive power of a couple of dirty shivs.


From custom, duty, and knowing right from wrong, I have and I feel uncomfortable, often distressing, yet decent, healthy remorse and contrition for my trespasses, but this NYT shirking sickened me - and I expect that it shocked my Dad and uncles, who served honorably in WWII, to turn in their graves:

" "Doc Mitchell' and 'Doc Jessen'...helped lead the United States into a wrenching conflict over torture, terror and values that seven years later has not run its course" - a duration the The New York Times' aversion to Webster's, to our Constitution and, apparently, to human decency has done nothing to shorten.

Further in the piece the Gray Lady sanitizes Mitchell and Jessen's torture sessions in which their powerless victims endured and survived being "confined in a box, slammed into the wall and waterboarded," as "the methods." Ever see a judge ask a child witness if she knows if it'sright or wrong to terrify or to hurt someone? - or to hurt an animal?

People found to have hurt animals - Michael Vick, remember? - are without hesitation pilloried by the media and PETA and pet owners and zookeepers, and are investigated, charged, prosecuted, tried by jury, convicted, and sentenced to time for the pain and suffering they inflicted deliberately upon the creatures they held in their power. Yet people found to have ordered torture, devised the torture, or inflicted its suffering on their fellow human beings are only using "harsh" methods. Nothing wrong with that picture of our national....whatsitsname... conscience. Is there?

To whom, or what, are the NYT's editors and their "methods" loyal? To Webster's Unabridged, you expect? Can we be sure, and shouldn't he himself tell us, whether Eric Holder subscribes, or not, to the Times' curious but apparently not entirely proprietary glossary?

"Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Jessen, meanwhile, were....paid $1,000 to $2,000 a day apiece." But
"Col. Steven M. Kleinman, an Air Force interrogator and intelligence officer who knows Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Jessen, said he thought loyalty to their country...prompted their excursion into interrogation." Are we to expect that Mitchell and Jessen 's meager $1000-2000 daily fees, piled "well into the millions of dollars," had zero magnetic pull upon either their loyalty, or their moral compass?

What about the powerful, well-paid superiors up the chain of command whose responsibility - "cognizance" in governmentspeak - it was to order or forbid the dynamic duo's plans and deeds: shouldn't we, the people, know who or what claimed their loyalty? It's not as if these personnel worked for us people under, you know, our Constitution, is it?

"Dr. Mitchell built a house with a swimming pool...valued at $800,000."

So far as I can make out, Mitchell didn't baptize it Karinhall. And perhaps you'll pardon me when I say I've no clue to whether, or not, in its swimming pool Mitchell allows his children and their guests to hold each other underwater.

A Woman's Prerogative? - or, Sounds Fishy to Me

Over at redOrbit, this: "A leading scientist has claimed that a detailed, functional artificial human brain could be built within the next 10 years...." (Hat tip: Zoe Brain.)

Hmm. Could this, one fine future day, give a whole new meaning for "I think I've changed my mind."? Might this development present advertisers and retailers - and shoppers - with a whole new set of challenges, not to mention presenting many of us with an Insuperable Morning Dilemma as we choose an outfit for the day? Why bother changing my outfit when instead I could just...change my mind?

Read the redOrbit piece, which tells that the effort to build a human brain is intended to provided a functioning brain to help Science work out novel approaches to treat mental illness. Then sell off your stocks in Prozac.

All I know is that I sometimes found myself vexed when I tried to assemble something that looked like an actual real-world artifact out of TinkerToy bits. That puts me in awe of eggheads confident that they'll soon assemble an actual working brain. Perhaps now we have a clue to why our planet's fisheries have become depleted, which prompts me to speculate what's on the cafeteria menu over there at the Artificial Brain Institutes of the world: "Good grief, hairnet ladies. Mahi-mahi again?"

11 August 2009

Nipping the Bud

Daily Dish sub Chris Bodenner links to the NYT report that U.S. forces seek to take out 50 Afghan drug barons.

My thoughts on Bodenner's quotations from Michael Cohen and Andrew Exum, both of whom deprecate the anti-drug lord mission:

No, we're not in Afghanistan to go "after the Pashtun Pablo Escobar." The mission of U.S. forces, according President Obama, is to defeat the Taliban and Al Qaida.

The Taliban and Al Qaida have long depended on poppy profits, their chief, or close-to-prime, source of funds - especially for the Taliban, to buy weapons and munitions, to appeal to and attract recruits, to extend their reach deeper into Pakistan, and to attack Afghan and Pakistani civilians and army and police, and coalition troops. So subtracting opium money from the enemy is a bad thing?

That said, it's doubtful that killing fifty drug lords will prevent poppy profits funding the enemy's war effort, because taking out fifty drug lords is unlikely to dissuade junior drug profiteers from stepping up into the top posts vacated by slain drug overlords (after all, risk and death have long been customary and accepted in Afghanistan's historical poppy-funded warlordism) . Taking out a few bosses won't reduce, let alone eliminate, the Taliban/Al Qaida poppy economic base.

The optimal coalition target, then, is the poppy crop. Remove the crop and Afghan government officials' corruption collapses for want of palm-grease; plus the mega-drug-dollars, which buy Taliban and Al Qaida weapons and operational depth, suddenly vanish, and deprive the enemy of a vast, hitherto dependable proportion of his funding - before he can pay to put forces in the field.

It seems quite likely that eliminating the poppy crop would spare coalition forces the casualties they'd otherwise suffer, avoidably, in head-on battle with fully-funded, well-armed Taliban and Al Qaida. Economically-compelled enemy force-reduction should also mean fewer battles necessary to defeat enemy forces in the field - the most costly way to prosecute a campaign; and yield a bonus of far fewer civilian casualties and thus advance the hearts & minds effort. More ways for coalition forces to sap and destroy the enemy's economic base, as a means of reducing his combat power and operational depth, amount to the most efficient way to decrease not only the enemy's numbers but also his weapons, munitions, transport, and appeal to potential recruits.

It's unnecessarily hazardous to U.S. and coalition troops to attempt in the middle of a war to persuade Afghan poppy growers to abandon poppy cultivation for other, less-profitable crops. It seems wiser to just destroy the poppy crop, leave farmers no option but to cultivate harmless, less-valuable crops whose smaller profits would be prohibitively costly for Taliban and Al Qaida to fleece from farmers. It's possible, if not probable, that farmers already hard-pressed to eke a living from less-valuable crops would resent, and perhaps resist, Taliban and Al Qaida skimming of slenderer crop earnings.

To take out the poppy crop is to nip the enemy's money bud. What poppy profit-ambitious, or even ideologically motivated youngster wants to fight in, or for, a force that can't meet its payroll, or arm or feed its Tali-grunts? Eliminating the poppy crop would also be poetic justice since Al Qaida's 9-11 World Trade Center attack was, by the enemy's own admission, economic warfare.

10 August 2009

Summer 1969

Forty years ago this summer, along with my Dad, brother, Grandpa, and one of Dad's fireman buddies who did rehabs as a moonlighting business, I worked hard to help to rehab the upstairs apartment in my grandparent's two-family Jersey City house. Dad and Mom were rehabbing the rooms for our family foursome to move into them.

Late each afternoon I left the rehab project and drove to 14th & Gould streets in Newark, where I started working at five o'clock, stripping UPS "cars" (does UPS still call their smallest vans "cars"?) and shifting their route-collected contents onto a long moving belt to which all the cars had backed up. Or I worked the far end of the belt, reading parcel labels and tossing the items to workmates who loaded the several trailers backed up there, trailers that left at shift's end to transport the sorted packages to regional UPS sites for local distribution & delivery.

The UPS shifts lasted for as long as there was freight to be stripped and routed. Most evenings this took about three hours, but if it took less time we were guaranteed three hours pay. At $3.03 per hour that was, in those days, just about the highest paying part-time job in the world - and I kept working it until early 1970 when the demands of university studies compelled me to leave UPS. The other great thing about the job was that if shifts took more than four hours we earned time-and-a-half pay - so you know that if shifts were edging toward the three and half hour mark every one of us greedy young capitalist apprentices, even our lone Marxist-Liberation Theology seminarian, slowed his work to try to dilate the shift past four hours!

That job was why I missed going to Woodstock. I'd bought tickets (you know, for the life of me, I cannot recall where I bought them!) for all three days of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair . But a couple of days before the festival's start my UPS boss asked me if I'd like to work overtime on the coming weekend, doing some non-freight work in the UPS center that UPS had put off. I needed the overtime money more than I needed to gallivant up to Woodstock, so I sold the tickets to a co-worker who'd declined the Saturday overtime offer.

When that co-worker finally made it back to work it was already Tuesday or Wednesday of the following week - UPS docked him for the work he missed and wrote him up for unauthorized absence. The guy was furious with me: he told us that he and his buddy hadn't gotten within fifteen miles of the stage; they had had to sleep in their car; go to the bathroom in a roadside thicket; and they had to beg food and drinking water because local grocers and restaurants - which were at least a mile from my coworker's car - had exhausted their stocks to the first waves of festival-bound customers who'd come from the unforeseeable, miles-long traffic jam. He and his mate got rained on, caked in mud, stank to high heaven; and when my coworker returned to work he wanted to choke me. All I could say to him was, "Wow, man. Who knew?"

Somehow, although I noted their engineering achievement, I never caught the romance of the Mercury-Gemini-Apollo space programs. Never wanted to be an astronaut; never had a yen to be shoehorned into a claustrophobic frail capsule to have myself shot into a colossal, super-cold vacuum. I suppose that I just felt that the space program was rather unremarkable, that it was just one of those things that exists, that's simply present in life; much as youngsters nowadays regard digital computer and cell phone technology as something that's just been an unremarkable, integral part of their life. I imagine that the children of Zog, inventor of the axle (which was the invention that made those round things - you know: wheels - useful), thought the axle unremarkable: "So what, Dad? So we're lucky to have the revolutionary, history-making axle already. So lighten up on the The Way It Before the Axle Was When I Was A Kid stories and help us load the frikking cart!"

When Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon I was visiting my cousin George in his parents' house in Rutherford. George and I had gone through parochial school together - every grade, every nun, every schoolday morning mass, every rosary, every tears-provoking ruler whap! on our welted backsides. By summer 1969, four years after he and I had first picked up a guitar, George and I were still guitar novices. The moon mission failed to capture our imaginations. While the rest of the world was riveted to telecasts of Neil Armstrong's footfall, George was spinning a vinyl LP, turning me on to Ten Years After's blistering rendition of Woody Herman's "Woodchopper's Ball." Now that sent us to the moon, where we took no pictures, left no footprints.