Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Agony and the Escalation

Reading the news it strikes me how so much that is reported regarding the Afghan War is seen through the lens of Obama’s presidency and how it might be affected by events now taking place. The trouble with that is that this should be about what you and I want not Obama. Obama’s just fine. He’s got a snazzy house to live in and after his term or terms are up he can really rake in the money on the lecture circuit. Just ask Bill Clinton. It’s the rest of the country that isn’t doing so hot. Over Afghanistan way the slaughter continues and people are being killed as I write this but never mind as this is all about Obama, his presidency, and how it might be affected.

Just like the news media who reports through the lens of Obama’s presidency that is also what motivates Obama’s foreign policy. If he makes a wrong move in Afghanistan the republicans could use it to rake him over the coals in the next election. Democrats live in fear of being accused of weakness regarding foreign policies and especially regarding war and much of what Obama does is driven by his own political needs like all politicians. So foreign policy when regarded in this manner is really domestic policy in a way. Remember also that we have about 800 military bases around the world and that we are an empire by any standard. What I’m getting at is that Afghanistan is part of a larger agenda, that of world domination. Afghanistan isn’t all that important to this big picture, this empire of military bases. What perhaps is important is the oil and natural gas – an estimated 12 trillion dollars worth – in the nearby Caspian Basin which has been up for grabs since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

There is some noise coming from congressional democrats in opposition to our Nobel president’s escalation. Of course that’s the beauty of our democracy in action. You know. Debate about this and debate about that. They will look at all the important and relevant facts and make a logical choice because that is how a democracy as wonderful as ours works. If only it were true. Words are cheap, if congress wanted to stop the escalation they could by cutting the funding something they could have done a long time ago in the case of Iraq and need I point out they have had eight years to cut the funding to Afghanistan but have not, obviously. If the congressional democrats did stop the funding I would sit up and take notice but as it stands empty words aren’t going to stop Obama from expanding the Afghan War. No I’m afraid this protest from congress is just more PR to convince and reassure the public that wiser heads are now in charge whose far seeing intellect sobered by the realities of responsible leadership are upholding the very best kind of democratic practices in order to arrive at the best of all possible solutions which inevitably will be to Let Obama do as he wants.

The news media loves to thrill us with the saga of Obama’s big decision over the escalation. Their favorite word these days is “agonized.” Obama has “agonized” over the escalation for three months. Poor Obama, he must truly be in agony to be agonized for three whole months. And in a row too. What was Obama saying throughout his entire campaign? In case you have forgotten in all this saga and drama he said time and time again that he was going to make Afghanistan the center of the war on terror. Escalation has always been Obama’s plan which I happen to know because that is what Obama told us. Repeatedly. So where does the news media get all this agony? Did Obama call them up and tell them he was in agony? Did he in fact say “I am agonizing over escalation”? True the war is deteriorating and there was the Karzai election but Karzai has been granted legitimacy anyway and frankly I don’t think how the war is going enters into the picture in a big way. In fact it might be preferable that the war doesn’t go all that well, all the more reason for staying and escalating.

In the end Obama’s escalation is not all that important because it was inevitable. During Obama’s campaign it was clear that his verbal resume was aimed at corporate America. One of Obama’s statements that sticks out in my mind is when he said he wasn’t against all wars just stupid wars. That was the signal to his corporate bosses that he was safe and would be pursuing the wars that are making his backers so wealthy. There were many other buzz words and phrases that any good presidential candidate needs on his resume but what is noteworthy is that the main thrust of his campaign was designed to please corporate America not public America. For public America Obama’s appeal was a three word phrase “Yes we can.” Apparently even phrases as vacuous and empty as “yes we can” are all that were needed for the masses after eight years of a blubbering idiot. I think another reason corporate America backed Obama is that it was perceived that Obama, despite his calling for transparency in government, would do a much better job of keeping the dirty linen hidden under a bed than Bush had. For example there was the transfer of 23 trillion dollars to the thieves on Wall Street that has occurred under Obama’s direction.


For the first time since the Crash of 2008, there is cause for hope that Wall Street’s devouring of the U.S. state can be halted. Republican libertarian Rep. Ron Paul (TX), leading a bipartisan coalition comprising a solid majority of the U.S. House, last week won committee approval of a bill that would open the books of the Federal Reserve, the heretofore unaccountable engine of bankster thievery on a cosmic scale.

The Obama presidency has seen by far the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of the world – some $23.7 trillion as of July, in the form of grants, loans and guarantees to the financial sector. Only a small fraction of this mind-bending mass of money – a sum approaching in volume two years of total U.S. economic activity (GDP) – was legislatively authorized by the U.S. Congress. Aside from the congressionally mandated $700 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) monies, nearly all of the mega-trillions were put at Wall Street’s disposal by Barack Obama’s executive branch and the quasi-public monstrosity, the Federal Reserve.

But the true amount of wealth that was stolen isn’t the only thing we aren’t being told. Though the economy badly needs more stimulus from the government none will be forthcoming in the near future. Mike Whitney explains Obama’s chief economic advisor Larry Summer’s job as facilitator of keeping the economy flat.


Summers’ assignment is to bring the broader economy to its knees; to crush big labor by keeping unemployment high, to force state and local and governments to privatize more public assets and services, and to generate as much human misery as possible. In short, Summers is laying the groundwork for structural adjustment within the US, a policy which reflects his ongoing commitment to multinational corporations and neoliberalism. It's the shock doctrine redux. These people are monsters.

I’m quite sure Obama will not tell you the above nor will you find it in the news media. Perhaps we are now entering the final phase of the military-industrial complex phenomenon where we see the government-corporate complex tighten their control over domestic affairs rendering the population even more helpless in the face of a corporate owned government. Apparently no threat to the empire can be tolerated. Not abroad and not at home.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday 27 Nov 09

Ryan Larkin
was a real person, which you may have guessed. Sadly he passed away in 2007. The National Film Board of Canada has a Youtube channel(hey,who doesn't? :^)) with lots of other things.

And, if yesterday's super-short Brigitte Dale video seemed too fleeting, there's this:

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Waiting for Obama, Waiting for Godot

Obama will be announcing the “chosen” number for escalation of U.S. forces in Afghanistan early next week. In all likelihood we will be told that another 30,000 or so troops will be sent. I haven’t exactly been waiting with bated breath for the grand unveiling of another idiotic exercise in idiocy because I never doubted Obama would live down to my expectations. Last October I wrote about an article in Raw Story that said Obama had already made up his mind according to some British official. Some felt the article in Raw Story wasn’t worthy of belief yet here we are today on the eve of another Obama moment when this great drama unfolds like a Shakespearian play. Don’t be surprised if I’m not awake for this historic moment as I’ll perhaps be having a mid autumnal night’s dream of more interesting things.

I can think of any number of things that would be far more fascinating than listening to Obama explain in pains taking detail why he is escalating the Afghan War. For example I may have to trim my fingernails or wash some dishes. I’ve got it! I could clean the cat box! You see, the thing is, people who tell you make believe stories based on delusion fueled by American exceptionalism suddenly become irrelevant if not boring. You may be wondering if I just called Obama a bore. Yes I did. Obama is a bore. A completely predictable roaring snoring bore. “Yes we can,” snooooore yawn “I intend to finish this…” snort snore big yawn, “America must lead the world because Americans are leaders,” please, please, don’t wake me up as I was having such a pleasant dream!

Here is a basic guide to today’s health care reform and it is one I always keep in mind when reading about health care reform. Simply put, nobody in congress (with one or two exceptions) is even remotely interested in passing what you and I would call health care reform because the health insurance industry doesn’t want what you and I would call health care reform. And that’s all that matters when it comes to health care reform.

Sorry, there will be no links today. Nobody clicks on links anyway. I’m talking especially to those who dismiss my writings without even bothering to check any links I may provide which I suppose then entitles you to believe I just make everything up. If I actually do make anything up I can assure you that you will be the first to know. I’d hate to think I misled anybody. The thing is if you say anything that runs against the accepted narrative that liberals constantly reinvent reality with then you are a kook and not to be taken seriously. Serious people aren’t kooky you know.

All this reminds me of a play I saw a long time ago called Waiting for Godot where a small group of people are supposed to meet someone called Godot by this tree. Godot never shows up and the play ends. That’s what liberals are, those same people waiting for Godot. The real Obama is Godot of course and liberals are still waiting for the real Obama to reveal himself. He already has so if you’re still waiting for Obama you’re just waiting for Godot.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wednesday 25 Nov 09

No, this very short video has nothing to do with politics, or even Thanksgiving. I'm just posting it because I find its maker Brigitte Dale very charming. Have a nice Thanksgiving.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

The PR Universe

Reading the news has become an exercise in despair. From the sound of things this legislation on health reform is a disguise for massive cuts in Medicare. Ever since Americans received what few puny safety nets we have there have been people who would like to see them dismantled and it looks like they have a new champion with Obama and the Democrats. Regarding Afghanistan it seems likely that another 30,000 troops will be sent there as future cannon fodder. The economy is on its way to purgatory because the same crooks that brought us to this point are still in charge. And all we get from Obama is PR. Lots and lots of PR happily relayed to us via the news media.

PR seems to be everything these days – it’s all that really matters. Karzai is one of the biggest crooks in the world sitting in Kabul the only thing he rules over but the PR tells us he is the legitimate ruler of Afghanistan which isn’t even a nation. The health care is all PR though it means windfall profits for insurance companies and certainly resembles nothing most people had in mind. PR, nothing but PR. Everything is PR and facts seem to be a rarity.

We are told that we are in Afghanistan to fight al Qaeda by Obama. General McChrystal tells us that there is no sign of a heavy al Qaeda presence in Afghanistan. Then McChrystal turns around and tells us he needs 80,000 more troops. Then Obama does his best Greta Garbo act and supposedly is deciding on whether to send more troops to fight shadows on a wall. It’s all PR, a grand show written and then acted out for the benefit of the public. It doesn’t have to make sense or bend to the laws of logic because it’s all PR. I admit I seldom think about the extent of the staging that goes on but most of what we see regarding our government is carefully staged and likely even choreographed to some degree. The leaking of information regarding escalation in Afghanistan, Obama’s anger over it, McChrystal running around making speeches in apparent defiance of Obama and his authority, I think most of it is PR if not all of it. It’s a PR world after all.

Honestly it is getting more and more difficult to write about this. I really don’t have much else to say and a lot of it has already been said endless times. The Obama administration doesn’t even seem real to me. The endless lies have reduced the importance of what Obama says to that of a ghost squeaking ineffectively in a dusty corner of an old house. The funny thing is I’m quite sure future historians will be writing about the historic significance of the Obama presidency imbuing it with pageantry and romance that simply isn’t there but then hasn’t it always been thus?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Would Gladly pay you Tuesday for a Hamburger Today

It must be humbling for our globe galloping prez to have to run all the way to China in order to borrow a few more bucks to continue paying the high cost of war and empire. After all, it was once the United States that was an economic giant which has always been America’s true source of power and influence not the military. No doubt Obama wants to make sure the war coffers are full enough to pay for whatever number of troops that will be heading for Afghanistan.

How ironic it is that in their headlong rush for power our leaders have pissed away much of their true power by making the mistake of perceiving U.S. power as brute force. While much of the rest of the world moves towards peace and a more progressive existence the U.S. and its allies seem to be regressing toward a more barbaric state of being. I’m sure I needn’t refer to things like Guantanamo or the latest revelations of what the British troops have been up to. Why anyone should be surprised that this is what happens in wars is a mystery. Women are elevated and liberated by being raped. It’s for the women they cried. Yes one can certainly see how raping women is the right way to give them equal rights and bring Afghanistan into the fold of a more civilized West.

Our reliance on China to fund our wars is a reflection of things to come. China is indeed a rising economic power part of which is due to the fact that they spend only a fraction of what we do on their military. Other reasons are China’s industrialization and cheap labor pool which obviously means the wealth in China is not spread any more evenly than it is here in the States.

Who’s putting the fear of Sarah Palin into liberals? I dunno. Maybe it’s the fact that Obama could well be a one termer and apparently Sarah Palin has them worried. Hey, Obama could be a one termer, it’s happened before, we do have one term presidents from time to time. Would Palin be that awful? Obama is pretty awful. If McCain had been elected would he have been any worse? My point is not to promote one party over another because I don’t attach much importance to partisan politics. It’s a waste of time. I’m sure the middle class upper crust is repulsed by Palin’s demeanor as a backwoods hick more than anything else. A country twang has little appeal to much of the professional classes.

The person that repulses me is Hoh, a slime ball of humungous proportions. Hoh bragged about how much he and his pals in the marines enjoyed snuffing out Iraqi lives which makes him a psychotic murderer but liberals had no qualms about holding Hoh up as a beacon of light and reason. Fuck that asshole. I don’t want Hoh on my side ever, for any reason. In fact I regret that we inhabit the same planet and apparently belong to the same species. It’s enough to make you want to deny your own humanity.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

template fiddling, and miscellaneous horsekeeping

Recently I've been trying to figure out how to modify the appearance of this blog so that it's easier to read and also so that when we embed videos we can embed the newer 480px wide Youtube ones. (as you can see it's a work in progress) Additionally, I've been thinking of adding one of those "share" widgets that allows you to link a post to Facebook, Digg, and so forth.

Also, if you are an occasional visitor and want comments emailed to you via blogger, leave a comment to that effect here, if I already have your email address. Otherwise email me at hugozoom at yahoo dot com with a brief message.(This applies in the reverse, too. Email me if you're currently getting our emails and don't want them. That doesn't mean I want to remove anybody from the email list, because I think blogger will accommodate up to 99 addresses, and we're nowhere near that, nor do I anticipate we are likely to be.)

Additionally, I've been meaning to expand the blogroll. Not to some gargantuan list of hundreds, but a bit. Any ideas?

This is the comment I left at the hulu homepage of Rip! a remix manifesto, above:

I mostly agree with the film-maker, insofar as copyright laws are too restrictive, and the awards being given to the RIAA and similar groups are excessive. But I cannot agree that copyright should be abolished altogether, which he sort of suggests, although he doesn't say so directly.

Maybe, for example, it could be pared back from 95 yrs for corporate/lifetime plus 70 for individuals, to 30 yrs corporate/lifetime plus 20, and the penalties could be SUBSTANTIALLY reduced.

I also wish he had spent more time discussing the non-music related aspects of the current copyright legal climate-- here the discussion of pharmaceutical and other copyrights seems like it was just an afterthought, hastily added to bolster the rest of his argument and make it seem more relevant.

Having said all that, I don't want people to think I am knocking this film; these are minor quibbles, and I recommend it highly.

sincerely, Hugo, copyright 2009(:^))

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Democrats Cut Medicare

The NYT reports that the House of Representatives has passed legislation for what the NYT calls health care reform. In fact it is not health care reform at all rather it is legislation that does two things. The first is that it cuts Medicare.


Democrats say the House measure — paid for through new fees and taxes, along with cuts in Medicare —

Instead of providing a real single payer plan by expanding Medicare the Democrats are actually taking money from Medicare incredible as that sounds. Coupled with the plan to cut Medicare the second thing this legislation does is to force Americans to purchase health care or face penalties thus enriching insurance companies once again at the cost of those who can least afford it.

The House legislation, running almost 2,000 pages, would require most Americans to obtain health insurance or face penalties —

Insurance companies surely have been losing customers as millions are out of work so they invest some money in Congress and in Obama’s presidential campaign and viola! Americans are once again forced to bail out the wealthy. That’s how it works. And since those people who lost their jobs aren’t working they certainly will not be able to afford health insurance. I envision an incredible mess and this will certainly hasten the decline of our coasting economy as this adds to the stress and ever declining quality of life under the Democrats.

When Obama promised health care reform I’m sure many believed he was actually talking about health care reform. This is pure out and out thievery nothing more nothing less. That the Democrats are cutting Medicare – a valuable and popular program – should have been the headline for the NYT article rather than “Sweeping Health Care Reform”. So I note that though the NYT gives us the salient facts, or some of them, it is presented in such a manner as to mitigate the impact of what is actually a big deal to many Americans which is the plan to cut Medicare.

None of this comes as any real surprise as I had read that this was going to happen months ago not that I ever believed that health care reform would happen under these thieves. The best thing that could have occurred would have been that this legislation was defeated.

It’s called the House of Representatives and it is clear who they represent so if its pirates you’re looking for you needn’t travel as far as Somalia since a much shorter jaunt to Washington D.C. would suffice just as well.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Fort Hood Texas, and other places

image Nidal Hasan and John Russell

1. fromWikipedia:

The Camp Liberty killings occurred on 11 May 2009, at military counseling clinic at Camp Liberty, Iraq. Sgt. John M. Russell, 44, of the 54th Engineering Battalion based in Bamberg, Germany, was taken into custody and charged with five counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault against soldiers—including those from the 55th Medical Company, according to Major General David Perkins (a spokesman for the U.S. army forces of the area).

Russell was being escorted from the clinic when he stole a weapon from a fellow soldier and drove to the clinic, where earlier he had been in a fight. He then opened fire there, killing five people.

President Barack Obama, in a White House statement, said he would speak to Defense Secretary Robert Gates about the matter, and that he was profoundly saddened by the news and determined to understand why it may have happened in order to do everything feasibly possible to make sure it never happened again.

It was the worst killing in the Iraq War against U.S. forces perpetrated by a fellow American servicemember.

A report was issued in October, 2009. Stars and Stripes summarized by writing in part "Despite years of emphasis on mental health issues, commanders in Iraq lack the necessary tools, training and guidance to deal with at-risk soldiers, according to an Army investigation into mental health services."

2. When I first heard about the shootings at Fort Hood, I actually thought about the guy who drove through the plate glass window of a Luby's in Killeen, back in October of 1991. He supposedly yelled, "this is what Bell County did to me" just before he started shooting. Killeen is just up the road from Ft Hood, and every time I drive to San Antonio to visit my family, I see the exit sign off I-35 that says Killeen/ Ft Hood.

The next thing I thought was 'damn. It's going to get bad again.' Because it will get bad, for us. I hate to say us, as opposed to you and me=us. A lot of Americans hear about things like this and reactively think in terms of "us versus them." (Fortunately, not all.) Well, we are them, and most of the time we don't think these things, but events like this make Arab-Americans a bit wary, especially those who look like we are from the middle east. I would venture to suggest that many Arab-Americans hearing about the shooting are feeling a strange ambivalence about Hasan's actions--protective concern about how readily the media and large numbers of our fellow citizens will eagerly demonize him, mixed with anger at him, thinking, "what did you hope to accomplish? Do you think you were making some kind of statement? Do you think you're the only who periodically grits his teeth and puts up with shit because he has to? Why didn't you just refuse to go? If you did that you'd be in the Ft. Hood stockade right now, instead of on life support."

3. This was Bernard Chazelle's response, which somewhat puzzled me. Maybe he was trying to be dryly ironic as another commenter suggested, but maybe I have difficulty with that kind of humor in this instance. I left this comment(slightly revised and expanded here):

What I see is different. The media is working to stir up resentment towards Middle-easterners in our midst, but also to seal off the cognitive dissonance that this horrible act represents-- the psychic toll that the wars take on the foot soldiers who serve the empire.In other words,

(1)stress he was sane, even though we don't know this.(that SOB Hindraker at Powerline is already calling Hasan a terrorist.)

Which dovetails into

(2)don't call too much attention to all the other military personnel who carry psychic wounds from their participation in our wars. Yes, we could care about them more, but what if it reminds us how fucked up and just plain wrong these wars are? And it seems to be working. Look at the mostly disgusting comments that follow this crazy WaPo article:

"Fort Hood attack is 3rd this year by antiwar radicals targeting military on U.S. soil"

And ultimately, the corporate media's job is to make sure that we avoid a sense of our common humanity-- it's important that we don't see Hasan's actions and the many suicides by vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan as having anything in common, even though he listened to so many testimonies of soldiers referred to him precisely because they were deemed to be psychologically vulnerable. So we're supposed to see Hasan as sane and bad, and real American soldiers are sane and good, and when they crack it's because of their goodness, or maybe some other reason. But this dynamic can't apply to him, since he didn't crack but was cowardly and bad, and motivated by a deadly religion.

Damn you CNN, Fox News, CBS, ABC, Washington Post, MSNBC, etcetera. Damn all of you who deliberately misrepresent the psychiatric crisis our wars present. You knew how to make a fuss about inadequately armored Humvees, right? The Camp Liberty killings, horrible as they also were, were an opportunity to talk about the serious deficits in the Army's mental health resources for soldiers, but apparently this didn't interest you, what with John Russell being as Caucasian as he was. (Note how for Russell's standard newswire photo, above, they chose one with his ribbons and posed in front of a flag, unlike the standard one for Hasan.) Now, thanks to Nidal Hasan being as Arabic as he is, you have a figure you can talk about who's had a similar crackup but allows you to avoid the psychiatric dimension because he is a ready-made swarthy villain, and uncomplicated, infantilized popular approval of the military state is more important than attending to our broken ex-soldiers (like the ones he counseled), now that they've served their purpose.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

A Star chamber

The DMCA, perhaps notably enacted when the last democrat was president, was bad enough. I don't remember the specifics of the progression of copyright law, but I seem to recall that in the 1790s copyright was for just 14 years. Under the DMCA it can be as much as 95 years for corporate-held copyrights, and the lifetime of the artist plus 70 for individuals and their estates, which is undoubtedly why so many dead people like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis are raking it in.

Now there's this:

via Avedon Carol:

In other news, you can kiss Flickr good-bye thanks to Mr. Internet-savvy Obama and his secret copyright treaty, which requires ISPs to go out of their way to police user-contributed material for copyright violations, to cut off internet access too anyone accused of such a violation (and anyone who shares the same net access), and make this insanity international. I just knew they were going to take this thing away from us....

Arthur Silber: "The Internet as You Know It Will Cease to Exist", who links to

Cory Doctorow:

The internet chapter of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a secret copyright treaty whose text Obama's administration refused to disclose due to "national security" concerns, has leaked. It's bad. It says:

* That ISPs have to proactively police copyright on user-contributed material. This means that it will be impossible to run a service like Flickr or YouTube or Blogger, since hiring enough lawyers to ensure that the mountain of material uploaded every second isn't infringing will exceed any hope of profitability.

* That ISPs have to cut off the Internet access of accused copyright infringers or face liability. This means that your entire family could be denied to the internet -- and hence to civic participation, health information, education, communications, and their means of earning a living -- if one member is accused of copyright infringement, without access to a trial or counsel.

If you piss off a corporation-- or anybody substantially more powerful than you-- they can acuse you of copyright infringement and law enforcement takes your stuff away, maybe including your means to defend yourself. Sounds a little like the War On Drugs®, doesn't it?

She's a witch!

Incidentally, it's Guy Fawkes' night in the UK.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Is Karzai Krazy?

I don’t think so. An important part of any con is the details. The big con that is going down today is that the U.S. and its wavering bought and paid for “allies” are nation building in Afghanistan and laughably poor Iraq. Job number one of installing a puppet government – otherwise known as nation building – is you must create the appearance that your bought and paid for puppet government (Included in your nation building kit are one third world nation, one crooked thug to prop up as a leader, trillions of devalued dollars, your very own toy soldiers to do with as you will, and numerous moving and life-like targets to shoot)is legitimate. This is extremely important for the puppeteers because then all your bought and paid for friends in Europe and elsewhere can all pretend that the puppet government is legitimate so everyone can be ever so happy to pretend that they aren’t raping and pillaging. And everyone knows that the raping and pillaging is the best part! Surely Krazy Karzai knew this and since he was the only game left in town after he outmaneuvered his rival Abdullah Abdullah, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and the rest of the lovelies he is of course now pronounced man and legitimacy and Obama can now forever hold his peace.

Of course Obama has lowered the doom of “or else” upon Krazy Karzai who has six months to clean up Dodge or get out of town. We’ll see. If I were Krazy Karzai I’d get those pearl handled six-shooters out and practice shooting some cans. We saw what happens to legitimate leaders once they fall out of favor with the Empire as in the case of Saddam. Still, it looks like Obama is stuck with his erstwhile pal Krazy Karzai for a little while and six months from now, well, a lot of things can happen in six months including unfortunate accidents.

In a way this is just justice. During the last election the big sell to the corporate kingpins coming from the Demokrat's korner was that they would be the steady hand behind the wheel of the imperial barge (barges are drawn by donkeys by the way). The Republican leadership was described as incompetent and the Democrats would be ever so much cleverer than W. Bush for they and they alone knew that the right and righteous war was in Afghanistan not silly old Iraq for Pete’s sake. And now here is the Democratic leadership with egg all over their faces, cheeks rosy and burning like a blushing bride with Krazy Karzai on their powdered schnozz in the form of a big ugly and hairy wart. If people weren’t dying I could laugh. Youz guys is Kompetent!

This is where the layers of hypocrisy and lies can tangle you up. The issue is not about who is competent and who isn’t. The issue isn’t about if we are winning or losing. The issue isn’t about a choice between Afghanistan and Iraq. The issue is and always has been the morality of attacking and occupying other nations under false pretenses in order to enrich a few of the most wealthy.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Three Drones are Better than One

Via Jonathan Schwarz


The U.S. government runs two drone programs. The military’s version, which is publicly acknowledged, operates in the recognized war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, and targets enemies of U.S. troops stationed there. As such, it is an extension of conventional warfare. The C.I.A.’s program is aimed at terror suspects around the world, including in countries where U.S. troops are not based. It was initiated by the Bush Administration and, according to Juan Zarate, a counterterrorism adviser in the Bush White House, Obama has left in place virtually all the key personnel. The program is classified as covert, and the intelligence agency declines to provide any information to the public about where it operates, how it selects targets, who is in charge, or how many people have been killed.

It seems obvious that one of the reasons for the popularity of using drones for assassination in Pakistan is that it doesn’t involve the deaths of U.S. soldiers. This must in part be driven by domestic politics for high body counts of U.S. soldiers make war unpopular and the Afghan War is already unpopular. So behold the cold calculated thinking behind the decision to escalate the use of drones by Obama who in nine and one half months authorized more drone attacks than W. Bush did in his last three years in office. On one side there is the desire of all leaders to retain and gain power (with war as the means) and on the other side there is the well known fact that large numbers of civilians including small children are slaughtered as a result of using drones. Guess which side won. It wasn’t the small children.

Let’s reduce this to the essentials. When it came to deciding between political self-interest and the lives of innocent civilians staying in power wins hands down. I doubt if much time was spent on deciding between the two. Certainly much less time than Obama’s little dog and pony show displaying his desire to appear wise and thoughtful right before he sends the next 45,000 or so troops to Afghanistan. Even if the Afghanistan War isn’t escalated the war would only shift to a different front with the same horrific results. Most of any fallout amongst our political class is due to disagreements on tactics and strategies. The wars themselves are never questioned, or rarely are, and will continue even as they are now on many fronts.

Recently I viewed a short video that appeared to be a rather lame propaganda piece. It shows some U.S. soldiers walking along in Afghanistan and as part of the winning hearts and minds plan a young soldier approaches a family in front of their hovel and introduces himself. “Hey, hi, like my name is Fred and I just wanted to say hey, hi, how ya doing?” Nothing could bring home the idea more than this video that teenagers with guns dressed up in battle gear are not going to bring social change to Afghanistan. Such insanity couldn’t be more forlorn or ridiculous. The scene with the soldier was ludicrous and bizarre to the point where you wondered where reality begins and ends.

Meanwhile behind this façade of “gosh golly gee whiz we’re just helping old Afghanistan women across streets” there is a steady drone of death in the background as the war of drones continues and escalates under Obama’s authorizations.

People often talk of changing other people. What in the world does that mean? Change what? Should people be bred to have three arms and four eyes? We complain that things need to change because someone is lording it over someone else yet in the end we who wish to change things in order to end one group from lording it over others is in itself an act of lording it over those who we wish to stop form lording it over others. I could go on but this is already asinine and maybe you see what I mean. I’m not asking people to suspend common sense because I don’t have to. We do it all the time. Liberals often are willing to overlook much just like their conservative brothers and sisters. This is part of the human condition not just the property of Republicans or Democrats. We too easily accept that our present reality is the only possible reality yet it is only one possibility out of countless others. What we accept as normal is more a product of our culture than any reflection upon reality.

People were horrified or alternately amused by the neocon who said we now make our own reality yet he was uncomfortably close to the truth. We do create our own reality. We do it all the time. The extreme right clings to Grandpa Reagan as if the old murderer embodied their vision of America. Liberals cling to the hope that Obama will mitigate some of the worst damage and who knows. Frankly I think it’s a pipe dream for by all the signs Obama has no interest in undoing any of the worst of W. Bush rather he seems to be expanding it. Further adding to the mix is that liberals aren’t all that disturbed when one of their favorite sons is bombing the hell out of someone as in the case of Bill Clinton and former Yugoslavia. If a Democratic president does it it’s because someone was really being bad and deserved it. Either that or it is just not discussed in politer circles. This is the folly of identity politics because identity politics isn’t about facts it’s about how people view themselves and its one way the ruling class keeps us enthralled and powerless through division.