The political lamp is lit...
First off, for those who like very good political humor, see the transcript of Senator Barack Obama’s comedic roast-sketch at the recent Gridiron Club Dinner, which I posted in COMMENTS under the POSTING PREVIOUS TO THIS ONE. “ More Routine Miracles... and dangers...” (I did it that way because the transcript is pretty long, though hilarious.) If nothing else, it suggests that this fellow knows how to hire good writers for his staff. Fun stuff. Especially envisioning those listening to him, who would rather have been elsewhere.
In this edition of Armageddon Buffet, "Wars, Famines & Pestilences" looks at the recent slaughter of Muslims by Muslims; the "Cassandra Report" uncovers who correctly predicted recent developments in Iran, Iraq and Palestine (set aside for “predictions” topic, someday); "Preparations for Armageddon" lists some steps in order to ensure Armageddon; and "Signs & Portents" takes a new look at what it means to consume.
Other political stuff:
Will Rankin writes: “I thought you'd be interested in the Gerry Index, a simple formula designed to work out exactly how gerrymandered your district is, you can find it at
Hm, well, I went online and tried it out. My own heavily GOP district (gerried by a Dem legislature) actually scores a rather low value of perimeter to area ratio of 1.9. I guess a sign that I moved into a pretty uniformly (and boringly) upper middle class area. Sigh.
in contrast, have a look at a few I found randomly. Like the 15th in Texas. The 3rd in Florida and 3rd in Ohio and 3rd in California (“three” appears to be a highly abused number). Overall, the Dems in California have been much less outrageous... that is, overall... than the Gops who dominate those other states. Still there are individual districts that show just how absurd both sides can be.
* Censoring our troops. Haven't verified this yet. The gist is that liberal web sites are blocked by the military but conservative (or neo-con) sites aren't.
* Another item that’s scary, if true. Since fall 2003, 4,387 Army soldiers, 3,454 Navy sailors and 82 Air Force personnel have deserted. Someone verify?
* I am not a blog-troll, so it’s rare for me to know enough about other blogs to link to them. But this guy is worth a glance. Highly recommended is “ The Monolith Crumbles: Reality and Revisionism in Iran” at http://www.chris-floyd.com/ or for specifics:
An excerpt: ” It is a well-known fact – except among the American media, the American government, and about 98.7 percent of the American people – that Iran is not a monolithic state where sheep like masses bray with a single voice in chorus with their demented leaders, but is, on the contrary, a complex society where many conflicting opinions on matters political, religious, social, historical, etc., contend with each other in open debate. True, it does have a government dominated by repressive clerics, who exercise the kind of veto power over secular law that George W. Bush's vaunted "base" dreams of seeing established in the United States; but Iran is far more open than, say, Saudi Arabia or China, just to name two countries where the Bush Family and friends have long engorged their bellies through insider connections with the ruling cliques. Therefore it must have come as a great shock to the system for Americans this week to hear Iran's former president, Mohammad Khatami, rail against the ignorant Holocaust revisionism mouthed by his successor, the hardline flibbertigibbet Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”
As some of you know, I believe the most cosmic American stupidity in this century has been our adamant refusal to wage the right kind of war against the mullahs in Iran... by relentlessly and adamantly wooing the the restive populace of that complex and sophisticated nation. There are a myriad ways to do that, but the cartoon Axis of Evil mentality of this administration proves that Condi Rice is no Kissinger. Rather, she is sub-par even compared to a college sophomore’s level of international insight. (Oh, America, pissing your Pax away with dippy neocon nostrums and Alcibiadean adventures, when the world needs the “spread of democracy” that this administration of frat jocks claims that it is after.)
. . Re: Iran... it is a calamity that we failed to do the one simple, obvious thing that might have been the worst nightmare of ALL of our foes in that region, including the mullah’s themselves. Restoring the deep and long tradition of friendship between Iranians and Americans. (And if a peace-out failed? Exactly how would we have been hurt by a love-offensive aimed at average Iranians, even if it did not work? Oooooh. Americans made nice-nice and were snubbed! What are we, weak-ego teenagers, or the supposed grownups on this planet? Our stature would only RISE if that happened.)
* This from Russ Daggatt: ”Cheney said this week, "we will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon" and "the United States is keeping all options on the table in addressing the irresponsible conduct of the [Iranian] regime."
Is this guy off his meds, or what? What exactly does Cheney propose to do to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons? (Of course, we wouldn’t expect Cheney to do anything PERSONALLY – the closest he has ever gotten to combat is getting drunk and blasting his old buddy Whittington in the face.)
When Bush took office, Iran’s two biggest enemies and regional rivals were Saddam Hussein, on its one side in Iraq, and the Taliban, on its other side in Afghanistan. On top of that, the Iranian population was young, relatively well-educated and Internet-savvy, largely pro-American and overwhelming for reform and against the country’s clerical regime. Bush managed to take out both Iran’s main enemies and actually make our relationship with Iran worse (MUCH WORSE) in the process. That takes extraordinary diplomatic skill. Bush also managed to strengthen the hand of the clerics, virtually killing all traces of the reform movement (which had been winning overwhelmingly at the polls in Iran) and getting a REALLY extreme hardliner elected president in the process.
Immediately after 9/11, the Iranian government was working with us against the Taliban. This was the PERFECT opportunity to open up the dialogue with Iran and strengthen the moderates. If we are going to take out Iran’s enemies we should at least get some goodwill out of it, right? Instead, Bush gratuitously dissed Iran in his "Axis of Evil" speech, at which point all cooperation between our two governments stopped. As we have gotten further bogged down in the quagmire of Iraq, and more powerless to actually threaten Iran, the intensity of the Bush administration’s anti-Iran rhetoric has just gotten more shrill. (While we aren’t in a position to do much harm to Iran, they could cause us a world of hurt in Iraq.)”
Meanwhile, Halliburton, continues to do business in Iran as it did when Cheney was running the show. Just last year, "…Reuters [reported] that Halliburton "has won a tender to drill a huge Iranian gas field." Also: "Vice President Dick Cheney, who has called Iran "the world's leading exporter of terror," pushed to lift U.S. trade sanctions against Tehran while chairman of Halliburton Co. in the 1990s. And his company's offshore subsidiaries also expanded business in Iran. … While he headed the Houston-based oil services and construction company, Cheney strongly criticized sanctions against countries like Iran and Libya. President Clinton cut off all U.S. trade with Iran in 1995 because of Tehran's support for terrorism."
Can you believe there was a time not long ago when Republicans spent $80 million to investigate a failed Arkansas land deal on which the Clintons actually LOST $46,000? What a quaintly meager sum. And isn't it just like a Democrat to LOSE money on his shady dealings?
It is no wonder than Cheney's approval rating (at 18%) is only eight percent higher than the percentage of people who say they would eat a rat on TV (seriously). And his approval rating is actually BELOW the number of people who think the Catholic Church has handled pedophilia well and that justice was served in the O.J. case.
Hmm, I think this system is misleading in some states- check out the 6th and 7th districts in Maryland. They get high gerrymander ratings simply because of the shape of the state. The 6th comprises the entire northwestern part of the state, which has a long, wrinkled border with West Virginia, defined by natural features. The 7th is the Maryland part of the Delmarva peninsula, with its western border defined by the Chesapeake Bay itself.
I don't sense much gerrymandering in these districts. Now, the 2nd is another matter entirely... The districts are, at least, nominally equal in population.
Well, I can't agree with you more on our stupid a** foreign policy. The only thing that makes sense to me is that the admin is actually stupid enough to WANT ANOTHER WAR. Whether this is for keeping that group of neos in office or for some demented apocolyptic religious dream, I'm not sure. Mostly likely though, this would just drive the price of oil up higher, which is all the motivation they need. The rich get richer and the rest of us suffer horribly or are killed in war. That's about how it goes.
David, I can speak from personal experience on the 'blocking of websites'...
While working my way through the retirement process, I spent time in the base internet cafe between appointments (this would be late 2003/early 2004). Blatant pro-Democratic party sites like Democratic Underground and Bartcop were blocked... blatant pro-Republican sites like Lucianne and Free Republic were not.
The website filter thing has got to go, of course. I can't think of any reason at all that it's there unless the dem-leaning sites link to pornographic websites or some other such thing spelled out in the UCMJ or civilian law.
David, the USA Today article appears to be an example of bad editorializing. The article reports that desertion rates are *down* since 9/11, and at a rate a full order of magnitude less than during the draft-era Vietnam desertions.
"The Army, Navy and Air Force reported 7,978 desertions in 2001, compared with 3,456 in 2005. The Marine Corps showed 1,603 Marines in desertion status in 2001. That had declined by 148 in 2005."
So, rather than being a scary trend, the facts of the article report *improvement* over years past, before Bush launched the military into the middle east, and a rate far, far below the desertion rates during the worst of Vietnam.
It was scarier in '01, before the 9/11 attack. Of course, I don't have a trendline to draw, not having raw data all the way back into something like 1985, to plot percentage desertions. So YMMV. But I'd be curious now about the raw data and willing to work an Excel sheet to plot the trendline.
Ahmadinejad is remaking the political face of Iran through a brand of hard-line jingoism, populism and cronyism, and as a result Iran is internally balanced between the competitive paralysis of the post-1986 system and the possible rise of the "second generation revolutionaries" who came of age not under the Shah, but under the Ayatollah and his conflict with Saddam Hussein (and many of whom harbor millenarian forms of Twelver Shi'ism).
The key here is that Iran is a quasi-kleptotheocracy run by the clerics and their historical bazaari allies (in Persia, the religious and merchant classes have long been linked by marriage and class interest). Indeed, the success of the anti-Shah coalition was due to the resistance of the bazaari class to the White Revolution's program of economic globalization, which threatened the merchants' local monopolies. Today, the clerics provide monopoly power to the bazaari, who in turn provide funding for the bonyaadi, "charitable" foundations that are essentially massive slush funds for the clerics and their covert interests in Iran and abroad. Ahmadinejad, as a populist, taps into the popular resentment against the clerical-bazaari alliance, and thus threatens the power base of the conservatives. Even the political party that supported Ahmadinejad, Abadgaran, exercises no particular influence over the President, and Abadgaran's leader (and Majils speaker), Gholamali Haddad-Adel, has come into frequent conflict with Ahmadinejad.
At the same time, of course, he's considerably more anti-reformist than the current conservatives, framing himself as a return to the pre-1986 single-party state. This tack seems to work well with voters who are part of the Iranian rural-urban migration into informal settlements -- that is, socially-conservative but economically-marginalized voters.
However, it's absolutely true that the vast majority of educated, urban Iranians have reformist tendencies and no interest in the second-generation's populist identity. Thus, his success depends on his ability to navigate the shoals between the demoralized but still potent reformers and the aging but entrenched conservatives -- and his greatest threat comes from the possibility of a unified set of interests between those two wings. Clumsy fusillades of the sort we've seen since the dubbing of the "axis of evil" (when alliteration trumped diplomacy) will probably strengthen Ahmadinejad at the expense of both conservative and reformist parties.
"Well, I can't agree with you more on our stupid a** foreign policy. The only thing that makes sense to me is that the admin is actually stupid enough to WANT ANOTHER WAR. Whether this is for keeping that group of neos in office or for some demented apocolyptic religious dream, I'm not sure. Mostly likely though, this would just drive the price of oil up higher, which is all the motivation they need. The rich get richer and the rest of us suffer horribly or are killed in war. That's about how it goes."
It seems apparent to me that another war is just what this administration wants. Both reasons you stated, staying in power and following a dream, I think are the main reasons they are following such seemingly insane policies. For some very interesting insights into the origins of their policies read this article by Chris Floyd.
This article will probably make you kind of sick, or really piss you off, but it is definitely worth reading.
Rob you are right that I poorly represented the point of the article about US military desertions, which (in a GOP leaning paper) tried to put a positive spin that the rates are declining)... though I did gic=ve the citation so you could provide Citokate.
Nevertheless, let me reciprocate some as well. Any comparison between today and Vietnam is specious. There, a HUGE draftee army was treated with massive abuse and neglect, in a war so offensive and nasty that it made Iraq look like a picnic. Today’s high-morale and deeply trained professional services aren’t supposed to have ANY desertions. True, that’s silly to expect in real life. But the raw numbers are simply appalling.
Thanks for insights, WatchfulBabbler. Still, all you say suggests that we should have been spending resources doing what we can to STRENGTHEN reform in Iran. Remember, there’s a tipping point, possibly, when reform makes it possible for the million or two Iranian expatriates, living in Europe and America, to become influential participants. At that point, things could move very fast. But the biggest tipping point is when our US foolocracy stops doing playground stuff that unites Iranians behind a theocracy they hate.
Everybody who is talking about an Iranian War and coups and October surprises should know one thing. There is one group that can save us. They are scared and ebused and purged and harried, right now. But when the time comes, I have faith that enough individuals will stand up to prevent monstrous things from happening.
It is the skilled pros of the US Intelligence Community and Officer Corps. The Kleptomorons know that this is their point of greatest weakness. Seething at 6 years of drooling incompetence, these dedicated alphas will know when the time comes to stand up for the Constitution. For the people.
I can think of one group that would definitely benefit from an increased US millitary presense in the Middle East: Israel. Israel is a small country, surrounded by enemies, currently holding them at bay soley because it has a stronger millitary force. The US is one of Israel's few dedicated allies. If you think of the Bush administration as executing foriegn policy as dictated by Ariel Sharon, do their actions make more sense? From Israel's perspective, even the more progressive Iranians might not be worth dealing with.
Several months ago, I read an AP article on Yahoo News saying that Sharon ordered the Israeli armed forces to prepare to attack Iran if/when the Security Council fails to act. If you want a good rationale for an invasion of Iran, "We're fighting for Israel" might very well work.
My favorite Obama roast quote:
"Truth is, this domestic spying has all kinds of useful applications for homeland security,'' he said. "And I have a suggestion in this regard, Mr. President: you can spy on the Weather Channel, and find out when big storms are coming."
Practically everyone in the country (besides Bush) pays attention to the weather news!
Also, "foolocracy" is a nifty word, but I think a better word is "kakistocracy."
Third item: I had to drive past three polling places to get to my polling place. I wish whoever gerrymandered my district had looked at a topographic map.
I'm no great fan of Condi, as y'all might have noticed. However, I do think she comes in for the strawman treatment quite a lot (and I'm presuming the 'Dr' came from somewhere). So, for a change, I thought it might be fair to point out an interview she gave with the ABC last night, where she discusses the ME situation in her own words. You might find it interesting to compare the heads she presents domestically and overseas.
(Interesting how Condi starts hiding behind the 'international community' on Iran. And I love the way O'Brien stuck to the issue of Taiwan!)
As for Iran, the degree of net savviness demonstrated by Iranian bloggers shows that the day of the dictator is passing. It is again worth pointing to an article by Peter Ackerman and Rahmin Ahmadi ( Iran 's future? Watch the streets, that depicts internal dissent with the mullahs as being far from crushed, and far from impotent:
(Against all odds, nonviolent tactics such as protests and strikes have gradually become common in Iran's domestic political scene.)
... and far from reaching critical mass:
(Unfortunately these are uncoordinated actions, and their organizers have not known how to anticipate and counter the inevitable repressive countermeasures - beatings, detentions, torture and extrajudicial executions. While there is a grass-roots movement for equal rights and civil liberties waiting to be roused in Iran, its cadres so far lack a clear strategic vision and steady leadership.
History suggests that non-violent action is effective, given time. But time seems to be in short supply on the US administration's schedule...
There's one thing about Iran that's consistently missing from the debate. They are a family. Yes, there are huge disagreements between the Mullahs and the Progressives. But they are a family. There are huge differences between Republicans and Democrats in the US - but do you really think that a significant proportion of one or the other would side with a third party invader who attacked America with UFOs and Tripods, claiming to be on one side?
Doug, Israel is THE fundamental loser of the last 5 years. Things were drifting toward solution over there. Palestinians were returning to work, both in Israel and outside. More nations were holding informal talks.
After Clinton's Balkans intervention, rescuing the muslims of Europe, we had some sway in the Muslim World. 9/11 helped us in garnering sympathy.
Sympathy that has all been burned away.
There is only one beneficiary of the last 5 years, during which our leaders have taken America's high stature around the world in turned it into near-universal contempt. That beneficiary has also managed to slip its former employees into high positions in all of our agencies of security - with Bernard Kerrick the most outrageous and flaming example.
Israel does not benefit from any of this. But the West-haters in a certain r-oil house definitely do.
when you said the officer corp could save us (you as im not a US citizen) . i hope you were not suggesting they should disobay the orders of the CIC
because then youare setting a preceident you really really dont want to
David, the r'oil conspiracy may be paranoid and unprovable, but you've built a pretty good case based on circumstantial evidence. Could it now be taken further and used to predict outcomes?
eg. the current overtures going on between the US and Iran.
(Sorry if this repeats, blogspot's having some hiccups)
David, while the r'oil conspiracy is paranoid and unprovable, you do make a fair case from circumstantial evidence.
Now, could it be used to predict events. eg the likely outcome of the current overtures between US and Iran?
(possibly not the best example, I'd like something that would make the r'oil conspiracy stand out from other models of what's going on)
This precedent is already set! Since the days of Washington, it has been accepted that an American officer is responsible to distinguish between lawful and unlawful orders.
True, the boundary between those two domains can be murky and it is a borderline in constant flux. This arduous distinction got a huge shift with the Geneva Convention, another surinf the Nuremberg Trials, and yet another with the conviction of Lt. William Calley and his sergeants, for the massacre at My Lai. Today, officers AND enlisted men take courses on how to recognize an unlawful order and what to do, expecially under ambiguous circumstances.
This is one of many ways that Pax Americana is BETTER than previous empires that taught pure obedience. And it is why I am so ANGRY that PA's reputation has been so trashed by morons who simply do not get it. That our pax must offer the world a leadership that's 90% example, with force only a very last resort, always subject to scrutiny and doubt. (Because force ... and chronic secrecy*... are always so tempting to rationalize and justify, that they should bear a steep burden of proof.) Only thus can we achieve the finest goal of any Imperium... to be the LAST empire.
Oh, by the way, I recall that several retired officers said, in their memoires, that during Nixon's final days that quietly acted to insert a couple of extra check steps, between (say) a command that he might scream into a red telephone and any actual missile launch. Moreover, he was informed of this fact, making the scenario even LESS likely.
(How ironic. Our reading of Nixon now is that he was VASTLY more sane... and satiable in his crookedness... than today's neocon alcibiadean monsters.)
I have to tell you guys that I sometimes sound more confident in the Officer Corps than I feel. I mean, look across history! Are we REALLY so lucky that the relentless heritage of reflex, knuckle-walking obedience will continue to be thwarted by its very recent opposite? By George Marshall's much newer tradition of adult dedication and professionalism?
Especially now that the top layers in so many departments and agencies have been subor...
But no. If we must maintain stalwart faith in any temporal power - below the beneficial gaze of an Almighty whose greatest desire is for us to grow up - then that earthly power has got to be the fealty and maturity of the US Officer Corps. The heirs of the Order of Cincinnatus. The citizen soldiers who have always - but especially since Marshall - thought of themselves as citizens first.
Not only do I desperately hope and pray that I am right, but there is real evidence that I am. Evidence from the clearest source.
Else, why would Karl Rove have dedicated such high priority to five years of harrying and bullying the corps, and the intelligence communities? He and his kind know that this bulwark must be purged and cowed and suborned, down to its very roots, before any real headway can be made. Before it is remotely possible to end the American Modernist Enlightenment and bring about a return to feudalism.
Which is why, fundamentally, I am so steamed at Democrats and liberals, for automatically dismissing the military, instead of viewing it as something we must desperately PROTECT, not reflexively cede to the other side.
"Nevertheless, let me reciprocate some as well. Any comparison between today and Vietnam is specious."
David, I fully, completely, and absolutely agree. The context of the article was the usual casually lazy journalism; the writer checked facts, oh yes, but *did no thinking about whether the facts he cited evoke a false impression of something*.
It is true, that it's specious to compare desertion rates of a conscripted army with that of a volunteer army. (And did you notice that the Air Force comes off clean on this? It might have something to do with the fact that virtually all the shooters in the Air Force are trained as officers first, with the enlisted personnel almost exclusively support people.)
However... it remains true that domestic desertions from the military are very low even in wartime, and lower today than they were before wartime. This could mean any number of things, including the idea that people who tend to desert are simply not enlisting these days, for fear of a foreign deployment.
I never thought of USA Today, published by Gannett I think, as "GOP leaning". Then again, I don't read anything published by Gannett if I can help it. Or Knight Ridder. Or Scripps Howard. (Ask me sometime why, in a private email, if you're curious.) I pretty much stick to AP Wire and NYT News Service these days. I can barely stand "The Oregonian", which is generally not worth bothering with.
OK, who turned on the event horizon... comments are being stored but not displayed in the main posting!
Anon: The officer corps should certainly obey the lawful orders of the CIC...
... and certainly disobey any unlawful orders.
Rule of law, not rule of men.
I know that at least as late as 1991, as a longstanding American military tradition, *integrity* was taught as the the single most desirable trait among officer cadets.
That is, those are the words taught. I've heard tale of test cheating scandals at West Point and the Air Force Academy. I don't know how they came out.
That, and adherence to the oaths of office, which are still made to the Constitution of the United States, ought to be a strong check against blind followership of an insane Commander-in-Chief.
My sense is also that the military lets out a collective sigh every October, as their paychecks start to go late because the budget isn't passed.
dang, blogger is having conniptions.
Of the two versions of my posting above about the Corps, please use the second.
In any event, the topic of THE LIFE EATERS came up on the uncyclopedia, including my "unfair treatment of Thor." So I thought I'd answer here with a little anecdote about that fellow.:
It seems there is a tragic story as to why this once-mighty Norse godling finally chucked it all in, demoralized by an episode that occurred when he attended a meeting of the League of Stupor Heroes one day, in San Francisco.
Before entering the seminar room, where Wonder Woman and the Invisible Man were giving a demonstration, the fair-haired ethereal stopped to relieve himself in the men's room.... whereupon a local, standing at the next station, had the effrontery to offer an impudent remark upon the Awesome Aesir's truly assgaardian fixture.
Rearing back in shock and affront, the lord of thunder roared, "I'm Thor!"
Upon which, the local only shrugged, then commented -
"Well, it's your own darn fault. If I wore spandex tights over a thing like that, I'd get sore too!"
Oh, while we're at it...
To a Dad -- “don't worry, I'll have your daughter by midnight...”
“If brains were beauty, you'd be even uglier than you are.”
From parents to presidents, leading by example is the most effective form of communication. "Do as I say and not as I do" never did persuade anyone -- child or nation.
Restoring the deep and long tradition of friendship between Iranians and Americans.
Is that the friendship that led to the overthrow of Mossadeq or the one that lead to the founding and training of the SAVAK by Col. H. Norman Schwarzkopf.
or was it a friendship just based on OIL.
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