Looking carefully at that which is unseen.

Monthly Archives: June 2011

Thinking about: Death threats

I want the same neat-o quasi-literate death threats that Jim Bovard gets! Nothing says that you’ve ticked off the ignorant sots who are incapable of forming an actual coherent thought (let alone a coherent argument) than their brownshirt flavored desire to kill you. Nothing stifles disagreeable thought like death, and there is nothing that the typical boobus americanus hates more than somebody who makes him feel insecure, whether by thought, word, or deed.

You see, your typical Yellow Bellied Thug, as found in the wild, recognizes in his heart of hearts that in reality his life is pretty meaningless, he’s never likely to accomplish anything more exciting than punching a time clock or suffer worse than a paper cut, and is intellectually and emotionally challenged by any reminder thereof. In short, he’s a perfect candidate for the oh-so-needed-but-yet-to-be-invented Total Perspective Vortex. The Yellow Bellied Thug, having no real accomplishments of his own, derives a false sense of worth from whatever his “team” does, whether in professional sports or, as we have here, military activities. Guys who couldn’t hump a rucksack two miles or last ten minutes on the sports field nevertheless view themselves as Grok The Barbarian because of that “their” guys did. And woe betide anyone who questions “their” team, because that’s the moral equivalent of questioning them. Since they know the answer to the question, “I’m a meaningless speck on the universe’s butt,” and are very sensitive about that meaninglessness (self-esteem being high in America, compared to, say, actual esteem), their response is the typical tantrum thrown by a two year old. He can’t argue, so he hits.

Well, he doesn’t hit, that would involve actual danger to his own worthless skin. He advocates that others go and hit for him. So he can feel better about himself. Maybe it’s time for a national time out, and all these “heroes” can take some time for a blankie and a nap. It can’t hurt, and maybe when they wake up they’ll feel better about themselves. They still won’t understand American values, but maybe they will be a little less cranky and less prone to whining and sniveling.

In the meantime, the adults are talking and the kiddies would be better off neither seen nor heard.

Thinking about: Why not come home?

The simplest proof of the existence of American Empire is the widespread plethora of military posts and bases around the world. The number varies, depending on who’s counting. A quick Google search shows a staggering variety of numbers – and arguably growth of same over time. Quibbles occur, of course – does an occupied country like Iraq or Afghanistan count as one big post? Or is each compound inside the country a separate area for counting purposes? Decisions, decisions.

Regardless of how you count them, the American Empire has a lot of troops overseas, which leads to two interesting questions:

The first was raised today in Rich Galen’s Mullings column, in which the normally thoughtful Mr. Galen takes a brief vacation from reason and says, “We can’t – and shouldn’t – close every military installation outside of U.S. territory…” This leads to the obvious, “Why not?” Why are there US troops on any soil but American soil? And given the Founders’ distaste for standing armies (the bane of liberty – Elbridge Gerry), one might well ask “why are there any American troops at all, let alone ones stationed in places that they didn’t belong in the first place?”

The second question was raised by Sheriff Babeau of Arizona, when he now famously noted that there are more American troops on the Korean border, protecting Korea from invasion, than there are on the American border, protecting America from invasion.

The answer to both these questions is similar and intertwined: The egomaniacs that infest Congress do not wish to see themselves, or be seen by others, as unimportant and irrelevant. Hurts their little feelings, that does. And so they strive in theaters both foreign and domestic to have the American government (which is how they identify themselves) seen as important and indispensable. They want to see themselves as striding among the gobbldygook speaking foreigners providing protection and security, much as they generate laws and welfare benefits (see Jim Bovard’s latest take here on the welfare issue) to the downtrodden huddled masses at home. Not, of course, that they would use their own personal wealth to do so, when it’s easier to demand their egotistic satisfaction at our expense.

The second reason is what the aptly prescient Eisenhower called the military industrial complex. Rumor has it that in drafts it was called the military industrial congressional complex. Big military means big drains on the Treasury, drains that go to support otherwise useless industries (well, mostly useless – there’s a decent market for small arms and ammunition, but not so much for B2 bombers and cruise missiles, amongst the general American population) which do, however, provide both jobs – which equal votes – in congressional districts and money for congresscritters to … do whatever congresscritters do with money.

In theory, the wars are long over – or should never have started – and it’s long past time for Johnny to come marching (or sailing or flying) home. Immigration is a question of law, not war, and so arguably there’s room for a large increase in border patrol personnel. Given the way that the current Border Patrol seems to be shredding the constitution it may be that open borders (with cancellation of the welfare state) may be a less destructive solution to the problem.

None of that, of course, will happen – and blood and borrowed-from-the-Chinese treasure will continue to pour out of America and into the pockets of the favored. Eventually the normal laws of history and economics will reassert themselves, and we’ll see what the Dark Ages were like, first hand.

Got popcorn?

Thinking about: Justice, and the rules of war

Presuming that an activity that is nothing more than organized mass murder can have “rules,” a recent article leads to the inevitable questions needed to be asked by that minority who actually try and see that which is unseen:

If it is a “war” on terrorism, aren’t prisoners in that war, as in any war, entitled to certain treatment based on various international accords and conventions; and if it’s not war, but rather crime, aren’t there rules governing things like the justice system, such that killing prisoners out of hand is frowned upon? Isn’t the murder of a prisoner – or prisoners – a crime in itself?

Does the road to Amblève still lead to Malmedy?

Thinking about: Interesting new words

English is an oddball language (as if they all aren’t, in their own ways) which is, as one of my favorite writers put it, “The result of Norman men-at-arms making dates with Anglo-Saxon barmaids.” Whatever its faults, though, it shines in being one of the more flexible languages in the world (look up “intercontinental ballistic missile” in German sometime), though some may argue that its very flexibility is part of its problem. It is a difficult language to use properly, though, and any doubters need only look at a crop of high school and college essays for affirmation of that theory. If you see nothing wrong with the majority of high school and college essays these days, then you’re probably not reading this blog either and thus I’m not talking to you. Writing to you. Whatever.

One of English’s flexible aspects is the way its speakers can come up with new words and phrases to describe something more accurately. I love a well crafted neologism that perfectly defines an issue.

What generates this particular bit of ruminationing is this article from one of my favorite daily stops, Naked Capitalism. When one looks at the economic structure of America today, the best short description I can arrive at is “crony capitalist welfare state, with a strong side order of fascism.” But the problem with the “crony capitalist” part of the phrase is that it while it covers numerous sins committed by the dotgov to aid and abet their bankster buddies, it doesn’t really cover the “how” of the current economic mess. And Mr. Hudson fills that void with his delightful use of “casino capitalism.”

Because, really, that’s all it is at the end of the day. People buying stocks, gambling that the value would go up. People buying houses, gambling that the value would go up. People living lifestyles beyond their means, gambling that the value of their assets and income would increase to cover the difference. Unfortunately, as is always the case, the great economic roulette wheel has come to a stop on a really ugly number, and a plethora of “small” gamblers – and by “small” I means ones who cannot afford to buy a legislator or two – are left to take the hit, proof of Heinlein’s rule: “People who go broke in a big way never miss any meals. It is the poor jerk who is shy half a slug who must tighten his belt.” It does not appear that the banksters are missing any bonuses, let alone meals, and yet it seems that new Hoovervilles are one of the growth industries of the day.

Given the way the world is going, it may be that some old words return and are as new again. The apocryphal Qu’ils mangent de la brioche and the results such an attitude allegedly inspired come to mind. Whether the words were spoken or not (with “or not” now in the lead) the attitude was clearly one at the time, and has come back again. I’d prefer a dearth of tumbrils in the future, but I am quite aware that my wishes and the course of history are often at serious odds.

Got popcorn?

Thinking about: 4G Warfare

The US will end up getting its collective imperial butt kicked out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Unlike other imperial territories, those two are remaining in an active rebellion – and the Arab Spring is happening in that neighborhood as well, just to add some spice to the occasion.

The biggest reason the empire cannot win wars is plain and simply American hubris. The typical American, whether in a leadership role or simply the guy (or gal) on the street, simply cannot comprehend that other people have other values. That’s why they’re “other people.” American “leaders” (more on that term in a later post) are particularly susceptible to the sin of hubris, imagining as they do – because of their exalted positions, which actually suck in a geologic sense – that because they were elected or appointed that they, QED, have all the right answers and that those answers must be inflicted on others, at gunpoint if necessary. Being certain you’re right, when that certainty only affects yourself, is no huge sin. Forcing that view on others, on pain of pain, is a problem.

Which brings us back to the Middle East. Are there people in Iraq and Afghanistan who want American troops there? You bet – most of them, like the corrupt government of Saigon, have personal stakes in hoovering huge amounts of wealth out of the country and in keeping their own personal fundaments intact and safe from any potential rebels or torch-and-pitchfork wielding mobs. The Mayor of Kabul would not last 30 days if American troops came home from Afghanistan tomorrow.

The key to America’s upcoming losses is another area of warfare that America has never understood, that type of warfare currently known as 4G Warfare. Wikipedia does a decent job of explaining it, in rough draft form, in this argicle. I’ve been following William Lind’s writings on the topic since they first appeared and have found nothing to quibble with.

America is locked into a 2G Warfare mentality. “He who bombs and kills the most wins,” is the guiding credo of 2G, and one only has to look at the budget imbalances between munition purchases when compared to language training to get some idea of America’s love affair with 2G. Why not? Learning a foreign language and culture can be difficult. Building and delivering a bomb is relatively easy. There’s no doubt that you can kill enough people to end any opposition to your rule – and the wind whistling through the empty eye sockets of the pyramids of skulls can be a soothing and pleasing sound to the conqueror.

As the imperial dotgov has grown abroad, it has grown at home as well. Can anyone imagine Thomas Jefferson or John Adams or Andrew Jackson appointing a TSA head? Now Abe Lincoln, on the other hand … but I digress. With that growth of empire and imperial mannerisms at home comes the imperial methodology of 2G Warfare, though now turned against the empire’s own citizens. Recent reports and articles have opined on the growing militarization of the police and the resultant propensity to treat more and more crimes as needing resolution through commando raids. It’s not an unreasonable nor fringe observation any more to note that law enforcement (cf. former description as “peace officers”) agencies are taking on more and more of the characteristics of an army of occupation, rather than local people keeping the peace. See, for example, further discussion here.

As a result and response, elements of 4G warfare are now appearing locally as well. If you can work your way through the gawdawful color combinations (don’t bloggers ever READ their own blogs when they pick their colors?) you can find an interesting sample here.

The US Army in Vietnam gave lip service to winning the hearts and minds of the locals, but were truly clueless as to how to actually go about doing so, and thus lost the war (while never losing a battle). Is that the future of America inside the borders as well?

Thinking about: Politician control

Why not have H. Beam Piper’s Lone Star Planet as a political model? Governance derives only from the consent of the governed, and if the Declaration of Independence is correct that it is the right – even duty – of people to throw off bad rulers, what could be more in keeping with that than applying the theory to individual politicians who wish to govern? After all, there may be no sense in having to destroy an entire system when removing a few faulty parts can make a difference, right? You replace a fuel pump and an air filter, not an entire engine. Since the average politician wishes to employ force, if necessary, to govern, then isn’t it only reasonable that those who wish not to be governed should be entitled to that same right?

Piper supposedly drew his inspiration from H.L. Mencken who said:

“…that it shall be no longer malum in se for a citizen to pummel, cowhide, kick, gouge, cut, wound, bruise, maim, burn, club, bastinado, flay, or even lynch a [government] jobholder, and that it shall be malum prohibitum only to the extent that the punishment exceeds the jobholder’s deserts. The amount of this excess, if any, may be determined very conveniently by a petit jury, as other questions of guilt are now determined.”

Don’t want to be subject to a legal bastinadoing? Don’t be a politician.