Monthly Archives: February 2013

Once again, the Bush Doctrine is NOT preemptive war.

It’s fraudulent war.

Now, as a sense of history instead of immediacy is starting to fall over the Bush years, even critics like Rachel Maddow and Peter Beinart still believe that ‘the Bush Doctrine’ was about preemptive war. Beinart:

After 9/11, Bush exploited the fact that the U.S. could not contain and deter a nonstate actor like al Qaeda to revive the right’s old argument against containing and deterring hostile states. “Deterrence,” he told a West Point audience in 2002, “means nothing against shadowy terrorist networks with no nation or citizens to defend. Containment is not possible when unbalanced dictators with weapons of mass destruction can deliver those weapons on missiles or secretly provide them to terrorist allies.”

And even if that’s true, Iraq never had those weapons and they always knew it. I can’t believe Beinart doesn’t think this is an important distinction.

And I was equally flummoxed in 2009 that Rachel Maddow didn’t get it either.

10 Years Ago

  • Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrates 
  • Colin Powell tries to do the Adlai at the UN
  • 50 Cent releases Get Rich or Die Tryin 
  • UN weapons inspectors comb Iraq for WMD
  • British intelligence document is revealed as a fake
  • UBL releases a tape urging his followers to fight America… and overthrow Saddam.
  • Dolly the sheep was euthanized
  • Tonya Harding loses a boxing match
  • North Korea fires test missiles into the Pacific
  • Ariel Sharon forms the Israeli government
  • 9th Circuit holds “under God” unconstitutional in school pledges

Broad Strokes.

It’s time to start revising the “first draft of history” with respect to what co-blogger Mr. MacGregor refers to as “the fear years” but which I might call the Age of Fraud.

In broad strokes, the world in the 90s seemed to be transitioning—finally—into one where total war seemed to be a thing of the past and an “Information Superhighway” would bring us closer together. There was a lot of political drama, from the 1994 Republican Revolution through the impeachment of a President, but nothing like the kind of policy disagreements we see now. Between Alan Greenspan and airstrikes, it seemed, everything else was a minor detail.

Huge waves of corporate fraud bookended the Bush years. His election was, in part, thanks to doubts about the economy many had after the spectacular tech bubble burst in early 2000. Shortly thereafter, we found out that Enron, which seemed to be the quintessential Republican company (and it was!) was a house of cards built on a foundation of air. And there were more. There was even more graft with Medicare Part D and huge tax cuts for the wealthy, which, at the end of this period would fuel the other bookend of fraud.

While all of this was going on, of course, the conquistadores in the administration were enabled by 9/11 to embark on a new map of the middle east. By choosing Iraq, they allowed Osama bin Laden to live another 10 years and distracted us from Iran, which, in the meantime, has on and off again actually started producing nuclear weapons technologies and actually sponsoring terrorist attacks against our allies.

In the Bush years we lived in total denial of other important issues such as climate change and healthcare reform—if it weren’t for two movies we might have never talked about these issues the entire time.

More quietly, the anti-government mentality metastasized within the minds of the very people who were running it and this lead, among other causes, to the destruction of a major U.S. city.

Not long after the rejection of all of this failure finally swung control of Congress, people started to take notice of the fact that a toxic combination of low interest rates, a sluggish stock market, and accretion of wealth at the top, thanks in part to Bush’s tax cuts, had begun to create a bubble in real estate, which everyone considered a safe investment. But there was so much speculation. And, of course, the self-hating government provided no oversight.

Thus was the primary piece of wealth of most middle-class Americans destroyed. And the fallout put more Americans that the statistics could measure into unemployment, underemployment, or employment at a reduced wage.

The Baby Boomers had finished shitting on their children and had unleashed a colonic on their grandchildren just in time for them to retire and burden the state welfare system, after doing nothing to keep them in the middle class by making college or healthcare affordable, and, for the most part, putting home ownership out of reach.

And there we stood until the election of the next President, who, now into his second term has not been able to completely unwind all of this, or make progress on things that should have been handled in 2003 not in 2013. America is at least 10 years behind and I don’t think we will ever catch up until there is a complete accounting planted into the public conscience about what transpired in the fraud of war and the fraud of wealth that occurred during these years.

 

Pit Bull Pushback Reminds Me of NRA

There is a movie, there is a book and there are special training groups dedicated to challenging the “stereotypes” about pit bulls. Here’s the blurb for I’m a Good Dog:

Perhaps more than any other breed, the pit bull has been dogged by negative stereotypes. In truth, pit bulls are innately wonderful family pets, as capable of love and good deeds as any other type of dog. Setting the record straight, Ken Foster sings the praises of pit bulls in I’m a Good Dog, a gorgeously illustrated, tenderly written tribute to this most misunderstood of canines.

This is almost certainly false and even at best is entirely misleading. I’m a dog lover, the owner of three dogs of different breeds, and an avid reader on dog training, behavior, and care. I’m far from an expert. So I pose this post mostly in the form of a question, but I’m prepared, more or less, to call bullshit on this.

First, certain breeds of dog are physically capable of inflicting serious damage on humans and some are not. A normal, healthy toddler stands very little chance of suffering maiming or death from a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Even snippier small breeds bred for the purpose of killing small animals can’t inflict much harm on school age children. And while pit bulls aren’t the largest breed, they certainly aren’t small, they have powerful jaws and teeth.

Second, different breeds of dog have different dispositions. There is some wiggle room, of course, within breeds. And if you abuse even the dopiest, friendliest Golden Retriever, it will eventually turn savage. Conversely, a properly treated Akita or Pit Bull will be a good companion as well. There are people who own wolves and wolf-hybrids and successfully tame them as well. But the starting point does vary quite a bit by breed. Labrador Retrievers are much more difficult to lose control of than, say, a Doberman.

It seems to me that an apt comparison might between BB guns and assault rifles. Sure, if everyone who ever owned an AR-15 had 300 hours of training on it and was a sharpshooter, kept it properly locked away, etc. etc. things like Sandy Hook would never happen. Conversely, if someone has a pellet gun and shoots it point plank in a toddler’s eye, that kid could go blind or die.

The problem is the ease of turning an AR-15 into an instrument of mass killing and the difficulty of turning a BB gun into one of even serious harm.

Worse, it is exactly the killing potential of assault rifles that attracts them to the kinds of people that we don’t want to own guns, or, put another way, the kind of people who want to use them for their intended purpose. Similarly, it is the reputation of Pit Bulls as killer dogs meant for dog fights that attract them to the kind of dog owner that is likely to be least responsible with them; the fact that they also allegedly serve as great family pets doesn’t diminish this at all.

I’m not really saying there should be a pit bull “ban.” But don’t whine to me about their being “misunderstood.” Don’t complain when your insurance is higher because you own a dog that can inflict a lot of damage on someone.

 

The Reductio Ad Absurdum Of The WOLVERINES!1!1!!!! fantasy

You’re a trained military officer, also with police training. You have access to some of the most powerful guns you can get, and you have a lot of them. You believe that you are being oppressed by an unjust authority.

You being your reckoning, warning those who hunt you that you will outsmart them, use “asymmetrical” warfare, just like the VC, just like the Wolverines.

But what happens in the end, even with all of that training? Dead in a fire, surrounded by hundreds of even better armed police.

So tell me, how is it that bubba thinks he and his beerbelly keyboard commandoes are going to resist the U.S. Military which makes the game wardens, sheriffs, and SWAT teams that pinned this guy down look like the Polish cavalry?

Dorner had them beat on a couple of occasions but simply failed to execute. He fouled the prop of his getaway boat. He stayed holed up in a cabin too close to where he ditched his truck. In the end, he just wasn’t as sophisticated as all of that military jargon implies to most people.

So, whether you call it a clip or a magazine—this is apparently a shibboleth for the real gun aficionado—you don’t necessary have the ability to resist a tyrannical government. Individuals, even if the Second Amendment does give them the right to bear arms, doesn’t give them the right to own the right kind of weapons to provide any kind of ability to resist state power (nor should it). This is a case that proves that.

I’m not unaware of the danger that presents. This country was very close to changing its course in my lifetime to the point where such resistance, 200 years ago, might have been worth it. But we can’t resist them with guns. Nope. It’s only in the First Amendment that we can really check power and even that is contingent upon people having the time to process fact from frame.

So, you're all like, PROVE IT then!

I said that the drone fnording going on on the left is the kind of politics that sucks, right?

Here’s the numbers. 71% pro/ 20% con. There’s not even a vientisiete against it! Even if the question is Americans, drones have a 10 point lead on average, and a 11 point lead among Democrats.

Drones have more fans than Jesus. And the reason(s) is/are simple, really:

• Cheaper than fighter jets
• No ‘muricans exposed to danger
• Stealthy and small
• At least as precise as other forms of striking

Seriously, folks. If we’re going to make fun of wingers for having Red Dawn fantasies, we shouldn’t have Terminator ones.

Droooooooooooooones. Again.

Gizmodo*:

Should armed drones actually be authorized to fire on Dorner, then it would be a first, and frankly a terrifying precedent

(Emphasis original.)

Why? Why is that more terrifying than the armed police out there who are shooting at innocent people who bear no resemblance whatsoever to Dorner or his truck? If anything, someone hidden in a cave 1,000 miles away is not going to be afraid of getting shot at by someone else and so is probably not going to pull the trigger based on anything other than good info. That is an improvement.

So, just like with the problem with droooooooooooonnes in the military, where the problem is war, here the problem isn’t drooooooooones, it’s the criminal justice system, or, more likely, gun and mental health laws.

* In a bit of Gawker journalistic standards expressed, Giz cites another paper and then claims to confirm it thusly: “Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz… has confirmed—though not explicitly—and is quoted as saying “We are using all the tools at our disposal.”(Emphasis added).

How is it a confirmation if it’s not explicit?

More on fnord Drones fnord

From Balloon Juice:

War is hell.  The Pentagon is in the business of conducting said warfare in the most casualty-efficient way possible that still achieves the goal of ending the metabolic processes of The Bad Guys.  The problem isn’t drones, the problem is the perpetual war machine that’s predated this President for a very, very long time.  We’re screaming about al-Awlaki’s kid when My Lai, the bombing of Dresden, and Nagasaki and Hiroshima happened.  Let’s face it, for America, that’s effing progress.

Angst over drones is the kind of Nation liberalism that created the electoral defeats leading to the destruction of labor as an American political entity. It also gives the Naderite intifada grist for their mills.

There are people who, for example, feel revulsion at the fact that we killed Bin Laden. I understand the kernel of that sentiment. The sentiment worries about state killing, like the people shot for delivering newspapers by the LAPD. From there, you decide that states should never kill (if they would just stop—especially the United States—there would be world peace). But this can only be explained as some sort of religious conviction, because it doesn’t actually achieve anything real.

Yes, all of it is killing. But that linguistic coincidence is where it begins and ends. If your convictions are predicated on the equivalence between the killing of Osama bin Laden and police abuse victims, you must at least own that you’re in a tiny minority (and one crippled by over simplicity).

Line-drawing is hard. I’m not sure how far below Bin Laden the line should fall. Definitely above police being able to shoot at anyone. But life, especially in government, is basically about drawing lines between shades of grey and almost never about intellectually facile consistencies.

UPDATE:

If I were a cynic, I would say that they hate drones because the less collateral damage there is, the more difficult opposing war “just because” becomes. When pacifism becomes an agenda instead of a means to a better world, then you get this kind of horeshit.

Out, damn'd spot!

shower6

 

“Out, damn’d spot! out, I say!—One; two: why, then
’tis time to do’t.—Hell is murky.—Fie, my lord, fie, a soldier, and
afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our
pow’r to accompt?”

The Quintessential Socal Drama

In the wake of a series of school shootings and teahadists brandishing their weapons in JC Penny’s, here comes a drama that it seems only Southern California could produce. A black ex-police officer goes on a revenge rampage all across the wide concrete cancer that spreads across the face of the earth between the ocean and the desert.

The FAA has to tell the chase helicopters from the news organizations to clear the airspace. The ski resorts have to close. The LAPD opens fire (apparently twice now) on Asian delivery ladies (clearly looked just like him) who had a similar truck—a terrible embarrassment that gives a peppercorn of vindication to Dorner’s manifesto, which accused the LAPD of a laundry list of horribles.

I read the manifesto. My non-expert conclusion is that the guy has had some kind of break in a way that’s not that dissimilar to many of our other mass shooters, where he sees his life unfolding in the frames of fiction and drama, and not reality. But instead of paranoia of black helicopters and liberal totalitarians, his fears are of racial persecution and office politics. A melange of Kleibold, Milton from Office Space, and Django. He uses the same ALL CAPS emphatics, super-peacocking overuse of military and police jargon, and “I’ve seen it all before” condescension that you find on Internet comments on major newspapers.

What makes the story even more seductive is that he is apparently only checking off people (or relatives of people) on his shitlist. He’s not killing randoms like many of our mass shooters. This lets us watch as outsiders, like any good Hollywood movie would.

He is also not so crazy as to be completely—how do I say this?—unable to calculate. His writing is disturbed, but not stupid. It brags but it is not messianic. It is persecuted, but does not construct large conspiracies. (Instead of a huge plot against him, there are simply a few people who don’t like him. Is that paranoia? Probably, but it is not the Illuminati.)

And despite the warnings that his military and police training would permit him to evade, the police continue to search the San Bernardino mountains (somewhere a lost black fugitive might end up dead without a police chase, believe me) chomping down hard on the bait of a burned vehicle.

UPDATE:

This is not really the reaction I expected. The LAPD is going to reopen the investigation on this guy’s firing? Jeebus, that’s weird. It seems like a terrible capitulations to the demands of a terrorist. At this point, it seems clear that his firing was prescient if not justified.

Second, here’s their excuse for shooting the wrong people in the wrong kind of car:

Margie Carranza, 47, and her mother, Emma Hernandez, 71, were the victims of “a tragic misinterpretation” by officers working under “incredible tension,” Beck said Friday.

So… they’re under incredible tension in every situation like this? This hardly seems like an everyday thing, granted, but are you telling me they aren’t trained for this? That’s not acceptable. Los Angeles is not a free-fire zone.

UPDATE II:

If you have enough valium and antacid to frequent Twitter, the #dorner hashtag is replete with a bunch of shitkicking conservatives blaming this on California and somehow, of course, this proves that we need more guns, that “liberal hate” is the cause of mass shootings and so forth. Ironically, of course, Dorner is accused by former LAPD Chief Bratton of being a grudge keeper. Anyone who would say this has much to do with politics is a grudge keeper as well, injured that their Neoconservative insurrectionist attitude has been called out for what it is. The Tweets of Denial are nasty indeed.

 

fnord drones fnord

Is it that this is a generation too strongly heeled on The Terminator or is there really something different about a remote controlled airplane launching a missile and killing someone as opposed to a human piloting an aircraft or a missile launched 1,000 miles away?

To me there is no difference except that less of our blood and treasure is exposed to loss.

So, the pacifist blogosphere is shitting its panties (sorry) this weak about the fact that the President can order these strikes. They are framing it as “execution” and the government being able to decide to kill anyone at any time.

That’s a nice argument only insofar as it fills pages in academic journals. If Big Brother is really coming for you, the only scenario less likely than a Red Dawn rebellion is one where a bunch of old white judges (a) order a stop to it and (b) said order is followed.

If the President is killing the wrong people, people must be trained to use their political remedies because the legal ones will not help you when the real trouble begins.

Pretty Simple

Yes, there is a student loan crisis. The answer is actually pretty simple. Amend the bankruptcy code to allow those loans to be discharged. And, yes, I do understand the ramifications of that.

But when tuition has skyrocketed compared to inflation and wages, it’s because so many schools are playing with monopoly money. There is a bubble.

Would this mean that students who are uncreditworthy be less able to get student loans? Probably. But everyone acts like just because there is a chance that these loans might be discharged in bankruptcy that everyone will just run to file bankruptcy. Most people (you know, natural ones—corporations have zero compunction) have a reluctance to do it.

Sometimes I really regret not putting all of my student loan debt on an American Express card and filing.

"Pro-Israel" McCarthyism at the end of the road

Yes, there is a glorious level of naivety that goes with thinking the “Pro-Palestinian” BDS movement is just some really fair and ivory towerish way to get Israel to moderate its actions in Palestine. That’s like saying that because Fox News didn’t actually squeeze the trigger on American guns in Iraq that it’s peaceful.

But there is also a completely batshit crazy McCarthyism amongst the self-styled “Pro-Israel” crowd that just cannot stop campus McCarthyism. They are so imprudent with their use of coercion that they are burning all of their fuel too quickly. By not picking their battles, by not limiting their career- and reputation destroying fusillades against those that might actually have some kind of effect anywhere, on anyone that matters (an academic forum? how many different ways do 99.99% of people not give an airborne copulation about one of those).

At least the attacks on Hagel are directed at someone whose views may actually matter even if they are self-defeating in the end.

The odd and slow American social conscience will eventually revolt against this, just as it has against the fanaticism of the Tea Party (just ask Mitt Romney and minority leader McConnell how that has worked out).

And the main reason why is that while these folks are connected to an anti-Israel (without scare quotes) agenda, they are, in these forums, merely speaking. They aren’t running for office. They aren’t bargaining for anything. They are just exercising Free Speech. We let the KKK exist in this country. We let Fox News exist. We let that happen. Is it always wise? I don’t know. It may not be, but it’s such a fundamentally American concept that pushing against it feels like cheating.

The Israel and Palestine debate has gotten so polarizing that someone like me who is on the militaristic side of Pro-Israel, who thinks that the separation wall is fantastic, who thinks that Palestinians are probably better off under Israeli control than their own (I mean, you know, unless by “better off” you mean being killed by your own people instead of governed by others).

But I just can’t hang with this kind of shit. Let them talk themselves stupid. Who cares? The backlash then hits them, not Israel.

The myopia is astonishing. What happens when people stop debating an issue is that it becomes black and white. And so when people change their minds, they don’t stop along any of the 1,000 possible shades of gray. They just flip. And if the American public turns against Israel because its advocates within America are acting unamerican, I fear for what happens next.

 

Hannity

TPM post on why Hannity is for immigration reform.

It’s also interesting that Ingraham, Hannity, O’Reilly, etc. are all on board but Rush is not. I’m not sure I’m clearly articulating what’s so intriguing about this. It’s a very visible example of the tension, which many have written about, between what helps Republicans win and what drives the Right Wing Media-Industiral Complex.

Let me translate that for you:

It’s interesting to see which ones are GOP hacks and which ones are more interested in getting advertising dollars from Neoconfederates. I’m delighted that there is this distinction on some issues, but they will pay.

I’m not betting against Rush. In 2016, they won’t have Obama to hate and I remain unconvinced that they will gain more Latino voters than white voters they will lose (both probably pretty small amounts). The proposed plan would totally demoralize a lot of the Neoconfederate vote in a way that non-whites just don’t understand. The only thing worse would be losing a war to muslims.

It’s true that the GOP can’t win nationally by continuing to pander to the Neoconfederate vote. But a transparent pander to Latinos (even running Marco Rubio—who can’t win a GOP primary) plus the Neoconfederate minus the people who refuse to vote for blacks and minus the people who will be sick over this isn’t a winning formula, either.

So, the Republican impulse to pass this, I think, will hurt them in a way similar to the way that NAFTA hurt Democrats. They’re better off fighting this tooth and nail if they aren’t really going to make a play for the center.

All of this makes me feel pretty good about 2016.