Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Why we can't have nice things

I had an interesting vest-pocket insight into the problems of U.S. politics this morning when a Facebook pal of mine posted a link to an article critical of the Trump Administration's migrant-kiddie-internment policy.

Because the VERY first "comment" was from some dude (an in-law of hers, as it turned out) snarling that "if you don't want your kids taken away, don't break the law!"

This was met (unsurprisingly, since my friend is pretty lefty) with a barrage of "Seriously, dude?" replies. Said dude's defense was that he was all in with lurrrrving him some immigrants, provided they "did it legally".

Said dude was then forcibly reminded that U.S. immigration law, as currently constituted, 1) makes it practically impossible for a simple campesino from the Mexican hinterlands or anywhere else in Latin America to obtain legal residence in the United States, and 2) makes it a misdemeanor to try and enter any other way, so that, in effect, the choice for a poor person from the hemispheric midsection is to be immiserated or imprisoned. That's kind of the language of an abuser; "If you just stop making me mad, honey, you would stop forcing me to hit you..."

Things went downhill from there, with said dude whipping out every chuckleheaded "conservative" Internet meme (Clinton did it too/first, it's The Law, Liberals are Immigrant Cucks, etc, etc...), concluding with the suggestion that imprisoning latino kiddies without their families was not as big a hardship for said kiddies as the hardship suffered by military dependent kiddies whose absent mommies and daddies were fighting for your freedoms, dammit!!!

Finally, after getting hammered for his combination of dopey memes, untruths, strawman arguments, poor analogies, and the sort of "repeating-the-same-idiot-thing-is-the-same-as-rational-argument" style of "debate" you run into in places like Breitbart, or the comment sections of your newspaper all the time, he pulled the original comment and ended the debate.

Which, frankly, is a problem. Because we SHOULD be discussing the issue of the United States and its southern neighbors.

Starting with the premise that the wingnuts aren't entirely wrong.

Oh, don't get me wrong; they ARE wrong, because they aren't actually arguing rationally. They're not really debating the ISSUE, but, rather, shrieking their fears of racial pollution, cultural submergence, the potential loss of white supremacy that are wrapped up in the idea "Press One For English".

But.

The notion that it is not healthy for a republic to have in its midst a significant, indigestible mass of people who are outside the civil contract, who are outside the protection of civil and criminal law, and are locked out of the public square is not ridiculous. It is not good for the people, who are prey to the worse elements of that polity. It is not healthy for the republic, which is forced to make choices and enforce them on a populace that has no voice in making those choices.

It's not even good for the polities those people are fleeing, because it allows those nations to avoid making changes that might help those people want to stay where they are.

But.

Treating this as the problem solely of those people fleeing those places (or seeking a better life here in the U.S.) IS ridiculous. That's my issue with the Trumpkins here. They're trying to take a complex problem with a multivariate and difficult history - including some VERY bad behavior on the part of the United States and its people - and simplify it into making it about the MS-13 rapists with calves like cantaloupes.

If we lived in a United States governed by rational people - left or right - we'd be talking about a sort of "Grand Concert of North America", which would address things as disparate as the impact of American gun and drug laws, the dysfunctional legacies of Spanish colonialism and native Latin American caudilloism, trade and infrastructure relations...even things as arcane as "could a hemispheric solar power initiative create jobs and raise incomes along with addressing the cost of fossil fuel production and importation..?"

IMO the problems with trying to do that here are overwhelmingly in dealing with the Right.

The Left needs to accept that there ARE problems with migration from Latin America. No, just taking a shit-ton of people in from troubled Latin countries doesn't help them, or us. There needs to be SOME rules, and some limits. And there needs to be a reasonable "process" that, if you try and go around it and get caught, puts you out on the mat like the Flintstones' sabertooth cat.

But the Right...shit, where to start?

You're gonna have to press one for English. Any solution WILL involve migration, and so just like Mrs. Van Schuyler shopping at the Lower East Side in 1899, you're gonna hear Spanish like she heard Italian and Russian and German and Polish and Yiddish. Relax. Just like those Fagolinis and Kropotkins and Drumpfs and Solokowskis and Cohens, the second generation will be bilingual, and the third will be wearing Jordans, talking GenZZ slang, and playing Hong Kong hip-hop way too loud on Friday night

You're gonna have to accept that your Wonder Bread brand of "conservatism" probably won't resonate with those folks. You're gonna have to find another not so fully invested in Being White. Oh, and maybe a trifle less sucking-up-to-the-rich might be nice.

Just sayin'.

A sane conservative America would be willing to go there.

The current "conservative" America will not, because it cannot. It's Trump, in all his insanely vituperative, libtard-hating, social-justice-warrior-cucking, anti-everything-not-seen-at-the-last-NASCAR-race-meeting glory. To change would be to deny its very essence.

So, it's pretty simple, and, no, it doesn't really involve "both sides".

The existing Left needs to think about "immigration" a little deeper.

The existing Right must be Destroyed.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Final Frontier!

If it was anyone but His Fraudulency I'd suspect that this "new" Space Force was simply to create more opportunities for corporate welfare, a juicy bone to throw to the dogs of war like Northrup Grumman or Raytheon.

Because it IS, I am trying to figure out where the grift is; what's in it for Trump?

Sadly, the whole magilla may be just some sort of bizarre bug lodged in one of the dimmer-sparking recesses of the First Gentleman's cerebrum. He seems to have a fixation on the idea of Space Marines just like he does with his other fixed ideas like MS-13, fake news, and black people counting his money.

What I really don't get is the notion of making this a separate branch of the armed services.

If it's a grift, it would seem to work perfectly well as a subunit of the Air Force. Unless...the service branches have worked out an effective way to mulct tax dollars by insisting that each service gets a roughly equal share of the DoD fiscal pie. I don't see any way that a GOP administration, Trump or no Trump, slices that same pie into smaller slices so as to fund this "Space Force" equally. So this may be a cunning plan (or as cunning as the Tangerine Talleyrand can get, anyway...) to make the whole pie even bigger.

IMO the place this doesn't make sense is militarily.

I know I get stick for saying this, but the bottom line is that there are two places human beings fight for control; the land and the sea.

(And, frankly, the seas only as an adjunct to human activities on land - that's why it makes little sense for continental powers, like Germany or Russia, to invest heavily in "blue water" navies; they are pretty much self-sufficient with landpower alone.)

There's no permanent "control" of the air, so the notion of a separate "air force" with its own agenda seems to me to be an ineffective way to allocate national resources.

In the case of the USAF, the driving force seems to have been the strategic bombing campaigns of WW2, which have always seemed a massive sink of blood and treasure made possible only because the Allies HAD that much more blood and treasure. I'm not saying that those campaigns were utterly worthless, but that they seem to be to be a pretty fragile hook on which to hang so much money and power.

The air is militarily useful primarily as it helps armed forces control the land and the sea, so to me it makes sense that the ground and naval forces should have a very big say in how the Air Force is armed, organized, and trained.

This "Space Force" seems like an even stronger case for handing off control of the thing - if there's a case to be made for it at all - to the existing services. All three armed services use near-Earth space for communications and intelligence acquisition. Anything else - such as the construction of science-fiction armed platforms - seems to range from pointless to destabilizing. At the very most I could see setting up some sort of inter-service " Joint Low Earth Orbital Command" to coordinate those commo and intel activities to prevent duplication and streamline utilization.

But, hey...it's Trump? So who the hell knows. It could be about exploding those cannons on the beach. Or the asteroids. Or Mars.

WASF.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Ladies and Gentlemen, The President of the United States

...on the subject of the DPRK:
“They have great beaches. You see that whenever they are exploding the cannons in the ocean. I said, ‘Look at that view, that would make a great condo.’ I explained it. I said, ‘Instead of doing that, you could have the best hotels in the world. Think of it from the real estate perspective.’”
Thanks, folks, I'll be here all week!

Well, I guess it beats hell out of "fire and fury".


WASF.

Friday, June 8, 2018

US Iran

Alex Finley has a good four-part series on how Iran and Americans got on each others bad-boy-list.  

Alex is a former CIA op who served in West Africa, and is now a satirist publishing on Politico, the Cipher Brief, Slate, her own blog and several others.

Her historical snapshots of the Tehran-DC relationship is full of insights and worth a read.

https://alexzfinley.com/2017/09/06/iran-they-think-were-great-part-1/

One snivel on my part though.  She calls Kermit Roosevelt the quiet, hidden force behind the 1953 Iranian coup d'etat.  Maybe she has better background info than I, but my view was always that Kermit and the US were minor players and that the coup was primarily engineered by the Brits.

Here is her twitter account:

https://twitter.com/alexzfinley?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor



Monday, May 28, 2018

Momento Mori

I never quite know how to deal with this day.

Typically I simmer all day in a sort of low, sullen...not quite anger, more like...irritation, like a peat fire smouldering deep below the surface. My fellow citizens' clueless, careless, indifference to the whys and hows their soldiers died is bitter gall, and the unfortunate alternative is a kind of fawning reverence for some imaginary soldier who has "fought for their freedom" that is almost more irking than the cluelessly indifferent.

I understand that most of these people are trying to say or do something "nice" on a day that has been set aside for what they dimly sense as a sort of patriotic celebration of GIs. They usually have no clue that this is something different from Veterans' Day, and, like a drunk at a wedding, proceed to either offend, with their jingo patriotism, or by their hiding their eyes from the abyss that is death in war.

I want them to just say it; "These men and women died not for me but because of me, because of my choices, or because I chose not a make choices. And many of them, and all of them that have died since the end of the Korean War in 1953, died for damn near nothing, died chasing the ghosts of my fears and ignorance. They died because I thought of dominoes, or of Evil Empires, or of fighting them there so we wouldn't have to fight them here. They died because I let unscrupulous men lie me into fear, into foolish anger, into hate. They died because I was a bad citizen.

And I have never come to terms with that. I've never admitted that, or repented of that, or apologized to the dead for my acts or my indifference."


I know that won't happen, and that galls me, too. We Americans are bad at things like regret, repentance, and apologies.

So I'll say it here.

Fuck, I'm sorry, guys.

I fucked up. I trusted people I never should have. I didn't rage with fire and steel against those people who killed you. No, not the people you fought. The people who sent you to fight for nonsense, or hubris, or greed, or stupidity. And once I knew that they were fools, or criminals, or both I did nothing to punish them for murdering you. They still live, many of them honored and respected, while you are nothing but dust and ashes.

I am ashamed.

All I can promise is that I'll try and do better in the future. I'll try and make sure that they can't make any more of you.

That is all.

Take a break in place and smoke 'em if you gottem.

And, as always on this day; this.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

May 26th, 2018

Seventeen years ago, George W. Bush launched his war against Afghanistan...because...reasons.

I guess he didn't like he Taliban, didn't like Afghani's...who knows, all I know is B-52's were used extensively to deliver our government's opinion on the former Taliban government...then switched to boots, tires, and tracks to further ensconce our opinion that we no likey Taliban...and oh, by the way, you wouldn't have happened to see a tall guy, thin, gaunt, wear's a turban, Arab fellow...no, well, then a pity we're going to have lower some topography.

War in Afghanistan...it made sense if one just doesn't look at the utter failure of diplomacy, and just stuck to "it's on bitches!" post-9/11

But, no...the splendor of kinetics and energy disbursement amongst mud buildings seems so...quaint...but wait, lo and behold, W. turned his eyes to Iraq...ah yeah, you gonna git it!

And so.../sigh...George W. Bush, with one war in the basket, Afghanistan, starts another fucking war in Iraq...rinse, repeat, toss out the old, set up the new...aaannnd, now let loose the sectarian fighting...because now the Shiites have had enough the Sunni's shit for the last fifty years, so it's on bitches!
Shiites gunning for Sunni's, and then Sunni's gunning for Shiites, throw Al-Qaeda in the mix, oh hey, and throw Iran in for shits and giggles, and then incomes ISIS...like frat boys attracted to a kegger, ISIS fills in because, while Iraq is falling-the-fuck-apart, Syria lights up.../sigh...

And we stood there in the middle of those groups thinking, "uh...wut?!?"

We're supposed to been greeted as liberators, friends, Americana, Apple pie, 4 billion dollars in cash, high-level visits...damn, people, what more do you want?

USA out of Iraq?

And so with a new President Obama, of which I expected small changes, changes that would pull us away from two wars...instead embraces the tar-baby Syria, and commits.

Fuck me!

NOOooooo!

shit.

And so, now, we have...Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Syria.

/facepalm

17 fucking years of war.

And now it looks like Bolton humped Trump into gaming Iran for war.

So this memorial day, lets try to  remember that period of time...which seems to be getting dimmer...of when there was no war.

A time of peace.


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Peace Prize Playing Hooky

Cancellation?  Oops, there goes the Peace Prize.  The chickenhawk war consigliere Bolton appears to have triumphed.    South Korea seems blindsided that the meeting was cancelled right after Punggye-ri nuclear test site was demolished (IF it was demolished?).  


Moon just called an emergency National Security meeting at the Blue House in Seoul - at midnight!!!. Japan looks clairvoyant in their earlier skepticism about this summit.

Some are saying that Kim and company set up Trump to cancel, making Kim look like the adult in the room with Chinese and ROKs both in his corner.   Maybe, but I'm not so sure.   Trump does not need anybody's help in making himself look like a buffoon. 

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Dd92X2YVQAAR-k4.jpg:large



Update 5/24: FDChief here (sorry to horn in, mike, but I couldn't resist...) Fred Kaplan at Slate has a worthwhile take on the "probable-why" the Art of the Dealer called this off:
"In short, Trump is sleepwalking into a potentially historic summit with a determined leader who knows what he has and, more importantly, what he wants—while, until very recently, Trump has shown no awareness that this knowledge is fundamental to diplomacy, to leadership, to making a smart deal.

Maybe Moon will snap Trump out of his torpor when they meet in Washington on Tuesday. Both of them want the summit with Kim to take place and, by some measure, succeed—Moon to reduce tensions and promote peace between North and South Korea, Trump to bolster his self-crafted reputation as a deal-maker extraordinaire. Moon has some idea of how to get to a plausible, if modest, accord; Trump has no idea. The question is whether Trump will acknowledge the disparity and let Moon write the script for the reality show in Singapore. If he doesn’t, he might as well bang on the table and shout, “Fuck you!”
Which Trump now seems to have done, in effect.

To add to the ridiculousness of this tragicomedy, here's the letter Trump wrote to Kim cancelling the summit. It's...bizarre, is perhaps the best description I can come up with. If one of my high school students wrote it in response to a "draft a diplomatic communique" I'd have given him a C-minus.
"I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, and ultimately, it is only that dialogue that matters. Some day, I look very much forward to meeting you. In the meantime, I want to thank you for the release of the hostages who are now home with their families. That was a beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated.

If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write. The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth. This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history."

To me the real tragedy of this is that now we will never be able to have this awesomely majestic challenge coin:

Update 5/24 p.m. This is just too good not to add:


Update 5/24 p.p.m. And this is even better:


When I can stop and think coldly about all this, there's really nothing to laugh at here. The chief executive of the largest, most heavily armed polity on Earth has been shown to be a poorly-informed, badly-led, credulous, monstrously egotistical, self-deluded fool.