Sunday, December 31, 2017


May you all have a healthy, prosperous and lucky New Year.   Eat well.  Hug your loved ones. 

It is time overdue that the planet gets a peaceful year.  Especially for the children of Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmar, Syria and Yemen. 

May KJu and the Dotard send each other good wishes.

May there be no school shootings, or mass shootings anywhere by whackos with mil grade weapons.

May the guns of the Basiji attacking students in Tehran and Kermanshah turn into kebabs and their truncheons turn into halva pudding. 

May the USA reverse course and re-enlist into the Paris Climate Agreement.

Saturday, December 23, 2017


Heartbreaking spread on the Rohingya People at the New York Times here:

Sounds like Kipling's 'Ballad of Bo Da Thone':  rapine and raid - slashing the weak - filling old ladies with kerosene.

I was once told that Buddhism was a religion of peace.  A religion where the doctrine of "Do no harm" (Ahimsa) was above all else.  Apparently that is not the line pushed by U Wirathu, the nationalist Buddhist Monk AKA the Buddhist bin Laden, who is provoking this ethnic cleansing in Miramar.

But Myanmar is not alone.  Similar tragedies inspired by religious fervor happened in recent history appeared in Sri Lanka and Thailand. Are these fundamentalists or nationalists?

All major religions seem to eventually turn into something never intended by their founders it seems.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Ceterum autem censeo GOP delendam esse

Well, there you have it.

All I can say at this point is that if all those idiots who bayed about "Second Amendment Solutions" aren't storming Capitol Hill right now then they can just STFU forever after. THIS is what "tyranny" looks like; the imposition of a legislative agenda desired by less than a third of the citizens subjects.

In a true democracy this would result in pitchforks and torches and the Swiss Guard dead at the gates of the Tuileries.

Which is another way of saying that those of us not in the donor class that has commanded this to happen must either utterly destroy the GOP or bow before our New Plutocratic Masters. We will not do the former, so, inevitably, we must do the latter.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Oh, tempora! Oh, mores!

The lunatic stylings of Roy Moore and his fanbois reminded me again what a strange world we live in.

For one thing, it's the bizarre upwelling of tribalism in a world where "tribe" functionally means less than ever. Humans are interconnected in ways inconceivable even a generation ago, and yet “Evangelical Christian” has stopped being a religious faith and become a “tribe”. It’s really as simple as that.

So just like the Mongol who could stop on the way out of his yurt to play with his sister’s little kid before mounting up to go slaughter the Polish peasants in the village over the ridge, these folks have convinced themselves that they are a tribe, and the "others" out there are not just another tribe, but not really "people". It's like how tribal societies usually have names for themselves that mean "People"; the implication being that if you're not in the tribe you're not "people".

To top that off, these gomers have convinced themselves that they're not just a tribe, but a threatened tribe in a dangerous, frightful world against which only deadly violence can protect them.

A lot of this is an ugly combination of human nature – we’ve been tribes for a lot longer than we’ve been nations, or religions, or scientists, or whatever (along with human foibles in general – remember that “average” intelligence means that half the human race is BELOW “average”) – and way too much exposure to electronic media, which thrives on fire and murder.

But, still...the degree ti which that combination drives us to stupid behavior sometimes seems beyond any sort of rational sense.

I can’t remember what the actual incident was but I do know that it was one of the usual acts of distant violence, maybe an Islamic State attack somewhere, that caused a friend of mine to exclaim about how horrible and violent the world is today. She’s a smart person – “above average” – and so I bothered to talk to her about this.

“So…had one of those pesky barbarian invasions again last Tuesday, then?”

“No. What?

“Didn’t get the massive pandemic this week? No Black Death, no whole-family-wiped-out-by-smallpox, eh?”

“Wha…what the hell do you mean?”

“So I take it that your city didn’t fall to the besiegers and you’re not currently being raped before being faced with a sort of “bad or worse” outcome of death or slavery? The famine caused by the summer’s crop failure not facing you with a hideously slow death to starvation? The rapacious king hasn’t taken up half your neighborhood in the corvee again?”

“What the hell does this have to do with (violent act in distant place)?”

“What it means is that we, we in the First World, really live in an insanely, historically unprecedentedly peaceful world. We are almost impervious to common disease. Medicine and public health have made pandemics hugely rare. Massive volkerwanderungs that caused continent-wide death, such as the mfecane in southern Africa or the Gothic invasions of western Europe or the Mongol incursions into western Eurasia haven’t occurred for centuries. We live, in general, under a rule of settled law; we don’t run the risk of a robber baron in Salem looting and murdering us on I-5 between Portland and Eugene. There ARE still horrible things that happen…but to those of us not able to afford our own mercenary bodyguards they happen less than almost any time in human history.”

“But…terrorism! School shootings! Urban gangs!”

“Happen. Yes. But…you’ll note that they happen in little bits and pieces in places all over the world. Remember that until probably two generations ago you would never have heard of those places at all, much less of some awful thing happening in them. Think about it; which of these horrible things happened to someone YOU know, personally. Someplace within, say, three days walk from you?”


“Thought so. So the world’s NOT “the most dangerous ever”. You just hear MORE of these dangerous things ever, because that’s what the “news” thinks will keep you watching their broadcasts so they can sell more airtime to the marketers of payday lenders and erectile-dysfunction pills. So your very best option is to chillax and have a nice dark ale with a whisky in abeyance and read something thoughtful.”

Mind you, I don’t think she bought it.

That's a huge part of the problem.

I have no idea what the hell you can do about that.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Another Invisible Campaign in the Phony "War on Terror"...

Jim at RAW likes to hit on the "fake news" aspect of the so-called War on Terror that has obsessed and dominated the public face of U.S. foreign and military policy since 2001. As such it's worth noting that this past week, while the U.S. government was busy making things worse in the Middle East a combination of Iraqi, Syrian, and Iranian Shiite troopers and SovietRussian and U.S. flyboys and advisors put paid to the last remnants of the Islamic State as an actual physical polity.

This news was met with massive indifference by the Trump Administration, presumably because the success had nothing to do with His Fraudulency's vaunted "plan" to defeat the daeshi maneuver forces and if it doesn't magnify the Orange Leader it doesn't count.

But, also, this immense silence from the very people who typically clatter on so loudly about the "threat" of "radical Islamic terrorism" points out the extent to which that clatter is purely for domestic consumption. News that reassures the Common Herd that these wannabe Saladins really are nothing but a gang of raggedy-ass fellahin less likely to be a hazard to life and property than bathroom falls and defective Christmas lights isn't useful for keeping the public fearful and submissive to the sort of misgovernment that Sun Tzu warned was the danger of prolonged wars.

In the last post Mike asked "why are we still there?" in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the other Middle Eastern boobytraps. This, to me, is a perfect example for the way it points up the why; We the People have no real metric to assess the pointlessness of these misadventures, largely because there is a substantial portion of our own "leadership" that profits from that ignorance and the resulting fear.

Will the destruction of the physical Islamic State destroy the "Islamic State" as a generator of a predictable amount of death and destruction? No. Will it solve the deep social, political, and economic problems of places like Iraq and Syria that help produce the sort of destructive energies that produced the Islamic State in the first place? No.

Is, and has, the united States actually done anything constructive to address these problems? No. Indeed; the primary effect of U.S. military and foreign policy in the region has been everything bin Laden hoped for in 2001. The entire region is now less stable, more volatile, and more bitterly divided than ever before.

Except that the "Islamic State" is no longer an actual "state".

Thursday, December 7, 2017


Our Iraqi 'allies' in the fight against the daeshi headchoppers appear a bit miffed about the Trumpanzee's latest foreign policy disaster.

Both official Baghdad politicians and Qudsforce-backed militias are threatening US interests in Iraq.  The US embassy is probably well fortified.  But the 5200 GIs in Iraq are not.  And they now all are being targeted by the very people they have been helping to get rid of the jihadis.  Go figure that.  How could anybody have known that might happen just because the idiot in the oval office decided to move an embassy (irony alert!).  Their blood is on his hands.  Same for the troops in Syria and Afghanistan.   Tell me again why we are still there?

You have to wonder also how the Wahhabi imams in the land of Saud are going to take this.  Will the crown prince drop his unofficial alliance with Tel Aviv?  If not, will he survive?

Sunday, December 3, 2017

"A Republic, if you can keep it"

We have not.

A tax measure that provides a road map to increased inequality in one of the already-most-unequal industrial democracies and shreds the social safety net woven in the depth of the Depression to prevent a hard turn to fascist or communist revolution, and that is "supported" by, at most, a quarter of the citizens of the affected polity (and that in the midst of a relentless, unashamedly vicious barrage of lies from the ruling party that suggests that at least a portion of that 25% would fall away if they understood how nakedly plutocratic this legislation is) is as close to the definition of "taxation without representation" as I can think of short of a genuine occupation government.

If our political system has devolved to the point where a coterie of neo-Gilded Age fantasists can impose their Sharia Law on three-quarters of the populace, then we have put a wrap on the American Experiment.

In a truly republican nation this would decorate Pennsylvania Avenue with a festive holiday display of heads on pikes.

It has not and will not.
And, as such, we have no one to blame for our failure to keep our own republic but ourselves.

Update 12/6: And a reminder that, as vilely oligarchic as the GOP has become domestically, it, and it's current Chief Executive, are aggressively moronic internationally, as well.

I suspect that the derp behind this reflects the degree to which 1) the Fraudulency Administration is chock-full of people whose understanding of geopolitics ends with the Little Golden Book version of the New American Century, and 2) Trump "foreign policy" is really not about foreign policy but providing red meat for the base. The Right has been jonesing for going all-in on Israel for some time now, but previous administrations (largely with functioning hindbrains, even if as evil as that living inside the carapace of Darth Cheney) punted on the Jerusalem move for the very reasons pointed out in the linked article; it provides no real geopolitical advantage for U.S. interests in return for one more brick in the wall of Arab ire.

I know that several here have taken me to task for being "angry" about all this.

But, frankly, what else is there? I live in Blue Oregon. Outside of helping defenstrate the reptile Walden there is no more I can do to make Oregon a force for the 20th Century in D.C. And yet, here I am, like Smokey the Bear watching these vandals burn the forest of the America I grew up in down around me in hopes that a tangle of Gilded Age weeds will grow in its place. And that briar patch will be what my kids have to grow up in, an America more like the sort of America that drove men into the streets of Homestead to be shot down by formed troops.

I don't want that, and I don't understand how anyone not in the American aristocracy would.

And yet, here we are.