Monday, August 30, 2010

A book about one of my Battalions in Baghdad

Maybe I'll read it someday....but not anytime soon....

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Colonel, Thou hast spoken truth....Thou shalt be fired......

KABUL, Afghanistan — Throughout my career I have been known to walk that fine line between good taste and unemployment. I see no rea­son to change that now.

Consider the following therapeu­tic.

I have been assigned as a staff officer to a headquarters in Af­ghanistan for about two months. During that time, I have not done anything productive. Fortunately, little of substance is really done here, but that is a task we do well. We are part of the operational arm of the International Security Assistance Force commanded by Army Gen. David Petraeus. It is composed of military representa­tives from all the NATO countries, several of which I cannot pro­nounce.

Officially, International Joint Command was founded in late 2009 to coordinate operations among all the regional commands in Afghanistan. More likely it was founded to provide some general a three-star command. Starting with a small group of dedicated and intelligent officers, IJC has success­fully grown into a stove-piped and bloated organization, top-heavy in rank. Around here, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a colonel. For headquarters staff, war con­sists largely of the endless tinker­ing with PowerPoint slides to con­form with the idiosyncrasies of cognitively challenged generals in order to spoon-feed them informa­tion. Even one tiny flaw in a slide can halt a general’s thought processes as abruptly as a comput­er system’s blue screen of death.

The ability to brief well is, there­fore, a critical skill. It is important to note that skill in briefing resides in how you say it. It doesn’t matter so much what you say or even if you are speaking Klingon.

Random motion, ad hoc processes and an in-depth knowledge of Army minutia and acronyms are also key characteristics of a successful staff officer. Harried movement together with furrowed brows and appropri­ate expressions of concern a la Clint Eastwood will please the generals. Progress in the war is optional.

Each day is guided by the “battle rhythm,” which is a series of Power-Point briefings and meetings with PowerPoint presentations. It does­n’t matter how inane or useless the briefing or meeting might be. Once it is part of the battle rhythm, it has the persistence of carbon 14.

And you can’t skip these events because they take roll — just like gym class.

The start and culmination of each day is the commander’s update assessment. Please ignore the fact that “update assessment” is redundant. Simply saying com­mander’s update doesn’t provide the possibility of creating a three­letter acronym. It also doesn’t matter that the commander never attends the CUA.

The CUA consists of a series of PowerPoint slides describing the events of the previous 12 hours. Briefers explain each slide by reading from a written statement in a tone not unlike that of a con­gressman caught in a tryst with an escort. The CUA slides only change when a new commander arrives or the war ends.

The commander’s immediate subordinates, usually one- and two-star generals, listen to the CUA in a semi-comatose state. Each briefer has about one or two minutes to impart either informa­tion or misinformation. Usually they don’t do either. Fortunately, none of the information provided makes an indelible impact on any of the generals.

One important task of the IJC is to share information to the ISAF commander, his staff and to all the regional commands. This informa­tion is delivered as PowerPoint slides in e-mail at the flow rate of a fire hose. Standard operating procedure is to send everything that you have. Volume is consid­ered the equivalent of quality.

Next month, IJC will attempt a giant leap for mankind. In a first­of-its-kind effort, IJC will embed a new stovepipe into an already existing stovepipe. The rationale for this bold move resides in the fact that an officer, who is current­ly without one, needs a staff of 35 people to create a big splash before his promotion board.

Like most military organizations, structure always trumps function.

The ultimate consequences of this reorganization won’t be deter­mined until after that officer rotates out of theater.

Nevertheless, the results will be presented by PowerPoint.

The views expressed are Sellin’s own and are not necessarily those of the Army or U.S. gov­ernment.
Reprinted with permission from UPI.

September 6, 2010 ArmyTimes 5 .

Of course with slides like this, it's a wonder that it took this long for someone to blow the whistle.

Steve Benen on Glenn Becks "I have a scheme" Rally

MOVEMENTS ARE ABOUT SOMETHING REAL…. I tried to keep up on today's festivities at the Lincoln Memorial, but as the dust settles, I find myself confused.

For a year and a half, we've seen rallies and town-hall shouting and attack ads and Fox News special reports. But I still haven't the foggiest idea what these folks actually want, other than to see like-minded Republicans winning elections. To be sure, I admire their passion, and I applaud their willingness to get involved in public affairs. If more Americans chose to take a more active role in the political process, the country would be better off and our democracy would be more vibrant.

But that doesn't actually tell us what these throngs of Americans are fighting for, exactly. I'm not oblivious to their cries; I'm at a loss to appreciate those cries on anything more than a superficial level.

This is about "freedom."

Well, I'm certainly pro-freedom, and as far as I can tell, the anti-freedom crowd struggles to win votes on Election Day. But can they be a little more specific? How about the freedom for same-sex couples to get married? No, we're told, not that kind of freedom.

This is about a fight for American "liberties."

That sounds great, too. Who's against American "liberties"? But I'm still looking for some details. Might this include law-abiding American Muslims exercising their liberties and converting a closed-down clothing store into a community center? No, we're told, not those kinds of liberties.

This is about giving Americans who work hard and play by the rules more opportunities.

I'm all for that, too. But would these opportunities include the chance for hard-working Americans to bring their kids to the doctor if they get sick, even if the family can't afford insurance? No, we're told, not those kinds of opportunities.

This is about the values of the Founding Fathers.

I'm a big fan of the framers' generation, who created an extraordinary nation. But if we're honoring their values, would this include their steadfast commitment to the separation of church and state? No, we're told, not those values.

This is about patriotic Americans willing to make sacrifices for the good of their country.

That sounds reasonable; sacrifices can be honorable. But if we're talking about patriots willing to sacrifice, does that mean millionaires and billionaires can go back to paying '90s-era tax rates (you know, when the economy was strong)? No, we're told, not those kinds of sacrifices.

This is about a public that, at long last, wants to hear the truth from those who speak in their name.

What a great idea. Maybe that means we can hear the truth about global warming? About the fact that health care reform wasn't a socialized government takeover? About Social Security not going bankrupt? About how every court ruling conservatives don't like doesn't necessarily constitute "liberal judicial activism"? No, we're told, not those truths.

Movements -- real movements that make a difference and stand the test of time -- are about more than buzz words, television personalities, and self-aggrandizement. Change -- transformational change that sets nations on new courses -- is more than vague, shallow promises about "freedom."

Labor unions created a movement. Women's suffrage was a movement. The fight for civil rights is a movement. The ongoing struggle for equality for gays and lesbians is a movement. In each case, the grievance was as clear as the solution. There was no mystery as to what these patriots were fighting for. Their struggles and successes made the nation stronger, better, and more perfect.

The folks who gathered in D.C. today were awfully excited about something. The fact that it's not altogether obvious what that might be probably isn't a good sign.
Washington Monthly

A cause worthy of your support

I don't normally anyone to give up their hard earned dollars, but I cannot keep silent on this phenomenal charity.

Patriot Paws Service Dogs

Patriot PAWS trains and provides service dogs for the benefit of disabled American Veterans in order to help restore their physical and emotional independence, and to provide a service for other American’s with mobile disabilities.

Patriot PAWS is a 501 (c) (3) organization and is committed to providing service dogs of the highest quality at minimum cost. It takes 12 to 18 months to properly train just one service dog, and the cost of care and training for a single service dog during the training period is approximately $20-$30,000. There are no charges for those selected to receive the dogs. Only through donations (tax deductible) and volunteers are we able to provide these dogs to disabled veterans in need. Donate now to Patriot PAWS!

One compelling story that this charity made possible is from Michael Jernigan:

I have written several pieces for Home Fires these last couple of years. I have talked about my journey back from Iraq and my road to recovery. I have also opened up and let you into the side of my life that is haunted by demons. I have enjoyed writing and it has allowed me to face some of the things that have inhibited my growth as a person. In this post, I would like to talk about something not quite so serious, but very close to my heart: my guide dog, Brittani.

Many of y’all have read about Brittani in previous posts. She is very important to me and my family. Brittani is more than just my eyes. It is true that she helps me get around and does one heck of a job of it, but she is also the family dog and one of my best allies in my struggles.

I got Brittani in the spring of 2007 from Southeastern Guide Dogs in Palmetto. Fla., as part of their Paws For Patriots program. It is a program that provides guide dogs for veterans who have become visually impaired serving in Afghanistan or Iraq. The program has been so successful that they have opened it up to other veterans who are in need of a guide dog. We have even placed therapy dogs at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Brittani and I have been all around the country together. Unfortunately, many of these travels have not been with my wife and son. But when I travel by myself I am never truly alone. Brittani is always by my side.
I have a very supportive family and we always include Brittani in this family. When I am alone on my daily tasks of going to school, navigating the city or even in a hotel room far away from home, Brittani is there to support me. She knows how I feel at all times. If I am feeling down she comes up to me and curls up at my feet to keep me company. Often she’ll bring me a toy and want to play. It is very hard to feel sad when you are playing with a puppy. She gets so excited that it melts my sorrows away. She stands by me no matter what the circumstances. Having Brittani is like having a counselor right there next to me all the time.
Home Fires

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Random photo for a random mood

Today's moment of Duh.....

War Demands Compromise Hunt for Deadliest Weapons, Top U.S. Commander Says

The effort to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists has been slowed by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the head of U.S. special forces. 

Fewer elite commandos are available for the hunt and their expertise has been degraded by “the decreased level of training,” Admiral Eric Olson said. They now have only a “limited” capability for this mission, he said.
Meanwhile, the threat of extremists acquiring and using chemical, biological or nuclear arms “is greater now than at any other time in history,” Olson told the Senate Armed Services Committee in a written response to a question posed by lawmakers after a hearing March 16 on his command’s budget.

If you can't find America later will be because Glenn Beck apparently 'took it back'

Oh...and be on the lookout for some sort of 'miracle'........


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Does this 'patriotic' protest sign go with my White Hood?

The more I research this issue, the confidant I become that is indeed a manufactured controversy, through and through. Let's analyze who is opposing this center. Let's analyze who is acting contrary to the principles of private property rights and the 1st Amendment. Is is 9/11 families? Many who infect our airwaves would have you believe that, but they are wrong.

There are three generally accepted 9/11 Families organizations; The Families of September 11, the September 11th Families Association, and the September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. All of whom list their organizing body and affiliations with 9/11. Of these three, one has not commented [that I could find], one has taken a neutral stance and the latter has spoken out in support of the center.

Then we have 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America, which doesn't tell you it's organization or affiliation. With it's spokeswomen Debra Burlingame being frequently feted on Fox News, it would appear that she speaks for all 9/11 families, given the context provided by Fox. What Fox also doesn't tell you is that she co-founded Keep America Safe with Liz Cheney.

Almost without exception, every vocal opponent of the Cordoba Center is either a Republican politician, pundit or activist. Now that may not constitute offensive partisan scandal in some people's opinion, but let's look at some other less reported events around the nation.

Temecula, California, has little in common with New York City. But the debate over a new mosque in the sleepy suburban town east of Camp Pendleton echoes many of the themes expressed in the controversy surrounding the Park 51 Islamic center to be built near the World Trade Center site.

In Southern California, the question is whether the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley should be granted a permit to build a mosque on land it owns next to two established churches. The Islamic Center presently holds prayer services in a warehouse next to a pipeline company, down the street from a smog-test station and masonry supply yard. And during Friday prayers on July 30, around 25 local conservative [read-Southwest Riverside County Tea Party] activists stood outside shouting slogans of hate through a bullhorn, carrying signs with messages such as "No More Mosques in America", and brought along several dogs, hoping to offend Muslim sensibilities.


Dogs! Hey guys......1956 called...they want their racist scare tactic back.

Similar events in Murfreesboro, Tennessee

And in Florence, Kentucky

And Sheboygan, Wisconsin

And Staten Island, NY

And let's not forget the Koran burning in Gainesville, Florida

And Miss Geller of recent fame has decided to associate herself with a certain David Yerushalmi, of whom Charles Johnson of LGF details the bio.

This is a good time for some background information on Pamela Geller’s associate David Yerushalmi, who is an advocate for criminalizing Islam
itself and imposing 20-year sentences on practicing Muslims. Yes, really.

He’s not simply anti-Muslim, though; Yerushalmi also wrote a now-infamous article titled “On Race: A Tentative Discussion, Part II,” in which he advocated a return to a pre-Bill of Rights Constitution, and the restriction of voting rights to white male land-owners. Again … yes, really.

Where are the Constitutional Republicans? Why aren't notable conservative's standing up for the principles that they tout as sacrosanct? Why are they not standing against such transparent ignorance? This controversy is manufactured as evidenced by the Republicans who supported the center before they opposed it [read-before the script was disseminated].

Nobody had a problem with Imam Rauf working with the Bush Administration on tax payer funded speaking tours until the script was released. Now that Imam Hussein Obama [h/t Limbuagh] has done the same, Rauf is somehow an extremist bent on subverting the American way of life, despite his longstanding resume of interfaith collaboration and community building. This coincides with the stunning revelation that many oxygen deprived Americans think Obama is a Muslim.

The GOP appears to have a new Southern Strategy, it's the South Shall Rise Again plan...because the Republican Party is surely becoming the Confederate Party.

My Blogging colleague Zandar puts it best:
Capitulating on Park51 is the easy thing to do. Nothing worthwhile in life is ever easy. We are already seeing the results of what will happen no matter what Park51 does or where it is placed: it will not stop those who are the bigots, those who want Islam and their adherents erased from the American landscape, those who see no difference between the people who attacked us on 9/11 and the people who are building Park51 or any mosque in America or any Muslim in America period.

Moving the Park51 project will not slake their anger. Period.

Sometimes, the correct choice is the difficult one: to stand for what is right and just and lawful especially when it is unpopular. It is at this point when standing for the difficult but right position is the most necessary.

Build it. Show those who say that America is full of hate that hate can be conquered through real freedom.

In addition to all of this, the final nail closing the coffin lid on the opposition argument, is that Al Qaeda has a history of attacking Sufi Muslim Mosques, thus making the Cordoba Center a possible target of a terrorist attack.

Two suicide bombers detonated more than 65 pounds of explosives in one of Lahore's iconic cultural landmarks, killing at least 37 people and wounding 175. The attack on the Sufi shrine, locally known as Data Darbar, has sent shockwaves through Pakistan's Sufi community, who have lived in fear of such violence for four years.

Sufism, the mystical strand of Islam, is a largely nonviolent, apolitical religious creed that places an individual's relationship with God above the demands of any single doctrine. It is credited with producing some of Islam's greatest works of art, in poetry, literature and music, as well as some of Islam's leading contributions to science and philosophy.

It is also hated by fundamentalists like the Taliban and al-Qaida.

But when asked why Sufis haven't done more to counter the influence of the fundamentalists, Baig fought back tears and struggled to provide an answer. "We are a quiet people," he said at last. "We spend our days studying and meditating. It is part of our creed not to interfere with the spiritual path an individual has chosen, even if it is leading him to violence. But we are talking more about what we can do. It is on our minds."

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Yet another example of why some Americans are so stunningly stupid.......

The real threat to the United States is not terrorism. Andrew McCarthy argues that the real threat is Islamism, whose sophisticated forces have collaborated with the American Left not only to undermine U.S. national security but also to shred the fabric of American constitutional democracy – freedom and individual liberty.  In The Grand Jihad, he offers a harrowing account of how the global Islamist terrorist movement’s jihad involves far more than terrorist attacks. 

For years, McCarthy warned of America’s blindness to this threat, but in The Grand Jihad he argues there is a more insidious peril: the government’s active appeasement of Islamism and its ideology.  With the help of witting and unwitting accomplices in and out of government, Islamism doesn’t merely fuel terrorism but spawns America-hating Islamist terrorist enclaves in our very midst, gradually foisting the repressive concepts of sharia law on American life.  The revolutionary doctrine has made common cause with an ascendant Left that also seeks radical transformation of our constitutional order

Courage is just a nicer way to say that this guy had Balls

Bill Millin, a Scottish bagpiper who played highland tunes as his fellow commandos landed on a Normandy beach on D-Day and lived to see his bravado immortalized in the 1962 film “The Longest Day,” died on Wednesday in a hospital in the western England county of Devon. He was 88.
The young piper was approached shortly before the landings by the brigade’s commanding officer, Brig. Simon Fraser, who as the 15th Lord Lovat was the hereditary chief of the Clan Fraser and one of Scotland’s most celebrated aristocrats. Against orders from World War I that forbade playing bagpipes on the battlefield because of the high risk of attracting enemy fire, Lord Lovat, then 32, asked Private Millin to play on the beachhead to raise morale.

When Private Millin demurred, citing the regulations, he recalled later, Lord Lovat replied: “Ah, but that’s the English War Office. You and I are both Scottish, and that doesn’t apply.”

Other British commandos cheered and waved, Mr. Millin recalled, though he said he felt bad as he marched among ranks of wounded soldiers needing medical help. But those who survived the landings offered no reproach. 

“I shall never forget hearing the skirl of Bill Millin’s pipes,” one of the commandos, Tom Duncan, said years later. “As well as the pride we felt, it reminded us of home, and why we were fighting there for our lives and those of our loved ones.” 

In 2008, French bagpipers started a fund to erect a statue of Mr. Millin near the landing site, but the fund remains far short of its $125,000 goal.
Rest in Peace Highlander.......


Another example of why some Americans are so stunningly stupid.......

"I think the president's problem is that he was born a Muslim, his father was a Muslim. The seed of Islam is passed through the father like the seed of Judaism is passed through the mother. He was born a Muslim, his father gave him an Islamic name."

Franklin Graham

Today's random quote.....

"I am not a good American...I prefer to form my own opinions"

- George Carlin

Friday, August 20, 2010

Obama's Presidential scorecard

With all of the individual issues that the media pushes in their news cycles....and my utter contempt for what has become of the modern Republican Party....I have not focused much on my complete dissatisfaction with the Obama Administration.

Since he has put it so much better than I likely could, I am honored to share a piece by my colleague at Americas Debate, Drewyorktimes

In principle, I think Obama's policies have been almost disappointingly centrist: all a series of rote prescriptions on fiscal-triple-dose authored by a president who is either powerless or disinclined to persuade the country in a new direction.

It's only that the scale of his accomplishments (?) have been huge, drastic. His achievements churn the stomach, no matter how sensible the printed content is.

TARP, for example, was a continuation if also a magnification of Bush-era policy towards the fiscal meltdown... almost every respected economist who doesn't make his living manufacturing commotion on TV backed TARP, its timing, and size. But then you fathom of the size of it -- the number of schools, military convoys, bullet trains, tax cuts, biomass plants, or farm subsidies it could have paid for -- and it's hard not to come away disdaining it, no matter what one's political persuasion.

The stimulus, despite fetching a 360 degree 0 votes from the Republican aisle was a pretty hohum, 70-year-old consensus remedy to the onset of recession. A third of it was tax cuts, and even more was if you count what states did with the money. The total sum was not just less than what liberal economists offered -- it was less than the kind of grand visions of electric cars passing solar power plants and nuclear reactors envisioned by Obama's own campaign. There may be much to question in terms of how it was constructed -- too little money up front, not targeted on job creation, etc -- but it's hard to argue against the general, centrist principle of such a stimulus in the face of downturn. Also hard: to say that it was some democratic dream bill... if it was, a.) we'd be seeing those frickin bullet trains and five-floor high schools we liberals are always yacking about, b.) it would have been some big, bulking, new deal bill with tents all up and down the TVA.

Then his Health Care, which was essentially the Bob Dole-led Republican plan of 1993. Seriously, take a look at this graphic:

But again, the size and compexity of it was just ugly -- it's so hard to defend this bill, this giant, trillion dollar untested excursion into one-swoop legislation, even if you recognize that it will broadly improve the health and lifespan of Americans.

In Afghanistan, the president picked a path so centrist I wonder if it was even worth it to continue. An additional 30,000 troops, which was the perfect x between what the military was willing to applaud and what doves were willing to stomach, doesn't seem to have accomplished anything but illustrating our inability to catch a breakthrough there. Worse: Obama didn't sell this extension. He made one speech at West Point, then acted like America's hope was invested in the outcome. Americans don't have their eyes hearts or heads on what happens in Afghanistan. That's why we will lose.

Going forward, any cap and trade bill will almost certainly be more mushy and watered down than what John McCain and his wife Joe Lieberman proposed in 2003, if it even gets passed at all. From what I gathered, his immigration reform 'principles' didn't seem to differ too much from those reforms proposed by Bush that led to the split in his party, with the less moderate voices eventually taking charge of the party.

So no major change he's effected has been, to my mind, controversial in principle: It's all pretty, mild-mannered and Clintonicious, really, something like the 1st term Billary never had. But I think the scale of it all, against an economy that is yielding no slack to the governments plans, make Obama appear simultaneously impotent and yet somehow capable of undermining the fabric of America.

To my mind, he hasn't given us a new liberal vision, a direction we're moving in. What happened to "the hands that work can put solar panels on roof or something?" Seriously? I'm struggling to remember why we voted for him. Obama the person and thinker who I admire very much aside, there were some issues there... ending wars, re-establishing America's image, revitalizing the manufacturing base by priming the hi-tech pump, and yes, health care. But where is the overall push, the "this is where I'm going to take you america, though it won't be easy" speech? What is the America Obama sees for 2016? Is it an America with a ground 0 mosque, for example, or is it just some wishy washy statement about how the mosque could constitutionally be built, but the wisdom is for someone else to sort out. Come on, Obama, it's like... give us something to defend and feel proud of. If he's going to do immigration reform, for example... why not own it? Spend every day telling America that this is a country of many colors and republic assertions that there is a a "mainstream america" are not just insulting, they minimize America's greatness. Give us more than policy, give us principles. I think this is what people complain about when they complain that he doesn't emote. The jobs reports have been bad, the wars have gone worse, China just became the number two economy and may be number one within 4 years after Obama packs out of the white house... we lost the olympics, Iran is going to go Nuclear, north korea is acting like we don't have battleships in the west pacific, Cuba is compromising nothing while we relax restriction after restriction... I could go on... America is a twitchy place and it needs that grand presence of a leader: a Lincoln, not a legislator.

I respect Obama's consistency to a point, but after the mid-terms he is going to have to seriously re-consider what he thinks his public role is. So far, I think he has been a consequential -- and, in his willingness to achieve unpopular goals that he thinks are right, perhaps admirable -- one-term president. If he wants to be a transformational, two term president who leaves the body politic with a set of ideas that outlive him, he's going to have to break away from "oh, shucks" comments on issues like Mosques and medicare.

I'd argue he's passed more weight through congress more than Reagan and Bush I combined, but the day he departs DC, it will be hard to remember that he ever led us.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Today's random definition of irony......

Andrew Jackson on a Central Bank Note.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Today's random bit of goodness......

In all fairness......

In all fairness, We've been building ground zero's near Mosques since March 2003.


(found on DU)

Do I have to do the media's job for them??

Throughout the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" debate, opponents have frequently cited the fact that the St Nicholas Orthodox Church [which stood literally across the street from the WTC, hasn't yet been rebuilt after all these years. And my god, how can a 'mosque' get planned and approved so fast? Why, it must be a vast-left-wing-Muslim conspiracy! Aided and abetted by our Kenyan, Muslim, Marxist President!

Except it's not.

May 2009:
A Port Authority official said the agency is now planning to pursue condemnation in order to seize control of the church’s land, a move that would seem to open the door for a lengthy legal battle should the church choose to fight back in the courts. The collapse of the deal comes as a clear blow to the agency, which needs the land in order to build part of the Vehicle Security Center, a key piece of infrastructure for the World Trade Center.

"We made an extraordinarily generous offer to resolve this issue and spent eight months trying to finalize that offer, but the church wanted even more on top of that," Port Authority spokesman Stephen Sigmund said in a statement. "They have now given us no choice but to move on to ensure the site is not delayed. The church continues to have the right to rebuild at their original site and we will pay fair market value for the underground space beneath that building."

Based on the terms of the agreement reached in July, the Port Authority was going to pay the church $20 million toward the construction of a new church in exchange for its 1,200-square-foot parcel, located south of the southwest corner of the World Trade Center site. The agency would give the church a new 8,000-square-foot site a block to the east, where it would put up to $40 million in infrastructure under the new structure.

Wise Words

From a colleague at Lightfighter:

Too many folks think freedom means being able to be a consumer, as long as the shelves are filled, all is good.

Reality v. Rhetoric

h/t Balloon Juice

Sunday, August 15, 2010

World War I as a bar fight

h/t to RantinRab  who stole it from from Dick who stole it from Theo Sparks

Germany, Austria and Italy are stood together in the middle of the pub, when Serbia bumps into Austria, and spills Austria's pint.

Austria demands Serbia buy it a complete new suit, because there are splashes on its trouser leg.

Germany expresses its support for Austria's point of view.

Britain recommends that everyone calm down a bit.

Serbia points out that it can't afford a whole suit, but offers to pay for cleaning Austria's trousers.

Russia and Serbia look at Austria.

Austria asks Serbia who it's looking at.

Russia suggests that Austria should leave its little brother alone.

Austria inquires as to whose army will assist Russia in compelling it to do so.

Germany appeals to Britain that France has been looking at it, and that this is sufficiently out of order that Britain should not intervene.

Britain replies that France can look at who it wants to, that Britain is looking at Germany too, and what is Germany going to do about it?

Germany tells Russia to stop looking at Austria, or Germany will render Russia incapable of such action.

Britain and France ask Germany whether it's looking at Belgium.

Turkey and Germany go off into a corner and whisper. When they come back, Turkey makes a show of not looking at anyone.

Germany rolls up its sleeves, looks at France, and punches Belgium.

France and Britain punch Germany. Austria punches Russia. Germany punches Britain and France with one hand and Russia with the other.

Russia throws a punch at Germany, but misses and nearly falls over. Japan calls over from the other side of the room that it's on Britain's side, but stays there. Italy surprises everyone by punching Austria.

Australia punches Turkey, and gets punched back. There are no hard feelings, because Britain made Australia do it.

France gets thrown through a plate glass window, but gets back up and carries on fighting. Russia gets thrown through another one, gets knocked out, suffers brain damage, and wakes up with a complete personality change.
Italy throws a punch at Austria and misses, but Austria falls over anyway. Italy raises both fists in the air and runs round the room chanting.

America waits till Germany is about to fall over from sustained punching from Britain and France, then walks over and smashes it with a barstool, then pretends it won the fight all by itself.

By now all the chairs are broken, and the big mirror over the bar is shattered. Britain, France and America agree that Germany threw the first punch, so the whole thing is Germany's fault . While Germany is still unconscious, they go through its pockets, steal its wallet, and buy drinks for all their friends.

Monday, August 9, 2010

America has two Mommies!

via Digby

Read this now!

It is unsurprising that the 9/11 attack fostered a massive expansion of America’s already sprawling Surveillance State. But what is surprising, or at least far less understandable, is that this growth shows no signs of abating even as we approach almost a full decade of emotional and temporal distance from that event. The spate of knee-jerk legislative expansions in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 trauma — the USA-PATRIOT Act — has actually been exceeded by the expansions of the last several years — first secretly and lawlessly by the Bush administration, and then legislatively and out in the open once Democrats took over control of the Congress in 2006. Simply put, there is no surveillance power too intrusive or unaccountable for our political class provided the word “terrorism” is invoked to “justify” those powers.

The rest.....

A marriage proposal

Since people are getting their panties in a twist over the alleged redefinition of marriage, why don't we make all government recognized unions between two consenting adults - civil unions. Then, those that wish the blessing of their chosen deity can enter into marriage. Marriage then wouldn't have any legal advantages over a contractual agreement that should not mix religious tenets with the system of government in the first place.

Great COIN read

Counterinsurgency’s Impossible Trilemma

We currently live in an epoch where there is often a tension between political ends and military means, which seems to have reduced the political effectiveness of the Western use of force in those contexts. If war as an instrument of foreign policy has become a less politically effective means, then its use should be drastically reconsidered. In a world where the most important goals of states are political and in which, as Rupert Smith correctly notes, military conflicts are fought ‘‘for the people,’’ it is not the development of new high-tech weapons and novel military strategies that secure victory. It is instead the political capacity of accepting and tolerating human costs, which is the key to winning these wars.

The impossible trilemma explains that to protect populations, which is necessary to defeat insurgencies, and to physically defeat an insurgency, forces must be sacrificed, risking the loss of domestic political support. Over the next few months, this is likely to become one of the most important challenges for the
Obama administration.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Marriage versus Religion and the State

Some pertinent quotes from clear thinkers:

In the 1500s, a pestering theologian instituted something called the Marriage Ordinance in Geneva, which made "state registration and church consecration" a dual requirement of matrimony.

We have yet to get over this mistake. But isn't it about time we freed marriage from the state?

Imagine if government had no interest in the definition of marriage. Individuals could commit to each other, head to the local priest or rabbi or shaman -- or no one at all -- and enter into contractual agreements, call their blissful union whatever they felt it should be called and go about the business of their lives.

I certainly don't believe that gay marriage will trigger societal instability or undermine traditional marriage -- we already have that covered -- but mostly I believe your private relationships are none of my business. And without any government role in the institution, it wouldn't be the business of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, either.
Time For a Divorce

The [Judge Walker] ruling says:

Marriage in the United States has always been a civil matter. Civil authorities may permit religious leaders to solemnize marriages but not to determine who may enter or leave a civil marriage. Religious leaders may determine independently whether to recognize a civil marriage or divorce but that recognition or lack thereof has no effect on the relationship under state law.

Walker also writes,

Proposition 8 does not affect the First Amendment rights of those opposed to marriage for same-sex couples. Prior to Proposition 8, no religious group was required to recognize marriage for same-sex couples.

He cites the California constitution that...

Affording same-sex couples the opportunity to obtain the designation of marriage will not impinge upon the religious freedom of any religious organization, official, or any other person; no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs.
USA Today

Saturday, August 7, 2010

An educated look at education

From valedictorian Erica Goldson during the graduation ceremony at Coxsackie-Athens High School on June 25, 2010:

There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master, “If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen? The Master thought about this, then replied, ” Ten years . .” The student then said, “But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast — How long then?” Replied the Master, “Well, twenty years.” “But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?” asked the student. ” Thirty years,” replied the Master. “But, I do not understand,” said the disappointed student. “At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?” ?Replied the Master, “When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.”

This is the dilemma I’ve faced within the American education system. We are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.

Some of you may be thinking, “Well, if you pass a test, or become valedictorian, didn’t you learn something? Well, yes, you learned something, but not all that you could have. Perhaps, you only learned how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test. School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible.

I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system.

Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme.

While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I’m scared.

Read the rest

h/t Militant Libertarian

Friday, August 6, 2010

Mosque Madness

Though there are of the stark incongruities applied to this debate is that with such an allegedly liberal media, the right wing has been able to frame the debate and whip up hysteria to the point where logic and reason are the minority. The use of hyperbolic phrasing is intentional and lapped up eagerly by the undereducated. The media can't seem to call it a Community Center [which it is], they must refer to it as a Mosque, as if that is the sole role of the real estate. In fact, the Cordoba Initiative will feature an athletic center, a culinary school and art studios. Much more than most Mosques. My point being, that an objective media....or objective participants in a dialogue about this subject....would call it a Community Center. Labeling strictly as a Mosque is designed to inflame and incite. Unfortunately, most Americans respond more easily to that, than to reason and objectivity.

Why no outrage over the Mosque in the Pentagon? Are the 9/11 victims of that location any less sympathized than NYC? Or does that not fit the script, as it would come perilously close to sounding like not 'supporting the troops'? And the question that nobody appears capable of answering - how far away from ground zero is 'near'?

When no discernible threat is present, as is categorically the case here......we have a choice to act in accordance with our principles, or to surrender them and act in accordance with the principles of our enemy. This is but one more instance where the alleged Constitutionalists allow emotion to override the very tenets they claim to support.

As Andrew Exum writes on his blog Abu Muqawama:

Where the Bill of Rights really has its value is as a check against the tyranny of the majority. It's for times like these when the passions of Americans -- stoked by the memory of September 11th -- cause us to do and say things that spit in the face of the freedoms we claim to cherish.

Defending America starts with defending our values. "We" are America. And "we" are Christians and Jews and Muslims and Athiests. A movement to restrict the freedom of one of us to worship -- and a corresponding move to demonize a minority religion -- is an affront to us all.

As the Republican mayor of New York put it yesterday, "I believe this is as important a test of the separation of church and state as any we may see in our lifetime - and it is critically important that we get it right."

Curious framing

Much ado has been made around the web about the fact that Judge Walker [who ruled Prop 8 unconstitutional] is gay. They call this a "conflict of interest".

Wouldn't it also be a conflict of interest if judge Walker were straight?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sam Seder's take on the mosque faux-controversy

And the Prop Hate response......

"Judge Walker's ruling overturning Prop 8 is an outrageous disrespect for our Constitution and for the majority of people of the United States who believe marriage is the union of husband and wife. In every state of the union from California to Maine to Georgia, where the people have had a chance to vote they've affirmed that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Congress now has the responsibility to act immediately to reaffirm marriage as a union of one man and one woman as our national policy."
- Serial adulterer Newt Gingrich

Where exactly is it in the mandate of Congress, not to mention specifically enumerated in the Constitution that marriage must be defined based upon biblical belief? Disrespect is in the mind of the offended.....treating your fellow citizens as lesser human beings based on something you believe rather than can prove is inherently disrespectful.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Miserable pieces of excrement

A verbal flash-fire erupted on the House floor Thursday night over nine-year battle to pass a benefits bill for emergency workers who were first on the scene of the 9/11 attacks.

Frustrated with Republican votes against the $7.4 billion measure because Democrats suspended the rules to prevent them from offering unrelated amendments -- and at the same time requiring a two-thirds majority to pass -- Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner excoriated the minority party.

"It's Republicans wrapping their arms around Republicans rather than doing the right thing on behalf of the heroes," Weiner said during an impassioned, 90-second speech. "It is a shame. A shame! If you believe this is a bad idea to provide health care--then vote no! But don't give me the cowardly view that 'Oh, if it was a different procedure.'"

The bill failed to get the 291 votes it needed for passage, polling just 255 votes. But that 255 votes easily surpassed the 218 needed for a simple majority. Democratic New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney -- the sponsor of the bill who has been working on the legislation since just after terrorist attacks -- is working to convince her party's leadership to hold a simple majority vote before the ninth anniversary of the attacks. She told CNN Friday that passing the bill under suspension rules was "a very high bar."

You sad, hypocritical, pathetic excuse for lawmakers. You would deny funding for cancer ridden first responders....people who risked life and limb to look for survivors and remains at Ground Zero. You who lament the building of a Mosque near Ground Zero.....calling it hallowed ground. You who invoke the image of 9/11 each and every time you want to either consolidate more power or rile up nationalism to pursue imperialist foreign policy. You who craft yourselves as 'patriots'...who deride the bill as not having protections against waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars...yet remember not that you controlled Congress for years after 9/11...and think nothing of spending trillions more in pursuit of unattainable military aims.

I spit on you.

I curse you.

I would see you and yours stricken in the same manner as those who you deny aid and compensation to.

You are the epitome of anti-American. You are not worthy of your requisite American flag lapel pin.


"When we can kill with accuracy from 25,000 feet, it's difficult to convince people when we kill civilians on the battlefield that we haven't done it on purpose."

Prop 8 overturned

Who'da thunk it? A judge ruled that gay men an women can get married after all, much to the outrage of those who wish to see their fellow citizens treated as untermenschen. Now, if we can just get government out of the business of regulating marriage altogether, we can see societal evolution continue to evolve. If opponents had any substantial argument other than a belief in an invisible and unprovable guy in the sky, and the requisite doxology that everyone else adhere to their myth....I would be all ears. But alas...'tis not to be.

[Judge] Walker, however, found that the gay marriage ban violates the Constitution's due process and equal protection clauses while failing "to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license."

"Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples," the judge wrote in his 136-page ruling.

Your tax dollars at work.......aren't you proud?

Between our funding to Pakistan, money funneled through the corrupt Karzai Regime, bribing local warlords of dubious loyalty and the outright theft and destruction along the tenuous supply line.......I wonder if more US dollars are finding their way into Taliban pockets than are going to support the American Soldier........

The Afghan Taliban logistics officer laughs about the news he’s been hearing on his radio this past week. The story is that a Web site known as WikiLeaks has obtained and posted thousands of classified field reports from U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and hundreds of those reports mention the Americans’ suspicions that Pakistan is secretly assisting the Taliban—a charge that Pakistan has repeatedly and vehemently denied. “At least we have something in common with America,” the logistics officer says. “The Pakistanis are playing a double game with us, too.”
Pakistan’s ongoing support of the Afghan Taliban is anything but news to insurgents who have spoken to NEWSWEEK. Requesting anonymity for security reasons, many of them readily admit their utter dependence on the country’s Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) not only for sanctuary and safe passage but also, some say, for much of their financial support. The logistics officer, speaking at his mud-brick compound near the border, offers an unverifiable estimate that Pakistan provides roughly 80 percent of the insurgents’ funding, based on his conversations with other senior Taliban. He says the insurgents could barely cover their expenses in Kandahar province alone if not for the ISI. Not that he views them as friends. “They feed us with one hand and arrest and kill us with the other,” he says.

The Myopic Mensuration of the Freedom of Religion

As evinced by the American right wing:

The silly controversy over the downtown mosque is excellent evidence that the conservative movement has become obsessed to the point of derangement with a right-wing version of identity politics that sees everything through the lens of the assumption that American identity is under seige. The modus operandi of the populist right is patriotic semiotics gone wild. 9/11 was a Great Awakening and Ground Zero is a sacred scar representing the sacrifice of those thousands who died in fire in order to shake the rest of us into recognition of the great existential threat to the American Way of Life. To refuse to resist the placement of a mosque next to the grave of those martyred in the Great Awakening is to fail to have heard the call, to fail to understand the battle now underway, to complacently acquiesce to the forces slowly transforming America into something else, into something unAmerican, a place for some other kind of people, a place not worth fighting for. It is to, as they say, “let the terrorists win.”

What Bloomberg has said reveals the utter zaniness of right identity politics. The sanctity of private property and religious liberty are of course essential elements of the traditional American creed. But to actually apply these principles misses the point. For a conservative movement marinating in metaphor, the security of property and the freedom of conscience are just two of many elements that make up who we are, not disembodied rules to be algorithmically honored with no regard to the semiotic context. For the cult of Americanocity, the primary purpose of politics is to preserve and assert imagined American identity against those imagined forces that are imagined to undermine it. I suspect that Bloomberg’s appeal to property and religious liberty will appear to many as a shady, lawyerly attempt to assert the American creed against the interests of American identity. But all he will have accomplished for these folks is to reveal which side he’s really on.
Will Wilkinson

Sunday, August 1, 2010


h/t MilPub