Sunday, October 28, 2007

What's the Use?

Every time I think I'm going to write a post, I read something like this, and I think, why bother, it's already been said better.

So, as you've probably noticed, I don't.

Seriously, I know it's been slow here. I have my usual stuff to do, and two extra projects in the great outdoors on which I'm frantically trying to beat the weather. If I don't finish in the next week or so, they're apt to not be much fun.

Monday lunchtime update: Another reason for not writing a post: Grace already wrote it. Inadequate as I am, I wouldn't even have known what a "car date" is, although it makes sense in context.

Friday, October 19, 2007

My (Free!) Contribution to the War Effort

In the news: the Legions are recruiting scientific help, presumably to figure out why they hate us.
The US military has developed a new programme known as the Human Terrain System (HTS) to study social groups in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The HTS depends heavily on the co-operation of anthropologists, with their expertise in the study of human beings and their societies.

Steve Fondacaro, a retired special operations colonel overseeing the HTS, is keen to recruit cultural anthropologists.

"Cultural anthropologists are focused on understanding how societies make decisions and how attitudes are formed. They give us the best vision to see the problems through the eyes of the target population," he said.
Well, I guess it's an improvement on "ragheads," but I wonder if Mr. Fondacaro (maybe I can presume to call him "Steve") quite recognizes that he might be sending the wrong signal. Swarthy and non-American though they might be, it still sounds a little odd to refer to people as "human terrain" ... and, given the circumstances, "target population" -- while undoubtedly correct -- is still a bit, ah, tactless, no?

Farther along in the news story is the information that every "social scientist" employed by the Human Terrain System is costing the national MasterCard a yearly $400K. As a service to my fellow citizens tax slaves, I am willing to contribute the following ideas at no charge:

1. People aren't so apt to hate you if you don't kill, torture, imprison, beat, rape, and humiliate their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins -- and selves.

2. People aren't so apt to hate you if you refrain from invading and destroying their countries, for no good reason at all.

3. People aren't so apt to hate you if you don't behave as if the entire world is yours to mismanage.

As I say ... no charge. You're welcome.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

All That Lovely Power, Just Sitting Around

Looks as if the Democratic Congress is about to enhance the government's secret surveillance authority again. Surveillance of us, that is.

What, are they stupid? Come on, these are the civil-libertarian Democrats, who took over in order to clip Dubya's wings, right?

Hear that hollow laughter.

IOZ has provided a useful reminder:
Why, then, do Democrats, in perhaps their most enviable electoral position since the end of the Vietnam war, persist in expanding the secret powers of government over the lives of citizens? Because they want that power.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Thomas Jefferson: Advocate of Treason

This is just another throwaway political news story concerning who's ahead in the big dog race -- who's wearing the Mantle of Inevitability in each of the two caucuses of the Corporatism and War Party. It's just that it's depressing in such a variety of ways.
Giuliani tops Republican funding

Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani has raised $11m (£5.5m) in the past three months, his campaign says, $1m more than rival Mitt Romney. Mr Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, also lent $8.5m to his own campaign. Arizona Senator John McCain will report raising $6m, aides said.

Ron Paul, an anti-war congressman from Texas who has a big internet following but is low in the polls, raised $5.1m.

However, Democratic rivals raised much higher amounts over the same period.

Frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama raised $27m and $20m respectively, their campaigns reported.

The third quarter of the year is traditionally seen as a difficult period in terms of fundraising because it falls over the summer months when many people are on holiday.

But the candidates will now be keen to have as much in the bank as possible as they approach the primary elections starting in January.

Primaries are held to decide which candidate will represent each party in the full presidential election in November 2008.

'Considerable progress'

Mr Giuliani, a former New York mayor, has a reported $16m in reserve for the final push to January's vote.

Mr Giuliani's high fundraising total was a sign that Republicans see him as the candidate most likely to win in November 2008, his campaign manager said.

Mr Romney's latest contribution means he has now put $17.5m of his own money into his campaign this year. He has $9m left in hand for the remaining months.

He reported reaching 23,000 new donors in the third financial quarter, giving him a donor base of about 100,000.

"Our campaign made considerable progress this quarter, expanding Governor Romney's support across the country," said his spokesman, Kevin Madden.

Both candidates saw their fundraising fall from the second quarter, but still outpaced their Republican rivals.

Senator McCain's campaign manager said that despite a drop in funds his candidate's campaign was still on sound financial footing - and gaining momentum in states that vote early in the primary season.

The amount raised by Mr Paul, who has generated a strong buzz on social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, was more than double his second quarter tally.

Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, who only formally announced his candidacy in early September, is expected to report raising over $8m in the past quarter.

All the candidates must officially report cash raised from July to September to the US Federal Election Commission by 15 October.
Consider what we're reminded of here.

First, the story's about money -- and rightly so. No one is going to be elected to the presidency of the Land of the Fleeced and the Home of the Tased based on his or her political philosophy, principles, integrity, or ability to reason. Oh, no. The ultimately-successful product will have been marketed, marketed, and marketed some more; this requires money, money, and more money. We, the government-miseducated consumers, will select the product in the same way we select our beer, prescription drugs, and motor vehicles: driven semiconciously by the rancid brew of fast-moving images and twenty-second (im)morality plays in which the telescreen marinates what's left of our brains.

Secondly, since the cadaverous Fred Thompson is deemed to have fizzled, it certainly looks as if the GOP's Mantle of Inevitability has been officially hung on Mr. Giuliani, the crossdressing tyrant to whom his unfortunate children do not speak. If Mr. Giuliani is to be believed (ha!), he's not likely to be the person appointed to move our former country in the direction of strictly limited, small-R-republican virtue. No, I think it's safe to say that Rudy G. is a friend to our poor deceased Constitution in much the same way that Michael Vick is a friend to losing pit bulls.

Thirdly, Mayor 9/11 isn't going to be president anyway -- because Mrs. Clinton is. Now, part of me wants to find some tiny scrap of comfort in this; if it's clear that the next American Emperor is going to be a wearer of women's clothing and cosmetics, it seems better somehow if this person is licensed by nature to do so. The rational part of me knows, though, that Mrs. Clinton is at least as warlike and authoritarian as anyone from the other caucus. I say "at least" because the only difference is that her sex will compel her to appear even more enthusiastic for mass killing than her (allegedly) male rivals, lest she be accused of softness or some other such disqualifying weakness. The reader may object that Mr. Obama may yet be nominated by the Donkey Caucus, and I concede the possibility, although it does seem to me that Mrs. Clinton has placed a credible claim on Inevitable status at this point. Mr. Obama's nomination would cheer me not at all, though; his devotion to the Imperial consensus of world hegemony and management is also well-established.

To me, this simply underlines -- yet again -- the impossibility of the American national trajectory being changed to any significant degree by the existing political arrangement. Clearly, campaign reform is necessary. Such reform can hardly be expected to come from the various people and institutions that feed like maggots on the rotting corpse of America. Jefferson, I think, referred to the only way -- short of direct divine intervention -- in which things might improve substantially when he said, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Voice -- and Face -- of America

I read a news item somewhere, a few days ago, about some minor Imperial bureaucrat spouting off to some British Members of Parliament about the Iranians. Only later did I see this story, with a photo of the bureaucrat in question.

In the immortal words of Edwin Starr: Good Gawd, y'all!

Here's part of the account of what she / he / it had to say:
Britsh MPs visiting the Pentagon to discuss America's stance on Iran and Iraq were shocked to be told by one of President Bush's senior women officials: "I hate all Iranians."

And she also accused Britain of "dismantling" the Anglo-US-led coalition in Iraq by pulling troops out of Basra too soon.

The all-party group of MPs say Debra Cagan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Coalition Affairs to Defence Secretary Robert Gates, made the comments this month.

The six MPs were taken aback by the hardline approach of the Pentagon and in particular Ms Cagan, one of Mr Bush's foreign policy advisers.

She made it clear that although the US had no plans to attack Iran, it did not rule out doing so if the Iranians ignored warnings not to develop a nuclear bomb.

It was her tone when they met her on September 11 that shocked them most.

The MPs say that at one point she said: "In any case, I hate all Iranians."

Although it was an aside, it was not out of keeping with her general demeanour.

"She seemed more keen on saying she didn't like Iranians than that the US had no plans to attack Iran," said one MP. "She did say there were no plans for an attack but the tone did not fit the words."

Another MP said: "I formed the impression that some in America are looking for an excuse to attack Iran. It was very alarming."

Tory Stuart Graham, who was on the ten-day trip, would not discuss Ms Cagan but said: "It was very sobering to hear from the horse's mouth how the US sees the situation."
I wonder if the Right Honorable Mr. Graham might have mistaken which end of the horse's anatomy he was hearing from.

I'm also wondering something else. Remember how everyone was snickering at Iranian President Ahmadinejad last week when he supposedly said at Columbia that Iran "doesn't have homosexuals like you have them in your country?" Seeing Ms. Cagan's picture suggests that Mr. Ahmadinejad's remarks might have been mistranslated; perhaps he was really trying to say that Iran doesn't have "space aliens getting their freak on" like the ones we have here.

I can't explain it, but I can't help noticing it: there's something about the modern GOP and -- oh, I don't know, how shall I say it? -- the modern GOP and, ah, people with non-traditional lifestyles. Truly, not your father's Republican Party ... unless your father maybe had other unusual interests, too.