Sunday, May 10, 2015

It's Enough to Make You Resume Blogging

"Heroes" on Parade
My brother-in-law sent me this article. He said he thought I might "appreciate" it. Well, hell, yeah. I appreciate his pointing me to this, and I appreciate the article like a rampant case of jock itch. Like many other nefarious things going on, I had no idea. This is a miserable piece of news.

It turns out that our so-called "defense" department is paying out millions of dollars to NFL teams to have them honor the troops with salutes and various other displays at games. Fourteen teams and $5.4 million from 2010-14, to be precise. Now I know there are many more millions than that in this country that won't see a thing wrong with this idea. There's more the pity. Only dangerous radicals have problems with this kind of mass manipulation. People like me.

This is, my friends, exactly what national socialism and other brands of totalitarianism is about. This is what they do. Manufacture patriotism and brandish its symbols and slogans on any occasion and in any venue where it can reach thousands, nay, millions of spectators. Think military parades, military ads. military events like air shows, military open houses at bases and on ships, military aircraft flying over stadiums, military getting on planes first, being cheered in airports, etc., etc. All this, and they use your money to do it with. Your taxes are paying for these phony displays. Yes, in the NFL case this is five and a half million bucks that could be used for oh, fixing a school or a bridge or a highway. Or providing food to some American family down on its luck or . . . well, you get the idea. This is an outrage. This is a crime. This is thievery from the American taxpayer. That's what I think of it.But don't forget, I'll be among the first to be swept up when they send the heroes out armed to the teeth to purify American society.

(More than coincidental, I think, that my last blog post, way back in early January, was on this same theme.)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Soldier Worship

I totally agree with this piece from Salon by David Masciotra:

Put a man in uniform, preferably a white man, give him a gun, and Americans will worship him. It is a particularly childish trait, of a childlike culture, that insists on anointing all active military members and police officers as “heroes.” The rhetorical sloppiness and intellectual shallowness of affixing such a reverent label to everyone in the military or law enforcement betrays a frightening cultural streak of nationalism, chauvinism, authoritarianism and totalitarianism, but it also makes honest and serious conversations necessary for the maintenance and enhancement of a fragile democracy nearly impossible.

It has become impossible to go a week without reading a story about police brutality, abuse of power and misuse of authority. Michael Brown’s murder represents the tip of a body pile, and in just the past month, several videos have emerged of police assaulting people, including pregnant women, for reasons justifiable only to the insane.

It is equally challenging for anyone reasonable, and not drowning in the syrup of patriotic sentimentality, to stop saluting, and look at the servicemen of the American military with criticism and skepticism. There is a sexual assault epidemic in the military. In 2003, a Department of Defense study found that one-third of women seeking medical care in the VA system reported experiencing rape or sexual violence while in the military. Internal and external studies demonstrate that since the official study, numbers of sexual assaults within the military have only increased, especially with male victims. According to the Pentagon, 38 men are sexually assaulted every single day in the U.S. military. Given that rape and sexual assault are, traditionally, the most underreported crimes, the horrific statistics likely fail to capture the reality of the sexual dungeon that has become the United States military.

Chelsea Manning, now serving time in prison as a whistle-blower, uncovered multiple incidents of fellow soldiers laughing as they murdered civilians. Keith Gentry, a former Navy man, wrote that when he and his division were bored they preferred passing the time with the “entertainment” of YouTube videos capturing air raids of Iraq and Afghanistan, often making jokes and mocking the victims of American violence. If the murder of civilians, the rape of “brothers and sisters” on base, and the relegation of death and torture of strangers as fodder for amusement qualifies as heroism, the world needs better villains.
It is undeniable that there are police officers who heroically uphold their motto and mission to “serve and protect,” just as it is indisputable that there are members of the military who valiantly sacrifice themselves for the sake of others. Reviewing the research proving cruelty and mendacity within law enforcement and the military, and reading the stories of trauma and tragedy caused by officers and soldiers, does not mean that no cop or troop qualifies as a hero, but it certainly means that many of them are not heroes.
Acknowledging the spread of sadism across the ranks of military also does not mean that the U.S. government should neglect veterans, as they often do, by cutting their healthcare options, delaying or denying treatment, and reducing psychiatric services. On the contrary, if American politicians and pundits genuinely believed that American military members are “heroes,” they would not settle for sloganeering, and garish tributes. They would insist that veterans receive the best healthcare possible. Improving and universalizing high quality healthcare for all Americans, including veterans, is a much better and truer way to honor the risks soldiers and Marines accept on orders than unofficially imposing a juvenile and dictatorial rule over speech in which anything less than absolute and awed adulation for all things military is treasonous.
One of the reasons that the American public so eagerly and excitedly complies with the cultural code of lionizing every soldier and cop is because of the physical risk-taking and bravery many of them display on the foreign battleground and the American street. Physical strength and courage is only useful and laudable when invested in a cause that is noble and moral. The causes of American foreign policy, especially at the present, rarely qualify for either compliment. The “troops are heroes” boosters of American life typically toss out clichés to defend their generalization – “They defend our freedom,” “They fight so we don’t have to.”
No American freedom is currently at stake in Afghanistan. It is impossible to imagine an argument to the contrary, just as the war in Iraq was clearly fought for the interests of empire, the profits of defense contractors, and the edification of neoconservative theorists. It had nothing to do with the safety or freedom of the American people. The last time the U.S. military deployed to fight for the protection of American life was in World War II – an inconvenient fact that reduces clichés about “thanking a soldier” for free speech to rubble. If a soldier deserves gratitude, so does the litigator who argued key First Amendment cases in court, the legislators who voted for the protection of free speech, and thousands of external agitators who rallied for more speech rights, less censorship and broader access to media.
Wars that are not heroic have no real heroes, except for the people who oppose those wars. Far from being the heroes of recent wars, American troops are among their victims. No rational person can blame the soldier, the Marine, the airman, or the Navy man for the stupid and destructive foreign policy of the U.S. government, but calling them “heroes,” and settling for nothing less, makes honest and critical conversations about American foreign policy less likely to happen. If all troops are heroes, it doesn’t make much sense to call their mission unnecessary and unjust. It also makes conversations about the sexual assault epidemic, or the killing of innocent civilians, impossible. If all troops are heroes, it doesn’t make any sense to acknowledge that some are rapists and sadists.
The same principle of clear-eyed scrutiny applies to law enforcement agencies. Police departments everywhere need extensive investigation of their training methods, qualifications for getting on the job, and psychological evaluation. None of that will happen as long as the culture calls cops heroes, regardless of their behavior.
An understandable reason for calling all troops heroes, even on the left, is to honor the sacrifice they make after they die or endure a life-altering injury in one of America’s foolish acts of aggression. A more helpful and productive act of citizenship, and sign of solidarity with the military, is the enlistment in an antiwar movement that would prevent the government from using its volunteer Army as a plaything for the financial advancement and political cover of the state-corporate nexus and the military-industrial complex of Dwight Eishenhower’s nightmares.
Given the dubious and dangerous nature of American foreign policy, and the neglect and abuse veterans often suffer when returning home wounded or traumatized, Americans, especially those who oppose war, should do everything they can to discourage young, poor and working-class men and women from joining the military. Part of the campaign against enlistment requires removing the glory of the “hero” label from those who do enlist. Stanley Hauerwas, a professor of divinity studies at Duke whom Time called “America’s best theologian,” has suggested that, given the radical pacifism of Jesus Christ, American churches should do all they can to discourage its young congregants from joining the military. Haurwas’ brand of intellectual courage is necessary, even among non-Christians, to combat the hysterical sycophancy toward the military in a culture where even saluting a Marine, while holding a coffee cup, is tantamount to terrorism.
The men and women who do enlist deserve better than to die in the dirt and come home in a bag, or spend their lives in wheelchairs, and their parents should not have to drown in tears and suffer the heartbreak of burying their children. The catastrophes become less common when fewer people join the military.

Calling all cops and troops heroes insults those who actually are heroic – the soldier who runs into the line of fire to protect his division, the police officer who works tirelessly to find a missing child – by placing them alongside the cops who shoot unarmed teenagers who have their hands in the air, or the soldier who rapes his subordinate.

It also degrades the collective understanding of heroism to the fantasies of high-budget, cheap-story action movies. The American conception of heroism seems inextricably linked to violence; not yet graduated from third-grade games of cops and robbers. Explosions and smoking guns might make for entertaining television, but they are not necessary, and more and more in modern society, not even helpful in determining what makes a hero.

A social worker who commits to the care and advocacy of adults with developmental disabilities – helping them find employment, group home placement and medical care, and just treating them with love and kindness – is a hero. A hospice worker in a poor neighborhood, providing precious comfort and consolation to someone dying on the ugly edges of American healthcare, is a hero. An inner-city teacher, working hard to give essential education and meaningful affirmation to children living in neighborhoods where bullets fly and families fall apart, is a hero.

Not all teachers, hospice workers or social workers are heroes, but emphasizing the heroism of those who do commit to their clients, patients and students with love and service would cause a shift of America’s fundamental values. It would place the spotlight on tender and selfless acts of solidarity and empathy for the poor. Calling all cops heroes too often leads to pathetic deference to authority, even when the results are fatal, and insisting all members of the military are heroes too often reinforces the American values of militarism and exceptionalism.

The assignment of heroism, exactly like the literary construct, might have more to do with the assignment of villainy than the actual honoring of “heroes.” Every hero needs a villain. If the only heroes are armed men fighting the country’s wars on drugs and wars in the Middle East, America’s only villains are criminals and terrorists. If servants of the poor, sick and oppressed are the heroes, then the villains are those who oppress, profit from inequality and poverty, and neglect the sick. If that is the real battle of heroism versus villainy, everyone is implicated, and everyone has a far greater role than repeating slogans, tying ribbons and placing stickers on bumpers.
David Masciotra is the author of Mellencamp: American Troubadour (forthcoming, University Press of Kentucky). He writes regularly for the Daily Beast and Splice Today. For more information visit www.davidmasciotra.com.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year

"Some Assembly Required" is worth quoting at length today:

New Year's Day is an arbitrary and mostly fictional marker. It is common to pretend that some clear divisor has been set between what was and what will be. But that is a fiction mainly used to peddle prognostications that turn out to be as false as the occasion. 
 
For my part, I believe that more of the same will predominate, as always. History creeps in when we're not looking. We're told that the good times will continue, but most Americans won't know what the pundits are talking about. If times are so good, why are the majority of Americans worse off? The reality is that there has been little if any recovery over the last four years. Or eight, to give Obama his due.
More of the same: the global economy will not seize up suddenly and leave us all to starve in the dark, but it won't change much for the better, either. Wars and atrocities and inequality and rape and torture will all go on, and go on being ignored. So will the hollowing out of the American middle class, as what once were government prerogatives of a self-governing people continue to be treatied away to international corporations. 
 
Police will continue their extra-juridical execution of lower caste young men and the streets will pulse with ineffective protests – because protesting in the streets will not change the balance of power. Dying in the streets in large numbers might, but not any time soon.
The number of Americans trying to survive without a job will continue to increase, the effective standard of living for most of the population will continue to decline. The dollar is not going away and neither is the euro; high priced oil will return as fracking starts to subside, and climate change will continue to be ignored as we not-so-slowly burn our way to oblivion. The world’s finite supplies of petroleum, along with most other resources on which our extractive civilization depends, will continue depleting while we continue our blind faith in forever.
More of the same. We'll call it progress.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

As I Was Saying

America has managed to construct an entirely one-dimensional political system. There’s no discernible difference left between left and right, other than in spin language pre-cooked for the sole purpose of faking the concept of elections. There’s very right and ultra right. America is living proof that once money is allowed into politics, the accumulation of it, and of the power it can buy, will and eventually must fully control a democratic system, which in the process, of necessity, suffocates and dies a painful death.

What once was a proud American democracy has been turned into a circus that rolls into town every four years, filled with clowns that pretend to fight each other with over the top grotesque contraptions, but sleep in the same bed once the show is over and the audience has gone home.
Reminds me of my continuing theme, which will be called upon now far more frequently since the networks won't find anything interesting between now and November 2016 except the charade we call the presidential election.

Here's the source of the quotation above.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Munch, Munch

In terms of child poverty, the United States ranks 36th out of the 41 wealthiest nations. There are 2.5 million homeless children in the US, an all-time high. 65% of US children live in a home that receives aid from the federal government. 45% of US children belong to low income families. 45% of African-American children in the US live in “areas of concentrated poverty” (slums). The average American is 40% poorer today than before the recession, and 20% of US households will be able to eat Christmas dinner thanks to food stamps, about that many more courtesy of various food banks and charities. (source)
Happy holidays, y'all!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Let's Go Sailing

And what will we see? The ugly footprint of what we've done to the oceans is what. I tell you, the more I think on it, the more disgusted I've become with what we humans have done to the only planet we have.

A walk on the beach in Mumbai
What you see here in the photo is the shit you can see. What you cannot see nobody but deep-diving deep sea drones can see. And that is a universe of plastic on the sea floor. In recent years the production of plastic has quadrupled, so scientists expected to find much much more of it at the surface than they did.

That's because it's not there. It's down at the bottom of the oceans and seas.

The discovery of microplastic in such remote marine habitats raises new questions about the potential for plastic debris to contaminate the food chain. Scientists have already documented that fish, birds, turtles, and other marine animals eat plastic. Thompson and his team found an even greater accumulation of plastic than previously suspected. The more plastic there is, he says, the more potential for toxicity to marine life.

In the study, Thompson and his team concluded that every square kilometer of deep ocean contains about four billion plastic fibers—most are two to three centimeters in length and as thin as a human hair. The fibers are four times more abundant in the deep sea than in surface and coastal waters.

"Our results show evidence for a large and hitherto unknown repository of microplastics," Thompson wrote. "The prevalence of microfibers in all sediment cores and on all coral colonies examined suggests this contaminant is ubiquitous in the deep sea." source
 Isn't this wonderful news?

Monday, December 15, 2014

As a Public Service . . .


I present what I consider to be a treasure trove of information that almost anybody can find something in that's useful.


What are the most productive ways to spend time on the Internet?
All the below is by /u/Fletch71011-
  • No Excuse List - Includes sources for everything you can want. I included some more popular ones with brief write-ups below. Credit to /u/lix2333.
  • Reddit Resources - Reddit's List of the best online education sources
  • Khan Academy - Educational organization and a website created by Bangladeshi-American educator Salman Khan, a graduate of MIT and Harvard Business School. The website supplies a free online collection of micro lectures stored on YouTube teaching mathematics, history, healthcare and medicine, finance, physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, economics, cosmology, organic chemistry, American civics, art history, macroeconomics, microeconomics, and computer science.
  • Ted Talks - Talks that address a wide range of topics ("ideas worth spreading") within the research and practice of science and culture, often through storytelling. Many famous academics have given talks, and they are usually short and easy to digest.
  • Coursera - Coursera partners with various universities and makes a few of their courses available online free for a large audience. Founded by computer science professors, so again a heavy CS emphasis.
  • Wolfram Alpha - Online service that answers factual queries directly by computing the answer from structured data, rather than providing a list of documents or web pages that might contain the answer as a search engine might. Unbelievable what this thing can compute; you can ask it near anything and find an answer.
  • Udacity - Outgrowth of free computer science classes offered in 2011 through Stanford University. Plans to offer more, but concentrated on computer science for now.
  • MIT OpenCourseWare - Initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to put all of the educational materials from its undergraduate- and graduate-level courses online, partly free and openly available to anyone, anywhere.
  • Open Yale Courses - Provides free and open access to a selection of introductory courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University.
  • Codecademy - Online interactive platform that offers free coding classes in programming languages like Python, JavaScript, and Ruby, as well as markup languages including HTML and CSS. Gives your points and "level ups" like a video game, which is why I enjoyed doing classes here. Not lecture-oriented either; usually just jump right into coding, which works best for those that have trouble paying attention.
  • Team Treehouse - Alternative to Codecademy which has video tutorials. EDIT: Been brought to my attention that Team Treehouse is not free, but I included it due to many comments. Nick Pettit, teaching team lead at Treehouse, created a 50% off discount code for redditors. Simply use 'REDDIT50'. Karma goes to Mr. Pettit if you enjoyed or used this.
  • Think Tutorial - Database of simple, easy to follow tutorials covering all aspects of popular computing. Includes lots of easier, basic tasks for your every day questions or new users.
  • Memrise - Online learning tool that uses flashcards augmented with mnemonics—partly gathered through crowdsourcing—and the spacing effect to boost the speed and ease of learning. Several languages available to learn.
  • Livemocha - Commercial online language learning community boasting 12 million members which provides instructional materials in 38 languages and a platform for speakers to interact with and help each other learn new languages.
  • edX - Massive open online course platform founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University to offer online university-level courses in a wide range of disciplines to a worldwide audience at no charge. Many other universities now take part in it, including Cal Berkeley. Differs from most of these by including "due dates" with assignments and grades.
  • Education portal - Free courses which allow you to pass exams to earn real college credit.
  • uReddit - Made by Redditors for other Redditors. Tons of different topics, varying from things like science and art to Starcraft strategy.
  • iTunes U - Podcasts from a variety of places including universities and colleges on various subjects.
  • Stack Exchange - Group of question and answer websites on topics in many different fields, each website covering a specific topic, where questions, answers, and users are subject to a reputation award process. Stack Overflow is used for programming, probably their most famous topic. Self-moderated with reputation similar to Reddit.
  • Wikipedia - Collaboratively edited, multilingual, free Internet encyclopedia. Much better source than most people give it credit for, and great for random learning whenever you need it. For those looking for more legit sources for papers and such, it is usually easy to jump to a Wikipedia page and grab some sources at the bottom.
Back to sane mode.
  • Ninite - Something I myself can personally recommend, its a safe download site with no toolbars and malware. Any software you need will be there, and I have discovered a lot of software there. (DELETED)
  • Free Electronic Component Samples from Texas Instruments - OP just had a $15 voltage regulator delivered for free. You need to create a free account, and then you get something like four free samples a month. This is incredibly useful for some harder to find parts. Plus they're good quality, as far as I know, and they ship fast using FedEx. (/u/LXL15)
  • The First Row - semi ILLEGAL site to watch sports events, proceed at your own risk. Many sports events are available there. (DELETED)
  • Pixlr Editor - Basic picture editor that will irritate people using Photoshop, but its easy and free, and if I'm using a crappy computer without any software (like I am now) I'd go there. (/u/xCry0x)
  • Mint- get your finances firmly under control. Downloads and categorizes transactions from your Debit and Credit accounts, and even tracks Mortgages and Car Loans. It allows you to set budgets for expenditures of certain types and then tracks those on a month-to-month basis and will nag you when you're spending too much on something. (/u/icyliquid)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Andy Bacevich Again


Consider the following claims, each of which in Washington circles has attained quasi-canonical status.

* The presence of US forces in the Islamic world contributes to regional stability and enhances American influence.
* The Persian Gulf constitutes a vital US national security interest.
* Egypt and Saudi Arabia are valued and valuable American allies.
* The interests of the United States and Israel align.
* Terrorism poses an existential threat that the United States must defeat.

For decades now, the first four of these assertions have formed the foundation of US policy in the Middle East. The events of 9/11 added the fifth, without in any way prompting a reconsideration of the first four. On each of these matters, no senior US official (or anyone aspiring to a position of influence) will dare say otherwise, at least not on the record.

Yet subjected to even casual scrutiny, none of the five will stand up. To take them at face value is the equivalent of believing in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy — or that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell really, really hope that the Obama administration and the upcoming Republican-controlled Congress can find grounds to cooperate.

Let’s examine all five, one at a time.

The Presence of US Forces: Ever since the US intervention in Lebanon that culminated in the Beirut bombing of October 1983, introducing American troops into predominantly Muslim countries has seldom contributed to stability. On more than a few occasions, doing so has produced just the opposite effect.

Iraq and Afghanistan provide mournful examples. The new book Why We Lost by retired Lieutenant General Daniel Bolger finally makes it permissible in official circles to declare those wars the failures that they have been. Even granting, for the sake of argument, that US nation-building efforts were as pure and honorable as successive presidents portrayed them, the results have been more corrosive than constructive. The IS militants plaguing Iraq find their counterpart in the soaring production of opium that plagues Afghanistan. This qualifies as stability?
America’s New War in the Middle East

And these are hardly the only examples. Stationing US troops in Saudi Arabia after Operation Desert Storm was supposed to have a reassuring effect. Instead, it produced the debacle of the devastating Khobar Towers bombing. Sending G.I.’s into Somalia back in 1992 was supposed to demonstrate American humanitarian concern for poor, starving Muslims. Instead, it culminated in the embarrassing Mogadishu firefight, which gained the sobriquet Black Hawk Down and doomed that mission.

Even so, the pretense that positioning American soldiers in some Middle East hotspot will bring calm to troubled waters survives. It’s far more accurate to say that doing so provides our adversaries with what soldiers call a target-rich environment — with Americans as the targets.

The Importance of the Persian Gulf: Although US interests in the Gulf may once have qualified as vital, the changing global energy picture has rendered that view obsolete. What’s probably bad news for the environment is good news in terms of creating strategic options for the United States. New technologies have once again made the United States the world’s largest producer of oil. The US is also the world’s largest producer of natural gas. It turns out that the lunatics chanting “drill, baby, drill” were right after all. Or perhaps it’s “frack, baby, frack.” Regardless, the assumed energy dependence and “vital interests” that inspired Jimmy Carter to declare back in 1980 that the Gulf is worth fighting for no longer pertain.

Access to Gulf oil remains critically important to some countries, but surely not to the United States. When it comes to propping up the wasteful and profligate American way of life, Texas and North Dakota outrank Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in terms of importance. Rather than worrying about Iraqi oil production, Washington would be better served ensuring the safety and well-being of Canada, with its bountiful supplies of shale oil. And if militarists ever find the itch to increase US oil reserves becoming irresistible, they would be better advised to invade Venezuela than to pick a fight with Iran.
Does the Persian Gulf require policing from the outside? Maybe. But if so, let’s volunteer China for the job. It will keep them out of mischief.

Arab Allies: It’s time to reclassify the US relationship with both Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Categorizing these two important Arab states as “allies” is surely misleading. Neither one shares the values to which Washington professes to attach such great importance.
For decades, Saudi Arabia, planet Earth’s closest equivalent to an absolute monarchy, has promoted anti-Western radical jihadism — and not without effect. The relevant numbers here are two that most New Yorkers will remember: 15 out of 19. If a conspiracy consisting almost entirely of Russians had succeeded in killing several thousand Americans, would US authorities give the Kremlin a pass? Would US-Russian relations remain unaffected? The questions answer themselves.
Meanwhile, after a brief dalliance with democracy, Egypt has once again become what it was before: a corrupt, oppressive military dictatorship unworthy of the billions of dollars of military assistance that Washington provides from one year to the next.

Israel: The United States and Israel share more than a few interests in common. A commitment to a “two-state solution” to the Palestinian problem does not number among them. On that issue, Washington’s and Tel Aviv’s purposes diverge widely. In all likelihood, they are irreconcilable.
For the government of Israel, viewing security concerns as paramount, an acceptable Palestinian state will be the equivalent of an Arab Bantustan, basically defenseless, enjoying limited sovereignty and possessing limited minimum economical potential. Continuing Israeli encroachments on the occupied territories, undertaken in the teeth of American objections, make this self-evident.
It is, of course, entirely the prerogative — and indeed the obligation — of the Israeli government to advance the well being of its citizens. US officials have a similar obligation: they are called upon to act on behalf of Americans. And that means refusing to serve as Israel’s enablers when that country takes actions that are contrary to US interests.
The “peace process” is a fiction. Why should the United States persist in pretending otherwise? It’s demeaning.

Terrorism: Like crime and communicable diseases, terrorism will always be with us. In the face of an outbreak of it, prompt, effective action to reduce the danger permits normal life to continue. Wisdom lies in striking a balance between the actually existing threat and exertions undertaken to deal with that threat. Grown-ups understand this. They don’t expect a crime rate of zero in American cities. They don’t expect all people to enjoy perfect health all of the time. The standard they seek is “tolerable.”

That terrorism threatens Americans is no doubt the case, especially when they venture into the greater Middle East. But aspirations to eliminate terrorism belong in the same category as campaigns to end illiteracy or homelessness: it’s okay to aim high, but don’t be surprised when the results achieved fall short.

Eliminating terrorism is a chimera. It’s not going to happen. US civilian and military leaders should summon the honesty to acknowledge this.

My friend M has put his finger on a problem that is much larger than he grasps. Here’s hoping that when he gets his degree he lands an academic job. It’s certain he’ll never find employment in our nation’s capital. As a soldier-turned-scholar, M inhabits what one of George W. Bush’s closest associates (believed to be Karl Rove) once derisively referred to as the “reality-based community.” People in Washington don’t have time for reality. They’re lost in a world of their own.  Source

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Forever War

War thrusts power into the hands of those who covet it. Only the perpetuation of war, whether under the guise of “keeping us safe” or “spreading freedom,” can satisfy the appetite of those for whom the exercise of power is its own reward. Only war will perpetuate their prerogatives and shield them from accountability. … War is the health of the state. Headline-grabbing scandals involving the national security apparatus come and go. Today’s is just one more in a long series extending back decades. As long as the individuals and entities comprising that apparatus persist in their commitment to permanent war, little of substance will change.” Andrew J. Bacevich.  Source

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Sigh . . .