Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Are We There Yet?

The "war on terror" reminds me of Yogi Berra driving with his wife, and telling her that "we're lost, but we're making good time".

And really, who hasn't done that. But now we learn that the 'watch list' of the TSA has grown to over a million names because- who knew?- terrorists will also use false names. So, on to the list must go, not only the names of Abdul Gonna Killyu, but also his false identities of Ima Hogg and Yura Ful. In fact, it turns out that eventually you must list everybody, because, gee, you just never know.

This insanity is the logical follow-on to our 'war on drugs', which has created not only the largest 'drug problem' of any nation, but also the largest prison population. At this rate, we'll be there in no time.

We're lost, but we're making good time. And to an American, that's all that really matters.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Criminal Gang

At the end of the Vietnam War the US Army stood abashed and dismayed, destroyed as a fighting force by their reckless adventurism, the ranks filled with soldiers who would as soon shoot their officers as the enemy.

The soldiers took the brunt of the criticism, but the higher up you went, the less discipline was displayed. Lieutenants rotated through for career reasons, coming and going so quickly that only the non-coms actually knew how to fight, colonels and majors jockeyed for perfect records in jobs that might lead to generalship, and the generals cooked the books, lied to the Congress and the public, and subsequently insisted that this stinking mess of corruption would have "won" if they hadn't been "stabbed in the back" by the American public and their strategic commander, Richard Nixon. In reality there was no reason to be there- we left, and no dominoes fell.

Today, new cooks are re-concocting this toxic stew, with a piquant added fillip, George Bush firing any general who disagrees with him, while he solemnly swears he's just "listening to the generals". The enlisted ranks are filled with rapists- over a quarter of our women in uniform report being assaulted by a fellow soldier- and the officers are engaged in an equally insubordinate assault on the American tradition of civilian control of the military. To be blunt, the officers are afraid to discipline criminals in their ranks- it might jeopardize their careers.

This isn't an army, it's a loose collection of criminal gangs who will not deserve our respect until discipline is re-established. Sympathize with their victims, the 60,000 soldiers who have returned home as casualties, but when the crisply uniformed soldier appears, hold your applause- they're probably lying to you. They've earned our contempt by repeated crimes and, like any criminal, need to rehabilitate themselves to earn our respect. It's just that simple.

Urban 'Renewal'- Not A Victimless Crime

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on how black people were robbed by "urban redevelopment". Property values were low in black neighborhoods, because you couldn't get a loan to buy property there. This would trigger "redevelopment", a process in which, in the Fillmore district of San Francisco, resulted in 5000 homes being destroyed, and over 800 businesses. Not reported in this article are the decades of vicious crime that killed hundreds, maimed thousands, and undoubtedly introduced tens of thousands to prostitution and drugs. Could there be a more effective way to destroy the family and breed crime?

In the years that followed, the "redevelopment agency" spent $50 million "redeveloping" the area, of which probably about $47 million went to white people. Multiply this example by every city over 100,000 in the US in 1950, and it's easy to see why the white people are in the executive suites and the black people are in prison.

Perhaps the most surprising fact reported here is that this sprang from a law passed in 1948, a time when there were no "blighted" neighborhoods. IOW, this was a land-grab from the git-go, perpetrated by the gangster city "governments" so ably described by Raymond Chandler, and bluntly aimed at the little guy and people of color. That's our history- learn it, or be doomed to repeat it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Why It's Over

In about 1992 the wheels really fell off the Soviet Union, leaving the US as the one great world hegemon. Has anything like this ever happened before? Well, of course it has...

At the end of the Seven Years War, known to Americans as the French and Indian Wars, Great Britain won big. The French were decisively vanquished and withdrew from Canada. The colonists developed the distinct feeling that they did not need the British to "protect" them. Protect us from what? they asked. Certainly not from the Indians, with whom the British actively partnered to confine the colonists east of the Allegheny Crest.

And today, any thinking person would be asking, from what is the US protecting us? In the simplest of language, the US is more likely to be the threat than to protect anyone against a threat.

It's not crunch time yet, but the existential moment has been created.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Like one who durst not turn his head...

Lest, behind, some loathesome monster tread....

It's plain now that Bush and Cheney decided to torture some people snatched at random and confined in our prisons, until they yielded false confessions that could be used in show trials.

But that wasn't really the plan. The plan was that Bush would be the 'dummy' while Cheney and the gang robbed the country blind. Bush wouldn't profit while in office, but, as in every other part of his previous life, he would be showered with gifts by the other gang members after leaving office.

They didn't worry about the reconstruction of Iraq, because they never intended to see democracy there anyway. The military failures, to them, are simply an opportunity to assert that Iraq 'needs' our troops to 'maintain order'.

In fact, the attack on 9/11 was, to them, a complication in an otherwise smoothly flowing plan. Suddenly the American people wanted them to catch some real bad guys, and their response was typical- "We'll just make some bad guys". A show of force in Afghanistan, the purchase of some captives from warlords, a prison quickly set up in Guantanamo, and they could get back to the real work- stealing oil and making the world a more dangerous place, so we would always need to purchase more weapons (and contracted services) from their companies. You don't need complicated theories to explain the facts we see- just the courage to see the facts.

Lynndie England is not the problem. George Bush and Dick Cheney are the problem.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sherwood Anderson's Dream

Recently my mom ran into a chum from my early childhood, who had subsequently spent his life working for an oil company in California, and was now retiring to a home he'd just purchased in Puget Sound.

Yes, that's right, having spent a lifetime helping oil fuel the suburbs that have ruined Puget Sound, he's now retiring on a generous pension to a relatively unspoiled corner of the world that he did nothing to help preserve.

I, on the other hand, refused to believe in a career apart from community. Seattle was my home, and comparing Seattle in 1970 with the Seattle of today, I rest my case.

Sherwood Anderson, curiously, had something to say about this, in about 1930-

"I want men and women who, at any physical cost to themselves, will continue to refuse to work as we understand the word 'work'...[with] such physical energy loose among us, we may begin to do some of the things that now seem entirely out of our reach. We may begin to make towns, houses, books, pictures, even cities that have beauty and meaning...So you see I want a body of healthy young men and women to agree to quit working, to loaf, to refuse to be hurried or try to get on in the world- in short, to become intense individualists. Something of the sort must happen if we are ever to bring color or flair into our modern life."

*Fortunately*, modern capitalism is helping with that 'not working' thing, as steady employment continues to fall and corporations evolve to the lifespan of a fruit fly. Hopefully the future will see less people thinking, like my gradeschool chum, that a life of toil for the corporation will make his world a better place. We've had quite enough of that already.