Friday, July 14, 2017

¡Fuera de acá, todos!

The Washington Post reports a rather disturbing meeting between the director of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus:
"Trump, Sessions and Kelly want to take 800,000 DREAMers with DACA and hundreds of thousands with TPS who are registered with the government and in compliance with the law and make them into criminals, felons, and deportees in the next few months."
We've been over this before and you know my position. But here's another thing to think about;

How, physically, do you DO all this?

I mean...almost a million people? Rounded up, "processed", shoved on planes and buses and dumped in airports and border towns across Latin America and, presumably, the world?

The sheer number of military/"law enforcement" bodies alone you'd need to do all this are just staggering. This is the sort of thing that changes entire organizations. Hell, it would change the entire country.

And...what do those bodies do once all these scary, dangerous "aliens" are gone?

Think about that for a moment.

So not only will the "...promised Day of Alien-Free Jubilee turn out to be a quiet monotone of unpicked crops, uncleaned hotel rooms, unwiped asses, and uncooked meals..." it will also include tens of thousands of armed paramilitary troopers with time and weapons on their hands and nothing else to do.

Hmmm.

I wonder how THAT could go wrong..?

Friday, July 07, 2017

The NORK Nukes - 2017 International Tour!

In what may well be the most NORK-y Fourth of July fireworks display ever, the Pyongyang regime appears to have successfully tested a nuclear-capable missile with the range to reach the western portions of North America; by definition an intercontinental ballistic missile.


The linked article does a good job discussing the strategic implications of this success, but the tl:dr version is "there are no good military options".

Simply put, the DPRK appears to have obtained what Stalin's Soviet Union did in the 1940s; a successful defense against U.S. military strongarming. Never a particularly good idea, given the NORK capabilities for inflicting nasty mayhem to American-aligned nations in northeast Asia, if the NORKs have the capability to directly threaten the U.S. mainland this option goes from "barely conceivable" to "off the table".

What's more, the strategic calculus of potentially-holding-U.S.-population-centers-hostage changes the relationship between the U.S. and Asian allies such as Japan and South Korea. If Trump wanted the Japanese government to start building its own nukes Pyongyang may well have given it the same push that the Soviets gave the British and French governments during the Cold War - the worry that the Land of the Big PX would be hesitant to risk its own civilians in the face of a possible nuclear exchange.

Where does the Tangerine Toddler fit into all this? Swinging the Big Stupid bat, of course. The King of the Deal is discovering what diplomats and potentates throughout history have discovered, albeit at his own, short-bus-slow-reader speed; that polities with interests that conflict with your own can't always - and often won't ever - be coaxed, swayed, or bullied into acting against their own interests. China fears a NORK collapse more than anything the U.S. can threaten. Figuring out a way to adjust U.S. geopolitical approaches to the new northeast Asian realities will require a hell of a lot more patience, creativity, and intelligence than either the current Chief Executive - who seems more interested in ginning up a "Blut und Ehre" white nationalist agenda - or his people have shown to date.

Nukes are funny things. Technically they are "weapons of war"...but they work well only as potential, not kinetic, energy. When the first nuke is thrown at a nuclear-armed adversary they have effectively lost much of their usefulness. If war is the "continuation of politics by other means" the problem with nuclear war is that, unlike politics, there is no real way to plan or predict or strategize what happens after the fallout settles. A single warhead getting through to a single city will mean that even the "winner" will suffer. There is little consolation for the "winning" public knowing that the northern portion of the Korean peninsula is a glassy wasteland.

Maintaining the nuclear balance was a difficult task for U.S. leaders like Truman and Eisenhower. What happens when the launch codes are clutched in the stubby fingers of a man whose primary education in conflict was as a WWF wrestling heel is something that I'm not sure I want to find out.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Enemies

A friend of mine (hi, mike!) posted something to his Facebook feed the other day about having turned on Joe Scarborough's Morning Joe after His Fraudulency had launched an attack-tweet on Joe and his co-host/paramour Mika, but that the content of the radical reactionary glurgefest was so vile that he lasted no more than a quarter-hour or less before having to kill the video feed.

I commented that this was a lesson, should we need it, that despite the saying the enemy of your enemy is NOT your friend.

At which point I stopped, with my hands poised over the keyboard.

Enemy.

Enemy?

This..?


...is my "enemy"?

Which got me thinking further. This woman is an American citizen. A "fellow American". She is, so far as I can tell, patriotic and honorable by her own lights. Presumably a decent loving daughter, wife, and mother. A hard-working journalist.

How could she, or Scarborough...or Mitch McConnell, or Paul Ryan, or Newt Gingrich, or Donald Trump, for that matter, be "enemies". They're all "fellow Americans". All, presumably, patriotic, hard-working, (okay, maybe not Trump...) decent, loving, (okay, maybe not Trump again...) citizens of my country.

And then I thought about the definition of the word "enemy";

1.1 A person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something.
the traditional enemies of his tribe’
‘Nigel made many enemies’
‘this man was her sworn enemy’


1.2 A thing that harms or weakens something else.
routine is the enemy of art’

And then I thought about what sort of things that Ryan and McConnell and Trump are proposing. What sort of things Scarborough and Brzezinski and Limbaugh and Murdoch are supporting.

A return to the economics and social stratification of the Gilded Age?
A place in the public square for theocrats, and racists, and fascists?
More than that; deference and authority for those sorts of traitors to the aspirations of my country?
The return of publicly shameless nepotism and graft to the White House that would have embarassed Warren Harding?



And then I thought: Are those things actively opposed and hostile to everything I believe about my country?

Would those things harm or weaken me, and those who are important to me?

Would they, in my opinion, harm and weaken my country?

Yes.

Therefore, the logical conclusion is that, yes.

These people are my enemies.

And there can be only one way to meet the hostile, harmful designs of one's enemies:

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day afternoon with COL Mix

You can't see it in this picture. But around the corner of the church tower, behind all the big modern monuments to the Honored Dead of every bunfight the United States has entered since 1775, is the marble marker for the one COL Simon Hosack Mix, killed in one of the many engagements at Petersburg, outside the Confederate capitol, in June of 1864.

Not that he's there, mind you. In those preflying times he would have had to pickled to have made it home in an acceptable state; no, what was left of him was buried somewhere close to the piece of Virginia where he was killed.

The marker is just his hometown's way of remembering him.

Turns out the Colonel was a bit of a celebrity in Victorian New York.
"As candidate for Congress on the same ticket as Abraham Lincoln, and colonel of one of the first volunteer cavalry regiments in the Union, Mix is justly regarded as “the greatest national character who ever came out of Schoharie county."
Congressional hopeful, colonel of volunteers, national character; Simon discovered, as many before and since, that the bullet could give a shit.

You're just meat, and as meat into the ground you go; food for worms, brave Percy, one of the many who have seen an end to war.

I'd spent the morning and afternoon amongst the living, visiting my baby sister and her husband in their old schoolhouse outside the little clapped-out hill town of Sidney, New York, one of the many dying places where the need for human habitation has passed by and only habit and intransigence prevents the remnants from fleeing. The chill rain had scrubbed the little Memorial Day parade, and the disappointed would-be spectators took refuge inside the church for the chicken supper.

There's something about being served a half of a baked fowl out of a tinfoil-lined garbage can I can't quite put my finger on.

After saying farewell to my family I sailed back up the interstate to the town of Cobleskill, and from there down the steep, curving roads to the county seat in Schoharie, to the big burying ground outside the old colonial church to spend a moment with the other old soldiers there, the men young and old who had seen the elephant, as they called it back in old COL Mix's times.

I wanted to share a drink with them, and so it was probably appropriate that the only thing I could find at the stop-and-rob down the road that would serve as a libation was a nasty pound can of Yuengling lager. I can't imagine that the guys had anything better, and, I suspect, probably had much the worse during their wartime service.

I parked outside the church and strolled around the tower, beer in hand, listening to the drip of rain off the maples and the quiet hum of traffic from the village to the south. The only other human noise was the random clanking of the flag halyards back in front of the building as the wet cloth flapped sullenly in the cold May afternoon.

I poured old Simon a draft and shared it with him, him and all the boys there, and elsewhere, who had worn the uniform before me, blue and green and parti-colored, and had paid the highest price that shoddy, lowest-bidder uniform could cost.

I told him that he'd done good, that dying for the end of chattel slavery was a better cause than the excuse for any fight my nation had ever asked of me, and that I apologized for the quality of the drink I offered to his shade and those of the fellas around us.

Here's to us, I pledged him; who's like us? Damn few, and you're all dead.

And we stood together in silence, his marker and I, and listened to the calling of the mourning doves and the sound of the rain.
And, as always on this day,

this.




Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Not living as large as I'd hoped...

Well, I know, I know. I promised content. And, as it says in the Scripture: "They cry "Content! Content!" and there is no content."
I can't plead anything but sloth.

Turns out that my easy pile-nanny days are turning into 12- and 14-hour pile nanny days. AND I have no internet at the place where I'm staying, so I have to work from the job trailer and, not surprisingly, I REALLY don't want to hang around the job trailer.

This has sucked in a lot of ways. It's sucked because I've had to miss my beloved Timbers and Thorns. It sucked because I can't chat with my loves back in Portland, or send and receive pictures other than through my tiny phone.
I've got an early afternoon off today - we had some trouble here at the jobsite - but, again, I don't want to hang around the job trailer. So I'm slamming this out and heading off to the Price Chopper for half-and-half and bagels. Here's some pretty waterfall pictures, though.

Oh, and these.
These are Devonian fossils from the outcrop described in this post; it's right outside the little town of Schoharie, the seat of Schoharie County, and I've since spent a couple of pleasant afternoons picking through the gray sandstone and shaley "grit" to find the valves of Gypidula and Spirifer and Atrypa and an occasional gastropod, long-vanished denizens of the Devonian seas.
I really will try and post something more substantive if I can get the damn internet back this weekend.


Saturday, May 06, 2017

Living large in Methburgh

It's sad, but I looked at the masthead and realized that an entire month had gone by without new content here. I won't apologize. I've been busy in real life and, frankly, I don't have much more to say aside from incendiary rants on the rank idiocy of electing a transparent con-man, grifter, and narcissistic asshole as the chief executive of a popular democracy.

So, instead, I'm sitting at the wobbly table in the apartment over the garage of a rental house in a small town in upstate New York where I'm on loan to a pile driving outfit working on a big water-supply dam reconstruction project, eating cold General's Chicken out of the plastic container and waiting for the Portland Thorns match to start on go90.com.
The work is...work. It's just your basic pile-nannying, complicated only by the ridiculous demands the New York Department of Environmental Protection had put on the contractor and the crappy weather.

(Speaking of which; did you know that the New York State Department of Environmental Protection has its own coppers? Seriously. I shit you not. And here's the best part; they're just as fucking idiotic about dressing up like soldiers and looking all billy-badass as regular coppers. Seriously. Tree-hugger-billy-badass-coppers. Here they are, the DEP Gestapo, in all their billy-badass glory.)

Is that fucking ridiculous, or what? Sometimes I think our goddamn nation went utterly batshit crazy on 9/11/2001.

The locale is perhaps the most left-behind, shit-kicking rural, economically depressed part of the state, a place that isn't so much a has-been as a never-was. I suspect that the Schoharie Valley was always the butt-ass end of beyond, a place for people to go who had no place anywhere else. It's surely that now, and it's even money which is more irking; the lack of good beer or the lack of good coffee.

Luckily I was able to remedy that today; I went into Cobleskill to the Price Chopper (and you have to say that in the Ahnuld voice: "Geht to the Price Choppah!") and picked up a bag of Starbucks French Roast and a six pack of assorted local brews, heavy on the IPAs. The folks here in rural NY seem to slowly be catching onto the microbrew notion, but, sadly, the coffee...dear God, what a shitshow.

I managed about a work-week with the "best" this area has to offer - Dunkin' Donuts - but finally I needed caffeine, REAL caffeine. I dropped into a "Stewart's Store", the local stop-n-rob franchise, to find something stronger than the weak-ass donkey piss on offer at Dunkin'. I browsed the coffee counter glumly before spotting a green-plastic-trimmed silex labeled "Dark Roast".

"Is this really "dark"?" I asked the plump woman behind the counter. "That's the darkest we have." she grumbled, and I held the thing up to the light; the flourescent tube was dimmed, barely, but the thing looked like nothing so much as the contents of a kidney-replacement patient's catheter bag.

I sighed and poured myself a cup.
But that coffee issue is solved, Price Choppah, you ah the best in life!

I did spend an enjoyable hour or so browsing Catnap Books, the utterly wonderful little used bookstore in frenetic downtown Cobleskill. Prize of the day was a 1944 New York State Museum Bulletin #336, "Geology of the Catskill and Kaaterskill Quadrangles" complete with gorgeous colored geologic map of the Catskill region directly southeast of me.
The geology here is orders of magnitude older and more complex than our juvenile and simple brute-force geology of the Pacific Northwest. These are old rocks; Devonian, Ordovician, Silurian...the tribal names from Britain where they were first described and classified. Sediments from long-vanished seas; red shales, black siltstones, many different colors of "grits" (the archaic name for a silty sandstone or sandy siltstone), and many, many layers of gray sandstones.

The valley of the Schoharie Creek was once on the eastern edge of a great vanished ocean, a narrow sea between the continent and a volcanic arc that had rifted away from the landmass to the west. This was a torrid wet forest, the earliest known on Earth, dominated by the bizarre fern-like tree once known as Eospermatopteris and now as Wattieza. The conical bases of these peculiar trees (they aren't really "roots"; the description I read said that so far as the paleontologists can tell these fern-like trees had teensy rhizomeish suckers at the base. Windstorms in the Devonian must have been a panic...) were preserved when sandy sediment buried the forests and casted-up the stumps as they disintegrated.
This ghost forest was unearthed in the 19th Century, but the real excavations came with the building of the dam in the 20th. Several of the treestumps have been tumbled into a small rectangular gravel bed outside the Gilboa post office. There's a bunch more outside the general contractor's trailer at the jobsite.

Outside the geology the work is just the usual pile-nannying, and the weather has been cold and rainy, and, as I mentioned, the coffee is awful.

And the Thorns struggled to an unconvincing home draw.
It's midnight here, and I have to get up to go see my kid sister in the morning. But I've got some time on my hands this month, and I'll be back around this joint in just a bit.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Another opening, another show!

I've got a longer post up about this at the MilPub, but I couldn't help laughing at the latest in Little Theater at Camp Runamuck; the Great Syrian Air War!
Because the Thursday cruise missile strike on the Syrian government airbase at Shayrat is such an utterly perfect summation of the U.S. "foreign policy" in the Middle East as to be a tiny little exploding jewel-box-like portrait of foreign policy derp that it just makes me want to walk around smiling all day in that grim, sickly, "isn't that fucking special" kind of smiley way.

Militarily useless? Check. Because, although he may be a grifter with the soul of a can of Chef Boy-ar-dee Spaghetti and Meatballs, the Tangerine Toddler isn't clinically insane his administration is reported to have warned the Russian government prior to the strike to ensure that we didn't send any random wingwipers of the Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily Rossii home in a box. The Russians, unsuprisingly, passed the warning on to their Syrian clients. So it's extremely likely that what the strike did was flatten some empty hangars and scatter bits of the buildings across the runways.

Tomahawks, so far as I know, are not equipped with delay-fused runway cratering warheads, so this couldn't have acted as an airfield-denial strike.

In fact, I'm hearing reports that the Syrian Arab Air Force operated out of Shayrat today. You'd think that Assad would have at least pretended to limp around a little after getting up to make it looked like Trumpwar had given him an owie, to help out his pals Pootie and Trumpie, but nooooooo. What a buddyfucker.

Geopolitically worthless? Check. Even supposing that this DID attrit the Assad government's ability to fight the civil war. Late on Thursday both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster made it clear that these strikes wouldn't have any major effect on the actual political situation in Syria.

And, of course - as we should have learned in Libya, the enemy of our enemy isn't just not our friend but is probably a bughouse crawling with vicious factional hatred and political dysfunction. A handful of damaged Flankers won't make the Syrian rebels any less rabid, the Islamic State any less gonzo, or the hatred between the first two and the Kurds any less toxic. The vicious civil war will roll on.

A fat paycheck for our defense contractors? Check. At about $1.5m a shot 59 Tomahawks set the Navy back about 88 million bucks. This, of course, isn't an actual loss-leader but a promissary note to Raytheon-McDonnell-Douglas for 59 new units.

Just a fiscal note: the 2017 budget request for the National Endowment for the Arts was about $149 million. It's kind of nifty that although the current Administration has publicly stated that it intends to zero out that budget that it's willing to throw down about 60% of the expense for an equally useless piece of political theater.

A big happy piece of domestic dick-waving? Check, and double check! The real value of this stunt appears to be that it has convinced the media outlets that His Fraudulency is "presidential", since nothing says "Chief Executive" like blowing dusky savages up, and has excited the sorts of voters whose fourth-grade "understanding" of the Syrian Civil War is limited to imagining the place as some sort of dytopian Agrabah populated by various species of "headchoppers".

What's really sad is how little this nonsense depends on the juvenile personality of the current President. From Obama's droney pursuit of Afridis where they run to Dubya's Mess-o-potamia to Clinton's Operation Desert Fox to what seems like every administration back to Eisenhower defenstrating Mossadegh and storming ashore in Lebanon...it just seems like this crap is what the U.S. does, and particularly in the Middle East.

If I thought that the Orange Napoleon had some sort of "strategy" in mind...yeah, I know. Who are we kidding?

The real bottom line, though, is that there really IS no "strategy" short of Full Roman that would "work" in Syria, even if His Fraudulency's crew could find one without both hands and a flashlight. Assad with sarin is only a degree more loathsome than Assad without sarin. The rebels are largely takfiri bugnuts. They all hate each other and the vicious civil war has poisoned whatever well of goodwill existed before the kiling began.

In other words, there's less chance of a random one-off bombing raid on Syrian government forces helping lead to a stable, peaceful, non-dictatorial Syria than I have of being elected Dragon King of Bhutan, and we've already been over the likelihood of that before.

WASF.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Half FOX and half free

I follow a blog called Stonekettle Station. It's written by a crusty old squid by the name of Jim Wright, and I enjoy his curmudgeonly and iconoclastic take on most things.

But since the election of the Tangerine Toddler Jim has been banging this drum about "compromise".

What compromise? Well...his premise is that there is this critical mass of "good people" out there who have been fooled (or stampeded, or sidled) into voting Republican because they have fears, and the Left just pooh-poohs their fears. So they go out and vote for the Republican who may (or may not) do "something" to change what it is they fear but as often as not simply uses their fear-vote to advance the GOP agenda of more Gilded Age.

The trick, see, is that:
"It seems Democrats have a historic opportunity, a moment when moderate conservatives could be given a choice other than dogmatic partisanship, if the left can pull together, can reach out, can compromise, and can but convince them that their guns and their bibles will be safe. If Democrats can address those fears up above in an honest manner and put them firmly to rest, then now, this moment right here, is an opportunity to prove that the alternative is better."
And y'know what?

I completely agree.

I don't want to take anyone's kid and convince him that his or her faith is a bunch of Bronze Age claptrap. I think it is, but, hell, I also think that french fries are good with mayonnaise.

I don't want to take anyone's Mossberg. Their AR-15? Yeah, maybe. But "their guns", as in ALL the guns? Christ, I'd be a lunatic to think it could even be done; We the People have chosen to offer up a blood sacrifice to the God of Weaponry rather than to disarm and I just have to suck that up.

But...here's where I think Jim hits the wall. He says that"
You find the people, whatever their politics, who believe civilization is better than the alternative."
Which is a great idea, a terrific idea.

Just one little problem...what if the people you're trying to compromise with would rather wreck the joint rather than accept a "civilization" that's not on their terms?

There was this guy. Kind of a liberalish dude, really a mainstream corporate-capitalist sort of politician but in the liberal tradition that believes that governing is to "get things done" for the majority of the citizens. Sorta wonky. Hawaiian dude, funny name, can't quite remember it. But he was president back in the day. Remember him?

Remember how he tried to "compromise" with these people? Offered them all sorts of private profits, all sorts of corporate goodies, tried to defer to their "sensibilities" about things like religion and sex and gender and all that guff?
And remember how they "compromised" with him?

Yeah. Me, too.

Tell me, Jim; how the flippin' fuck do you "compromise" with people - and I'm talking your bog-standard Republicans, your soccer moms and Home Depot dads, not the shoutycrackers and the Stormfront bros - who think and thought that Barak Obama was a Kenyan commie out to destroy their freedoms? Who thought that living through eight years of having to press "1" for English and not being able to use the word "faggot" at PTA meetings was sheer tyrannical hell?

I'm serious. This is getting ridiculous. Jim keeps on and on about "compromise" as if the Left hasn't. Even. Tried. While that's about all the left HAS done. Given ground on abortion. Given ground on equal rights. Given ground on health care. Given ground on "terrorism".

Sweet Christ, these wingnuts have gotten damn near everything they've whined about...but did that motivate them to moderate their insistence that the queers hide back in the closet and stop getting all "married" and the blacks stop getting pissed off about being shot by cops and the wogs be fine with getting carpet-bombed and tortured and the uppity wimmen shut up and lie there and plutocrats get the tax cuts they need to better buy and sell government?

Ummm...no.

And much as I hate to be a "die, die!" libtard (Jim had a post talking about the war of extermination with the aliens in Independence Day and how that's where we're going if we can't compromise...), but equal justice and equitable democracy and other details like clean air and water aren't really negotiable.

They're starting points; from there I'm fine with arguing the details of potty time with people who are terrified that they will be assaulted in the ladies' can by a Cambodian ladyman in a Balenciaga cocktail frock.

Here's what I think.

I think Jim's got the fundamental relationship wrong. It's the fundies and wingnuts that are doing the "die, die!" thing here. They're fine with destroying the U.S. of the New Deal if they can't get white supremacy and plutocracy and corporate oligarchy. They'd rather fight liberalism to the death than compromise with it; their insane furor over the ACA and the other ridiculously moderate liberal institutions of 2017 America - their "fears", as you label them - pretty much gives them away. To them we're "babykillers" and "dhimmicrats" and "libtards".

They don't want to compromise with us. They want to destroy us. Those aren't MY words, they're theirs.

So sorry to spoil the fun. But I think Jim - and my other lefty friends and pundits who keep going on about how we just have to understand and reach out to the poor frightened rubes who went all-in for Trump - are preaching to the wrong choir.

I agree; the nation cannot long survive half FOX and half free; it must become all one or all the other. But I see no reason why those of us who object to becoming serfs to our corporate overlords need to give anything more to the ridiculous fears of Scary Brown People and fifteen bucks an hour and solar power and gay wedding cakes.

Instead, I think all y'all guys need to tell the Right all this "compromise" stuff.
I'll be here with the popcorn to see just how far you get with that shit.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Nuke 'em 'til they glow and then wander around in the dark: TMI 1979

In the spring of 1979 I was pretty much what most 22-year-old guys are; clueless yet unabashed, barbarous in an oversocialized, post-industrial sort of fashion. I was also attending a small private college in south-central Pennsylvania. Like many of my peers I was concerned with my social life more than learning, with getting laid more than getting educated. In short, I was what a young nomad would have been had he been de-loused and shoved into Topsiders and a polo shirt and told to stop riding across other people's grazing lands.
What I was not was particularly aware of my surroundings. I paid as little attention to the world's business as I had just half a dozen years earlier when I was approaching draft age and the war in Southeast Asia was winding down...which says something about how gormless I was, given that I had not the slightest assurance that my government might want me to go to proof-test the Domino Theory with my body when I came to legal adulthood.

I was a dope. A fairly socialized, relatively educated dope, but a dope nonetheless.

So I can't say it was surprising that I hadn't the slightest idea on this day 38 years ago that as I was lazing about sleeping in my old bedroom in my parent's house on a Spring Break vacation Wednesday that about sixty miles to the northwest, at the Three Mile Island power station, reactor TMI-2 was melting down.

It was four in the fucking morning; who was getting up that early on a vacation weekday..?

Here's the sad, funny part of this story, though.

You can read the accounts of "Three Mile Island" to get the history; it's a bit beyond this post, which is just a personal momento nuki. The accident was more frightening than actually dangerous but it was frightening, and a fairly broad swath of central Pennsylvania (and, I think, even a bit of north-central Maryland) was warned that a deadly radioactive cloud might descend at any time in the manner of one of those Fifties mutant-monster films. The governor of Pennsylvania issued some sort of evacuation order which was widely ignored, and the public response was entirely determined by individual threshold levels of nuclear panic.

Young Chief, being, as noted above, a clueless git, had no panic because he had no clue. Literally; I didn't turn on the news or bother to read the newspaper. I had no idea what the fresh hell was going on along the banks of the Susquehanna River. Armored in that impervious ignorance I bagged up my clean laundry and shoved it in my father's secondhand Ford Pinto station wagon (all I could afford as college transportation and quite the babe-magnet it was, I tell you. Ugh.) that Friday. I had a couple of exams early in the next week, and my plan was to return to the dorm to get a weekend of studying in away from the fleshpots of Kennett Square, PA.

I won't pretend that my college, even in the coke-and-disco-fueled Seventies, was the sort of girls-gone-wild party school of college films so I wasn't really surprised that the campus was dark and quiet on an end-of-break Friday night. What was surprising, however, was that the outside door of my dorm was locked.

The exterior doors of dorms were never locked. They just weren't. Not only was it some sort of fire code rule there were always at least a handful of people who needed to go in and out. I recall yanking on the door handle in a sort of irritated disbelief. The fuck..? Who the hell locks a damn dorm door? Must be some sort of prank; the north side door will be open.

Except it wasn't. And on the walk around the outside I began to wonder. My school was pretty dead socially, but...not this dead. West of my dorm was the broad open space hemmed with classroom buildings, underclass dorms, and the student union. Even on the deadest of dead evenings there should have been someone walking across the oval; a couple going to the U, random library-seekers. Someone.

Not that evening.

I don't recall exactly what tuition was running in those days. Certainly much less than the current nearly-quarter-million it costs for four years there today. But for 1979 the costs were steep, so you'd think that after three years I'd have received enough of that expensive education to have figured out that something wasn't right. But you'd have underestimated the thickness of young Chief's skull. I ambled over to the union to find it dark and locked. The geology building? Locked. The freshman dorm across the oval? Yep; darkened and locked.

Finally I did what I should have done first; I wandered over to the campus cop shop. There, finally, was a light, and open door, and an extremely indifferent looking guy in a uniform.

"Ummm...where the heck is everybody?" I whined.

The law, in its impartial majesty, lowered his newspaper and looked at me with a perfect combination of boredom, amusement, and irritation.

"Not here. Campus is closed."

"Closed? What? Why?"


Irritation and boredom were replaced with mild disbelief.

"Because of the nuclear plant blowing up. You don't know about that?"

"Uh, no. What nuclear plant?"

"That one over by Harrisburg, on the river. Something happened, there's a warning, campus is closed until the warning is cancelled."

"The...what the hell? What am I supposed to do?"
Now Officer Friendly looked at me with a frown that matched his increasing contempt for my stupidity.

"Go the hell home, kid. Before your balls start to glow in the dark."

So I did. My parents were surprised, and immediately called my kid sister (going to school at another small private college some ways to the north and west of Three Mile Island) to ensure that she was not in immediate danger of nuclear irradiation. She wasn't.

Nobody was, as it turns out.
(As a technical aside, one of the things that has always amazed, irked, and amused me about my country's private nuclear power generation is the ridiculously pre-industrial fashion that U.S. commercial nuclear plants have been typically designed and built.

Military reactors, and most commercial nuclear plants in Europe as well as Japan (where the cost of and access to fossil fuels mean that nuclear power is a much larger part of the power grid), are typically made as part of a mass-produced, standardized series. Reactors and their controls are alike - or identical - in the same way that automobiles of a particular model are alike or identical. Construction is simplified, operations are predictable, and lessons learned from failures can be quickly standardized and disseminated through the production run.

Most U.S. commercial reactors are one-offs, designed and constructed individually (or, at best, very small series of two or three or modifications from an earlier design) for each plant. So Massachusetts' Connecticut Yankee plant's reactors are different from Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island that are different from Oregon's Trojan. Every new plant reinvents the nuclear wheel, making the opportunities for design or operating flaws much greater.

Ironically, TMI-2 was an 879 MWe pressurized water reactor designed and constructed by the firm of Babcock & Wilcox. This type of reactor had a failure identical to the 1979 accident two years earlier at the Davis-Besse plant in Ohio. The Ohio reactor was running at a very low level compared to TMI-2, so the core didn't melt down...but the valve failure wasn't recognized as a design flaw or the problem diagnosed and that diagnosis sent to the other plants operating this type of reactor.

So two years later I got to wander around in the dark wondering where the hell everybody had gone.

If there's a lesson here, I'm not sure what it is, other than "young men are stupid".

But recruiting sergeants have known that since Ramses' regimental sergeant-major bought the village plowboys their first jug of palm wine.

Perhaps it's "Contractors whose sole purpose is profit are stupid so long as it profits them to be."

Although I'll bet pharoah's sergeants could have told you that about contractors, too.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

¡Fuera de acá, abuela!

Frank Moraes makes a good point that draws me back to the Trumpkin War of Wetback's Ear currently now being waged against Scary Brown People that I talked about last month.

Frank's post itself is worth reading, but he makes a hell of a great point; one huge reason that the Immigration troopers just luuuurve this Trumpy open-season so much is that it makes their jobs ridiculously, like slam-dunk easy, because:
"...they don’t have to go looking. It’s also easy because they don’t have to worry that the person they are arresting is violent. Just imagine if 90 percent of the work you have to do in your job was lifted. You’d be very happy.

For the managers at ICE, this is fantastic. Now they can catch more people and get credit for doing a great job. They’ll hear, “Wow! You doubled the number of people you deported!” And they’ll think to themselves, “It was easy! I used to have go after violent criminals, but now I capture housewives and grandfathers.” There will be nowhere on the reports they file to indicate what percentage of the people they captured were “bad hombres.” A 55 year-old father of four with no criminal history is as good as a gang leader captured after shooting the graveyard clerk at the local 7-11."
My conclusion in the earlier piece was that this Mexican ratissage would do very little other than make some innocent people's lives pretty miserable. But Frank's conclusion is, now that I think about it, even more likely to come true and even less palatable when it does; that people will be harmed because fewer ICE resources will be used to try and catch MS13 gangsters when nabbing old granny from the corner bodega counts just as much.

AND...that when one of these MS-13 "bad hombres" does something predictably awful it will just provide the Tangerine Toddler and the Fraudulency Administration with more justification to kick granny back to Sinaloa.

It's the lickiest of self-licking ice cream cones.

Isn't THAT fucking dandy..?

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Fifteen

Well.

It's that day of the year again, isn't it, love?

That day where once, or twice, or a handful of times I stop and really think about you.

Not in the usual sort of passing way that has become your visits to me of late; the random idle wonder at the sight of a dark head in a gaggle of teenage girls, or the fleeting memory of a still small bundle of yellow flannel jammie.

But a dead stop remembering you as you were, and remembering me as you were to me.

Not the tiny day-old baby girl that was all that you would ever be. That was your mom, who carried you all those long and fretful months. But to me; the gangly girl you might have been, or the petulant and angry teenager I hoped you'd avoid becoming, or the compact dark young woman who would one day stand over my grave and remember me.

Instead I got to stand over yours, and now I am almost all there is; your mother and I and a handful of our friends, to remember you.

I'm sorry you never got the chance to grow up into all those dfferent people, darlin'. I miss those people and all the other people you might have been but never could be. I wish that I was going home tonight to find you pissed off and arguing with your sullen little brother and pushing aside your goody-goody little sister and shouting at you to lighten up and lay off your siblings, which says something pretty brutal about how much I miss the you I'll never get to know.

I do enjoy our little visits on this day, troubling as they are at times.

I wish you could stay for a while longer. But tomorrow you'll be gone. Again. As you were, and as you always will be, even though in your quiet and ephemeral way you'll be here as long as I am. That doesn't really count. Not next to the you that isn't here with me.

And, look; it's time to go already. Yes, I'll miss you. No, I'm sorry, you can't stay longer. Yes. I'll think of you again.

I always do.

Goodbye, love.

Goodbye.

Bryn Rose Gellar
March 1, 2002 - March 2, 2002

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

¡Fuera de acá!

I hate to even admit this.

But.

I'm not TOTALLY hating on the totally-expected roundup-the-wetbacks directive from the new Administration.

Yeah, yeah, I'm a Trumpkin. I want to Make America Great Again. Ugh. I know.

Bear with me for a moment, though.

Now. Don't get me wrong. This thing will suck for millions of people whose crime is trying to get a piece of the American Dream for themselves and their families. I hate that on a purely personal, I-don't-like-to-make-things-suck-for-innocent-people level. As a person, I hate it.

As a citizen, as someone who thinks about politics and governing...well, let's start with this; to be a stateless person, a non-citizen, in a foreign nation is not a good thing.

It's not good for the person, who has no civil rights, who is outside the protection of the civil law, and who is, therefore, hideously vulnerable to all sorts of malefactors.

And it's not good for the nation, that has this indigestible mass of non-citizens within it prey to crime and violence, exploited by employers and living in fear of taking part in the civil life of the community.

So. The bottom line really is; if you are a citizen of Mexico, or Ireland, or Bali...you belong in Mexico, Ireland, or Bali unless you are a legal resident or visitor of where-ever-it-is-you-are; in this case, the United States.

In case you're interested, I wrote a loooooong post at this joint three years ago where I discussed what I see as the vast, almost insoluble complexity of this problem, which concluded with the following:
"The real issue - the one Which Dare Not Speak Its Name - is that the institutional poverty, misgovernance, and social maladjustment of most Latin American countries is so profound and so destructive that to address it would take every penny that the U.S. has spent on poorly planned foreign adventures and more. Much more.

So instead we get this idiotic argument that all we need to do is fence these little heatherns out and everything will be Good. God will once again be White and in His Heaven, the food will magically get harvested, processed, cooked and served by "Real Amurikans" (that is, legal citizens) who will suddenly, magically, want to work for the pittance we want to pay for these jobs to prevent our food, clothing and service costs from reflecting what it would cost to pay humans actually living wages to do these things."
But this post isn't about those things; it's about the Trump-promising-to-deport-the-beaners-and-going-ahead-and-doing-it.

As opposed to the ban-the-raghead rule, which really was poorly thought out and complete geopolitical foolery, the idea that the United States should police its borders and return those who have entered the country illegally to their homelands is not, on its face, as freakishly boneheaded as most Trump stuff.

But...

(...and you KNEW there'd be a but, here, right, because, well...Trump.)

Here's the problems I DO have with this.

First, I can see a gajillion ways that this is going to be a fucking total shitshow. American citizens will be grabbed up and deported by mistake. Sweeps will result in a seething mob of people shoved into FEMA trailers without any sort of organization or preparation. Screening will be a disaster. The optics - "jackbooted ICE agents handcuff adorable tiny Latino kiddies" - will make the Land of the Free look like the Land of the Assholes. People will get stranded in Mexico City airport with nowhere to go and no hope of relief.

I can see about a dozen ways this will be a smoking crater - it's Trump, for one thing, who seems to have a gift for employing people who couldn't run a child's birthday party - that will make the Iraq War look like VE Day.

Second, I can also see how this could turn into something far nastier and far worse, along the lines of the Japanese internment of 1942. There's always been a hell of a strong strain of race hate and xenophobia in America (as there is in about...well, pretty much everywhere humans live...) that could take this from a calmly conducted law enforcement process into a screaming ratissage against every person or group of people that every whacko wingnut hates and freaks out over (Hello? Alex Jones? Hello?).

And, finally, I think that, even if this isn't a dumpster fire, that the results will be at best underwhelming. The promised Day of Alien-Free Jubilee will turn out to be a quiet monotone of unpicked crops, uncleaned hotel rooms, unwiped asses, and uncooked meals.

The result of all this huge slug of spending - surely paid for by a tax hike, right? - will be, outside of personal hardship for those involved, a vast expanse of...very little.


What do you think?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Falling Timber, Green Shoots

I've been working out of town steadily for the past several weeks, so my home life has been reduced to weekends.

The only problem with that is that, when I get home...I don't want to just sit at home.

My Bride, dearly as I love her, doesn't have "get-out-of-the-house" sorts of interests. She likes to sew, and she is part of one of our local rowing clubs. She loves "binning", going to the infamous GoodWill Bins that I wrote about back on '09. And re-arranging the living room furniture.

My kids have videogames (for the Boy) and crafts, stories, and all sorts of creative fun (for the Girl).

But I like to get out a bit.

So this morning we loaded up the car with wife and kid and friends-of-kid and drove up into the Coast Range, into the Deep Woods, to the annual "Blessing of the Log", the ceremonial Choosing of the douglas-fir Pole that will serve the Timbers soccer club's lumberjack mascot as a tally for goalscoring and goalkeeping (when a Timber scores - or a Timbers keeper keeps a clean sheet - the lumberjack saws off a slice from the log, a tradition going back to the Seventies).

The day was cool and damp but not raining, and the roads were quiet all through the farmlands that cling to the west edge of the Tualatin Valley and up into the wooded hills of the Coast Range. Dark firs and bare maples dripped steadily as we passed through the Sunset Corridor, as the state calls Highway 26 that is named for the old 41st Division of WW2.

I have been this way many times and it has changed very little in the almost thirty years I have lived here. The clearcuts wander about, appearing suddenly where a stand of heavy timber was the winter before, then gradually blurring away as the new crop of future dimension lumber, plywood, and paper pulp grows over the bare hillsides rugged with stump and slashpiles.

An early stop for coffee and cocoa help quiet the drive out to the morning's meetingplace at Camp 18.

As I was writing this I looked back through the GFT archives and discovered to my surprise that I have never really talked much about this joint. It's...well, it's a fascinating mashup of genuinely worthwhile roadside attraction, good restaurant, and kitschy tourist trap.

The building itself is a treasure, a huge log cabin complete with enormous single-tree ridgepole and massive old-growth timber front doors. The huge stone hearths help take the chill off a winter's day, and the food is plentiful and savory. If there's anything my Girl appreciates it's a good tuck-in, and she and her pal Lulu got around the outside of a hell of a lot of eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and the immense cinnamon rolls that the Camp is known for.

After the breakfast - and a visit to the gift shop and a stroll around the old logging equipment that serves as part of the museum to the old life in the Coast Range woods - it was time for the annual Blessing of the Log.
This event is the ceremonial start of the Timbers' soccer fan's season. A piece of a raw douglas-fir log donated by one of the local timber companies (this year it was Hampton Lumber of Willamina; thanks, guys!) is brought to Camp 18, where an assembled group of fans, and their friends, kids, and even their pets troop out into the chilly morning to offer up their hopes for the coming year. One of the song leaders - the capos - leads the group in the "blessing"...

"May your home be strong of beam,
Firm of wall and rafter,
Built with Timbers from a dream,
Girded well with laughter.
May your home have a winding stair
With a lovers landing,
Windows to let in fresh air
With the light of understanding.
May your home have a roof of faith
For every change of weather
And love upon your hearth
To warm your years forever."


...that concludes with a roar of "Go, Timbers!"

That was enough for my kiddos; they weren't prepared to stay longer and plant trees so full of lumberjack breakfast and companionship our group returned Bob the Subaru through the wooded hills and spitting rain back to Portland again; the kids to their busy-ness, my Bride to a nap, and I to a quiet afternoon, dreaming dreams of future glory.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Where have you gone, Mark Hatfield..?

Back in October I wrote a post about the Trump "wing" of the Republican Party. In it I said:
"I think that regardless of whether the media comes down hard on the Trumpeters after November that this hard core of Jacksonians will not dissipate, and the United States will be, in effect, dealing with the same situation that broke the nation in 1860; there will be a large, indigestible, irredentist minority that will never, NEVER accept the legitimacy of their opponents. No non-Jacksonian/Trumpeter will be allowed to govern. Obstruction will be the order, not just of the day but of the week, the year, the decade.

Eventually the American public will look for a “savior”, and a Man on Horseback seems all the more likely to be that "savior"."
At that time I, like many other Americans, simply assumed that, regardless of party affiliation, Trump himself was such an appallingly loathsome example of a human being that not even the loopiest wingnuts would be able to bring themselves to vote for him, and I was worried about more, and worse, of what we'd seen during the Clinton and Obama years.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Boy fuckin' howdy was that joke on us...

Since then the administration of His Fraudulency has shown us everything we knew about the Tangerine Toddler: his viciousness, his stupidity (or, at least, his lack of knowledge and information, which is almost as troubling), his insensate rage, his childlike impulsiveness, and his overall love of brutal authoritarianism. His cabinet and his inner circle is full of horrors, ranging from Christopathic Amway grifters to greedy robosigning banksters to open neo-Nazis. He is, so far as anyone can tell, either playing patty-cake or simply in the pocket of the Kremlin.

His initial flood of executive orders range from simple nonsense to brutal stupidity, and his frantic tweetstorms paint a picture of a man who would be unprepared to run a child's birthday party, let alone the most heavily-armed industrial republic on Earth.

And then there's this:


That's His Fraudulency's "approval rating" on February 6, 2017.

Yes, overall it looks ugly, but look at the Republican column.

Ninety percent positive.

Ninety percent.

Think about that for a moment.

So I posted a discussion of the Flynn Fiasco at my geopolitical blog MilPub and got immediate pushback on my assertion that the single biggest political crisis we're facing is a monolithic GOP all-in on Trumpism, which is to say fearmongering about Mexican rapists and Iraqi jahadis, whackadoodle conspiracy theories, and a mad intent to create a New Gilded Age.

Not so! the respondent cried. Both Side Do It! The Corrupt Duopoly! Two Sides of the Same Coin! Imperial presidency! Drone war! Washington Rules!

My rebuttal was while, yes, the corporate wing of the Democratic Party was part of the problem, the Our Revolution wing (i.e. the Sanders movement) was proof that the Left has a faction fighting against the sort of imperial presidency and money power that brought us Iraq and Citizens United and the surveillance state.

And DeVos, and Flynn, and moronic Muslim bans, and deporting Mexican teenagers.

But, I asked, where are our allies on the Right?

Where are the genuinely "principled conservatives" who also hate crony capitalism, imperial cabinet wars, unrestricted plutocracy, and the sort of idiocy we're seeing now from the Trumpeters?

Right now those of us on the outside are looking at these Trumpeters and seeing gibbering, hateful, ignorant loons. Neo-nazis and conspiracy theorists that make the Bushies look like MENSA. But when you look at the arc of the GOP this is the culmination of the project that starts with Goldwater; the Bircherization of the GOP. Proudly resistant to any ideas outside their dogma, dismissive of disagreements, rigid, angry, and vituperative...the perfect distillation of hate radio and Breitbart.

Almost half of the U.S. electorate want this, though. Or , at least, has been conditioned and shouted at and lied to to want it.

Almost half the nation is FOX News, and, as driftglass says, no nation can exist half-FOX and half-free; it must become all one or all the other.

Is there any hope left that the GOP can be anything else? It was once; my pop (and I, as a young man) were Rockefeller Republicans. But Reagan and Gingrich and Limbaugh and Palin...years and years of nonsense and lies and fakery and magical thinking...drove us both out.

I guess my fear is that there is no return.

So I'm asking; what sort of Republicans would that take? How could that happen? Are there any left out there? Is there a chance that the GOP can be more than hysterical fear of Muslims, gays, free health care, and gun control?

Because, frankly, if not...I don't see anything other way than deeper into this fucking Trumpenmire.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Yakla: Arabic for Dieppe? Normandy? Neither? Who knows?

It will surprise no one here that my general opinion of the not-even-a-month-old reign of His Fraudulency is a mixture of disgust and contempt; disgust for the greedy, mulcting brutality of the Grifter-in-Chief and contempt for an "adminstration" that is barely capable of incompetence, let alone anything approaching a grasp of the actual complexity and difficulty of running an immense industrial nation.

But...since this is supposed to be a blog about military affairs and geopolitics...let me concentrate on one specific issue involving one single episode in this farcical miniseries and what is says, not just about the Barely Sentient Administration but about the whole business we've been doing in the Middle East since 2001; the raid on the village of Yakla in Yemen.

And the issue is this: "winning"
Specifically, the new President seems to be furiously irked that anyone questions that this particular operation was a "win" for the Forces of Goodness and Peace (i.e., the United States, by definition the Good Guys, amirite..?)

"...a winning mission..." is the exact phrase that the Tangerine Toddler Twitterblurted out (attributing it to his SecDef, mind you).

Now.

AI have no idea what the actual objective(s) of this raid was or were, and, second, I have no idea whether that objective or objectives was or were achieved. And, indeed, if it was in intel-gathering operation we will probably NEVER know, and rightly so. Whatever intelligence was obtained will be hidden and used to guide future operations, as it should be.

If the intelligence desired was obtained, then, in the strictest sense even a raid that seems to have fallen apart tactically, cost over 100 million dollars as well as dozens of lives - innocent, friendly and enemy - and has provided cause for at least one of the "governments" of Yemen to first revoke and then to request a "review" of U.S. ground operations in their portion of that wretched land can be called a "success".

But..."winning"?

The entire farrago about this mission "winning" or "failing" just point out to me two problems.

First, and specific to this administration, that Five-Deferment Donnie has no more idea of how actual military operations, campaigns, and wars work than a fucking Jersey cow knows about the proceedings of the Council of Trent. The "winning" nonsense is that's just how a simpleminded derp thinks war works, and the orange Amway salesman has never been closer to combat than the concession line where American Sniper was playing, so that's just how he thinks.

But people like Mattis should know better, and tell him so. I suspect that he did, and that the joker didn't listen, or understand.

Second, and worse, generic to our nation and our foreign policy, that we're even debating about whether some piddly-ass little airmobile raid was a "win" or a "failure" points out the degree that ALL of us; the press, the public, the military and civil authorities in the United States have no real fucking clue what the fuck we are doing in the Middle East.

Because, quite simply, this Yakla raid is part of a much larger, much more complex...something. A "(Sort of) War on (Certain Kinds of People Who Use Certain Kinds of) Terror". A "clash of civilizations". A Great Power cabinet war gone out of control. A...well, I have no fucking idea, actually, and what pisses me off is that I'll bet you and Joe and Molly and Steve Fucking Bannon have no fucking idea, either.

The Yemen raid was something of a tactical mess. But, more importantly, we don't know what our actual goals are in Yemen and whether (or how much) this raid got us closer to them, or not.

In August of 1942 the Brits attacked the French Channel port of Dieppe. The raid was a fiasco, thousands of Allied troops were killed or captured, and the Nazi hierarchy exulted in their success. But the Allies learned a ton from Dieppe, so the next time they came ashore in France it opened the road all the way to the Elbe.

Is this raid Dieppe, or Normandy, or what?

We have no context. We can't possibly know.

And that's a huge problem. If you have no idea what your end-state is (or, worse, if your end-state is something utterly impossible, such as "the utter defeat of radical Islamic terrorism") then how the hell do you know when you've reached it. How do you know whether Operation Yemen Derp, or whatever, has gotten you closer, or further away, or sideways, or where the hell you are?

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Dopeslap

I can't really do better than Ben Wittes on the horrific clusterfuck that is His Fraudulency's executive order barring entrance to the United States of nationals (including resident aliens and persons with valid visas) from seven Muslim-majority nations.
"But in the rational pursuit of security objectives, you don’t marginalize your expert security agencies and fail to vet your ideas through a normal interagency process. You don’t target the wrong people in nutty ways when you’re rationally pursuing real security objectives.

When do you do these things? You do these things when you’re elevating the symbolic politics of bashing Islam over any actual security interest. You do them when you’ve made a deliberate decision to burden human lives to make a public point. In other words, this is not a document that will cause hardship and misery because of regrettable incidental impacts on people injured in the pursuit of a public good. It will cause hardship and misery for tens or hundreds of thousands of people because that is precisely what it is intended to do."
But I do want to stop for a moment and point out one specific point from this tissue of diaper gravy the Tangerine Toddler seems to have scraped out of his britches that pounds home the points that 1) this was not intended as a national security measure, and 2) if it was intended as a national security measure as such it is a complete, utter, moron-grade-stupid fail;

Iraq.

Why the fuck, if you had so much as a functioning hindbrain, would you put all Iraqi nationals on an "anti-Islamic-terrorism" no-entry list in 2017?

Iraq is, at the moment, at least notionally a fucking U.S. ally. The U.S. spends millions subsidizing the Iraqi government and military. Thousands of GIs are now, right now, at this very fucking minute, in the field alongside the Iraqi Ground Forces, fighting those very booga-booga Islamic bad guys the Islamic State.

A tenth of a second of real thought - which appears to be a tenth more than the Fraudulency Administration put into this goddamn thing - would reveal that any Iraqi national holding a U.S. visa, or a green card, or applying for refugee status, has about a 99.9% chance of being or doing so because he or she worked for the U.S. government. Translator, liason, contractor...the chances are fucking impossibly huge that anyone you'd catch in your cunning terrorist-catching net would be some former heroic translator who had spent years risking his ass alongside those troops you purport to support and love.

I could go on. Why the hell throw Iran into this pottage and leave off Pakistan and Saudi; chock-full of wahhabi madrassas cranking out fundamentalist kooks by the turbanful?

But screw that. It's Iraq on this idiot bucket list that tells me that this had nothing to do with actual security. It was just about Il Douche and his merry band of Trumpeters taking their Islamophobic dicks out for a bit of a wave.

I lived with asshole officers for twenty years. Interspersed with true combat gods a lot of these jokers lived to thrill themselves with their own importance, showed a ridiculous enthusiasm for getting their troops killed for Duty, Honor, Country, and whose shoulder insignia often looked to my lowly enlisted scum self a hell of a lot like chips.

I got used to the idea that I could get killed because somebody in command of me was an evil, callous, careerist assholic sonofabitch.

But stupid?

I always resented and still resent the idea that my life could be endangered because one of these fuckers was just too bone-stupid to walk and breathe simultaneously.

Maybe that's why I'm more irritated by this as an example of His Fraudulency's stupid incompetence rather than his evil racism, xenophobia, and authoritarianism.

I can hate Darth Cheney as an slimy immoral bastard and yet in a backhanded way respect and fear him as a true Evil Boss, a dangerous and wily enemy.

But Trump just makes me want to shift my rifle into my off hand and dopeslap his idiotic toupee off the back of his head like Moe does the other Stooges, growling "Get your shit together, you stupid fucking oxygen thief! How the hell did you get this job, you goddamn brain-dead numbnuts?
Update 2/1: As just another example let me throw in this story from Tucson, Arizona, about a little family that barely beat the ban into the U.S., but whose extended family is now stuck on the outside.

Why is this another dopeslap on Hair Furor and his Bannonidiot?

Because the people are Syrians, yes...but they're Syrian Kurds.

For fucks sake! The Kurds - in case you've been asleep for the past, oh, fourteen fucking years - have been the U.S. most effective and consistent military and political partner in the Fertile Crescent of Iraq and Syria.

Keeping Kurds out of the U.S. because they're Syrian makes as much sense in 2017 as forcing Free French back to Vichy made in 1942.

How the fuck does His Fraudulency and his idiot band manage to keep from lighting the whole damn White House on fire?

I have no damn idea.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Senior Master Chief has a word with the Trumpeters

My maternal grandfather was a minister.

An odd sort of minister, though. He was an officer in the Salvation Army, in his eyes a soldier for the Lord in His fight against poverty and despair.

I think he'd have some choice words for His Fraudulency and his Trumpeters now vaunting their "Christianity" to the skies in their self-appointed role as Defenders of the Faith against the eeeeevil Muslim hordes, and I think those words would be very much like those of Isaiah, who also had little patience for those who paraded about in the garments of virtue sacrificing and praying loudly while afflicting the afflicted;

"Day after day they seek me
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness
and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments,
they delight to draw near to God.
“Why do we fast, but you do not see?
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?”
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day,
and oppress all your workers.
Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
will not make your voice heard on high.

Is such the fast that I choose,
a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,
and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.
If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.

Isaiah 58

Just in case you thought the problem was "Gee...we really don't have enough neo-Nazis on the National Security Council..."

In case the whole "idiotic visa restriction for entire countries except the ones that Donald Trump does business with!" thing wasn't evil and stupid enough for you, here's today's REALLY stupid thing:

Today's executive order removed the CIA director, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs from their permanent seats on the National Security Council (they will only attend meetings when their "area of expertise" is required...) and replaced them with...

(wait for it....)

Steve Fucking Bannon.
Honestly!

These really are the fucking mole people...

(crossposted from MilPub)

Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday Jukebox: Tangerine Toddler Jive Turkey Edition



What a fucking week this has been, eh?

So in honor of His Fraudulency's first week full of hysterical meltdowns and brutal, Obama-like executive-order tyranny, and general I'm-a-bigly-huge-assholishness, here's the Ohio Players with his new theme song.

Friday, January 20, 2017

His Fraudulency, Jackass, and the Dark Side

Needless to say I was not thrilled this morning.

I awoke with the thought that here we were, We the People, with the quarter of our countrymen, and probably the ones that got that fucking "D" in Health class, handing us a go cup half full of warm Bud Lite for breakfast chortling "Now watch this shit!"

This was not a heartening thought.
Because we know how that ends; the flaming shopping cart a twisted wreck at the bottom of the cliff, the singed riders curled into commas writhing as they cup their genitals in pain, and the uninjured onlookers tittering in a manner both ashamed and nervous.

You know I have no expectations for the 45th President of the United States. As a man he is a spiteful bully, a pig-ignorant, querulous, greedy little man whose career to date has been that of a flim-flam artist, con man, and grifter fueled with his daddy's money and others' credulity and forbearance.

As a "public servant", well...there might have been some hope before today.

Still, even with my expectations as low as the swamp that His Fraudulency seems to have dragged to find his executive officers (a mix of plutocratic thieves and ideological dopes or, in the case of his Secretary of Education, both, and in spades...) the Trump inaugural address today managed to fail to rise to that sub-zero level of adequacy.

This was not the speech of a chief executive. It was the polemic of a tribal chief whose tribe thrives on darkness, fear, and hate.

Fallows has a good summary of the oration here. He notes that:
"What the speech did not have is any of the elements that marked its predecessors. An awareness of institutional continuity and resulting burdens. An ambition to make a fresh presentation those in his own country and around the world who were not part of his original base. A demonstration that he himself has been changed by the consequences of his new role. A vision of hope and progress that extends beyond fealty to his own self."
What the speech DID have was what we've already heard from this joker; the dystopian vision that, first, portrays the United States as a blasted hellscape and, second, portrays He, Trump as Our Only Hope:
"Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

This American carnage stops right here and stops right now."
There was the usual nonsense about how Our Once-Mighty Armies have sunk away:
"For many decades, we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military; we've defended other nation's borders while refusing to defend our own; and spent trillions of dollars overseas while America's infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay."
I could go on, but why? You've heard all this ridiculous "make America great again!" nonsense since this time last year. It doesn't make any more sense now that it did then.

And there was this:

"From this moment on, it's going to be America First."

Ok, look. I know that the fucking Tangerine Toddler is too ignorant of history to know this. Hell, I'd be surprised if he's even watched anything outside his own publicity stuff and Vivid Videos.

But somebody in his entourage either needs to tell him to knock this the fuck off or own the goddamn fascism it implies. Somebody in his posse has got to have at least some dim notion that Charlie Lindbergh luuurved him some Nazis and that's what "America First" has come to mean. You don't walk around saying "Hail, victory!" because of what it meant seventy-some years ago. You don't walk around saying "America First" unless you own up to the baggage.

GudDAMN.

And...here's what he didn't talk about: automation. Trump has nothing to say about that, largely because it neither fits his bill of particulars against the Obamian Dark Ages he is rescuing us from nor does it fit the agenda of his bankers whose profits stand to burgeon from replacing people with machines.

What happens to those people? Trump doesn't say. Maybe they can get jobs sheetrocking once all those Mexican rapists are deported.

And this shit?

"The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world."

...the fuck? You mean that kwashiorkor kid in Somalia? THAT little bastard's where my 401K went?

C'mon. That wealth hasn't gone any further than the Walton and Koch and DeVos family bank accounts, you nimrod, and you know that perfectly well...because a fair bit has (and, probably, will soon) find its way into yours. Your GOP pals have made sure of that. I wish Bernie Sanders had been there to slap you up the back ofthe head like Moe does to the other Stooges for that lie.

This went on and on, lie after lie, half-truth after half-truth. Pretty much all of what we've seen from His Fraudulency before. We've seen it, gang. This is it. This is what he's got. There's no hidden depth here. There's no surprisingly thoughtful awakening as he realizes that he's now Chief Executive of the New Rome, of the de-facto global imperium.

It's all Jackass all the way down; all ranting, butt-hurt third grader who's managed to memorize half "facts" off the internet conspiracy-theory page he read last night.

This is it.
The thing I really hate about today is that through him the worst ideas in American history will take full possession of the levers of national power. The anti-Americanisms of the Malefactors of Great Wealth: Greed. Proud stupidity. Shameless selfishness.

The filthy rich have finally reversed 1932 and are poised to return the bulk of us, to the degree that they can, to a coarser, meaner, poorer time, the Gilded Age of their waking dream.

And this, this sad, bloated little grifter with his mail-order bride and his ridiculous combover and his doughy orange meatface, this is all that stands between us the the Kongressional Wingnut Kook Kaukus' mad demands to hammer us into as close to a ginormous Carnegie mill town as they can make us.

We.

Are.

So.

So.

So.

SO.

Fucked.

Monday, January 16, 2017

King of Rebels

The pablum "celebration" of Dr. King that typically appears today always pisses me off.

The man was nothing like the kindly saint of "civil rights" that usually appears in them. King wasn't some sort of foofy, kumbaya-singing pacifist. He was a hardass. He was a bombthrower. He was routinely condemned as a "communist" and a "public enemy". His "nonviolence" was a slit-eyed, cynical tactic that offered up the bodies of his troops to the racist thugs because he knew damn well that the Great American Public would seize on the slightest hint that the Rapacious Negroes were coming to Get Them to bury him and his cause.

He wasn't violent because violence wouldn't have worked, not because he was some sort of secular saint.

He also hated the sort of wealth-fellating and poor-bashing that the modern GOP so desperately represents.

The linked article is a cautionary tale of King's real views on things like equality, wealth, poverty, and the "American Dream" as opposed to the usual tepid encomiums of peace, love, and brotherhood that we're going to hear from radical reactionaries like Paul Ryan and whichever former Pravda stringer His Fraudulency trots out today; Dr. King would have fucked your shit up, wingnuts. He hated and despised everything you stand for.
And so do I.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Cold Murder

I'm out of town working nights, but this past week Portland got something like a a foot of snow, the most we've gotten since 2008 and, of course, slamming the entire metro area into a cold hell of clogged streets and downed powerlines.

We don't do snow well in Oregon.

Earlier in the winter my wife and son came home excited that they'd seen an enormous flock of crows swirling over downtown. "Like a movie!" was the Boy's comment; I'm not sure which movie he meant. The corvid invasion has been a thing this winter. One of the local news channels had a story about some outfit that "rents" hawks to harass the crows, which appear to be something of a noisy, messy nuisance (because, "crows", right..?) in the central Park Blocks.

Sometimes, though...

Sometimes when you combine snow, and crows, and night you can produce an image of surpassing beauty.


"To hatch a crow, a black rainbow
Bent in emptiness
over emptiness
But flying."

~ Ted Hughes

And that's really all I had to say today.