Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

the usual suspects

Among the Iraqis, anyway:

...Such is the anger at the occupation that many Iraqis think the US was behind Thursday's attack. This belief is dismissed as conspiratorial, but it is widely held. There is a reason for this. Apart from the horrific violence committed directly by the occupation forces and Pentagon-contracted mercenaries, the US also created Iraqi secret militia, and smuggled tens of thousands of weapons and tons of explosives into Iraq through private firms in Bosnia. Bremer was unable to tell a congressional committee how he spent an unaccounted-for $8.8bn dollars, but many Iraqis suspect that it was used to fund violent sectarian forces. Indiscriminate killings and terrorist attacks were a permanent feature of the US-led occupation, and to many ordinary Iraqis, Thursday's bloodshed is just more of the same.

Similarly, ordinary Iraqis see their current rulers, who arrived with the occupation, as self-seeking, corrupt politicians who use religious and ethnic differences to perpetuate sectarianism as a means of creating power bases. Though no angel himself, the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr spoke for many when he described the current so-called sectarian divisions as "a conflict of the powerful", and the terrorist attacks as the product of "continued US influence and presence in Iraq".

there is no paradox that can't be paradoctored

Craphammer discovers the Fermi paradox and tries to use it as a reason for the endless war on Terra.

Then there's this: if a Federation-style culture ever could get over its reluctance to say hi to those of us living on the planet of the apes, would the self-appointed Men in Black ever allow the message to get out to the rest of us monkeys?

Friday, December 30, 2011

say it again with feeling

Dr. Krugman:

“The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity at the Treasury.” So declared John Maynard Keynes in 1937, even as F.D.R. was about to prove him right by trying to balance the budget too soon, sending the United States economy — which had been steadily recovering up to that point — into a severe recession. Slashing government spending in a depressed economy depresses the economy further; austerity should wait until a strong recovery is well under way...

Another thing: deficit spending on war doesn't bring about recovery. WWII allowed Roosevelt to pull the nation out of the Depression not because of military spending, but because it finally enabled him to act despite the Republicans who were blocking his economic policies: progressive taxation and enforcement of legistlation like the Glass–Steagall Act.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

priorities of the Austerian


...A smaller government that’s still dominated by money would continue to do the bidding of Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry, oil companies, big agribusiness, big insurance, military contractors, and rich individuals.

It just wouldn’t do anything else...

angst of the terrible lizards

All the hand-wringing about those who point out the obvious.

I like this comment:

Not to have done this research would hardly have protected us. If only a "handful" of apparently naturally occurring mutations were required to turn the H5N1 flu virus airborne, one must assume that the lethal mutations would have occurred outside the lab sooner or later (probably sooner, given the infinite capacity of flu viruses to mutate and thrive). Ignorance cannot defend us; knowledge and forethought can. Now we all recognize the priority the world must give to surveillance and, most crucially, the development of a vaccine. Ignorance is not bliss.

As Mosely says, worst-case scenarios can be met with effective responses only if you think about them ahead of time. However, Newt should well know that the collapse of Civilization with said springing barbarians does not accompany the loss of power to his favorite vibrator.

Barbarians tend to spring regardless. The Nazis proved that quite effectively. Very tech-savvy those boys and girls were and are.

Yet worst case scenarios do sometimes play out, surprising all sides with their outcomes. Steam punk, anyone?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Captain Tripps' revenge

Stephen King warned you.

One wonders at what point the Homeland realizes there are hundreds of thousands of people with training in molecular biology with the capability of producing viruses that could end the world as we know it.

Think the superflu is a nightmare? How about an oncogenic virus that's airborne?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

shadow of a larger world

One by one, the Marines sat down, swore to tell the truth and began to give secret interviews discussing one of the most horrific episodes of America’s time in Iraq: the 2005 massacre by Marines of Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha.

“I mean, whether it’s a result of our action or other action, you know, discovering 20 bodies, throats slit, 20 bodies, you know, beheaded, 20 bodies here, 20 bodies there,” Col. Thomas Cariker, a commander in Anbar Province at the time, told investigators as he described the chaos of Iraq. At times, he said, deaths were caused by “grenade attacks on a checkpoint and, you know, collateral with civilians.”

The 400 pages of interrogations, once closely guarded as secrets of war, were supposed to have been destroyed as the last American troops prepare to leave Iraq. Instead, they were discovered along with reams of other classified documents, including military maps showing helicopter routes and radar capabilities, by a reporter for The New York Times at a junkyard outside Baghdad. An attendant was burning them as fuel to cook a dinner of smoked carp.

The documents — many marked secret — form part of the military’s internal investigation, and confirm much of what happened at Haditha, a Euphrates River town where Marines killed 24 Iraqis, including a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair, women and children, some just toddlers.

Haditha became a defining moment of the war, helping cement an enduring Iraqi distrust of the United States and a resentment that not one Marine has been convicted.

But the accounts are just as striking for what they reveal about the extraordinary strains on the soldiers who were assigned here, their frustrations and their frequently painful encounters with a population they did not understand. In their own words, the report documents the dehumanizing nature of this war, where Marines came to view 20 dead civilians as not “remarkable,” but as routine.

Iraqi civilians were being killed all the time. Maj. Gen. Steve Johnson, the commander of American forces in Anbar, in his own testimony, described it as “a cost of doing business...”


...The war that was waged – yes, for oil, and yes, also for Israel – was waged above all to terrify the world (especially China) with American power. It turned into the largest boomerang in history. For what has been demonstrated instead are the limits of near-bankrupt America's power. Far from being cowed, America's adversaries – and its enemies – have been emboldened. With shock and awe the empire soon dominated the skies over Iraq to be sure. But they never controlled a single street in the country from the day they invaded until this day of retreat. One street alone – Haifa Street in Baghdad – became the graveyard of scores, maybe hundreds of Americans.

Fortresses like Fallujah entered history alongside Stalingrad as symbols of the unvanquishable power of popular resistance to foreign invasion. Crimes like Abu Ghraib prison – where Iraqis were stripped naked and humiliated, forced to perform indecent acts upon each other and videotaped doing so for the entertainment of their torturers in the barracks afterwards – entered the lexicon of the barbarism of those who invade others, flying the colours of their "civilising" mission. As Chairman Mao once put it: "Sometimes the enemy struggles mightily to lift a huge stone; only to drop it on its own foot." In an America where a third of the population are living in poverty or terrifyingly near it, and where imperial hubris met its nemesis on Haifa Street, China now knows it has nothing to fear from this paper tiger.

I wrote at the time that the invasion of Iraq would be worse than a crime: it would be the Mother of All Blunders. I told Tony Blair – outside the men's lavatory in the library corridor of the House of Commons, to be precise – that the fall of Baghdad would be not the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning. And that the Iraqis would fight them, with their teeth if necessary, until they had driven them from their land. I told Blair that there was no al-Qaida in Iraq, but that if he and Bush were to invade there would be thousands of them.

But two things, as George Bush would put it, I "mis-underestimated". First, that when the tower of lies on which the case for the Iraq war had been constructed was exposed, the credibility of the political systems of the two main liars would collapse under the weight. And second, that the example of the Iraqi resistance would trigger seismic changes in the Arabian landscape from Marrakesh to Bahrain.

Almost nobody in Britain or America any longer believes a word their politicians say. This profound change is not wholly the result of the Iraq war, but it moved into top gear following the war and the militarised mendacity that paved the way to it. In America this malaise has fuelled both the Tea Party phenomenon and the Occupy movement alike, even if the word Iraq seldom crosses their lips. And from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf the plates are moving still ...

Somehow, the mindless reaction to the tremor is viewed as a simple codification of what the Company was doing all along instead of fracking under a fault line running through the Constitution through the middle of what has passed for the pinnacle western civilization.

...Barack Obama has abandoned a commitment to veto a new security law that allows the military to indefinitely detain without trial American terrorism suspects arrested on US soil who could then be shipped to Guantánamo Bay.

Human rights groups accused the president of deserting his principles and disregarding the long-established principle that the military is not used in domestic policing. The legislation has also been strongly criticised by libertarians on the right angered at the stripping of individual rights for the duration of "a war that appears to have no end".

The law, contained in the defence authorisation bill that funds the US military, effectively extends the battlefield in the "war on terror" to the US and applies the established principle that combatants in any war are subject to military detention...

Got that? If you aren't with 'em, your agin 'em.

War and Shadow without End, Amen.

Friday, December 09, 2011

not your Big Brother's predator drone

Somebody somewhere in the Company didn't want the existence of drone warfare known. Obama was not allowed to acknowledge it. The CIA has denied it for years much less recently.

Attempting to keep something secret that's being used over a quarter of the globe as well as Der Vaterland over a space of ten years has presented a problem for all the Dr. Strangeloves and General Turgidsons of the Company. Especially when all the contractors building the infernal things are trying to sell it to anyone with the scratch to tender. So lately all the pictures the Company released of their not-so-secret but Highly Classified toys look like something a hobbyist at the Oshkosh fly-in might build. They look nothing like their real money sink.

Of course, the model above is probably much less expensive- and more functional- than the one that was shot down- or cybered down- or that simply fell out of the sky (you didn't really expect something for that billion dollars, did you?).

...which is the result of watching too much Battlestar Galactica

...and seems to fly about as well in the reality-based world.

Of course, secrecy breed corruption, so perhaps in spite of all the multi-billion dollars spent on this top secret technological terror, it's not too surprising somebody in Iran with a good slingshot and a decent aim was able to bring it down. Stealthed to radar isn't stealthed to visual contact, strangely enough.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

the glass is half occupied: Change is the Hopium of the people

Reich has a lot of good things to say about the speech the Laureate made Monday. It's a good speech. In it the Laureate identifies the source of the economic problems we have. And promises he's gonna deal with it.

Therein, of course, lies the rub.

Yves Smith thinks it's total bullshit.

Both are correct, but then only in the sense that there is no paradox that can't be para-doctored.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

reality has a liberal bias

“To what extent is this entire movement simply a green Trojan horse, whose belly is full with red Marxist socioeconomic doctrine?”

Well, if the free market was actually, you know, free, fossil fuels would have been abandoned years ago. How long have solar cells been around?

The same way the worst bank$ters would have gone out of business without their $7 trillion in no-interest loans.

The same kind of loans we are about to hand out to the bank$ters yet again- before the first are paid off- to "save" the Euro.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

conflicts of interest

The War on Drugs has a lot in common with the War on Terra, and for a lot of the same reasons.

Priceless quote from an ex-agent:

"...the D.E.A. could wind up being the largest money launderer in the business"

Noticed that, did he? No wonder he's an ex-agent.