These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. ~~~ Thomas Paine, 1776

Children Killed By U.S. Airstrike In Afghanistan Were Guilty Of Sleeping

They had come together for a solemn occasion. But they had no idea how solemn the occasion would become.

An old friend, a friend of their families, a friend of the local police, had died some months ago, and they were preparing for a memorial service.

The adults were tending fires, cooking the next day's meal. The children were sleeping.

Then the bombs started falling.

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NIST Report Ends The 9/11 Truth Movement

I never realized how much damage the upcoming NIST report had already done to the 9/11 Truth movement until I read about it in the Rocky Mountain News. As the RMN says: "Truthers, over and out".
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Pakistan's Broken Coalition Faces A Null Transition

The eyes of the world will be on Denver this week as the Democratic party goes even further through the looking glass than anyone could have expected who wasn't paying attention all along.

Obama-Biden/2008: It's a world-class train wreck in agonizingly slow motion, and if that's not enough for you, there's another agonizing new disaster slowly unfolding in Georgia.

These of course are in addition to all the other disasters slowly unfolding in the rest of the world, most of which were already there three weeks ago.

But things are happening very quickly in Pakistan, where the governing coalition is coming apart, even as I write.

On the other hand, the eventual result of this "unpredictable crisis" appears to be well mapped out, and favorable to Americans of the elite policy-making persuasion.

It's funny how things work out in your favor once you start gaming the system.

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Taking on a common reply

In the beginning of 2003, the French smears were at their top, I saw all this on television. It's a great boost for ratings when you show Americans being anti-French there. And it was a great boost for my personal rage. Oh yes, I was really extremely pissed off. It's probable that I was already a little familiar with American politics, through websites on the internet. But I think I'll always date my real entry into politics at that point.

And the first thing I did then, was to go chat on Yahoo! Rooms. By then, those were not yet filled with porn bots, but rather with many passionnate American people. Unfortunately, most were too passionnate, and some were so passionnate that all they cared about was to paste stuff they read somewhere. Most conversations were frustrating, because I usually did not hesitate to get outright pissy, and there were always conservatives to shut me up.

But from time to time, there were some interesting conversations. And I remember, now that I read some of Arthur's essays, how one particular reply was common, whenever I suggested that maybe America had the 9/11 coming. I'm sure you've read that a million times already. Why I want to treat this one in particular is explained in this essay by Arthur:
At a certain point, I became aware that there was a certain approach, a particular kind of issue, that seemed to be under the surface wherever I looked. It came up with regard to almost every political issue I considered, it arose with regard to personal relationships and in connection with the view we each hold of ourselves, and it came up repeatedly with regard to literature and the other arts. It was the same issue, but it took me quite a while to realize what it was: very simply, it centered around the stories we tell ourselves, and the stories we tell others.

Somehow I can't take this last part out of my head: the stories we tell ourselves, and the stories we tell others.

One such story, as I was about to explain, came to me in the form of an analogy designed to shut me up, whenever I tried to point the finger at America. Here it is, you know what it is already:
"If a woman wears a short skirt, would you say she deserves to be raped ?"

And what to respond to that ? Yes ?

No, but this "story", this version of the 9/11 attacks is very telling about how one considers the country's doing over the last decades.

But first of all, I wanna start by saying that of course, no one deserves to be raped, and no one deserves to die. Or rather, some deserve to be raped/die but that doesn't mean we can do it. This is the usual confusion conservatives and democrats hope to foster among us, between explaining something and justifying it. Sheldon Richman, the libertarian guy with an awesome beard [i mean it, it's lovely], said what follows in a foreword to this gigantic work, detailing the history of US intervention since World War 2. It's called "Ancient History":
When Iranian revolutionaries entered the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979 and seized 52 Americans, President Jimmy Carter dismissed reminders of America's long intervention in Iran as "ancient history." Carter's point was not merely that previous U.S. policy could not excuse the hostage taking. His adjective also implied that there was nothing of value to be learned from that history. In his view, dredging up old matters was more than unhelpful; it was also dangerous, presumably because it could only serve the interests of America's adversaries. Thus, to raise historical issues was at least unpatriotic and maybe worse.[1]

As the United States finds itself in the aftermath of another crisis in the Middle East, it is worth the risk of opprobrium to ask why there should be hostility toward America in that region. Some insight can be gained by surveying official U.S. conduct in the Middle East since the end of World War II. Acknowledged herein is a fundamental, yet deplorably overlooked, distinction between understanding and excusing. The purpose of this survey is not to pardon acts of violence against innocent people but to understand the reasons that drive people to violent political acts.[2] The stubborn and often self-serving notion that the historical record is irrelevant because political violence is inexcusable ensures that Americans will be caught in crises in the Middle East and elsewhere for many years to come.

So now that this is put to rest, let's deal with the simple problem in the analogy: a woman wearing a short skirt. This is what they say. They think America's conduct in the last fifty years is akin to something as innocent and natural as a woman wearing a skirt ! After all the millions of dead people, the political assassinations, the invasions, the bombings, this is how they see their country. Of course that much I had been able to point out at the time.

But another problem with this analogy is how it traps you: when you try to point out the obvious, which is what I said just above, you basically say "But America is not as innocent as that, not even close, and even, very very far from that". That's when your opponent will say "A-HA ! I knew it !" He will very easily categorize you as an America hater. And thus, you are stuck between approving him and looking like a jerk.

So how to tackle this ? I really don't know. I think you'd need to be able to inject history lessons through short sentences. My approach would be, I think, to ask questions about civilian casualties from US interventions in the last century, and when I'd get no answer, I'd simply say : and so how do you know this is like walking with a provocative short skirt.

Oh yea, another form of this braindead and self-serving kind of analogy, this time from our very own Barack Obama:
We cannot afford to be a country of isolationists right now. 9/11 showed us that try as we might to ignore the rest of the world, our enemies will no longer ignore us. And so we need to maintain a strong foreign policy, relentless in pursuing our enemies and hopeful in promoting our values around the world.

Yes of course ! 9/11 happened because the US tried to ignore the world. It was minding its own business. And for that reason, came the attacks.

Power of narrative indeed.

Stephen Colbert: "Speak loudly and carry a big schtick."

I watch Stephen Colbert at least three times a week because I'm fascinated with his schtick. But of who or what Colbert may actually be BEHIND the schtick, I don't think anyone can speak and I DO think a great many people are deceived (myself perhaps among them).

Colbert's schtick is liberal pretending conservative, insanity pretending reason, secularity pretending faith, PC pretending machismo, intellect pretending idiocy, a great many things pretending a great many other, and who knows which is real? Does Colbert himself know which is real? And if he knows, why then should he (as I've heard him claim with seeming sincerity) forbid his children to watch the show? When is he serious? About what? I sometimes get a more-than-sneaking suspicion that beneath all pretense Colbert is just another mainstream Democrat, but of course I can't be certain.

Of just one thing about Colbert, I feel sure: He is part of the problem insofar as his schtick belittles and belies every question, every fact, every circumstance he pretends to address. His author interviews are key: Which of those authors was ever permitted to say anything serious about his work? When did that happen? How are we enlightened, how is our understanding of their work deepened if none are allowed to speak past or over Colbert's hot-mouthed inanity? One wonders what terrible event could possibly occur, what could be so dreadful that Colbert would ever speak of it seriously.

If nothing is serious (as he puts on), then everything has equal weight. Liberalism? Conservatism? Communism? Fascism? They're all the same. Vote one way; vote the other; vote for Mickey Mouse or don't vote at all (my personal preference) if it suits you. Up is down, left is right, black is white, parody is reality, sarcastic invective is the sweetest of praise, and what difference does it make, really, if Americans are sheltered by the rule of law as long as one has a Porsche and a mansion at Myrtle Beach?

What, then, will become of America? Nobody will get a clue watching Stephen Colbert.


"It may be thought that I am prejudiced. Perhaps I am. I would be ashamed of myself if I were not."
Mark Twain
The Innocents Abroad

The Turd on Obama's Bumper

Election 2008 is over. Barack Obama lost. John McCain is now the president-elect.

Fascist media until now did their level best to prepare America for what should have been the long-shot, upset victory of the new century -- and the old, for that matter. Voters watched and listened for weeks while news anchors told them that McCain's machismo, savvy and gravitas together were working to dim Obama's flash and dissolve the double-digit lead that pollsters earlier awarded him.

All of it was lies, of course. The overwhelming majority of Americans did not vote this year because they knew that McCain is a doddering, senile, reactionary crank who -- it now appears -- cannot find his own way home (If he doesn't know how many houses he owns, he doesn't know where he lives, does he?) and Obama is nothing but a crocodile grin.

For a while there, it looked as though the farce might actually play in Peoria. Voters nationally are sickened by the elitist, tyrannical Bush administration and the corruption of which it perpetually reeks. Obama was initially popular and he does indeed have a stellar presence. Had he used his assets to push a program of radical systemic reform -- the modern equivalent of Roosevelt's New Deal -- he could have won handily. Instead he put on the old Donkey suit and started sucking up to the consultants who sank Al Gore and John Kerry.

Thus Obama's loss to McCain was an act of political suicide. Obama himself struck the killing blow on Aug. 23, when he fingered Delaware Senator Joseph Biden as his running mate. After keeping the nation in suspense for weeks over who he would choose, Obama finally chose a man who is arguably the worst old-line hack in the Democratic party. At that point, all hope of meaningful reform was dead and, of the millions who would have voted for Obama, many simply walked away.

One of the hot-rodders I used to know impoverished himself building flashy cars. When it came time to buy a house, he could afford only a shack. His new wife, terrified of living in a neighborhood filled with gangs and drug crime, insisted that he should somehow make the place secure. So he spent a lot of money on the strongest, best-looking door in the world he could find. He installed lights and an alarm system and in other ways did his best to make sure nobody could break into his flaky old shack. Surveying the place when he finished, he suddenly started to laugh. When we asked him why, he said: "Looks like somebody bolted a chrome bumper on a turd."

By picking Joe Biden for his running mate, Obama did exactly the opposite.

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