November 2009

Tommy Friedman wonders why the Muslim world is so unappreciative of America’s selfless and magnanimous offer of forced fellatio

What Tommy doesn’t understand is that those crazy exotic Arabs prefer you to ask them out to dinner before bombing their countries, killing hundreds of thousands of their countrymen/co-religionists, creating millions of refugees and otherwise leading to unthinkable suffering.  To prove a point about our machismo.

Dinner and a little pillow talk Tom.  It goes a long way.

I find myself reflexively stroking my chin, nodding and offering a harumph when I read this.

One of President Barack Obama’s closest Republican allies in the Senate urged him to put health care reform on the backburner and focus on Afghanistan.

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), a trusted GOP voice on foreign policy matters, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that in light of a forthcoming increase in troops to Afghanistan, Democrats should turn their attention to matters of war and money.

“[W]e’re not going to do that debating health care and the Senate for three weeks through all sorts of strategies and so forth,” said the Indiana Republican. “The war is terribly important. Jobs and our economy are terribly important. So this may be an audacious suggestion, but I would suggest we put aside the health care debate until next year, the same way we put cap and trade and climate change and talk now about the essentials, the war and money.”

Besides, government provided health insurance will never work, while transforming Afghan society, quelling multiple interlocking civil wars and insurgencies and pacifying the region permanently (as an outside and distrusted power) is totally doable

With proper focus, we should be able wrap up that cakewalk within, say, the next year or so.  Then we can turn back to this fanciful notion of “government provided health insurance.”  Good luck with that.

My friends and fellow Christians, it is a most solemn and mournful day when we are forced to postpone the start of another war due to the onerous and demanding commitments of two other simultaneous wars.  Is there another way to describe this Tantalus-like torment other than, “the work of Satan”? 

The US is too bogged down in Afghanistan to engage Iran militarily over its nuclear program, an ex-CIA South Asia expert and current adviser to US President Barack Obama said in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

Bruce Riedel, a senior Brookings Institute and Saban Center fellow for political transitions in the Middle East and South Asia, addressed scholars and journalists at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies.

He warned that the US was fighting a losing battle against Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, and that Washington would soon have to make difficult choices on beefing up troop levels there.

“Israelis need to understand that there’s going to be a huge drain on resources, attention and capital, and that will have implications,” Riedel told The Jerusalem Post before his talk.

He acknowledged that those implications would primarily affect the Iran question.

During his address, Riedel referred to the US’s commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and said, “We’ve got two wars. You’ve got to be bold to say, let’s start a war against a third party, particularly when the third party can hit you in the first two fronts.”

The US has learned that it “can’t fight two medium-sized wars simultaneously,” he said.


We must rage against these self-imposed limitations.  Just think of how soft our society will become, how morally decadent, how bereft of meaning our lives will be if we limit ourselves to just two wars at a time.  Or, heaven forbid, less!

Just as the country suffered from the Vietnam Syndrome in the decades following that war, a malady that led us to abstain from all armed conflicts (excluding Grenada, Panama, the Balkans, Iraq I, Iraq II, Afghanistan, countless ugly proxy wars, etc), we must not succumb to the Iraqghanistan H1N1 Dove Virus, which will cause us to fret about the limitations of multi-wars.

Time to think outside the kill zone. 

What about three small wars?  Or one jumbo and one very small war (say, Grenada)?  What if we change the name of one war so it’s no longer a war, thus freeing up necessary manpower and resources for another war? 

Something must be done, and fast.  We are dangling on a precipice - dangerously close to (and I don’t want to have to say this) taking an option off the table.

The middling crustacean dips it all in the drawn butter of wisdom:

Had Nidal Malik Hasan been launched from a remotely-piloted Predator drone into a Pakistani funeral procession, it would have been a bold victory in the War on Terror; had the major been dropped onto a village in Waziristan or fired into an Afghan wedding party, it would have represented an efficient and effective display of tactical military superiority; had he exploded in a shower of cluster bomblets over a Gaza refugee camp or been dispersed in a cloud of corrosive gas through an Iraqi city, we could all celebrate this triumph of American technical ingenuity over the forces of barbarism. Instead, Major Hasan will be tragically remembered as a piece of prematurely detonated ordnance, accidentally claiming the lives of people rather than those of numbers.

Modern metaphysics teaches us that the human soul, curiously enough, exists only within the arbitrarily-defined borders of certain political entities…these, we can be sure, are the domains of real people, capable of self-awareness and the perception of pain. The hordes beyond, however – science tells us nothing of them, and that’s probably for the best

Frank Rich scrapes at a different portion of our noble war’s soft underbelly:

The invective aimed at these heinous P.C. pantywaists [in the US Army/Intelligence community] nearly matched that aimed at Hasan. Joe Lieberman announced hearings to investigate the Army for its dereliction of duty on homeland security. Peter Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, vowed to unmask cover-ups in the White House and at the C.I.A. The Weekly Standard blog published a broadside damning the F.B.I. for neglecting the “broader terrorist plot” of which Hasan was only one of the connected dots. Jerome Corsi, the major-domo of the successful Swift-boating of John Kerry, unearthed what he said was proof that Hasan had advised President Obama during the transition.

William Bennett excoriated soft military leaders like Gen. George Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff, who had stood up for diversity and fretted openly about a backlash against Muslim soldiers in his ranks. “Blind diversity” that embraces Islam “equals death,” wrote Michelle Malkin. “There is a powerful case to be made that Islamic extremism is not some fringe phenomenon but part of the mainstream of Islamic life around the world,” wrote the columnist Jonah Goldberg. Islam is “not a religion,” declared the irrepressible Pat Robertson, but “a violent political system bent on the overthrow of the governments of the world.” [...]

…Their screeds about the Hasan case are completely at odds with both the Afghanistan policy they endorse and the leadership that must execute that policy, including Gen. Stanley McChrystal. These hawks, all demanding that Obama act on McChrystal’s proposals immediately, do not seem to have read his strategy assessment for Afghanistan or the many press interviews he gave as it leaked out. If they had, they’d discover that the whole thrust of his counterinsurgency pitch is to befriend and win the support of the Afghan population — i.e., Muslims. The “key to success,” the general wrote in his brief to the president, will be “strong personal relationships forged between security forces and local populations.”

McChrystal thinks we might even jolly up those Muslims who historically and openly hate America. “I don’t think much of the Taliban are ideologically driven,” he told Dexter Filkins of The Times. “In my view their past is not important. Some people say, ‘Well, they have blood on their hands.’ I’d say, ‘So do a lot of people.’ I think we focus on future behavior.”

Whether we could win those hearts and minds is, arguably, an open question — though it’s an objective that would require a partner other than Hamid Karzai and many more troops than even McChrystal is asking for (or America presently has). But to say that McChrystal’s optimistic — dare one say politically correct? — view of Muslim pliability doesn’t square with that of America’s hawks is the understatement of the decade.

As their Fort Hood rhetoric made clear, McChrystal’s most vehement partisans don’t trust American Muslims, let alone those of the Taliban, no matter how earnestly the general may argue that they can be won over by our troops’ friendliness (or bribes). If, as the right has it, our Army cannot be trusted to recognize a Hasan in its own ranks, then how will it figure out who the “good” Muslims will be as we try to build a “stable” state (whatever “stable” means) in a country that has never had a functioning central government?

It’s not that they hate Muslims.  It’s that they love them to death. 

Worse still, it’s not just that our Afghan hawks and various McChrystal humpers hold this incompatible hatred of Muslims/staunch support for a military strategy premised on winning the hearts of the despised, but that same animosity and contempt infects the ranks of our soldiers on the ground.  Many of our troops in the field just don’t have all that much love for the “Hajis.” 

And yet, for McChrystal’s strategy to work, these same soldiers need to act the part of ambassadors and friend-makers – each and every one, with even a handful of trigger happy racists able to undo progress in the main. 

As usual, counterinsurgency doctrine looks great on paper, but in practice, the messiness of the real world is less kind.  And what’s messier than war.

Quote of the Day (GOP Minority Outreach Edition).  From the Right Reverend and All Powerful Living God Sun Myung Moon’s Washington Times, an editorial on Obama’s totally unprecedented rather ordinary bows before foreign dignitaries.  It sure does finish with a flourish:

But Mr. Obama, unlike his predecessors, likely knows no better, and many of those around him, true children of the grungy ’60s, are contemptuous of custom. Cutting America down to size is what attracts them to “hope” for “change.” It’s no fault of the president that he has no natural instinct or blood impulse for what the America of “the 57 states” is about. He was sired by a Kenyan father, born to a mother attracted to men of the Third World and reared by grandparents in Hawaii, a paradise far from the American mainstream.

Sired: Like a thoroughbred?  Either way, he ended up with a diluted “blood impulse.”  Fuckall if I know what that means, but apparently Sun Myung Moon’s got it.  By virtue of fuckall if I know.

Men of the Third World:  I think I bought that calendar last year.  Pretty damn mandingtastic IIRC , but then I’m a child of true children of grunge (c: Grandgrungechild?).

Hawaii: Foreign apparently.  Couldn’t even make a list of 57 states.  Must be all those dusky third world types lazing about in their unabashed immoral lassitude.  Upside: Sounds like an idea for another calendar.

Legendary catch by mm. Hurry, hurry. And, yes, it’s as good as you knew it would be.

I don’t understand this Facebook. There’s like all these people, and there’s a “News” feed and a “Live” feed, and they’re different, but hell if I know what the difference is, let alone what’s so newsy or lively about them. And I have a “Wall” for some reason, which I guess I’m writing on? Or something? Am I writing on a wall? Is this news? Am I live? Don’t anybody try to explain it to me, because I’m not listening, and I refuse to RTFM. This is supposed to be a web-site, and web-sites aren’t supposed to have FMs. They should explain themselves. So I’m taking a stand here because, dammit, somebody should. I’m making a stand because I don’t know what I’m looking at or who’s looking at me or where I left my shoes. I feel like a 90-year-old grandmother trying to install Linux on the space shuttle. But for unrelated reasons.

I sort of suspected this is something for “The Kids”, as it were, and now I’m suspecting these suspicions were correct. Does Facebook come with a “Lawn”, somewhere, over my “Wall”? Because I want everybody off it.


I know it’s Erick Erickson, so I shouldn’t really expect much, but still, this causes tremors in my cerebellum:

Today Barack Obama is going to announce that the terrorist mastermind of September 11th, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, will be sent to New York City for a criminal trial in a civilian court.

In that trial, the terrorist will get all the rights afforded an American citizen in a criminal trial, including the right to a fair trial, the right to a taxpayer funded attorney, the right to review all the evidence against him, potentially including classified intelligence matters, the right to exclude evidence against him including, potentially, any confession obtained through enhanced interrogation techniques, etc.

At best, this will be a show trial fit not for the American Republic, but a third world kleptocratic totalitarian regime. At worse, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will gain access to classified material he can then leak to other terrorists while New York yet again becomes a target for terrorists.* We have already had occasions in this country where terrorists’ sympathetic lawyers have conveyed information, orders, and plans to other terrorists.

First of all, the actual best case scenario would be a fairish trial that leads to a conviction with a nice interminable sentence in the clinky.  And it’s not beyond the bounds of imagination that we could get something close to that (with the glaring caveat being that whole prior torture thingy, which the court will kind of have to pretend never happened – bygones and all that).

That obvious point aside, I wanted to focus on the bizarre concern about the proceedings devolving into a show trial.  The guy is ostensibly concerned that such a show trial would betray American ideals, besmirch our good image and put us in the company of “kleptocratic** totalitarian regimes.”  But his solution is…indefinite detention without any form of trial, complete with as much torture as we’re inclined to dish out.

Which totally wouldn’t stain our image, trample on our supposed principles and cause us to resemble despotic regimes. 



*What does he mean “again”?  Was there some consensus amongst terrorists that New York had immunity after 9/11 and the anthrax attacks?   

**Of what signficance is “kleptocratic” in that sentence.  Are kleptocratic totalitarian regimes known for their penchant for show trials above other totalitarian regimes?  Why?)

Somehow, this strategy seems…how do I say it…dumb as a fucking bag of rocks hanging from a stick of stupid?: 

Writing for The Nation, Aram Roston has uncovered a tangled web of former military and CIA officials, relatives of the Afghanistan President and Defense Minister and various other shady characters who act as a pipeline from the U.S. treasury to the Taliban:

In this grotesque carnival, the US military’s contractors are forced to pay suspected insurgents to protect American supply routes. It is an accepted fact of the military logistics operation in Afghanistan that the US government funds the very forces American troops are fighting. And it is a deadly irony, because these funds add up to a huge amount of money for the Taliban. “It’s a big part of their income,” one of the top Afghan government security officials told The Nation in an interview. In fact, US military officials in Kabul estimate that a minimum of 10 percent of the Pentagon’s logistics contracts–hundreds of millions of dollars–consists of payments to insurgents.

Here’s how the chain works: The U.S. government pays trucking firms to move supplies around Afghanistan to its rural and far flung outposts. These trucking companies then pay private security contracting firms, operated by druglords, warlords, the Taliban and relatives of senior Afghan Administration officials, or consortiums of any or all of them, for safe passage to American installations. As one American trucking executive said, “”The Army is basically paying the Taliban not to shoot at them. It is Department of Defense money.””

As part of the Sunni Awakening movement in Iraq, the United States paid Sunni insurgents who previously fought American forces to secure their own neighborhoods from foreign fighters, with the promise that they would later be folded into the Iraqi national security apparatus. That is very different then the way operations are being conducted in Afghanistan, where we are essentially telling insurgents “Here is some money, just don’t attack us here. Attack us somewhere else.” Then, we give them the money to do it.

I would argue that any situation that is so fubar that we have to pay our adversaries to attack us in more convenient locales is a situation that we should seek to remove ourselves from ASAP.  Especially when we have to pay billions of dollars a month for the privilege. 

But then what do I know. I’m nothing but a soiled, anti-establishment character from the 1960s engaging in coitus.

Using the Fox News/Glenn Beck/(Gary) Rupert Murdoch hidden racism decoder ring, I’d say this interview excerpt puts Michael Steele squarely in the Killwhitey With Attitude camp:

MARTIN: One of the criticisms I’ve always had is Republicans — white Republicans — have been scared of black folks.

STEELE: You’re absolutely right. I mean I’ve been in the room and they’ve been scared of me.

Normally, pointing out the fact that the head of the RNC is a flagrant racist would be stating the obvious in a man-bites-dog kind of way.  But under the circumstances, there’s at least a little glitter on the paste.

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