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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Latter Days of a Better Nation, Part I

 

If these are the early days of a better nation, there must be hope, and a hope of peace is as good as any, and far better than a hollow hoarding greed or the dry lies of an aweless god.
Graydon Saunders (via Scottish writer Ken McCleod)

I tried to ignore the most recent Republican debates.

I did.

I think political debates are idiotic and a terrible way to pick a leader.

I think political debates pander to the very worst traits of our society. In fact, I think political debates encourage those base habits.

Political debates are reality TV, people watch for the same reason they watch NASCAR – they’re hoping for a spectacular crash.

And so, I tried to ignore the debates.

But then they started talking about carpet bombing.

Again.

I saw it scroll past over and over in my social media and news feeds: carpet bombing, carpet bombing, carpet bombing...

I thought: Are they really talking about saturation bombing again?

And then, as I sat there boggling, the phrase “waterboarding” began to scroll past.

I opened the live feed to watch in stunned revulsion as the men who would be president of the United States of America argued over which one of them was more insane.

Carpet bombing? Waterboarding? And the crowd cheered.

The crowd cheered.

What in the holy hell is it with these goddamned people?

When did the unabashed willingness to engage in the indiscriminate obliteration of entire populations, when did the enthusiastic willingness to torture our enemies, when did those things become traits anybody liberal or conservative would want in an American president?

When did genocide and torture become things we cheered as a nation?

We used to call people like this psychopaths.

Much of the civilized world still does.

And yet, there they were, up on stage talking about which one was more willing to carpet bomb and torture our enemies.

This obsession with force never ends with these people. Never.

Might makes right, that’s it and that’s all and they’ve made a fetish of military force.

 

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These people, lately all they ever talk about is "rebuilding" our military.

All they talk about is rebuilding the largest, most powerful military in not only the world, but in the entire history of the world.

In a Gallup Poll released yesterday, 51% of Americans questioned said they thought the US Military wasn’t powerful enough.

That’s right. Fully half of American believe the US Military isn’t powerful enough.

The US military.

Isn’t powerful enough.

I don’t suppose I have to tell you which half of America thinks that.

 

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“Ted Cruz has a plan to rebuild our military so we can lead from a position of strength.”

Think about that.

No, really think about that.

Do you see the implications? Can you follow this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion?

Can you?

These people are those grade school bullies you remember, the drooling dimwitted meatheads whose only response to any situation is a punch in the mouth. They don’t lead from reason or intellect or diplomacy or even from a position of (supposed) moral superiority. They can’t even imagine such a thing. In fact they sneer in disdain at those concepts.

No, might makes right and for them leadership is a punch in the mouth.

Ted Cruz has a plan. Donald Trump has a plan. Republicans have a plan.

But, have you ever noticed they're damned short on details?

Let us start right at the beginning:

 

Not powerful enough how?

 

What is it that we’re lacking?

Do we not have enough nuclear bombs? Not enough drones? Not enough poison gas? Are we not monitoring enough phone calls and social media and emails and library records? Are our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines substandard in comparison to other nations? Are our military academies lacking in some way? Is our military budget not large enough? Do we not have enough defense contractors in the Military Industrial Complex?

What is it that we’re lacking? Be specific, show your work.

What?

What’s that?

Aaaah, I see.

Will. Of course. We lack the will to use our military. That’s it, isn’t it? Will.

Problems that were solved with diplomacy, we should have used guns.

Problems that were solved with treaties and international agreement, we should have used bombs.

Problems we solved with economics, with reason, with international pressure, we should have used threats of force.

Yes, I see.

Will.

Let’s come back to that. In the meantime, rebuild ... how? Exactly?

What is it that we need? More nuclear aircraft carriers? More fighter jets? More tanks? More bombs? More satellites? More intelligence agencies? More bullets? More bodies? More money? What exactly are we talking about here?

What are the specifics?

More importantly: what, exactly and in detail, do we base this idea on? That we must “rebuild” our military.

In order to answer that question, we must roll it back one more step to the very basic of assumptions.

 

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Cruz echoes Trump echoes Reagan with "We can rebuild our military so it will be feared by our enemies and trusted by our allies."

Feared by our enemies?

Ah, there it is.

This, this right here, this is it, the foundation stone. The basic assumption. Our enemies must fear us, fear our military might, fear that we will use it at any time, any place, for any reason, in response to any transgression no matter how slight.

The way you fear a bully’s fists.

And that fear, you see, will keep the world in line, keep our enemies at bay, keep us safe.

Okay, how do you measure that?

No. No. Stop. No hand waving. No moving the goalposts. Be specific. If this is the fundamental assumption we are to base national security on, this fear, making our enemies fear us, fear our might, fear our unfettered military power, then what are the metrics?

How do we measure “feared by our enemies?”

I used to be a war planner. I designed military doctrine. I helped write a portion of the war plan used to invade Iraq (and whatever happened later with the occupation, with the politicians, that part of the plan worked perfectly). I designed strategies and tactics, methodologies for the employment of weapons and forces, I wrote hard objectives and methods both qualitative and quantitative for measuring if they had been achieved. I put my own ass on the line to execute those plans. I taught others how to do it. I have some extensive experience in this area. And here’s how it is: You can’t build a national strategy, you can’t write an OPLAN, you can’t build a federal budget, you can’t design the weapons and more specifically the doctrine to use them effectively, without measurable objectives.

If fear is the objective, then we must be able to measure it.

Because if you can’t measure it, then you have no way whatsoever to determine if your strategy is working.

So, what are the metrics? Show me the equation. What are the components? What are the assumptions? What are the variables? What are the constants? What are the limitations? What are the assets? What are the targets?

Let’s see ‘em.

Trump, Cruz, conservatives in general and Republicans in particular, feel that our enemies don’t currently fear us, so let’s start right there. That’s the first variable: enemies.

What enemies?

Define enemies. Be specific. Again, show your work.

Russia? Is Russia our enemy? We trade with Russia. We do business with Russia every day. We travel to Russia and Russians travel to the United States on business and on vacation. We fly into space with Russians on Russian rockets and in fact if it wasn’t for Russia we’d have no manned space program at all. We do scientific research with Russia, medicine, physics, agriculture, astronomy, and energy.

So, is Russia our enemy?

Is Russia our enemy?

If so, why? It matters, you know.

You can’t design a strategy if you don’t know why.

Why is everything. Why tells you where the vulnerabilities are. Why defines the objectives. If Russia is our enemy, why? Is it ideology? Is it religion? Is it resources? Are they murderous cannibals? Have they attacked us for our precious bodily fluids? Is it just simple convenience, do we fear them simply because they’re weird and different and over there?

If Russia is our enemy, shouldn’t we all understand why?

If Russia is our enemy, shouldn’t each and every one of us be able to articulate why? Spelled out, in simple language, in detail.

Well? Is it Russia? Is that who we want to fear us?

Is it?

And what would that take, to make Russia fear us?

At the height of the Cold War, when the world could have ended at any time, when America and Russia spent massive sums in blood and gold to build world destroying weapons, did they fear us? Did they? Did we fear them? And what did that fear accomplish? When our fleets fenced on the open seas and the skies with the fate of civilization hanging in the balance, did it make the world a safer place? When our children hid under their school desks, ducking and covering and waiting for Russian bombs to fall from the sky, was America safer for Russian fear?

And now? Today? What exactly would it take, how big, how powerful, how capable, how advanced, does our military have to be to strike fear into Vladimir Putin’s heart? To bend him to our will – assuming we can agree on what our will is.

Ask yourself this: What if that fear requires a military so big, so massive, so powerful, so capable, that America collapses under the burden of supporting such a force – as the Soviet Union did?

 

When the men who would lead America speak of rebuilding our military, why do you suppose they never mention any of these things?

 

China? Is China our enemy? We trade with China. We do business with China. We travel to China. The American economy is deeply, deeply invested in China at the expense of American workers. If China is our enemy, then why are so many of the products filling the shelves in Walmart and Target made in China? If China is our enemy why is our lumber processed in China? It is, you know, we cut down the trees here and send them to China to be turned into lumber, then we pay to ship them back – honestly, where did you think all those 2x4’s and plywood panels in Lowes and Home Depot come from? Why do we buy tens of thousands of tons of farmed fish from China? Why do we sell coal and LNG energy to China? Why are our car parts and electronics and iPhones manufactured in China?

Tell me, if China is our enemy, then why do Wall Street bankers and American investors like Mitt Romney and the Koch Brothers and the Walton Family grow immensely rich by sending American jobs to China – is that not colluding with the enemy?

The rising Chinese economy, what powers that?

The growing Chinese military, who pays for it?

If China is our enemy, then how much American money should be devoted to “rebuilding” our military in order to fight a Chinese military that we are also simultaneously paying for?

At what point does this become ridiculous?

So who then? If not China, if not Russia, who is the enemy we want to fear us?

Who?

North Korea? Iran? ISIS? Really? Are we really putting ISIS and Kim Jong Un on the same footing with global powers such as the US, Russia, and China? Really?

North Korea must fear us, fear our military might, fear that we might use our fists at any moment. I would suggest to you that they do already fear us – which is why they want nuclear bombs of their own at the expense of feeding their own people. Ditto Iran.

Conservatives want guns to protect themselves from America. Why should ISIS be any different?

But that’s not what we’re talking about is it?

It’s not. We’re not talking about respect here, we’re talking about fear. We want them to fear us.

We’re not talking about rebuilding our education system into the best in the world.

We’re not talking about remaking our infrastructure into the envy of nations.

We’re not talking about retooling our social safety nets, or our medical system, our science, our innovative engineering, our space and exploration programs. No, that’s not what we’re talking about.

Our politicians don’t stand up there on that stage debating which one of them is more willing to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, heal the sick, educate our children, or colonize Mars. No, they intend to make America great with their fists, by bombing entire populations out of existence, by waterboarding our enemies, through military force, by fear.

When Trump, Cruz, et al talk of making our enemies fear us, when the crowd cheers, what we’re talking about here is real fear.

Terror.

The kind of fear where they will never challenge America. Ever.

The kind of fear where when an American strays into their territorial waters or crosses their border with a weapon concealed in his trunk, they don’t think about questioning the reason or defending their own sovereignty or even enforcing their own laws.

The kind of fear where they capitulate immediately and in total to any US demand – be it military, political, or economic. If we want them to give up a weapons program or territory or their religion, they do so instantly and without any show of resistance or resentment.

The kind of fear where terrorists would never think of taking one of ours hostage, or detonating a bomb anywhere near Americans, or even so much as giving us a dirty look.

That’s what we’re talking about.

That’s the fear Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are talking about.

 

But see, here’s the problem, even in the darkest hours, even in the deepest depths of fear and terror, humanity tends to resist.

 

In Iraq and Afghanistan, in Vietnam and Korea, despite our overwhelming military superiority, our enemies fought back as best they could. All the military might in the world couldn’t beat it out of them completely.

In Chechnya, despite Russian willingness to ruthlessly slaughter terrorists and civilians with equal abandon, Chechens fight back even now with bombs and homemade guns and terror.

In Israel, despite ruthless determination on the part of one of the best trained and best equipped militaries in the world – and a government willing to use it – Palestinians fight back. Violently. Every single day.

In Northern Ireland, despite the vast and powerful British Army, the Irish fought back, with car bombs and bullets and their bare hands.

In the fearful horror of the concentration camps, despite an absolute power willing to murder them six million deep, in Dora and Mittelwerk, the Jews resisted.

In the old west, despite the Gatling gun and the Sharps rifle and the cavalry and the reservations, despite starvation and disease and genocide, Native Americans fought back.

In divided Berlin, despite the mine fields and the barbed wire and the dogs and the machine guns, East Germans fought their way through to the West or died trying.

In the old Antebellum South of the United States, despite ruthless oppression, American slaves fought against their chains and, again, all the ruthless brutality in the Confederacy couldn’t beat it out of them.

On December 7th, 1941, on September 11th, 2001, knowing they were attacking a vastly more powerful enemy, knowing we would come for them, knowing we would kill them and their families and crush their strongholds, our enemies attacked us.

And yet, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, the pundits and the talking heads, the shouting mob, they demand our military become so powerful, and our willingness to use it so ruthless, that no enemy will ever challenge us.

Think about that.

Think upon what kind of nation that would be.

We must be able to measure the achievement of objectives.

If the objective is fear, fear to such a degree our enemies will not challenge us, then the only measure is that they don’t. Ever.

It’s about will. Remember?

Imagine such a nation.

Imagine a nation so unassailable, so powerful, so utterly ruthless, so utterly without sympathy or humanity, so willing to use force, willing to carpet bomb entire populations out of existence, willing to torture its enemies, willing to sacrifice its sons and daughters and its treasure, willing to forgo education and healthcare and even eating, to do anything and everything to preserve its security. And to do so to such a degree that no enemy would ever dare to even think about resisting it.

Now, you tell me: what does that nation look like?

Give that some thought, why don’t you?

Work as if you lived in the early days of a better nation.
Alasdair Gray, Scottish Novelist and Playwright (attributed to Canadian author Dennis Lee)

 


Footnote: These very same men utterly fear the power of government and would arm themselves against it in resistance. Ironic, no?

The Latter Days of a Better Nation, Part II, is here

205 comments:

  1. And just like The Wall that they want to build along our southern border, they're short on the details of paying for it. You want to expand the military, build that wall, and cut taxes at the same time. Show the math on how it's gonna be paid for. Didn't think so. Same with the plan to 'Repeal and Replace' the ACA with something better. It's been a few years since the (R) contingent has had control of both the House and Senate, and I've yet to see anything come from those chambers. They are long on talk, short on details. Everybody knows that the Devil is in the details...

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    1. Oh these bastards have a solution. After the deficit explodes from their plan for perpetual war, they'll want to cut education,the EPA, any vital infrastructure, social security and medicare to pay for it.

      Rob from Philly

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    2. I've heard talk from several right-wingers that they are now scared of dark-skinned boogeymen coming down from Canada because their immigration policy is so loose. I figure a demand for a wall all along that border will come soon.

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    3. Mermen. The nations beaches stand wide open to the fishy hordes from Atlantis. Time to encircle the coasts and barricade the Great Lakes. They're on the way, no time to lose.

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    4. Where were those ideas when the GOP had majorities in both houses of Congress and George W Bush in the White House? They had six years to pass legislation to reform Healthcare according to their ideas and yet nothing.

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    5. @Beach Bum... I'm a little surprised that Canada hasn't already initiated the construction of a wall to protect themselves from the crazy that is 'murica.

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  2. The only way to be absolutely certain that your enemies will never threaten you again is to ruthlessly and systematically exterminate them down to the last man, woman, and child.

    Ultimately, what Mssrs. Trump, Cruz, and Rubio are recommending is genocide against anyone who would dare challenge us, but what they and their marks don't seem to grasp is that we'd probably make far more enemies than we'd eliminate going about that way.

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    1. It's no wonder the Democratic candidates look weak against the Republican rhetoric. Anyone decent is going to seem like a marshmallow against a group of genocidal maniacs. Are the GOP candidates that bad, that maniacal? They sure do seem to be.

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    2. No, there's another way: make friends of them ... or at least allies. This works. And I'm pretty sure our current president understands that.

      I think it's no coincidence that every revealed scripture tells us that same thing in very similar terms:

      Hatred does not cease by hatred; hatred ceases by love. This is an eternal Law. - Dhammapada

      "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven..." - Gospels

      “When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love.” - Bahá'í Writings

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    3. to quote Iain M Banks "Outright destruction of rebellious ships or habitats - pour encouragez les autres - of course remains an option for the controlling power, but all the usual rules of uprising realpolitik still apply, especially that concerning the peculiar dialectic of dissent which - simply stated - dictates that in all but the most dedicatedly repressive hegemonies, if in a sizable population there are one hundred rebels, all of whom are then rounded up and killed, the number of rebels present at the end of the day is not zero, and not even one hundred, but two hundred or three hundred or more; an equation based on human nature which seems often to baffle the military and political mind."

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    4. Reminds me of the old joke :

      Lancelot : "I've raided and plundered your enemies to the South Sire!"

      King Arthur : "Lancelot you idiot! I told you to raid and plunder my enemies to the North! I don't have any enemies in the South."

      Lancelot : "You do now Sire."

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  3. “I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about and can express it in numbers, you can know something about it; but when you can not measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind…”

    Lord Kelvin

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  4. Well, actually Communist China *is* our enemy and that is *why* all of the conditions you've so ably listed herein exist. And *we* fear *them* - not he other way around and no amount of military might will make them fear us. It will take something far subtler and far smarter to get a handle on that problem. But really, that's another discussion for another day.

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    1. You didn't show your work. Why is Communist China our enemy. Be very specific.

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    2. I wouldn't say communist China is our enemy, per se, but it's clear to me that there are issues we have to deal with pertaining to them. The biggest one, of course, is the willingness of businesses to ship jobs over there where they can pay people next to nothing and ignore every human right known to man.
      The problem with China, then, isn't rooted in China, but right here in the USA.
      For my money, the single biggest threat faced by our nation in the future is the willingness of our citizens to screw one another over just for a quick payday. We will never have the trust, camaraderie, and brotherhood that made us great in the first place, until we address this issue. Everything else is secondary.
      Until we can all be fellow countrymen, who recognize that we're all in this together. We'll never truly be great. Our greatest, truly I think our only, real threat lies in the fear, distrust, and hatred we still have running rampant every day.
      Sorry, I'll get off my soap box now. Great post Jim, as always. I always look forward to something new here.

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    3. Do they technically even qualify as "communist" at this point? I know we need to differentiate between them and Taiwan, but I'm guessing Marx had something completely different in mind than what the Chinese are about these days.

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    4. One of the people who did major work shipping US manufacturing to China was none other than Mitt Romney, who made a fortune at it. Apparently we don't need outside enemies. I suppose that is a deliberate strategy, whip up the panic so that this lot can steal our savings and send our jobs away.

      There are days when my anarchist streak comes out.

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    5. Currently the USA and China can't live without each other. People like you Kathleen may fear them but I can assure you that neither party is willing to go to war with the other, it would be an economic disaster for both countries.

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    6. Because of our trade policies the west and multinational corporations are building China as they dissassemble America. Our nation is just the left over shell of a once powerful economy.

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    7. Okay fair enough. In broad strokes:

      1. Systematic and sustained cyber warfare waged against this country's commercial and miltiary/industrial infrastructure for the last 20 years to include breaching of databases and stealing personal financial information of millions of American citizens and government employees.

      2. Systematic and sustained industrial and military espionage waged against this country since Nixon and Kissinger let them out of the box.

      3. Read "Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local - and Helped Save an American Town," by Beth Macy. It's applicable to every single industrial sector of ours - not just furniture. See also steel dumping.

      4. The ruling Han majority's Creation Myth is that they are the Tiger at the centre of the World and that when the Tiger wakes and rises, they will rule the world. Joseph Campbell was right - your Creation Myth is what drives you. They teach this to their children in schools.

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    8. 5. I come at this as the child of parents who were historians and who worked in the UNRRA/CNRRA/NAEC program in China after WWII. Dad's engineering firm had government contracts during the war, and Mom was in the Marine Corps Womens' reserve - 2nd OCS graduating class out of Hunter College in the Bronx (they didn't send women to Quantico for OCS till later.)

      After the war was over Dad and his best friend formed their own engineering firm and got one of the UN contracts to go to China and hired Mom because she had the security clearance level they needed.

      They all saw up close and personal the corruption of the Kuomintang, Communist and UN players in post war China as everyone scrambled to suck up as many US tax dollars as they could courtesy of T.V. Soong. Whom my father knew personally. I have the documentation. I'm writing a book about those years and their work there.

      When it became clear that Mao was going to win Dad was instructed to turn over the keys to the plant sites, all of our UNRRA/CNRRA/NAEC rolling stock, factories, assets, etc to the Communists. That was a hard order since Mao was shooting anyone who'd had anything to do with us. Mom set sail on the President Wilson and came back to CONUS. Finally Dad found someone who agreed to take possession and as he sat across the table from him, Dad was told "We will take your country from within, in 50 years." This was October of 1949. Dad though that was important enough to send a report to the State Dept and his letter to Harry Truman about the extent of corruption in the program is in the Truman Archives.

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    9. 5. (cont)
      Fast forward to late 1971. He's teaching Chinese, Russian, Japanese and India history at a small liberal arts college in the Midwest to guys who have combat tours of Vietnam and field commissions but no college degrees. Dad wrote the bootstrap program our college - and other colleges eventually - put onto every military base in the country so these guys could get degrees, convert their commissions to regular commissions, and not get riffed once the war was over. One day guys from State show up, take him for an 8 hour debriefing which he can't talk about. He comes home and he and Mom start trying to figure out how to get our family moved to New Zealand. Dad tells me he's decided I'm going to be a doctor because "It's all over but the crying, but even Mao won't shoot doctors." And then Nixon goes to China in February of the next year and opens China to Coca-Cola. And eventually Wal-Mart.

      Fast forward to 1991. Daddy Bush Administration tentatively short-lists the Long Beach Naval Station for closure. In 1993, President Clinton closes it. in 1994. NAFTA goes into effect and China begins the economic war in earnest - with Wal-Mart's help.

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    10. 6. Then during the heat of the 1995-1996 campaign season the Clinton fund-raining juggernaut: "the Clinton administration actively intervened to make sure a Communist Chinese cargo container shipping interest got a too-good deal on a Long Beach, California, shipping terminal.

      The Secretary of the Navy has formally turned the base over to the City of Long Beach. But, the Port of Long Beach has signed a letter of intent to lease the property to the China Ocean Shipping Co., a steamship line run by the Communist Chinese government.

      The Navy base property is about to be leased to a Communist China-owned shipping company under an agreement that was only made possible by the intervention of the White House.

      The Chinese deal apparently went forward without a national security review by wither the CIA or National Security Council. The White House apparently avoided normal and routine government channels in pushing the deal through in 1995. '... there seemed to be no reason to check with the National Security Council on the decision ...' White House spokesman Lanny Davis said.

      However, the China Ocean Shipping Co. of the People's Republic of China has been actively involved in several recent controversies in addition to a Russian AK-47 gun-smuggling episode on the streets of Oakland, California. In another shocking incident in December, one of the company's ships plowed into a crowded boardwalk in New Orleans, injuring 116 people.

      Then, in 1992, the shipping company was fined $400,000 in a violation of U.S. shipping law in connection with is practices involving bribery of government officials in order to avoid paying U.S. tariffs on its imports at United States ports of entry.

      There is still more. Six of the company's ships were detained by the Navy and Coast Guard for violating international safety regulations just in the last year. The Coast Guard said, that is has placed the China Ocean Shipping Co. of the People's Republic of China on a target list of shippers to monitor and search.

      Last summer China admitted that the China Ocean Shipping Co. was shipping 640 tons of raw waste from the United States to China when it suddenly decided to dump it into the open sea.

      In 1993 U.S. Navy shadowed a China Ocean Shipping Co. ship passing in the Persian Gulf after U.S. intelligence warned it was suspected of carrying chemical weapons materials.

      CIA director Robert Gates has said ' ... any time you turn over an American port facility to a foreign-owned company, especially one with significant [Communist Chinese] government connection, then at least it ought to be vetted through national security agencies.' " - Source: Daily Republican March 7, 1997

      6. Finally, I had occasion to have lunch with a group of people here a few years back and one of the guests was an exchange student form Mainland China who lectured me all about how "We've take your country and now *we* run the world and you Americans are too stupid to know it."

      If you think we were mean little Imperialists, you ain't seen nothing yet.

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    11. Kathleen: I am a huge Jim fan, I'm either liberal or progressive I lose sight of what labels ; I have worked in the China trade for the last 30 plus years. I think you're heading down a path people need to know more about. What you have to say does not fit into the sound bite of the day pattern that most people go to; then again that's why you are here, me, and tens of thousands of others too. I appreciate your taking the time to write this. Whether people want to hear it or not, this is good stuff.

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    12. Thanks Fred for the kind words :) I'd be interested to share ideas with you about trajectory the US and China are on and how we got here. I'm not sure there's much to be done about it other than analysis. But it might be enlightening to compare notes.

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    13. New citations:

      http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/16/asia/china-missiles-south-china-sea/index.html

      http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/02/16/exclusive-china-sends-suface-to-air-missiles-to-contested-island-in-provocative-move.html

      http://bigstory.ap.org/article/3b2f1b68f464445c83aba37693255078/south-china-sea-key-agenda-bishops-visit-beijing

      http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/air-space/strike/2015/11/08/china-expands-presence-fighters-woody-island/75147522/

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    14. and Reuters http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southchinasea-china-missiles-idUSKCN0VP2VT

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    15. I am willing to take what you have said as being quite factual, Kathleen, at least for the sake of discussion. And I thank you for your work putting it together. I do not have that kind of detailed knowledge. What I do think I know is that China is a huge lender to the United States. It is not original to me to question how one fights one's banker. It seems risky to refer to someone to whom you owe money your enemy.

      I add my thanks to you, Sir Jim, for this great article also. I do not believe that I need my country's military developed further.

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    16. Kathleen you may well be correct about the ruthlessness of the competition, the depth of the corruption, the disregard for human rights and the environment by China. However, I think the point is that the answer to meeting this challenge is not a stronger military than we currently have.

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    17. This is a link for a 58 minute video that I saw several years ago entitled "The Untold History of the US. The Bush and Obama Age of Terror." It appears in a number of places, not just this one. I have no basis for believing that there is anything false about it. It forms a serious basis for my belief that my country's military needs no further development. In fact it did not need this much development.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6TGkpi_vVE

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    18. Having mentioned that China is our big lender and therefore risky to call our enemy, I feel that I should mention that I do not believe there is much likelihood of getting out of that situation by paying them back. Our fractional reserve banking system is such that the sum of private and public debt must increase continually to maintain the economy. Most banks have operated that way since the 1500's. See economists Ellen Hodgson Brown, Jeffrey Sachs, Thomas Piketty, and other big names.
      I note that U.S. debt to Japan is now at about the same unimaginable level as U.S. debt to China, for whatever that might matter. By itself the necessity for continually increasing debt is either cause for concern or it is not cause for concern, depending on who is talking.

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  5. A quick grammar note:

    The line after the paragraph that begins with 'Do we not have enough nuclear bombs...'

    Should read be specific, show your work (the r in your is missing)

    Great piece as always.

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    1. Minor edit: That's not what "we're" (not we) talking about is it?

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    2. Dammit, I thought already fixed that one. Good catch, Cheryl. Thanks.

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  6. With Republicans the government is to be feared... unless they are the ones controlling be it, and then its sole purpose it to be feared by "our" enemies.

    If you are ever curious about what the Republicans are planning look first at what they are accusing us of.

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  7. Excellent as always. After reading the garbage of the day it's always nice to read something that is fact based, makes sense and comes from someone who's been there, especially where our military is concerned. I do not understand the cheering crowd on torture, carpet bombing, etc...and I truly wonder exactly how much of that drivel they are pouring out to the masses is to win the election, nothing more. Scary as hell the narcissism on the right...evil behind the facade. Even more scary are the idiots who believe it and follow it. It really does make me question humanity. What the hell ever happened to intelligence? Critical thinking? Rooting out the truth? Blind stupidity, scariest of all.

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    1. Intelligence? Critical thinking? Rooting out the truth? It all went out with "No Child Left Behind", maybe even earlier, when we stopped training our kids to think, to be creative, to develop their own opinions from real facts. The ignorance, I fear, has accelerated with the advent of the (nearly) universal Internet -- and the negligence of the educational system to teach students the negative side of universal, uncensored, unmoderated "information", to teach them to critically consider what is fact and what is opinion based on misinformation and outright lies.

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  8. Understanding the methods and reasons behind successful propaganda are critical if you want to know how the "Be Afraid! Be Very Afraid!" theme works in American politics. You hold multiple debates wherein candidates wring their hands, moan and groan about the decline of America's military, the dwindling number of ships (as if WWII stats on such things matter in today's combat scenarios), the fact that we have fewer people in uniform than when this president or THAT president presided over the armed forces. Then you have your political party's favorite media mouthpiece do dog whistle stories about imminent threats from this country, or that terrorist organization (or this virus or that flood of immigrants...) to drum up the fear and dread necessary to make the theme of "rebuilding our military" sound like a reasonable solution to all that ails (or scares) us.

    Goebbels said it best in his explanation of propaganda's outcome when he finished with "...denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger."

    The "you're either with us or against us" mentality is oh-so-effective on the easily frightened. Without another qualifying statement you can thereby most easily identify most members of the Republican Party. They're the one's sloshing testosterone around among their friends, but pissing themselves in the closet at home alone.

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    1. "denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger."

      This was actually said by Hermann Goering.

      /pedant

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    2. "Either you're closing your eye to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge, or you are not aware of the calibre of disaster indicated by the presence of a pool table in your community!" [evil grin]

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  9. Amazing that not ONE of them felt the need to participate wearing the uniform of this country. I'm embarrassed of americans who blindly follow and relish these bottom feeders.

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  10. A handy retort to someone talking about the "weakness" of the US Mil would be to point out that the US Coast Guard is the 4th biggest navy in the world.

    A military as fearsome as that would require turning America into Sparta, and I don't think people have the stomach for that.

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    1. Also that the US Navy is the world's second-largest air force.

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  11. And they say they're Christian. "Our politicians don’t stand up there on that stage debating which one of them is more willing to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, heal the sick, educate our children, or colonize Mars. No, they intend to make America great with their fists, by bombing entire populations out of existence, by waterboarding our enemies, through military force, by fear."

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    Replies
    1. feel free to quote me on that // Jim

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    2. I'd like to be able to make "them" force-read your entire blog and answer your questions. I'm not optimistic.

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  12. "Imagine a nation so unassailable, so powerful, so utterly ruthless, so utterly without sympathy or humanity, so willing to use force, willing .."

    S.M. Stirling's Draka comes to mind.

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    1. A government and culture they'd all approve of.

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    2. Actually, I'm thinking of another nation, that had the entire continent of Europe subjugated before it, a nation in which one of the two anthems began with the words, "Die fahnen hoch...."

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    3. Perhaps the death of Scalia will provide the GOP with their Horst Wessel, Mary.

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    4. Such a nation Jim describes is one I would not want to live in. The worst of 1984, Brave New World, and Animal Farm all rolled up into one big ball and shoved down the throats of the entire planet. I don't think it would take long before the planet rose up against such a government, and the sky would glow after sunset and no humans would be left alive.

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  13. Maybe my opinion is wrong but I would like to add did we fear the British in the war of 1812? Clearly they had a superior military in size and training to ours back then. Did Bin Laden fear us when his soldiers attacked 0n 09/11/2001. Clearly he was vastly outnumbered. How much bigger would our military have had to be in order to stop his followers from attacking the United States?

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    1. Well ... yeah.

      That's pretty much my entire point.

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    2. Well, of course, the War of 1812 happened because we thought the British were too involved with Napoleon to notice if we kind of stole Canada. We were wrong. (We lost the War of 1812, but most American history books won't tell you that.)

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    3. Heck, my history books as a kid claimed the War of 1812 was due to British high-seas aggression. Not wrong, but not nearly the whole story.

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    4. The War of 1812 was not lost, though most of the battles were defeats. It was a strategic victory in that it once and for all secured the independence of the USA from Britain. It was, in effect, the last hurrah of the American Revolution.

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  14. Thank you for this. "Define your terms" used to be the rallying cry when I was in college. It made for much better discussions.

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  15. 'feed the hungry, clothe the poor, heal the sick, educate our children, or colonize Mars.' Don't you intend ' _and_ colonize Mars'? The essay sounds like it.

    Ye Olde Mindfull Reader

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    Replies
    1. At this point, I'd be happy if they picked just one.

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  16. You missed Donald Trump's pledge to "rebuild" our military. It had a picture of a tank on it. A tank that, if you look at it closely, is a British Challenger II tank. LOL.

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  17. "We have met the enemy and he is us." - Walt Kelly

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  18. To me the sad thing is we have lost our identity of the nation that almost everyone thought was the place to be. We were the people who helped the downtrodden and welcomed the immigrant. We were the good guys. We were examples to others that freedom and justice were attainable. Our education system was one of the best. My 17 year old grandson is naturally intelligent thank goodness because the school system teaches just enough to get by or only teaches to standardized tests. Experimental and critical thinking are discouraged. This a simplistic view I know, there were issues Vietnam War, Kent State, Civil Rights, women's rights,etc., but we were able to come together for the most part, for the greater good. Where did that America go.

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  19. Reading this excellent column immediately brought to mind the often mis-attributed quote, "Those whom the gods would destroy, they first drive mad" (or words to that effect). Truly the political Right in this country is teetering on the edge of insanity.

    Thank you for being one of those voices attempting to pull them back from the precipice.

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    1. "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain."

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    2. Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. And I'm not sure about the universe. Albert E.

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  20. This rigid authoritarian trip never fails to amaze me--it takes so much time, effort, attention, stress and money to maintain your "authoritah." I used to be a supervisor in a call center and we had the numbers obsessed supes who browbeat, micromanaged and terrorized their agents and they spent all their time and anxiety worrying about their crappy numbers. Me, I ran a loose ship (but I had no tolerance for fucking up) and as long as my guys were doing their best it was all good by me. I had better numbers overall, made my bonus every single month and I could get a major numbers jump just by bringing in some donuts for the team.

    This strategy works with about 98% of the people on the planet, I swear. Give someone some comfort, safety, fun and your confidence and they'll bust their asses for you and do it with a will. Grind them down and scare them and you have to watch your ass 24/7 to make sure you don't get a knife stuck in you and your wallet taken. I get it, it's a pride thing to be El Supremo Boss The Great And Fiercesome but dayum, in terms of effort expended for actual gain it's a crappy bet. If you get your ego out of the way and just aim for end results everybody ends up doing better overall.

    Donuts are a lot cheaper than drones, too. Just a thought.

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    Replies
    1. For far too many 'people', being the Feared and Terrible isn't a means, it's an end.

      And your way is far too egalitarian for their tastes. Not enough distance / difference between them and their subordinates.

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  21. You give us all something to think about. Thank you

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  22. Has there ever been a power or military so powerful that enemies have yielded without resistance to the demands of that power? It is not the "invincible" armies of Xerxes that history celebrates, but the battle of Thermopylae.

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  23. Ironic, yes.

    Thanks for this, again and always, Jim. Best birthday present I got today. My birthday wish would be to make it mandatory reading for every American. Make it so.

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  24. Willing to torture our *putative* enemies...

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  25. You have brilliantly articulated something I have wanted to scream. This path has been trod so, so many times. Ultimately, it does not matter if we are lead down the path by cynical manipulators or true believers. But there always seems to be at least a bit of the latter. It is the bully, the psychopaths, religion, make them fear you, be the predator, or you are prey.
    To your excellent examples above I would add the Soviet Union during WWII who lost in excess of 20 million and fought on. Against an enemy who believed in the power of fear.
    That enemy, Germany, was defeated not because of fear but devastation. They too fought on in the rubble long past any reasonable hope.
    That is not the worst. We, us, the god fearing USA by ourselves, bombed an enemy into capitulation. At Hiroshima and Nagasaki we brought wholesale death to the people of a nearly broken nation. Still there were those who would have fought on. We can argue about the morality and the need. But even if needed it was a sin. Our sin. Any justification is negated if nothing was learned. God damn it. God damn it.
    I don't need to live in the greatest country on earth. Whatever the fuck that means, fuckers. But I do require of my country that it not be morally bankrupt.

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  26. Perhaps we are who the politicians fear. Perhaps they fear the vets who, after being sent to lose arms and legs in a war for oil, have watched as the Republicans vote down one bill after another that would provide support and help for veterans. Perhaps they fear the students who went to college, and who cannot find jobs that will allow them to pay their loans. Perhaps they fear the sick who will lose medical benefits if the far-right wins. Perhaps they fear those who have watched their water become poisoned, and then been ignored.

    Perhaps they want all those bombers and tanks in order to fight us when we finally arise.

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    1. I know damn few of them ever wore the uniform -- even had we the draft, they'd have finagled a way out. I suspect none of them have been to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (just outside DC) to see the Wounded Warriors -- both the numbers treated there (multiply by 1884 VA med centers) and how severely wounded they are -- and I'm certain none of them have calculated the cost in lost and ruined lives the "Muslim wars" have cost, to say nothing of the cost Viet Nam and Korean war vets are still paying. Not just the cost of caring for them (which isn't nearly enough), but the economic loss of what they might have contributed to our country, if war had not devastated their lives.

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  27. Typo
    "Give that some though, why don’t you?"
    Doubtless thought not though

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    Replies
    1. Corrected two hours ago. Refresh your browser.

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    2. I see though, that I did not think that thought through.

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    3. C'mon, John, be THOROUGH. ;-)

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  28. I'd guess the level of fear being sought is the one that will compel any country anywhere to hand over its resources and assets on demand, which will save a bundle in invasion costs.

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  29. For the past thirty years the GOP pumped it's huddled masses with cries of Fear, Fire, Flood! And now all they have to show is their blanket cowardice of anything that challenges them.

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  30. Damn, Jim, is there anything you can't do? -jk- Your eloquence never ceases to amaze me. Objectives are mission critical - the corporate world uses SMART objectives for all levels of employees. Sounds a lot like what you describe in your essay.

    S = SPECIFIC
    M = MEASURABLE
    A = ACHIEVABLE
    R = REALISTIC
    T = TIME-BOUND

    If it's not worth measuring, it's not worth doing, period.

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    Replies
    1. The Navy uses this too. If you went into any (public) shipyard you'd see placards for it.

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  31. Funny. I thought the Republican candidates were lying about fear and power in order to justify building a lot more useless junk that can sit in parking lots while graft continues to flow between contractors, politicians and locals who run bars, gun shops and whorehouses for the bloated establishment.

    What have I missed?

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  32. The more the current GOP screams that I must be afraid of external enemies and the more they try to exert their authority, the more I resist.

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  33. They're stuck on a myth of something that never existed. They think the entire world bowed to the US in both the World Wars unable to face our might. They're wrapped in a fable of cold war power. They love the story of how Iran was so terrified of Reagan they released the hostages at mere thought of his inauguration.

    They've repeated these tales so often in order to keep their voting base happy that they simply can't imagine any other world view.

    That's the problem with relying on myths of the lost golden age, with substituting a happy story for fact, you lose track of the actual events, efforts and factors that enabled people to actually live in troubled times.

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    Replies
    1. Well not in WW1 thats for sure.....the heavy lifting was done by the French, British and Commonwealth forces...

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    2. Heavy lifting in WW2, at least against the Nazis, was done mostly by the Soviets, too.

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  34. And don't forget the logical conclusion - if you could actually GET to the point where everyone else was completely terrorized, what then?

    Why, the terror turns inward. But only against "sympathizers". "Patriots" are safe. Until only "Patriots" are left, and it turns ever inward.

    All while "fighting for the Constitution", of course.

    That kind of fear needs to be maintained, permanently, or the whole system falls apart. And once one enemy is gone, you absolutely have to create a new one.

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    Replies
    1. Funny...that smells a lot like Stalinist Russia. Always another secret enemy. Always a bourgeois sympathizer, a kulak...and if you haven't actually sinned, we'll invent one.

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  35. Please run for President, Sir.

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    Replies
    1. I don't meet the religious requirement. Nor do I intend to.

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    2. theres not actually a requirement is there???

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    3. Article VI, section 3 of the Constitution addresses your question. Notwithstanding that, Jim is correct.

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    4. A self-professed atheist or agnostic has about as much chance of being elected for any office above dog catcher in this country as a blind turtle has of successfully crossing a major freeway at rush hour.

      Religious tests may be forbidden by law, but hardly by custom.

      (See also: Cruz, Ted, and his explicitly theocratic campaign.)

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    5. I'm not sure a sighted turtle would have much chance of getting across that freeway either, but I'm damned sure that Trump is no Believer. Not in any sense that religious voters have in the past required. And I certainly don't hear Bernie Sanders saying God Bless America, even though he is clearly a good patriot. So that religous qualification may well be on the wane. Thank God.

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    6. Trump has been questioned about the Bible and religion and claims to have both. I don't believe it for a minute, though. But the question is out there being asked. Nobody needed to ask Cruz, and JEB and Rubio and the others, as they have made it clear that religion drives their campaigns. Nobody seems to have focused on it on the Democratic side, however, I do believe that an unfortunately large majority of Americans will not vote for an avowed atheist. They'd be afraid that such a President would strip away their religious freedoms.

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  36. The country that you speak of reminds me of Rome or the Mongols. Both were brutal and willing to kill whole populations. They fell under the weight of that military. And still people faught against them. (They died but still they faughtl

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  37. It's beautiful that Cruz tweeted from the Yorktown:

    "On 21 September 1997, a division by zero error on board the USS Yorktown (CG-48) Remote Data Base Manager brought down all the machines on the network, causing the ship's propulsion system to fail."

    A perfect example of just how oodles of firepower can be taken out by a zero like Cruz.

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    Replies
    1. Different Yorktown.

      Cruz was speaking from CV-10, an Essex Class WWII aircraft carrier, at the Patriot's Point Museum, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

      The Yorktown you're talking about was CG-48, a Ticonderoga Class Aegis Guided Missile Cruiser (that I once served on, I also served on Ticonderoga herself and their sister ship, Valley Forge). CG-48 was a test platform for the USS Navy's Smartship program (as was Valley Forge CG-50). The incident you're talking about happened during development of a highly complex system, one that later became very successful and that I used every day as a bridge officer on USS Valley Forge.

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    2. Mutter, mutter, grumble. Seeing Cruz on CVS-10 leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. I was aboard her in Hong Kong harbor (in VS-23) when Vietnam blew up. We did some laps in the South China Sea, and I made many trips through that hanger deck.

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  38. Every time read one of your post the more I want to go out and find a red, and glow stick them. keep up the insightful dialog

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  39. Is it fear? Or is it unabashed, ego. Narcissism at it's ultimate worst. The need for adulation, glorification, and idolatry of the self. I have to wonder, sometimes, who the fuck these people are talking to. On the other hand I voted in NH and saw who the fuck they were talking to. Fear? Yup, I've got it. But not in the way they think.

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  40. Very good, your writings give me quite a bit to chew on, my intellect never goes hungry. Thank you

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  41. Of course they have to "rebuild the military". Because a Democrat got his hands on it, and now *by definition* it's utterly wrecked. It's an article of faith on the right - one they've unfortunately gotten the media to repeat for them - that Democrats Are Soft On Defense. It works for them so they have to pound the lie at every opportunity.

    Yeah, it was a Democrat that messed up the military. Can't be a decade and a half of wars fought on the credit card, or a ham-handed sequester brought on by Republican intransigence and infighting, no, it's all part of Obama's evil master plan.

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  42. They hate Hollywood, yet their beliefs come from Hollywood movies. They believe that WE thrive on adversity, and that being faced by superior might just makes us want harder to fight free, but that THEY don't value life like we do but will knuckle under when we show them our big guns.

    They believe this in the face of all you've mentioned — Vietnam, Afghanistan, all of them. They believe seventeen impossible things before breakfast, and those things don't even agree with each other.

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  43. What do Donald Trump and HG Wells both have in common? Well, a belief in time travel if nothing else.
    Ok, ol' HG probably didn't believe in it, but by god, Donald J. Trump sure seems to.
    Witness the stirring slogan "lets make America great again". Yes. Let's make it great again. Lets go back a few decades and work on the old model and resurrect things. That old model that is done. Finished. Reached its best before date. Yeah, that old economic, world view model that worked for making the Trumps billionaires. It surely must be relevant in the year of our lord 2016, right?
    Yeah, there's a way to make America great again. But lets not say "great". That smacks of emperors on the war path. How about relevant? Better yet, lets make America a true leader again. A leader in a 21st century world, where we have bigger issues on our plate than making millionaires into billionaires.
    It can be done. I think Obama had the right idea but got pretty bogged down in the BS.
    Its going to take vision. But Trump is stuck looking at the rear view mirror. Like the aging high school star quarterback, listening to The Boss and dreaming of his glory days.
    Ever wonder why the windshield is bigger than the rear view mirror?
    Yessir, going to take some vision, some guts, and a willingness to throw away the old models and move forward, not back.
    Is there anyone out there who can do that? Who even WANT's to do it?
    One things for sure, its not Donald J. Trump.

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    Replies
    1. I thought his motto was "Let's make America white again."

      He'll say anything to get the votes of fearful Americans. And he will get them in spades if there is another 9/11 just before voting day. I predict there will be: a Trump is a wonderful advert for ISIS recruitment.

      Americans have been sold the culture of fear. And infantilized by it; crave a strong daddy-figure to save and protect them. That's why his supporters never waiver no matter what he says or does: he is their secular father and must not be questioned. Besides, he legitimizes their arrogant ignorance and wish to be bullies themselves.

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  44. As part of my studies to earn my SWO pin, I read up on OPLAN 5027. Props to you for being part of the creation process for what I can only imagine is a few fold more complicated.

    I imagine that these buffoons who puff their chest and play to the ever-decreasing lowest common denominator would saber-rattle their way into a briefing and then immediately lose interest on account of an inability to pay attention.

    Thanks for another good one, Jim. Always appreciated.

    I was particularly fond of the demand for specificity.

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  45. Not long after 9/11, when the war panic was ramping up, I wrote something like "I never wanted to be a citizen of the evil empire." I still don't.

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  46. This may be a conspiracy theory, but it seems to me that the multinational corporations that are buying our politicians and our elections are doing so to destroy America using this propaganda -- and it's working.

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  47. If we could get debate moderators to ask some of the questions you have asked here, of these wanna-be war criminals and despots, the debates would not only be worth watching, they'd provide a service.

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    Replies
    1. No main stream media will ask any of these questions: their are owned by 1% who buy the candidates.

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  48. It's the perfect not-lie. They tell the bald truth, that they intend to spend the country into bankruptcy by way of giving all our collective money to the oligarchs. They'll put policies in place that normalize torture and genocide, all the better for us to ignore or simply "miss" that it will happen right here at home. And most of us will be reduced to peons--without a voice in the new "economy"--because when no money is spent on education or infrastructure, and government really is small enough to drown in the bathtub, the robber barons of this new age will ensure that only the wealthy--the "deserving"--have education, and medicine, and nourishing food, and clean water, and police protection. The rest will have overlords or overseers, live in filth, work for slave wages, receive just barely enough education to be useful--if that--and will die young.

    Gretchen in KS

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    1. Not trying to be snarky, but is that what Brownback is trying to do in Kansas? Bob

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  49. 1. Most of these dimwits who cite Reagan don't understand the military build-up in the 80's was sold as a counter to Soviet build-ups; but truth is it was nothing more than a works-project to employ young people and reduce the unemployment rate. Welfare, anyone?
    2. We cannot- we must not- forget that these lunatics desire nothing more than bringing about their so-called "end times". They firmly believe there is a "paradise" waiting for them, and it seems they have added a bonus round: whoever causes the Apocalypse gets extra rations at Republican Jesus' backyard BBQ...hell, maybe they believe they'll have 73 virgins (which would explain their obsession with enforcing abstinence among youth!)
    3. Just..#TFP. Or should we be saying #FTP?

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  50. Thank you. Just ... thank you.

    At 66, I really hope this election year goes down in history as the worst ever. If it doesn't, I'm not sure I want to live long enough to the year that does.

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    1. I moved to Canada as a draft-dodger: best move I ever made. Evil then, evil now.

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  51. Logical. Powerful. Especially the denouement. Wow.

    That is not a country I would want to live in.

    And of "fear": what FDR said has been forgotten.

    Thank you.

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  52. Funny how the same folks who claim we need to build a stronger military so that our enemies will fear us - also join militias where they claim the ability to defeat the US military with rifles and handguns.

    Seems a mite contradictory.

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  53. I read a lot. I always save your posts and the contents for last. You are my intellectual dessert. Thank you for rationality and insight in a cuckoo world.

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  54. The only purpose of all that talk about making other people fear us is of course to make Americans afraid. If Americans feel enough fear, so goes the thinking, they will vote for the most aggressive candidate. Doesn't matter if the fear is irrational. It's actually better that the fear is irrational. So the more irrational those scumbag candidates are, the more votes they hope to win. They know very well they are talking bullshit. They know very well how dangerous and destructive their bullshit is. But all they care about is getting themselves into power riding on that dangerous destructive bullshit.

    Unfortunately, the last thing that will do them any harm is arguing rationally with them. Rational people do not and will not vote for them. Of course they won't spend money on education: educated people tend to think a bit more rationally, not all the time and not everyone, but one thing education tends to help with is clear thinking. And clear thinkers will not vote for any of these numbnuts.

    The problem with America isn't it's candidates, the problem with America is it's voters. It's citizens. We aren't doing a good enough job. And we know that because we aren't stopping guys like Cruz and Trump et al from climbing up on the national stage and then staying there. Either we figure out how to start behaving like responsible citizens again, all of us, and soon, or America will very soon be done for.

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    1. Absolutely: we get the government we deserve. When Democrats didn't show up to vote the Teapbaggers out of congress at the mid-term, they have only themselves to blame for the juvenile anti-governance now in place, and likely to remain so as long as there is gerrymandering, voter suppression, rigged voting machines, dark money, Citizens United and local corruption as we are seeing in the caucuses and primaries. Democracy has died with a whimper in America while everybody has their heads stuck in their smart phones watching porn and funny cats.

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  55. Very well articulated, Mr. Wright. My hat is off to you. I've *tried* to say and argue these very same point with SUPER conservatives (as recently as the the dustup with Iran over our boats "straying" into their territorial waters), but to no avail. All they know is "Bomb, shoot, fight, be tough, `Murica!, etc." I've post this essay to my Facebook wall in the hope, however small, that some of them may read it and actually confront the logic that has thus far eluded them: the world isn't our sandbox and we can't just threaten everyone because they don't kowtow to us. Thanks, again, for writing with much greater detail and clarity than I could.

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  56. From the book "Quicksand" by Geoffrey Wawro; page 177:

    "(Israel Defense Forces') "doctrine of retaliatory action", ...asserted Israel would always (author's emphasis) counterattack with disproportionate force to deter future aggressors.

    ...In October 1953 - angered by an Arab grenade attack on an Israeli settlement that killed a mother and her two children - Major Ariel Sharon's elite Unit 101 crossed into the West Bank, surrounded the village of Kibya and killed EVERY MAN, WOMAN, AND CHILD* there....then butchered Kibya's livestock and dynamited the houses, school, and mosque. Sixty-six corpses were found in the village after Sharon's withdrawal."

    And peace reigned in the middle east ever-after!!!


    * My emphasis.

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    Replies
    1. Cherry-picking for 500 Alex?

      Horrible as that episode and story is. It sure was NOT the start of the Jewish Vs Arab violence or the cause of all the rest of it. The Arabs were killing Jews and vice versa there long before and without needing that provocation.

      Not that it helped of course but just a very small part of a long and horrid story filled with all too many such atrocities on both sides.

      Singling out just that one, well, see the first sentence here again.

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  58. At what point does this become ridiculous?

    I think that line sums it up very well.

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  59. "Kill em all!!"....sure. "Keep em all OUT!!!"....easy. "Make our 'enemies' FEAR us!!!"....no problemo. These nutjobs campaign on simple slogans and appeal to the lowest denominators of hate, fear and insecurity of the the voters. All the while selling out to their owners and kowtowing to industry and Wall St. "Rebuilding military greatness" has less to do with force projection and more to do with repaying political contributions x 10. Not a bad investment for the 1%.

    This is how we get lead in the water supply of a major US city. And how the schools systems and medical services of KS, KY and most other GOP governed states are falling to pieces. And how a corporate criminal becomes FL Gov and ignores the water creeping in on the margins. GOP politicians are the dumbest, single thread mother fuckers on the planet. Everything comes down to money and ideology. But, mostly money. And loads and loads of ignorance. The GOP jokers trying to out-man each other to "unleash HELL" on our enemies have zero understanding of foreign relations, military operations and the tyranny of time, distance, resources and intel.

    The Repubs all seem to envision global military operations as a mash up of old Schwarzenegger and Chuck Norris flicks where one man goes in with his expendable team and 90 minutes later the bad guys are all dead, shit explodes and the hot chick is rescued. Like the Benghazi event (sorry) where most Repubs thought that the DoD had QRF standing by waiting to board hot transports, fly over, drop troops and munitions at the right place and hit the right bad guys within the 2 hours that everything happened. BAM BAM, budda budda budda, fire, explosions and hot chicks for the troops!! And Hillary wud not have killed her Ambassador cuz Nobama personally gave the stand down order. Or something.

    Despite all the GOP clown shouting, it is funny that of ALL the candidates Clinton is the only one with the required experience and knowledge of foreign interdependencies and the real cost and affect of deploying military resources to achieve some end. Just as elections have consequences - planning, readiness and logistics are paramount to deploying military resources in the real world.

    Paraphrasing John Stuart Mill in 1866 - "Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives." Man, if he cud see these idiots NOW. Evolution is real, but Darwin probably thought species wud advance and evolve upward. Guess not.

    Sorry Jim - Messing up a great post with punk ass comment edits. Measure twice, cut once.

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    1. Clinton, however, has described herself a friend of Henry Kissinger, who has an astonishing body count, and he seems to have been a mentor of sorts. I suppose she's better than the Republicans, but, but, but…

      Just who are the good guys here?

      (See, for instance, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/book-party/wp/2016/02/12/hillary-clinton-reviewed-henry-kissingers-latest-book-and-loved-it/)

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    2. Point taken Raven. But, SecStates and other high level executives past and present comprise a formal/informal support group to share experience, assess situations and provide guidance for current office holders. You will find that Kissinger has probably been an active "mentor" for Executive and Foreign Service officials since we bombed Cambodia and opened up China.

      I stress that as SecState, Clinton is the only candidate with direct experience and knowledge of the complexity, cost and implication of deploying US forces to achieve specific objectives overseas. She has the executive experience of planning, coordinating, budgeting and approving international deployments of DoD and State resources for operations from disaster relief wherever needed; dozens of worldwide joint exercises per year; show of force and security operations; and full DoS participation in planning combat operations affecting both friends and enemies.

      Of all the candidates, Clinton is the only one who will not have to learn "on the job" about the parameters and process for Executive Branch management of national resources, budget, logistics and the associated affect and blowback of decisions made in the Oval Office. The rest of the candidates will have limited or no knowledge of the total effort required to approve and deploy US forces and resources to foreign situations.

      At this point I am not a Clinton supporter, and not especially a Sanders supporter. I really want an Eisenhower or a drug free JFK. But, we can't always have the optimal candidate for our times. This year though, the choice in November will clear.

      Delete
    3. Point taken about former Secretary of State Clinton's knowledge of some of those big details, Tommy D. I say she also has bad habits, bad baggage. One question might be whether or not Senator Sanders might be able to find an unbiased adviser or two, people like Sir Jim Wright here, just to pull a name out of a hat from close by.

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    4. Here is some serious substance on that great friend of former Secretary of State Clinton's great friend, Henry Kissinger. I was busy and was not paying close attention to him personally through all of these times. The shadowproof site is new to me. Since I read this I have noticed other articles along this line:
      "Why Not Being Friends With A War Criminal Like Henry Kissinger Matters," by Kevin Gosztola, February 12, 2016
      https://shadowproof.com/2016/02/12/not-friends-war-criminal-like-henry-kissinger-matters/
      (or print friendly link)
      http://www.printfriendly.com/print?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.commondreams.org%2Fviews%2F2016%2F02%2F13%2Fwhy-not-being-friends-war-criminal-henry-kissinger-matters%3Futm_campaign%3Dshareaholic%26utm_medium%3Dprintfriendly%26utm_source%3Dtool&partner=

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    5. OK Sir, I should have been more specific that come November the choice is clear that whoever is the Democratic candidate should get our vote, Sanders OR Clinton.

      My observations about Clinton's useful SecState experience compared with the other candidates was related to Jim's discussion of the far out bombast of the GOP candidates on "rebuilding the military" and striking fear in foreign enemies through armed threat and force. Clinton at least has a handle on the little details of planning, resources, cost and the response of our allies when we start lobbing bombs and troops around the world.

      I don't support Clinton or Sanders for POTUS, and wish we had another choice this cycle, but we don't. But, either one of them will be a much more rational actor in the Oval Office vs any of the crop of GOP clowns.

      I am also not championing Kissinger. I agree that he is an odious POS with his fingers in unsavory international corporate and political dealings for decades. But, he has also been an advisor and back-room dealer for most SecStates and US Gov't for decades. Hell! Wernher von Braun and his rocket team were Nazis developing weapons of mass destruction and killing thousands of innocents, but without them we would not have landed on the moon within the 60's. Despite the Nazi background, we at least we got Tang and the lunar rover out the the deal. With the subjective good comes the objective bad. There's not a thing that mere mortals can do about Kissinger and his ilk.

      Considering the array of has been neo-cons, billionaires, and Rightie Christo-Taliban lunatics supporting the GOP clown show, Clinton's association with Kissinger and other dodgy characters goes with the territory. However, absent other options, come November whoever is the Dem candidate is going to be a more sane choice for POTUS than this selection of GOP knuckleheads.

      Delete
    6. Kissinger is not just odious, he belongs in jail. He has at least half a million deaths to his name, and probably more. His body count probably (I haven't checked the numbers) outstrips Saddam Hussein, Al Qaeda, and Daesh, all put together. And yet Hillary Clinton is his friend and he is her mentor and trusted confidant.

      "There's not a thing that mere mortals can do about Kissinger and his ilk." Of course there is. Put them on trial and, if convicted, in jail. At least, we don't take their advice, and let them lead us into more war crimes and make more enemies.

      That is, if we want to be the good guys. There's a lot of us as don't. Which I take to be one of our host's points.

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    7. Long after everyone has left the pool and the lights have gone out, I'm gonna respond to Raven's wish that Kissinger be tried and wear an orange jumpsuit.

      Not gonna happen. In the same mold of Allen Dulles and J Edgar Hoover, Kissinger knows everyone's secrets and where their skeletons are buried, so he will never be held accountable for his myriad crimes. He will die and be feted with a glorious funeral for a great Nazi American and elder statesman, yadda, yadda. And everyone high and low who has ever known him will breath a great sigh of relief that this rat-fucker is finally DEAD and gone.

      Until then, he continues to be an ossified friend and mentor to more "great and good" gov't and international characters than you can hit with a swung cat (No offense intended Shop Cat). So, Clinton is not alone in her association with Henry, or innocent of his slimy affect. But, that is the world we live in.

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  60. Fear. The whole thing comes down to fear. Fear of "the others" having even a hint of what whites have enjoyed for centuries.

    We are living in a time of moderate social change where the internet and social media has allowed formerly disparate and disparaged groups to become not only more visible, but more in contact with everyday white Americans.

    And white Americans have responded in typical fashion – fear, violence, demagoguery, and paranoia, coupled with a profound longing for that mythical “better time” when those peopleTM knew their place.

    Thus, like every dominant group in history, instead of seeing who is really responsible for their plight, whites lash out at those dirty gays, women, blacks, Muslims, and Atheists who are destroying their country, all the while aligning themselves with the upper-classes who use poor whites as muscle to enrich themselves further.

    It’s as old as human history.

    Peace 
    Chris in S. Jersey

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    1. Very good point I'd missed.
      Those people are so much harder to overlook when they're on your web browser.

      Delete
  61. P.S.
    But that’s not what we talking about is it? --> I think that should be "we're talking about" since that's what you used in the next sentence.

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  62. You know I train a lot of animals, dogs, cats, horses, heck, I have trained a Guinea Pig. You know what every trainer fears? An animal that is afraid. An aggressive dog? Piece of cake, puff yourself up, stand tall, look them in the eye, they will back right down. One that can't understand what you want? Back off, try a different approach, they will figure it out. But one that is afraid? Trouble. Groomers call them fear biters. Unpredictable, no warning, just WHAM! You're bleeding. Horses, same. You want to be trampled? Crowd up on a frightened horse. What comes to mind when someone uses the term "cornered rat"? And TFP want to corner the whole world. No one would ever be safe ever again.

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    1. I've never worked with animals and I thank you for sharing this insight.
      Driving the world into 'cornered rat' state. What could possibly go wrong with that?

      Delete
  63. Last night at one point on MSNBC a segment of Trump's rally in SC featured a guy called up to the microphone from the audience. That guy emotionally declared [every talking point bloviated by The Donald] and said people like him were "angry" [again, about nebulous factually inaccurate claims about the state of the country].

    Then he declared he was for Donald Trump because The Donald "would turn Washington D.C. upside down!" like that was a good thing. Throwing out the baby with the bathwater is a good thing, too, if you're an idiot.

    Do any of these people think beyond their immediate ecstasy at hearing emotional code words and phrases? It's almost like they're experiencing orgasms at these rallies. And this is one instance where "both sides are doing it" (see: Bernie rallies).

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    1. In terms of Trump, like in the good old Roman days, it's all Bread and Circus (and Red Meat) He reads the crowds like the huckster and snake oil salesman he is. "I have the cure for all our ills, but don't ask what's in the bottle.... they don't want to to know. they don't care what's in the bottle..also.Trump has discovered the G spot of American politics:mindless fear and lack of crital thinking

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  64. How do you do it? Time after time, you reach into my little brain, pull out all my disconnected and nebulous thoughts, then present them in a clear, no nonsense essay. It blows me away every time.

    I remember when I was 5 or 6 overhearing a newscaster talking about the Russians being our enemies and something called the Cold War. I had no concept of mutually assured destruction, etc and hadn't started school with the bomb drills. All I wondered was "how can these people be my enemy when I don't even know them?" I imagined a little girl over in the Ural Mountains somewhere thinking I was her enemy because I was American. It seemed utterly ridiculous to me. Still does.

    If these countries are truly enemies, it is because we created them. We have subsidized the Chinese Army with all our cheap stuff made in China, we finance child labor in several countries, we talk to people named "Mike Smith" with heavy Indian accents for customer support while their governments insult us and we weaken ourselves daily with the paranoia and erosion of our civil rights in the name of national security. No military force, whatever size, is going to protect us from the rot that is occurring within our own borders. A huge military will do nothing to protect us from home grown terrorists, even if this military roams our streets to protect us from ourselves. We have the USSR, China and the Nazis as prime examples of what happens to a society when the military is used against its own people. Wait until an American citizen is waterboarded by his own government. What then?

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  65. I have given some thought lately about fear and the willingness to use fear to make us want more guns and more weapons. Fear by many of the supporters of a confusing dangerous world. But since fear is not a socially cool thing in our male culture, we disguise it as anger. Anger is a more "acceptable" emotion. Dig into a person's anger and you will scratch into a hidden or not so hidden fear. If nothing, the fear of the Other. He or she may goshamighty covet your hidden cache of acorns.

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    1. Exactly -- point well made. Fear is now the default position of many, many Americans thanks to Faux News and the rise of partisan polarization: we only look at and hear that which will confirm our prejudices. Facts, for the right-wing, are now "Liberal lies." How to counter that? That is the conundrum of our time. And if you want to know the future, it is just like today only amplified.

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  66. Before we allow the Republican hawks to bomb carpets in the Middle East how 'bout we pay for the last incursion of weapon inventory depletion. Better yet require a carpet bomb tax. Sell that to the voters, assholes.

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  67. I read a quote recently that said when JFK spoke in countries that were emerging from colonialism, his words did more to foment democracy than all the military crap that the CIA was doing (often at odds with stated US policy). So, all those GOP clowns will never understand what it means to be admired rather than feared.

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    1. You can't make someone respect you by force. Human Lesson 101. Not learned, apparently.

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  68. If I had my way, I would make StoneKettle a required reading in all tertiary institution...

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  69. I haven't thought very highly of any of the debates this election cycle either. I was far more impressed by the Black and Brown forum. Jim, did you see it? Do you have any commentary on it?

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  70. Awesome essay, as usual. Someone may have made this observation already. I would add one group of rebels to your list. A group that took on a military super power that ruled by might and fear. These terrorists, snipers, guerillas, and traitors later wrote the Constitution of the U.S.A.

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  71. Mr Wright, in response to Kathleen's comment that "Communist China *is* our enemy" you wrote "You didn't show your work. Why is Communist China our enemy. Be very specific."

    She did.

    What do you think? No comment upon her short lesson on China?

    I enjoy getting your blog posts sent to my inbox, they are enlightened reading, yet I sometimes get the sense that your comments page is filled with Stonekettle cheerleaders. That, I know, is not YOUR fault. Rather I would like to see more enlightened criticism and argument in these comments. {Sigh} Methinks I ask too much.

    Thanks again for sharing your comments with us.

    Fatih Topak (aka Johnny Hogue)

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Kathleen has demonstrated the US and China have significant ideological, social, and political differences.

      She has yet to convince me those things make China our enemy.

      Rival perhaps. Competitor. Maybe even partner. But I remain unconvinced China must be our enemy in the context outlined in my essay.

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    3. It would seem to me that the criteria that Kathleen presented to establish that CHina was an Enemy of the United States would then qualify the United States as enemies of just about any country in the world.

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    4. And don't forget the sting in this tale for China: in order to become the vast economic powerhouse that they have and are becoming, they have had to unleash the dragon of capitalism upon themselves. Which comes complete with a whole raft of ideas about individual liberty, of movement, thought and action, which are 180 degrees at odds with anything Mao would allow or had plans for. To rival the west they are having to become not just like the west, but in many ways of the west. Chinese billionaires, of whom there are a fair number, have more in common with American billionaires and German Billionaires and Japanese Billionaires and S. Korean Billionaires, etc etc than they have in common with the Chinese poor, now. Whatever the plan was 50 years ago, it ain't the plan now.

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    5. Capitalism can flourish under even the most ruthless of regimes. As long as the Chinese billionaires keep the money coming in, and as long as they do not criticise the government, they can make as much money as they want. You confuse Capitalism is not ideological, it is an entity unto itself. It is an "ism" a deity of sorts, devoid of the politics of oligarchs, potentates, Sultanates, Prime Ministers, or Presidents. (aka Johnny Hogue)

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    6. Of course Capitalism can flourish under the most ruthless of regimes. But I'm not confused, I'm talking about something you aren't addressing Mr Topak. I'm talking about the habits of mind allowing capitalism to flourish will inevitably, and indeed has already, create and nourish amongst the Chinese. If you are Chinese and rich where do you send your children to university for instance? Clearly not in China. You send them to the U.S., to the U.K., to Europe, to Canada. Do you think a bunch of kids who spend time allowed to act and speak, and think what they like, are going to somehow, when they get back to China, go back to being good little obediant automatons? It never happened in the past, to any group, why do you suppose it will happen to the Chinese? And powerful men with huge bank balances can't help, most of them, growing huge egos to match. They tend to think because they cornered a local market in, say, waste disposal, that their big ideas about how everyone else should live must be more important anyone else's thougths. Mao's thought, and the system he created with it, by crushing violence, was never a place for people to think about thinking for themselves. Capitalism is, and always has been, the opposite. I'm not suggesting that the kind of independent thought that it leads to is virtuous or moral, again that could be your confusion not mine, I'm just insisting, because all history tells us it is true, that the kind of repression of the self Mao's system depended upon won't survive, indeed has not survived, the blossoming of greed-based I've got mine Jack capitalism that China has so utterly embraced.

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  72. Jim, I talk to my friends who fled the USSR in the 80s. Every one of them is convinced that the USA is going down the exact same path and we're going to break into pieces the same way the USSR did. I sadly believe that they're on to something. This country is getting more unstable every day due to the division deliberately stoked by the Republican party and the 1%. A prime source of that division is not only created by the Republican propagandists in the media, it's also reenforced by the Religious Right every second. Turn on the Jesus TV channels and they all denounce Obama and Hillary 24/7. Go to a church on Sunday and the preacher or priest recite the latest Republican Party talking points. And those talking points incite hatred of the black man in the White House who is coming to take your guns.

    This country is finished. We're not going to get to 250 years. We'll break into a dozen pieces that hate each other. Maybe Trudeau will pick up a couple pieces and let them join with Canada while other places like the Deep South become a third world hellhole.

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    Replies
    1. This country survived a civil war, the Great Depression, and the 1960s. The current situation doesn't come close to any of those.

      Delete
    2. We do have the Internet now--a mixed blessing.

      Delete
    3. Jim, most of the political and cultural events you write about give me pause to think about the United States I left in the year 2000 and what is seems to have become now. It may survive as a nation, but in what form? You have warned us about the Patriot Act, the Fear and Loathing of the American public, I read about the 1% against the rest of us and the gap widening as never before. I read about Black vs White vs Brown people on the streets, gun deaths by the thousands, crazies declaring war aginst the government. I see massive xenophobia against immigrants and especially Muslim immigrants and I see a great "Crusade" started by Dubya Bush and now in full swing against Muslims everywhere. Most Americans do not have a clue about the diversity amongst the Muslim faith just as most of the Muslims I know paint an equally broad brush on Christians. It seems the Constitution is in political tatters. Thanks. (aka Johnny Hogue)

      Delete
  73. Great article.
    Your question: When did the unabashed willingness to engage in the indiscriminate obliteration of entire populations, when did the enthusiastic willingness to torture our enemies, when did those things become traits anybody liberal or conservative would want in an American president?

    When did genocide and torture become things we cheered as a nation?

    My answer: When Americans wiped out damn near a whole race of people to take their land - Native Americans.

    When Americas killed millions of people during the Transatlantic Slave Trade. When thousands were tortured, killed or died from neglect once on these shores.

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  74. I always enjoy your articles, but this one is even better than most.

    The US spends as much on the military as the next eight countries combined. The most successful attack on American soil was carried out with box cutters, and now ISIS has shown they can make the entire US dance like puppets on strings just by occasionally convincing some whack job to grab a gun and shoot a few people. All that takes is a computer account and an internet connection - from anywhere on Earth.

    Clearly, budgets are not the problem, and all our shiny new battleships, subs, and fighter planes are about as useful as tits on a boar.

    If we try bomb indiscriminately bomb "them", we'll kill enough "non them", that "they" will continue to grow, eventually including even non-Muslims.

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  75. Fan-effing-tastique, sir.
    Like the teacher/mentor who gets the delinquent into college!
    Unfortunately the bullies have become natural disasters like tsunami and quakes.
    Thankyou

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  76. "But, have you ever noticed they're damned short on details?"

    YES!!! This! Right here! This is my problem with the GOP candidates of the moment. Damned short on details!

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    1. Oak Spring, I'd hate to think that "details" are your only quibble with the current GOP candidates.

      Chris

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  77. It's that point where you become the most feared bastard in the world that Cesar crosses the Rubicon with his legion. Just mentioning.

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  78. "Now, you tell me: what does that nation look like?"

    It would look like an Abrahamic Nation, silly.

    Why do I say this? It is because we tell stories to each other, we view the world as stories, as narratives, as lists of things that we perceive and in an order. We convey morals and the knowledge of consequence through these stories we tell each other.

    When the vast majority of our nation (and many billions of the world) learn morality and vengence and unquestioned fear as an appropriate response to irrational threat, which is the lesson of the Old Testament, then this morality is how they view the world.

    To combat this, we need to spend CENTURIES spinning new stories to tell our children and, to a lesser degree, those around us. Secular stories, humanist morality plays, that omit devine retribution/genocide from the list of consequences. No more floods and no more passovers. Please.

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    1. In some mythologies, there appears to have been a dude who tried those newfangled stories. He called them parables, he talked about loving enemies, turning cheeks, carrying cloaks an extra mile. He laid out a set of guidelines that included blessings for peace-makers, the poor in spirit, the persecuted. The powers of the time killed him, and the next generation added a codicil to his stories that said "believe these stories or we'll kill you". Sigh.

      Delete
    2. Actually the codicil that was added in later centuries was not "believe or we will kill you", it was more subtle than that. It was much more along the lines of "Act like you believe, and give us your money, and we will act like we believe you believe."

      Delete
  79. Which is worse: not being feared or being laughed at?

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    Replies
    1. Trump knows both -- but can't let himself acknowledge the first, thus his pathological need to win.

      Delete
  80. Will.

    Yes. They have the will, or think they have. But there's something more they need. It's not much, really. They want the....triumph they think should go with it.
    They gave Caesar one, didn't they?

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  81. You write: "Imagine a nation so unassailable, so powerful, so utterly ruthless, so utterly without sympathy or humanity, so willing to use force, willing to carpet bomb entire populations out of existence, willing to torture its enemies, willing to sacrifice its sons and daughters and its treasure, willing to forgo education and healthcare and even eating, to do anything and everything to preserve its security. And to do so to such a degree that no enemy would ever dare to even think about resisting it.

    Now, you tell me: what does that nation look like?"

    I answer, "it looks like a bunch of hungry, raging cavemen thumping their chests and cursing the sky full of unknown terrors". And no babies are being born, so there aren't many of the troglodytes left. End of story.

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    Replies
    1. ...it looks just like the enemy Taliban/ISIS/Etc. these goobers are trying to annihilate.

      Delete
  82. I have long thought the war-mongers were preparing the military to fight a civil war against the population of the US, under the assumption that at some point the people who own, well, just about everything will decide that the other 99.999% of the population were going to turn on them, and must be put down hard. Iraq was practice, how can a well-armed society (and if Iraq wasn't well-armed when we invaded, they certainly were by the time we declared victory and withdrew) be destabilized and rendered compliant to a relatively small group via use of force multipliers (drones, surveillance, long-range assassination, etc.) Fantasy, I know, as it is unlikely the entire military would accept such orders, but it seems like something the out-of-touch billionaire might try.

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  83. There's a piece in the 2/9 Washington Post about the relative amounts spent on the military by the US alone, the next 14 countries with the highest military spending put together (mostly our allies), and the rest of the world put together. The other top 14/15 put together outspend us by a small margin, but the US by itself accounts for 37.8% of the world's military budget. And 5% of the world's population to pay for it all. I ask with some genuine sympathy, or at least pity: what *would* it take for US conservatives to feel safe, if this doesn't do it?

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  84. To me if the USA turns out to become as you have described ,it will be the end of your time as a world power.The decline into real fear started with Reagan and the Star Wars concept and what I see today is the end result.
    I hope there is enough sane people to not allow it to happen at the election to come. Also I hope your blog goes viral to me your the only person that does not see through rose coloured glasses.

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  85. There you go again, bringing logic and reason and experience and common sense to a setting and a subject that is all about paranoia, emotionalism, and pandering to an audience. Republican candidates, and their audiences, are waaaaaay over there in the fields of fantasy, as far from reality as they can get, because reality doesn't accommodate their "meanest son-of-a-bitch in the valley" dreams of domination. They can't bring them about, even if one of them wins the current election, but they can wreck the country and a fair chunk of the world trying. The rest of us need to make sure they don't win, by taking the democratic process seriously and getting out the vote.

    That Other Jean

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  86. The US already spends more on its military than the next seven highest-spending nations combined. in 2014, US military spending hit $610,000,000,000. That year, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, the UK and Germany spent a total of $601,000,000,000.

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  87. You're exactly right. I think we're too close to the nation they envision now and I can only be grateful we've had the president we've had the past seven years or I fear it would have been much worse.

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  88. i forget the source but the story goes something like this: a young soldier is taking his first chopper ride through indian country between the coast and pleiku. he's looking out the door as they pass over the canopy. he sees a little ant in black pajamas break into the open and shoot an arrow from his bow at them. he laughs, "look at that, will you, these stone age fools think they can bring down a huey with a bow and arrow...what makes them think they can defeat the united states army?" the veteran crew chief, leaning over his shoulder, counters his arrogant disdain, "what makes you think you will ever defeat an enemy willing to take on your huey with a bow and arrow?"

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  89. I clicked the LIKE Button, somewhere. Many thanks to the MBRU and Infidel linking this for us to read.

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  90. I fear the 51% of Americans who have fallen in love with the DARK SIDE. And I weep for our children.
    HRH Sofya EQ

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  91. "What is it that we’re lacking? Do we not have enough nuclear bombs? Not enough drones? Not enough poison gas?"

    I'm sure you already know (maybe you want to see how many of us know?) but poison gas would be illegal and one of those chemical WMDs that we invaded Iraq because they were accused of having. (And once did - with Saddam Hussein famously using against the Kurds. It might even have been what they eventually executed him for.)

    So, yeah, we better not have *any* poison gas let alone enough!

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    1. But under TFP we would. BC the rules don't apply to them. They believe in fear, by any means necessary.

      Delete
  92. NB. Possible typo : "You can’t build a national strategy, you can’t write an OPLAN, you can’t build a federal budget, you can’t design the weapons and more specifically the doctrine to use them effectively, without measurable objectives.

    Capitalisation and O-plan or just plan? Or is that OPLAN an actual something I'm unaware of, which could be the case?

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    1. Okay. Seems probable I was wrong an an OPLAN is a thing although I'm still not entirely sure what it means. Mea culpa.

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    2. Operational Plan, I believe.

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  93. "It’s about will. Remember?

    Imagine such a nation."

    I can. 1930's Germany.

    And, it's about will....as in "Triumph of the Will"

    :(

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  94. Thank you for this

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  95. Damn, I'm literally sitting here crying at my desk that we have become this.

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  96. You've pulled this introverted farmer to say, 'Hear! Hear!', to your rallying post. Thank you. The time to act is certainly now.

    ReplyDelete

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