Water carrying

Kevin Drum’s back must be strained from all the heavy-lifting. To say that Benghazi is not, or is, a scandal is absurd. You can’t say anything about it b/c we know next to nothing about what happened, and even less about why. Aside: I’m 32, a bit older than the millennials but I’m single and live abroad so I hang out with a few of them on occasion. They are, as we’ve repeatedly been told, the most connected generation evaaar. They LIVE online! Nevertheless, when I’ve been out with said generation and some guy or gal brings up the latest viral video/vine/meme/whatever, it’s about 80/20 those who haven’t seen/heard it to those who have. Our mindspace is much, much less connected by Twitter and the internet than Silicon Valley and the Tom Friedmans would have you believe. Back to Libya. Less than 15% have regular access to the internet. The idea that some viral youtube film trailer inspired the torching of the Benghazi diplomatic mission is perhaps the stupidest official statement ever believed. The entire story is laden with bullshit. I dare say more ludicrous than Saddam’s desire to attack America from his mobile weapons labs.

Drum tells us that there are “10 things” we should know about the Benghazi event. Not surprisingly, the following doesn’t make his list. The FBI spent the summer of 2012 investigating the Petraeus affair. Much ado. Then on October 27, Paula Broadwell, the woman (formerly) fucking the director of the CIA, let it slip “that the CIA annex at the Benghazi consulate came under assault on Sept. 11 because it had earlier ‘taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner and they think the attack on the consulate was an effort to try to get these prisoners back. It’s still being vetted.” The next day, phone call to Rep. Cantor about the affair and within 10 days, Petraeus is gone. Now, maybe that’s coincidence. Regardless, it is still relevant information. And this tidbit has been almost completely disappeared by the media when discussing Benghazi. 

 

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Today, we are all neocons

salam

Computer-generated humanoid, Reihan Salam, pissed off alot of people two weeks ago when he renewed his vows with neoconservativism. I’m not sure why. His piece was so historically inaccurate, self-serving, and simplistic that it resembled an abbreviated version of some Obama speech that the president might deliver to a packed hall of doe-eyed Eurotrash. They’re both best, ignored.

There were, however, a couple points that made it worth reading. One, Salam’s tortured logic which turns the Nixon/Kissinger-Benghali massacre into justification for more US state interference based on the fact that the US, though it supported the massacre of hundreds of thousands, could have done the opposite of what it did. Ponder for a moment the insanity of a country that offers a mind this fractured regular column space and TV time on ‘expert panels.’

Two, Salam defined neoconservatism as principally based on the idea that “the U.S. should maintain an overwhelming military edge over all potential rivals, and that we as a country ought to be willing to use our military power in defense of our ideals as well as our interests narrowly defined?” I like this. Defining it so, he plants his much derided neocon banner firmly on top of the US capitol. Many predictably objected to this definition as overly broad. According to the doctrine of a priori American political distinctions, if your category can include both Bush and Obama, it is meaningless. “Like, c’mon; one of them enjoys illegally invading countries and murdering people, the other likes to paint! Oh, shit.” Face it demlibs, there are few definitions of neoconservative which couldn’t include Obama.

Salam also includes the usual American dogma; “American strength is the linchpin of a peaceful, economically integrating world.” The linchpin of peace? I haven’t a clue how this delusion takes hold. America is the most violent country on the planet and has been for some time (probably since it’s founding). How many countries did North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria, and Libya (the ‘evil’ countries) invade in the last decade? Zero, combined. How many did the US? 4? 6? 10? The US has dropped so many bombs on so many different countries that I’ve lost count. 

 

 

 

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For your amusement

Was linked to this WaPo article reading Sartwells latest. From the article on the mass sentencing of 683 people to death in Egypt;

“The Obama administration quickly condemned the ruling, saying that it defied ‘even the most basic standards of international justice…’ Whitehouse spokesperson continued, ‘Egyptian leaders must take a stand against this illogical action and dangerous precedent, recognizing that the repression of peaceful dissent will fuel the instability and radicalization that Egypt says it wishes to prevent.’

[Final paragraph of the article] ‘Last week, the Obama administration said it would deliver 10 Apache helicopters to Egypt, marking a partial resumption of Washington’s annual $1.3 billion in military aid, which was suspended after last summer’s coup.”

It’s really the hallowed proceduralism of the courtroom that bothers Washington. Raining hellfire missiles down on people from the safety of a helicopter cockpit is ok (wink.wink), but if you’re going to break out the blackrobes and stenographer, there are standards of decency to adhere to.

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A glimmer of hope.

Tax issue finally resolved. The tar heel state, while living up to its nickname, came after me in the fall of last year for back taxes–from 2007. They mistook capital losses for gains. Easy enough mistake I suppose. I wonder how many people pay the money though rather than deal with digging through old records. Fortunately, I have time.

Unlike most, I took the initial notice of unpaid taxes cheerily. The marginal revenue curve for that kinda tax-delinquent dumpster diving must be pretty flat while the cost curve is well, not. I have no doubt the states can keep hounding the increasingly broke for quite some time, but really, if they’re coming after me for a couple hundred bucks from 6 years ago, the writing’s on the wall, isn’t it?

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Long time no thoughts.

Wow, six months no posts. Apologies to the few who regularly checked in. I’ve been MIA because I went back to school and spent the last six months trolling classmates with my armchair radicalism, and because the folks over there —> “blogs I follow” are so good, it’s often discouraging. READ THEM! Hopefully I’ll be more regular with the posts. Animal cruelty is something I’ve been wanting to get to, and somewhat related, the death of the Pacific.

A few things I learned from being back in school (other than that it’s still depressing). First, for the liberal set, there is no institution beyond repair. And most institutions can be fixed by fixing this one little keystone institution. And what is the all-important institution? C’mon, you already know what it is: Raise a child in the way he should go and blah, blah, blah. Everything can be fixed by changing how we indoctrinate the kids (in school). I suppose there is some truth to this, but there’s one teeny little problem. If you’re on the left, most of the country disagrees with you. If you’re on the radical left, everyone in the country disagrees with you.

Second, the technotopians are absolutely mad all the way down to the marrow. For them, there is no problem that can’t be fixed through social networking, solar fracking, and scientific consensus. When animal treatment came up for discussion, one fellow classmate brushed it aside saying that it’s no longer really an issue, we can almost cosign to the past, since we are on the brink of ‘growing’ all the meat we need. Uh, hold on while I grab my TI-81… The average slaughterhouse kills 250 cows an hour. Each cow can be ground into 1200 hamburger patties. It took a couple white-coats two years and $300,000 to make two burgers in a lab. 250 cows x 1200 patties x 12hours/day x X number of slaughterhouses = we’re gonna need a fuckton more petri-dishes. I guess we’ve all got our blindspots.

Third, if you want to see a liberal’s head explode tell them you don’t think vaccinations should be mandatory. No topic, no matter how controversial, turned faces redder than this one. Some were offended because they had kids, others because of SCIENCE! Every study ever done everywhere has concluded that they are safe! Goddammit!!! As I have no kids, I have no skin in the game and therefore my principled stance is privileged through and through but I don’t give a shit. If you are unable to prevent some CDC mandate from injecting your child with MMR and a side of autism (Just kidding! Christ, you guys are so sensitive), you have no freedom whatsoever.

Fourth, “They” Schools. Another classmate was this pleasant, intelligent, well-meaning teacher who said that most of the problems in American public education could be solved with simple, creative solutions. For example, in the overcrowded high-school at which she taught, they used to have a problem with fighting in between classes. They tried everything but nothing worked. Finally, one day some sadist administrator suggested no talking in between classes. Well, fights between students fell dramatically she told us enthusiastically after implementing a “no talking in the halls” policy. I laughingly suggested that shackles would work too. She smiled and said, “yeah, it sounds a little extreme, but…it worked.”

I’m taking a course in Media Literacy if you’ve been asking yourself, “what fucking class is this nut taking?” Trying to get a masters so I can get more vacation and better toss around words like scaffolding strategies, 21st century competencies, and preferred pedagogical approaches. Anyway, things I want to address personally, be on the lookout for my own blindspots and reexamine justifications for things that I know ain’t right, but that work.

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Random, frustrated thoughts concerning Michael Hastings

As leaks from “friends of the family” continued to muddy the waters surrounding the late reporters death, I’ve been waiting to hear some official statement from the family. This latest sit-down with Elise Jordan was, to say the least, disappointing. 

The only thing learned from the Piers Morgan interview is that the ground rules for the interview were explicitly laid out and he was so constrained by the limitations he couldn’t even fill an 8 minute segment. I doubt he was too bothered by it though. Six minutes into the interview, he gets to completely phone it in, “You a Yankees fan?” and, naturally following up with, “what would Michael have thought of [the Alex Rodriguez controversy]?” 

The strangeness of the interview only increases in light of the coroner’s report which was released yesterday. The timing of the interview suggests that the family sought to get out in front of the report to make sure to put as forgiving a light on the drug use as possible. She immediately took the NY Times to task for Hastings’ obit so they are understandably concerned about Hastings’ legacy. But she refuses to mention the drug use at all. No homage to a great, but flawed man who fell to the grip of addiction? The rumors of her vow to “take down whoever did this” and her subsequent reversal where she now believes it all an accident, and that the body was cremated against the wishes of the family rumor are all, apparently, off limits as well. Christ, he can’t even ask if Hastings had a heavy foot? Of course, all of this adds up to, well, nothing. She is certainly entitled to say at little or as much as she pleases. It’s strange though, as is life.

Many media outlets have been playing up the drug angle. The Young Turks did an excellent segment bashing those irresponsible parties yesterday to which I have only one thing to add. If you read the toxicology report, he tested positive for trace amounts of Amphetamines using a GC/MS (gas chromatography/mass spectrometer) and negative for Methamphetamine using ELISA, the former test being much more sensitive than the latter. So had Hastings been alive when they did the tests, he could have passed a routine piss test for Methamphetamine. Put that on your tinfoil and torch it.

One last thing, in defense of Ms. Jordan. Many commented on youtube that she seemed to be “acting” and that her behavior was very strange during the interview. Personally I didn’t find her behavior all that off. And I think the reason for that may be that we’re from roughly the same region, the South (as anyone who listened to her speak could quickly pick up on). Her behavior and disposition wasn’t all that abnormal for women of Mississippi, especially the young well-heeled types. Though I can see how her rather saccharine disposition and manner of speaking comes across as feigned, it is much more genuine than it might appear if you’re not accustomed to it.

 

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2014

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From the Atlantic.

They don’t need pity. Take the Unicef backpacks, sympathy, old T-shirts, and “good intentions” and just leave. They need nothing so much as to be left the fuck alone. Go. Now. Were America a decent country, it would have never gone to Afghanistan. If even a single cell of grace, dignity, or compassion coursed through the veins of the American empire and the people who operate it, they would have left years ago. What is the goal? No one even pretends to know or bothers to lie anymore. Absent the cover that purpose and intention often provide, the American state is revealed. It exists to take, humiliate, and destroy.

“But without the State…” Stop. I don’t care about the imaginary hordes of vandals and thieves gallivanting back and forth across the trembling recesses of your mind. Paint me a picture where the protections provided by the State are greater than the horrors that it inflicts. I simply can’t imagine it. How many gay marriages atone for a limbless child? What’s the swap on white phosphorus seared children to domestic abuse prosecutions? Is the quick ratio of U.S. social services to 1,000,000 orphaned Afghan kids greater than 1.0? Give me your performance metrics, show me your tables and scales.

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Things I was wrong about.

1. In my last post I implied that the latest NSA leaks were perhaps an intentional leak by the Obama administration designed for the dual purpose of harassing/prosecuting Glenn Greenwald and to continue entrenching a permanent surveillance state through the gradual admission of wrongdoing and/or illegality (an authoritarian creep which the public seems pretty accepting of). Mr. Snowden’s personal reveal and subsequent interviews clearly disprove my conjecture. Let me add, I’m quite in awe of this man. Even the mere contemplation of the depth of his sacrifice is overwhelming. It’s a principled stance the likes of which Jeffrey Toobin and his ilk, literally, can’t even imagine.*

2. I stated that the NSA would be recording and storing every digital footprint found anywhere. Though their capabilities are staggering, they appear still quite far from that feat.

3. I kinda opened with an “everybody already knows” line that is usually intended to mislead and soften the impact of a breaking story. That was not my intent but was still dumb on my part. The importance of the confirmation of these programs (metadata, PRISM, and backdoor access to the world’s largest tech companies’ servers) is probably impossible to overstate.

*Fun fact: Toobin’s wife used to be a Verizon exec.
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Drip, drip, drip…

Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications.-James Bamford

So a story broke this past week confirming everything reported in a story from the spring of 2012. Nothing in Greenwald’s NSA article is news to anyone who had read Bamford’s incredible piece in Wired. The Utah Data Center will be up-and-humming sometime this fall. I don’t think then that it’s much of a coincidence the Verizon story came out this summer, nor to whom it was leaked. They didn’t really mind him piddling around at Salon, but I’m guessing the Guardian promotion was a step or three too far.*

Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.-Greenwald

The “contents of…conversation[s]” aren’t covered by the court orders, but don’t worry, they are listening to your calls and reading your chats and emails, despite what this guy says. The Utah Data Center will have the capacity to store everything. You think they’re spending $2 billion dollars out in the Utah desert to store a copy of your phone bill? No. All your Googling, skyping, chatting, phone calls, texting, sexting, credit card purchases, ATM withdrawals and meal-time status updates along with everything else will be kept there. Some speculate that so much information will drown the authorities and therefore they won’t be able to sift through it all let alone actually thwart any terror attacks. Well, of course that’s true, but all those yottabytes of information will prove incredibly useful for many other things. Not least of which is prosecuting individuals in the court of public opinion after the government has already murdered them.

Beyond on all that though, the elected in Washington continue doing these horrible things because they can and it’s profitable on a scale your middle-class mind can’t even begin to comprehend. It’s even easy. Did you see the mess over healthcare? Bothersome. How can you move money to certain groups with less hassle? They spend trillions in ways that cannot be questioned and on threats that have a probability of occurring at near zero. The whole security state apparatus then is the apotheosis of American work-life. It’s our finest creation to date. In the absence of having anything productive to do, it’s an entire industry pretending to be busy. And sadly, the only metrics they have to impress their boss at the quarterly meetings are lives invaded or destroyed.

*I’m half-joking here. I think it’s as probable that it was purposefully leaked to Greenwald so they could legally harass him as it is that some well-intentioned soul leaked the information thinking that the gov had gone too far.
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Gas stations of the future.

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Courtesy of CNN.

This is not great for the environment and all, but you know what’s a touch more efficient than a chain of supercharging stations? High-speed fucking rail. There are three corridors right there that are perfect for it. The richest country ever and all of its coin squandered on endless miles of pavement, killing foreigners, and keeping old people alive. America is hopeless.

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