Monday, October 31, 2011

Dear America

“Winning overseas means re-election for Obama in 2012 so he can finish bankrupting the country while destroying the Constitution. But apart from the president’s claque, no one else is seeing Afghanistan quite that way, it appears, and there might even be a longing in the country for a president who will speak frankly about how badly the war is going as a prelude to getting out of the quagmire. Will Obama be able to hold on with the plausible fiction that he is presenting, or will enough of the media and public finally see through the game that is being played and vote him out of office? Or will he only be able to survive because the Republican candidate, whoever that might be, is perceived as being even more dangerous than he is? That is the true dilemma of American politics: Bad is invariably succeeded by worse in a dizzying line-up of the ruthlessly ambitious but mentally and morally challenged who seek the highest office in the land.”

I write as a Canadian citizen, one of your northern neighbors (“neighbors” spelled incorrectly), an inhabitant of a country that shares with you the world’s previously “longest undefended border.”

That was then. This is now. Bring on the drones.

I, an ordinary Canadian citizen of grumpy disposition and possibly malignant tendency to read, have long been critical of American foreign policy and vented spleen on multiple occasions, some - like Giraldi - on the web site, a bastion of libertarianism, although I myself am a prairie populist who thinks that universal health care is a no-brainer. My view of the current Canadian government is of a proto-fascist police state that mirrors the American drift to the same. As George Carlin said, there’s no need for a new Iraqi constitution because the USA has one it isn’t using.

However trenchant my criticism, there are no criticisms of American foreign policy more excoriating than those of Americans, like those of Philip Giraldi. He and others like him give me hope.

Meanwhile back at the United Nations Security Council, the current endgame of “responsibility to protect” is being played out – Gareth Evans arguing as might be expected that the whole thing was a wild success and a blueprint for UN involvement in the future, as in fact Michael Ignatieff has argued with considerable eloquence.

As my kids would say, “Yeahno.”

First of all, we all need to know what actually happened in Libya, an accounting of civilian deaths and injured caused by the sclerotic autocratic Gaddafhi/Kadafi/Quaddafi whatnot regime, as opposed to NATO. This wasn’t a UN operation; it was an improvised NATO operation. Anyway, we need a straightforward accounting in order to honestly assess the whole R2P thing, the control experiment unfortunately not being possible, despite the enthusiasm of Evans, Ignatieff, and others who have a stake in proving themselves correct.

Then, there is the grillion dollar involvement in Afghanistan. There’s a lot of windy verbiage about the whole “Occupy Wall Street” thing, from which is missing the obvious conclusion that the USA has its own horrendous welfare state which is the military. It contributes nothing to the American economy except as Michael Herr memorably described it, “noise, waste, and pain,” and accounts for the American national deficit as well as the destruction of any American example for “leadership” in the civilized world.

You know, it’s not clear why the USA regards “leadership,” particularly its own, as its unique role in the world, the whole “leader of the free world” fantasy being exactly that. The American delusion that it is destined to lead the world into a better life – OK, “Manifest Destiny” – clearly sucks, as was obvious in 1873, when Treaty 3 was signed at Northwest Angle, Lake of the Woods, in large part to forestall the treatment of native populations like the treacherous abrogation of the Fort Laramie Treaty.

So here’s a message to America from one of your best friends: wake up. You can agitate for smaller government and greater individual responsibility, and against the “redistribution of wealth,” but somebody has to look after the chronic schizophrenics and the traumatized people who have been fighting self-evidently stupid, aimless wars in Asia, and the combination of poverty, humiliation, impotence, and testosterone is a recipe for disaster, like the French Revolution.

The Occupy Wall Street people are painfully trying to reinvent the wheel and point this out to you. You’ve already invented the wheel, which is to say, The Constitution of the United States of America. Use it or lose it.

Use it. Please.

Make Wall Street a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Another of the world's greatest ruins

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mark Carney and Jamie Dimon

Why can't we get this on YouTube? What's with the private meeting? It's public policy and fabulous entertainment.

"He couldn't quite remember what the dreams were in fact, but they had seemed immensely important at the time. They had certainly not involved this huge towering office block he was now falling down the side of. All of that had come when some of the original team had started to settle down and get greedy, while he and others had stayed out in the field, researching and hitch hiking, and gradually becoming more and more isolated from the corporate nightmare the Guide had inexorably turned into, and the architectural monstrosity it had come to occupy. Where were the dreams in that? He thought of all the corporate lawyers who occupied half of the building, all the 'operatives' who occupied the lower levels, and all the sub-editors and their secretaries and their secretaries' lawyers and their secretaries' lawyers' secretaries, and worst of all the accountants and the marketing department."

Douglas Adams
Mostly Harmless

International affairs and the scientific method

Anne-Marie Slaughter, she of impeccable credentials (Oxford, Princeton, Harvard, McDonald's, ack!) has suggested a “thought experiment” – this is Einstein isn’t it? – in which there is no military intervention in Libya.

Her conclusion:

"Let us do a thought experiment. Imagine the UN did not vote to authorise the use of force in Libya in March. Nato did nothing; Colonel Muammer Gaddafi over-ran Benghazi; the US stood by; the Libyan opposition was reduced to sporadic uprisings, quickly crushed. The regimes in Yemen and Syria took note, and put down their own uprisings with greater vigour. The west let brutality and oppression triumph again in the Middle East.
"This is the scenario many wise heads were effectively arguing for with their strong stands against intervention to stop Col Gaddafi. Over the months those analysts have reminded us of their views, calling Libya a quagmire."
This isn’t an experiment, and Ms. Slaughter has no data, only speculation. There’s an important difference between speculation and data. In international affairs of course, it’s difficult to do a controlled experiment, as it is in geology. It is however, important to distinguish the difference.

Likewise, Michael Ignatieff has written an eloquent statement about Libya, conveniently ignoring the Tunisian experiment, the Egyptian experiment, and UN Security Council Resolution 1970.

My point is not that Slaughter and Ignatieff are wrong, but that they exist in their own self referencing universe, that they ignore inconvenient data, and in fact that this is the problem of people who have impeccable credentials but no actual experience in testing reality, the scientific method, and who rely on "expertise" based on words meaning something exclusively to themselves, like the Sophists.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The F-41

nth Generation Fighter

F-41 design specs:
  • single pilot
  • reliable aerodynamics
  • interoperability
  • cheap
  • unknown purpose
  • mostly harmless

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

John Paton Davies and Peter Van Buren

The State Department hates it when you tell the truth.

"the timidity still lived..."
Peter van Buren
We Meant Well

"Thus began the long ordeal of John Paton Davies and other China experts. Starting in 1948 and continuing through 1954, he underwent nine security investigations. Again and again he was cleared, but the experience itself was debilitating and destructive, poisonous, always leaving doubts. Besides newspaper charges, guilt by association, the failure of friends to stand by, even the very questioning seemed to imply his guilt. (Typically, U.S. News and World Report, December 1953: 'The Strange Case of John Paton Davies. Investigated since 1945, He's Still a Diplomat'....
[strangely, not available on the web]

"Finally, in mid-1968, fourteen years after he had been fired, John Davies was cleared. He was cleared in the last months of the Johnson Administration, when it was too late and all the damage both to a man and to a policy had been done. But even then the State Department did not have the courage to admit that it had corrected an old injustice. Instead of issuing an honest and candid statement, it leaked the news of the reinstatement to a reporter for the New York Times; the timidity still lived."

David Halberstam
The Best and The Brightest

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Wall Street's Nightmare

But really, there is nothing to fear!

In praise of Don Cherry...

"Alain Rolland's decision to issue a red card was absolutely correct in law and in keeping with the clear instructions that match officials have received in recent years regarding dangerous tackling," said O'Brien. "Alain is a highly experienced referee and had a clear view of the incident, which enabled him to make an accurate and instant decision. Player welfare is paramount and unions, teams and match officials are all aware of the responsibility to eradicate dangerous play. This message was reiterated as recently as the week before Rugby World Cup 2011 kicked off, when we hosted briefings at a workshop with match officials and coaches."

Rugby World Cup 2011: IRB chief backs Alain Rolland on Wales red card
The Guardian, October 16, 2011 the bully pulpit.

Cherry is a theatrical genius, no way around it. He even appeared onstage at Stratford. Also, the NHL is show business, no way around that either, it's not a Greater Work in the Public Interest. In that capacity, as they say in show business, Cherry "puts bums on seats," which is more than you can say for Gary Bettman and the other white, homogenized Mom's Pie guys fronting for the NHL.

On the other hand, hockey is a fabulous game without fighting, as was obvious during the Olympics, and is an excellent spectator sport without the gratuitous violence of of the NHL at its most cheesy. If the Rugby World Cup - a very brutal contact sport - can get by without fighting, so can hockey. Rugby is so violent that fighting seems ludicrous: the violence is controlled by accepted rules, by which the players agree to be governed, and the rules are so frightening that only the skilled, strong, and courageous survive. In this context, fighting is just stupid, beneath contempt almost.

The problem with Cherry is he doesn't have a worthy opponent. I'm arguing for a confrontation between Shanahan and Cherry on Hockey Night in Canada. That'll put bums on seats.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tsar Power

The new American Dream:
aspirational feudal aristocracy and well-deserved serfdom

Valentin Serov, The Coronation of Nicholas II of Russia

"Republican presidential contender Herman Cain amplified his criticism Sunday of the growing Occupy Wall Street movement, calling the protesters 'jealous’ Americans who 'play the victim card' and want to 'take somebody else’s Cadillac."

Herman Cain steps up attacks on Occupy Wall Street protests
Los Angeles Times, October 9, 2011

"These men, largely private, were functioning on a level different from the foreign policy of the United States, and years later when New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan read through the entire documentary history of the war, that history known as the Pentagon Papers, he would come away with one impression above all, which was that the government of the United States was not what he had thought it was; it was as if there were an inner U.S. government, what he called 'a centralized state, far more powerful than anything else, for whom the enemy is not simply the Communists but everything else, its own press, its own judiciary, its own Congress, foreign and friendly governments - all these are potentially antagonistic. It had survived and perpetuated itself,' Sheehan continued, 'often using the issue of anti-Communism as a weapon against the other branches of government and the press, and finally, it does not function necessarily for the benefit of the Republic but rather for its own ends, its own perpetuation; it has its own codes which are quite different from public codes. Secrecy was a way of protecting itself, not so much from threats by foreign governments but from detection from its own population on charges of its own competence and wisdom.' Each succeeding Administration, Sheehan noted, was careful, once in office, not to expose the weaknesses of its predecessor. After all, essentially the same people were running the governments, they had continuity to each other, and each succeeding Administration found itself faced with virtually the same enemies. Thus the national security apparatus kept its continuity, and every outgoing President tended to rally to the side of the incumbent President.

"Out of this of course came a willingness to use covert operations; it was a necessity of the times, to match the Communists, and what your own population and your own Congress did not know was not particularly important; it was almost better if they did not know..."

David Halberstam
The Best and The Brightest

Thursday, October 13, 2011

UN Security Council Resolution 2011

How poetic. Resolution 2011 in 2011. Too bad it's a farce. It was passed unanimously, 15-0, which means that China, Russia, India, and Brazil voted for it. Are they completely cynical? Are they playing realpolitik and watching as the USA circles the drain of its own delusion?

Having read the UNAMA report on torture in Afghanistan, it's hard to believe the Security Council "authorized" the continuation of the ISAF and OEF "mission" in Afghanistan, since that mission has explicity been violating international humanitarian law by transferring prisoners to Afghan "authorities" who have neither the need not the interest in adhering to the the Third Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949, which is the standard of care established by the Secretary-General of the United Nations on August 12, 1999, 50 years after the Geneva Conventions were signed, it's hard to believe it's a coincidence.

What do we do then the UN Security Council is complicit in war crimes?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Black Money

"Senator J. William Fulbright and Undersecretary of State Chester Bowles, public men with a sense of public responsibility, were objecting to a clandestine operation organized by private men who seemed to be responsible to no one but their own organizations, with even that responsibility so secret that is was difficult to define whether it existed."

David Halberstam
The Best and The Brightest

I think the Nobel Prize for Economics should be cancelled until further notice.

Friday, October 7, 2011

House of Commons Night in Neuro ICU

Welcome back to a new season of House of Commons Night in Canada. I'm Ron Maclean here with Don Cherry, and Grapes, it looks like you waved a lot of red flags at a lot of bulls on the whole fighting and head shots issue. You're getting attacked from all directions.

It's my job: Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition in the game o' hockey. But I want to leave that alone for a while...

Good idea, maybe it'll be less radioactive...

...and talk about what's going on in Parliament that's also raising my blood pressure.

What would that be? The season's only started there as well.

Yeah, I think Shanahan should be over at the Public Accounts Committee, banging a few heads together there, rather than trying to turn hockey into ping-pong.

Not a good choice of words perhaps, but I don't think Brendan Shanahan has any jurisdiction outside the NHL. What's got up your nose this time?

The diving! It's just wrong! Here's a time I'm gonna say "puke" and not regret it. At the Public Accounts Committee meeting on Friday, the Conservative majority got away with making the meeting secret, and then when it was secret deciding not to study stuff the Auditor-General dug up like helicopter expense boondoggles, the fired integrity commissioner's half million bucks in hush money, and parliament renovation financial disasters, for which we're all paying of course.

Why is this "diving?"

Because it's sneaky! The Public Accounts Committee is Parliament supervising public accounts. It's not the Private Accounts Committee, although I'd pay money to see that one. This is just a blatant attempt to sneak around the rules! They're gonna have the meeting off-camera because of national security or something? Give me a break! They've got something to hide.

I think it's in camera....

Don't confuse me with foreign languages, you know I don't speak any...

We know you don't speak French....

Kids, this is the kind of sneaky stuff we don't want in the game of parliamentary democracy, pretending to play by the rules and then sucker punching somebody... If you're gonna play the game, play it with honour.

That's what Shanahan's doing, isn't it? He's letting everybody see the videos of the decisions he's making...

Yeak, OK. And by the way, I think Brendan Shanahan's a great guy, a real pro, I just happen to think he's marching to the wrong piper paying his tune, but he should take his video cameras into the off-camera sessions at the Public Accounts Committee and let everybody see how the Conservatives are really playing the game...


It's not like this is the first time. Harper took dives in 2008 and 2010, proroguing parliament to save his own ass....


You're gonna tell me I'm using language I'm gonna regret, aren't you?

I think the CBC might regret it...

The CBC should grow a pair! Sucking up to this government is not going to work! There's a long list of sneaky, weasel stuff this government has tried to pull off and nothing has changed in the new season except they've got a majority and will try to use it to gut the game of parliamentary democracy so Harper can pretend to be The Queen. The only thing Harper understands is The Code. The government thinks the rules of the game are for camouflage. This is why you need guys like Marty McSorley in Parliament, setting people straight!

I thought you wanted Shanahan in Parliament.

Shanahan and McSorley, it's a team sport.

I think we'd better leave it here, until we're back next time with the smoking-hot-under-the-collar Don Cherry on House of Commons Night in Canada.

You know, I hope the new Speaker is aggressive like Shanahan, send people a rock-hard message.

I thought you were mad at Shanahan.

I am. He's just playing the wrong game.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Avoiding Pol Pot in South Asia

Mathew Ingram, now at, was once at the Globe and Mail and pioneered, with the then Dominion Institute, an on line "Policy Wiki," a very interesting experiment that had a short, interesting life; I suspect it was ahead of its time. Readers were invited to comment, debate, or contribute to policy ideas, including so-called "Briefing Notes," positions on issues of the day, Afghanistan being one. This was in early 2009 if I recall. I'm not sure of the date because the results have for some reason been taken off-line. Anyway, I contributed a suggestion that amounted to admitting NATO military involvement was a mistake, promoting regional diplomacy, and getting out, Canada taking a lead role because of its contribution and world famous common sense. The on-line community gave my contribution a frankly cool reception.

I still think it's a good idea though, but it's probably way too late for this sort of thing, certainly for Canada, and especially the current delusional government. On the other hand, some version of this is going to have to happen: there are millions of people who live in and around Afghanistan, and a "Pol Pot" waiting to happen.

Afghanistan Briefing Note - Regional Diplomacy Initiative


Military disengagement and revised regional diplomacy (“Bootlegger Turn Policy”).

1. Continue withdrawal of Canadian troops as planned,
2. Advocate for a withdrawal of NATO from Afghanistan;
3. Advocate for UN sponsored peace conference in the region, e.g., Qatar.

This policy rests on the assumptions that:

1. The Taliban movement is irrelevant to NATO security;
2. The number of NATO troops required to provide adequate security in Afghanistan is in the region of 400-500,000, and at that level, the political outcome would still be uncertain;
3. NATO does not have the political or financial resources to field such a force;
4. Even if a NATO force of such size could be fielded, it would destabilize the entire Gulf region.


1. Debate and adoption by the Government of Canada – one month.
2. Presentation of policy to NATO, April 2009.
3. Representation to Security Council, by right of membership in ISAF.
4. Representation to UN Secretary General of proposal for conference on Afghanistan.

Cost of Proposal

Military costs will be no different from current policy.

Expected Impact – Short-term

The effect on Afghans will depend on how the policy is implemented. If Canada makes clear that the policy is not “abandonment”, but a determined, conscious change from military “peace-making” to diplomacy, the effect should be positive, and reflect a realistic appreciation of Afghan reality, rather than a fantasy promoted by NATO ignorance.

Fears that might be expected to surface could be allayed with acceptance of Afghan immigrants who might fear retribution under a new regime, negotiation of a realistic narcotics policy, acknowledging that NATO populations are part of the problem in their role as consumers, negotiation for a new Afghan government that would self-determined, acknowledging tribal realities, and negotiations to drastically limit power of existing warlords.

The Canadian military will benefit from having a positive, realistic objective, and be removed from the current highly exposed and completely unrealistic policy.

Expected Impact – Long-term

The policy would be expected to cause vigorous debate within Parliament, the United Nations Security Council, and NATO. This will be perceived as strength, rather than weakness, by thoughtful Afghans.

Any claimed “victory” by the Taliban, can be countered with an honest description of the policy and an attempt to engage representatives in negotiation for representation in the government under the existing constitution, and negotiation with the current government and warlords. The Taliban are the only force known to be able to provide a lawful and safe society in Afghanistan, and to reduce opium production.

In the longer term Afghanistan will have to determine for itself the nature of its society. A virulently hateful theocracy will not survive: there is no Islam without social justice. The evolution of an open Islamic society in Afghanistan is almost inevitable under current conditions, given the difficulty of maintaining a totalitarian society in a time of rapid global communication. In any case, some of Afghanistan’s neighbours, not occupied by NATO, are extremely oppressive totalitarian states, or corrupt, or both.


There are no coherent political or military objectives for NATO in Afghanistan, although NATO is the biggest consumer of Afghan opium. Afghanistan’s central government is systemically corrupt, and its legitimacy is doubtful. Afghanistan is surrounded by Muslim nations that are also corrupt, including Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. Whatever threat is represented by “al-Qaeda” is now very small, and will be vanishingly small if Canada adopts the proposed policy. The legality of NATO’s operations is very dubious, and seen that way in much of south Asia, including Pakistan. Civilian casualties caused by NATO in this setting are extremely toxic to any good will towards NATO still present in the civilian population. The Pashtun tribes do not recognize the legitimacy of the Durand Line, the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

The obvious historical precedent is the forced American withdrawal from Vietnam, followed by gradual improvement in the nation’s health and welfare, and integration into world community and economy.


The impact on the United States and NATO allies would be to foster a vigorous and fearless debate – not one conducted behind closed doors as is currently the case for NATO – with Canada assuming the role of a sovereign, independent ally that does not fear controversy, and indeed encourages controversy as essential to development of improved and healthy international affairs. A stated goal would be to remove Canada’s Afghan policy from the realm of the military, and in particular, NATO.

Political Implications

The majority of Canadians wants out of Afghanistan, and sees the current policy as a losing proposition. Framing the policy as a “retreat” would be expected from the Canadian military industrial complex and its political allies (e.g., the Conference of Defence Associations), but an aggressive, independent diplomatic policy might neutralize this position, or better, win its co-operation.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Obama short a spine and two balls

Stupidity as Foreign Policy

You know, there's no substitute for stupidity, ignorance, and delusion, particularly when directing foreign policy of the world's only hyperpower, on whom the sun rapidly sets, owing to stupidity, ignorance, and delusion. It's hard to believe that Americans in positions of authority - Obama, for instance - make stupid, ignorant, delusional decisions based on stupidity, ignorance, and delusion. And yet, it is so.

There is precedent. The Vietnam disaster, the consequences of which still go on, is one example, yet nobody except the writers of history seem to acknowledge the horrendous human carnage that was the direct result of some guys in Washington playing to the crowds in Peioria. Walt Rostow, were he still alive, would be living in comfortable, if shameful, circumstances in Texas, on the basis of his relentless pimping for some American dream that involved the deaths of thousands, OK millions, of Asians. The Bundy Brothers, accomplices of the Eastern Establishment, paid no price for their criminal enterprise in Vietnam, criminal being the Phoenix program and everything that led up to it. I don't count Henry Kissinger - a Goering-like figure - who of course would be contemptuous of Nuremberg war crimes trials - were he to be tried - and probably would try to talk his way out of it unlike Goering who at least had the decency to kill himself.

We are speaking here of grandiose delusions on the scale of Caesar.

Murder is murder.

"Coll acknowledges that every president since Truman, once he discovered that he had a totally secret, financially unaccountable private army at his personal disposal, found its deployment irresistible."

Abolish the CIA!
Chalmers Johnson
London Review of Books
Vol. 26 No. 20 · 21 October 2004
pages 25-28

Common Article 3, Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949

Art 3. In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) taking of hostages;

(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

(2) The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.

An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.

The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.

The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.

Commentary on Convention (III) relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.

"Other delegations were afraid that the substitute, being appointed by the Detaining Power, would not have the requisite independence, or would lose sight of the interests of the Power of Origin. Others again were apprehensive of an Occupying Power evading the provisions of the Article by the conclusion of a special agreement with the Government of the occupied country, where that Government was dominated, and perhaps even set up, by the occupant."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Totem Newspaper of The Entitlement

"I don't mean to sound like 'I had a vision' or anything, but there was a specific starting point for practically all of these stories. I wrote them in a fifteen-month period, and the whole thing started with the afternoon I went to a Hot Rod & Custom Car show at the Coliseum in New York. Strange afternoon! I was sent up there to cover the Hot Rod & Custom Car show by the New York Herald Tribune, and I brought back exactly the kind of story any of the somnambulistic totem newspapers in America would have come up with. A totem newspaper is the kind people don't really buy to read but just to have, physically, because they know it supports their own outlook on life. They're just like the buffalo tongues the Omaha Indians used to carry around or the dog ears the Mahili clan carried around in Bengal. There are two kinds of totem newspapers in the country. One is the symbol of the frightened chair-arm-doilie Vicks Vapo-Rub Weltanschauung that lies there in the solar plexus of all good gray burghers. All those nice stories on the first page of the second section about eighty-seven-year-old ladies on Gramercy Park who have one-hundred-and-two-year-old turtles or about the colorful street vendors of Havana. Mommy! This fellow Casto is in there, and revolutions may come and go, but the picturesque poor will endure, padding around in the streets selling their chestnuts and salt pretzels the world over, even in Havana, Cuba, assuring a paradise, after all, full of respect and obeisance, for all us Vicks Vapo-Rub chair-arm-doilie burghers. After all. Or another totem group buys the kind of paper they can put under their arms and have the totem for the tough-but-wholesome outlook, the Mom's Pie view of life. Everybody can go off to the bar and drink a few "brews" and retail some cynical remarks about Zora Folley and how the fight game is these days and round it off, though, with how George Chuvalo has "a lot of heart," which he got, one understands, by eating mom's pie. Anyway, I went to the Hot Rod & Custom Car show and wrote a story that would have suited any of the totem newspapers. All the totem newspapers would regard one of these shows as a sideshow, a panopticon, for creeps and kooks; not even wealthy, eccentric creeps and kooks, which would be all right, but lower-class creeps and nutballs with dermatititc skin and ratty hair. The totem story usually makes what is known as "gentle fun" of this, which is a way of saying, don't worry, these people are nothing."

Tom Wolfe
The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby

Monday, October 3, 2011

Blown in the wind...10 years in Afghanistan

NATO's Afghan fuck-up

"How many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they are forever banned
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind"


-Bob Dylan, 1963

How else to describe it? It's a complete disaster. Ten years of military involvement by the most powerful military alliance on the planet in one of the most war-torn and poverty stricken countries on the planet has produced - in the unbeatable words of Michael Herr - "noise, waste, and pain" - that has cost billions of dollars and produced millions of traumatized, wounded, and dead. And it's only getting worse.

How to say this? The Emperor has no clothes. It looked bad at the start in 2001, and has looked worse as time has gone on. The ICRC reports are studiously neutral but do not shrink from the obvious conclusion that Afghanistan is a toxic swamp of corruption, violence, bigotry, poverty, and evil, much of which has been produced by NATO (the ICRC didn't say this - I'm saying it) in its delusional pursuit of an Afghan representative democracy the like of which it is doing its best to undermine in its own democracies that provide the NATO military alliance an almost completely unsupervised licence to act out its fantasies at public expense and national criminal responsibility.

It doesn't get worse than this, except Vietnam and Iraq, possibly now Libya.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Courteous correspondence with the RCMP War Crimes Section

"Complaint against the Honourable Gordon O'Connor
and General Rick Hillier (retired)."

Original complaint October 20, 2009