Friday, August 24, 2007

Quagmire was the plan all along.

The Price of Apathy... shirt

As seen in this clip dating from 1994, Vice-President Dick Cheney had a very solid appreciation of the problems inherent in invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussain.

The Cheney tape re-aired for the first time since 1994 on July 11, 2007. But it wasn't until C-SPAN aired the interview again on August 9 (on the same channel, at the same time) that the blogosphere noticed.

As far as we know, the Cheney remarks on Iraq were first noticed by the site Grand Theft Country.

So, we should ask, what changed between 1994 and 2003, and people have asked.
Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride said she was not authorized to comment.

She did, however, direct us to an interview that ABC News conducted with Cheney in February of this year in which Cheney was asked how his views had changed from 1991, when he also spoke of military action in Iraq as a "quagmire."

"Well, I stand by what I said in '91," Cheney told ABC. "But look what's happened since then -- we had 9/11."

But 9/11 had nothing to do with Iraq, and changed none of the fundamental and obvious calculations that made the invasion of Iraq an obvious, losing proposition. 9/11 was merely an opportunity, a pretext upon which to build a massive edifice of fear, panic, theft, subversion and lies, the apparent point being to create the conditions for another protracted, expensive, bloody conflict such as Vietnam for the twin goals of consolidating power and looting the treasuries of two nations.

Dick Cheney Sez: Jerry Falwell went to hell... shirt
Leaving aside the obvious - that Cheney is an evil bastard who has no fundamental objection to mass casualties when it's profitable to him - we need to look at why an effort that was untenable in '94, despite widespread right-wing demands for just such an invasion became profitable enough to go to such lengths to implement. I think we need to back up and look at the larger picture.

Warfare is a magnificent distraction - and in it's own way, a very unpopular war is an even better distraction. If you fundamentally do not care about the opinion of the American People, save as a means of manipulating them, an unpopular war is very useful tool, for it concentrates the minds of the opposition on the obvious. It casts long shadows that one may hide anything within.

So let us look back at the net effects of this administration. The first thing it did, of course, was to squander a budget surplus and start to build the most massive debt in US history, debt that is held in part in the Middle East and in part in China, due to our massive trade imbalances. Laws were passed that gave tax breaks to large corporations moving offshore - taking HUGE tax revenues with them, while monetary and credit policies were pursued that encouraged the middle class to take on unsustainable levels of personal debt. Then, the mousetrap was sprung - completely unconscionable revisions in the Bankruptcy act.

Meanwhile, the War On Terror was declared, and many steps were taken - almost none of them having any effect on actual terrorism, save to increase the potential for it, while obvious precautions, such as securing ports, rail transport and airline baggage screening were dismissed in favor of purely cosmetic harassment that had the effect of ensuring that the American people became used to being arbitrarily questioned and inconvenienced by barely competent officials of the state, often in conspicuous violation of both the Constitution and personal dignity.

The Patriot act - along with widespread, clandestine and illegal activities, such as arbitrary arrest, suspension of habius corpus and of course the quite deliberate specter of torture as one possible fate for Administration critics became part of the national consciousness, with most of us still believing that, fearful and potentially disastrous as these policies were, the idea was to combat terrorism.

But in hindsight, it's clear that our national policies have taken what was a potential threat - one worth attention and concern, but by no means something to panic about - and turned it into a world-wide emergency situation. The only conclusion I can come to reasonably is that US policy has the direct and probably intentional effect of creating conditions where terrorism will flourish, both abroad and domestically.

How will domestic terror arise as a widespread thing? Well, the first acts will likely be "black operations." But Bush's domestic policies and what appears to be a calculated campaign of focused contempt for the sensibilities and needs of the vast majority of the citizenry can be reliably expected to result in an incident here and there, at least if the pump is primed by an example or two that is suitably publicised.

And what that permits is the imposition of martial law, the suspension of elections and the Constitution itself - "for the duration of the emergency."

It is very difficult to impose a dictatorship on a wealthy, secure nation - which is what we were when President Clinton handed off the Presidency to the Shrub. Now we are a debtor nation, both personally and nationally, with such levels of debts that many of us are effectively slaves to giant corporations that are no longer headquartered in the US, making them far less accountable to US law.

What we are seeing is the engineered collapse of the US economy - and far more critically, it's position of moral and social influence over the world's population.

But I am distinctly concerned that this agenda is one that is broadly advantageous to people of power and influence within and without the Government to a degree that it pushes politics aside. To be blunt - I think it's a pretty obvious agenda by now, that the Democrats are not idiots and that they are, in essence, furthering it by offering token and ineffective resistance.

So, we must shed our illusions that we can assume that anyone in Washington is concerned about our welfare, and go back to the state and local levels to organise, resist and adjust - for the very best possible response to Washington's meddling and interference would be to ignore it.

The individual States still hold enormous economic and political power, and there are cities and metropolitan areas that in themselves wield power that many states - and indeed, many sovereign nations - would envy.

When it's clear that the Federal Government is doing everything it can to disempower citizens, it''s time for the citizens to band together and address the emergent threat - which is not terrorism. It is the Federal Government, and it needs to be reminded of and returned to it's Constitutionally intended status. The Federal Government exists because it is permitted to exist. It governs with the consent of the governed - as do all governments.

So let us be clear - if there are acts of resistance against federal power, against arbitrary federal laws, this is not terrorism, treason or disloyalty. It is the withdrawal of consent by the governed. We all have the inalienable right to say "no," providing we have the courage to face the probable consequences.

But if enough citizens in enough states demand it, there will be habius corpus, there will be safety and security. State laws and existing regional state conferences and associations will serve us as well or better than a Federal Government that has chosen to disregard it's duty.

I would suggest a simple starting point; a general passage of laws and constitutional amendments restricting unsupervised access of federal agents and agencies to anything. That, in other words, by state law, all federal agencies must comply with state oversight, so that there are witnesses. I would suggest that states assert jurisdiction over state communications networks and make wiretapping a state felony, if it is not already.) I would suggest that the various states begin investigations of and prosecutions of federal crimes against state citizens. And recall - the vast majority of the Federal Government - and most particularly, agents and employees tasked with various violations of privacy do not live within Federal preserves. The vast majority are subject to state laws and state sanctions.

Finally - and I think this should be blindingly obvious, but I suppose it needs to be said - the various States need to ensure that they are prepared for all eventualities, to face the possibility of a general collapse of central authority. They need to look to what areas of their budgets are dependent upon federal largess and make some hard choices. They need to call upon their citizens to take up the slack. Perhaps that will mean tax increases, but I would suggest that organized volunteerism in the face of emergency is a reasonable approach. Or in other words, set up a co-ordinated "Phone tree" where, in an emergency, the Governor can communicate with the state as a whole, and everyone in the state has something they are willing to do already on record, whether that be driving trucks, filling sandbags or toting a rifle.

This was the concept of the "Milita," way back when - organized LOCAL response plans that could "hold the line" against civil unrest or natural disaster until help arrived. If we have learned nothing else from Katrina and 9/11, it's that deferring to the judgment of federal responders is a very bad idea. The people who are already on the scene are the ones who know best what is needed - and to the greatest extent possible, they should have done as much pre-planning and pre-positioning as possible.

All of this has a very important goal, both long-term and short term. First, in the short-term, it may preempt attempts by the Federal government to take further steps toward restricting individual and state's rights, or even imposing direct dictatorship. In the longer term, it will make our nation more secure and less vulnerable to both terrorism and civil war.

But as much as I would like to see an outcome that sees the United States still united, with it's borders where they are now, my personal view is that we will see the US fragment into several viable nations based on culture, history and economics, and the United States will pass into history much the same way that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics did - as the result of manifest centralized ineptitude combined with imperial ambitions that demanded too much of it's citizens.

The entire Administration agenda depends upon several factors, but they all boil down to us, as Citizens, being willing or at least accepting of this Brave New World Order. I think, quite frankly, that is a dangerously foolish assumption, one that only someone who's contacts are restricted to fellow-thinkers and fellow-travelers could or would contemplate. In the end, it is fundimentally unethical and unjust and therefore, as a matter of what might as well be a natural law, it will blow up in catistrophic, chaotic and unpredictable ways.

And as General Petraius has observed in Iraq - there will be no military solution.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Vote for the Winnemucca Underdogs!

There's a Zazzle contest underway that I think I deserve to win. I say this in all humility - but I need your vote! Remember, a vote for me is a vote for Nevada!

Winnemucca Underdogs shirt

Winnemucca Underdogs

Get this custom shirt at Zazzle

Light Speed Barrier Broken ?- Science and Scence Fiction Communities Reel.

Even physical laws are made to be broken, or so new insights into physics seem to imply.

'We have broken speed of light' - Telegraph: "'We have broken speed of light' By Nic Fleming, Science Correspondent Last Updated: 12:01am BST 16/08/2007 A pair of German physicists claim to have broken the speed of light - an achievement that would undermine our entire understanding of space and time."

In a related bit of disturbing news - for science and science fiction alike - there comes the revelation that the speed of light itself may vary.

It came as a shock, then, for astronomer John Webb, of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, when he discovered that light could be fickle. Webb analysed light from super-bright quasars and found that 12 billion years ago, the fine-structure constant or alpha - an amalgamation of constants, including the speed of light - seemed in fact to be inconstant, being lower long ago. "I was surprised and had expected a null result," says Webb.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rapid Response Politics.

Ron Paul, Politics and Zazzle.

Our Future is a Nightmare! shirt

Our Future is a Nightmare!

Get this custom shirt at Zazzle

Ron Paul ShirtNo, this is not a commercial post. Not that I'd mind if you bought one of my shirts, of course. This is far more about the fact that I can make Ron Paul shirts - or any other shirts - on impulse. In my case, the impulse was actually selling this Ron Paul shirt via Zazzle. Which was very cool, and of course caused me to click through to zazzle - and I hadn't done that for a couple of weeks.

Well, they have revised the whole user interface - and I was able to create and publish the design you see above by "customizing" an existing shirt in under ten minutes. If I had been unconcerned about keywords and had been sure about the new text, it would have been about three. And now they have a "zoom" feature that does amazing things to show off detailed designs like mine - so the artist in me is VERY happy with it. Check out both designs to see how well the new system works.

Ok, now start your own store. Why? Because this is not just about selling t-shirts, or even particularly about selling at all. This is about rapid response political speech. It's the way Citizen-Driven politics can counter the massive media and money advantage that backers of the Rudy McClinton's. Whether you support Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich or Mike Gravel, there's no reason to give up. Get online and make stuff happen - because at the very least, you can get enough eyeballs to see the right name and generate enough curiosity to get your candidate heard.

You see that slogan up there, with the graphic? Done the conventional way, with focus groups and marketing consultants and everything else, just generating the idea for that image - the campaign, completely aside from any media buys or any actual material objects, could easily eat up a hundred grand.

But it's my idea - it's why I am voting for him - and he doesn't have to approve of it to benefit. Now, imagine a thousand people each selling a few shirts and giving the idea itself to a few thousand others. Don't give money - donate a little time, thought and effort independently, while facing the disturbingly capitalistic idea that you might make some actual money.

Now, my Ron Paul "correct" shirt is an example of one way to go about it - I don't give the consumer any option with the image and message. But the newer one at top has text on front and back that can be customized. And that is why Zazzle is currently my first choice for online political efforts of this sort - because you have the opportunity to get a shirt up, published and linked the very day something happens, and the first orders will be on people's backs within three.

That's a killer app for politics - and pop culture in general.

Monday, August 20, 2007

An Unconscionable Stain on the Fabric of American Democracy

If all it takes for us to compromise our most basic values as human beings is Jose Padilla, what are we left with? If you saw the conviction and thought it was a positive event, you miss the point of being a democracy.

read more | digg story

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Tactical Simulation and Mil-Sim Paintball.

When you draw down on the "bad guy" with your spiffy new 10mm autopistol - will you hit them, or will they cut YOU down with the dirty old .38 they have long known and loved?

Worse yet, will the "bad guy" turn out to be a "good guy?" Do you know when NOT to shoot, and even better, when to duck, when to run, and when to run like holy hell?

I'm a second-amendment fetishist, But I am a realist - if you cannot reliably use your chosen weapon in a real, tactical situation under stress, we would ALL be better off if you just shirked your constitutional duty, thanks very much anyhow. If you want to pad your crotch, use a sock. It's far more comfortable.

And keep that gun locked up. Call yourself a collector, if you like, but if you cannot reliably use a handgun or rifle in combat, don't pretend to be willing to answer the call.

But if you ARE willing to answer the call - if and when - then you need to get together with friends and practice. Obviously, you cannot mix tactical training with live ammo, so you need an effective training system. That is why paintball has become a military simulation standard.

The paintball store has got to be my pick for guns, gear, parts, equipment and of course... paint balls. The prices seem reasonable, and everything is in one place; the site is easy to navigate, and they take PayPal. That covers the basics.

Oh, it's an awful lot of fun, I'm told. But to me, it's about developing skills - indeed, RE-developing skills our forebears took for granted. From a sport viewpoint, it's certainly both more ethical and less messy than hunting, even while it develops all the same skills, and it can be a genuine family activity.

I firmly believe that citizens should at least understand the reality of those who choose to serve in the armed force - and in the worst case, understand it well enough so that if they are ordered into action to suppress your right to dissent, that you can make that action prohibitively expensive.

There are other things you can do to practice needed skills. Second Life and other MMORPG's offer the chance to develop your leadership (and followership) skills in a forgiving context - games like this are to strategy and Grand Strategy what paintball is to small unit and individual tactics. A "well regulated milita" is one where every member knows their best weapon - and can use it to further the group goals. My favored weapon is the pen, and my "Militia" is those who think that unless we show our government that we are serious about it serving us, rather than vice versa, the end of this nation as what it was and is meant to be is at hand.


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