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Member since: Tue Jul 10, 2012, 05:40 AM
Number of posts: 667

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I write a blog of dark humor - Goblinbooks.com

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All The Republicans Who Blamed Obama For Wanting To Attack Syria...

... Are Now Going To Find Ways To Blame Obama For Not Attacking Syria.

Like the turning of the leaves. Like the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano. Like a guy from New Jersey giving you the finger when you merge ahead of him in traffic. The soothingly predictable cycles of nature itself.

Of course, I am quite skeptical that the president somehow meant for all this to happen. He's Pee Wee Herman flipping off his bike, here. But if we get a halfway decent deal on controlling chemical weapons, it will be a good thing. And he will have played a role.

We - America, other nations, citizens of the world - have more to do to address the misery in that place. Wouldn't that be great if the media prodded people to talk about this, now that the horse race aspect looks over? Maybe we bloggers and DU commentators should get ahead of this.

For now - and yes, things could still go bad - let's admit Obama may well prove himself the kind of guy who can say no to a war (when it looks like no one else wants it, and everyone thinks it will be a disaster). This actually places him among our better presidents. We should encourage this kind of thinking. Bully for him.

GOP hacks will beat him up for this. They'll say that he's not a strong leader.

Their definition of a strong leader is a person who doesn't mind killing a pile of someone else's kids.

That's why, as much as I have and will continue to criticize this president, I still vote for the guy with the D after his name.

There are two kinds of people talking about Syria

Group A seems to care more about how the Obama administration will affect Syria (And America).

Group B seems to care more about how Syria (And America) will affect the Obama administration.

There are Democrats and Republicans scattered throughout both groups. I won't debate percentages here, but I'm a Democrat, so I have my biases.

Here's the main point: If you are in Group B, you are a jackass.

Leave Group B at once. Leave it. Group B is not for people of intelligence and decency. I hope I don't have to explain why. If you don't know why, that's a really bad sign.

"Justify That War!" With John McCain

Most people think John McCain will sign onto a military strike anywhere in the world. It seems like he will argue strenuously for just about every presidential use of force you can imagine. But is he truly a war-justifying genius? Does he have what it takes? Let's test his limits on... "Justify That War!"

Senator, thanks for joining us.
Let's get started, son. No chitchat.

Okay then. Clear the board. Sixty seconds are on clock. Justify... An invasion of Syria.
Gotta fight terror.

An invasion of Iran.


The Commies.



C'mon, son. Bastards are right on our border!

Missile attack against Cancun.
Spring Break injuries are at an all-time high. Show of strength. Restore order.

Annex the Sudetenland.
Wehrmacht has had 70 years to resupply. Can't afford to back down.

Special Forces raid deep into Scotland.
The MacRoy clan knows what it did.

Fire 24 nuclear missiles directly into the Atlantic Ocean.
Only thing manatees understand is force.


Barack Obama Wants Me To Jump Off A Cliff

I'm a fan of Barack Obama, generally speaking. I like the guy, I really do. I sure criticize him a lot, but he's my president, and I'm an adult citizen in a free republic, so that's just my job. The point is, I agree with his position on gay rights and economic equality. I enjoy his speeches. Hell, I like the guy's sidekick.

Would I ever rethink my vote for him against Thurston Howell The Bodysnatcher? No.

But now the guy I supported - whom I still support, mind you - wants to jump off a cliff.

What do you do in that case? What do you do when a friend wants to hurl himself off a high precipice - jagged rocks below - and he's asking you to join him? Do you go ahead, just because you're afraid people will start doubting your loyalty?

No. No, you don't. Because jumping off a cliff is a damn fool idea. A real friend stands there, and he tries to talk the other guy out of making like a Pollock painting.

So I'm here, yelling at him and all the guys he convinced to go lemming. And sure, I feel lonely about it. I have mixed emotions. And then I look over, and you know who is standing next to me? Yelling the same things? Making the same arguments?

Rand Paul. That goddamn tool, Rand Paul. Jesus on a crutch.

I mean, if Rand Paul told me water was wet, I'd turn on the faucet and check. But he happens to be saying things that I happen to agree with. It is one creepy-ass feeling to find yourself agreeing with a guy who thinks of The Fountainhead as erotic literature. The feeling's almost bad enough to make me rethink this whole cliff-jumping thing. Almost.

Here's the problem though: It's still a long, long way down there. And those rocks are just as sharp and...

Oh fuck, it's Ann Coulter. Oh c'mon! What the crap is happening here? Ann Coulter? The one who makes fun of 9/11 widows is out here, and she's on my side?


So be it. I can only tell myself that these jackasses will disagree with a democratic president no matter what he says or does. That's their job. That's why they're hacks. In order to not be a hack, you have to care more about what's right than who's right.

Jumping off that cliff is still - and always will be - a stupid idea.

And no, I don't think we should chuck any Syrian civilians after him, just to keep him company down there.

A Message From Those You're Going To Kill To Feel Better About Those Who've Already Been Killed

Hey. How are you guys?

No, really. How are you doing, honestly?

We're about to get incinerated... and well, we just want to make sure that at least it worked. All better now?

Those pictures were terrible, weren't they? Ugh. No one likes to see innocent civilians get killed. I mean, some of us are innocent civilians, so we should know. But you see photos like that coming out of some foreign country, and you think, dammit we have to do something. And the fact that there are no good options - the fact that your own president stomped his foot and made threats to ensure this would never happen - that just makes you more and more frustrated and sad. Until you sign on to something, anything that seems like it might make a difference.

Which brings us here. To this street. With all the dust and the sirens, it's hard to figure out what happened. But it can't be good.

Just to be clear, you knew those missiles weren't going to bring anyone back, right? That you guys didn't have some kind of time machine technology built into them - that you weren't going to blow up the bad guys right before they used the chemical weapons, and save all those kids? You knew it would only make more of them, didn't you?

It's okay. Believe us, it's fine. We no longer care. We're not going to care about anything ever again.

Your troubles, of course, are just beginning.

You know that, right?

Don't Worry. The Strikes Won't Really Do Anything.

That's what the president is promising us - missile strikes that won't really do anything. They're going to punish the Bad Guy for doing the Bad Thing, of course. And so he won't do the Bad Thing anymore. That's the idea.

But they won't Tip The Balance. Don't worry about that.

The Bad Guy is Bad. He's Crazy and Evil, and Evil Must Be Punished. We need to Show That We're Strong. So that Other Actors Will Be Deterred. But we can't Tip The Balance, because then there will be a Regime Change and Chaos, and we'll have to put Boots On The Ground. And no one wants Boots On The Ground. No one is contemplating that, the Old Guy Who Lost That Other Election tells us. Of course he admitted we need to Keep Our Options Open, just in case there is a Nightmare Scenario. So we're going with a Targeted Strike.

And Sanctions And Diplomacy Won't Work, everyone adds, because of how Bad the Bad Guy is.

But if the Bad Guy is really that Bad, the Targeted Strikes are not really going to punish him, are they? All he cares about is Staying In Power. And that's all we care about too. We've promised everyone.

In fact, couldn't you make the case that if we really focused our efforts on using economic and diplomatic leverage, that we could be reasonably sure they'd work at least as well as the Targeted Strikes that won't Tip The Balance?

As long as we're in the business of not punishing Bashar al-Assad, couldn't we not punish him with something other than Tomahawk missiles? Couldn't we join the International Criminal Court and attempt to hold regime leaders accountable? Couldn't we try to build worldwide support for freezing his assets? Make it more difficult for his patrons in Moscow and Tehran to support him? Maybe donate more money to help the refugees and contain the violence?

Could we at least try to make more of an impact than we would with the attacks our administration assures us will fail to make any real impact at all, unless Something Terrible Happens?

Because useless or not, those strikes are going to affect someone in Syria. Not anyone we care about, to be sure. But people, real people who didn't ask for this, might die because of what we do.

I know, I know: We Can't Afford To Look Weak.

Looking stupid, on the other hand, is always an option.

CIA Vet Bob Baer Talks About Syria (And How We're Probably Doomed)

(NOTE: I posted this yesterday on my blog. Link below.)

Robert Baer spent decades working in the Middle East as a CIA case officer. He's a regular contributor on intelligence for Time.com and co-author of a book with his wife about their life in the Agency called The Company We Keep. Baer is also one of the foremost experts on the region. Today, just before President Obama announced he would seek congressional authorization for a strike on Syria, we spoke about the situation there. Here's what he thinks:

This is not a replay of Iraq. "I think it's a night and day difference between this and Iraq," he says. "Number one: Look at the actors. You have Cheney, who believes it's okay to lie for a higher cause. Then you have Obama, who doesn't believe in anything. And he just acts when he has to." Baer believes people in the administration don't want a war; They "know it's unsustainable."

He doesn't think anyone on the Obama team is on a "messianic mission to go in and get the bad guy." They're being driven to action by events.

The Syrian regime definitely launched a chemical attack, but there's a possibility it was out of Asaad's control in some way. The sheer amount of area hit in the August 21st attack puts it beyond the reach of a rebel group, Baer says. However there's a real question of who ordered it, and some details might indicate that Asaad is losing control of the military. Page 4 of the US intelligence report about the attack mentions an "intercepted communication" of a "senior official intimately familiar with the offensive" who was concerned that UN inspectors would obtain evidence of the attack. Foreign Policy magazine may have been reporting on the same communication and gave additional details that seemed to indicate a lack of coordination within the regime:

Last Wednesday, in the hours after a horrific chemical attack east of Damascus, an official at the Syrian Ministry of Defense exchanged panicked phone calls with a leader of a chemical weapons unit, demanding answers for a nerve agent strike that killed more than 1,000 people.

"The question is, 'Is the military disintegrating?'" Baer asks. Basher al-Asaad is an ophthalmologist by training, not a military man like his father. According to Baer, the Syrians may have diminished confidence in him, and his generals might be "somewhat out of control." Baer's been speaking to his Syrian contacts about this, and he thinks it's a distinct possibility.

"Would you follow your ophthalmologist into war?"


Obama's Getting A Coalition Of The Willing

So major allies and the UN are balking at a Syrian attack, but we're going to assemble a coalition of willing nations for a strike on a Middle Eastern country over intelligence involving WMDs, but the intel experts are beginning to say we might not be able to prove the case. We might launch the attack and find out we were wrong later, when it's too late. After we've helped cause death and chaos that jihadist groups will exploit, and maybe set off a regional war involving the different ethnic and religious groups at odds in this country.

It is, after all, a limited strike. I guess there's that. When it doesn't work, maybe we'll use economic sanctions, and a no-fly zone, right? Terrorist groups involved might try to target us domestically because of this policy, sure.

But how bad could it really get?

Does anyone know - DOES ANYONE REMEMBER AT ALL - how bad it could get?

"Crucifixion: Key To Counterinsurgency" By Pontius Pilate

(From a report to Tiberius Caesar and the Roman Senate from the Prefect of Judea)

Rome, as we know, is not an empire. Not in the traditional sense.

Our network of military bases and administrative provinces in the eastern region exists with the aim of bringing peace and economic development, as well as protecting civilians from invasion by the Parthians, and securing trade routes from Egypt. Rome is the indispensable nation, and our influence is needed to pacify a troubled area.

In this combat ecosystem we compete for dominance with a variety of state and non-state actors. Ethnic and religious militias, insurgent groups, local authorities, and foreign combatants are each trying to maximize their survivability and marginalize their rivals.

Simply put: This is a war like no other.

To stabilize Judea, Roman authorities will not be able to rely on the same force-against-force tactics we used to destroy Hannibal. Kinetic operations are necessary, but they are only part of our strategy -- which is after all, a counterinsurgency strategy. Its three pillars are security, political stability, and economic growth. And we must build these three pillars in parallel, not in succession. Which brings us to crucifixion.

Crucifixion sends a powerful message to allies and enemies alike that Rome dominates the security environment. At the same time it supports local political institutions like the Sanhedrin. This shows our resolve to eliminate the enemies to peace in coordination with the Judean people. It proves that we are nation-builders and liberators, not conquerors. But that we will use lethal force if necessary. Crucifixion, if implemented properly, is the perfect combination of hard power and soft power.

But how does one execute a successful crucifixion policy? There are clear rules: First, it must conform to local cultural traditions. In Judea, we've had to modify our court schedule to comply with the religious holidays and mores of the people. Second, the Roman military must prove it can police the courts and execution site effectively. The perception of security is everything here. We've decided to create a kind of parade route from the trial to the place of crucifixion as a way of demonstrating that we can clear and hold an important area at our discretion. It is sometimes cruel to the condemned, but it's a necessary price to pay.


Sam Harris Confronts Little Bunny Foo Foo

Yes, it's all an illusion, this idea that you can choose to pick up those field mice or not. You, the hapless rodents, and the good fairy are locked in a web of causality that stretches beyond your control or understanding. Your conscious mind is a tiny ship on a massive and treacherous neuronal sea, the impulses to inflict violence emerging from mysterious depths you can not imagine with a force beyond denying, even though on some level you know it will bring your doom...

But choice still matters. Your actions free or constrain the lives of countless creatures in the field in ways we can't even realize. Just as my words to you, the warnings you've already received... these bits of stimuli are right now affecting what you will do next. And strangely, they become part of what you are. As you alter your own life and the relationships you have with small, terrified fleeing mammals, or an angry and disappointed supernatural creature who for some baffling reason is enforcing a bizarre moral code here in the wilderness, you are discovering yourself through time. Who is Little Bunny Foo Foo? Whoever he is, he has two more chances.

It's false comfort to think that you decide what your circumstances and the dark parts of your own brain are telling you. You're no more than a puppet deciding that he wants to move with his strings. But your mind, your actions, and finally your fate are you nonetheless, and no one else.

You are a goon, Little Bunny. Live like one.

My Blog is full of this kind of nonsense: www.goblinbooks.com.
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