Terra! Terra! Terra!

Sorry to inflict more Fox & Friends on you, but this really is beyond the pale. On this morning’s program, Wayne Simmons, a so-called “Terror Analyst” (i.e., former CIA operative, now raving wingnut and occasional columnist for the far right-wing magazine Human Events), responded to Brian Kilmeade’s query whether the increase in “major terror incidents” over the last year is because America has new president as follows:

Yeah, listen this is, ugh, and you’ve heard me say this many times before — nothing has changed, in fact it’s only getting worse since the coronation of the boy king fifteen months ago. It is, again, not an accident that every third world despot, every third world despot; from Venezuela through Cuba to North Korea, virtually anyone in the Middle East who decides they want to take a shot at the United States and our allies, is doing just that. These guys now that are starting to come out the woodwork are EMBOLDENED. They recognize, as do the third-world nations, the dictators, there will be NO repercussions from the Obama administration.

Good grief, what a lunatic.

To get the full flavour of Simmons’ madness, might I recommend the following article from Human Events titled “Cheerleader in Chief” where he decries virtually everything about the Obama administration “from the phony ‘stimulus’ package to socialist health care” and foreign policy that is “ignorant of important principles and completely at odds with the fact that America is a superpower.”

With regards to the “Global War on Terra” Simmons admiringly quotes the following passage from Winston Churchill’s 1899 book The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan:

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.

Perhaps Simmons should have read a little further in that same book where he would have encountered this passage also written by the young Churchill:

…there are many people in England, and perhaps elsewhere, who seem to be unable to contemplate military operations for clear political objects, unless they can cajole themselves into the belief that their enemy are utterly and hopelessly vile. To this end the Dervishes, from the Mahdi and the Khalifa downwards, have been loaded with every variety of abuse and charged with all conceivable crimes. This may be very comforting to philanthropic persons at home; but when an army in the field becomes imbued with the idea that that the enemy are vermin who cumber the earth, instances of barbarity may easily be the outcome. This unmeasured condemnation is moreover as unjust as it is dangerous and unnecessary… We are told that the British and Egyptian armies entered Omdurman to free the people from the Khalifa’s yoke. Never were rescuers more unwelcome.

Substitute America for England and other parties in today’s conflict as appropriate and it seems clear that little has changed after more than a hundred years of territorial meddling and reckless adventurism by the Anglo-American Imperium in this troubled region of the world.

On Fox “News” and other right-wing talking shops however, it’s all so very simple: just “toughen up on terror” or as Simmons puts it: “locate, identify and kill” everyone suspected of being a terrorist — and if that results in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Muslims and the displacement of millions more… well, so be it.

Better Know a “Liberal” Nitwit

Seeing as the allegedly Liberal, feminist blogger “Pareta” doesn’t allow comments or permit trackbacks on her shitty little website, it seems pretty darn ripe calling Liberal MP Keith Martin a “spineless white man who hates gun control” and oddly quipping that “Tanning beds are to skin as Keith Martin is to the Liberal Party.” Exactly WTF does that mean?

The nitwit in question (appropriately self described as being “young, dumb, and full of glum”) might also benefit from educating herself a little about the riding of Esquimalt–Juan de Fuca (where I happen to live these days) before dismissively and quite incorrectly labeling it as “rural” — not that there’s anything wrong with that; but in fact, it’s a diverse mix of urban, suburban and rural communities.

Finally, it’s a highly dubious distinction indeed when one also gets sarcastically called out by Kate McMillan (of all people) and the pitchfork wielding mob at SDA as an example of “The Tolerant Left”

Update: A predictably infantile response from the gutless, anonymous, comment-free “Pareta”… For the record, I wasn’t so much “offended” by her lazy and snide post so much as ashamed to be politically associated in any way with someone so catastrophically ignorant.

Fearmongering & Friends

Speaking this morning on Fox News, barking mad “conservative” radio talk-show host Mike Gallagher proposed that “every known Muslim” in the world (approximately 1.8 billion people) be subjected to an intensified level scrutiny prior to boarding an aircraft using a degrading procedure similar to that employed by the Israeli airline El Al when dealing with Palestinian travellers/suspected terrorists.

This immediately followed a snarky interrogation of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano on the same program in which she was blamed for the failure of the flight risk assessment system established under the Bush administration because she hadn’t completely re-engineered it since taking office, before being sideswiped by Brian Kilmeade with an irrelevant line of questioning about the repatriation of certain Gitmo detainees to Yemen.

The False Economy of War

Fascinating interview with Robert Pollin, a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and founding co-director of its Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), quite persuasively debunking the persistent myth in American political discourse that the military is an essential driving force in the U.S. economy and a vital necessity for the development of innovative commercial technologies.

In the first part, the contention that it was WWII that ended the 1930s Depression and its present corollary that expansion of the war in Afghanistan may likewise have a beneficial stimulative economic effect is examined. According to Pollin, it’s not so much a question of whether war itself is effective means of boosting the economy (quite the contrary according to the statistical analysis), but that it’s the only thing that seems capable of generating the kind of bi-partisan political will to engage in massive, albeit inefficient, deficit spending.

In the second part of the interview, Pollin expands on his assertion that the money being generously funneled into military expenditures would actually produce better economic outcomes if they were invested in domestic social programs (e.g., education, healthcare, etc.), infrastructure development and innovative research programs. Unfortunately, such forms of public spending are conventionally regarded with derision as wasteful expressions of “big government” whereas, through some schizophrenic intellectual legerdemain, military expenditures are viewed as necessary investments made by a distinct entity that are absolutely vital to national security, etc. (even though it’s indisputably just another creature of government)

The irony of course, as pointed out by Pollin, is that the development of new technologies within the framework of the military-industrial complex circumvents all the usual rigors of the vaunted “free-market” through the closed loop of the military procurement process that practically guarantees a highly profitable return on investment for even the most harebrained, massively unproductive, and grotesquely wasteful schemes.

Reel Bad Arabs

Arabs are the most maligned group in the history of Hollywood — so says Dr. Jack Shaheen, noted media critic, author and presenter of the 2007 documentary film produced by the Media Education Foundation,
Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People.

Reel Bad Arabs dissects a slanderous aspect of cinematic history that has run virtually unchallenged from the earliest days of silent film to today’s biggest Hollywood blockbusters. The film explores a long line of degrading images of Arabs — from Bedouin bandits and submissive maidens to sinister sheikhs and gun-wielding terrorists — along the way offering devastating insights into the origin of these stereotypic images, their development at key points in U.S. history, and why they matter so much today.

Shaheen shows how the persistence of these images over time has served to naturalize prejudicial attitudes toward Arabs and Arab culture, in the process reinforcing a narrow view of individual Arabs and the effects of specific US domestic and international policies on their lives. By inspiring critical thinking about the social, political, and basic human consequences of leaving these Hollywood caricatures unexamined, the film challenges viewers to recognize the urgent need for counter-narratives that do justice to the diversity and humanity of Arab people and the reality and richness of Arab history and culture.

Merry Christmas

Please accept without obligation, express or implied, these best wishes for an environmentally safe, socially responsible, low stress, non addictive, and gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday as practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice (but with respect for the religious or secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or for their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all) and further for a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated onset of the generally accepted calendar year (including, but not limited to, the Christian calendar, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures). The preceding wishes are extended without regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, political affiliation, choice of computer platform, or sexual preference of the wishee(s).

Xmas Update: The Queen’s annual Christmas message. Hey, it’s a tradition…

Oh, What a Lovely War

Not that yet another reason is needed to predict with absolute confidence the eventual failure of the “mission” in Afghanistan, but here’s one anyway: It seems that during breaks in fighting, the vast majority of Afghan soldiers enjoy nothing more than to smoke hash and randomly fire their guns at nothing in particular.

As independent war correspondent David Axe has noted, “All Afghans smoke pot — especially in winter, when roads are snowed in and nobody’s working.” All fine, but a situation that poses a bit of an obstacle to the spurious notion of “training up” the Afghan National Army and security forces…

Perhaps NATO and the U.S. government should simply buy the Taliban and the Afghan Army Xbox 360s and Call of Duty, then they can get stoned and play each other all night long without actually hurting anyone.