This just goes to show, never underestimate the noxious mixture of party politics, pork, and sheer incompetence.
Politics and Free Thought at the Eclipse of Reason
In our mass-mediated image empire, the Bush Administration has constructed its own political reality without regard to evidence, putting radical epistemology in the service of reactionary politics. Under these conditions, old ideas about truth acquire a new luster, and the ideal of authentic experience remains a necessity.I won't lie and say I don't delude myself into thinking I can achieve "authentic experience," because I do. But when I really get down to it, I think our pursuit of authentic experience isn't much more than our avoidance of boredom. The thing to always keep in mind during this pursuit is not to privilege our pursuit more than others, because as the past two cataclysmic centuries of history has proven, the tendency for "authentic experience" -- under the guise of U.S. Providence, Sovietism, and Fascism -- to produce murder and mayhem is ripe.
[T]he miserable road to Saigon--and Baghdad--was paved with the best intentions. Six decades ago, the National Security Act of 1947 inserted buffers between presidents and their top military men, leading immediately to a series of military debacles or, at best, stalemates. Instead of Marshall speaking--respectfully but frankly--to FDR, we got McNamara huddling with LBJ and, now, Donald Rumsfeld, who never saw combat, interpreting warfare to a president who never saw combat. Instead of making battlefield decisions based upon military necessity, the rise of powerful secretaries of defense resulted in combat decisions based upon political expediency.What are the results of this type of "see no evil, hear no evil" approach to military planning? Look no further than Iraq says Peters.
The crucial issue, though, is the bogus charge of insubordination threatening the good order of civil-military relations. It's a spurious claim that has nonetheless been embraced uncritically by the orthodox on both the left and right. Instead of being alarmed that former soldiers--with no political ties or agendas--searched their consciences then went public with their criticism of a notoriously imperious defense secretary, we should celebrate the fact. Each of these men played by the rules, retiring before speaking out. None prejudiced good order. Not one stands to profit from his courage (quite the contrary).Washington is a place that thrives on equilibrium. When the balance goes askew, we pay the price. Iraq is a perfect example of this. Here, poor policy planning mixed with the best intentions and undermined by the most cynical of motivations has produced a quagmire in Iraq. Generals such as Shinseki had enough courage to throw their hands up and yell, "Stop!" But in today's Washington where loyalty is more important than performance, brave soldiers that criticize our venture into Iraq are now considered apostates of this Administration.
If former officers cannot speak out on complex military issues, to whom can we turn for expert advice? To politicians who never deigned to serve in uniform themselves? To pundits equally lacking in military experience? To defense industry publicists? Surely, lifelong expertise should hold some value in our specialized society.
One night in Berlin, Hitler, Göring, and Goebbels walked into a bar. Noticing that the bartender’s hands were shaking, Hitler asked him what was wrong. “We don’t get too many high-ranking officials of the Third Reich in here,” he said.Sometimes I have a tendency towards gullibility, but this can't be real once you read on. Nevertheless, does anyone know if Hitler did indeed have a chilling sense of sociopathic humor?
“Well, at these prices, I’m not surprised,” said Hitler, pulling out a Luger and shooting him.
Speaking before an audience of thousands at the Nuremberg Rally of 1936, Hitler departed from his prepared text to share one of his favorite jokes. “A patient complaining of a sore throat goes to see a doctor,” Hitler began. “After examining him, the doctor says, ‘Your tonsils have to come out.’ The patient says, ‘I want a second opinion.’ So the doctor says, ‘O.K.—you’re also of an inferior race.’ ”
On December 7, 1941, Hitler opened a meeting of the Nazi high command as he often did: with a knock-knock joke.
“Knock-knock,” he said.
“Who’s there?” said Goebbels.
“Tojo,” he said.
“Tojo the Japanese would bomb Pearl Harbor,” Hitler said, roaring with laughter.
While the American Embassy in Nairobi called on all parties to cease fighting, the United States government has been accused of backing the warlords, who have fashioned themselves into an antiterrorism alliance, rooting out elements of Al Qaeda in their midst.Islamism is a product of the uneasy and fragmented transistion of many developing countries experiencing the ill-effects of globalization. One of the ill-effects of globalization in places such as Somalia is the ability of warlords to stop the process of modernization and democratization and essentially say to country's population, "Your money or your life."
"It's a well-established fact for the last few years that U.S. counterterrorism officials and other intelligence officials have been working through Somali partners to fight extremists," said Suliman Baldo, director for Africa policy at the International Crisis Group, a Geneva-based advocacy group that studies wars around the world.
"From the little we know, the U.S. is not supporting the warlords with arms, per se," Mr. Baldo said. Instead, he added, American operatives were paying the warlords to help track down and apprehend those in Somalia suspected of being members of Al Qaeda.
In one episode outlined in an International Crisis Group report last year, American intelligence officers offered a Somali clan leader $4 million if he captured Tariq Abdallah, a suspected Qaeda leader traced to a Mogadishu guest house. When the clan leader's militia launched a raid on the house, however, the suspect (also known as Abu Talha al-Sudani) was not found there, the report said.
The warlords, who say they have joined America's fight against terrorism, are calling themselves the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counterterrorism. They are led by Mohammed Deere, Mohammed Qanyare and Bahire Rageh, all powerful figures in Mogadishu.
In interviews, American officials declined to detail their relationship with the warlords, and said only that their goal was to support both the fight against terrorism and the recently formed transitional government that is struggling to gain a foothold.
But the president of that transitional government pointed his finger at the United States and said American counterterrorism efforts would work better if they went through Somalia's fledgling government, not through individual warlords.
The new wars take place in a context which could be represented as an extreme version of globalization. Territorially-based production more or less collapses either as a result of liberalization and the withdrawal of state support, or through physical destruction (pillage, shelling, etc.), or because markets are cut off as a result of the distegration of states, fighting, or deliberate blockades imposed by outside powers, or more likely, by fighting units on the ground, or because spare parts, raw material and fuel are impossible to acquire...Given the erosion of the tax base both because of the collapse of production and because of the difficulties of collection, governments like privatized military groups, need to seek alternative sources of funding in order to sustain their violent activities...The simplest form of asset transfer is loot, robbery, extortion, pillage, and hostage-taking.So as the president of Somalia's transitional government argues, the best solution is for the United States to go through the transitional government, establish its legitimacy and keep it accountable financially to the U.S. as well as democratically to Somalia's people. The U.S. needs to be concerned more with the long-term goal of stabilizing failed states than the short-term goal of killing Islamists. If the power of warlords is not curbed and a viable, accountable, and legitimate government does not bring order to chaos, then Islamism will only continue to grow as a response to what they consider the vulgar, immoral social order bestowed on it by the dark side of globalization.
We are democrats and progressives. We propose here a fresh political alignment. Many of us belong to the Left, but the principles that we set out are not exclusive. We reach out, rather, beyond the socialist Left towards egalitarian liberals and others of unambiguous democratic commitment. Indeed, the reconfiguration of progressive opinion that we aim for involves drawing a line between the forces of the Left that remain true to its authentic values, and currents that have lately shown themselves rather too flexible about these values. It involves making common cause with genuine democrats, whether socialist or not.It's truly the time we took back the Left from those who seek inadvertently to destroy it by sullying our traditions with a virulent Anti-Americanism, support for pseudo-fascist Islamists and the "insurgency" in Iraq, a morbid multiculturalism that privileges "group rights" over individual rights, while believing human rights is a mere Western construction, with no authority outside its hemisphere.
Teens who take virginity pledges can't be trusted, according to an analysis of follow-up surveys. Findings: 1) 52 percent of pledgers denied a year later that they'd pledged. 2) Among pledgers who later admitted to having sex the year after the pledge, 73 percent denied they'd pledged. 3) Among pledgers who conceded in the first survey that they'd had sex, nearly one in three claimed a year later that they'd never had sex. 4) Pledgers were four times as likely as non-pledgers to recant previous admissions that they'd had sex. Researchers' conclusions: 1) Teens lie. 2) Pledgers lie more. 3) Born-again pledgers (those who pledge after having sex) lie the most. 4) Pledges fail. 5) We have no idea what works or what the truth is, because all this revisionism makes the data worthless.There is no doubt sex is a serious undertaking with many risks, but am I the only one that has a visceral hatred of the born-agains that try to influence kids to take this path and the self-righteous twits that agree to it?
''Mr. Moussaoui, you came here to be a martyr in a great big bang of glory,'' she said, ''but to paraphrase the poet T.S. Eliot, instead you will die with a whimper.''By not choosing death for Mussaoui, the jury rose above revenge and in Camus' famous formulation, decided to be "neither victims nor executioners."
The United States holds the unenviable record of having helped install and then supported such dictators as the Shah of Iran, General Suharto in Indonesia, Fulgencio Batista in Cuba, Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua, Augusto Pinochet in Chile, and Sese Seko Mobutu in Congo-Zaire, not to mention a series of American-backed militarists in Vietnam and Cambodia until we were finally expelled from Indochina. In addition, we ran among the most extensive international terrorist operations in history against Cuba and Nicaragua because their struggles for national independence produced outcomes that we did not like.Johnson here is taking a page out of Noam Chomsky's devastating Deterring Democracy, a book I encourage everyone to read.
In common with every other Supreme Court specialist contacted for this article, Professor Lazarus [of Georgetown University Law Center] listed several obvious changes. "They're not stepping on each other," he said of the justices. "They take longer before someone asks the first question. They give the lawyers more time to answer."Lawyers with enough time to make an opening statement, that is an improvement. How great is it that the commeonsensical is almost never practicable in the real world?