Chuck Bowden has died

I just read an email that says Chuck Bowden, my mentor, my dear friend, has died.

Words fail.

Good Question, Terrible Answers

Digby asks the question I keep asking:

In all seriousness, I think the mindset of the National Security Elite has changed. First, Exceptional people do not negotiate. Second, every lesson we’ve been told we should have learned from World War II is this: you do not negotiate with aggressors. You fight them. (There is also the Holocaust lesson which wasn’t learned, either.)

So, Americans do not and will not and cannot ever negotiate with aggressors. And since the United States of America is imbued with “Exceptionalism” anyone who opposes the US is wrong. And if you are wrong you will soon be an aggressor. (Samantha Power would love that formulation!) Therefore, we will soon be at war with Russia unless they do everything we ask of them, which basically means roll over and act like a lap dog (basically what the Brits do).

Ponder that for a while. Then ponder how easy a solution could have been.

Ponder where all this bother takes us: the Ukraine. Imagine that it is increasingly looking like we are going to fight a shooting war against Russia, in its neighborhood, for the Ukraine. (For the record, I very well may have been wrong about Western unwillingness to stand up for the Ukraine.)

Ponder that, but this time with nukes.

Watch and weep

The covert origins of ISIS.

Jukebox: Labor Day Weekend

Plenty of places to go. Post away!

I’ll start with:
1. The Beatles: Penny Lane
Not usually thought of a work song, but it is one for me.

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Continue reading Jukebox: Labor Day Weekend

Friday Catblogging: Fantasies of the cat-averse !


Continue reading Friday Catblogging: Fantasies of the cat-averse !

Russian troops have entered Ukraine, Ukraine president says

AP, August 28

Ukraine’s president called an emergency meeting of the nation’s security council and cancelled a foreign trip Thursday, declaring that “Russian troops were actually brought into Ukraine,” as concerns grew about the opening of a new front in the conflict.

President Petro Poroshenko summoned the council as the strategic southeastern Ukraine town of Novoazovsk appeared firmly under the control of Russia-backed separatists.

“The president must stay in Kyiv today​,” Poroshenko said.

On Thursday morning, an Associated Press journalist saw rebel checkpoints at the outskirts of Novoazovsk and was told he could not enter. One of the rebels said there was no fighting in the town.
Continue reading Russian troops have entered Ukraine, Ukraine president says

It’s Always Nice . . .

. . . when another state steps up to the plate and makes Texas look less stupid. In this case it’s Ohio:

Science educators have recognized that teaching science as a large compendium of facts, without reference to the scientific process and theories that bind them together, simply leads to uninterested and uninformed students. So it’s a bit mind-boggling to discover that an Ohio state legislator is attempting to block educators from teaching anything about the scientific process. And for good measure, the bill’s sponsor threw politics and creationism into the mix.

Take the process out of it and you take the critical thinking out of it and then you have students learning rote facts by memory. That doesn’t produce a very dynamic culture.

Strategery

wishes to engage in a bit of “I FUCKING TOLD YOU SO.”

It was a bad idea to bomb Assad and I said so last year.

Read today’s headlines and fucking weep: 

US giving Syria intelligence on jihadists, sources say

The key to successful   strategy is to always have more options than your enemy, always preserve room for maneuver, rarely, if ever, burn a bridge and never, ever use force for anything less than vital strategic national interests.

When it comes to foreign policy the entire US establishment needs to take a remedial course on “strategery.”

Right and left: idiots all.

And Stephen Walt has their measure right here:

They’d all jump at their own shadow.

A Green Desert

Crazy Rain, Fort Davis, TexasI’ve never seen Trans-Pecos Texas so green. I’m 43 years old and admittedly I’ve been coming out to the Big Bend area since my late twenties so that’s not a very good statistical sample.

Be that as it may: I’m glad that the West of Texas isn’t in hardcore drought like it has been in years passed. I’m also glad to see just about every creek and river on my route for Fort Davis in good health.

All except the Pedernales. That river is just dead. Good job Austin!

Here is a link to the Drought Monitor. It’s current for Texas. Look at the area worst hit in Central Texas.

That’s pretty much most of San Antonio’s watershed. Except we get most of our water from an underground aquifer and so we won’t see the effect of this drought for a year and we won’t see the recharge, when it comes, for a year.

The rest can be read here, complete with photos of West Texas.

The Surveillance Engine: How the NSA Built Its Own Secret Google

The Intercept, By Ryan Gallagher, August 25

The National Security Agency is secretly providing data to nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies with a “Google-like” search engine built to share more than 850 billion records about phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats, according to classified documents obtained by The Intercept.

The documents provide the first definitive evidence that the NSA has for years made massive amounts of surveillance data directly accessible to domestic law enforcement agencies. Planning documents for ICREACH, as the search engine is called, cite the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration as key participants.
Continue reading The Surveillance Engine: How the NSA Built Its Own Secret Google

Obama Despair

It seems like so very long ago, many of us here at The Agonist gave up on Barack Obama.  It was long ago – six years now – which is a long time considering the progress the United States could have made had Obama been the leader he promised to be.  My disillusionment was almost instantaneous, the minute he announced that the nation must look “forward and not backward” when it came to the criminal behavior of those in government who committed torture.  That was quickly followed by the surprise and disgust I felt when he appointed Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary.  Wasn’t Obama serious about reforming the banking industry and Wall Street?  He had said all the right things on the campaign trail, so why was he putting in power people who had been instrumental in causing the problem?  Sean Paul and others at The Agonist came to the same, quick, disappointment in Obama, and we all announced our sense of betrayal publicly, which was not a safe thing to do in liberal land. Continue reading Obama Despair

US ‘set to launch air strikes’ on senior Isis terror chiefs in Syria

White House will ‘take action’ against threats as Turkey comes under pressure to halt flow of jihadists across its border

The Observer, By Toby Helm & Martin Chulov, August 23

The United States was said to be considering air strikes aimed at eliminating individual leaders of Islamic State as Turkey came under mounting pressure to stem the flow of jihadists across its border into Syria.

As Washington on Saturday debated extending air strikes into Syria, senior British politicians urged Ankara to act to block recruits from the UK and other countries from entering Syria via Turkey, en route to joining Islamic State (formerly Isis). This weekend large numbers of Isis jihadists were trying to secure greater control of the border area, pushing northwards in armoured trucks looted from abandoned Iraqi military bases.
Continue reading US ‘set to launch air strikes’ on senior Isis terror chiefs in Syria

Art as metaphor. Whither the UN?

salome-john-baptist-head I wonder if outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay who gave her final speech this week to the UN Security Council would have made more impact if she had held James’ head in front of them. I’ll return to Ms Pillay below. I find I grieve for James and his family is several ways. As a fellow Catholic, as a photo-journalist unlucky twice, and as a metaphor for the ongoing senseless barbarity that never ceases.
Continue reading Art as metaphor. Whither the UN?

Jukebox: In Light Of What’s Happening

In light of the what’s happening here:
Will the Circle be Unbroken

In light of what’s happening on the border:
La Bamba – Richie Valens

In light of the return of the Cold War of 1950s
   Ain’t That A Shame
   Cry Me A River
   Shake, Rattle & Roll

Saving Yazidis, and…?

Reader Supported News

Ferguson, Gaza, and Luhansk – What Responsibility to Protect?

U.S. takes little responsibility, offers little protection

Ferguson, Gaza, and Luhansk bleed all the time these days and the United States does nothing very useful for any of them. Not in our “national interest.” Simpler and easier to blame the victims. Can’t waste our precious resources.

Ferguson, Gaza, and Luhansk have been bleeding for days, for weeks, for years, forever in current and chronic crisis, and what does the United States do to help any of them?

Faced with these and other huge humanitarian challenges, the United States puts its big-hearted humanitarian effort into a renewed war in Iraq, acting as if it was only a mission to rescue Yazidis. To be sure, it’s a good thing to rescue Yazidis, even if the true U.S. motivation is only to prop up a quasi-legitimate Iraqi government that will still only pretend to love us a little for just a few more years, while continuing to oppress its own other minorities.
Continue reading Saving Yazidis, and…?

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