Sunday, October 28, 2007

McCarthy is Dead, Long Live McCarthy
The College of William & Mary has set up a website where accusers can anonymously report acts of bias against fellow students and/or faculty.

The Academy is the refuge of totalitarians and McCarthyite thought police. No doubt these scoundrels call themselves tolerant.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

John Stossel 20/20 segment on global warming debate. He exposes:
-IPCC boasts 2000+ scientists, including many who disagree with the conclusions and want nothing to do with the report
-Al Gore's movie goes on about CO2 as the primary cause of the warming, but even his own graphs show temperature rise happening before CO2 rise. So is CO2 causing temperature rise? Or is temperature rise happening before CO2 rise (destroying the whole man-made climate change premise)

Fear of Fear Itself
Sen. Barack Obama came to my town. I got out of work late and missed a good chunk of his speech. I caught the last two Obama answers to questions from the audience. The atmosphere was like a religious tent revival. Obama was charismatic and preacher-like. I find his way of speaking very similar to Dubya's. The way they talk all folksy and populist-like to the people. Anyways, I saw the same thing I saw at Bill Richardson's political event - people violently nodding their heads in approval when Obama threw them the red meat of MoveOn type argumentation. I think a fair chunk of the people attracted to him are
on the MoveOn wing of the Dems and Hillary is attracting the more establishment types.

Anyways, one questioner told Obama to watch his back! She asked if Obama was ready to be "swift-boated" by the right-wing attack machine. She wanted to know if Obama was ready for them to degenerate his message down to a "minstrel show".....

There was somewhat of a silence after she concluded her question and before Obama answered. I got the feeling that people didn't quite know what to make of her question. Her vehemence. Perhaps even her apparent zealotry. I was standing at the back and I literally felt the need to boo her. I didn't do it loudly. But I did boo. I felt viscerally repulsed by her question. It just seemed to me the usual conspiratorial boilerplate that these people come up with and that clouds their
worldview irreparably. It reminded me of that birthday party for Mrs. Rants' uncle where some clown there said he feared for Obama's life because some redneck rightwing knucklehead was bound to assassinate Obama. I told the guy I didn't believe that at all. I told that guy that I read more calls for assassination on Bush/Cheney coming out of the DailyKos comments section than anything I hear in the right wing sphere. Some people just don't get it. They think their sh*t don't stink....

Anyway, Obama said he was ready for the swift-boating. He said it had already begun, mentioning that Fox News said he came from a madrassa. He said that he knew he was a black man and that he was ready for whatever would come at him....

Ugh. You know, all around him were campaign signs with the word "HOPE" and yet all I heard in the brief time there was fear. Obama said to the crowd that the Bush admin was adept at using fear to manipulate us. I wonder if the rich irony dawned on anyone that Obama right then and there was using fear to motivate his potential electorate. Fear of rightwing. Fear of civil liberties, fear of wire taps, fear of war, fear of takedown of SCHIP, fear of corporations, fear of BIG this and BIG that. Fear of assassination and swift-boatings, and yada yada yada. Don't any of these people notice that they PUSH THE FEAR????

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Books I Read:
Imperial Grunts
Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts
by Robert D. Kaplan

I'm always fascinated by Robert Kaplan's insight and analysis. His observations, styled in the genre of travel writing, provide detail both focused and also big-picture. Over the last 5+ years, Kaplan has embedded himself with the major service branches of the US Military, traveling with the various services to areas of the globe both in and out of the headlines.

The breadth of US military involvement around the globe is astounding, and Kaplan serves as tour guide. For instance, while building up of the Iraqi army gets the most attention in the global press, Kaplan joins US military training missions to countries such as Mongolia, Niger, Mali, Algeria, Colombia, and Nepal where small teams of US Army Special Ops and US Marines team up with their host country counterparts for training exercises, the aim of which is to develop deeper country-to-country contact. Aside from these contacts, Kaplan journeys to other parts of the globe where the US is developing small-footprint military basing rights in such countries as Djibouti, Kenya, and Thailand. Add to this the longer reach aspects of US military might, such as the key strategic military launching points from isolated island bases such as Guam and Diego Garcia, not to mention the movable military platforms of aircraft carriers, submarine fleets, long-range strategic bombers.

Given this global reach, Kaplan does not shy away from the notion that what America has built, and what it endeavors to manage, is a vast empire tasked to maintain American influence in the globe, hold near-peers in check, defeat asymetric rogue threats, and provide the global security armiture necessary for a stable globalized economy interconnected nations depend on.

These books provide a vital glimpse into aspects of America typically bypassed by the global mainstream media elite. For instance, Kaplan offers interesting insight into such topics as:
- how the history of the indian wars continues to inform and resonate with today's soldier
- how Alaska may be the most valuable piece of real estate for the US military
- how PACOM may be for the Pacific Rim what NATO is for Europe
- that a divide grows between US military culture (as formed by its soldiery and their families) and US civilian culture (as formed by media and culture/academic elites)
- that narratives of heroism grow increasingly out-of-print, furthering the disconnect between the warrior culture of the military and a more cynical civilian culture
- that while battling terrorism occupies the US military in the near term, the long term challenge is managing the rise of India and China

These books contain far too much than can be written so briefly here. Kaplan vividly portrays the people he meets, not to mention the locations and weapons systems he encounters. These books are both entertaining and thought provoking and constitute vital reading for anyone interested in knowing the shape of the American future to come.