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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 07/10/2011 - 07/17/2011
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, July 16, 2011

In Dubai, enroute to Kabul

when i first visited dubai, i decided immediately that it was one of the creepiest places i had ever been... now, on my umpteenth pass-through, there's nothing to change that opinion... the service folk - hotel desk clerks, taxi drivers, restaurant help, indeed virtually ALL the menial labor - are drawn from india, bangladesh, pakistan, sri lanka, indonesia and the philippines, among others... they're uniformly delightful people, unfailingly polite and good-humored, but i'm well aware they're living lives of indentured servitude, two year contracts, surrendered passports, poverty wages, 12-14 hour days and regular 7-day weeks... meanwhile, the emiratis - the natives - hold down all the positions of officialdom, customs and immigration, government, etc. and do little more than strut around, playing with their smartphones - and themselves - living lives of utterly pampered luxury...

i predict that, in the annals of history, dubai will be seen as a premier example of the total dedication of our current age to the belief that the only things that matter are money, power and lots of stuff, and that obscene amounts of all three are the only goals worth striving for... our ancestors, if there are any that survive the coming reckoning, will regard dubai and all that it represents with righteous horror that the human race could veer so dramatically off the track...

in just a few hours, i'll be landing in kabul where abject poverty is seemingly limitless and the corruption of the wealthy elites is so over the top as to be incomprehensible... at least dubai has paved streets and the majority of the population has a roof over its head...


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Friday, July 15, 2011

"Entitlement" - a word that does NOT mean getting something for nothing

here's what it DOES mean...
Definition of ENTITLEMENT
a : the state or condition of being entitled : right b : a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract
: a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group; also : funds supporting or distributed by such a program
: belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges

i'm glad somebody is calling this bullshit for what it is... the crazed propaganda-meisters in my country are highly-skilled at creating emotionally loaded labels, among them words and phrases such as "liberal," "socialist," "bleeding heart," "welfare queen," and "entitlement"...

labeling social security as an "entitlement" is particularly noxious when the connotation is understood to mean "getting something for nothing"... people like yours truly have paid into that system all of our lives and, i for one, do not see my reliance on a contributory pension plan as "getting something for nothing"...

boyarsky calls "entitlement" a republican word... since there's no daylight between "republicans" and "democrats" i guess it doesn't matter what source label gets stuck on "entitlement," right...?

At his news conference this week, President Barack Obama seized on a misleading Washington word—“entitlements”—to describe the badly needed aid programs that are likely to be cut because of his compromises with the Republicans.

“Entitlement” is a misleading word because it masks the ugly reality of reducing medical aid for the poor, the disabled and anyone over 65 as well as cutting Social Security. Calling such programs entitlements is much more comfortable than describing them as what they are—Medicare, Social Security and money for good schools, unemployment insurance, medical research and public works construction that would put many thousands to work.

It’s also a Republican word. It implies that those receiving government aid have a sense of entitlement, that they’re getting something for nothing. And now it’s an Obama word as he moves toward the center and away from the progressives who powered his 2008 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination over centrist Hillary Clinton.

i arrived here in d.c. last evening and, after checking in to my hotel, i took a walk around the area... one of the first things that caught my eye was a large banner on the side of a city bus with the headline, "obama is a republican"... interesting to see something like that only a few blocks from the white house, eh...?

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Let's look forward to our first cyberspace war

gosh... i was just starting to digest the existence of drones and now i've got to transition from the matrix as just a movie to the matrix as hard core reality...
Pentagon Declares the Internet a Domain of War

The Pentagon released a long-promised cybersecurity plan Thursday that declares the Internet a domain of war.

The plan notably does not spell out how the U.S. military would use the Web for offensive strikes.

The Defense Department’s first-ever plan for cyberspace calls on the DoD to expand its ability to thwart attacks from other nations and groups, beef up its cyber workforce and expand collaboration with the private sector.

Like major corporations and the rest of the federal government, the military “depends on cyberspace to function,” the DoD plan says. The U.S. military uses cyberspace for everything from carrying out military operations to sharing intelligence data internally to managing personnel.

“The department and the nation have vulnerabilities in cyberspace,” the document states. “Our reliance on cyberspace stands in stark contrast to the inadequacy of our cybersecurity.”

Other nations “are working to exploit DoD unclassified and classified networks, and some foreign intelligence organizations have already acquired the capacity to disrupt elements of DoD’s information infrastructure,” the plan states. “Moreover, non-state actors increasingly threaten to penetrate and disrupt DoD networks and systems.”

Groups are capable of this largely because “small-scale technologies” that have “an impact disproportionate to their size” are relatively inexpensive and readily available.

The Pentagon plans to focus heavily on three areas under the new strategy: the theft or exploitation of data; attempts to deny or disrupt access to U.S. military networks; and any attempts to “destroy or degrade networks or connected systems.”

One problem highlighted in the strategy is a baked-in threat: “The majority of information technology products used in the United States are manufactured and assembled overseas.”

smart money says we're on a countdown to our first cyberwar...

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

$5.4 TRILLION for the war on terror... Who profits...? US military contractors and a global banking/financial elite

and all of them holding out for pipelineistan...

pepe escobar...

A recent, detailed study by the Eisenhower Research Project at Brown University revealed that the war on terror has cost the US economy, so far, from $3.7 trillion (the most conservative estimate) to $4.4 trillion (the moderate estimate). Then there are interest payments on these costs - another $1 trillion.

That makes the total cost of the war on terror to be, at least, a staggering $5.4 trillion. And that does not include, as the report mentions, "additional macroeconomic consequences of war spending", or a promised (and undelivered) $5.3 billion reconstruction aid for Afghanistan.

Who's profiting from this bonanza? That's easy - US military contractors and a global banking/financial elite.

The notion that the US government would spend $10 billion a month just to chase a few "al-Qaeda types" in the Hindu Kush is nonsense.

The Pentagon itself has dismissed the notion - insisting that just capturing and killing Osama bin Laden does not change the equation; the Taliban are still a threat.

In numerous occasions Taliban leader Mullah Omar himself has characterised his struggle as a "nationalist movement". Apart from the historical record showing that Washington always fears and fights nationalist movements, Omar's comment also shows that the Taliban strategy has nothing to do with al-Qaeda's aim of establishing a Caliphate via global jihad.

So al-Qaeda is not the major enemy - not anymore, nor has it been for quite some time now. This is a war between a superpower and a fierce, nationalist, predominantly Pashtun movement - of which the Taliban are a major strand; regardless of their medieval ways, they are fighting a foreign occupation and doing what they can to undermine a puppet regime (Hamid Karzai's).


It all comes back, once again, to Pipelineistan - and one of its outstanding chimeras; the Turkmenistan/Afghanistan/Pakistan (TAP) gas pipeline, also known once as the Trans-Afghan Pipeline, which might one day become TAPI if India decides to be on board.

The US corporate media simply refuses to cover what is one of the most important stories of the early 21st century.

Washington has badly wanted TAP since the mid-1990s, when the Clinton administration was negotiating with the Taliban; the talks broke down because of transit fees, even before 9/11, when the Bush administration decided to change the rhetoric from "a carpet of gold" to "a carpet of bombs".

TAP is a classic Pipelineistan gambit; the US supporting the flow of gas from Central Asia to global markets, bypassing both Iran and Russia. If it ever gets built, it will cost over $10 billion.

It needs a totally pacified Afghanistan - still another chimera - and a Pakistani government totally implicated in Afghanistan's security, still a no-no as long as Islamabad's policy is to have Afghanistan as its "strategic depth", a vassal state, in a long-term confrontation mindset against India.

It's no surprise the Pentagon and the Pakistani Army enjoy such a close working relationship. Both Washington and Islamabad regard Pashtun nationalism as an existential threat.

The 2,500-kilometer-long, porous, disputed border with Afghanistan is at the core of Pakistan's interference in its neighbour's affairs.

Washington is getting desperate because it knows the Pakistani military will always support the Taliban as much as they support hardcore Islamist groups fighting India. Washington also knows Pakistan's Afghan policy implies containing India's influence in Afghanistan at all costs.

Just ask General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Pakistan's army chief - and a Pentagon darling to boot; he always says his army is India-centric, and, therefore, entitled to "strategic depth" in Afghanistan.

It's mind-boggling that 10 years and $5.4 trillion dollars later, the situation is exactly the same. Washington still badly wants "its" pipeline - which will in fact be a winning game mostly for commodity traders, global finance majors and Western energy giants.

stay tuned... i'll be back in kabul as of sunday afternoon, once again sharing my perspectives from that corner of the world... all for what they're worth, of course... HA...!

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Slashing the financial security of American citizens would be more persuasive if the country didn't continue its posture of Endless War

As we endlessly hear about a massive debt crisis, the current President has started one optional war that has already exceeded its estimated costs, plans to continue (if not escalate) two more, is drone-attacking a new country on a seemingly weekly basis, expands sprawling covert military actions in still other countries, builds new overseas detention facilities, all while offering only the most modest, symbolic and illusory "cuts" in military spending. The alleged need to slash the financial security of American citizens -- and the notion that America faces a severe debt crisis -- would be more persuasive if the country didn't continue its posture of Endless War and feeding the insatiable, bloated National Security State (to say nothing of the equally insatible and wasteful Drug War and its evil spawn, the increasingly privatized American Prison State, which the Obama administration is expanding as aggressively as the War on Terror).

While it's true that reducing American military spending to a level in line with the rest of the world would not erase American debt levels, it would be a meaningful contributor. More important, it would indicate that American elites are willing to do more than blithely impose pain on, and demand sacrifice from, ordinary Americans, already suffering economically in so many ways and victimized by third-world levels of rapidly growing wealth inequality. That America's war-making industry is largely shielded from this "austerity" reveals how pretextual are these claims of crisis.

take a look at this chart that details u.s. discretionary spending for fy 2011...


so, not only is defense spending a sacred cow - the elderly and disadvantaged be damned - it's also going to further line the pockets of our already super-rich elites and their bought-and-paid-for toadies...

The Pentagon is not just incompetent. It is corrupt. In November 2009 the Pentagon’s Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), the federal watchdog responsible for auditing oversight of military contractors, raised the question of criminal wrongdoing when it found that the audits that did occur were riddled with serious breaches of auditor independence. One Pentagon auditor admitted he did not perform detailed tests because, “The contractor would not appreciate it.”

Why would the Pentagon allow its contractors to get away with fraud? To answer that question we need to understand the incestuous relationship between the Pentagon and its contractors that has been going on for years, and is getting worse. From 2004 to 2008, 80 percent of retiring three and four star officers went to work as consultants or defense industry executives. Thirty-four out of 39 three- and four-star generals and admirals who retired in 2007 are now working in defense industry roles — nearly 90 percent.

so, tell me, how is it that defense spending still remains virtually untouchable...?

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A plea for the common good

i had seen this video clip but commenter mettle's endorsement tipped me over into posting it...


we ALL count, goddamit...!

i arrive back in afghanistan this coming sunday... why in hell's name am i going back to that tortured country yet again...? why...? because i give a shit about the afghans and if there's only one tiny thing i can do to make things better there, i'll do it...

there are some truly wonderful people in afghanistan and, yes, there are some pretty rotten ones too... but going back there, despite the risk, despite the hardship, despite the incredible frustration with the way my country has been screwing over that country, nevertheless helps keep me focused on reality...

in case you hadn't noticed, staying focused on reality here in the u.s. is becoming increasingly harder every day...

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George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, et al., are still striding amongst us, carrying big sticks and with that same crazed look in their eyes

tom engelhardt...

Americans do seem to have turned the page on Bush and his cronies. (President Obama called it looking forward, not backward.) Still, glance over your shoulder and, if you’re being honest, you'll have to admit that one thing didn’t happen: they didn’t turn the page on us.

They may have disappeared from our lives, but the post-9/11 world they had such a mad hand in creating hasn’t. It’s not just the Department of Homeland Security or that un-American word “homeland,” both of which are undoubtedly embedded in our lives forever; or the Patriot Act, now as American as apple pie; or Guantanamo which, despite a presidential promise, may never close; or all the wild, overblown fears of terrorism and the new security world that goes with them, neither of which shows the slightest sign of abating; or the National Security Agency’s surveillance and spying on Americans which, as far as we can tell, is ongoing. No, it's scores of Bush policies and positions that will clearly be with us until hell freezes over. Among them all, consider the Obama administration’s updated version of that signature Bush invention, the Global War on Terror.

Yes, Obama’s national security officials threw that term to the dogs back in 2009, and now pursue a no-name global strategy that’s meant not to remind you of the Bush era. Recently, the White House released an unclassified summary of its 2011 “National Strategy for Counterterrorism,” a 19-page document in prose only a giant bureaucracy with a desire to be impenetrable could produce. (Don’t bother to read it. I read it for you.) If it makes a feeble attempt to put a little rhetorical space between Obama-style counterterrorism and what the Bush administration was doing, it still manages to send one overwhelming message: George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, et al., are still striding amongst us, carrying big sticks and with that same crazed look in their eyes.

it doesn't matter who sits in the oval office... our country remains seriously out of control and, unless and until we the citizens step up and insist that the bastards step down, it will continue to run amok...

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Moody's has targeted countries for destruction because they want their assets for nothing

max keiser...

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In the eyes of the state we are ... no longer citizens with constitutional rights but enemy combatants

chris hedges...
The widening use of militarized police units effectively nullifies the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which prohibits the use of the armed forces for civilian policing. City police forces have in the last few decades amassed small strike forces that employ high-powered assault rifles, armored personnel carriers, tanks, elaborate command and control centers and attack helicopters. Poor urban neighborhoods, which bear the brunt of the estimated 40,000 SWAT team assaults that take place every year, have already learned what is only dimly being understood by the rest of us—in the eyes of the state we are increasingly no longer citizens with constitutional rights but enemy combatants.

watch your step, fellow citizens...!

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