Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Or: "My Marines are winning this war, and you people are losing it for us in your papers."
-- Dispatches
Do you ever say to yourself, "Hey -- I don't really understand what the Vietnam War was all about?" Well don't be too hard on yourself. Nobody understands it. Nobody understood it at the time, and it hasn't started to make more sense since then.
Wikipedia's article on the war is extraordinarily well-written and concise. When I say "concise" I mean it's incredibly long but considering how complicated the war was... well it's pretty darn concise.

I have a friend whose dad was a Lt Colonel on Westmoreland's staff. Apparently the dad said that "General Westmoreland is hands down the stupidest man I've ever met."

The age-old questions are:

  • Why did the true believers want the war so badly?
  • Why did it take so long for the American public to realize that the government was lying to them?

The US military has been plagued by incompetence since its inception. And the stereotype is that, at least for the beginning of each war, they're fighting it like it was the last war.

The irony is that the lesson the military took from the war was that you couldn't trust the newspapers. The reason that's ironic is because of how credulous the American media was, for so very long. The US newspapers and TV would be the mouthpiece of every general who told them the war was almost over until finally, finally, the BS piled up so much that even they had to finally admit that there was no winning the war.

Boundaries Not Authoritative
And then almost exactly the same thing happened again with the Second Gulf War. Credulous press, believing every lie about Weapons of Mass Destruction. The military opened up to the media just a little bit, so that they could gush over the weapons and the glory of men in battle.
But maybe, just maybe, the total level of Malarky was recognized just a little bit faster this time around. Certainly far fewer people (American soldiers and everyone else) were killed.
But that's not where I'm going with this. I'm on my way to the Goldwater-Nichols Act and how we have the best (and smartest) military we've ever had.
But I'm not there yet.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

How Long Until This Gets a Parody?

If you were going to make a movie of The Turner Diaries it would essentially have the feel of this Santorum spot:

The Turner Diaries has a similar theme of the Government oppressing the poor White people in small down America. The FBI, using Affirmative Action (remember that?) is now all Black agents who rape white women with impunity while the impotent White men are powerless, etc., etc.
And, just like the Turner Diaries, the narrative in this fake movie trailer of Santorum's completely breaks down. After hearing all the horrible things about how the freedom of religion is under attack and there aren't any jobs we hear "one President's failed policies really hit home."
Wait. What?
You gotta be specific, man.
Failed policies? What failed policies?
You just can't go general like that. You absolutely must be specific. (Of course, they can't be specific because there's no real content there -- they can't identify any particular policy having done any particular thing because... well because none of those policies actually exist.)
It also doesn't work dramatically. If you made the movie this spot is pretending to be a trailer for you'd see the evil President declaring martial law and doing all the things which lead to the attacks on religion and higher gas prices. But you don't see those things here (because they don't exist.)
They've also made another critical dramatic mistake in the trailer.
When you hear the typical "In a world where (attack on religion, loss of jobs, threat by Iran), one man ("one President") must do blah-blah-blah in order to save (his family, the world, etc.) This is a formula. And it's a good formula.
But what's the issue here? The "one man" is the supposed antagonist in this spot. No, no, no. The "one man" needs to be the hero. He's Arnold Schwarzenegger or Bruce Willis. So the Santorum campaign has already defeated its own message by dramatically inserting Obama in the place of the hero protagonist when it says "one President".
These guys are not the A team. They put together a very dramatic spot without realizing the inherent flaws. I'd guess that's because they're all "true believers" so they're willing to overlook the absurdities of their own positions.
And I say to the Santorum campaign "Keep up the good work there."

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Neither Onboard or Off

So there's this new "Kickstarter" law that's being passed. By and large I'm favorable toward people being able to crowdsource any sort of funding.
Now I respect Bernie Sanders. And he seems afeared that the law will lead to fraud and (primarily) old people being ripped off.*
So, uh, yeah. I think we need a more sophisticated analysis of this proposed new law to really reach any conclusion.
Certainly the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act is not actually important to startups. I can imagine it might launch a thousand movies -- all of which will lose 100% of the money put into them.
I think too that it might be best if there were a limit to how much an individual could "invest" in all of these Kickstarter-esque startups in a year. Say $500. That way nobody could sink their own pension on putting thousands of dollars into scores of different businesses.
Bernie has a point that this law could create a gazillion mini-Enrons. But the key here is "mini". Not full-sized Enrons. Because every idiot with a half-baked idea will make a public offering. I wonder how much the SEC filing and the yearly costs of one of these corporations will be.

*Hey old people -- why do you fall for scams so easily? Just stop doing that. You didn't fall for them when you were in your 30's and 40's, why do you fall for them now?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The US attacks Great Britain in 1983

We begin with the Monroe Doctrine -- where the USA says that ain't nobody in Europe gets to meddle with countries in Central and South America. And if by telling European countries not to meddle we imply that the US may meddle, well that's just the way it is.
OK, so Manifest Destiny took us through most of the 18th Century. The idea was that America was expanding Westwise and that's all there was too it (and incidentally an interpretation of that was that America should export democracy too).
And that kinda explains the Spanish-American War, which knocked Spain out of the Western Hemisphere and dumped a bunch of "territories" into American possession (not including Cuba which the Cubans kept for themselves, as they tend to do.)
So starting at some point after the War of 1812 the USA and the UK defrosted their relationships. Through WWI and (especially) WWII they became such good friends that their relationship was described as "special". And the US never engaged in any hostilities against the UK until 1983.
Yes, the United States attacked a Commonwealth Realm in '83. (As I pointed out earlier, I remember the day. I was sitting in Hebrew class as a freshman in college when we heard about it. I thought I was going to get drafted.)
Ronald Reagan had ordered the invasion of Grenada.
I'll say something which seems incendiary, and isn't quite true.

The United States attacked England.

OK, so that didn't really happen. But the US did attack a Commonwealth State. When was the last time we'd done that? 1800-and-something, right?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Let's Revisit the Falklands

So, OK. It's like this.
Firstly, you see, the Argentine government (which you'll recall was put in place by the US) invaded the Falkland Islands in April of 1982.

The British responded by re-invading the Falklands.
(For those of you playing along at home, the Falklands have fewer than three thousand inhabitants.)
So who was on who's side?
Well at first the US was neutral. Then it was on the side of the UK.
(Hey -- whose side were the Israelis on? Why Argentina, of course. Apparently because they were already in Argentina.)

Then, a bit more than a year later, the United States invaded Grenada. No, wait. That actually happened. On October 25th, 1983 (I actually remember when I heard about this -- in Hebrew class in my brief stint in college.) The invasion by the United States was criticized by the British and Canadian governments. Granada was actually a British colony.

Now one wonders. There are a lot of BS reasons given for the US invasion of Grenada -- from trying to rescue college students who could have left at any time on regularly-scheduled flights, to saving the Grenadians from Communism or something. But the reality is that the US hit a Crown Colony. And it was a year after the UK went messing around in South America. Hmm...

Let's keep that in mind while we look at two major developments in American policy:
1. The changes of the US Military after the Grenada invasion
2. The eventual abandonment of the Monroe Doctrine

In the meantime, here is my sister's cat Pippin to keep you company.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The GOP are with the Communists

Ironic that the Right is always accusing Liberals of being un-American.

As for the Volt, it is emblematic of a larger problem the GOP has: the sense that they are rooting for America to fail,” Paul Begala, Democratic strategist and adviser to President Obama’s super PAC told TPM. “When a good jobs report comes out, Mitt Romney looks sad. When Clint Eastwood makes an unapologetic, patriotic Super Bowl ad for Chrysler, Karl Rove says it makes him sick. They booed a gay soldier at a GOP debate, and didn’t even want to give the President his due for ordering the mission that killed bin Laden. One wonders if they will be rooting for communist China during the summer Olympics.”