Saturday, September 12, 2009

Not Standing Pat

As much as I admire Pat Buchanan, I have to say (again, I'm afraid) that he spends way too much time bemoaning the demise of something that has never existed -- or if it ever did, it was way before the living memory of anyone alive today.

Let me explain. In today's column he asks, "In what sense are we one nation and one people anymore? For what is a nation if not a people of common ancestry, faith, culture and language, who revere the same heroes, cherish the same history, celebrate the same holidays, and share the same music, poetry, art and literature?"

For starters, that "anymore" part implies that we were, at one time (and -- by implication -- up until quite recently), "one nation and one people". Well... we have certainly been "one nation" in the legal sense since 1776, except for a slight awkwardness in the 1860s... but since when have we been "one people"? The English founded Jamestown in 1607, and the Dutch founded New Amsterdam in 1613. So for those six years in between, I guess we qualified as being "one people". Unless he means "all Europeans" -- but even that won't work if you include the Indians.

And how about his other points? Common faith? Well... many of the colonies were founded by people of one denomination seeking to get away from people of other denominations, with the result that the colonies overall were a patchwork of various religious groups -- all Christian, of course, until the first Jews arrived... in 1654. Um... OK... well then, how about culture? Each immigrant group brought their own with them; how can that be an argument? Even "typical" American Christmas customs are a hybrid of those from a dozen old-world cultures. Language? Well... we started out with English, Dutch, and French, with Spanish added on before long, then German, and then... well, just check out the number of langages currently used to say "Rest Room" and you'll get the idea.

And how about heroes? Well, that issue bifurcated at the time of the Civil War... plus now we have a whole galaxy of black heroes, Hispanic heroes, gay heroes, etc. History? Hmmm... well, I guess the catalog of any major university could enlighten us as to how many versions of history there are -- basically as many versions as the product of all races/ethnic groups x genders x sexual preferences. And there are actually "scholarly" publications out there nowadays with titles like "Journal of Black Lesbian History, Suckah!" And as to holidays -- well, aside from all the various national holidays still celebrated by all the "hyphenated American" groups, we have Jewish holidays, and now Hispanic and Arabic... and let's not forget "Juneteenth" and "Kwanzaaaaa". So forget about holidays. "Music, poetry, art and literature?" Well, since those are culturally-based they should be a subset of culture, right? And how many of those are there? (Unless we're talking about "high" culture, of course -- which doesn't really "belong" to anyone in the ethnic, national, or organic sense -- and which is therefore a doubtful help in holding a nation together, unless your "nation" happens to be San Francisco.)

So what I'm getting at is -- as I said at the beginning -- Buchanan is getting upset about losing something that has never really existed. America has always been a polyglot patchwork -- a nation of not-quite-assimilated immigrants, with a parish church for each white European ethnic group, rival street gangs based on race and ethnicity, etc. (And for those on the local scene, check out all the different ethnic "days" that Kennywood puts on each summer.) What kept this fact from being more obvious up until recently was the iron-fisted dominance of the "male WASP" over not just American politics and economics but also most visible manifestations of "culture". Remember when sitcoms _all_ involved WASP families? I sure do. And remember when Christmas cards could only depict winter scenes from New England? That's still true! And don't get me started on Thanksgiving, with all the Puritans and their buckled hats and blunderbusses! But while the deepest American iconographic roots are in Puritan New England, and while the male WASP still holds sway over much of the political and economic life of the nation, the "visible culture" has shifted drastically in favor of "diversity" and "minorities" -- to the point where it is virtually impossible to find any WASPs depicted on TV or in film, except in the most ruthless satirical way (think: Archie Bunker). And it's not as though ownership and control of the popular media has shifted all that much over the last few decades -- only that now it's more lucrative to "reflect diversity" than to stick with the same old 1950s Ozzie and Harriet formula. (Besides, all those "minorities" have TV sets now, and discretionary cash.) So those few of us who can still lay claim to being genuine WASPs (in terms of heritage, at least) have to get our cultural nourishment and light amusement from the efforts, and antics, of people who are "not our kind". It's as though the old-time minstrel show has metastatized and become the univeral baseline -- instead of WASP culture for everyone, it's now "Anything But WASP" culture for everyone. And frankly, I don't mind this trend at all -- I mean, we forget how crushingly boring those old 50s sitcoms were, until we happen to see one on Nickelodeon. Gimme J.J. and Steve Erkel any day.

So I guess Pat's complaint is -- not unlike the complaint I discussed a while back about "declining birth rates" -- less about diversity per se than about the accelerated rate thereof, and the fact that we are quickly becoming a modern-day version of the Tower of Babel. (Anyone who has witnessed a Pakistani trying to place an order at an inner-city McDonald's need seek no further... ) And this is completely true, and is completely the product of, guess what, demographics. Not just illegal immigration and refusal to assimilate, but of the fact that the more "aggressive" racial/ethnic groups persist in refusing to "control" their birth rate, whereas the more... um... "polite" groups are non-reproducing themselves out of existence. Darwin wins again, in other words. And Pat does admit that "the European-Christian core of the country that once defined us is shrinking as Christianity fades, the birth rate [I assume he means the non-Hispanic Christian birth rate] falls, and Third World immigration surges." Yes, and you know what? This is a self-inflicted wound on the part of the establishment, i.e. "real Americans" who have been drinking population control Kool-Aid ever since the 1960s. Them and the feminists, of course... who are, by and large, drawn from the same subpopulation.

He also states that "globalism dissolves the economic bonds while the cacophony of multiculturalism displaces the old American culture". Well, certainly globalism stands in opposition to nationalism, and therefore to nation-based economies. But it imposes its own economic bonds, which may turn out to be even stronger, and more oppressive, than those that any nation has been able to come up with. And as to "cacophony" -- right. Do some channel surfing any night of the week. But again, I don't see this as a problem so much as the result of free choices by individuals and groups. Selling one's culture down the river is not a cause so much as an effect -- an effect of cultural weariness and fatigue, of boredom, of uprootedness and lack of self-confidence and a vision of the future. Ask any racial/ethnic/sexual "minority" to describe their vision for America, and you'll get an instant thesis, delivered loudly and with confidence. Ask an old-time WASP the same question and he's likely to mumble something about "values"... and if you press the point it'll turn out he means "steak, chicken, and seafood" restaurants and a place on the golf course with swimming and tennis. And, oh yes, a fat portfolio, and a white Cadillac in the garage. This is not the sort of thing that sustains a culture or a nation, folks! It's bourgeois smugness and complacency -- almost guaranteed as a cultural death wish. The young, lean, and aggressive shall inherit the earth -- at least in the cultural sense. And those people are to be found among the "diverse", no matter how much Pat Buchanan regrets the notion.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Living in Infamy (Part III)

Someone reading through the two previous posts might want to ask, “OK, so how do _you_ feel about the events of 9/11? What do _you_ think happened? 'Cause you seem to have an opinion about just about everything else.” Well, as I've said, the “cui bono?” approach, while not logically air-tight, is nonetheless quite useful – call it the equivalent of circumstantial evidence. If we have means and motive on the one hand, and an actual outcome on the other, connecting the two might not always lead to the correct answer, but it will do so much of time – especially if the means and motive are things of long standing and if the outcome continues to bear fruit (for those who had the means and motive) for years afterward. So, even though it's a common thing for people to describe the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as debacles, failures, a massive waste of resources, etc. -- they have, in fact, been spectacularly successful for some people and organizations. We should also recall that the notion of invading Iraq – of “regime change” -- predated 9/11 by quite a bit; it was a foreign policy accident waiting to happen. As usual, we had taken sides in the Iran-Iraq war because of our hurt feelings about the embassy takeover. So in that sense, Saddam Hussein was our creation, as were the Taliban. Then we decided that, although it had seemed like a good idea at the time, we could no longer live in the same world as Saddam, so he had to go. (I wonder how many other current regimes are biting their nails, just waiting for us to get tired of them? They know that once the honeymoon with the U.S. is over, it's _over_, baby. The irony is that we wind up treating our traditional “enemies”, like Cuba and North Korea, better than our former “friends”.)

Then I'll say again that we are stuck to the tar baby called “Israel” as a result of what, IMO, was the diplomatic/foreign policy blunder of the century – and we really should have known better... and maybe we did, but nothing could be done. So we have been paying the “Israel bill” ever since – and 9/11 is just the most prominent single item on that ever-expanding bill.

So when you look at everyone who benefited from 9/11 – and continues to do so – is it even remotely possible that, for them, it was all just dumb luck, and that no one had the slightest hand in the business? I just can't accept that. Once again, check out the Internet on this subject. There are so many layers of intrigue involved... so many plots and sub-plots, so much deception, so much maneuvering, so many intriguing (and otherwise wildly unlikely) connections... and so many people dedicated to either the cover-up or suppressing all doubts and skepticism... that I find it hard to believe that the official version is all there is to it. An innocent man typically does not march into court with an army of lawyers, the way O.J. did. Likewise, if the official story were true, and not seriously open to doubt, would there be an army of people employed full-time to ward off anyone who suspected otherwise? Does the Regime have confidence in its own expressed position, or in its ability to defend it? Apparently not – since its functionaries squeal like stuck pigs every time anyone dares question the position. The hypersensitivity alone should give one pause.

Then we have the common argument of, “How is it possible that so many people can keep that big a secret for so long -- for the rest of their lives, if need be?” Well – the truth is, it's quite possible. There is nothing quite so delicious as having, and keeping, a secret that you know few other people are in on – it provides a power rush... a feeling of specialness, of superiority. Look at how few people ever “squeal” on the Mafia. Or the CIA. Check out the vast conspiracy – seldom cracked to this day – re: the JFK assassination (some of the most compelling evidence to date coming from “deathbed confessions”). Think about Pearl Harbor... or the atomic bomb... or the Gulf of Tonkin... or the USS Liberty. And how about the Freemasons, the prototype for all subsequent conspiracies? No – secrets are easier to keep than people think, and the bigger the secret, the easier it is to keep. People who doubt this are either amateurs in the secret-keeping business (in which case, they'll never be given any secrets worth keeping) or they simply don't know any really big secrets outside their own family's dreary and predictable variety – like why Cousin Minnie had to go live with relatives in another city for a few months back in 1950.

So to sum up, we have motive, means, and all that has happened since in the way of both benefits and cover-ups. This tells me that things are not the way the Regime wants us to think they are. Consider also that, for a guy who wanted to get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan ASAP when he was on the campaign trail, Obama has developed a strange new respect for war. Consider also our total impotence in the face of Israel's high-jinks in Gaza and the West Bank. Obama, just like his predecessors, reached the “sell-out point” back during the campaign, and had to decide – either he remained a candidate, or he stuck to his principles and went back to community organizing in Chicago. For the typical politician, this is not a hard choice to make – sadly. And Obama, just like his predecessor, surely doesn't have “the whole story” -- simply because he doesn't have what is termed “the need to know”. All he needs to know, really, is that his political future is on the line, and that he'd better pay very close attention to what certain people are telling him. They'll take care of the rest – like the guy who says, just sign on the dotted line and I'll fill in the amounts later on (heh heh). But the funny thing is, a politician who turns, overnight, into an exploited dupe still winds up holding the bag; they have no authority and no responsibility, but still have all the accountability – and this is, of course, the usual strategy – call it a sophisticated form of blackmail if you like. They start to get fewer check marks in the “credit” column and more in the “blame” column – but by then it's too late... and eventually they slink off the stage, like Carter and George W. Bush, still wondering what happened, and what went wrong. “I coulda been a contenda”, and all that. But who, these days, knows enough to fight back? Certainly no one who is allowed to become a presidential candidate; they are picked for their malleability above all, and for their willingness to live in a hermetically-sealed White House and trust only the “advisors” who have been hand-picked by... well, certainly not by them. We wonder about “advisors”, and “kitchen cabinets”, and “shadow cabinets”, and so on, as opposed to the people with official, Constitutionally-arguable offices and titles. The fact is, the latter are all “faces” -- they're like TV “anchorpersons”, picked for curb appeal and nothing else. The real power in any administration flows down from the Regime through all the unelected, unconfirmed people who are, in effect, jailers who keep the president locked up in a gilded cage.

(This may, in fact, be a clue as to how Obama managed to come out of nowhere, basically, and defeat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination -- she was just a bit too feisty for the powers that be... too much of a handful. They weren't sure she could be fully... "trusted" when the chips were down.)

So I think that, yes, something happened, and someone was involved, far above and beyond the official line. But once that premise is accepted, which model do you adopt? Which particular cluster of evidence, or non-evidence, do you focus on? And how important, or vital, to the narrative are events like the WTC 7 collapse? Were there really Israeli intelligence agents celebrating and giving each other “high fives” across the river in Brooklyn while the WTC towers burned? There is strong evidence that there were. And what about all the strange stock market manipulations that occurred in the days leading up to 9/11? Coincidence? People are buying and selling stock all the time. It's like proving that a given person was part of the JFK assassination conspiracy because they eventually died. Well yeah... that does tend to happen to people. But so many of them died “mysteriously”. Yes, but they also had, let's say, “high-risk life styles”. And so the debate goes on. The challenge for any conspiracy theorist is not to simply connect all the available dots, but to discern which ones merit connecting and which ones don't. I liken it to the situation with regard to psychosis. Psychotics typically fall into one of two major categories, in terms of perceptual/cognitive functioning – either the person is making way too few connections, or way too many. The “way too few” variety would characterize the totally out of it, or vegetative type... whereas “way too many” would characterize the paranoid type, where not only is everything related to everything, but it's ultimately all about them. “Normal” people, on the other hand, fall within a mid range when it comes to connections – kind of like Goldilocks – not too many, not too few, just right.

So if you want to get on the conspiracy train, which seems immoderate by definition, there is still a wide range of possible positions. You still have to decide how far, and how deep, to go... which connections are meaningful and which ones aren't... and hopefully come up with a position that can be described, at least within that context, as “moderate”. You have to make decisions, every day, as to the quality and credibility of various pieces of evidence, as well as to the quality and credibility of their sources, and the possible agendas that those various sources might have. Objectivity, in other words, is well-nigh impossible to come by – as we learned to our dismay back when the Warren Commission Report came out. That was supposed to be a cool, calm, and collected summing-up of the JFK assassination narrative... but about five minutes after it was issued, it was described as a “cover-up” and a “rush to judgment”. And of course no “report” or “investigation” by any part of the establishment will ever be believed, or accepted, by its skeptics and critics... and their points of view, and questions, and doubts, will never be given a fair hearing by the establishment. That's just the way things are, and have always been – it's what you might call the “metaphysical/epistemological divide”, or fault line, in any society – the “official version” of events versus all other versions. Of course, when a regime is overthrown, occasionally an official version -- narrative, myth, or "text" -- can be dragged out and exposed to light of day, and shown to be fallacious. I mean, how many Germans today still subscribe to “Mein Kampf”? (Maybe I don't want to know.) And if you really pressed them on it, how many Chinese today still carry Mao's Little Red Book around the way American Evangelicals carry the Bible? Mao's moon face still peers down at them from the walls around Tiananmen Square – but iconography does not necessarily equal belief. I mean, people still file into the National Archives to ogle the Constitution – but how many believe in it? Very few, is my guess. (And the ones who do are probably stopped by the security staff on the way in.)

So my strategy when it comes to 9/11 is to keep an open mind and a willingness to consider all the possibilities – while, nonetheless, exercising as much discernment and logic as I'm capable of; I think mistakes are being made on both ends of the continuum. But this in itself could be considered a subversive act, since it reflects an unwillingness to simply swallow whole the pronouncements of the Regime – to be, in other words, an “authoritarian”, that personality type that every collectivist or totalitarian regime values so highly. But whose fault is that? Is it mine, for suspecting that our government, as presently constituted, has turned out to be “no better” than any of its historical predecessors or contemporaries? This, of course, is heretical since it violates the premise of “American exceptionalism”. And when it comes to exceptionalism, no amount of actual data can sway the mind of the typical American who was brought up on the public school diet of “social studies” (or “civics”, for the older generation). In a sense, the American myth that we're superior because our “ideas” are superior is actually more damaging than the more traditional style of patriotism – the “just so” version that says, basically, “we're the best”, no explanations given. By which people typically mean, “We're the best because we are who we are, living where we do, with the faith that we have.” Blood, land, and creed – as old as the hills. And I agree that those are all things worth believing in, and fighting for! But no – for Americans that's not good enough... nowhere near. For one thing, we are a “deracinated” people for whom blood ties have become thinned out almost to the point of non-existence... and we are also a restless, migratory people whose loyalty to the land – any land -- is a poor imitation, at best, of the feelings enjoyed by so many elsewhere on the globe. (Can you imagine, for instance, the idea of “American refugees”? We're _all_ refugees!) And as to creed – well, check out the Yellow Pages under “Churches” sometime. I rest my case. We are, when all is said and done, a non-people who live nowhere and believe nothing – at least in the traditional senses. So what do we adopt, and use, to fill this gap? Why, “ideas”, of course – you know, things like “democracy” (American style), “freedom” (ditto), “choice” (ditto), and so on. And these become things that are not only worth fighting, and dying, over for our own sake, but for the sake of others – including people who couldn't care less! Not only that, but those other people should be willing to fight and die for our ideas as well – or if not fight, at least die without complaint. How many Iraqis called “Operation Iraqi Freedom” by that name, for instance? I'm betting that the usual term (translated from Arabic, of course) was “Operation Oh Jeez, Here Come Those Damned Americans”. And how many goatherd villages in the Hindu Kush appreciate our ultimatum, either you give up your culture or we'll keep bombing your weddings? Yeah... that's the reductio ad absurdum of our obsession with “ideas”.

Another problem with any discussion of 9/11 is that the event – like so many others in our history – was “absolutized” by the Regime – i.e. it was taken out of historical (some would say “relativistic”) context and made into an instant icon – a golden calf of sorts, before which we must all bow down and worship, and heaven help the skeptic who refuses to do so. You see, when this is done it conveniently cuts the event off from not only all context, but from all skepticism, all doubt, and all rules of evidence. It also means that not only the direct employees of the Regime, but the entire populace, are mobilized in the defense of the official story – we are all turned into inquisitors who are expected to erupt with indignation every time we hear the slightest doubt being expressed, and start pointing fingers and denouncing the offending party.

As an example, I have only to refer to yesterday's paper, which describes how a Monroeville, PA councilwoman (talk about “high office”!) has gotten into hot water for – just like Van Jones! -- signing a so-called “9/11 truther” petition. She was “outed”, in turn, by a fellow councilman – in the best Bolshevik tradition – after he saw her name on the web site while “researching news reports about Jones”. Right, sure -- he “stumbled across (her) name” out of “thousands” on the site. And you're telling me he didn't have any help? So we see that it doesn't matter how trivial a person's position is, or how far down the totem pole they are – they are in jeopardy if they have ever gone on record as being skeptical about the 9/11 narrative. And by the way, the councilwoman says “she does not buy into the conspiracy theory [this seems to assume there is only one] but wants a more 'balanced' examination of the terrorist attacks.” But that's the entire problem! There is no possibility of a “balanced” examination, because any position other than the strictly orthodox one has to slide into the “conspiracy/evil government” mode. There are no gray areas, in other words – you are either “for” the official explanation, or “against” not only that, but America itself – and all that is true, and good, and patriotic. And this is precisely the dilemma the Regime wants to put us in – either believe, or be considered a traitor. And this, in turn, is the earmark of all totalitarian regimes down through history -- keep your doubts to yourself and shut up, and everything will be fine. But say anything in a public forum, and the swarm attacks. Plus, unlike in previous eras of history, we also have the “mental health” card to play against skeptics – that card that was so effectively played for so many years in the Soviet Union. Not only are they unpatriotic and dangerous, but crazy as well. (Notice how this card is starting to be played against “global warming” skeptics.) And of course, we know what's best for crazy people – lock 'em up, without benefit of trial. That way they won't upset anyone and we can all continue to sip the Regime's Kool-Aid undisturbed.

And I have to add that this defense of an essential narrative is very similar to the way the Holocaust narrative is defended – as an absolute, an event that occurred, in some mysterious way, outside of normal history, for completely arbitrary reasons – and which, in turn, gives the victims (in the collectivist sense) carte blanche to do whatever is necessary to insure that it “never again” occurs. And you'll notice that apologists of the Dick Cheney stripe emphasize this more often than anything else – the fact that we have had “no further terrorist attacks on American soil” proves that all the government measures in response to 9/11 – domestic and foreign – were fully justified. And not only that, but any attempt to “historicize” the events of 9/11 meet with the same response that attempts to put the Holocaust into historical context meet with – violent opposition and defamation.

So if 9/11 was “the American Holocaust” we can expect its effects to linger down through the years, decades, and generations for a long time to come. And we can, likewise, expect the position of the government – and any administration – to become even harder and less tolerant over time. How long until we have laws prohibiting “9/11 denial”, for instance? Hey, it could happen. But as I've pointed out before, a lot of what is termed “Holocaust denial” is not denial of the events so much as of the narrative, and mythology, that came out of them. We already have a well-developed 9/11 narrative and mythology, and a vast array of means by which to promulgate it and suppress any opposition. But hopefully, the accumulated force of all the “still, small voices” on the Internet will continue to serve to shed some occasional light into the newest, and darkest, of America's dark corners. And if it does, the victims will truly not have died in vain.

Living in Infamy (Part II)

Now we move from sunlight to shadow... from light into darkness... from the obvious to the threatening and mysterious. The discussion in Part I was predicated, at least for the sake of argument, on the 9/11 attacks having been precisely as described by the organs of the Regime – i.e. both the Bush and Obama administrations, the government in general, and the MSM: “Only this, and nothing more”, as the raven quoth. I venture to summarize their position thusly:

1.The 9/11 attacks (I've never heard of anyone denying that they were, in fact, attacks and not just pieces of guerrilla theatre) were initiated by Islamic terrorists, who hijacked passenger planes to be used as weapons. There were four planes hijacked, of which three reached their (presumed) targets – two for the World Trade Center in New York City and one for the Pentagon building in Arlington, Virginia. The fourth plane – target unknown (but suspected to have been either the Capitol or the White House) – crashed in Pennsylvania after the hijackers were themselves attacked and overcome by the passengers and crew.

2.The WTC towers fell solely as the result of the fires that broke out when they were hit by the planes... those fires having compromised the structural integrity of the buildings at and above the point of impact, resulting in the upper floors collapsing and causing a chain-reaction collapse of the lower floors.

3.The attacks were completely unanticipated by everyone, including the U.S. intelligence agencies and foreign intelligence.

4.The attacks were planned and carried out by Islamic radicals, possibly with the aid of various rogue (i.e., ones we don't like) regimes in the Arab/Islamic world. No government or governmental entity outside the Arab/Islamic world was involved, or had any knowledge of the plan.

OK – I think that about sums it up. Now – without passing judgment one way or the other on the official position, I will sum up (and I do mean “sum up”, since there are, by now, thousands of web sites and millions of web pages devoted to this matter, which has long since surpassed the JFK assassination as “the” all-time conspiracy), in a sort of hierarchical way, what I will call “alternative” interpretations of the events of 9/11. (“To learn more” -- as they say on PBS – just start rooting through the Internet. Bring coffee.)

CT (Conspiracy Theory) Level 1: All of the above happened as stated, except that certain elements of the government did, in fact, know in advance that something of this sort was likely to happen. This level can be subdivided as follows:

1a: Intelligence agencies had an inkling that this sort of thing might be in the works, but did not have sufficient evidence to do anything about it. (This is not a particularly controversial notion, and many people who qualify as “insiders” have as much as admitted it. You can't just go out and arrest anybody who “might” be a terrorist. Well, I mean, you can now, but you couldn't back then.)

1b: Intelligence agencies knew with a reasonable degree of certainty that these attacks were planned, but opted not to take preventive measures for political and/or foreign policy reasons. (This position will be known henceforth as the “Van Jones position”.)

1c. Intelligence agencies knew the precise means, day, times, and locations of the attacks in advance, but, again, did nothing to prevent them (for the reasons given above). (This is the “Van Jones licking a crack pipe position”.) One of the best pieces of evidence for this position is the rapidity with which the government – and the media – produced the names and photographs of all the terrorists. How did they know? Even if they had combed the passenger lists (which don't include photographs anyway), how did they know right away who was a terrorist and who wasn't? Did the terrorists radio a cast of characters from the planes once they had been hijacked? I don't think so. So – in its zeal to “pin” the attacks on certain Islamic fanatics, and no one else, the Regime tipped its hand.

1d. Intelligence agencies not only knew the precise means, day, times, and locations, but actually did things to facilitate the attacks, for the reasons, etc. (This is the “Where the heck did Van Jones go, he was here just a minute ago, position”.) And by “facilitate”, I don't mean direct physical involvement in the attacks so much as clearing a path – the way government agencies do it all the time in so-called “sting” operations. In other words, you provide the right people with the right information at the right time... you facilitate contacts... you open doors (ones that the persons involved might not have known were there)... and so forth.

CT Level 1.1 (and 1.1a through 1.1d): Same as level 1 etc., except substitute “Israeli intelligence agencies”.

CT Level 1.2 (and 1.2a through 1.2d): Same as level 1 etc., except _add_ “Israeli intelligence agencies”. They may have been acting in complete coordination with U.S. agencies, but not necessarily. (Given that the U.S. and Israel are indistinguishable foreign policy-wise, the intel agencies still like to "play the game" from time to time.)

And why Israel? Well, this goes back to the “cui bono” argument. The wars in the Middle East are being fought, by us, primarily (if not exclusively) for the benefit of Israel, i.e. to preserve its “right to exist” as well as its actual existence. Would we be over there (i.e. in Iraq and Afghanistan) if they weren't? Possible, but unlikely. Would be we over there if it hadn't been for the 9/11 attacks? Possible, but unlikely. The existence of the State of Israel combined with the attacks shifted the balance overwhelmingly (or so the government contends) in favor of initiating a war on Islam – the WMD argument was just frosting on the cake, but, as we have seen, not really necessary. So, did the attacks work in Israel's interest? Of course – and so much so that it's easy to imagine that Israel might have, let's say, placed its thumb on the scale. But it doesn't take imagination, since there is evidence as well. (This, by the way, has nothing to do with the rumor that Jews working at the WTC were advised to stay home that day. Obviously, the willingness to sacrifice a few thousand Americans for political gain would not stop at sacrificing a few of your own tribe. It's always about long-term gains.)

OK – now so far, the specifics of the attacks remain untouched, the only question being who, if anybody other than the terrorists, knew anything in advance, and if so, what did they know and when (and how) did they know it... and what did they do, or not do, with that knowledge?

But now we move on to CT Level 2 – I call it the “hamburger helper” level. Under this scenario, the attacks occurred as represented by the house organs of the Regime, except that the effects were, let's say, augmented in some way. This would have involved, for example, the placing, ahead of time, of demolition charges in both WTC towers and/or the portion of the Pentagon that was struck. The purpose? To insure maximum impact – not only physical but also psychological, and, ultimately, propaganda-wise. How many armies would march into battle with the cry, “Remember the top twenty floors of the World Trade Center!” ? But “Remember 9/11!” ? Ah yes – much better.

(Reality check – there is an impressive body of evidence supporting this position when it comes to the WTC towers. Regarding the Pentagon, it's not so obvious, and, IMO, the degree and type of damage does not call for an “augmentation” theory of this sort. Besides, the WTC towers were much less ambiguous targets than the Pentagon; you could have hit them anywhere and gotten about the same effect. Is someone claiming that the Pentagon was hit precisely where it was according to some plan? This seems a bit far-fetched. Note that the Pentagon is a very large, flat building. It's a big target, but how precisely a strike could be aimed at it – at that speed and with considerable maneuvering – is another matter.)

So, to sum up – Level 2 contends that the attacks were as described, but they got help – at least for the WTC if not the Pentagon. But now we move on to Level 3 -- and please put your oxygen masks up to your face at this point, and breathe steadily even if the bag doesn't fully inflate -- because guess what, the buildings were not hit by passenger planes at all, but by missiles... or, at the very least, by some other types of planes than the ones alleged. There is striking evidence for this (other types of planes) when it comes to the WTC; again, check the Internet. When it comes to the Pentagon, there is a quite intriguing case for a missile.

But hold on! There's another possibility for the Pentagon – call it Level 3.1. This is the notion that the Pentagon was hit by neither a plane nor a missile, but only by a pre-set demolition charge. And what is the evidence for this? I would rather call it a “no evidence” case. What I have always find most fascinating about the Pentagon situation is that, for one of the most highly-fortified, and guarded, and secured, and watched buildings in the world there are NO photographic (still or video) records – at least none that we know of – that actually show an airplane, or missile, or anything else, flying into the building. This, I find, totally staggering. And – if photographic evidence does exist, why has it never been released to the public? The Level 3 CT will say, it's because the images show a missile and not a plane. The Level 3.1 CT will say, it's because there was nothing but an explosion. Well... the only way for the government to debunk this is to show us the pictures, and it hasn't as yet. So we have a kind of Mexican standoff.

And I should also point out that the attack on the Pentagon occurred toward the end of morning rush hour, and the plane (or whatever) would have to have flown directly over the busiest highway in the DC area, typically jammed with bumper-to-bumper traffic. But no drivers saw anything. And – the part of the Pentagon that was struck is in clear view of scores of high-rise hotels and apartment buildings, plus other government buildings, like the Navy Annex. And you're telling me that no one – not a single government worker, for instance – was gazing out the window toward the Pentagon at that precise point? Please. On any given morning at that hour, mid-to-high-grade (because that's what it takes to have a window) government employees are standing, coffee cup in hand, looking out the window, waiting for the day to begin. And what better to stare at than the Tower of Power itself – the Death Star – namely the Pentagon? But no one saw a thing. So I say again, incredible.

So to sum up for the Pentagon, we have at least three competing scenarios – the plane, a missile, and demolition. The “plane plus demolition” scenario, while possible, seems less likely. And the best evidence – or non-evidence – for the demolition scenario is the incredible lack of photographic evidence or eyewitnesses.

But before we leave Level 3, we have to deal with two of the major questions, or objections. The first is, if there were missiles or mystery planes involved, whose were they? Not Saddam's, I can tell you that much. Now we're moving into the “provocateur” area where, terrorists or no terrorists, the government – someone in the government -- wanted to shock the American people into fear-stricken, unquestioning obedience and cooperation with whatever schemes it might choose to cook up, both domestic and foreign policy-wise, for the foreseeable future. You know, stuff like the Patriot Act, and declaring war on Iraq and Afghanistan... and getting patted down by Indian grandmothers in airport security lines (that was before TSA took over – funny how no one remembers). This would be the “American Reichstag fire”, in other words. Unthinkable? Hey – relax and take a deep breath. Remember the World War I sedition acts? How about the Gulf of Tonkin resolution? For that matter, remember Fort Sumter? Need I go on? People who think the government – any government – is incapable of “this sort of thing” clearly slept through history class, and are still sleeping.

The other objection, however, carries quite a bit of weight, IMO. Namely, if the buildings weren't hit by those three planes, then what happened to them (the planes, that is)? The “E-Z answer” is they were flown out over the Atlantic and either shot down or ditched (and if so, who flew them?). Of course, I guess they could also have been flown into the cargo bay of a UFO and are now in orbit around Jupiter along with Elvis. Like I say, this is a tough argument to make without sounding like a total wackball. But impossible? Well, nothing is impossible in this day and age.

A sidebar item, not necessarily belonging to any particular “level”, is the notion that the 4th plane – the one presumably headed for the Capitol or White House, was not brought down through the actions of a heroic band of passengers and crew, but was shot down by the Air Force. And actually, from a national security point of view, that's not as far-fetched as it sounds, and might even have been justified if it was known for certain what the intent was. But don't try telling this to anyone over in Shanksville.

And speaking of the 4th plane, there is also an argument that it didn't crash in Shanksville after all, but that something else happened at that site. Again, this leaves the fate of the 4th plane, like the other three, up in the air... so to speak.

And another sidebar item is the mysterious collapse of WTC 7 – one of the “other” buildings in the complex. This event, occurring hours after the towers' collapse, has yet to be satisfactorily explained – by anyone. One CT position is that it was the command center for the entire operation, and had to be demolished to destroy the evidence. There is also the intriguing fact – thoroughly documented – that many news outlets “knew” about the collapse of WTC 7 before it actually occurred. There are actual clips of newscasters describing the collapse with WTC 7 clearly visible -- and still standing -- behind them. Again -- did the Regime overdo it a bit in its "rush to judgment"?

So that about sums up, in extremely simplified terms, what I see as the major “9/11 conspiracy theory” elements. Obviously, any one theorist, or “school” of theory, can't hold to all the above positions at the same time – some choices have to be made. And let's admit that it's a logical fallacy to simply look at everyone who benefited from the 9/11 attacks and claim that, well, if they benefited they must have had something to do with it. There is such a thing as dumb luck – like if you just happened to own Halliburton stock on 9/11. (Never mind that Dick Cheney had a few million shares... in a “blind trust”, of course – ha ha.) But people who benefited in a systematic, predictable way – and who continue to do so... that's another matter entirely.

And, as I said previously, 9/11 was a non-accident waiting to happen; it was only a matter of time before we would get payback, big time, from the Arab/Islamic world, and radical militants with suicide on their minds were the logical people to provide it, and terrorism was the logical means. And what could be higher profile, and more shocking, and at once more damaging and more symbolic, than what actually happened? So what I'm saying is that, on the credibility scale, the attacks made perfect sense, and anyone who was surprised simply hadn't been paying attention. What doesn't make as much sense, however, is the government's – supported by the MSM – story about how the attacks actually played out, i.e. the details, and all the loose ends, inconsistencies, and unanswered questions – and mainly, if it all happened as it is supposed to have happened, why the massive cover-up (extensively documented, and which continues under Obama, you'll notice – because “it's time to move on”, as usual)? Why the relentless propaganda campaign – both “pro” the establishment view and “con” all the alternatives, and the people who are proposing them? Why all the flickering shadows in dark corners? Why are so many of the suspicions, and accusations, answered by, basically, silence, or the usual tactic of accusing the accusers of being nut cases?

It's funny how yesterday's oddball idea eventually becomes today's conventional wisdom... it has happened before in American history, and there is no reason to think that this will not be another case – perhaps the greatest of all, surpassing, as I said, even JFK (which has pretty much been settled, IMO – but that hasn't made a dent in the “JFK assassination industry”). But in the meantime, the skeptics have to fight on alone, in dim light and against the machine... while those that benefited, and continue to benefit, commit their crimes by light of day, with nary a word of protest to be heard.

Living in Infamy (Part I)

On this, the 8th anniversary of 9-11, we are expected to, once again, put up with a supersized dose of the propaganda that has been ground out by the Regime day in and day out since that fateful day – that all of our foreign policy and military exertions from then to now have been about "combatting terror", “national security”, “keeping America safe”, “preserving our freedoms”, and “preserving our way of life”, and nothing more. Well, throw in “spreading democracy” if you like, and “protecting America's interests abroad”... and, for the rare honest (but terribly misled) politician, “protecting Israel's right to exist”. Some will even admit that it's all about keeping the flow of Mideast oil uninterrupted. But no matter what the excuses and expressed priorities are, the one unquestioned fact of existence is that we are “living in a post-9/11 world”, and that “nothing will ever be the same”, etc. etc. And of course this “world” that we are all hunkered down in, afraid of our own shadows and suspicious of everyone (including each other), was not of our own making but was created for us, out of whole cloth, by a bunch of Saudi religious fanatics with the help of a bunch of Afghan goatherds. Who knew that people of that low estate could ever have that much power – to not only radically alter the American way of life, but our military strategy, foreign policy, economy, and the world economy to boot?

But of course, the answer is that they didn't have that much power; they didn't have 1%, or .01%, of that much power. Their leverage came not from their cleverness and viciousness, but from our own folly – our “choice” (or actually the government's) of how to react. To begin with, there wasn't anything the slightest bit surprising about the attacks – or, at least, there shouldn't have been. As Ron Paul so eloquently put it (much to Rudy Giuliani's indignation), “They're over here because we're over there.” And we have been “over there” ever since the first drop of oil was discovered in the Saudi desert; that's the economic side. And on the political side, the fact that we have been Israel's sole, and guaranteed, means of support ever since its establishment has only added decades of insult to decades of injury. We take their oil, with the cooperation of their corrupt and degenerate “leaders”, then return the favor by plopping a very militant, aggressive group of the people they hate most in the world right in their midst. The first mystery about 9-11 is why it didn't happen decades sooner. But I guess that we first had to help Pakistan create the Taliban in order to drive the Russians out of Afghanistan. (There's a “patter song” in there somewhere... )

And of course the attacks were literal, in that they really wanted to hurt us militarily and economically – but they were also symbolic, in that they saw the American military as the arm of our benighted foreign policy as well as our avaricious economic policies... and they saw “world trade” as, basically, a cover for those same economic policies, that could also have been termed “economic imperialism”. But really, how much of a bump did “world trade” suffer as a result of the attacks on the WTC? Some companies suffered severe setbacks, no doubt – but world trade in general? It rolled on with nary a moment's hesitation. And as to attacking the Pentagon hobbling, or even slowing down, the military? Anyone who has worked in the defense area can tell you that the less meddling they get from the Pentagon, the more effective our troops are. I worked a mile from the Pentagon and the only change I noticed post 9-11 was a slight drop in required paperwork – which was good! So... in the literal sense, the attacks made very little difference. And the symbolic sense was lost on all but a very few clear-eyed Americans; the rest thought it was all random nonsense. It was that very lack of comprehension that, in a way, defeated the symbolic intent of the attacks. If the enemy doesn't understand what you're talking about, all the propaganda and “psy ops” in the world aren't going to do any good. And most Americans don't associate “world trade” with anything but everyday low prices.

But enough about failure. Let's talk about the ways in which the attacks were a spectacular success. To begin with, they turned the U.S. into a police state – at least potentially. By which I mean, the mechanisms, hastily concocted on the heels of the attacks (and, some would say, “shovel ready” even before the attacks) are now firmly in place, should any administration care to make full use of them; certainly partial uses have already been made, and Americans are starting to see what living under a totalitarian system really is like – the gray dullness is setting in. So the terrorists robbed us of many of our freedoms – not directly, but by stimulating a gross overreaction on the part of the government – or, some would say, presenting a gift on a silver platter to those with totalitarian intent.

Secondly, the attacks were the last straw in what had been a – let's say -- “tense” relationship between us and the Arab and/or Islamic world for many decades (based on oil and Israel, as stated previously). Now we had an excuse to go in and blow those damn rag-heads sky high! (I would have said “back to the Stone Age”, except the people we're fighting never left.) Suddenly we had license to do anything to anyone as long as we could attach the label “terrorist” to them... and that label automatically attaches to anyone in the Moslem world. But why is this such good news for the jihadists? Simply because their vision is that of an all-out war between the faithful and the infidel – and the sooner, and more violent, and more widespread that war is, the better it serves their interests. This, in turn, is based on a number of considerations. For one, they don't take martyrdom as defeat – they relish it. So if a jihadist kills you, he wins... and if you kill him, he still wins. (How you gonna work with an enemy like that? It's as bad as the Japanese!) Secondly, they fully expect to win – and I mean total victory, over Christendom (or whatever is left of it) and Judaism – one of these days; it is only a matter of time. So they are ever pushing for the ultimate showdown – for Armageddon, the very same way Evangelicals of the “end times” bent are pushing, and for the same reasons. Their motto is “Apocalypse now”. They are sure of victory, and that victory will have ultimate and eternal spiritual significance. (Am I saying that the jihadists and the Evangelicals are, kind of like, mirror images of each other? You betcha.)

And as a sidebar comment, I should mention that the Israelis, and the Jews in general, unlike the Christian Zionists, have long since given up claiming that there is any particular spiritual or “salvation” significance to the State of Israel or its preservation. Their self-valuation these days is basically a “just so” story – the Jews are special not because they are a “chosen race” but just because they believe themselves to be special. So it follows that Israel is exceptional, and doesn't have to follow any of the rules, simply because it claims specialness (and the U.S., of course, officially agrees). Very simple, if a bit unimaginative, since virtually every racial/ethnic group and nation in history has made the same sorts of claims. But the problem is that they are dealing with people, i.e. the jihadists, who really do believe that there is a spiritual basis for what they are doing.... so that gives them another whole level of zeal, and energy, and power that is lacking on the part of the secular Jews and Israelis. Not to mention their willingness to die for their cause... and when's the last time you heard of an Israeli suicide bomber? Whether this will ultimately make a difference is another matter, but it is an interesting issue.

So, getting back to 9-11 – the attackers won by getting us to erode our own freedoms, and by getting us to attack the entire Moslem world (because that is how it is perceived in that world, and that perception is all that counts). An additional benefit of the wars that we felt obligated to start based on 9-11 is that our economy has gone into intensive care... our self-confidence as a nation is down to a Vietnam-era low... and – most importantly, perhaps – we have shown the world that “we're no better”... that what we have to offer in the way of “democracy” and “freedom” is mere propaganda compared to the realities of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and all the rest of the vast gulag of secret CIA-run prisons that encircles the globe. So as a propaganda coup, the long-term impact of 9-11 is a spectacular success as well. In fact, it's hard to imagine any aspect of all that has happened since 9-11 that does not put a plus mark in the “jihadist” column or a minus mark in ours. We have become alienated from all of our former allies because of our gross stupidity in Iraq... the Iraqis themselves, and the Afghans, are living in a permanent war zone, and getting damn sick of it... other countries are talking seriously about tossing out the dollar as the primary world currency... we are in debt to nearly everyone on earth... dozens of places formerly open to American trade and tourism are now no man's lands... and this is all because of a handful of guys with box cutters? Please. If it hadn't been 9-11, it would have been 10-12, or 11-13. It was big-time pushback waiting to happen... and our reaction to it was, in turn, a massive folly waiting to happen. Might as well say “if only it hadn't been for Pearl Harbor”... or the Gulf of Tonkin. We were going to get into World War II by hook or crook... and ditto Vietnam... and we were going to wind up making war on Islam one way or the other. The rest is detail, as they say.

So really, rather than “commemorating” 9-11 today, we should take a look at all that happened up to that point, and all that has happened since, and start asking some serious questions. Like, “cui bono?” -- who benefits from all this? Certainly not the American people. Again, I cite the “four horsemen of the Apocalypse” -- the arms makers, the Neocons, the Evangelicals/Christian Zionists, and Israel. They are all happy as pigs in stuff; everyone else is miserable. Did we really want to turn the fate of the nation, and of its people, over to this motley crew? Let's have a referendum on this very issue! I'd love to see how it turned out. And we should not let the current economic crisis blind us to one of its primary causes. Then, even given the “necessity”, or inevitability, of the 9-11 attacks, did they really require us to go to war with two fairly large countries? Let me be simplistic for a moment. Since the attackers were, by and large, Saudi Wahhabists, why didn't we just nuke Mecca and Medina, hmmm? Or let's say the Taliban in Afghanistan was involved – go in, more or less the way we did, throw them out, and then leave, rather than hanging around – with assurances that, should they ever regain power, we would nuke Kabul from our offshore submarines. Simple, right? Yeah... too simple, I'm afraid. By the time of the 9-11 attacks, the eggs were already scrambled. The only way to even begin to make things whole would have been to get out of the Near East completely, which means, I suppose, giving up all that nice cheap oil, and cutting Israel off. And neither of those things was going to happen – not then, not ever – so we had to go to war instead, to prove our manhood... oops, I mean for “Iraqi freedom” and to – at all costs! -- catch Osama bin Laden. (He's going to die of old age first – and if the jihadists are smart, they'll keep it a secret.) And yeah, it's hard to fight against people who don't live anywhere, don't wear uniforms, and don't fight fair; we found this out in Vietnam. It's very frustrating... but it's the wave of the future, and the main reason is that it works so well... for them. America is all about fighting wars the old-fashioned way, like Napoleon -- troops on the battlefield, in formation... flags waving... bugles blaring... guys waving swords and yelling “charge!!” People like the Viet Cong and Al-Qaeda laugh at all this – they consider it a neurosis, which, in this day and age, it is. There is no longer such a thing as “clean” vs. “dirty” fighting – and let's admit that the CIA realizes this, even if no one else does. There is nothing most Americans would not do to defend home and hearth – but unfortunately, “home and hearth” are not what we're talking about, and haven't been since... well, probably the War of 1812 (or the Civil War if you lived in the Confederacy). We're talking about, basically, a bunch of abstractions that have been planted in our pea brains by a bunch of scheming, cynical politicians, greedy businessmen, and our own home-grown religious fanatics... all of whom get “intellectual” facilitation by the Neocons, who are basically a bunch of power-crazed nerds. (And, in fact, “Neoconservatism” could just as readily be termed “Neoliberalism” or “Neofascism”. The term was coined primarily to dupe people who were naturally conservative into supporting a Wilsonian/Zionist foreign policy.)

So these wars – a full 8 years after 9-11 – are, more clearly than ever, not worth fighting even if we were winning, which we're not... the regimes involved are not worth defending... and we have long since passed the point of diminishing returns when it comes to “payback”. In fact, as I've already pointed out, there really is no way of paying back for 9-11; it's impossible. And I suppose it's that very feeling of frustration and futility that is driving us to ever-greater follies in Iraq and Afghanistan. The rule seems to be, if you're fighting an unwinnable war, you have to lose as completely and spectacularly as possible – again, with Vietnam as the example we all strive to emulate. Until we learn to fight the way the rest of the world fights... or until we learn to leave the rest of the world alone... we're going to be caught in these traps time and time again. Many people will profit, but many more will lose... but as long as they don't realize they're losing, or realize it but feel that it's, somehow, worth it anyway, the wars will go on.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Jones, One More Time

I frequently tune in (via Internet) to Keith Olbermann, just to find out what the other side of the collective national brain is up to. He is, of course, a totally shameless apologist for the Democrats, liberals, and Obama... and a fairly astute critic of the Republicans, Bush, Cheney, et al. His weak suit is that he truly does not understand the hopes, dreams, and life styles of anyone west of the Hudson River, and makes merciless fun of them at every opportunity. Well again, ho hum, what else is new? But what fascinates me is the gigantic red herring he and his colleagues have dragged across the path to the truth about the Van Jones dismissal. As far as they're concerned, it's all about "racism", and nothing more, and it's all the fault of "right wingnuts" like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. What's the problem with these arguments? Well, I'm sure that Jones was one of many score blacks adorning the upper levels of the Obama administration... and yet how much "racist" pressure is there to dismiss any of the others? The gripe that Beck, Limbaugh, et al, had was mainly centered on Jones' professed communist leanings and his zesty criticism of the Republicans and George W. Bush. But as I've said, communism, or ex-communism, among liberals is totally not news... and criticism of Republicans and Bush is an entry-level qualification for the Obama team. Plus -- hey, if the major critics of Jones were all "wingnuts", why didn't Obama just ignore them? Huh?? If Olbermann is right, and they are all nutso and not to be taken seriously, and do not represent the feelings of most Americans, why is Obama taking them seriously and thowing Jones under the bus? There is obviously something missing here.

The truth -- as I've already pointed out -- is that Obama couldn't care less what Beck or Limbaugh or anyone else from that side of the divide thinks... and he also couldn't care less about anyone on his team having flirted with communism, to say nothing of using colorful terms to describe the Republicans and Bush. No -- the "black ball" -- so to speak -- when it came to Jones was his allegedly "unexplained" connection to a 9/11 "truther" petition. But the less said about that the better, right? So Jones had to resign in order that his programs would live on, yadda yadda.

But how about Olbermann et al? Why can't they even bring themselves to mention the 9/11 connection? Why, for the very same reason -- this is the newest forbidden topic... the new "third rail" of American politics, and political commentary as well. All lips are sealed on the topic and will remain so for a long time to come... and the reason is that they all have too much to lose and nothing to gain by bringing it up. And of course they all, ultimately, work for the same entity... and that entity has marked off the topic of 9/11 as off limits.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Death By Panel

I knew from the start that this whole discussion about so-called "death panels" -- or "end-of-life counseling" if you're on the other side of the divide -- was somehow out of focus. Now it suddently occurs to me that -- shazam! -- just like nearly every other political question, it boils down to economics, and some very simple economic principles can serve to clear up all the fog, noise, and strife.

Take, for example, the situation that usually obtains today -- at least for people who aren't institutionalized, i.e. who are not already wards of the state. This would include free choice (relatively speaking, within the bounds set by the AMA and its monolithic medical model) as to treatment and treatment providers... and that free choice would, of course, be constrained, for most people, by economic realities -- i.e., how much is covered by their insurance and how much they can afford to cover themselves. So it is true already -- though few dare admit it -- that not everyone can receive "the finest medical care" -- even (maybe especially) as the last roundup approaches. At some point, someone is going to pull the plug -- either literally or figuratively -- and this might very well be the person himself, in which case you could say that each patient is already his own "death panel". Now -- the difference between the care provided in the Mayo Clinic and that provided in DC General, while appreciable, does not constitute an onerous burden on the poor and underprivileged -- in fact, given that care for those on the bottom end of the economic totem pole is likely to be entirely covered by the government, one way or the other, the care they are getting -- way above their means -- is actually quite good, and befits "a civilized nation". So what is being proposed by Obama & Co. is a way to deal with the currently uninsured who are still not poor enough to simply check in (or out) on welfare... in other words, they have to pay for their treatment out of their own pocket. So he is not talking about the poorest of the poor; this is a point that is usually missed in the discussion. What he is talking about is the "missing middle"... above the DC General ER but waaaay below the Mayo Clinic. At least... that's what he claims he is talking about, but we all know how liberal social and taxation programs usually work -- they equalize outcomes by making everyone equally miserable. Rather than putting a chicken into every pot, they take the chickens out of pots and leave thin gruel in their place (and then run off to the Senate cafeteria for a chicken dinner). So what has people upset is, at least to some extent, not what the administration has actually said about the health care plan but the fact that, when's the last time any Democratic president has told the truth about a piece of social or economic legislation?

But having said all that, it remains true that, for most people, end-of-life decisions are their own to make -- call it the "pro-choice" position (at least up to the point of assisted suicide, which remains -- inexplicably -- a state-level legal issue, when everything else under the sun has been federalized). And so yes, it comes down to economics and the bottom line -- but it's the bottom line of the person involved, and no one else. If it gets to the point where I realize I can't afford to stay alive... well, it's unfortunate (no pun intended), but at least it's my own decision based on my own personal situation, constraints, priorities, etc. A guy in intensive care with $100K in the bank may decide to spend it all on a few more weeks of low-quality life, or he may decide to leave it to his kids (after the government takes its cut, of course) and pull the plug. Fair enough. This is what is called "death with dignity". Of course, it's only the advancing state of medicine that has made these decisions even possible, or relevant... and then only in the last few decades. Time was -- and I remember -- when "there's nothing more that can be done" was something the doctor said _before_ anyone spent a couple hundred thousand... in fact, there was nothing to spend a couple hundred thousand _on_; end-of-life treatments were no more costly than treatments at an earlier stage. In fact, beyond a certain point, they were cheaper, because there weren't any. These days we can keep people alive who have been brain dead for years; I mean, look at Robert Byrd.

Contrast this, if you will, with the picture provided by ObamaCare and "end-of-life counseling". The person is insured by the government, right up to and including "catastrophic" coverage... and there he lies, with life-extending machines arrayed around his bed, chugging, whirring, and beeping. To go on, or not to go on -- that is the question. But is it up to the patient -- or his family? Heck no -- this time it's the government that has to make the decision, which means a group of licensed, certified "professionals" -- including, I'm sure, at least one man or woman of the cloth -- who meet on a regular basis somewhere on the premises and weigh the pros and cons of keeping Joe Snuffy alive. Now, if Joe is from the vast army of "tax receivers", he's probably already stayed alive longer than he would have in our current, cut-throat, dog-eat-dog world. But what if he's from the middle... or even the upper middle? Remember, no one will have the choice not to be insured... which means that, in a sense, we will all be wards of the state, for life, when it comes to health issues. So there's no way he could have opted out, and stayed off the books, on his own, and making his own decisions. Plus -- since he is now subject to actuarial considerations when it comes to extending his life, he finds himself in a pool of all other eligibles (for treatment) -- including -- dare I say it? -- many who are less worthy as well as, let's admit, a few who are more worthy. In other words, he's in the very same boat with everyone else in his condition, or approximate condition. Now, to the liberal, this situation seems eminently fair -- why should those who are "lucky" enough to have resources get to live high off the hog, health care-wise, while the "underprivileged" (which really means "unprivileged", by the way -- a little corrective grammar, there) have to take the scraps and leavings? (Of course, the people running the show won't have a problem; they'll still be heading off to the Mayo Clinic on a regular basis.)

So the objections to the "death panels", or whatever, are, at heart, objections to the collectivization process more than to the reality of having to make end-of-life decisions. Those decisions are made every day, in a hundred different ways -- but they are made by the people themselves, and those who care about them. Contrast this with a faceless government panel -- and frankly, even if the outcome were no worse, who wants some guy in a mask pulling the plug? Who wants to be the victim of an actuarial table? Is this "death with dignity"? Of course not. This, I believe, is the real issue, and if it were defined this way we might be able to have a more productive discussion.

Sharia, Baby!

I remember the time (don't you?) when the Moslem world consisted mostly of "emerging" countries, that were "modernizing", and getting ready to take a seat at the table with civilized, respectable nations (you know -- like Western Europe and the U.S.). They had -- not without some ambivalence, but nonetheless with the best of intentions -- stepped up and declared their interest in joining the 20th-Century political, social, and technological stream. OK -- given that their governments lacked something in the way of "democracy"... but back then, that was nowhere near as important as not being communist (the way it's nowhere near as important today as being a captive of "world trade"). And yeah, some of their customs were a bit on the sketchy side... as were their clothes. I mean, Saudi leaders would show up for conferences in full desert garb, with a handful of wives in tow, along with hash pipes... ah well, anything for diplomacy! And remember when, among the best examples of "progressive" Islamic states was Iran? And Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt weren't far behind, with Syria and Iraq on the "watch list". Just about the only places that still looked like a movie set were the Gulf States and Yemen. (And Afghanistan, of course -- then as now.) And hopes were high for North Africa... except for Libya, I suppose... and for Pakistan as well. Only Bangladesh was considered a total basket case -- sort of the Haiti of South Asia. And Turkey -- I mean, gosh! They were so modernized they had a Western alphabet and drank alcohol... and "Arab"-style clothing was forbidden by law. If it hadn't been for the minarets, you'd have thought you were in Utah.

But then a funny thing happened on the way to the New World Order. All of a sudden something called "Islamic fundamentalism" reared its head -- starting most visibly in Iran, with the overthrow of the Shah, the taking over of the American Embassy, and the defenestration of Jimmy Carter. Next to regess to the Dark Ages was Afghanistan, as a direct result of the Russian invasion and occupation and the resulting counterattacks by the Taliban, which was created -- lest we forget! -- by Pakistan with our help.

And then all heck broke loose, with Islamic "insurgents" bubbling up all across the Moslem world, from East Africa to Indonesia. And all of a sudden, all this modernism, and Westernism, went out the window, and a great grassroots movement of Islamic fundamentalism made itself known... in every instance, of course, violently opposed to "degenerate" Western influences, Western culture, and especially American culture and "economic imperialism".

Now, you don't have to subscribe to any sort of strict "cyclical" model of history to recognize that -- as in physics -- when it comes to strife among nations, and strife within nations as well, for many, if not all, actions there is an equal and opposite reaction. So... to go back in our own history a bit, and that of Europe, we see that the Industrial Revolution, with its materialistic grounding and its tendency to dehumanize, helped give rise to the Romantic movement in art, literature, music, poetry, and so on... not to mention communism, which, in a broad sense, can be seen as the economic/political version of romanticism (as can fascism, for that matter -- but that came along later, and for other reasons). Not long after, the effects of industrialization and urbanization gave rise to various utopian or "back to the land" or agrarian movements (including distributism, which was the Catholic version). And where faith, society, and science intersect (and collide), we had a reaction to Darwinism in the form of Fundamentalism... and, much later, a reaction to secular/materialist influences in the church in the form of the Evangelical and Charismatic movements. Even within Judaism, it can be argued that the urbanization and secularization of large portions of the Jewish population of Europe helped give rise to the Hassidic (AKA "ultra-Orthodox") movement.

So if these things all occurred in our own, comparatively recent, history, what is so amazing about similar things happening in the Moslem world? Perhaps our confusion is based on our lack of understanding of how anyone, anywhere, could possibly want to refuse the many blessings of Western civilization and technology... and, by extension, culture. Who, for example would refuse to participate in Western "public health" programs (which, for some reason, always seem to include a unit on women's liberation) -- even if they also had to take American sitcoms, Hollywood movies, and Madonna CDs as part of the package? How unreasonable! How primitive... how "medieval". But clearly, many people in the Islamic world saw the flood waters rising... they knew they were losing the culture war that had been declared on them... and they decided, it was now or never -- either reassert the old values and the old customs, or lose everything. And of course, what stimulated their thinking in this regard more than any other single factor had to be the very large thorn in their side called Israel -- a colony of, basically, secular, urban European Jews plunked down by the Western "powers" right in the middle of what they considered to be their own traditional homeland, along with many holy sites, etc. -- which were now to be trampled under the Zionist boot. And they decided, perhaps, that they had been too soft, too compliant... too helpless in the face of all this. After all, the Holy Land had been in the care of the Ottomans for centuries, but that empire had basically withered and died, with World War I being the final blow... and then England and France moved in as occupiers, with the usual... um... "sensitivity" that they have always shown to subject peoples. Meanwhile, the Turks, in what was left of the Ottoman Empire, had sold their Islamic birthright for a mess of pottage. So what's a member of the faithful remnant to do? Watch, and wait... because sooner or later, cracks will appear in the Western/Israeli/imperialist armor. And sure enough, our follies in Iran provided firm ground for the Islamic Revolution... and Russia's follies in Afghanistan for their ejection and a takeover by the Taliban. And if it can happen in those places, it can happen anywhere, right? The domino theory with a vengeance. And, the main point is that, by rebelling against all the offenses and interferences from Europe and the U.S., they reassert the age-old unity (which we never really had) of land, blood, and faith -- and I don't mean the contrived kind that Israel represents, but the real thing. (And, by the way, the conflicts in the West Bank and Gaza can be seen as basically a subset of all of this -- not particularly unique, except that they are occurring within territory occupied by non-Moslems.)

So... anyone who wonders why the Islamic world "backslid", or became more "primitive", or reactionary, or "fundamentalist", only has to consider these events in the light of age-old cycles of action and reaction. You invade a country, let's say... or threaten a race, an ethnic group, a way of life... and let's say you're repelled. But things don't just go back to the way they were before; they go _way_ back to some previous period in history... perhaps a period when the culture in question was dominant... in its glory days... when it had integrity, and the respect of its neighbors. Why, for example, did the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s yield up "black power", and people exerting themselves to be "blacker" than they had been for decades... since the Civil War, in fact? And why the "back to Africa" movement, if not to assert "true blackness" in the face of perceived persecution and "cultural genocide" by whites? Why were the Irish-Americans who escaped the famine more Irish, in many ways, than the ones who stayed behind? And again, why does Christian fundamentalism loom so large on the American landscape, when the movement itself only goes back to around World War I? Action-reaction; that's all it is. And an understanding of this dynamic would, without a doubt, make our foreign policy (and domestic as well, for that matter) much more enlightened and effective -- not to mention humane. Which is precisely why it is unlikely to ever happen.

Time to Get Ugly

Eureka!! I have it! I just came up with a way for Obama to, basically, shut down the "tea partiers" and the town hall protesters against his health care plan. It's quite simple, really... all he has to do is threaten to cut Israel loose unless everyone shuts up.

Yeah, I know... right now you're saying "Whaaaa???" But let me explain; let me connect the dots. Number one, who are the "tea partiers" and the town hall protesters? By and large, they are heartland or "flyover country" types and, as such, are "conservative" in the usual sense -- meaning _socially_ conservative, but Wilsonian imperialists when it comes to foreign affairs, and -- if I don't miss my bet -- largely Evangelical, and possibly Christian Zionists, to boot. So... their priorities -- contradictory as they are -- are, "freedom of choice" when it comes to economics, i.e. the domestic front, including health care... and expanding the American empire, which of course includes Israel, on the foreign front. So they are, for example, totally enthused (still) about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but totally against "ObamaCare". Now... let's not quibble about how self-serving and unprincipled their standpoint really is, OK? Logic really has nothing to do with it. This is just the worldview they've been brought up on, or acquired, and there's nothing you or I -- or Obama -- can do about it.

In addition to what I've just pointed out, I should add that, when it comes to priorities -- using Pat Robertson as an example -- expanding and preserving the American/Israeli empire is actually _more_ important to these folks than any issue having to do with health care... or bailouts... or economic stimulus plans... or "global warming"... or immigration... or "cash for clunkers". They have already shown a willingness -- nay, an eagerness -- to sacrifice American lives, and economic/political interests, in order to pursue their grandiose, delusional international agenda. I mean, gosh, when it comes to "salvation history", and the fact that the Bible says we must support Israel at all costs (it's in there, believe me...) -- that has, by definition, to be the highest priority of the nation, even if everything else has to go to hell in a handbasket as a result. So, it's not at all questionable that they would be perfectly willing to give up all their domestic interests, causes, and objections if it were demonstrated to them, in no uncertain terms, that it was either all of those things or Israel. In other words, Obama would be, in effect, holding Israel hostage and demanding that his domestic agenda be embraced and that all opposition cease -- "or else".

Well, of course, Obama is smart enough not to make that threat... because, who knows, someday our home-grown "conservatives" of the George W. Bush stripe might actually get fed up with all the bloodletting and bankruptcy our support of Israel requires, and call his bluff. And politically -- and the fact that he would get roasted alive by the MSM... well, those considerations are likely to stay his hand. And yet... it's not an entirely impossible dream.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Was it just three days ago that I offered the following observation? "I don't think it's too wild a guess to speculate that, if this [a return to the gold standard] ever occurred, gold would immediately jump to five, six, or even seven figures an ounce." And this was just a wild guess -- I mean, when the range is from $10,000 to $9,999,999, that's a wild guess, right? So here's John Browne, in yesterday's paper, providing actual figures -- and these are pre-hyperinflation figures. He says, "today, each ounce of gold held by the Fed backs about $39,000". Of course, when he says "backs" he doesn't mean "legally backs", since our currency is legally backed by precisely nothing. But if you took all the money presently in circulation, and divided it by the gold held by the U.S. Treasury, you'd get an equivalency of $39,000 per ounce. And what is today's price for gold? $996 per ounce. Which means, gold is undervalued, at present, by around 97.5% -- or, gold is actually worth nearly 40 times its current market value in dollars. Or, we could also say that the dollar is _overvalued_ by about the same amount, and is really worth about 1/40 what it's supposedly worth.

Race you to the gold exchange!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Pass me a bottle, Mr. Jones

Well, I don't know about you, but I'm excited. My previous blog, about the "outing" of an Obama staffer named Van Jones? Mah man just got his ass fired -- well, you know, in Washington it's called a "voluntary resignation", for the good of the administration, blah blah blah. But -- as the MSNBC thumbnail reads, "What Did Jones Say That Caused Controversy?" In other words, what, exactly, did this guy do to merit instant termination? Was it because he admitted to being, or having been, a communist? Ho hum, as I said before. What else is new? As someone said, communism is "socialism with balls". So one can even grant him grudging respect. So was it because he "disparaged Republicans"? Pardon me while I die laughing. What else do the Democrats spend every waking moment doing? No -- it was clearly because his name appeared on a "truther" petition, i.e. a petition intended to stimulate Congress to investigate a possible government role (even if passive) in 9/11. In other words, a member of the administration -- which means a servant of the Regime -- had his name connected, however tenuously, to an initiative which represented -- horror of horrors! -- skepticism as to the truth of the government's official line on 9/11. And to think the unthinkable! Namely, that the government, or certain elements thereof, knew in advance about the attacks (i.e., the plans if not the exact details) and did nothing to prevent them, because they would provide a "casus belli" for the initiation of a war on Islam, AKA "Operation Iraqi Freedom", and whatever the debacle in Afghanistan is called. Now... this is not to claim, necessarily, that the government committed a "provocateur" stunt, a la the Reichstag fire... only that they knew, or suspected, but did nothing, because preventing a terrorist act was less important than waging a war to the death against terrorism in general... i.e., militant Islam. But this is, guess what, controversial, on the basis of the naive premise that, well, of course, the American government, which represents the American people, would never do anything so dastardly -- after all, aren't the lives of American citizens more important than anything else? To which, all I can say in reply is, "Pearl Harbor", "Vietnam", "Waco", and probably a hundred other cases -- known, suspected, and as yet unknown. It is time to admit that our government has gotten so big, and so distorted and corrupt, that the lives of individual citizens are of no value. The individual is expendable, in other words -- for a thousand different reasons, all of which have to do with the vast distance between the citizen and the ruling elite. It is often complained that our troops are no more than "cannon fodder" -- but the truth is, we are _all_ cannon fodder, when it comes to the games that the powers that be play against one another. Did the lives lost on 9/11 mean anything to the Regime? Yes -- as a casus belli. But nothing more. The individual, under this system, is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Even the Regime is, I suspect, above the interests of any of its members -- even the most elite. Think of it as not unlike the Mafia -- capos come and go, but "cosa nostra" lives on. A sure sign of collectivist elitism is that, ultimately, the individual doesn't matter. Even Joseph Stalin was replaced -- albeit by three men at first, on the premise that no one person could possibly fill the shoes of the great leader. And Hitler would have been replaced as well, if the whole business hadn't come crumbling down. American presidents are replaced -- Lyndon Johnson, who I have called "The Last Tyrant", was replaced by Richard Nixon, who certainly had delusions of grandeur, but in the tyranny department was no match for LBJ. Bill Clinton, "The American Nero", was replaced by the clueless George W. Bush. Yes -- there is something about the grave (either literal or political) that has an "equalizing" tendency. After all, the worse tyrants of all time were still mortal, and thank goodness! Can you imagine if Napoleon was still hanging around?

And the point is -- want to talk about real "hope"? -- Obama will suffer the same fate, as will all of his lackeys and hangers-on. But not before they take a big bite out of the liberties of the American people. Maybe we should be glad that at least one of that crew has fallen by the wayside... except he will be replaced in a few days and life will go on.

But here's what's exciting (to me, at least). I mean, one can rave on, day after day, about this mythical thing called "The Regime" -- you know, the many-headed beast that includes both major parties and the intelligence agencies and the mainstream media, etc. -- but how often does something happen that enables one to say, "Aha!" This, I submit, is one of those rare cases. The dude was fired because he was connected to a "9/11 conspiracy petition". But why should the Democrats, or a Democratic administration, be concerned about that? It was on the Republicans' watch, right? And any revelations about the evil deeds that took place under the Republicans would only make the Democrats stronger, right? So why not keep this guy on the job... and give him a medal besides? Well, it's because 9/11 speculations are strictly prohibited, no matter which party or administration you belong to... and that only works because both parties, and any administration, are working for the same entity... namely The Regime. And The Regime dictates what can and cannot be discussed, or speculated on, by its servants. And 9/11 is in the forbidden zone precisely because the official explanations are so blatantly full of holes. In other words, it has to be an article of faith that the "official version" of 9/11 is unquestioned gospel, the same way the official version of the JFK assassination was unquestioned gospel. See, not everything the Regime does can be done in secret -- once in a while there is a public display. But that display has to be "spun", immediately, by the Regime and its servants, lest the American public grow suspicious. And of course there will always be "nut cases" out there who will question everything, but we can ignore them. It's only when someone like Jones -- an "insider", no less! -- starts questioning, or appears to, the party line, that sterner measures are in order... and that's precisely what we have seen in this case.

And that's why I'm excited. I have another big chunk of evidence that not only is there a Regime, but that it has an agenda, namely suppressing all respectable speculation about 9/11... which, in turn, means that 9/11 is open to all sorts of speculation, because if it weren't, what would all the fuss be about? And, as a kind of bonus, we can now rest assured that the Obama administration is every bit as much a servant of the Regime as the Bush administration was. In other words, "hope" and "change" are for chumps. Now, maybe that makes you feel better in a way, or maybe worse -- or maybe both at once. Just the fact that an Obamaite has been brought to heel in no uncertain terms ought to tell you something -- namely that Obama is not in charge, and his administration is nothing more than a false front. I guess that's good in a way -- but it's also a bit pathetic and depressing. And what's even more pathetic is that he probably doesn't even fully realize it as yet. But if he's half as smart as everyone says he is, he will, eventually...

He's Got a Jones

According to today's paper, an Obama "staffer" has been outed as not only a self-professed communist, but as an adherent to a 9/11 conspiracy theory. Well, to begin with -- a communist in the Obama administration? Gosh, sure didn't see that coming. I'd think it would be bigger news -- "man bites dog" style -- to find a _non_-communist (or at least socialist) in the administration. But in any case, that's pretty small potatoes compared to someone being accused of being a bonafide 9/11 conspiracy theorist -- in this case, of having signed a petition asking "for congressional hearings and other investigations into whether high-level government officers had allowed the attacks to occur" -- presumably in order to support some foreign-policy initiative, like... say, going to war with the Moslem world.

The first thing that strikes me about all of this is that the notion of the government -- or at least the Bush administration -- knowing something about the attacks in advance has been pretty much accepted as conventional wisdom among conspiracy theorists; in fact, it's almost the least controversial of all of their many allegations (which I'll try to expand upon in a later post). Of course, it's one thing to have a vague notion about something that might happen, and another thing to know the precise day, time, and place. And it's still another thing to know and do nothing about it. But hey -- hasn't the very same thing become, for all intents and purposes, the conventional wisdom vis-a-vis Pearl Harbor? That has even ceased to be all that controversial -- mainly since all the principals are dead. But some day the first-order conspiracy theory about 9/11 will cease to be controversial as well; I guarantee it.

But here's another thing that occurs to me. This guy -- Van Jones -- said the Rodney King case turned him into a communist. OK, fair enough -- since we know that police beatings of citizens never occur in communist countries. The article does not relate how he became part of a 9/11 conspiracy theory, and in fact he claims that he wasn't, and "doesn't understand" how his name got on the petition. (This opens a whole new realm of actions for which the excuse "I was drunk" is readily trotted out.) And in any case, he has done the right thing and apologized -- you know, in typical liberal style, for all his present and past transgressions, perceived transgressions, and things that might have been perceived as transgressions had they been perceived. So the slate is wiped clean. Case closed! And he can go on about his duties as part of the Obama transition team -- referring to the transition from democracy to com... er, I mean socialism.

But let's take a look at the bigger picture for a moment. Forget about the communist rap -- that is so old hat among liberals that it's positively boring. And yeah, I know, the U.S. is, after all, the last, best hope for communism, at least in the theoretical sense... the practical application being left to Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. But who subscribes to 9/11 conspiracy theories, and why? I always had the image that they were the sole province of the "radical right", but Jones has given me a bit of a start. It's kind of like that old TV quiz show, "Who Do You Trust?" Now clearly, the main "players" in the 9/11 drama include the terrorists themselves, the media, the Bush administration, the Republican party, and the intelligence agencies. And that's just on the domestic side. We also have Saddam, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Israel (particularly its intelligence apparatus), and who knows how many others? So... if 9/11 conspiracy theorizing is based on mistrust, who is it that mistrusts any or all of the above? Well, the radical right certainly mistrusted the Bush administration and the government in general, including the intel agencies... and, by extention, the Republican party. So they have sufficient cause, right there, to be suspicious of the party line on 9/11. The radical left, on the other hand, _also_ mistrusted the Bush administration and the Republicans, although maybe not the government in general... but certainly the intel and security apparatus. Then there are the paleocons, who tend to mistrust Israel on top of everything else. So conspiracy theorizing is a natural response on the part of people at both ends of the spectrum, when you think about it... as well as libertarians, who are in synch with the paleocons part of the time but off on their own the rest of the time.

What I'm saying is that it's not as surprising as one might think to find a "9/11 conspiracy theorist" in the White House... although, in general, liberals, and even those of the far left, tend to give government a pass most of the time, except maybe in strictly military matters. (And even then, you notice how anxious Obama is to get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan, now that those are his wars.)

But here's what I don't get. Congressman Mike Pence wants Jones to resign. What's he thinking? The worst thing you can do is insist that an administration of the opposing party get rid of all its loose cannons, dolts, idiots, blockheads, and fools. Remember when Rush Limbaugh wore a black armband the day Joycelyn Elders resigned? Remember how sad the Democrats were when Reagan finally got rid of James Watt? The best thing for your team is to keep as many laughingstocks as possible on the other team; doesn't Pence realize this? Oh yeah – he's a member of “the stupid party”, I forgot.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Jottings, Coarse and Fine

The folks who want us to go back on the gold standard had better consider at least this issue: By the time the Fed, i.e. the U.S. Treasury, has finished printing all the money needed to support the bailouts, the economic stimulus plan, and ObamaCare, there will be trillions more in dollars in circulation than there are now. But our gold reserves – such as they are – will not have increased one iota. So a simple calculation should be sufficient to assess (1) how little the dollar will be worth at that point; and conversely (2) how much gold will be worth at that point. I wish I had the numbers, but I don't. But I don't think it's too wild a guess to speculate that, if this ever occurred, gold would immediately jump to five, six, or even seven figures an ounce. Not that I'm advocating running out and buying gold, mind you – for one thing, this is never going to happen. And for another thing, I'd appreciate it if you'd wait until I've already bought mine. : )

And speaking of ObamaCare, I think that at least half of the misunderstanding and strife over this issue could be solved quite readily, if the administration would simply put out a comprehensive explanation and summary of the plan. Has it done this for the benefit of the Congressmen who are expected to vote on the bill? Not that I'm aware. And the angry voices at the town hall meetings certainly indicate that the average citizen knows little or nothing about the actual provisions... only rumors on the one hand, and bland assurances on the other. So what would be wrong with, for example, just putting down, in black and white, a quick summary of what the impact would be on, say, those who are employed and already insured through their employer; those who are employed and insured through some other means; the non-insured employed (who would like to be insured); the non-insured employed who don't care; the unemployed who are, somehow, insured; and the uninsured unemployed (both by choice and otherwise). I'm sure there are some other subgroups that could be defined as well. So why hasn't this been done? Well, it's what always happens with liberal social legislation – it is made so complex, convoluted, and Byzantine that no one (including those who are supposed to vote on it) can figure it out. But it's loaded with time bombs and hidden snares, which only come out once the laws have been passed and implementation is under way – and by then it's too late. One only has to look at the Americans with Disabilities Act for an example. ObamaCare will be ADA to the tenth power. And all of this confusion and complexity is, of course, completely intentional, since the people who come up with these schemes know that the “Trojan Horse” technique works far better than simple honesty... and besides, the more people who consider themselves helpless, the more big government prospers. So – bottom line – I think the proposals deserve to be defeated on this basis alone, even if some of the provisions are perfectly reasonable. The message to the administration should be – when it comes to bill of this magnitude -- “Either simplify and explain, or forget it.”

An article in the current American Conservative includes this passage: “Pakistanis remain puzzled about American plans. They don't see an end game.... 'What is the long term objective of western troops in Afghanistan? What is the strategy to attain these objectives and please share them with us. A lot of us are plainly baffled as to what is going to be the picture in Afghanistan and Pakistan.'” The question is also asked, re: Osama bin Laden, “Do we really want to catch him?” The answer to that one is – of course not, because Osama is the “MacGuffin” to end all “MacGuffins” -- and his capture would take the bottom right out of our entire rationale for being over there. And as to “American plans”, and “an end game”, and long-term objectives, the answer is, there aren't any. The plan is to stay there forever, which cancels out the need for objectives or an end game. And Afghans and Pakistanis who are ambivalent about our troop presence because they see it as an “occupation” are precisely correct – it is, in fact, an occupation, and will continue to be so until such time as we are removed forcibly (or forced to leave through total economic collapse). So yeah – it's no wonder folks over there are puzzled, and baffled. It doesn't make sense to anyone over here either. It is simply one more milestone along the march of folly.

And speaking of Afghanistan, according to an article in today's paper, “top Pentagon leaders” say “the military effort there is 'only now beginning'”. Yeah – that's what I'm afraid of. So... what do we say about the troops who have already died there? That they died in a non-military effort, or a pre-military effort? Maybe they were just “advisors” -- like the tens of thousands of “advisors” Obama is going to leave in Iraq after the official departure of our troops.

And speaking of military follies in general, here's George Will: “The 2008 U.S.-Iraq security agreement must be submitted to a referendum.” He means a referendum of the Iraqi people. I've got an even better idea – how about submitting it to a referendum of the _American_ people. Of course, the government wouldn't dare. As the saying goes, don't ask the question if you aren't interested in the answer.

Local officials in Inverness, Scotland are using cuts from “The Sound of Music” to drive idle teenagers away from a community center at closing time. Hey – it would work for me. But why stop there? I would suggest the repertoire be expanded to include anything by Wayne Newton, Robert Goulet, Anthony Newley, and anyone singing anything by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Wow – that would be like Raid, Off, and Black Flag all rolled into one.

And it's back to NASA, for the latest sob fest over budget cuts. Get this: “The twin (budget) blows could have a far-ranging impact, not only on the world's perception of U.S. scientific prowess, but on an unknown range of technological innovations yet to be realized.” And yes – they had to do it! -- they waved “dehydrated food” in the air. Hey – if the total lifetime cost of NASA were spread out across every dehydrated food item on the market, your Campmor dried cajun beans and rice would cost about $1000 a pound. Some benefit! But what really gets me is that business about “an unknown range of technological innovations yet to be realized”. Freely translated, that means “Let's spend tens of billions of dollars we don't have on the off chance that there are, floating somewhere off in space, unrealized technological innovations – an entire range of them, in fact (albeit completely unknown).” Wow – and here I thought the rationales for the bailouts and the economic stimulus plan were ambiguous. Can we just all turn in our supplies of dehydrated food and tell NASA to blow it out its shorts?

Didja ever have that experience where you were at lunch with a group of people, and the time came to pay the bill, and you generously offered to put it “on your card”, assuming everyone else would figure out their fair share? So the next thing you know, everyone has agreed (with suspicious eagerness), and you find yourself barraged with money from all directions – sort of a very brief green snow squall. So you dutifully put down your card, pay the bill, and pocket the pile of greenbacks. Later on you count the take... and lo and behold, it turns out your lunch cost about five times that of everyone else! Or so it would seem, since the cash you took in doesn't come anywhere near covering the bill, i.e. the total minus what you thought you owed. So you got slickered by your loyal and cordial colleagues. Ah yes – live and learn. And, “separate checks!” from then on. Well, a similar thing is already happening here in Steel Town. The city and county fathers are already getting a cold, lurking feeling that they're going to be left holding the bag for the upcoming G-20 conference. It seems that, since Pittsburgh is the “host city”, it's expected to pick up the tab for all sorts of things -- kind of like the father of the bride, who has to still live in a packing crate long after the kids are divorced. So the bill will land in the lap of – not the G-20 itself, or the Obama administration, but the city. Because, after all, the G-20 is a feather in our cap, and “good for business”. The plain truth is, it's a pain in the ass and terrible for business, since scores of businesses will have to shut down for the duration. Yep, we've been suckered, folks, and it's too late now to say “hell no!” I think we're on the verge of starting a new class of jokes that all begin with “You city so dumb...”

And speaking of people with black holes for brains -- how anything can be so stupid, blockheaded, and clueless, and still survive is beyond me. I refer, once again, to the public schools and their brain-dead administrators. This time around it's 85 kids who were sent home from a local high school for carrying WMDs. Nope! Fooled you. They were toting handguns, knives, and drugs. Nope! OK, how about prescription medicines? Nope. Advil? Nope. These wild, unruly teens were sent home for – are you ready? -- showing up at school with their shirts not tucked in, apparently in violation of a new dress code. Oh, the humanity! What next, I ask? Missing belts? Untied shoelaces? Do I have to drag up the old saw about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic? Plus – consider the potential for psychological trauma. One parent said, “They should never send children home like that. You don't know what they're going home to.” Like some primal scene between mom and the milkman, on the living room couch? I'd love to know what she was thinking of. (And so would her husband, I'll bet.) But, in any case, it's another in the long, dreary list of idiocies that keep pouring out of the bottomless pit that is the public school system.