• I love those Stephen Sondheim lyrics from “Send in the Clowns.” Very useful for summarizing hyper-militarized U.S. foreign policy just about anywhere. I once made use of them myself with Send in the Frowns.

  • Why do the Republicans hate Bill Clinton and Barack Obama with such an all-consuming passion? I mean, both of these corporate tools have pretty much given the Republicans all the goodies they ever wanted while undermining the Democratic Party and taking the blame from the voters for giving away the store. So why the hate and not the love that Clinton and Obama so much want from them?

    As best I can tell, Charles Sanders Peirce explained this back towards the end of the nineteenth century when he wrote: “Where two faiths flourish side by side, renegades are looked upon with contempt, even by the party whose beliefs they have adopted.”

    Or perhaps that old Arkansas incest joke says it best: the one where the hillbilly bridegroom comes back to the family homestead after his wedding night having shot his new bride. When his pappy asks him why, he replied indignantly, “‘Cause she wuz a virgin, Paw!” Which prompted the hillbilly daddy to exclaim in outrage: “A virgin? Well then, I don’t blame ya none. If she weren’t good enuf fer her own fambly, then she ain’t good enuf fer ours.”

    Something like that.

  • Why the fuck does Obama even credit the Republicans with HAVING a vision, let alone a competing one? Why does he feel compelled to do their advertising for them? And how can we vote “some folks” out of office for opposing his policies, when no ballot I’ve ever seen has a candidate from the “Some Folks” party. He can’t even bring himself to mention his own Democratic Party or the labor unions that did so much work to elect him in the first place. Geez Louise, but this spineless puff or marshmallow makes my skin crawl. Does his own shadow chase him down the street whenever the sun comes out?

  • Guilty until “explicit intelligence” proves you “posthumously innocent.”

    What a farce of a country and “legal system.”

  • Since first Deputy Dubya Bush, and now Barack Hoover Obama have robbed us of so many of our rights, the “terrorists” don’t hate us so much as they once did. Therefore, if we give up and surrender to our own government’s insatiable hunger for what few rights we have left, then we wouldn’t have any, and the “terrorists” wouldn’t hate us at all.

  • “Obama’s war in Afghanistan was about saving political face. Throughout history there have been a lot of reasons for going to war, but few are as cynical as one’s political reputation. Hundreds of billions of dollars were wasted, thousands of soldiers and civilians were killed so that Obama could avoid being called a wimp by Republicans.” — John Glaser, “War for Political Repute,” Anti-war.com (May 22, 2012)

    Worst of all, considering all the needless deaths and squandered national treasure, the Republicans will go on calling President Obama a “wimp,” anyway, simply because he can never kill enough Muslims to suit them, no matter how hard he tries. That he could ever have thought otherwise belies his vaunted reputation as an intelligent man.

  • Here we go again:

    “The president has made a realistic assessment of what by now seems obvious to nearly all. The Afghan war is not going to be “won” by the U.S. Obama’s decision is to “Vietnamize” it.” — William Pfaff, “The Age of Drones,” Truthdig.com (May 29, 2012)

  • From The March of Folly, by Barbara Tuchman:

    [American] negotiation [with the North Vietnamese and NLF] faced a rigid impasse. Quite apart from preconditions, Hanoi would accept no settlement short of coalition or some other form of compromise leading to its absorption of the South; for the United States any such compromise would represent acknowledgment of American failure, and this the Administration, all the more now for having made itself hostage to its own military, could not accept. It was chained to the aim of ensuring a non-Communist South Vietnam in order to make its exit with credibility intact. The goal had subtly changed from blocking Communism to saving face.

    All the Paris talks and Kissinger’s secret missions failed of result, essentially because the United States was trying to negotiate itself out of a war it could not win and look good at the same time.

    Yes, indeed, it looks like the return of the Fig Leaf Contingent to me.

    The blowback, though, comes round in time
    No one has yet escaped
    Vietnamized, Iraqified
    Corrupted by the raped
    The victors thus were vanquished by
    The monkeys that they aped

    (from Boobie Counter Insurgency, an episode of Fernando Po, U.S.A., America’s post-linguistic retreat to Plato’s Cave)

  • Body counts and free-fire zones. More Vietnam than we had in Iraq.

    Diminishing Marginal Utility, Parkinson’s Law, and the Peter Principle inexorably undermine every American “war” on the “somebody” we just have to hit because we think we can.

    Deep into the “Vietnamization” phase now, with the Phoenix Program generating thousands of dead bodies that Americans can count as Viet Cong — i.e., “militants.”

    From “The Best and the Brightest” to “The Worst and the Dullest” in a single generation.

    If Americans had political and military leadership this inept during World War II, Americans would speak German in New York and Japanese in Los Angeles.

  • “It takes a very long time to say anything in Old Entish. And we Ents never say anything unless it is worth taking a very long time to say.” — Treebeard

    It takes very little effort to kill a Muslim male of military age. And we Americans never kill Muslim males of military age unless it takes very little effort to kill them.

    If American officials could not speak in solipsistic circles, they couldn’t speak at all.

  • Years ago I remember reading a scathing critique of American military incompetence by military historian Martin van Creveld to the effect that “The only things Americans can train Iraqis to do is kill Americans. How stupid can they be?”

    Stupid enough to train the Afghans how to kill Americans, too — and give them every reason to do so.

    History doesn’t repeat itself, someone said, but America almost always does.

    With their tails tucked proudly ‘tween their legs
    Advancing towards the exit march the dregs
    Of empire, whose retreat this question begs:
    “No promised omelet, just the broken eggs?”

  • Making Progress in Afghanistan

    A robot drone of which we cannot speak
    Has just destroyed another wedding feast
    Or so we have it, based upon a leak
    Reporting that some fifty died, at least.
    “Bad people, too, have weddings,” said the freak –
    Or, general, as some would name the beast.

    Michael Murry, The Misfortune Teller

  • Hannah Arendt coined the expression “the banality of evil” to describe everyday, garden variety government bureaucrats like President Obama who have people killed, maimed, and/or rendered homeless refugees simply by dictating a memo indicating that their minions should somehow or other carry out their homicidal desires. “Desk murderers,” she called them. In this sense, then, I would call President Obama simply one of the most banal of memo-dicating desk murderers ever to occupy America’s “highest” political office. Another Deputy Dubya Bush, really, only without the dyslexic stammer and inability to compose complete grammatical sentences.

  • themisfortuneteller commented on the blog post Well, okey dokey then

    2012-03-19 00:40:44View | Delete

    As in Vietnam and Iraq — and the next scheduled foreign policy debacle — “We lost the day we started and we win the day we stop.”

    Whatever the problem, just don’t send the American military to only make it worse.

  • themisfortuneteller commented on the diary post Nine Years Later: More Shocked, Less Awed by David Swanson.

    2012-03-17 18:24:06View | Delete

    When I came back from Vietnam 40 years ago, I never thought I’d live to see the day that an uninstructed troop of chimpanzees would fall for another stud hamster president from Texas going all-tough-and-stuff on some backward nation halfway around the world that had never attacked America. But then I realized that the uninstructed [...]

  • Since I haven’t read Mr Berman’s book, I hesitate to ask what readers of it probably know already, but — given the yeoman work done by Howard Dean in putting together state Democratic Party organizations that later put candidate Obama ahead of former New York Senator You-Know-Her in the 2008 primary contest — what accounts for nominee Obama’s siding with Rahm Emmanuel in blacklisting Dean from any meaningful role in the new Democratic administration? I have particularly in mind the post of Secretary of Health and Human Services, which Dr Dean actively sought and for which his knowledgeable championing of Medicare for All might have made for a significantly different — and possibly even credible — National Health Care program for America.

  • Coming late to this discussion from here in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, but I’d like to ask Mr Berman (whose work I’ve enjoyed for years) when the Democratic Party plans to stop accepting at face value — and then stupidly repeating — carefully crafted (by Dr Frank Luntz) Orwellian language such as “Citizens United” and “Death Tax” and “War on Terror” instead of framing their own (assuming they have one) point of view with “Corporations United,” “Estate Tax,” and “War on Peace,” et cetera. For example, I keep hearing Chris Matthews of MSNBC incessantly repeating the “Death Tax” canard at every opportunity, without ever pointing out that no such law exists. It seems to me that the Democratic Party just hasn’t the first clue about how to accurately and creatively use language for shaping the national discourse in ways favorable to progressive (I wouldn’t dare say “liberal”) candidates and programs. I guess I just want to ask Mr Berman if he thinks the Democrats will ever get over their apparent desire — post Bill Clinton — to just offer Americans a slightly less right-wing corporate party than the crypto-fascist Republicans.

  • “Israel remains the master of its fate.” Current right-wing Prime Minister of the Apartheid Zionist Entity (hereafter, A.Z.E.).

    “And master of America’s fate, too.” President Barack “Step ‘n Fetchit” Obama.

    Oh for the good old days of President George H. W. Bush whose Secretary of State, James Baker III, said of the A.Z.E. and its fifth-column minions in America: “Fuck ‘em. They didn’t vote for us.” American presidents didn’t always find themselves regularly picking the short hairs from between their teeth after publicly smooching hirsute hebrew hindquarters on demand from Tel Aviv through AIPAC.

  • Apropos of those noting the conservative — i.e., privileged — elite’s exploitation of the lower classes upon whose labor they typically poach,
    George Orwell had a good analysis of that phenomenon in The Road to Wigan Pier (1937):

    “… It greatly confuses the issue to assume … that social status is determined solely by income. Economically, no doubt, there are only two classes, the rich and the poor, but socially there is a whole hierarchy of classes, and the manners and traditions learned by each class in childhood are not only very different but – and this is the essential point – generally persist from birth to death [emphasis added]. Hence the anomalous individuals that you find in every class of society. … you find petty shopkeepers whose income is far lower than that of the bricklayer and who, nevertheless, consider themselves (and are considered) the bricklayer’s social superiors; you find board-school boys running Indian provinces and public school men touting vacuum cleaners. If social stratification corresponded precisely to economic stratification, the public-school man would assume a cockney accent the day his income dropped below £200 a year. But does he? On the contrary, he immediately becomes twenty times more Public School than before. He clings [emphasis added] to the Old School Tie as to a life-line. And even the [“H”-less] millionaire, though sometimes he goes to an elocutionist and learns a B.B.C accent, seldom succeeds in disguising himself as completely as he would like to. It is in fact very difficult to escape from the class into which you have been born [emphasis added].

    As prosperity declines, social anomalies grow commoner. You don’t get more [“H”-less] millionaires, but you do get more and more public-school men touting vacuum cleaners and more and more small shopkeepers driven into the workhouse. Large sections of the middle class are being gradually proletarianized; but the important point is that they do not, at any rate in the first generation, adopt the proletarian outlook. Here am I, for instance, with a bourgeois upbringing and a working-class income. Which class do I belong to? Economically, I belong to the working class, but it is almost impossible for me to think of myself as anything but a member of the bourgeoisie. And supposing I had to take sides, whom should I side with: the upper class which is trying to squeeze me out of existence, or the working class whose manners are not my manners? It is probable that I personally would side with the working class. But what about the tens or hundreds of thousands of others who are in approximately the same position? And what about that far larger class, running into millions this time – the office-workers and the black-coated employees of all kinds – whose traditions are less definitely middle class but who certainly would not thank you if you called them proletarians? All of these people have the same interests and the same enemies as the working class. All are being robbed and bullied by the same system. Yet how many of them realize it? When the pinch came nearly all of them would side with their oppressors and against those who ought to be their allies. It is quite easy to imagine a middle class crushed down to the worst depths of poverty and still remaining bitterly anti-working class in sentiment; this being, of course, a ready made Fascist Party.”

    Any thoughts on how well or poorly this analysis applies to contemporary corporate crypto-fascism — i.e., “conservatism” — in America today?

  • Some useful definitions:

    “Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with new ones.” Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

    Conservative: Someone who cannot bear to think that anything might happen for the first time.

    Conservative: One who fears losing what he has stolen from his fellow citizen or native aboriginal.

    Conservative: authoritarian (with himself as the authority).

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