Monthly Archives: July 2010

Consume And Die

One positive result from the Gulf might be an expanded adjustment to our iron-bound belief in the value of our lengthy, violently enforced claim of possession of the earth.

Merry Christmas

Our hegemony over this complex, multi-dimensional home to multitudes of critters who co-evolved with it as did we may be losing its exclusivity. Those who adhere to the concept that technology allowed humans to separate from nature might benefit and gain a more rounded, realistic view of this world by volunteering for an up-close look at the disaster we all helped foment for there is no part of America nor the world more intertwined with the mysteries of conjoined existences than the Gulf of Mexico.
How are individuals to react to what feels in some ways like the opening salvos of the final assault on the natural world? Former interpretations of Biblical dogma on such matters rendered to humans “dominion” over the natural world, dominion defined as “absolute ownership” i.e. the earth is ours to do with as we choose. Reagan’s Secretary of Agriculture, James Watt elevated this to econopocalype, when he justified the government mining federal lands because the world is “merely a temporary way station on the road to eternal life…The earth was put here by the Lord for His people to subdue and to use for profitable purposes on their way to the hereafter … we don’t know how much time we have before Jesus returns.” . Such daft admonishments (coupled with Bush’s later statements following 9/11, equating the buy-buy cultural norm with patriotic duty) have rendered opposition to the US’s 11th commandment consumerist lifestyle somewhat treacherous. Thankfully, the lines have shifted to an extent, announced by an awakening among responsible Christians, that dominion implies a duty to take care of what God made.
What sort of health is more important to you, abstract economics or the health of the only home we know? The validity of a double digit increases of economic growth as the sole measure of human progress must includes sober considerations about what the future portends as a result of the same unrestrained, unsustainable growth. Is the “business-as-usual” model announced by the fawning insouciance of the press (financed by ads for the latest distracting gadget) to be the epitaph for the biosphere or is there another path?
Other animals have certainly displayed a facility to modify their world for specific purposes. None have approached the determination and scale of humans. A flight over the copper mine taluses dotting the American west or the hallucinatory reality of burning rivers, hilariously and darkly referenced by Randy Newman, distinguishes our species from any other. Now that the US, so the claim goes, has stumbled across trillions of dollars worth of resources that every other occupying empire seems to have missed, the propaganda could fool one into envisioning Afghan kids skipping down clean streets to new schools when that nation’s neo-colonial future is more accurately displayed by the China’s new Afghan copper mines ending up at Wal-Mart. Think about that, totalitarian nations and mega-retailers reaping free security via the US military and your taxes.
My obsession with the discards of the empire was renewed one Thursday morning upon finding in successive refuse piles (I swear I wasn’t looking) a new pair of rubber waders, a fine Electrolux vacuum and a nearly perfect Specialized brand bicycle. Multiply those modest discoveries by a couple of billion and one can begin to grasp the scale of such extravagant, obscene plenty. The toll your possessions exact on the world doesn’t end with manufacture and nor does your ongoing responsibility. The consequences of abandonment of a sticks used by birds to capture insects is somehow very different from abandonment of trillions of tons of products, especially those which fail after the third or so use, their purchase justified by the false economy of cheap crap. Where is the saving in buying the same thing over and over and over? Acquisition of a new doo-dad involves a pact with the planet that should be entered in with consideration and gravity instead of a feeling akin to the junkie’s first shot of dope. After the thrill fades, then what? A bigger plasma TV? How about a surfboard? Is that it? Has our old earth become just a wore-out whore good only the brief, narcotic thrill of purchase? “Think about the jobs.” some intone robotically, alluding to overseas non-choices that supplant millennial-old agricultural and social patterns with toxic manufacturing jobs peddled under the “standard of living” myth.
One lives in the world they make. Those who find their world increasingly second-rate and unsatisfying might do well to reflect on the current meltdown, that as much as anything was created by millions who swapped their home equity for a garage full of plastic junk they didn’t need, a macro-economic financed by the micro-economics of working for money to finance a manufacturing carousel of planet-killing crap. You are the market and your actions and purchases have a direct effect on what sort of world you live in. Acquire with care, with a thought to what comes later.

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ON THE BORDER

The disaster off Louisiana and the immigration conundrum have both reinforced questions of the ubiquitous “of two minds” sort. Given the ongoing vacuum of response, are US policies and regulations and by extension the US government still relevant? Energy’s a matter for another day that will require large-scale internal dialog and titanic adjustments. Immigration requires little extreme lifestyle changes or national action outside of enforcement.
US citizens must also accept a portion of responsibility, first, by looking into the closest reflective surface. In the absence of Amerindian lineage, the image gazing back is either an immigrant or a descendant, willing or otherwise. Earlier great American migrations had the same cheap-labor roots as today’s. Similarly, your Chinese, Irish, Italian, Polish, Puerto Rican, Lithuanian, etc forebears were subject to the same sorts of slurs and attacks as this millennium’s via a mysterious mechanism, a form of cultural amnesia about one’s origins and how one’s forebears were treated by the dominant culture. Then there’s that the pawns in the current national debate are only nominally “Latino”, “Hispanic” and likely other than “Mexican,” that being a catch-all for anyone of pure native or Iberian extraction or admixture, any of whom have a stronger claim to local hemispheric geographic and ethnic origin than northern Europeans, Portugal and Spain having established a presence well before Jamestown. People whose “crimes” were committed in pursuit of a better life are now nitched as some sort of “enemy”, when one’s sights should perhaps be set a bit higher.
“Although they broke the law by illegally crossing our borders … our city’s economy would be a shell of itself had they not, and it would collapse if they were deported, The same holds true for the nation,” stated NYC’s Michael Bloomberg in 2006. Translation: Livable wages cut profits.
The immigration issue delivers to the elites lower costs plus a handy wedge to divide and weaken working poor of whatever hue. Immigrants, especially illegals, are a convenient, perennial election-day cudgel to both distract the electorate and buy them off by holding down costs/wages and concealing inflation in the same vein as cheap imports. You can’t have your yard work done in China, (or Central America) but you can have labor “insourced” as Mr. Bloomberg honestly (and perhaps carelessly) noted, thanks to eroded Federal enforcement. The market pricing of labor commodifies the only thing of value many illegals possess, their own lives. They deliver the cheap wages employers dote. Despite fervent claims to the contrary not only do immigrants often not collect that which they paid into, like Social Security, but are rebuked for availing themselves of the same necessary governmental services citizens take for granted. The results are reflected in deaths and diminished lives of immigrants and those citizens whose paychecks shrink from the pressure of an underground, captive labor force ardently interested in staying off the books.
The Fed’s abdication of their own policies has created a humanitarian crisis as well as an ugly return of the worst of States Rights. Unregulated masses of illegal workers create reactions as varied and predicable as the states themselves. No defense intended, but Arizona’s measure is simple political exploitation spawned by misdirected passion . Unfair? Sure. Counterproductive? Ask any cop. As the United States Government retreats from a responsibility that was theirs since the beginning, expect more. Sovereignty carries with it a duty to mind the borders. I lived and worked in Sweden for a while. The first detail before picking up a hammer was presenting myself to the Polis in Kinna. Mexico? Man, you don’t want to get caught in Mexico without papers.
I submit Federal enforcement could and should have a humanitarian edge. In the current under-the-radar conditions, many lefties have ignorantly allied themselves with the exploitative elites owing to the reflexive, false dichotomy of US politics. The left’s automatic and justified reaction to the “Minutemen” and other ad-hoc, amateur border guards has accidentally given aid and comfort to the elites via the widely held view that any immigration control is inhumane and Orwellian. In the jurisdictional vacuum, human life becomes exploited by smugglers and exploitative employers who could be dissuaded by rewards versus cost, with a predicable toll on all workers and their families. When citizens and leaders reject or fail to obey and enforce established laws and principles, “the rules” lapse into how one “plays” the system.
I’ve been predicting the dis-unification of the states and illegal immigration seems to be providing some of the solvent. The choices: do we remain a nation, that is, one political unit, or do we default into a hodge-podge of dis-united, conflicting geo-political entities? The first dictates that the people override convenience and greed and insist that the Feds advance a consistent policy both to obviate the black profits from the murderous trade in human flesh and by result encourage wages to climb out of the bottom-line basement. The other choice is to surrender laws and enforcement to the states, exemplified by Arizona. Amid an expanding hurley-burley of inconsistent measures, we should then be prepared for “market” reactions to determine state demographics, an unintentional aspect of the unfolding non-system illustrated with brilliant clarity not by a usual “liberal” suspect but a young Republican activist who hissed: “I will never spend a dime in Arizona.”
If the immigration matter means nothing except profit and a political “bomb” to toss around election time, let’s clear the laws from the books and begin operating from a position of honesty. From every mountaintop, let chaos reign. Either way’s better than the non-system we have now.

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News from Afghanistan

“the one thing you don’t do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? All right, because everyone who has tried, over a thousand years of history, has failed. And there are reasons for that.”
Michael Steele RNC Chair

Below, from my archives. published 8 years ago in the Spectator

And if you should fall on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to hack up what remains,
Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains,
And go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Kipling
Now that we’ve bounced the rubble, the Afghan winter is setting in and Old Glory is now available proudly emblazoned on door mats, what’s next?
What ever “it” turns out to be, don’t look for the sort of instant gratification that America is fueled upon.
If we’re fixin’ bust a move, some background might be in order.
Americans are squaring off against a hardened warrior society that endures one of the harshest climates on earth, temperatures between -20 to 110 f., from burnt dust to high-altitude snow and mud — conditions that, in the words of Richard Kidd, West Point, 86, “would kill most Americans and enervate the resolve of all but the most elite American units.” The Soviets saw results quite like two earlier British attempts (although the Reds were, of course, much better armed).
Things went swimmingly for the Spetsnaz units that led the Soviet 40th Army across the frontier on Christmas Day, 1979. The Red Army stormed the Presidential Palace, killed president Amin, seized the Salang tunnel, government communications and supplies and installed the puppet government. But before the first echos flattened out, ragged groups of men armed with the most rudimentary weapons, like fire ants, began to engage the Soviets in a war they were unprepared to fight, spontaneously attacking and sabotaging Soviet personnel, installations, depots and transport. According to a U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Office paper by General (Ret) Mohammed Yahya Nawroz, Army of Afghanistan and LTC (Ret) Lester W. Grau, U.S. Army, two months afterwards, “almost the entire population of Kabul climbed on their rooftops and chanted with one voice “God is Great.” This open defiance — was matched throughout the countryside.” See, these dudes dig Jihad like we do titties and beer.
The Grau paper goes on to describe your basic superpower assault by fixed wing aircraft, helicopters, artillery, rocket launchers and tanks. The Soviets were certain that this degree pf firepower would break the Mujahedeen. Close combat was not a part of Soviet planner’s projections.
Boy, did they get it wrong. As long as the Reds hid in their mobile bunkers, there was nothing to shoot at. Eventually they had to dismount and engage — and then things got ugly. See, Afghans don’t generally traffic in infidel prisoners — slit throats and beheadings are the rule.
Retired Afghan General Matin-ud-Deen: “They (the Afghans) are very well equipped, very well armed, but only for the fighting that goes on in Afghanistan. They are, of course, no match for the US.” But, he adds… “It will be very difficult and I see a very long and drawn out battle — and very many casualites.” All to capture a handful of non-Afghan evil dewers, the primary one of which, as Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has said, we may not catch. Guess Rummy knows. Look at what a fabulous job ATF and FBI did with Eric Rudolph.
Another factor that hasn’t gotten much ink in the pre-ground chit-chat are the epidemiological realities of the region, described in another Army paper. By minty-fresh US sanitation standards, Afghanistan is a stinky place, home to a variety of tenacious pathogens including Shigella, Thyphus, Viral Hepatitus, Malaria, blah, blah blah. The Soviet experience was disease ravaging 415,932 troops of a total force of 620,000, far outstripping actual combat injuries and death (53,753).
If I know all this, obviously then so do the Joint Chiefs of Staff. So it seems they are trying something different. To avoid the results of what the dispiritiing, grinding conditions Afghanistan offers invading forces, the Pentagon is deploying special operations teams, getting ’em in and out before they loose their spunk or get sick.
Problem is, there are only just so many snake eaters in the US military — against a whole nation of pure bred warriors. So we are going to employ unreliable proxys (Northern Alliance) to whup up on the Taliban (’cause we can’t get the actual perps) install them as a shaky government and claim we won like we did in Iraq. And then? I guess high on the long-range plan for Bush bunch will be an to provide indefinite security for the new gang of thugs — and that planned groovy new pipeline from the oil reserves of the old Soviet Union across Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, before all this happened, sent up a red flag that due to worst drought in thirty years, 8 to 12 million Afghans are in “moderate” danger of starvation and 4 million are in “severe” danger. So while January may be icky for the US, to a great many others in Afghanistan, winter will just be the end — making “nation building” a somewhat simpler prospect.

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