Saturday, August 9, 2014

Time Keeps on Slipping: A Semi-Open Weekend Thread. Renisha McBride's Murderer is Found Guilty. Barack Obama Decides to Bomb ISIS.

I do hope that you have a nice weekend. As is our new habit, please do treat this as a semi-open thread to share issues of concern, fun factoids, stories that may have gone under the radar, or other matters which you think deserve more attention.

If you have not, please do share, listen, and download the podcasts here on WARN. The newest episode is on a nitch topic that may primarily appeal to those who identify as ghetto nerds. But trust me, it is very entertaining. As a practical matter, if more folks shared, downloaded, and "clicked" on our podcasts (which have been doing pretty well) future opportunities will be smoothed over and made much easier.

Also, if you are new to the site, or have not chimed in with a comment, please take this as an opportunity to say "hello". I like doing that from time to time, extending the open hand of friendship to lurkers and other good folks who frequent WARN, is always a good thing.

On that note, I would also like to thank the friends of WARN who have been subscribing with a monthly donation. Your generosity is very, very, very appreciated.

On Friday, I took my monthly sabbatical/sanitarium visit to the local casino. They do not give patrons colonics and/or serve them Kellogg breakfast products as way of stopping their onanistic and other energy wasting behavior.

But, I do love the bus ride. The people watching is fun. Yes, I tried to play "The Cooler" with a few folks. My move backfired: an older black woman won 12,000 dollars as she pulled a Street Fighter 2 style reversal on me. The Fates do not like selfishness. I have learned my lesson.

I told my mother about my lucky gambling compatriot. She offered up some of her early in the seven decades of life wisdom, telling me that "either the woman needed it or money likes money and she is there every day. Your call. I am happy for her. When am I going to go to the casino and get a big hit?"

My mother always finds a way to make it about her. I am more modest with my narcissism.

My grand total of winnings as a degenerate gambler? 9 dollars. I play the percentages. I hit on 40 percent of my slot machine plays and called it a day at 10 dollars. Folks may laugh at my system; I usually end up winning. Remember folks, the slots are usually going to pay out about 12.5 percent of plays--not total money put into the machine. If you are significantly above that percentage, and have not gotten a big hit, please walk away.

Some other thoughts.

Renisha McBride's murderer was found guilty. This is a good thing. But what of other police and vigilante madness where naked black women are dragged outside of their apartments, thug constables on patrol arrest Eric Garner's friend during the latter's funeral, state police mount a woman MMA style and beat her damn near to death, and the local paramilitaries shoot black people dead who are holding pellet guns in Walmart while they yell "it's not real!"

President Obama has decided to attack ISIS in order to prevent the genocidal of the Yazidi, a regional Iraqi ethnic group. ISIS are barbarians. But, what about all of the U.S. allies who, for decades, have been given billions and billions of dollars to act as American proxies in the region? Are they not capable of bombing pickup trucks and thugs?

The reluctance of the American backed militaries in the region to deal with ISIS is a classic free rider problem.

Example. You bought a friend a new Mercedes, put gas in it every week, and put out money for a long-term service plan. But, when you need to get a ride to the corner store to get some milk and candy they say "no". Yet, you continue to pay their car note and for gas. What lesson are you teaching them?

Obligatory question: does my analogy hold?

Another Iraq intervention related question. The ability of militaries and governments around the world to use euphemistic speech in order to mask, dissemble, obfuscate, and twist the truth is fascinating to me. Obama and the Pentagon used the world "kinetic" to talk about the new action in Iraq. Apparently, said language is some type of recent COIN terminology. What the heck does it mean? Why not say, "we are going to kill people and break things with our billions of dollars of military gear and ISIS will be made to temporarily suffer."

A second Iraq intervention question. There are American (or American hired) soldiers "on the ground" in Iraq. They have been there for weeks or months. Do the combat air controllers, para jumpers, Special Forces, "black" CIA types, in theatre ready reaction forces, and contractors get upset when a President tries to pretty up a foreign intervention by talking around that obvious fact?

Obama's efforts to stop genocide in Iraq remind of 1) how young the United States really is, and 2) how ignorant, as an American I am, about the many ethnic/religious groups that are present in many others parts of the world.

Who are the Yazidi? I know they are "related" to Zoroastrians (I almost enjoyed some special company with a Zoroastrian sister once, but she told me that guilt and fear of consequences meant that she had to get off of Space Mountain mid ride. I am nothing if not a gentleman) but what else should we understand about their position in Iraqi society, and how it influenced Obama's decision-making?

The armchair historians, pundits, professionals, and those who have to make a deadline and get attention with a pithy title, keep suggesting that the world is on the cusp of another "World War One".

Yes, there is global instability. But, the analogy does not hold in my eyes. World War One was "World War One". Why do folks feel the need to shoehorn contemporary events into a framework that is interesting, but which may not really apply?

On that note. World War One factoids still compel me. America is not on a war footing, even as some of its forces attack ISIS. 100 years ago, when World War One was birthed onto the world stage, matters were very different.

To point Politico has a nice, short piece, on how World War One changed Washington, D.C. which you may find of interest.

This passage is particularly rich:
American politicians fought bitterly over how much power Uncle Sam would have to conduct the war. And though his fellow Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, Wilson hardly controlled them. Time and again, Wilson had to rely on sympathetic Republicans to push through policies—like conscription, a federal takeover of the railroad industry and war-bond provisions that favored big banks—that many in his own party thought would turn the United States into the autocratic Prussian state Americans were battling abroad. Wilson succeeded in ramming legislation through Congress, but—by alienating his own party without winning over the GOP—conflict shaped the rest of his second term. 
The political tension spilled onto the streets—and the fights could be vicious. Just hours before Wilson’s speech in early April, a delegation from the pacifist Emergency Peace Federation rushed to Washington to oppose it. Among them was Alexander Bannwart, a 36-year-old minor league baseball player from Boston who buttonholed Republican Massachusetts Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge in a Senate hallway and, in something of a departure from his group’s pacifist principles, pummeled the senator with his fists. The 66-year-old Lodge won the fight—and didn’t change his vote.
Christopher Capozzola wrote the Politico essay. He is someone I will definitely be reaching out to for Season Three of the podcast series.

Good stuff.


Myshkin the Idiot said...

I think there is assistance in Iraq coming from Iran and Russia as well as the United States and North Yemen. I think the Iraqi government has to approve of foreign intervention in their conflict, so it would have to be coming from people their government is comfortable working with.

The ISIS conflict is very much related to the Syrian Civil War, so I think it is best to look at the allies of Syria and the supporters of the rebellion to see how they would side in the Iraqi front of the conflict. The Syrian government gets a lot of support from Iran and Russia, two of the biggest countries the United States takes hostile and semi-hostile stances. Hezbollah is also an ally to the Assad government.

Supporters of the rebels have been the US France and Great Britain as well as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Arab League. The US position has been to identify secular rebels to assist with non-lethal aid up until sarin gas was used on civilians when we began giving lethal aid to the rebellion.

As for the rebels themselves, as far as I know initially there were two basic sides to the fighting. One side was a secular revolution for more democracy in Syrian politics, the other side was and remains the Islamic terrorists. I believe many of the once secular rebels have either joined the Syrian government forces or joined the terrorists, very unsure on this point.

So, as for ISIS in Iraq; we are perhaps not seeing a lot of support in the region due to the many conflicting ties between our allies (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel) and their position on the legitimacy/necessity of Syria. Turkey wants Assad gone, Israel has never liked any of its Arab neighbors and vice versa, I think any conflict the Saudis can try to manage from afar they would prefer (they really seem like a manipulative lot and the US gov loves them), Qatar similar...

I think your analogy holds. You bought your friend a car, but their driving out of town while you're trying to get downtown. You have different needs.

Courtney H. said...

I am glad you and your wife found a place of refuge, if you will. Here is more about the Black Jesus controversy:

May you all have a nice weekend!

chauncey devega said...

Great analysis. We have a conflict that has spilled over from another region and now there is a mess. In hindsight, do you think instigating some of the forces unleashed by the Arab Spring was a poor idea? Sometimes you need a mean junkyard dog to keep the yard safe.

chauncey devega said...

Glad you found a place where you feel comfortable. Peace of mind, safe, security, etc. are essential. Mental health is key. What a cool movie theater. The old movies houses are all but gone, it would have been nice to have been able to participate in that culture. Black Jesus? I need to see some more episodes. I am not sure if it is genius or horrible...yet.

chauncey devega said...

You too. Relax. I am going to enjoy the weather and see Gotg again.

balitwilight said...

As always I'm impressed by your open way of reasoning and soliciting response. I'd like to respond to something you said about Iraq: "The reluctance of the American backed militaries in the region to deal with ISIS is a classic free rider problem.

Example. You bought a friend a new Mercedes, put gas in it every week, and put out money for a long-term service plan. But, when you need to get a ride to the corner store to get some milk and candy they say "no". Yet, you continue to pay their car note and for gas. What lesson are you teaching them?"

My opinion is that there is a flaw in that analogy. It is rooted in a propagandised imperial self-regard that Americans have for their government's actions in the world. If you want an analogy of America's actions in the Middle East (and the rest of the world), it isn't a Mitt Romney-esque deploring of Freeloaders on America's Generosity. It closer to this:

You are a big-city crime lord. Your wealth and power come from extortion, breaking legs, and dealing drugs. You have destroyed a certain neighbourhood by creating addicts to your drug supply and propping up a vicious local gangster there as your lieutenant. In this chaos you fomented, other vicious gangs begin to form in that neighbourhood and fight against your local gangster. You watch this pattern repeat in many neighbourhoods and don't care as long as you get your money and retain your power. But in one particular neighbourhood, the local gangs are powerful enough to maybe threaten your local gangster. Lucky for you, you suddenly notice an orphanage in that one neighbourhood that needs your humanitarian aid. You move in with force and crack skulls. If - as you "defend the orphanage" - you happen to exterminate the rival gangs and re-establish your money supply and power, then it's what we call a win-win in Washington.

That is the closer analogy for the US government's actions in Iraq and the world. You will notice that benevolence has nothing to do with it. As long as Military-Industrial contractors and oil companies make money, and the US retains hegemonic power - that is always the goal. Ask the Palestinians in Gaza where the US was when they needed some humanitarian aid this month. (The answer is selling more bombs to Israel).

chauncey devega said...

That is a good analogy. I am sure IR types have written volumes on this, but when if ever are "humanitarian" military interventions not self-interested? The British intervention against the Transatlantic slave trade was "humanitarian" but it also helped to deny their rivals a source of free labor, thus giving the Brits a competitive advantage.

balitwilight said...

That's a keen observation. I think the importance of framing the analogy is that we then ask the right questions. For example, what national conversation should the British have had in 1958 if their troops were machine-gunning an insurgent group threatening a hospital in a remote Kenyan village during the Mau-Mau uprising? One frame leads to the answer "Oh, those damned colonials - we have to send more British soldiers and kill more of them. How come the Belgians and Portugese aren't helping?" Another frame leads to the question "what are British soldiers doing in Kenya in the first place - and are there better ways to help that hospital?"

Buddy H said...

I love seeing these classic films on the big screen. So far we've seen:
Hitchcock's "Vertigo"
"All About Eve"
"What Ever Happened To Baby Jane"
"Rear Window"

Chauncey, don't ever fall into the trap of moving to an "exurb" ... we did because we were told the school system was first rate. We were terrified of our sons being in a bad school district. But our children weren't always treated with respect by teachers in this so-called "good" district (I finally understood that when we were told it was "good" it meant "white"), there were no sidewalks, no walkable community, just right-wing racist neighbors on their riding mowers who were overtly hostile or transparently "nice" with evil comments seeping through their smiles, no bookstore in town, no "town" really, just some strip malls and winding country roads. Every election cycle republican candidates' signs on every obsessively-manicured lawn.

I knew some people living there hated us, from the stares as well as comments reported to us by other neighbors ("they said they don't like living next to black people!") but the last five years my tires always had nails in them, literally once a month. Garbage thrown on our front yard. Dogs sent into our yard to shit. Just intense vandalism and passive-agressive harassment. My wife didn't want to "surrender"; she wanted to stubbornly stick it out, but it just became too much.

I can't tell you how good it is to be living in a small walkable city with bookstores, our beautiful movie theater, shakespeare in the park, black, white & brown neighbors... the nightmare is over.

Courtney H. said...

Thank you!

Courtney H. said...

Damn! I am so sorry you had to go through all crap! I am glad that you are now getting some respite.

Myshkin the Idiot said...

I got the job by the way. Good interviews this week. We couldn't be happier. Very fortunate.

With Syria, what can you do? The government was killing and imprisoning protesters and I don't think they had ever been on the good side of the United States. Maybe we weren't anticipating a rise in religious extremism there, but we probably should have been...

There's a whole bunch of conspiranoid thinking about this conflict that I am not ready to jump into. All I know is the Syrian government is allied with Iran and the US hates Iran.

chauncey devega said...

Congrats. Doing Groot GOTG dance for you!

Myshkin the Idiot said...

thanks man. :)

Courtney H. said...


Myshkin the Idiot said...

thanks Courtney. Over two years without working due to back injury, this part time job is just what I need.

Aren't you in the EL/Civics instruction field as well? that's my new position.

KissedByTheSun said...

Excellent article! Thanks for the link.