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DirkGently

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Orlando
Home country: USA
Current location: Holistically detecting
Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 04:59 PM
Number of posts: 12,151

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Wait. Drone strikes don't kill civilians and children?


2) The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates the following cumulative statistics about US drone strikes:[3]
(As of July 2013)
Total strikes: 370
Total reported killed: 2,548 - 3,549
Civilians reported killed: 411 - 890
Children reported killed: 168 - 197

Total reported injured: 1,177 - 1,480
Strikes under the Bush Administration: 52
Strikes under the Obama Administration: 318

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drone_attacks_in_Pakistan

We can argue superior motives all we want, but at a certain point, dead people you have no right to be killing are all the same.

How many times are we going to buy the argument that when the U.S. / wealthy / allied countries wage war in the Middle East, it is only out of a sense of moral urgency, when

- We actually kill more people than the proposed evil dictators
- We don't act the same way at all regarding Africa, or anywhere else that is not as strategically important
- We ignore atrocities, by the same people, some of whom we helped install, for as long as it is convenient.

These are not secrets. We know how this works. We are rationalizing violent intervention for strategic and commercial reasons.

Some people think that's okay. That we need to be hip-deep in the ME at all times to keep the oil flowing, or to keep Russia or China from gaining more influence, or because Halliburton and Blackwater profits will trickle down or whatever.

Why can't we talk about that, instead of pretending, again and again and again, that we are white-knighting around "for the good of the people?"

Nobody thinks that.

Our International Morality Police credit is at 0.

All countries are hypocrites, but we're at some kind of critical mass at this point. We are the country that very recently fabricated a case for war in Iraq, decimated that country, plunged it into civil war and chaos, and kidnapped and tortured hundreds (thousands?) illegally in the process. Then we set up an indefinite detention center in which we have held people even we don't claim are guilty of anything for years, which remains to this day, and THEN shrugged and said nothing was to be done about any of it.

"We'll stop torturing, probably," was our great epiphany / apology to the world.

It's not just weak, but actually grotesque, that we now propose that we, not the U.N., our allies, or anyone else, will be the arbiters of whether yet another ME country we transparently wish to control for the same reason we wish to control the rest of the region, has "crossed the line," thereby entitling our righteous wrath.

This is not the way back to international pre-eminence.

This is the stuff of crumbling empire.

And what exactly is a "punishment bombing?"

Yesterday I heard a former ME advisor or some such supposed expert opine that if the U.S. was contemplating a strike on Syria, then it would be aimed at stopping Assad or turning the tide of the war, and that if the first strike failed to do so, of course the U.S. would escalate its attacks from there. EXACTLY the kind of Iraq quagmire scenario most likely to enrage the American public.

By the time I got home, all the talk was about this limited "punishment" strike, where we would "send a messsage" about chemical weapons, and then stop.

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama vowed on Wednesday that the Syrian government would face "international consequences" for last week's deadly chemical attack, but made clear any military response would be limited to avoid dragging the United States into another war in the Middle East.


http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/28/us-syria-crisis-idUSBRE97K0EL20130828

There is a lot wrong with this whole idea. As noted, we still don't have confirmation as to the use of the weapons, and by whom, but for some reason, the push seems to be to go forward ahead of the U.N. inspection. Especially odd given the quickly disparaged U.N. reports on the last claimed chemical attack, which implicated rebel forces.

If this is all about lines in the sand and enforcing "norms" of military conduct why, as with Iraq, is the U.S. again insisting we don't need no stinkin' U.N. inspections? Hate to be cynical, but the simplest explanation would be that we don't CARE who used what weapons, but rather are looking, again, for an excuse to intervene militarily.

But moreover, military actions have military objectives. The speculation appears to be that bombs and cruise missiles would be used to take out C&C and air defenses. Those are, coincidentally, the first targets that would be required for an extended bombing campaign or an invasion.

So what exactly is the concept here? This is some kind of limited, high-stakes corporal punishment, meaning it's NOT a prelude to further action, but it's still going to lay the groundwork for engagement anyway? This seems like the kind of situation where sanctions, not military intervention, would apply -- unless military intervention is the goal.

It makes no sense. A campaign of guided missile attacks are not sanctions -- it's war. So trying to gain the American public's trust on the basis that it's NOT war is disingenuous. So is not waiting for U.N. analysis. So is not considering further sanctions.

"Punishment bombing" is not a thing that militaries do. Militaries fight wars. We can say all we want that we are "policing" or "supporting" or "advising," but once the warships and the bombers and the missiles are in play, we are engaging in war.

This proposal is not the thing it is represented as being. Not at all.

Knives don't fill the same space in our culture guns do.


I think part of the gap in the conversation continues to be people thinking on one hand about how calm, level-headed people have firearms all around them, all the time, and there's relatively little risk of violence or accident. That's true enough.

But other people see an awful lot of demented thinking surrounding firearms, from pseudo-cops like Zimmerman to militias fantasizing that they can take out the Feds, to your basic idiot threatening to shoot the neighbor's dog or kids on his lawn. That's real too.

Someone handed me an NRA newsletter the other day to thumb through. Sandwiched between a couple of rants about Obama were miles of glossy ads for weapons for sale. I didn't see a single one that talked about advances in deer hunting technology. It was all "tactical" stuff, or handguns. All about the sexy violence available for sale. This is where the gun industry is coming from. Not "tools." Not hunting. They are selling a fantasy of personal power.

We -- not just 'gun nuts' -- but our culture as a whole, fetishize the idea of personal power and autonomous security through keeping and carrying guns. They're symbols of authority, competence, and indomitability. Not to everyone, maybe. But to too many for it not to be a problem.

Knives don't fit that fantasy. Nobody imagines they are a cop, or don't need the cops, or can put a stop to any crime in the area, or are going to war with the government, or will shock the world by wiping out a school or a church or a mall, because they're carrying a knife.

Sure, you get your occasional shirtless weirdo spinning a katana in an intersection now and then or collecting "dragon daggers" in Mom's basement, but it's not the same thing, and those cats are generally not going to wipe out a kindergarden.

It's not just "guns" we have a problem with here. It's the way we think about them. That's why all the comparisons to cars and knives and baseball bats are disingenuous crap. Those things aren't part of our particular violent psychosis here.

It means the U.S. is shocked & appalled mainly when its interests


are served by being shocked and appalled. The WMD bullshit used to justify invading Iraq was completely about employing false outrage and a false sense of threat to provide cover for a war planned before W even took office.

It is worth keeping in mind, at least, that whether we're talking nukes or chemical weapons or genocide, that our government's horror and outrage, and its assurances of who is doing what to whom and how critical it is for us to stop it, is driven by many factors, the least of which historically may be concern for human suffering.

Bad faith.


All of these "post- 9/11" laws and programs, here and abroad, were and are justified as having the goal of protecting against violent attacks on the citizenry.

None were introduced, discussed, or assented to with the understanding that they could be bent and stretched and used to catch naughty journalists or track down leaked documents, or even to hunt for drugs or credit card fraud.

Curiously, the whole boatload of these sweeping powers, in the U.S., anyway, was all ready to go as soon as the bombs went off.

And this is exactly why people objected on grounds of civil liberties, and why the U.S. has the guarantees in the Bill of Rights.

It is not conjecture or possibility, but a FACT that powers allotted to authorities are not merely used for what they are claimed or intended to be for, but for whatever they MAY be used for, because people act in bad faith.

They pretend one motivation, while acting on another. It's not just "the bad people" who do it. It's part of human nature, and one we are rightly wary of.

Therefore, if government can stop, detain, and confiscate the property of a person based on unsubstantiated suspicion, they can do that for no reason, for any reason, and for the "wrong" reasons, and will do so.

Here we have a perfect example. An anti-terror law used with no regard whatsoever for any notion of anything anyone speaking honestly regards as terrorism. And already we see the excuses and deflections, both from authorities and from those who foolishly think they can benefit from the abuse of authority, when the result is convenenient to them.

Sunstein's Wikipedia entry is fascinating.

He's a weird kind of "lefty." Prolific and all over the map in some ways. Animal rights good, government-sanctioned marriage bad. In favor of tweaking First Amendment law to eschew the "marketplace of ideas" to tailor it guide mostly just political speech.

There's an overall theme of a right of the (self-selected) intellectual elite to dictate, by whatever means necessary, to the "irrational" intellectual proles.

It's a mirror of the attitude of economic elites who believe that by dint of their wealth, they should be the decision makers for everyone. Sunstein appears convinced he and others like him have a similar entitlement to rule everyone, based presumed superior thinking. Presumed by them, of course.

For example, Sunstein is in favor of government "guiding" people's decision-making processes, to ensure the "right" results. For people's own good. He espouses something he calls "libertarian paternalism," wherein coercion is okay, provided it has an asymmetrical impact on "irrational" behavior. For example, people need "nudging" to invest more in their 401(k)s. (Gee, thanks -- those 401ks are working out so well for everyone, Cass).

He's going to help people learn to help themselves.

I see where he gets from there to secret infiltratration by government agents into public discussion to attempt to discredit "conspiracy theories." It's okay to lie, he suggests, if you're doing it to undermine other things you believe to be more destructive lies.

The immediate problem, of course, is that "conspiracy theory" is really a completely subjective perjorative term applicable to anything deemed destructively wrong-headed. By him, or by government, which he also incidentally thinks should be guided by the President's specific desires, and not particular bound by, say, the law or the federal courts.

The fact that such infiltration is dishonest and in bad faith in terms of people misrepresenting their actual motives is all okay, apparently for people smugly assured their view is the only correct one. A convenient conceit with something like, say, government intrusion into privacy. Why engage with the "little people" as to their objections, when you can simply manipulate the public discourse? After all, government KNOWS its policies are correct.

Again, a sort of leftward facing mirror of Bush / Cheney. Same elitist entitlement to power; slightly different justification. Of course, they all go to the same schools and play squash at the same clubs. Sunstein is an accomplished squash player.

Bottom line: He's a shitty intellectual with a God complex. F*ck this guy.

So. Threats of truth telling should be treated like threats of violence?


Yes -- this is exactly the rationale applied by every despicable authoritarian regime in history. The absolute antithesis of the First Amendment.

Congratulations. This post bulls-eyes the absolute bottom of the philosophical barrel.

The argument that embarrassing the state with truthful information that is threatening only in its likelihood of raising the public consciousness of government wrongdoing is precisely the most anti-democratic, purely vile and evil sentiment possible, on not only the subject of press freedom, but as to civilization or government of any kind.

This is how you get to dictators and genocide and everything else Americans and all decent people everywhere oppose.

Repellant. Filthy. Indefensible.

This is what leakers & journalists DO.


Policy reform occurs when people take notice. When government operates in the dark as with the NSA, working with secret interpretations of secret rulings from secret courts, the public doesn't have any meaningful opportunity to react.

It takes noise. Disruption. Agitation. Particularly in this area designated "national security" which goes on largely in secret.

We forget that, because so much journalism has been replaced by mutual backscratching between insiders and media organizations. "He said / she said" has replaced analysis so that easy sources don't get ruffled. The gears churn, but nothing is produced.

And look now. Congress is actually moving. The President has announced a newfound interest in reforms he had suggested as a candidate, but not managed to pursue until now.

This IS what democracy looks like.

From the most barren soil ...


... spring some tough goddamned flowers.

Go Texas Dems.
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