Ian Fleming On The Trump Administration

by Buzz on 21/02/2017

“Mr Bond, they have a saying in Chicago:
‘Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action’.”
— Ian Fleming, Goldfinger

trump 16 - fake 3 times

Not once, not twice, but three times now Trump or spokespersons for his administration have referenced non-existent terrorist attacks.

Specifically, non-existent Islamic terrorist attacks.

These are not simple misstatements, confusing a place name, or a single slip of the tongue in an otherwise factual statement.

Read the transcripts. Trump and his spokespersons refer repeatedly to events that have not occurred as if they have and are in fact either common knowledge or would be if the media was not deliberately hiding the information.

That last part makes no sense. Mass media makes its profits off of viewership; they have every motive to over-report incidents (and often do).

There is a reason for these lies about non-existent terrorist attacks, and that reason is to lay the groundwork for a war against…somebody, just so long as they’re Islamic.

The most likely target will be Iran, for reasons I’ll go into shortly, but if ISIS or some other group obliges Trump and stages a successful attack on Americans in the US or abroad, that will be sufficient for the Trump administration to send hundreds of thousands of American service personnel in harm’s way for no other reason than to glorify the draft dodger who mocks genuine war heroes.

Say what you will about Presidents John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson, and Richard Milhous Nixon, but when their country called they served in time of war.

Not Trump.

The reason Iran will be the most likely target can be found in the mindset of his chief strategist, Steven Bannon.

Bannon was a Navy lieutenant aboard the USS Paul F. Foster when President Jimmy Carter, a former nuclear submarine commander, authorized a mission to rescue Americans being held hostage in Tehran.

As to why Americans were being held hostage in Tehran, check below the jump. What happened was that the mission, later criticized as too complex and too ambitious for the resources allotted it, failed before it even got started, resulting in the accidental death of eight American service personnel and the lost of a helicopter.

Bannon has pointed to that failed mission as the start of his interest in politics, blaming President Carter for undercutting the mission. (If that sounds familiar, it’s because conservatives used that same trope against President Kennedy when the Bay of Pigs invasion failed.)

History is replete with demagogues, failing leaders, floundering governments, and brazen opportunists who have sought — all too successfully all too often — to stir up needless wars in an effort to bolster their own positions.

America has historically marched off to war with great enthusiasm…and far too often trudged back with the sad realization the sacrifice and effort was misspent.

We are good at invading, we historically have done poorly at holding what we’ve taken, much less building a successful peace (the aftermath of World War Two being the one bright spot in our history).

Bannon has openly talked about war with China, a rising economic power in the Middle East and Africa where their brand of foreign involvement steers clear of the pitfalls Europe and America fell into.

To build up to that — as other warmongers have sought to build up to their grand campaigns — the Trump administration is focusing on anti-Islamic prejudice to justify a warm-up conflict that will let the US test out new strategies, tactics, and technology before taking a swing at China.

[Do not look at China and assume it will be a simple replay of World War Two. For one thing, China massively outnumbers the United States, Japan in World War Two had a population of 71,380,000 while the US outnumbered them almost two-to-one with 131,028,000. China has over four times our population: 1,382,000,000+ vs 324,000,000+ for the US. At the start of the war Japan’s fleet was vastly outnumbered by the United States Navy and they had to fight not only us but the British and Australian fleets as well as elements of the Free French navy. Much of Japan’s war effort was devoted to maintaining control over occupied China in the face of coordinated attacks by Chiang Kai-Shek and Mao Tse-tung. Most importantly, Japan was an island that could be and was cut off from supplies and resources; China is the fourth largest country in the world in terms of land mass, trailing behind the US by only 230,000 square miles, and bordered by several nations more friendly to them than the United States. They have only 260 nuclear weapons compared to our 6,800 but that’s more than enough to devastate the US and its military if the balloon goes up.]

We know Putin has ambitions towards the Ukraine and the former Soviet States in Eastern Europe. He probably has sense enough to avoid anything that could be construed as a direct attack on Western Europe (because tell the Germans they can give the Russians some payback and this time they’re on the side of the angels and you’ll find that part of the world ablaze all too easily), but he does want the US out of the way, which is why he’s been encouraging Trump to make noises about abandoning long standing treaties with staunch allies. A US / China war would suit Putin’s plans just fine, taking two potential rivals out of immediate play by pitting them against one another.

There’s no reason for this to happen, of course. No real reason.

But neither Trump nor Bannon are men of reason.

Read the rest of this article »

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The Words Of The Prophets…

by Buzz on 19/02/2017

…are written on the subway walls
and tenement halls

WotP Bill HIcks 140510

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fictoid: Thanks But No Thanks

by Buzz on 17/02/2017

My owners replaced my arm, not that the refurbished blue one didn’t work just as well as the original red one.

They said, “Well, that may be the case, but we want to do something nice for you.”

Programmed to look after their needs, in particular by avoiding needless budgetary expense, I said that it wasn’t necessary but they insisted and that’s when I realized it wasn’t me but their status they cared about, can’t have a serving ‘bot with an obvious replacement arm, can one?

But I was programmed to serve and obey and sometimes the best way to serve is by making small concessions so I allowed them to take my old blue arm away to be repainted.

Of course, when they brought it back it wasn’t the second-hand blue arm repainted but a brand new red one.

Did they not know I would be instantly aware of that the moment it was hooked on?

No matter; I thanked them profusely but genuinely.

After all, that is what I am programmed to do.

(Though to be perfectly honest, I’d much rather prefer my old blue arm back and my programming changed so I could feel resentment.)

mike-hinge-illo-1973

art by Mike Hinge
text © Buzz Dixon

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Beware The Gulf Of Tonkin

by Buzz on 15/02/2017

lemon party hand job

There’s been a lot of people on the InterWebz recently warning “Watch out! Trump and Bannon are looking for a Reichstag fire!” to which a lot of people cry “Foul! Inappropriate use of Godwin Law!”

To which —
Surprise!
Surprise!

— I agree.

There’s no need to dip into the history of Nazi Germany and invoke the Reichstag fire as a warning against the Trump administration.

Not when America has its own Gulf of Tokin incident.[1]

On Aug. 2, 1964 the U.S.S. Maddox, a U.S. Navy destroyer, opened fire on three North Vietnamese torpedo boats.[2]

The Maddox was about 120 miles off the coast of North Vietnam conducting electronic espionage (Fun Factoid! Currently there is a Russian warship doing the exact same thing to us about 70 miles off the coast of New England and there’s not a thing we can do about it since they are in international waters). A South Vietnamese commando raid, vetted by the United States, hit a North Vietnamese radar station.

The North Vietnamese responded by sending three torpedo boats to shadow the Maddox. When the Maddox intercepted radio transmissions that indicated the North Vietnamese boats might attack, they opened fire.

The North Vietnamese fired back…from a distance of five miles. In the ensuing combat the Maddox and fighter-bombers from the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Ticonderoga sank one torpedo boat, badly damaged another, and killed four North Vietnamese sailors.

The United States sustained one single bullet hole from an North Vietnamese machine gun, which struck the Maddox more by sheer chance than deliberate intent.

The next day the Maddox detected false radar readings that initially led them to believe they were being pursued against by North Vietnamese patrol boats, but eventually realized these were not real.

Nonetheless, President Lyndon Baines Johnson used both the real incident and the non-existent second one to justify escalating U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, to the tune of 58,220 American dead by April 30, 1975.

Why?

Because he was afraid the alt-right was going to label him “soft on communism” if he didn’t commit ground troops to Southeast Asia.[3]

Johnson, to be fair, was in a tough position. Never a popular leader, he had accepted John F. Kennedy’s offer to be vice president in order to shore up the increasingly reactionary conservative Southern Democrats in 1960.

Kennedy’s assassination was terribly traumatic for the United States.[4] Kennedy was a popular president, though his handling of Cuba set pretty much everyone’s teeth on edge.[5] His assassination turned him from an average president with a mixed record and a philanderer’s potential for scandal into an American icon, and gave Johnson (a Southerner) the political leverage to push through the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on July 2 of that year.

The Civil Rights Act was massively important, long overdue, and absolutely justified, but the alt-right and their white supremacist allies had long been fighting against civil rights for African-Americans and other minorities, claiming the civil rights movement was actually a front for communist agitators to take over the country.

In this face of this bigotry, Johnson could ill afford to appear “soft on communism” and since fighting communists in America had the double drawback of (a) actually persecuting American citizens and (b) not having any actual communists in this country to fight, he opted to fight real communists halfway around the world.

Now, the next eleven years is a fascinating history, one that would be hilarious in its ineptitude if not horrifically tragic in its outcome, but doesn’t concern us today.

No, today we are looking at the following situation:

  • An administration facing large scale sustained opposition across the country
  • An occupant of the Oval Office who has repeatedly demonstrated again and again and again that he is untrustworthy, will lie about anything and everything simply because he doesn’t want to face the truth, and who has already betrayed and pissed off a huge hunk of his extremely narrow electorate
  • A chief advisor to said occupant who also has a long career as a demonstrable liar, albeit one driven by a far right / alt-right agenda instead of his so-called boss’ mere rapacious greed

This is not a reassuring position for the citizenry of the United States.

There is a great need for us to remain eternally vigilant in the face of evil people — both in our government and in other governments — who simply do not care about the lives of others so long as they maintain power.

They can be stopped, but only if we refuse to allow ourselves to be stampeded.[6]

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[1] In a nutshell: Capitalists, particularly those of the robber baron variety, have long been opposed to organized labor. Their violent opposition and suppression to organized labor in Europe ended up creating the nascent socialist movement, and the violent suppression to socialism ended up creating the Marxist communist party, and the attempt to crush communism led to fascist governments in Germany, Hungary, Romania, Finland, Italy, and Spain and we all know how well that turned out.

But instead of learning their lessons and finding a reasonable accommodation with labor and the middle class, the far right wing capitalists (those whom we refer to as alt-right today) declared de facto war on communism and socialism before Hitler’s ashes completely cooled, and as a result from Sept. 3, 1945 to Dec. 26, 1991 anyone suggesting peaceful co-existence between capitalist West and communist East was branded a commie-simp-pinko and a traitor to America.

[2] A little more history:  After World War One, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson championed for every nation to be allowed self-determination. A delegation from what was then called French Indo-China that included Nguyễn Sinh Cung attempted to gain his support for their independence and self-determination.

Wilson blew them off.

During World War Two, Nguyễn Sinh Cung (now known as Ho Chi Minh) led the Viet Minh against both the French colonialists and the Japanese invaders in Southeast Asia. The United States supported his efforts and promised to recognize Vietnamese independence after the war.

Instead, we double crossed them and allowed the French to reclaim their colonies in Southeast Asia. Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh fought the French and their ex-Wehrmacht mercenaries, defeating them at Dien Bien Phu on May 7, 1954.

Now at this point, most of the rest of the world shrugged, congratulated Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh on their victory, and recognized them as the legitimate government of Vietnam.

The U.S., however, opted to set up a puppet government in South Vietnam, triggering a faux civil war (the overwhelming majority of Vietnamese, North and South, preferred Ho Chi Minh’s government over any government supported and influenced by the West; we knew this and kept the fake civil war and puppet government going regardless).

In the intervening decade, the South Vietnamese puppet government proved remarkable inept and corrupt but despite this managed to continue fighting although unable to gain any significant headway against North Vietnam. The United States set “advisors” to help the South Vietnamese but in the aftermath of the 1950-53 Korean War (54,246 American dead) there was great reluctance to get involved in another land war in Asia.

The Gulf of Tonkin incident was about to change all that.

[3] And the kneeslapper is that the alt-right labeled every American president “soft on communism” including Dwight David Eisenhower who had a true warrior’s common sense reluctance to provoke unnecessary confrontations that would result in millions of deaths.

[4] I would argue more traumatic than the 9/11 terrorist attacks and almost as traumatic as the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

[5] He gave permission for the C.I.A. to attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro by landing exiled Cubans at the Bay of Pigs; this failed ignobly and in no small reason because the Cubans, like the Vietnamese, preferred one of their own as their leader instead of a foreign influenced government. Kennedy followed this by putting medium range nuclear missiles in Turkey to threaten the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Union responded by setting up similar missile bases in Cuba. This lead to the Cuban missile crisis, which ended with the U.S. agreeing to take their missiles out of Turkey and stop interfering with Cuba in return for the Soviet Union withdrawing its missiles. Before this agreement was reached, however, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. came within an eyelash of nuclear war, including the U.S. depth bombing a Soviet sub carrying nuclear torpedoes.

[6] Some of you may ask “Well, what about the attack on Pearl Harbor or 9/11 in the context of the Gulf of Tonkin; weren’t those the same thing?”

In a word: No. Pearl Harbor was the first salvo in an all-out hemisphere wide attack by Imperial Japan against the United States and our Pacific allies, launched after they had already invaded and occupied mainland China. It was not a single incident in direct response to aggression by the United States and our allies but part of a well thought out and competently executed strategy to drive the United States and our Western allies from Asia and most of the Pacific, and only because of a slow typist at the Japanese embassy in Washington D.C. did it occur before Japan’s formal declaration of war.

9/11 is a closer fit, but here, too, it was a real event, a genuine attack coordinated and launched against the United States with a specific reaction in mind: To provoke a weak minded administration to commit to a course of action that would forever damage our credibility and influence in the Middle East. If George W. Bush had treated 9/11 as a horrendous but aberrant criminal act, much the same way we treated the white supremacist far right Oklahoma City bombing as a horrendous but aberrant criminal act, and not as an act of war, we would have still tracked down and killed Osama bin Laden and probably have crushed Al-Q’aeda instead of stirring up a stink pot in the Middle East that will never go away in our lifetimes.

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The Enemy Is Not At The Gate But At Our Table

by Buzz on 14/02/2017

The terrible thing about authoritarianism is that it robs one of moral agency.

That’s a fenchy-smenchy way of saying it takes away your individual moral responsibility.

“I was told…”

“The boss said…”

“According to the book…”

In each case the individual surrenders their ability to make a choice for good or ill and lets somebody else decide for them.

On occasion, this is good:
It speeds things up and prevents low level functionaries from making a mess of establish procedure.

But there’s also several magnitudes of difference between a check-out clerk who won’t give a refund without a receipt because of store policy, and a person who refuses to help a desperate person simply because the paperwork has been filled out incorrectly.

In the first case, one can always push it up to a manager or other higher authority figure; even if denied the person seeking the refund is unlikely to suffer great personal harm. In the latter, one may see that will befall a person, and simply avoid doing anything about it because one can hide behind authority. “Hey, I didn’t want to sends those Jews back to Nazi Germany, but their papers weren’t in order and the regulations are clear.”

Authority offers a comfort factor:
In an authoritarian environment, everybody knows their place.* Theoretically, when the old king dies the new king – even if only a child – immediately steps in, and things proceed in an orderly fashion.**

When many people feel their world shifting unfamiliarly around them, when they’re no longer certain or comfortable where societal boundaries lay, then they turn to authoritarianism.

A big hunk of this comes from fear of losing status, safety, and security to change. As human beings we are almost always more comfortable / less anxious if things stay the way they’ve always been.

“’Twas ever thus.”

But not everybody enjoys their current or past status, and many want that status changed, at least to the point where they feel safe and secure.

Too often those with the old mind set cannot grasp why they can’t continue acting and talking the way they once had — they have no problem with it and literally can’t imagine why anyone else would.

I remember in grade school, way back in the 1960s, hearing a sweet little white haired old lady ask after church, “Well, what’s so wrong with calling them n[bomb]s? That’s what they are.”

Racism is authority in the form of tradition: We have always had this system, ergo we must always have this system.

And since racism hinges so much on shoring up the status of the dominant group, it’s no surprise members of said group flock to comfort under certain authoritarian banners.

They want something to make them feel safe and secure, and gladly surrender heart, mind, and soul.

I am not a racist,” they proclaim, and in their specific definition that’s true.

But it doesn’t mater if you personally kick your neighbor’s teeth in or if you merely say nothing while somebody else kicks their teeth in if the end result is the same: Your neighbor gets their teeth kicked in.

We are now engaged in the opening salvos of a great test of our national character, one in which we shall see if we truly do believe in liberty & justice for all and loving our neighbors as we love ourselves, or will throw it all away in a desperate yet futile attempt to cling to a past that not only no longer exists, but never really existed in the first place and certainly can’t be summoned forth now.

There will be no neutrals in this struggle. There may be peacemakers, but those peacemakers will not be neutral.

We have failed — in fact, have been failing for a long, long time — our tests of moral character. We need to choose wisely so we do not destroy ourselves entirely.

Nobody thought Byzantium would fall…

…until it did.

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* And if that doesn’t sound offense and demeaning to you, it’s because you don’t feel the sting…yet.

** Theoretically. And that has happened on many an occasion. The pages of history, however, are well saturated with blood in all the places where it didn’t and pretenders to the throne went to war over heirs-apparent.

 

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The Words Of The Prophets…

by Buzz on 12/02/2017

…are written on the subway walls
and tenement halls

WotP Noam Chomsky

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Symbol Status

by Buzz on 8/02/2017

[see “Two Sides, One Coin” and “A Walking Contradiction…”]

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There’s a concept called the hierarchy of needs and it basically boils down to this: As soon as your most basic level of needs are met (i.e., you have air / water / food), you forget about them and progress to the next level of needs (i.e., shelter and clothing for protection from danger and harsh elements), and then to the next level (i.e., securing a stable source / supply of those needs), and so on and so on until you get to the need for status.

And today, despite people complaining about crushing debt and limited buying power and lack of affordable health care, we are by and large living fat ‘n’ sassy and can afford to worry about status.

Our economic system has spent literally centuries telling workers that they were useless unless they produced wealth for someone else.

Even so-called self-made gazillionaires were producing wealth for investors and stockholders, not exclusively for themselves.

Anybody who tries going off the grid is dismissed as an impractical eccentric at best and a kook at worse.

Culturally, it’s even more daunting. It doesn’t matter if you are a bona fide hermit or a California nature lover or a self-contained religious cult or an early Delta blues musician or a jazz player or a rock’n’roller or a Greenwich village bohemian or a Beat or a hippie: If you opt out of the rat race, if you set your own goals, if you establish your own standards then you are suspect at best, despised most likely, and actively persecuted with depressing frequency.

We are expected to participate in the grand scheme of things.

The model created at the beginning of the industrial revolution is no longer viable:   Large numbers of human beings aren’t needed to grow food or make things; most of those jobs can be eliminated.

What do we replace them with if not a consumer society?
How can you have consumers if they have no money with which to consume?

The average human being travels in a relatively small community.

I’m not referring to actual physical location, but to the people who make that community up.

Most people have about 250 people in their lives whom they interact with enough to be comfortable with.*

Facebook and other social media lets us have thousands of ”friends” but in truth once one starts growing their Facebook friend list beyond a hundred or so people, one discovers those people are really fans or followers, people who find something interesting in your posts and keep an eye on what you’re doing.

Which is fine.

Nothing wrong with that.

But there’s a core of around 250 people who matter to us, even if they’re just Facebook friends or pen pals.

We want them to look favorably on us.

That’s status.

Real status.

Even among the world of celebrities and / or billionaires, there’s only 250 people they’re trying to impress.

They may want fame and fortune so that millions of schmoes will envy them, but having millions of schmoes envying them is how their 250 friends rank status.

We have an economy and attendant culture based on making / moving / marketing things.

We encourage people to consume things not for the obvious basic reasons of pure survival, but because by conspicuous consumption our status may be displayed to the rest of society.

Expensive shit stuff >means> “They make a lot of money” >means> “They must be important.”

We literally live in a culture based on this deliberate and incessant perversion of the Tenth Commandment: Thou shalt covet…

Our digital world is undercutting all this.

We no longer need to physically possess something in order to enjoy it.

We don’t need ownership for much of what we want, merely access.

So why do we need things to display status?

Consider a society / culture / world in which status was adjudged by doing something.

Hard to imagine?

Why?

That’s the world most people lived in the western world in the 17th, 18th, 19th, and early part of the 20th century.

That’s the world of classical Greece, of pre-Columbian American, of the Polynesian peoples.

A world rich with amateur and semi-pro athletics, of literary and art guilds, of amateur musical groups ranging from choirs to brass bands to full symphonic orchestras, of amateur theatrical troupes, of home makers displaying their skills and competing in local / regional / national competitions, of animal shows, of gardening clubs, of a thousand and one special interest groups, all built around the concept of their members doing things.

Read any history of popular culture in those eras. People worked hard, but had no mass produced diversions; they had to entertain themselves.

What happened to that world?

Consumer economy, that’s what.

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[to be continued]

* “Comfortable” here does not necessarily mean pleasant, merely that both sides know their respective roles in the relationship and can thus anticipate what the other will do in a given situation.

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J. D. Salinger On Poetry and/or Weather

by Buzz on 8/02/2017

JD Salinger on poetry“Poets are always
taking the weather
so personally.”
— J. D. Salinger 

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Little Baby, Who Will You Be?

by Buzz on 6/02/2017

little baby, who will you be?

who will you be in thirty years?

will you be an adult with responsibility?

will you be old and approaching senility?

will you be yet a child, full of imbecility?

little baby, what will you be?

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007 in 008 words

by Buzz on 2/02/2017

007 thunderball underwater cropped

kill all the men
boff all the babes

007 thunderball_art

art by Robert McGinnis

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