Monthly Archives: April 2013

Agreed, You Know Nothing, As Well You Should

Gee, I must be a writer or an artist, but I don’t really know, but since I think I write I must be writer, yet whither art thou oh art?

Thucydides says: “Ignorance is bold, knowledge reserved.” The more someone knows about any given subject, the likelier he is to include a lot of boring, hard-to-follow caveats, complicating factors and exceptions in discussing it. Which is why, for example, climatologists, who have actually studied the data and know how to interpret it, tend to carefully hedge their claims, declining to assert any direct causality or make predictions, whereas professional obfuscators will confidently assure you that global warming is a lot of alarmist hooey.

Or we could just link a lot, and make a liar out of Thucydides, who as you know never wrote a line of English that anyone I know could understand. (Saucy Chaucer ne’er did either, yet I digress,).  Besides if you’re going to appeal to higher authoritie, then why not just say I got it from God while waiting for Godot, who as far as I know never wrote a line of readable English either.

Since I am not and never will be anyone who knows enough about anything to be worth listening to on the basis of my expertise, my only possible claim to anyone’s attention is honesty. Unalloyed honesty is the iridium of the information economy — vanishingly rare, and therefore precious. We don’t respect people like Louis C.K. or George Saunders because of their credentials; it’s because they’re among the few people in public life who’ll say anything obviously true — or, at the very least, anything they really mean.

Never heard of them. I have heard of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Colonel Sanders, mostly because his suit was on Antiques Roadshow, and of course he makes a hell of burrito.

We trust that, unlike politicians or their spin doctors, corporate flacks, think-tank flunkies or cable propagandists, they have no agenda beyond the self-evident one of making a living with their work. I have no pretensions to any special knowledge, let alone anything like wisdom; I am just some guy, a PERSON IN WORLD looking around and noticing things and saying what I think. If what I say doesn’t reflect your own experience, it’s possible that it isn’t about you. It’s also possible that something that’s not About You might still be of some interest or use. There is even some remote possibility that I am oversimplifying, missing something obvious, or just speaking ex rectum.

So you’ve eaten the Colonels burritoes too?

Sometimes the most honest and helpful thing a writer can do is to acknowledge that some problems are insoluble, that life is hard and there aren’t going to be any answers, that he’s just as screwed-up and clueless as the rest of us. Or I don’t know, maybe it’s just me.

Now I’m not at all sure if you’ve ever really eaten the Colonels burritoes or you would know that, speaking ex rectum, (the voice has change but the breathe is the same,) that life is a gas gas gas. I heard that on the radio, so you know that must be true.

(Really, it’s worth a read.)

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Not Fade Away

A little part of it in everyone. 

As the historical memory fades away with the remaining survivors it behoves us all to ask ourselves what we would have done had we been there.

Benghazi For The Rest Of Us

MI6 & CIA

The CIA and MI6 have regularly given large cash payments to Hamid Karzai‘s office with the aim of maintaining access to the Afghan leader and his top allies and officials, but the attempt to buy influence has largely failed and may have backfired, former diplomats and policy analysts say.

Hate to break it to FOX News, but the CIA liason house in Benghazi was more likely as not doling out bribes to Libyan warlords and the whole deal was a rip off gone bad. Happens in New York drug deals all the time. — I saw it on the television it must be true.

I’m surprised no one told Congress, they being paragons of fiscal efficiency and all.

We could save a lot of trouble just loading cash on pallets and dropping them out of airplanes, but then we wouldn’t want the unemployed in America getting any ideas about entitlements.

Updated to add words because writing is hard work.

With All Due Respect Senator Graham

You’re off your rocker.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday fired back at Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who has recently cited the September attack in Benghazi, Libya and the Boston Marathon bombings as examples of a decline in U.S. security.

“No, Mr. Graham is not right on this issue. Although I’m sure it generated some headlines,” Obama said at a morning news conference.

That’s politics as usual, followed by more politics as usual,

——Update: Sen. Graham responded on Twitter moments after Obama’s remarks:

Sorry boys, but life ain’t a utopia, police make mistakes, reporters make mistakes in telling the story, the terrorist make mistakes, and national security hasn’t got a thing to do with any of it.

(And not one cuss word in the whole post!)

Boston’s Half Baked Beans Bombing Story

Arthur Silber has some interesting reads on the American response to events in Boston as does Pepe Escaobar .which you may enjoy as well as these from Bruce Scheier. 

Pretty much, these articles run the gamut of intelligent observations, which together give a better big picture of events than all of the details, many of which as Silber relates, just don’t stack up.

We Can’t Make The Connection Here Either

As you may know I loathe Politico, but duty calls,

And then there are the other Democrats — the ones who reject the entire premise of the current high-stakes fiscal fight. There’s no short-term deficit problem, they say, and there isn’t even an urgent debt crisis that requires immediate attention. This group could make it even harder for President Barack Obama to strike a grand bargain because they increasingly see no immediate need for either new spending cuts or significantly more revenue, both of which they say could further slow the economy.

Because contractionary policy is  contractionary.

Meanwhile back at the ranch

WASHINGTON — Built to dominate the enemy in combat, the Army’s hulking Abrams tank is proving equally hard to beat in a budget battle.

Lawmakers from both parties have devoted nearly half a billion dollars in taxpayer money over the past two years to build improved versions of the 70-ton Abrams.

But senior Army officials have said repeatedly, “No thanks.”

It isn’t just Abrams tanks either. The United States remains on a war time footing economically, just what Washington and other founders warned us about, draining the treasury. Lawmakers on the other hand are obligated to protect jobs at home because, contractionary policy is contractionary. This isn’t unique to Ohio and the Abrams.

The debt and sequester are just bs-ing the rubes for political advantage. Kicking the poors is for fun I suppose. Who knows? Anyway we need to bail out the bankers before the bridges fall in the rivers, because bankers make political contributions and bridges, well that’s socialism.

 

Connecting The Dots Aforetime

Interesting

Serial killer hack threat to gas pipes, traffic lights, power plants’You could shut down the electricity grid’ warns security biz

Oh my,

A variant of Stuxnet is released into the wild that attacks natural gas pipelines and pumping stations, using a logic bomb to increase pressure dramatically on a given date at a given time, which snuffs pilot lights and fills homes and businesses with gas that explodes catastrophically across the country simultaneously. No warning is given, no credit is claimed.

This is what thinking like the bad guys is all about. This is what security is all about, and yet, no one can think like all the bad guys all the time. What we can do is;

DO A LOT OF YELLING AND HOPE SOMEONE HEARS.

In Birmingham They Loved The Governor

But we all did what we could do,

Those of you born after 1980 have lived your entire lives in the era of neoliberal economics. Tax cuts for the rich, free trade, and limited government have been in effect during your entire existence. For the youngest among you millennials, if you’re a teenager aged 16-19 your unemployment rate is 24.2%. Your welcome. Signed, your elders.

Can’t blame us all.

The Navy Goes A Phishing

Well, at least that’s what it sounds like to me,

(Reuters) – The computer network on the U.S. Navy’s newest class of coastal warships showed vulnerabilities in Navy cybersecurity tests, but the issues were not severe enough to prevent an eight-month deployment to Singapore, a Navy official said on Tuesday.

Anyway

The Navy plans to buy 52 of the new LCS warships in coming years, including some of Lockheed’s steel monohull design and some of an aluminum-hulled LCS trimaran design built by Australia’s Austal. The ships are designed for combat and other missions in shallower waters close to shore.

They are also designed not to have a consistent magnetic signature in case you weren’t around the last time this was brought up around here. No big deal, just saying.

Authoritarianism Is A State Of Mind

It has nothing to do with our current ideologies.

I will admit that the title of this piece is deliberately provocative. But it is not far off the mark. I consider myself a traditional conservative, i.e., one who embraces the notion that my ancestors (19 of them) who fought in the American revolution fought against tyranny. As Boston and America freaked out last week in the aftermath of the bombing of the Boston Marathon, we were privy to a disturbing willingness of many Americans and the media to tolerate unconstitutional actions on the part of the police. I mention Fox in particular after listening to Steve Doocy in a snit over those questioning what the police did as they hunted down Dzhorkhar Tsarnaev and their inability to question him at will without having to advise him of his rights. From Doocy’s perspective–screw the Miranda warning.

I don’t get to agree with Larry too much anymore. In fact I think he is still wrong about Hilary. That being said, it should be encouraging to all Americans that even after the last decade of politics as hate, when it gets down to the fundamentals, we’re all on the same page.

 

More Of That Equilibrium Stuff

I like a lot of what Richard Sale’s writes

I think that foreign policy is a cold-blooded business that involves a very un-idealized assessment of American interests in a world of competing power interests.

Unfortunately he goes on to idealize Henry Kissinger, and the Pinochet coup to arrive at Kaplan’s termed, “Kissinger’s cold moral logic.” That of course is, it’s OK to interfere in the internal affairs of other nations when they want to be just like America but don’t know it yet.

Not all of the article is disagreeable

Castlereagh is a figure worth study. Napoleon at St. Helena, said that the British at the Congress of Vienna had missed a supreme opportunity to establish its predominance over the European continent. His criticism misses the point. Castlreagh felt that the goal of the conference was to establish British security which he saw as consisting of “a just equilibrium of power on the Continent,” and which is worked to settle issues regarding Poland and Italy which weren’t designed to result in predominance but simply to attain balance.

I suppose America is also looking for a just equilibrium in the Middle East as well, and not there to do the bidding of a foreign power or powers.  I can hardly see how this would comport with any Libertarian Constitutionalism, much less Liberalism or Paleo-Conservatism, so maybe liberals aren’t the only idealists in foreign policy discussions after all.

When it comes to foreign policy, ideals are fine, but what matters more is securing strategic points, securing resources, and encouraging or enforcing stability.

I think that Obama should ignore his liberals and adopt a more cold-blooded logic and policy.  Have you ever heard or seen so much fatuous drivel as we have had on the subject of Syria? Hesitation itself can become an effective policy.

And not so much as a word on what that cold blooded logic and policy would be, and how that policy would in fact conclude with the stated goals. I would love to hear from anyone what an equilibrium in the Middle East looks like even if it doesn’t secure resources, for as Wall Street continually informs me it is stability that opens the markets to exploitation, of resources other than taxpayers I presume.

Cold blooded logic sometimes requires us to stand aside and mind our own business. It also requires us to look at the interests of not only Iran, but of Saudi Arabia, Israel, Lebanon and Turkey. Surely Russia has as many interests in Syria as the United States as well. Those of you who think we should do something need to start with yourselves, for I remain woefully unconvinced that any of this is in America’s own self interest. I doubt I am alone in this either. I am very much aware however that the void is the playground of conspiracy and ignorance, and the bastard of stupidity more often results than not. As Mr. Kaplan is very much aware, it is much to late to abort Iraq, his last bastard.

Update: I would be remiss not to link this following post by Mr. Sales.

Everyone Knows Except The National Media

Rocket science 101

 

The intellectual dishonesty continues. As before, it’s the lie of omission. R and R are familiar with my book ‘The 7 Deadly Innocent Frauds of Economic Policy’ and, when pressed, agree with the dynamics

I wonder how long the network and cable presenters, and their producers, are going to allow themselves to played, even if the policies under consideration appeal to their own economic self interests. Because those policies do appeal to their interests. Yet they are based on lies.

I’m sure self preservation, ie access, may come into play, but for crying out loud, that should be out weighed by personal and professional pride. It shouldn’t reach the point where guys like me would prefer Alex Jones Infowart to cable and national network reporting.

Conspiracy theory is conspiracy theory, and the idea that there is some moral hazard to be found in expensing cost centers, or acknowledging that some people have neither the tools nor inclination to escape poverty, but their children just might and so it good and worthwhile to advance every opportunity to help them do so, if for no other reason than it is the right thing to do.

We don’t condemn the police for every murder or crime they didn’t prevent, or excoriate them for every unsolved crime. We don’t condemn fire fighters for every life lost in a fire, but praise them for every life rescued from one. Yet we condemn every child born into poverty to the same station in life because we have made a moral judgement about their parents, a sweepingly generalized one that goes against everything you were taught in English Lit., Bible school, and kindergarten.

I’m not ignorant of history, the dangers of government grown too powerful, anymore than I am ignorant of the history of government grown too weak. History and literature have taught, and ought to teach, the need for balance and a light touch when there is an equilibrium between the state and the monied interests. The current policies aim to disrupt that balance. Don’t kid yourself about Cantor’s comp time proposal, that’s corporatism defined.

Perhaps violence is the only thing that can make you see sense, but I do wish that the well educated, and thus compensated, would be so wise as to learn enough history so as to despise revolutions. That they should occur in democratic republics only encourages more totalitarian governments of the Soviet and Fascist ilk, and refutes the premise that a free people can govern themselves. The subterfuge of selfish interest could use some enlightenment, and it needs to end.

Adam Smith’s words are easily twisted by, and for, those who haven’t read them, but ultimately someone has to be held responsible for doing so, and that means that journalists will have to read and understand what Smith said to hold those in power to responsible behavior.

Of course I don’t imagine anyone of you has read “Hackers” yet, so I’m just whistling Dixie on Adam Smith, but at least I understand, to some degree, Sam Houston’s efforts to keep Texas in the Union.

42 – The Answer Life, The Universe & Everything

Plus The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Universe

A cheering tale of triumph over adversity reached Vulture Central this week to warm the heart of even the frostiest soul.

 

The online encyclopaedia h2g2 – after the famous Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy books – launched by author Douglas Adams in 1999 has survived its amputation from the BBC and is doing well. The Beeb cut the website loose in 2011 as part of its massive cull of web properties.

Some digressions may apply.