Who is The Talking Dog?

The Talking Dog

"Sure, the dog can talk…but does it say anything interesting?"

He ain't The Man's best friend

October 22, 2014, Apocalypse begins at home

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and leads to a couple of bowling allies in Brooklyn, and is traversed by Uber cabs... so we learned from the cautionary tale of Dr.
Craig Spencer,
a self-described goofball who heroically treated ebola cases in Guinea, West Africa, as a physician with Doctors Without Brains Borders... decided that his "self-quarantine" was too restricting, so he "voluntarily" checked out of... his apartment, and hopped a couple of car services across the East River from Upper Manhattan (near his regular job at New York Presbyterian Hospital) to Williamsburg, Brooklyn... so he could go bowling. Only God knows what else he did, and who else he contaminated came in contact with. Oh... did I mention that he has now tested positive for ebola? Maybe that's kind of important to know... [Hey, why should Ottawa get all the excitement?]

So far, so good, until the good doctor spiked 103 degree fever, and was carted involuntarily off to Bellevue, where his quarantine will no longer be "self-managed." [Bellevue seems somehow appropriate, no?] Seems... Dr. Spencer tested positive for... ebola.

Defies further comment. Should do wonders for Uber's business. Dr. Spencer apparently is here to go bowling, update his Facebook page and otherwise be an infectious goofball. The rest of us only have to try to live in this city. Nice-- a physician who has seen the gruesomeness of this disease intimately-- gets back here and handles it all... as a goof. A huge joke on the rest of us.

Except that it's really hard to imagine any other American not behaving the same way... I mean, everything is about instant gratification, self-indulgence, damn the broader consequences... I mean, Dr. Spencer seems like... any one of us.

A goofball.

October 1, 2014, Winter is coming

For a rather grim math lesson about the ebola outbreak, this post from John Michael Greer will more than do the trick. To summarize, absent successful intervention, various factors that slow these things down some, dumb luck, etc., if the present reports of the ebola virus doubling in infections every three weeks or so are in fact accurate, and human transmission patterns proceed apace in our ever more "globalized" world... an outbreak like this, at that rate (with somewhere between 50-90% fatality rate of those contracting ebola)... would result in something like everyone on Earth being exposed by, say, end of next year, with between roughly 1/3 and 1/2 of humanity dead as a result. More or less, of course.

But... please tell us about ISIS, or Ukraine (it's been a while). or the NFL and its enlightened attitude toward battering women or child abuse... or about the sainted Derek Jeter (suggested to be "the most ineffective defensive player in any position,".. the "worst fielder in the majors")... or much of anything else. Please don't tell us how the number of cases of ebola now in Texas... may have doubled (albeit "only" to two, but hey-- surely our fabulous Western medicine will save us from any kind of really nasty outbreak... because... we want it to?).

We'll have to count for leadership on protecting this planet from a possibly unstoppable and viciously fatal outbreak on a White House that can't seem to keep track of break-ins on itself.

Ironically, this would be an excellent time for "hope" and "change"... we can hope that this isn't "the big one," and it can be contained, which will involve change in American leadership (and that of its usual allies) away from their usual dumb-ass-ery.

Prayer may or may not be ineffective... but it seems like a pretty good idea right about now.

September 20, 2014, Same old

It actually slipped my mind that, two days ago, this blog slipped through its thirteenth anniversary; I suppose I should give it a bar mitzvah, but then, just how old is it in [talking] dog years? Damned if I know.

So many things seem so old and tired (besides my nearly fifty-two year old self).

Anyway, we can start with this Atlantic observation (and of course, hit-piece) of Hillary Clinton (she hasn't gone away either; btw she and I share a birthday). The piece notes Hillary's campaign shtick (including her recent book) are all about playing it "safe," and not coming out with bold policy pronouncements or prescriptions or anything particularly interesting, the money line being "Has America ever been so thoroughly tired of a candidate before the campaign even began?" The piece fails to question why we can believe she wouldn't be the logical continuation of the existing order, meaning Barack Obama's third term/George W. Bush's fifth term/Bill Clinton's seventh term. Since that's what Wall Street wants us to have [note this observation, also from The Atlantic, about how all too often, financial criminals avoid paying back restitution for their crimes in the few instances they even are held accountable any more], we can be reasonably sure that's what we're going to have. Hillary won't rock boats, maybe she'll be even more hawkish in trying to hold the empire together as it falls apart, and probably will be... indistinguishable from her recent predecessors. You'd think even her opponents (many of whom simply object to a woman wielding apparent power, even a dynastic like Mrs. Clinton) would be as tired of opposing her as everyone else is of seeing her, by now. Sigh.

One thing we can expect to continue from either Mrs. Clinton (or whomever instead of her Wall Street decrees is sufficiently favorable it to be permitted to accede to the office) is a continuation of our draconian policies toward swarthy people in general, and those whom we arbitrarily accuse of terrrrrrrorism in particular. If there's a poster boy for what I have been trying to call your attention to here at TTD for lo these years, it would be tortured American citizen Jose Padilla. You will recall that in 2002, Padilla was arrested "on the battlefield" of O'Hare Airport (the whole world is now the battlefield, boys and girls), summarily stripped of his rights, thrown into years of total isolation in a military brig, and then just as abruptly [on the eve of the Supreme Court granting his second habeas petition [the first dismissed on a bullsh*t technicality of "improper venue"] moved to civilian custody and charged, tried and convicted on made-up charges of conspiracy to conspire to maybe make phone calls to bad people, yada yada yada... seventeen years four months in a super-max. Our friend Andy Worthington gives us the details of a court decision by his sentencing judge (Judge Marcia Cooke of federal court in Miami) who, following an appeals court decision that her 17 year sentence wasn't draconian enough and increased it to 21 years. As Padilla is a former Chicago gang banger, but most importantly, he is a Latino who converted to Islam, most Americans probably wouldn't care what happened to him-- no matter how arbitrarily and harshly (and illegally) he has been treated-- even if they actually knew (which, of course, they do not), and even if what happened to him was widely reported (which, of course, it is not).

And as to Scotland, after all the trouble William Wallace went through to get Scotland its freeeeeeedummmmm!!!!... it seems the Scots don't actually want it. They apparently want the same old arrangement they've had for over 300 years... freedom is one thing... but pensions and National Health Service... are quite another.


September 11, 2014, Depends on what the meaning of Is Is... er, ISIS


Did the President's Big Speech [TM] threatening to kick ass and take names re: "the Islamic State[TM]" bring back that awesome 9-11 spirit? Because Paranoia Is Patriotic [TM].

It's That Day [TM] all over again. Just forty-one years ago on 11 September, a CIA-sponsored coup d'etat military junta that the United States was happy about toppled the democratically elected government of Chile and then murdered that nation's rightful president Salvador Allende President Salvador Allende committed suicide.

And, of course, it is just two years after Benghazi [TM].

In case you're wondering just what these seemingly disparate (or not so disparate) events have in common, they are all what happens when the empire bites off just a little more than it can chew, and the costs of maintaining garrisons in over 140 countries finally exceed the value of sucking those over 140 countries dry-- a point we may not have reached at the time we engineered the overthrow of Allende, but have certainly reached now-- and as such, the empire starts to reap the seeds of its own destruction that are intrinsic to it being an empire.

Yes, it's only been thirteen years since the ultimate Rube Goldberg-esque combination of clusterf***s imaginable (for those convinced the whole thing was some kind of inside job-- to you, I ask, do you really attribute that level of competence to the people to whom you are attributing it?) Then again, maybe not so fast... please feel free to look at my own more contemporaneous take, called "Let's roll: alternative version.." Whatever actually transpired (as opposed to what we are told transpired), the events just thirteen years ago today have been consistently used to justify the necessary internal crackdown on the rubes in the imperial mother country which we have been enjoying these last thirteen years. Yes, a few irregulars mostly from Saudi-- the principal energy supplier of the empire-- caused a great deal of trouble, and set quite a few things in motion that, in a political vacuum, appear to still be in motion.

Even now, polling shows that, while Americans have no faith in their President, they still want him to blow sh*t up (as long as its foreign).

In short, game, set, match: democracies are about reasoned discourse, and tyrannies are about appeals to raw emotion. Which one are we about? Don't answer that.

Thirteen does not appear to be the charm re: this 9-11 thing. I have no grand insights. And if I did, they would be lost on Americans anyway, it would seem.

August 14, 2014, Rock [star] paper scissors

One wondering what would take the situation in Ukraine (now featuring a Russian aid convoy on its way to Eastern Ukraine which, as Brother Dmitry observes, will likely be delayed or outright barred from entry while the Ukrainians figure out how to shake it down) off of the front page, might think, "the situation in Gaza."

There, of course, a tentative cease-fire seems to be holding, as both sides may have achieved their respective political ends from pummeling Palestinian civilians (or in the case of Hamas, getting them pummeled), fulfilling Clausewitz's famous axiom that war is just politics by other means. But what could take that off the front page?

Perhaps events in Iraq, where long-time unreliable American puppet Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki finally resigned amidst pressure to have someone else take that role, as the "Islamist State of Syria and Iraq" or "ISIS" (sometimes known as ISIL, sometimes known as the latest group of Saudi/Qatari-backed extremist nuts to overrun an already bad neighborhood) as the humanitarian situation worsens.. and American airstrikes, air drops (which Brother Dmitry notes will hopefully help the Devil worshippers) and shit.. which will probably help our friends in Kurdistan.

Now that seems awfully impressive... I wonder what could take the possible reentry of this country into a war in Iraq off the front page?

Of course: big celebrity news, specifically, Mortis Mork (apparently, at his own hand). While I liked Robin Williams just fine, his suicide wasn't, in my view, even the premier celebrity death of the moment, notwithstanding that in terms of media coverage, it utterly and totally blew away the death of the much more culturally important Lauren Bacall (our old neighbor in Greenwich Village, btw) just a few weeks short of her 90th birthday.

But hey... being disposable is the highest American value is it not? And hence... rock star smashes scissors and the front page of the paper! (We'll have to do something to keep Ferguson, MO out of the papers and air-time soon too... while martial law demonstrations, such as last year's Boston Marathon false-flag attack terrorist bombing and the resultant lock down of the nation's tenth largest metropolitan area are useful in their own right... we don't want to make it too obvious for the rubes.)

Anyway, you didn't think our highest value was breathable air, did you? My own lungs are finally filling up with crappy American air again after a brief lungs-clearing sojourn to our neighbor to the North, to compete in my first international event, Saint John, NB's Marathon by the Sea (running it being the easy part, compared to the 11 hour drive each way).

Oh well... this has been Rock [star] paper scissors. Now back to you, Wolf Blitzer!

August 4, 2014, Happy birthday

It's (my college classmate) President Barack Obama's 53rd birthday... I hear he's keeping a low profile for the occasion.

Given the way things are going... understandable move.

July 21, 2014, Rashoman

Regarding the most recent Malyasian Airlines disaster (maybe God just doesn't like that airline?)... as he does with so much going on in our world, Brother Dmitry explains it all for you, in this brilliant thought experiment. Bottom line: now that we are safely thirty years beyond 1984, aside from everything being "doubleplusgood"... we apparently no longer need ask for "evidence" from those purporting to "report" the "news." We are simply provided the regime's narrative, and voila, everything is settled for us. No further thought needed. In this case, we are at war with Eurasia; we have always been at war with Eurasia John Kerry tells us that Putin and Russia are eeeeevil, and have now taken their eeeeevil to shoot down a civilian airliner, either at their own hands or at the hands of their allied separatist rebel friends in Eastern Ukraine near Donetsk... the only problems with this are the various pieces of evidence (i.e., the "pro-Russian separatists" lacked the means, motives, opportunities or MOs to do this, whereas the Ukrainian regime had all of the above)...

Dmitry himself suggests his own explanation is but a thought-experiment, and you (whomever you are), should consider the evidence on your own terms. But alas, John Kerry's job (as it was Hillary Clinton's before him) seems to try to draw Russia (or someone) into some kind of broader war that, hopefully, will become the kind of (magically non-nuclear, or at least nuclear where "our side" wins) World War that completely distracts our addled (and, as recent events show, clearly not very bright) population from their domestic woes (an ongoing economic contraction, an income/wealth distribution that would make most banana republics gag, health-care costs exploding even as health care "outcomes" continue deterioriating, the full brunt of "Obama-care" ostensibly finishing off any possibility of growth in full-time employment, etc., etc.). Thus far, at least, thankfully, Mr. Putin and his minions, somewhat addled themselves as they are by recent developments, still apparently refuse to take the bait.

BTW... in a similar note, we should probably recall that the current Israeli incursion into Gaza originated in a stepped up assault by Israel against Hamas in supposed retaliation for the murder of three Israeli teenagers... but you'll excuse me if I don't recall any "evidence" linking Hamas (or for that matter anyone in particular) to the murders of the three teens. No question that Hamas was suspected... indeed, that organization may well have had the means, motives, opportunities or MOs to do it... but I have still not seen any evidence linking Hamas to the deaths of Naftali Frankel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar... although, without doubt, the stepped up assault on Hamas (razing of buildings, arrests of officials, etc.) did seem to coincide with Hamas engaging in stepped up rocket fire towards Israel, which has culminated in the current Israeli assault against Gaza (which has now managed to kill hundreds of Palestinians, and, for a change, a couple of dozen deaths on the Israeli side as well) ... has anyone noticed how uncritically we have been trained to accept the premise that Hamas was somehow responsible for the (supposedly) precipitating event, the specific murders of three Israeli teenagers? It's now a reflex. (As with the Ukrainian situation above, I join Dmitry in suggesting "consider the evidence yourself"... Hamas may well have been responsible for the murders and pro-Russian separatist responsible for downing the airliner... I'd simply rather not take these things completely on faith, which is how they are being presented.)

Kind of how, oh, uncritically we have accepted the guilt of men held at Guantanamo Bay, notwithstanding that, so far at least, none of them have been tried or found guilty of anything specifically associated with the 9-11 events (and of course, all but a handful have never been charged, let alone tried, for anything at all... and yet, their guilt is simply assumed.)

God knows, as we quickly approach 100 years since the commencement of the Great War... which, to this day, the full causes of the First World War remain in dispute, it was agreed that it was "a series of unfortunate events" (many of which were completely half-assed, including a belief by everyone involved that any conflict would be quick and decisive)... maybe it's time we recalled that "our betters" didn't know what the f*ck they were really doing then... and we have no reason (let alone "evidence") that they do now.. and maybe we should start using our own minds for a change, and demanding actual evidence for premises before accepting them... particularly when the consequences are likely to be grave and catastrophic?

Just saying.

July 18, 2014, Stern warning

Do not look at anything like Jon Rappoport's blog here, because as we all know, none of us have any power, let alone power over our own imaginations, to do anything at all (let alone pursue actual happiness or fulfillment).

Best we take in things like a horrifying plane crash in Ukrainian airspace that Russian and Ukrainian officials seem hellbent on blaming on each other (along with other horrors associated with an ongoing insurrection in Ukraine), or for that matter, a horrifying conflict in the Gaza Strip that both Israel and the Palestinians on blaming on each other, or the horrifying recent developments in Iraq which the United Nations wants to blame on someone or other, or even legislative leaders suing executive leaders, blaming them for failures of something or other, and not ask too many questions.

Do these (and innumerable other) signs of discord (amidst various other declines, such as overall health of our economies, environments, populations, moral soundings, etc.) tell us something... perhaps we are failing at something as a collective (community, nation, species, planet, etc.)?

Perhaps this is all just some kind of failure of imagination, individual, collective or otherwise something we'll have to live with.

July 3, 2014, Happy 4th

Happy 4th of July. This, from a bygone era, while still the official public narrative, is now just a nice piece of Clinton-era nostalgia... for those actually nostalgic for the Clinton-era... hmmm....

June 24, 2014, Killer Memo, Dude

The Grey Lady's Charlie Savage just gives us the (redacted) memo itself of the Justice Department's stated justification for the state-sanctioned murder of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki by the United States government in a targeted drone strike. The memo was released as part of a court decision by the U.S. Second CIrcuit Court of Appeals in New York. Wapo has a bit more (including a citation to the wrong amendment). And for the usual spot-on analysis we get from Marcy and the gang, try this and related posts from empty wheel.

Amusingly, the author of the memo was former DOJ official David Barron, who is now serving (with life tenure) as a federal Circuit Court of Appeals Judge in Boston, joining such other luminaries as "torture memo" signer Jay Bybee in the capacity of federal appellate judge.

Well, well. I don't know whether I am more offended by the targeted killing of specific human beings by their own government (which I suspect is nothing really new), or by the attempt to argue it is legally justified (which I suspect is quite new, with its antecedents in the Bush White House and John Yoo's famous "torture memos.")

This new attempt at legal whitewashing of the unspoken and unjustifiable brutality associated with war, as usual, misses the point (presumably that being "change we can believe in" by "constitutional scholar" Barack Hussein Obama). So I'll make the point: the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides, simply,

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
[emphasis the dog's].

How hard is that? Due process of law. No, that does not mean a determination of political expedience by politicians acting in secret, which is presumably what happened with Mr. al-Awlaki, seeing as those "proceedings" remain secret. Not to mention that due process is probably offended by the treatment of al-Awlaki's teenage son, also summarily murdered by a drone strike.

Alrightie then. Entering wars on completely false pretenses, duly whitewashed by politically cowardly toadies-to-lobbyists? Check. Torturing the prisoners sold to us during the course of said wars? Check. Detaining anyone we feel like, citizen, legal resident or alien alike, on any terms we like, "constitution" be damned? Check. And now... liquidate enemies of the state, citizen or otherwise, anytime we want, on whatever (secret) grounds we want? Checkaroony.

Seems that 9-11 changed quite a bit-- if not "de facto", certainly "de jure"... And we have to learn about it through the teeth-pulling of a lengthy freedom of information litigation, resulting in a highly-redacted release (among the redacted subjects being the specific determination associated with al-Awlaki himself, and why his actions warranted summary execution).

Ah.... so much going on with this story... so none of it boding anything good...

June 22, 2014, Welcome to summer

As we encounter our first full day of summer, I give you... a Mermaid Parade image from New York's Mayor Bill DeBlasio and family, featuring King Neptune Dante DeBlasio and Queen Mermaid Chiara DeBlasio. Having dragged my own family to said Mermaid Parade (in Coney Island) on enough occasions... nice to see Familia DeBlasio in the spirit.

Nope... nothing snarky to say here folks... move along. Too nice a day for that sort of thing (just back from the Queens 10-K... in more or less the usual time... long trip for a short race...) And perhaps Team USA will prevail in World Cup Soccer... maybe... Again... too nice a day for snark... just enjoy it...

June 15, 2014, Moscow on the Volga

I am a tad troubled that I find myself rooting for "the traitor" [Edward Snowden] and against the minions of "our side" (assuming my college classmate [President Barack Obama] is even on "our side") in this WaPo retrospective on just how extensive the efforts of the Obama Administration were to nab any and all defenders of freedom all dissidents Mr. Snowden. Of course, these efforts were monumentally futile. All it took to thwart them was anyone who had any intelligence whatever (and Mr. Snowden seemed to have oodles of intelligence in every sense of the word.)

In particular, there is a lengthy discussion of the forced landing of the Bolivian Presidential jet in Vienna, which the article confirms (via its express denial) that it was the White House that brought this about. That plane was, of course, carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales, who suggested during a visit to Moscow that he might grant Snowden asylum... The heavy handed forced landing came about even though (1) Snowden would probably have had the benefit of sovereign Bolivian protection, (2) the Austrians were not likely to commit the kind of kidnapping and/or piracy that our government has become so noted for (largely because of our ham-handednes) and (3) there was no evidence Snowden was even on the plane (which took off from another airport than the one Snowden found himself jammed up in).

While publicly, President Obama suggested that he wasn't going to use "military assets" to get at "a 29 year old hacker"... I don't think that there's any doubt whatsoever that had Snowden not put himself on territory where any American action (other than loud diplomatic begging) would have likely started World War III (Chinese Hong Kong followed by Russia)... if not an outright killer drone (my bet), certainly a team would have been sent to murder him liquidate the enemies of the state bring Mr. Snowden to "justice."

But Snowden had the good sense to plant his feet on the soil of nations somewhat hostile to the United States in possession of nuclear weapons. It is unfortunate that Mr. Snowden concluded he could not get anything resembling a fair trial here, let alone, fair treatment... even more unfortunate that Snowden happens to be correct about this, of course (see "Manning, Chelsea f/k/a Bradley," "Assange, Julian" and for that matter, "Swartz, Aaron").

In the end, what I take out of the WaPo piece is the ultimate futility of the Obama Administration-- even in trying to trample upon and then urinate over any semblance of Constitutional values by trying to capture the intrepid fool who disclosed the full extent of just how psychotically evil extensive the Obama Administration's surveillance efforts actually are (and yes, boys and girls, these are the programs that John Ashcroft once refused to sign off on... Ashcroft, who announced the arrest of American Jose Padilla while he himself was in Moscow!). The same futility in misplaying Bowe Bergdahl as some kind of "national feel good moment," or in so many other misplays (see "Guantanamo, close within one year;" "Iraq," "Syria" and "Ukraine."

And so, when our allegedly liberal democratic government schemes to behave like the most ruthless of Stalinists... I get kind of mildly amused when an actual former KGB colonel seems to end up outplaying it... at virtually every turn. Ah, the irony, that someone standing up for the most basic of American values... obtains asylum in Vladimir Putin's Moscow. The one on the Volga.

June 12, 2014, "You're welcome."

Isn't "you're welcome" what we're supposed to say to the people we've "liberated," whenever the inevitable results of our magnanimous intervention in their affairs results in a gift from Wonder-Working providence? One such case is Iraq... featuring the fall of Mosul, Iraq (as well as, previously, Fallujah) to Islamist Sunni insurgents called "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" ("ISIS"). One would think that, perhaps, an American embassy garrison force of some kind-- and a hell of a lot of mercenaries security contractors-- might be of some assistance... but evidently, the Iraqis are, ahem, on their own, by and large. Presumably, this is the sort of shape of things to come-- as a spent American military that has already overstretched itself breaking things is simply in no position to even attempt trying to patch them back together...

Meanwhile, of course, as world's third-largest-oil-producer Iraq is racked by an insurgency, our relations with numbers one and two (that would be Russia and Saudi Arabia-- the order is unclear these days)... aren't so good. Russia might be a little pissed about lots of things, such as our pissing in its cornflakes over Ukraine, or perhaps our apparent preparations for nuclear war (that sort of thing might piss off China too... not to mention anyone on Earth with a brain... or a pulse...) And our relations with Saudi have been somewhat hampered by... Syria...
Iran... and perhaps Iraq, now... even as we fantasize (as in "pipe dream".. or pipeline dream) of being the Saudi Arabia of fracking, or some such nonsense...

Anyway, we are being outplayed diplomatically everywhere, and honestly, while one never thinks a seemingly minor (albeit visible) plenipotentiary like "Secretary of State" matters that much, it seems replacing Hillary's Brain in Search of a Haircut with John Kerry's Haircut in Search of a Brain... has been a huge net loss for the United States... in every conceivable way.

Oh well... Does anyone remember the "Pottery Barn Rule" often espoused by Colin Powell and RIchard Armitage, to the effect of "you break it, you buy it"... referring specifically to Iraq? Well, we sure as Shell or Chevron broke it... funny how we seem to be avoiding the bill though.

"You're welcome."

May 31, 2014, Even the propaganda is failing

Ordinarily, I would think that anything that gets a captured American service-member released, and simultaneously reduces the population of one of the most notorious prisons in the world (yes, you know I mean Guantanamo) by about 3% is a "win-win." Nonetheless, I can only question this action. I'm troubled that at a place where nearly half the prisoners have been "cleared for transfer" for many years, why arguably the few dudes who might actually be dangerous (mind you, not that they've been charged, tried and found guilty or anything so "pre-9-11" as that) (a senior U.S. defense official confirmed Saturday that the prisoners to be released include Mullah Mohammad Fazl, Mullah Norullah Noori, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Khairullah Khairkhwa and Mohammed Nabi Omari) are the ones being released. The rest continue to be held in horrific, and seemingly never-ending, incarceration. At GTMO, of course, this is an "ever thus" thing-- fairness, let alone "justice," has always been in short supply.

In some sense, I'm shocked at how inexpensively we recovered Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl: just five Taliban prisoners. I remember on several occasions the Israelis trading a thousand or more Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a single captured Israeli soldier... indeed, the last time Israel traded something like only five prisoners for their soldiers... their soldiers were dead.

To be sure, the Taliban-- who I credit with being smart enough to realize that, with perhaps the exception of the five dudes they just got released, have concluded that Guantanamo Bay is more valuable to their cause if it remains an open and continuing fecund source for new extremists-- really have little use for the other 140 or 145 or so unfortunates still hanging on as prisoners at GTMO,and apparently, now that the United States has more or less announced its draw-down to a manageable 9,800 or so troops in Afghanistan after this year, apparently the Taliban concluded that they didn't have much continuing use for Sgt. Bergdahl either.

Over the years, I've talked to dozens of people about GTMO (the interviews are all linked to at the end of my most recent interview)... and I've assisted Candace Gorman, an attorney representing two GTMO detainees, one former and one still held there... and the only conclusion, from the accounts of former detainees, of former military members, of journalists and of dozens of lawyers (including former Guantanamo war crimes prosecutors) is that, with very few exceptions [which may or may not include the five of whom have just been released... as if this were even remotely relevant in propaganda-world!] we're holding a bunch of nobodies there who did nothing other than being in the wrong place and time, and they continue to be held as victims of political posturing, and little more. These men have been failed by the judiciary, by Congress, by the military, by the executive, and frequently, by their own countries, and unquestionably, by the American public, which, with all too few exceptions, is not even aware that Guantanamo is still open, and if it is, assumes that everyone there has probably already been tried and found guilty, rather than the miserable reality that more men (nine) have died at GTMO than have been convicted in its military commissions (eight).

I have come to realize that actual facts and figures really don't sway anyone; to some degree, it's human nature, but it is also quintessentially American. "Reality" such as it is must be contextualized in an established narrative: if the "new fact" fits neatly in the narrative, it is easily digested; if it conflicts with the story of the world that we have set for ourselves, it will be found disconcerting, and very likely discounted or dismissed. It's that preexisting story that matters-- we are programmed to fit everything we observe into the context of that story-- not to adjust the story to "reality." And so the "worst of the worst" story still persists for most-- even as they merrily tune out every last detail of what's happening in front of them and eat what they're served (such as, you know, Kim/Kanye's wedding plans.)

I'm not suggesting for a minute that the exchange of five ex-Taliban for one U.S. serviceman will shatter anyone's background narrative and world-view: alleged progressives will continue to believe that their sainted hero Barack Obama kept his promise and closed Guantanamo Bay within his first year in office, while alleged conservatives will believe that the place houses nothing but hardened terrorists who deserve everything they've had coming to them. I just wonder if the propagandists themselves, from the White House (whose press officer, perhaps fatigued from having to spout this sort of propaganda horseshit for so long, just announced his resignation) will eventually realize that they are largely talking to each other, and just might, you know, give it a rest.

That's not how you bet, of course: our "leaders" (in finance and in "the military-industrial complex") believe GTMO is useful-- as a demonstration project that we can do it, as an interrogation and torture laboratory, as a wedge against a legal system not completely controlled by them-- or for some other reason. And so... the story as it is... will go on... even as its propaganda basis [that would be "protecting us from the most hardened terrrrrorists on Earth"] is falling apart right in front of us.

May 26, 2014, Bush League

It seems in this, the middle of George W. Bush's fourteenth Barack Obama's sixth year in office, that fatigue is setting in. Hence, after another seemingly dangerous and expensive diversion so that the President can "support our troops" by showing up in Afghanistan for a much-needed photo op, the (on?) crack Obama Administration advance team outed the CIA's station chief in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The WaPo piece makes clear that the alleged Fourth Estate caught the own goal mistake, and issued a "corrected" list of persons who would be present at a briefing with the President not including the name of the CIA station chief (identified as "chief of station"), and besides... everyone important in Kabul probably already knows who the CIA station chief is anyway so there... but it was a reporter from WaPo... the newspaper... that pointed this out to the White House in the first instance, questioning whether this was intentional.

Say this for the Bush Administration: when they out a CIA agent, they mean to do it.

In this era of Orwellian nightmare surveillance technology and an Administration committed to not only using it to eavesdrop on virtually every communication on this planet, but also committed to the personal destruction of any and all who dare out the wrongdoings of government by whistle-blowing (and to the assassination of citizen and non-citizen alike in the name of battling "terrorism"), one might see the humor in this kind of amateur-hour dumb-assery. Then again, it took me a while to realize that this piece about an expensive weapons program being protected by Congress notwithstanding its ineffectiveness... was actually from the Onion.

The Obama Administration just wants you to know that your government is not merely committed to killing terrorists and, of course, hope itself... but seemingly, humor as well.

Consider that job well done. One of the few things this Administration can say that about.

The Story of
the talking dog:

Two race horses have just been worked out on the practice track, and are being led back into the stable.

After the stable boy leads them into their stalls, the first race horse tells the second, "Hey, did you notice something odd about that guy?  I don't know, he just doesn't seem right to me".

The second race horse responds, "No, he's just like all the other stable boys, and the grooms, and the trainers, and the jockeys – just another short, smelly guy with a bad attitude, 'Push, push, push, run harder…We don't care if you break down, just move it, eat this crap, and get back to your stall".

The first race horse says, "Yeah, I know what you mean!  This game is just a big rat race, and I'm really tired of it."
A stable dog has been watching the two of them talk, and he can't contain himself.

"Fellas", he says.  "I don't believe this!  You guys are RACEHORSES.  I don't care what they say about lions, YOU GUYS are the kings of the animal world!  You get the best digs, you get the best food, you get the best health care, and when you run and win, you get roses and universal adulation.  Even when you lose, people still think you're great and give you sugar cubes.  And if you have a great career, you get put out to stud, and have an unimaginable blast better than anything Hugh Hefner ever imagined.  Even if you're not in demand as a stud, you still get put out to pasture, which is a mighty fine way to spend your life, if you ask me.  I mean, you guys just don't appreciate how good you have it!"

To which, the first race horse turns to the second race horse and says, "Would you look at this!   A talking dog!"

Your comments are welcome at:  thetalkingdog@thetalkingdog.com

5 ? weblogs # 5



"If you were born to hang, you'll never drown!"

Hit Counter