Signs, Portents…and Squirrels: Our Times: At Once, Dire and Inane

portentsAs I write the date is 27 February, 2015.

If one needed any proof that the United States, and a good deal of the rest of the world has simply abandoned any pretense of being serious, the top stories of today and a few days prior are convincing proof.

JohnLast night, the story broke that “Jihadi” John, the masked killer of at least five in Iraq and or Syria had been identified. Along with this came a presser by CAGE, a “human rights” organization in the UK, which attempted to blame the nation’s security services for “radicalizing” Mohammed Emwazi, who

Cage

Cage directer Asim Qureshi in a diptych with the “beautiful young man” who went on to practice halal butchery on humans. Qureshi’s zabiba(prayer bump) should be a dead giveaway that he’s just another of the lying Islamic shills to whom Westerners give so much credence. The Qureshi were the tribe of the “Prophet” Muhammad, and half the swinging dicks in Muhammad land claim to be descended from them.  Liars all.

turned out to be a degreed computer programmer raised in comfortable circumstances. A week before, the Obama administration had re-floated the idea that “violent extremists” are fueled by poverty and exclusion, a moronic, Marxist inspired, and easily debunked trope that has been around since Dubya.

 

Since I was a child, I've loved antiquity.  However, I remember many of my classmates hating those museum field trips.  This, though, is a bit much

Since I was a child, I’ve loved antiquity. However, I remember many of my classmates hating those museum field trips. This, though, is a bit much

ISIS took a break from releasing snuff films to putting out a video of the lads having a blast smashing statues from Ancient Assyria.

blogger

Nothing to do with Islam, of course. Bangladeshi-American atheist blogger Avijit Roy’s wife, Rafida Ahmed Banna, who survived, but lost a finger.

In Dhaka, a Bangladeshi atheist blogger, who also held American citizenship, was hacked to death on the street, with his wife also attacked but surviving. While the White house had nothing to say, a reporter did manage to coax a statement out of Jen Psaki, who was careful to note that at this point the attackers’ motive is unknown.

U.S. State Department spokesbimbo, Jen Psaki.  While lacking empirical evidence, I'd say she's a genuine ginger, and I bet those hooters are real as well, unlike anything that comes out of her mouth.

U.S. State Department spokes-bimbo, Jen Psaki. While lacking empirical evidence, I’d say she’s a genuine ginger, and I bet those hooters are real as well, unlike anything that comes out of her mouth.

The United States government, with zombie FDR nodding approval, decided to regulate the internet under a statute written in 1933. All data packets are equal. Down the road, some will be more equal than others. On the BBC, of all places, a commenter shook his head and said the US government has decided it wants the internet or free. Someone on state owned British media gets economics better than Mr. Obama.

In the same category of unaccountable Federal agencies we have the BATF talking about banning ammunition for the AR-15, a big scary looking rifle that anti-gun legislators have been unable to touch. It’s basically a .22, well .223.

A gang of Uzbeks from Brooklyn are

indicted on terrorism charges. What would Adam Yauch say?

In the United States Congress, the Republican majority, in its strongest position since the 1920s decides that funding DHS, the security super agency that has yet to catch a terrorist, is more important than keeping its promise to the electorate to fight and defund the President’s unilateral amnesty for illegal immigrants.

The president and functionaries of the regime, I’m sorry, government, natter on about “Climate Change,” (Nee Global Warming; isn’t it nice to see her all grown up?) as a foot of snow falls in Alabama. Winter Storm

In other times, people looked to the heavens for signs and portents of evil days to come.

My necromancer didn’t return my texts.

 

We have the United Sates, guarantor of the peace for some seven decades, in a constitutional crisis, a centuries old civilization conflict bathing vast areas in blood, the ancient nations of Europe suborned by Islamic fifth columns, and much more than I need go into here.

What is to come?

I have no idea, the best minds of our time are trying to determine the color of THE DRESS.

What color is this dress? Beats me.  It's  an internet thing.

What color is this dress? Beats me. It’s an internet thing.

What color is it?

Ask the llamas.

A Mexican guy driving by uses a lariat to lasso a llama.  All these words are Spanish. What the hell, I like Mexicans, and I'll sure take them over Muslims.

A Mexican guy driving by uses a lariat to lasso a llama. All these words are Spanish. What the hell, I like Mexicans, and I’ll sure take them over Muslims.

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Obama: the “Meditations”

Some say that the current furor over leaks – or releases, or communications of classified, or formerly classified information, or whatever, concerning intelligence operations against Iran and drone warfare in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen rival Watergate in, if not in illegality, extra constitutionality, especially the White House’s so called “Kill List.”.

Perhaps.

One aspect of the situation without rival is the atmosphere of adulation in which the original story was couched in the New York Times.

From the NYT, 29 May 2012

A Measure of Change

Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will

Will, huh?  Sounds a bit Nietzschean.  And then there was “Triumph of the Will,” not to mention G. Gordon Liddy’s autobiography, “Will.”

Nice company.  But, hey, the President has “principles.”

Aides say Mr. Obama has several reasons for becoming so immersed in lethal counterterrorism operations. A student of writings on war by Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, he believes that he should take moral responsibility for such actions. And he knows that bad strikes can tarnish America’s image and derail diplomacy.

“The purpose of all war is peace” Augustine of Hippo.
Since this administration engages in “kinetic actions” rather than war, its policies can’t meet the Augustinian test for a just casus belli.

To quote Rep Pelosi in another context,”Are you serious?  Are you serious?”

Really?  The President historian/geographer who gave us “Intercontinental Railroad,” “Malvinas are the Maldives, Hawaii is in Asia, and “57 States” is student of the philosophy of the Just War?  I would challenge anyone to produce writing or authenticated quotations form the president on this subject, referencing these philosophers.

One should be grateful perhaps that someone among the unnamed aides had enough cultural literacy to Wikipedia this stuff.  Or perhaps not.  The Times is always there for Mr. Obama, so might have helpfully provided a bit of color to flesh out the portrait of our drone commander.  I couldn’t find enough bio on the writers, Jo Becker and Scott Shane to indicate whether they themselves have the background to come up with this, but there must be a few old-timers around the Times who had a Western Civ survey course or two, or remember discussing just war theory in the context of the Viet Nam War, as was common in my theology classes in high school and College.

““In order for a war to be just, three things are necessary. First, the authority of the sovereign. Secondly, a just cause. Thirdly, a rightful intention.” Aquinas
In our Republic, sovereignty lies with the people, thus the legislature. As to cause and intention, that’s a longer discussion than can fit into a caption, but on intention, the Administration’s policy towards Islamic supremacy is questionable.

Although not yet to the same scale, we have another addition to the cult of Obama with its multiple manifestations, much like that of the Olympian Zeus, or perhaps Kim Jung Il: he is in turns, and at the same time, constitutional lawyer, writer, hoop shooter, golfer and crooner, and now, warrior philosopher.

““Everything is unfolding as it must, and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so.” Good advice from the Emperor, but a little hard to see in times such as these.

Think of Marcus Aurelius, scratching out his thoughts in the soft glow of an oil lamp, after a day of battle on the German limes, the light of reason warming the tent, the darkness of barbarism without.

Oh wait, that was in “Gladiator.”  That’s where the President’s latest persona, or evolution, or better, composite, comes from.  Wikipedia and the movies.

As for the cognitive dissonance of the Obama administration’s policies in the Muslim world in general, and the self defeating futility of the drone wars in particular, there will be more to follow.

Iraq: What Were You Thinking?

(I’m a bit late coming to the table commenting on Iraq.  Mass opposition to the war seemed to vanish with President Obama’ s inauguration. The war is officially over and while some fault the President for leaving the job uncompleted, it was a task that could never be finished, short of a war of annhilation.

Obama’s far more tentative moves to influence events in the Arab world are equally misguided and based on similar utopian fantasy, but have the saving grace of costing far less in treasure, and nothing in our blood.  We will again reap humiliation and disappointment, but at a cost of mere billions, rather than trillions.  The Iraq War above all other trends and events, is the source of the Obama presidency.)

 

Toward the end of  “Band of Brothers” there is a scene in which GIs riding comfortably in a deuce and half taunt German POWs who are walking to the rear, with their wounded riding in horse drawn wagons:

Hey, you! That’s right, you stupid Kraut bastards! That’s right! Say hello to Ford, and General fuckin’ Motors! You stupid fascist pigs! Look at you! You have horses! What were you thinking? Dragging our asses half way around the world, interrupting our lives… For what, you ignorant, servile scum! What the fuck are we doing here?

Even Hollywood is right sometimes.

Truly a great moment, but one long gone.   Tonight, I caught snatches of  “The Green Zone” as I was making dinner.  It was by extension the standard, “Bush lied, people died” narrative, and ends with  Matt Damon as a whistle blower emailing all the media the “truth” about  WMD, a twenty first century remake  of the scene where Robert Redford pauses before walking into the New York Times in “Three Days of the Condor.”

Yet the film is worthwhile, for the Iraq War needs no propagandist’s frame to demonstrate its utter futility.

What were you thinking?   Did you sleep through college American History when they covered Woodrow Wilson’s Mexican intervention?  Did you think that rather than making the world safe for Democracy, that attempting that only in the MIddle East would be more manageable?

U.S.occupation of Veracruz, Mexico, April 1914

Did you ever speak to anyone, anyone at all, who had some knowledge of Islam and had perhaps spent some time in the Middle East, so as to know, that the Arabs would never put aside their arms  and join Israel in making the deserts bloom?

But Saddam is  gone, you say,  the Iraqis free.  A murderer and a sadist, and his sons worse yet, might still be there. Yes, they are gone; but the North Koreans  live on in privation that any Iraqi, even today cannot conceive.  Did yo pick Iraq because it was “doable?”

But we thought he had WMD; the intel was bad.  Today we have Iran on the brink and Pakistan transporting warheads around utility  vans, and of course, North Korea. If the intel was bad, it was your job to spot the flaws.

What were you thinking?

US AC47 Gunship raining fie on the outskirts of Saigon, 1965. Saigon, like Baghdad was never entirely secure. But there was plenty of beer.

Were you certain  our technology and wealth would prevail?  You had then, never landed at Ton Son Nhut in the 60ss, seen the aircraft parked wing to wing as far as the eye could see, and then in the evening watched firefights between the ARVIN and The Viet Cong at the end of the runway, while having a few beers on the rooftop of the Caravelle.  And tipping the barman,  as a joke said, “Vive Ho Chi MInh,” to find him in delighted agreement.

Toward the end of The Green Zone, on of the characters says to Damon, it is not for you to say what happens here.  No it wasn’t ,nor was it in Saigon, or Veracruz.  Like any many Americans across the political spectrum, I opposed this war from the very first, as I had opposed the Gulf War before it, and for the same reason.  These places simply are not fighting worth fighting for, and were they we would not fight on our own.

Yet, in the first days, I could not but help feel proud as our boys the young Americans and Brits rolled toward victory in armored columns.  Remember this picture well, for you shall not see it again.  This folly has robbed us of  the ability to wage righteous war for at least a generation, if not forever.

What were you thinking?

Were you nostalgic for the unequivocal victory of World War Two and the prosperous and just peace that followed, and having failed  in Viet Nam, did you want to give it one more try just to show that we still have it in us?  Could you not see that in liberating Western Europe we were helping nations that had authentic traditions of sovereignty and cultural institutions much like our own? And that our people were largely willing to join in a struggle to not only defend their own shores, but save peoples not dissimilar from them?  Did it not occur to you that the best we’ve done since, in wars where these conditions did not obtain  is pull a draw in Korea?

What were you thinking?

Did you think that you could remake a country with pallets of dollars despite the absence of any scale of historical, cultural and linguistic understanding of the place? “The Green Zone”  – accurately I’m sure -shows the bustling self important functionaries, with their phones, laptops, and ear buds, taking the situation in hand,  as well a s the sophisticated weaponry and command/control that would surely subdue insurgents with their AKs and RPGs.

Defense Chief McNamara arrives at Ton Son Nhut, April 1964

How do I know this is an accurate portrayal?  Because we have seen it all before, the crew cut guys with white shirts and ties, showing Macnamara around.  Did you think that money and and hubristic engineering could solve all problems?.  McNamara wanted to build  a fence around Vietnam,  and someone in DOD had the idea of ln6yofting a huge inflatable artificial moon into orbit to disrupt Viet Cong sleep patterns.  He couldn’t get the funding. This time, there were no limits.

What were you thinking?

Did you think the greatly lessened lethality of modern war, purchased at extraordinary financial cost, would make this more palatable?  That a war fought by a professional military would not raise substantial objection as it dragged on inconclusively if the public at large was not involved? If the relatively small number of dead and maimed were distributed across the vast country, and came often from communities of little influence, small town and rural, black and Hispanic?

You too, are ” ignorant, servile scum,” slaves to your utopian illusions.

Low Voltage Sales May Mean End of People’s Green Car

…but not an end to the impulses that led to the latest, or soon to be latest, green disaster.

The Volt is likely soon to join distinguished company: The Edsel, Gremlin, Pinto, and of course, the Yugo (Image: Sodahead)

GM said it would sell 10,000 of its signature electric, the Chevy Volt, a key component of Obama’s “Green Jobs” push.  Reuters reports that final sales for 2011 were “around 8000.”

The spin never quite stops.  While mathematically, it’s fair to round up, the actual figure of 7,671 looks even worse.  On the bright side, that’s 329 massive,toxic batteries that will not have to be disposed of one day.

Although its hard to track down totals( Neil Cavuto on Fox wasn’t quit able to), a large portion of  2011 Volt sales are to fleet buyers, prominent among whom is GE.  No surprise here, as GE has long since ditched its role of a quality American producer of electrical and industrial goods, from light bulbs to locomotives, in favor of the security of being a government favored enterprise.  Municipal governments have also been buyers in Michigan, Florida, where federal funding was used, New York City, Las Vegas, and of course the Feds are in for a few as well.  A more exhaustive search might well come up with further examples.

GM’s agreement to build  Volts in China leads some to think that production might be offshored entirely, while others think that line production will soon end, with volts being made only to order,

 

Some commenters on an earlier posthere on the Volt defended the government’s

The Volt has done better than this 70s Soviet Electric, with a total production of 47.

role in electric vehicle development by citing spin offs from defense research and development.  They have it backwards.  The internet wasn’t invented so I could write this post; GPS wasn’t developed so amateur hikers who couldn’t run compass courses didn’t get lost.  The government developed these technologies in carrying  out its constitutional mandate to defend the nation. Further developments in the private sector brought the technology to the consumer, and government uses privately developed technology as well.  The drone operator using a joystick is utilizing technology developed for missile control, game playing, and industrial uses, a  continuous cross fertilization going back many decades.

German prisoners near Giesen, 1945. Remarkably advanced engineering. There was nothing like it in America. Yet the disciplined German collective lost .

The German National Socialists did have  a vision of prosperous citizens zipping about the autobahn in “people’s cars”, but the Volks with its air cooled engine and the advanced road network were developed for military purposes. The Russians didn’t put the first Sputnik up so I could one day watch American cable here in Bali, but to develop their military communication and spying capability.

Soviet irrigation projects dried up most of theAral sea, ending a productive fishery.

The Soviets wanted to build a Socialist man.  Stalin thought he could change the drainage of Eurasia, and Khrushchev made the deserts bloom, and then added the Aral sea to the expanding sands.  The Volt springs from a softer, but quite recognizable  collectivist impulse

This is the hubris of the Left.  It waxes and wanes, but never changes.  The Left sees the world as it is and then tries  to reshape it, without reference to human nature, laws of economics,  or even physics.  Obama and Chu want us driving electrics, and  bring the influence of government to bear, so that we who need instruction, learn, and follow the proper path.

A momentary triumph of the collective.

But while our leaders work from a collectivist impulse we are not yet a collective.

Reality never matches the collectivist ideal.

Consumers in the old East Bloc had a limited choice of goods, many of which no one wanted in any case.  In the United Sates, the administration and GM cannot force the Volt on us, and have instead used borrowed dollars for subsidies to supplement moral suasion in trying to induce consumers to want the car. One would hope that the President and his faction would learn from this, but given the history of the Left, this is unlikely. Rather , should this administration continue in power, more likley, while compulsion is not yet possible, incentive may be replaced with penalty.  Rather than a bayonet, six dollar gasoline.

(Meanwhile, in other news: BMW sales reach record highs…)

 

Pansies: The New – New Left Just Like the Old New Left

The New-New Left are even bigger pansies than the old New left, and neither has a gram of the testicular weight of the real thing. This is demonstrated in their posturing and mock defiance, which vanishes in the event of any pushback.

 “Not to be a socialist at twenty is proof of want of heart; to be one at thirty is proof of want of head.” (Apparently, Clemenceau said this, not Churchill).

The Panthers were cool: they scared people.

While I had pretty much left the mild socialism of my college and early working years behind by age 25, I still have a soft spot for some old lefties. Very old lefties, not Ramparts writers wondering if they should get guns in case Nixon canceled the election, or sitting around discussing how cool the Panthers were because they did have guns, as David Horowitz described in his memoir of the 60s. I knew people like that back then, and laughed; I snickered as well in recent years when I encountered expatriates who claimed to have fled Bush’s Police State. There is certainly a lot of Big Government around, but I don’t remember hearing about Cheney run Lubiyankas, although the EPA recently imprisoned some Gibson guitars.

Nor do more active “activists” of the revered 60s measure up.  Bill Ayers

Picture sof Ms Dohrn adorned many dorm rooms. Long haired hippie chick - we knew she put out. Bill who?

and his consort Bernardhine Dohrn were at the very least intimately involved with people who killed people with bombs and ambushes, but they, and no one else I’m aware of, never joined a military unit to fight imperialism. For one thing, they would have had to get up in the morning, and then face people who shot back. Real fighters don’t smoke a lot of weed either, as it slows your reaction time. And while I believe the NVA was fairly open to romance and marriage within its ranks, there weren’t any orgies on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Freikorps: Rightist militia of Great War Veterans, and predecessor of the World War II Wehrmacht, who fought leftists in the aftermath of the defeat, and suppressed the Munich Soviet of Spring 1919.

Back in the 90s, I met an elderly fellow, an artist, who had left his native Sweden in 1919 to join the  socialists in Munich during the three month Soviet, and although he didn’t brag, it was clear he’d been out on the streets fighting the Freikorps. He had contributed some illustrations to “Vorwarts, “ the revolutionary newspaper, and knew the editor, Ret Marut, whom many think went on to write as B. Traven, author of “Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Ret Marut, German anarchist, writer agitator, and most likley B.Traven, the enigmatic author of "Treasure of the Sierra Madre," and many other works set in the Indian states of southern Mexico.

Wow! This was pure gold.

Then he’d fled to Moscow, and somehow made his way to Vladivostok, and having had enough of revolution, took ship for San Francisco. How exactly he accomplished that, he didn’t say, and I didn’t ask as it might have been he’d spent some time with the Whites as well.

It was well worth listening to his anti-Republican diatribes for an afternoon of amazing stories. The Swede had retired after along career as an art teacher in junior college, and this kind of thing was what I expected in the way of political discourse from teachers anyway, but in this case, he’d earned it. When I finally confessed to being one of Wall Street’s minions myself, he wasn’t that taken aback, as he was so pleased to meet some one who had any idea what he was talking about, although he did ask me to reconsider leftism, an my mother was wont to ask me to take another look at Catholicism. How refreshing compared to the “fighters” of my generation, who thought taking a little tear gas at People’s Park was earning revolutionary chops.

James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, civil rights workers murdered in Mississippi, 1964.

Defiance in the face of unlikely retaliation was a trademark of the 60s lefties. Listen to Neil Young in “Southern Man: ” gonna cut him!” No you’re not ,Neil,. At the time you were hanging out between concerts in La Honda and chasing young chicks( I knew a girl who knew a girl…) People like Cheney, Goodman, and Schwerener, did the heavy lifting way before you “spoke out.” This was 1970. The land mark civil rights legislation some years passed, the bridge at Selma just a bridge. The battle was over.

Four dead dead in Ohio” pretty much did the trick. (And two dead and twelve wounded at Jackson, State, but never mind. Would mess up the rhyme scheme.) These are great songs, but I just listen to the guitar work. Chicago? Try Tien An Men or Tharir Square.

Leftie activists do show up in combat zones now and then, but Hanoi Jane played with an antiaircraft

Hanoi Jane: Target Not Acquired

gun when the skies were clear. I’ve been unable to find any references to Viet Nam War Era Abraham Lincoln brigaders, other than American turncoat Marine Robert Garwood,who claimed he was captured, but may have crossed over.

Paris, May 1968: French Hippie Chicks! Getting teargassed or bonked with a nightstick was so worth it!

Or leftists show up prepared for combat they can be pretty certain will not occur, “What if they gave a War and no one came,” indeed. The “Generation of 68” is still congratulating itself for going to the barricades in Paris. It was a pretty fair bet that DeGaulle was not going to rake Hausser’s broad boulevards with grapeshot, . Unlike the Communards, they got a party instead.

Daniel Marc Cohn-Bendit, French German dual national60s activist and German Green politician today. Easy to grin when you know they won't shoot.

DeGaulle famously skewered these brats and their infantilism with the term “chie-en-lit( bed shitters”),

Kinda clever, one has to admit. Tres drole!(and yes, the should be a circumflex over the o: I went to high school in the 60s, so I know stuff like this!)

to which they wittily responded “Le chi en lit, c’est lui.”   Decades later, it’s clear that “Les chi en lits, ce sont ils, ” or something to that effect.   (High school French was a long time ago.) Red Danny is still with us, after a detour into pedophiliac pedagogy,

Few remember Bruce Cockburns”s 1980 “If I had a rocket Launcher.” The song was a protest against the genocidal, decades long war of various Guatemalan governments against the Indians, the intermittent support for which is certainly one of many blights on US foreign policy history, but still, my reaction at the time, was ”so get one.” He could have passed the hat to Jackson Browne(“Lives in the Balance,”and of course who is soon to appear on the OWS CD, which I’ll pirate via bittorrent so I can make fun of it.) and other buddies.

Robert LaFolette(1855 – 1925) Republican(yup, Republican) Representative and Senator from, and Governor of Wisconsin,and Progressive Party presidential candidate in 1924

Still, the Viet Nam Era lefties would at least speak their names. The time saw reams of earnest analyses of “The New Left,” but today’s left term themselves ”Progressives,” you know, guys sorta like Bob LaFolette, concerned with farm cooperatives and public utilities. Big hearted Minnesota farmers. Lots of people are against socialism, few speak in favor of communism thee days, but who doesn’t like progress?

Instead, today’s left sympathizers, I mean progressives, hide out at the Huffington Post and the activists call themselves Occupy Wall Street. And no, despite Michael Moore’s efforts at instant pop hagiography, the Zuccotti Square folks and their clones elsewhere are not equal to the protesters in Beijing, ( Although Michael would have a better chance against a tank than the iconic lone protester did.(Yes that’s an ad hominem attack, for which I feel no shame as mister Moore has made lots of bucks using the same technique)

Beijing 1989: Definitely not OWS material: no human microphone; just one guy.

A little pepper spray sends these soi-disant revolutionaries into fits of self pity and , and actual blood, well you’d think it was Petrograd 1905. As for the behavior that precedent these fascist attacks, on “peaceful protestors,” there is plenty of visual evidence to support the view that the police were, if anything, over patient. The cossacks would have had their sabers out in minutes.

Nothing new here. Just look at the prevalence of Che t-shirts. The good Doctor Guevara, murderer, Iberian racialist,and just plain dilettante. Both the writer and dicrector of “Motor Cycle Diaries” seem quite oblivious to the factual irony that Che didn’t finish the trip, and couldn’t even fill out a two week committement to a free clinic,

"They Shall not Pass"

Some OWS types have shown up  in Anarchist,and even Wobbly(International Workers of the World) tees. The woblies trqvelled around by jumping freights and organizing strikes. As for the anarchists, every time I see a “No Pasaran” poster in a non-smoking San Franicisco Mission district cafe where white guys in Mother Africa caps are busily massaging their Macs, I want to puke. The Spanish anarchists needed their cigars to light dynamite, and when facing Falangist firing squads, shouted “Me Cago en Dios!” just before they went to eternity. This is Spanish for “I shit on God,” and no doubt pissed off the very Catholic Francoists, but is it is also a common Spanish expression inidcating feelings from exasperation, to utter despair. If you showed OWS to the shades of some POUM fighters( the militia with which Orwell fought), I think they might say,”Me cago en ellos.”

As for Trotsky, I don’t know if he would laugh or weep. No doubt, both. Then he would order OWS to some part of the front where they would be quickly dispatched.  I do miss those old lefties.  

Desert Wind in the Southern Philippines

(From time to time, I will write about happier times in my wanderings and residence in Dar ul Islam.)

The PhilippinesPhilippine gunmen snatch US citizens on Tictabon (BBC) 13 July 2011
“Two Filipino Americans kidnapped by “Islamic insurgents.”  This is another skirmish in a very old theatre of the oldest war of all.  I’ve been thinking of these two Filipino Americans, and the southern Philippines since I read the headline.  Long ago, I traveled the area where they were taken.

Over a long life things change, and not always for the better.  In 1969-70 I was twenty, and spending a year in the Philippines going to classes at Ateneo University, living with my parents in Manila.  My father managed a fertilizer plant  on the Bataan peninsula across the Bay.

During school breaks I took trips around the islands. At the time of the last free election before the Marcos regime became semi-permanent, I went down south to Mindanao and Jolo.  Before living in the Philippines, my family had been for many hears in Indonesia, and later Costa Rica.  In the Southern Philippines  I found the Muslim Malay culture that I remembered from my Indonesian childhood and still longed for, and remnants of the Spanish colonial era.  It was a fascinating and satisfying blend,

I flew to Davao where I was the guest of a an old mestizo  family I knew from Manila.  They had extensive plantations and copra processing works.   And a cute daughter, but very well watched over. These old families were very Iberian, with the young girls strictly chaperoned, and now I wonder if this in itself is a remainder from Moorish Spain.

After a few days of huge meals, beach parties , and  what little  light flirtation was allowed, it was time to go further west and south towards  the last islands of the  Philippines, and the beginnings of the Malay Archipelago.

It was a tough journey over dusty roads, crammed in with passengers whose main hobby was spitting, and a boat that became a sweatbox when the crew sealed it up at night.  Like many in Southeast Asia, Filipinos fear the night air.  Unhealthy they say, and home to unseen things that mean people no good.

It was a relief to reach Zamboanga, stretch my legs and enjoy a shower and a walk about town,  “The monkeys have no tails in Zamboanga,” the old navy song goes.  I saw no monkeys, but instead a  sleepy town, streets of white sand and crushed shell lanes off the few bits of macadam.  Venerable trading hoses built of coral block with signs saying  “Hnos Gonzales Manila – Zamboanga – Madrid. “And there were Moros, the Spanish for moors, Muslims  of various groups, the biggest the Taosug and the Bajo, the sea gypsies found there and in Indonesia ,and as far as the Mergui Archipelago in SoutheastBurma,  Small compact men with turbans, short flapping trousers,  buttoned tunics, leather belts, and small short curved swords.  The sultan of Sulu, on Jolo Island, not far away, had once been suzerain of a good part of Borneo.  I had to go there.

1969 Philippine Military outside Jolo Great Mosque. From the time of the Spaniards, through the American occupation, and on to the present, Sulu has never been pacified.

Waiting at the airport for the small island hopper, I ran into an American guy, a Peace Corps volunteer.  He recommended a hotel, and said he’d show me around.  He was working in malaria control, still spraying DDT in those days.

Aside from him, I never saw another westerner.   It was the election of1969, the one in which Marcos won a second term, the first in Philippine history to do so, and than stayed on indefinitely,  I had been warned that elections were a dangerous time to travel, but encountered no trouble.  Danger would have come from being caught in a crossfire between rival parties.  Local races, dealing  with matters of power and influence were particularly hard fought, and still are.  Islamic terrorism was an unknown term

Grand Mosque, Jolo Town, 1969

The Mestizo population of Jolo has a unique language, Javocano, a pidgin Spanish without much in the way of grammar, very easy to understand,  So I was in a town with wet markets, a waterfront where the Moro sailing craft, vinta, unloaded plenty of fresh seafood, ready for feasting on at the restaurants built out over the harbor on pilings, and all centered on a grand mosque,  Perfectly exotic, and exactly what I was looking for.

Vintas

Jolo Island coastline

A malaria education team arrived in a jeep at my hotel the next morning, without the Peace Corps guy, who was at a government meeting. We took of into the hills, climbing switchbacks until we could look back at the city, the fringing islands and the sea glittering to the blue horizon.  Then on into the interior valleys, small holdings hacked out of the jungle, and tiny hamlets, the little stands selling food and sundries, just like the ones called warungin Indonesia.

Moro village headman with wives and children, malaria team right and left.

Village snack stand Jolo Island, but it could be many places in Southeast Asia, to this day. Borders dont always mean a lot.

We stopped at one for lukewarm cokes.  The young man in charge  suddenly gestured for silence.   In the distance up ahead we heard some popping.  Gunshots, from two directions.  He went over to the jeep and tapped out a sequence of long and short toots,

Smuggler with son and a tool of the trade.

The shooting stopped, and we heard a jeep coming down the road towards us. It was a unit of the Philippine Constabulary, a paramiltary police force founded by the Americans in 1901, and which had been mixing it up with the Moros off and on ever since.  This bunch had been having a little shoot out with men they described as smugglers.  The team leader bought them cokes and handed out some literature on malaria, and then they drove off towards town.

Philippine Constabulary after a morning's exchange of potshots with smugglers.

After a few minutes,  another, and different signal on the horn.  And a quarter of an hour later, men in civvies, carrying M-1s  ambled down the rod and we had another round of cokes,  which they bought,

Islam's prohibition of gambling clearly ignored

Was my guide a Muslim or a Christian?  It didn't matter back then.

Was my guide a Muslim or a Christian? It didn't matter back then.

These guys were, in my guide’s words, respected men in the community, who preferred to conduct their business on their own, without interference from the authorities.  The constabulary and the government never showed up when they were needed, except at election time, to hand out favors, and hang around with guns at the polls, he said. In discussing the local politics and economy, religion never entered the talk.  I don’t remember if my guide was a Muslim or a Christian.

An old man came up to me.  I could only understand that he was asking if I were Amerikano.  He said, the team leader translated, that he liked Americans.  His father told him that the moros hated the Spanish who were sneaky fighters, cowards, and cruel to prisoners.  The Americans  they liked “ We killed them; they killed us,  Good sport, and good fun!” he said,

Later, walking around the town, I found a small brass plaque set into a concrete plinth.  In1902, it said, a number which I don’t’ remember of “brave Americans” had given their lives fighting “bandits“  The plaque had been erected in appreciation by the  business community fo the town, with the names of the subscribers being mostly Spanish, and a few American.

I met the Peace Corps guy that night in one of the waterfront restaurants.  He looked over his shoulder before having a San Miguel. As we tucked intoheaps of chili crab, he explained.  Although a Maltese Catholic from Queens,  he had married a local girl, and converted to Islam.   I’ve since wondered how he fared.  Many smitten young men take conversion to Islam – which is easy enough, especially if you are already circumcised – quite lightly.  Just words, they think, but find out that it is, as I did year after this, taken very seriously. His wife was at home, not comfortable with foreigners, he siad.   Thinking back, I’m not sure if I spoke to a woman the whole time I was there.

These village women put on their best sarongs to have their picture taken

I traveled around the island for the next few days

Sandy white beach and the usual friendly kids

by local bus and jitney.  I can understand why the kidnapped Americans would want to open a resort in the region,  The beaches were gorgeous, almost painfully white, dazzling, and stretching for miles.  The sunsets were nightly theatrical displays as the last rays illuminated the cumulonimbus towering above the sea into the stratosphere.  The people were courteous.  Sabah was not far away and many had some Malay, and there was usually an old man in any village who could speak Spanish.  I wished I had time to take on of the boats to Tawi Tawi and Jesselton in Malaysia, and the on to Indonesia.  One day, I thought, but returned to Manila and have never been back.

Village market. Plenty of fresh fish.

I’ve thought of that trip from time to time when there has been news from the Southern Philippines.  The news is uniformly bad, and at times shocking.  The violence by the Moro Liberation Front and Abu Sawwaf is nothing new.

After seizing the islands from Spain, the US fought the Philippine insurrectos who figured that since they had pretty much rolled up the Spaniards before eh Americans arrived, they had a right to an independent country,

The war in the south was quite different,  The Moros had never acknowledged Spain, and had always warred on Christians and animists, with rape, pillage and slave taking incidental in benefits in defending and advancing their faith. Jihad by sea, much like that of the Barbary corsairs, and in the Arab and Turkish tradition of razzia..

There the Americans encountered the juramentado,a moro warrior sworn to kill

"Institutionalized Suicide"

Christians until killed himself. In other words, a shahid, a Muslim martyr, a suicide slasher rather than bomber,  The .45 revolver with its massive stopping power was developed to replace the .38 which often had no visible effect on these enemies, just as asymmetrical wars with Muslims now push among other developments, drone technology.

The Americans did prevail, but the violence never disappeared entirely, and continues to this day.  The Philippine government has granted some autonomy,and continues to attempt to negotiate with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Jolo 2007. The mosque has been renovated or replaced.

2007: A Muslim woman in Jolo. Centuries after Islam appeared in Southeast Asia, arabization is eradicating local customs. The hijab began appearing in the eighties. This picture from the Navy Times, 2007, taken during US Philippine joint operations. Plus ca change...

 

Jihad  began in Seventh Century Arabia. The great tide surging from the desert wastes a few centuries  later had already reached the islands of equatorial Asia.  Today the hot desert wind blows again where the trade winds rustle palm fronds on coral strands.

 

 

(On October 3, 2011, one of the Filipino Americans was released, the BBC reported, on Basilan Island, not far from Zamboanga.   Her son and nephew remain captives.)

HuffPoofery: My Response to Ariana’s 9/11 Piece

I wouldn’t expect other than fatuous nonsense from this source.  What is disturbing is the many who agree with her.  So I put my two cents ( actually around 750 words in four sections due to 250 word limitation per post).

Here it is in its entirety:

I of course expected Ms Huffington to make no mention of Islam in her 9/11 piece, and after scrolling through the first six pages of comments I find it almost completely absent from the the  thoughts expressed.  One commenter viewing American foreign policy as a “root cause,” mentioned Iran in 1957.  I would be rather surprised  if Osama Bin Laden  had ever heard of Mussadegh, and if he had it would be ludicrous to assume this Sunni  Salafist would care about a Shia secularist from the left in Iran.  This is typical of  the logical gyrations in which some  people  engage so as to  exonerate Islam.

Whatever one thinks  of the “Wars to Help Muslims” (Beginning with the Gulf war, I have I opposed all five – count them – other than taking out the Taliban in Afghanistan, which was fumbled) and the growth of the National Security State, these developments have their origins in a total lack of understanding in the US of what Islam is, and how it affects statecraft in nations that profess it.

The absurd lengths to which people will go in order not to mention Islam stuns me at times.  Israel, or US foreign policy have nothing to do with the ongoing  murder, oppression and violence against Christians and other minorities in parts of Nigeria, India, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka, in Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Bangladesh,  Sudan.  They have nothing to do with the internecine Muslim violence endemic in Iraq and Afghanistan,and the persecution, suppression and murder of Ahmadis in Indonesia.

One simply has to look at the rest of the world to see that there is no other belief system giving rise to such persistent and high levels of violence, not to mention appalling human development indices, outside the rich Gulf nations, and a general disregard for basic freedoms, most especially manifested  in low status for women, and in places, outright gender apartheid. Simple logic dictates that this is no coincidence.

On 9/11 we were attacked by Islam, a renascent Islam fueled by petro-dollars, another term  for our money. There have been other such  attacks throughout the history of Islam, starting from its base in the Arabian Peninsula,  sweeping hence to  rapid  dominance of the southern Mediterranean littoral and on into Western Europe

Tarik ibn Zayid, Arab conqueror of Spain. Artist's rendition, as no true portraits exist due to Islamic restrictions on depicting living being. He landed at Gibraltar, which is a corruption of Jebel Tarik, "Tarik's Mountain.".

Charles Martel, King of the Franks, who decisively broke Muslim power in France, at the Battle of Tours, 732.

from Africa, and later from Turkey into Southeast Europe .  These waves were beaten back, but never has a country or region relinquished Islam voluntarily, or more accurately, has Islam peacefully relinquished territory.  The secular experiment of Ataturk in Turkey is at an an end, and Malaysia and Indonesia( where I live) may follow. We are, in a sense, experiencing the Third Jihad.  It will be the last.

The_Battle_of_Lepanto_by_Paolo_Veronese

Despite continuing attempts, increasingly from lone actors, and of fairly amateurish nature, the US will most likely not see another 9/11 in my view.  This hardly means the danger is past.   We must prepare for an Islamic World from the Mediterranean to Southeast Asia that, while chaotic and disunited, will be unified in its hatred of us and our values.

On September 11, 1683 King Jan Sobieski III Of Poland joined battle with the Ottoman Turks to lift the Siege of Venna, begining the roll back of muslim power in Central and Southeastern Europe

One commenter here suggested withdrawing form the region( the Middle East and Afghanistan.  I would agree, and extend this withdrawal to ceasing any attempt to reach out to, understand, interface with, or influence developments in  the Islamic world.  Withdraw, but maintain our guard toward both external and internal threats. This would make as safer, and perhaps afford us the time and resources to heal  ourselves.

Finally, I exhort one and all: read the texts of Islam!  I sincerely doubt Messers Bush the elder and younger, Clinton or Obama ever have.

September 13: It is noteworthy that the anniversary of the two day battle outside Vienna in 1683,  in which the advance of Turkish Muslim power in Central Europe was stopped, is September 11/13.  Now we have no captains to fight the crescent, and Europe lies supine, while America slumbers.

Hiroshima, 9/11, Chinook Down in Afghanistan

Yesterday was the anniversary of the bombing. I had forgotten. Now I know why I chanced, upon a “Yamato,“ yesterday on the Asian Movie channel,.  A docudrama of the last battle of the last of the class of the largest battleships    ever launched.

Quite gripping, great human interest, and all kinds of cool cgi explosions as the doomed young men fought their ship against a swarm of Douglas Avengers.  Of course, some of the sailors had family and lovers in Hiroshima, and there was a post sinking scene of a  surviving crewman searching for a loved one among the horrors in a casualty station there.

You’ve all read about Sadako and the paper cranes.  With all sympathy for the dead and maimed of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the official Japanese construct on the War has more than a waft of victim hood when talking about the defeat.  Little mention is made of Operation Olympic, the invasion of the Home Islands that would have sent the allies against an armed populace of all ages, ready to die for their parts in the thousand year narrative of Yamato, the Sun descended emperor..  Who remembers?  When was the last time you saw  a “Pearl Harbor Survivor“ license plate?

So what about 9/11. Jihad? And dead SEALS in Afghanistan?  The issue is historical memory, collective amnesia,,  altered, and even, stolen narratives,..

Nearly ten years ago a group of young men, citizens of a putative ally, legally present in our country, in order to further their studies, killed more than three thousand of our brothers and sisters.  They did it in the name of Islam and they shouted Alllahu Akbar as they entered physical, but certainly  not political, cultural and historical oblivion.

Our country, culture, and national psyche have been forever changed.  Yet, how many really remember?  I haven’t checked, but I wouldn’t be surprised if once again, the Chrysler  building is illuminated green for Ramadan,  Ten years ago, how many Americans had heard of Ramadan?  Now the president gives official greetings replete with Arabic interjections, and praise for non existent Muslim contributions( really, Nobel prize winners?  I come up with one, in Chemistry: Ahamad Zewail, an American Egyptian dual national, who, parenthetically, has interesting things to say about the impact of “traditional culture“ on scientific enquiry)

In his praise of Islamic charity, the president neglects to mention that such charity is enjoined by Islamic doctrine to help only fellow Muslims,. “Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings…”

One only has the to consult the roster of OIC members to see a roll of appalling human rights violators, and abysmally low HDI scores.  Protocols and style manuals within USG prohibit the use of “Muslim”, Islamic” and “terrorist” in the same sentence  A feel good narrative to scare off demons and night terrors.

The president only continues what George W. Bush “Islam is a Religion of peace” began.  Imagine a narrative of World War Two with the Japanese and Germans absent.

From Minnesota, young, sometimes Americans born, Somali men travel to Somalia to find salvation and meaning in another chapter of a 1500 year old narrative of conquest and subjugation, eschewing the old narrative of assimilation and success in America,.

The daily bombings, church burnings(Nigeria: have you heard of Boko Haram?)   and shootings and beheadings (Thailand: have you heard anything of the brutal assault on Buddhists  in the south of this world beloved tourist playground?)  are reported as “religious clashes( the BBC and Reuters are particularly egregious in this respect)  Agenda-tweaked narratives. Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, daily killings and executions as muslims die for other muslims’ reading of Muhammed‘s narrative.

Last week, between one and two hundred thousand Islamists shouting for a shariah state( Of course, by now, you know what shariah means) chased the last face bookers from Tharir square in Cairo.  “The Arab Spring” a vanished, and conveniently  no longer cited narrative.

. And there is the enormous cost of “security.”  Consider: had there been no 9/11, there would certainly have been no Afghanistan War, and perhaps Bush and Blair would have been at least somewhat circumspect about intervention in Iraq.

And no TSA. These  are not the source of all our fiscal woes, but eliminate them from the picture and the balance sheet is much improved.  An alternate universe narrative of a much happier non-possibility

Afghanistan:  Our forces die for what: a “democratic state” fashioned on paper by “ western experts” resulting in a sharia constitution( as in Iraq) where none existed before.  A impossible utopian narrative, as are all such,

Our servicewomen go veiled ( see ISAF website) and combat forces work under suicidal rules of engagement.  Google “heroic/courageous restraint.”  We went to that brutal land and graveyard of countless armies over the centuries to take revenge on the mastermind of 9/11, and on those who sheltered him. And stay to “build a nation.  An altered narrative.

And one that might be termed post modern in its utter lack of meaning, but which can also be seen as a very old form:  Unthinking hubris, and endless nemesis.

And today,  Maureen Dowd writes in the NYT:

When the president is asked what it felt like to kill Osama, he’s low-key and modest, even though he personally refocused the mission to capture the 9/11 architect after W. dropped the ball.

He has told people what a thrill it was to meet SEAL Team 6 — and the dog Cairo — which pulled off the hit, noting that the men looked less young and fearsome than he expected, and more like guys working at Home Depot.

But while Obama takes the high road, his aides have made sure there are proxies to exuberantly brag on him.

The White House clearly blessed the dramatic reconstruction of the mission by Nicholas Schmidle in The New Yorker — so vividly descriptive of the SEALS’ looks, quotes and thoughts that Schmidle had to clarify after the piece was published that he had not actually talked to any of them.

“I’ll just say that the 23 SEALs on the mission that evening were not the only ones who were listening to their radio communications,” Schmidle said, answering readers’ questions in a live chat, after taking flak for leaving some with the impression that he had interviewed the heroes when he wrote in his account that it was based on “some of their recollections.”

The White House is also counting on the Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal big-screen version of the killing of bin Laden to counter Obama’s growing reputation as ineffectual.

The Sony film by the Oscar-winning pair who made “The Hurt Locker” will no doubt reflect the president’s cool, gutsy decision against shaky odds. Just as Obamaland was hoping, the movie is scheduled to open on Oct. 12, 2012 — perfectly timed to give a home-stretch boost to a campaign that has grown tougher.

The moviemakers are getting top-level access to the most classified mission in history from an administration that has tried to throw more people in jail for leaking classified information than the Bush administration.

It was clear that the White House had outsourced the job of manning up the president’s image to Hollywood when Boal got welcomed to the upper echelons of the White House and the Pentagon and showed up recently — to the surprise of some military officers — at a CIA ceremony celebrating the hero SEALs.

Just like W., Obama is going for that “Mission Accomplished” glow (without the suggestive harness). At least in this president’s case, though, something has been accomplished.

.

Ms Dowd  makes some unsupported but hardly unbelievable assertions here, and as elsewhere in the article she included the obligatory pokes at GWB, one is inclined to give her a hearing.

So, here, an appropriated narrative, and perhaps the “October Surprise” the blogosphere anticipates, but not the expected attack on Iran.

No sooner did the story break than the conspiracy lovers were at work.  A black op to get rid of the witnesses to an operation that did not take out Osama, who “we all ( in some quarters ) know” had been dead for years,  See “I’m not into conspiracy theories” Ann Barnhart.

Of course, they had made the same mistake I did in skimming the story: some of the dead SEALS were in the same unit, but were not the same people. Misunderstood narrative

Thus, it is well to consider the men of the Enola gay, and the SEALS  down in Afghanistan, and be grateful for their true and unchanging.narratives of honor courage and service,