Tuesday, January 31, 2017


I can't really do better than Ben Wittes on the horrific clusterfuck that is His Fraudulency's executive order barring entrance to the United States of nationals (including resident aliens and persons with valid visas) from seven Muslim-majority nations.
"But in the rational pursuit of security objectives, you don’t marginalize your expert security agencies and fail to vet your ideas through a normal interagency process. You don’t target the wrong people in nutty ways when you’re rationally pursuing real security objectives.

When do you do these things? You do these things when you’re elevating the symbolic politics of bashing Islam over any actual security interest. You do them when you’ve made a deliberate decision to burden human lives to make a public point. In other words, this is not a document that will cause hardship and misery because of regrettable incidental impacts on people injured in the pursuit of a public good. It will cause hardship and misery for tens or hundreds of thousands of people because that is precisely what it is intended to do."
But I do want to stop for a moment and point out one specific point from this tissue of diaper gravy the Tangerine Toddler seems to have scraped out of his britches that pounds home the points that 1) this was not intended as a national security measure, and 2) if it was intended as a national security measure as such it is a complete, utter, moron-grade-stupid fail;


Why the fuck, if you had so much as a functioning hindbrain, would you put all Iraqi nationals on an "anti-Islamic-terrorism" no-entry list in 2017?

Iraq is, at the moment, at least notionally a fucking U.S. ally. The U.S. spends millions subsidizing the Iraqi government and military. Thousands of GIs are now, right now, at this very fucking minute, in the field alongside the Iraqi Ground Forces, fighting those very booga-booga Islamic bad guys the Islamic State.

A tenth of a second of real thought - which appears to be a tenth more than the Fraudulency Administration put into this goddamn thing - would reveal that any Iraqi national holding a U.S. visa, or a green card, or applying for refugee status, has about a 99.9% chance of being or doing so because he or she worked for the U.S. government. Translator, liason, contractor...the chances are fucking impossibly huge that anyone you'd catch in your cunning terrorist-catching net would be some former heroic translator who had spent years risking his ass alongside those troops you purport to support and love.

I could go on. Why the hell throw Iran into this pottage and leave off Pakistan and Saudi; chock-full of wahhabi madrassas cranking out fundamentalist kooks by the turbanful?

But screw that. It's Iraq on this idiot bucket list that tells me that this had nothing to do with actual security. It was just about Il Douche and his merry band of Trumpeters taking their Islamophobic dicks out for a bit of a wave.

I lived with asshole officers for twenty years. Interspersed with true combat gods a lot of these jokers lived to thrill themselves with their own importance, showed a ridiculous enthusiasm for getting their troops killed for Duty, Honor, Country, and whose shoulder insignia often looked to my lowly enlisted scum self a hell of a lot like chips.

I got used to the idea that I could get killed because somebody in command of me was an evil, callous, careerist assholic sonofabitch.

But stupid?

I always resented and still resent the idea that my life could be endangered because one of these fuckers was just too bone-stupid to walk and breathe simultaneously.

Maybe that's why I'm more irritated by this as an example of His Fraudulency's stupid incompetence rather than his evil racism, xenophobia, and authoritarianism.

I can hate Darth Cheney as an slimy immoral bastard and yet in a backhanded way respect and fear him as a true Evil Boss, a dangerous and wily enemy.

But Trump just makes me want to shift my rifle into my off hand and dopeslap his idiotic toupee off the back of his head like Moe does the other Stooges, growling "Get your shit together, you stupid fucking oxygen thief! How the hell did you get this job, you goddamn brain-dead numbnuts?
Update 2/1: As just another example let me throw in this story from Tucson, Arizona, about a little family that barely beat the ban into the U.S., but whose extended family is now stuck on the outside.

Why is this another dopeslap on Hair Furor and his Bannonidiot?

Because the people are Syrians, yes...but they're Syrian Kurds.

For fucks sake! The Kurds - in case you've been asleep for the past, oh, fourteen fucking years - have been the U.S. most effective and consistent military and political partner in the Fertile Crescent of Iraq and Syria.

Keeping Kurds out of the U.S. because they're Syrian makes as much sense in 2017 as forcing Free French back to Vichy made in 1942.

How the fuck does His Fraudulency and his idiot band manage to keep from lighting the whole damn White House on fire?

I have no damn idea.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Senior Master Chief has a word with the Trumpeters

My maternal grandfather was a minister.

An odd sort of minister, though. He was an officer in the Salvation Army, in his eyes a soldier for the Lord in His fight against poverty and despair.

I think he'd have some choice words for His Fraudulency and his Trumpeters now vaunting their "Christianity" to the skies in their self-appointed role as Defenders of the Faith against the eeeeevil Muslim hordes, and I think those words would be very much like those of Isaiah, who also had little patience for those who paraded about in the garments of virtue sacrificing and praying loudly while afflicting the afflicted;

"Day after day they seek me
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness
and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments,
they delight to draw near to God.
“Why do we fast, but you do not see?
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?”
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day,
and oppress all your workers.
Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
will not make your voice heard on high.

Is such the fast that I choose,
a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,
and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.
If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.

Isaiah 58

Just in case you thought the problem was "Gee...we really don't have enough neo-Nazis on the National Security Council..."

In case the whole "idiotic visa restriction for entire countries except the ones that Donald Trump does business with!" thing wasn't evil and stupid enough for you, here's today's REALLY stupid thing:

Today's executive order removed the CIA director, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs from their permanent seats on the National Security Council (they will only attend meetings when their "area of expertise" is required...) and replaced them with...

(wait for it....)

Steve Fucking Bannon.

These really are the fucking mole people...

(crossposted from MilPub)

Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday Jukebox: Tangerine Toddler Jive Turkey Edition

What a fucking week this has been, eh?

So in honor of His Fraudulency's first week full of hysterical meltdowns and brutal, Obama-like executive-order tyranny, and general I'm-a-bigly-huge-assholishness, here's the Ohio Players with his new theme song.

Friday, January 20, 2017

His Fraudulency, Jackass, and the Dark Side

Needless to say I was not thrilled this morning.

I awoke with the thought that here we were, We the People, with the quarter of our countrymen, and probably the ones that got that fucking "D" in Health class, handing us a go cup half full of warm Bud Lite for breakfast chortling "Now watch this shit!"

This was not a heartening thought.
Because we know how that ends; the flaming shopping cart a twisted wreck at the bottom of the cliff, the singed riders curled into commas writhing as they cup their genitals in pain, and the uninjured onlookers tittering in a manner both ashamed and nervous.

You know I have no expectations for the 45th President of the United States. As a man he is a spiteful bully, a pig-ignorant, querulous, greedy little man whose career to date has been that of a flim-flam artist, con man, and grifter fueled with his daddy's money and others' credulity and forbearance.

As a "public servant", well...there might have been some hope before today.

Still, even with my expectations as low as the swamp that His Fraudulency seems to have dragged to find his executive officers (a mix of plutocratic thieves and ideological dopes or, in the case of his Secretary of Education, both, and in spades...) the Trump inaugural address today managed to fail to rise to that sub-zero level of adequacy.

This was not the speech of a chief executive. It was the polemic of a tribal chief whose tribe thrives on darkness, fear, and hate.

Fallows has a good summary of the oration here. He notes that:
"What the speech did not have is any of the elements that marked its predecessors. An awareness of institutional continuity and resulting burdens. An ambition to make a fresh presentation those in his own country and around the world who were not part of his original base. A demonstration that he himself has been changed by the consequences of his new role. A vision of hope and progress that extends beyond fealty to his own self."
What the speech DID have was what we've already heard from this joker; the dystopian vision that, first, portrays the United States as a blasted hellscape and, second, portrays He, Trump as Our Only Hope:
"Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

This American carnage stops right here and stops right now."
There was the usual nonsense about how Our Once-Mighty Armies have sunk away:
"For many decades, we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military; we've defended other nation's borders while refusing to defend our own; and spent trillions of dollars overseas while America's infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay."
I could go on, but why? You've heard all this ridiculous "make America great again!" nonsense since this time last year. It doesn't make any more sense now that it did then.

And there was this:

"From this moment on, it's going to be America First."

Ok, look. I know that the fucking Tangerine Toddler is too ignorant of history to know this. Hell, I'd be surprised if he's even watched anything outside his own publicity stuff and Vivid Videos.

But somebody in his entourage either needs to tell him to knock this the fuck off or own the goddamn fascism it implies. Somebody in his posse has got to have at least some dim notion that Charlie Lindbergh luuurved him some Nazis and that's what "America First" has come to mean. You don't walk around saying "Hail, victory!" because of what it meant seventy-some years ago. You don't walk around saying "America First" unless you own up to the baggage.


And...here's what he didn't talk about: automation. Trump has nothing to say about that, largely because it neither fits his bill of particulars against the Obamian Dark Ages he is rescuing us from nor does it fit the agenda of his bankers whose profits stand to burgeon from replacing people with machines.

What happens to those people? Trump doesn't say. Maybe they can get jobs sheetrocking once all those Mexican rapists are deported.

And this shit?

"The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world."

...the fuck? You mean that kwashiorkor kid in Somalia? THAT little bastard's where my 401K went?

C'mon. That wealth hasn't gone any further than the Walton and Koch and DeVos family bank accounts, you nimrod, and you know that perfectly well...because a fair bit has (and, probably, will soon) find its way into yours. Your GOP pals have made sure of that. I wish Bernie Sanders had been there to slap you up the back ofthe head like Moe does to the other Stooges for that lie.

This went on and on, lie after lie, half-truth after half-truth. Pretty much all of what we've seen from His Fraudulency before. We've seen it, gang. This is it. This is what he's got. There's no hidden depth here. There's no surprisingly thoughtful awakening as he realizes that he's now Chief Executive of the New Rome, of the de-facto global imperium.

It's all Jackass all the way down; all ranting, butt-hurt third grader who's managed to memorize half "facts" off the internet conspiracy-theory page he read last night.

This is it.
The thing I really hate about today is that through him the worst ideas in American history will take full possession of the levers of national power. The anti-Americanisms of the Malefactors of Great Wealth: Greed. Proud stupidity. Shameless selfishness.

The filthy rich have finally reversed 1932 and are poised to return the bulk of us, to the degree that they can, to a coarser, meaner, poorer time, the Gilded Age of their waking dream.

And this, this sad, bloated little grifter with his mail-order bride and his ridiculous combover and his doughy orange meatface, this is all that stands between us the the Kongressional Wingnut Kook Kaukus' mad demands to hammer us into as close to a ginormous Carnegie mill town as they can make us.








Monday, January 16, 2017

King of Rebels

The pablum "celebration" of Dr. King that typically appears today always pisses me off.

The man was nothing like the kindly saint of "civil rights" that usually appears in them. King wasn't some sort of foofy, kumbaya-singing pacifist. He was a hardass. He was a bombthrower. He was routinely condemned as a "communist" and a "public enemy". His "nonviolence" was a slit-eyed, cynical tactic that offered up the bodies of his troops to the racist thugs because he knew damn well that the Great American Public would seize on the slightest hint that the Rapacious Negroes were coming to Get Them to bury him and his cause.

He wasn't violent because violence wouldn't have worked, not because he was some sort of secular saint.

He also hated the sort of wealth-fellating and poor-bashing that the modern GOP so desperately represents.

The linked article is a cautionary tale of King's real views on things like equality, wealth, poverty, and the "American Dream" as opposed to the usual tepid encomiums of peace, love, and brotherhood that we're going to hear from radical reactionaries like Paul Ryan and whichever former Pravda stringer His Fraudulency trots out today; Dr. King would have fucked your shit up, wingnuts. He hated and despised everything you stand for.
And so do I.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Cold Murder

I'm out of town working nights, but this past week Portland got something like a a foot of snow, the most we've gotten since 2008 and, of course, slamming the entire metro area into a cold hell of clogged streets and downed powerlines.

We don't do snow well in Oregon.

Earlier in the winter my wife and son came home excited that they'd seen an enormous flock of crows swirling over downtown. "Like a movie!" was the Boy's comment; I'm not sure which movie he meant. The corvid invasion has been a thing this winter. One of the local news channels had a story about some outfit that "rents" hawks to harass the crows, which appear to be something of a noisy, messy nuisance (because, "crows", right..?) in the central Park Blocks.

Sometimes, though...

Sometimes when you combine snow, and crows, and night you can produce an image of surpassing beauty.

"To hatch a crow, a black rainbow
Bent in emptiness
over emptiness
But flying."

~ Ted Hughes

And that's really all I had to say today.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

GFT OPlan for 2017

LOTS of posts discrediting and punching down on His Fraudulency and the GOP Griftopia.

But you knew that.


I've only got a couple of battles left that interest me. Sometime in the autumn - probably September - I'm going to work up the 1683 Battle (and Siege) of Vienna, the High Water Mark of the Ottoman Empire.

In June I think I may do Cynoscephalae, the 197BC encounter that put paid to the phalanx for the next 1500-odd years until the Swiss reengineered it.

July will be the naval Battle of Hansan Island, one of Admiral Yi Sun-sin's many asswhippings that convinced Imperial Japan to leave the Hermit Kingdom alone (at least, until it didn't...). I might also do something on the Battle of Talas River, the 751CE engagement that may (or may not) have helped check the Tang China influence in Central Asia and may (or may not) have helped strengthen the Abbasid Caliphate. Good tale full of treachery and intrigue.

October is probably going to be Sekigahara, just because I'm a huge Kurosawa fanboi and I loves me some classic samurai sword-and-geta epic. I may also do the Battle of Buxar, the fight that solidified the John Company hold on India after Plassey.

November? معركة القادسيّة, al-Qadisiyyah, 636CE, the fall of Sassanid Persia and the real beginning of the Rashidun and, later, the Abbasid Caliphate.

Later this month I'm FINALLY going to get around to doing the next part of the Chaco War. Seriously. Promise.

I've only got a handful of "The Army I Knew" posts left, mostly because they're just largely Reserve and Guard stories of the late Eighties and Nineties and the early Oughts, and, as such, not nearly as much fun as my regular Army tales. I've tried to think up any Tales from The Sinai I may have forgotten but I think you've got them all...

Plus the usual ash-and-trash. I've been busy writing soccer for Slide Rule Pass, so that won't show up here, but I suspect that I'll have some Portland material just because...well, it's Portland and I love Portland. Or Oregon, and I'm proud to be a Beaver, too...

Any other suggestions? I'm willing to discuss.

Hope all here are enjoying a good 2017!

Chronicle of a Grift Foretold

We are now less than three weeks away from the inauguration of His Fraudulency 2: Electric Trumpaloo, and the Congressional GOP is already doing what it does best - beavering away undermining whatever "good government"/progressive/antiplutocratic rules they can find.

And I'm perfectly confident predicting that we're going to see much, much more of this in the next four years. In fact, I'm absolutely slam-dunk, pure-D, dog-ass certain of it.

Why, you ask?

Because the thing to remember about the GOP as currently constituted is that it's not a "political party" in the "tradition of American political party" sense but a party in the "faction of the caudillo" or one-party state sort of party.

The GOP doesn't want to "govern" in the sense that a party in power in a republic wants to govern; it wants to RULE, in the way that the United Russia Party of Vladi Putin rules. It wants all the cakes and ale and graft and hippie-punching and Koch-sucking it can shoehorn into a swagbag, and it will get it though Hell bar the way.

The GOP also knows perfectly well that stoogeing for plutocracy and pimping for Christian theocrats and ignorant hillbillies isn't going to appeal to a majority of the citizens of the US, and that to continue to rule it will have to circumvent the norms and conventions and institutions that would otherwise expose it as a bought-and-paid-for tool of the Rich and Well-Born on economics and the Christopathic Nutbags and Racist Trash on social issues.

So whilst this might get walked back a trifle don't kid yourself; the reign of His Fraudulency and his Wingnut Congress will be characterized by just this sort of grifting and chicanery.

We are about to see a federal government riddled with open corruption - not the sly, business-as-usual, K-Street sort of corruption we've seen over most of the modern era but the open, hand-out, greasy sleaze corruption of the Gilded Age or of a Trump Casino - the like of which those of us living have never seen. You'd probably have to go all the way back to the pre-Progressive Era to find the sort of daylight-robbery kind of pay-for-play we're looking at coming at us.

It's not just because it's who they are. It's because this sort of grifting is the ONLY way that the GOP can continue the grift. The plutocrats don't give a shit about Second Amendment Rights - in fact, they'd just as soon disarm the dangerous crank-addled hillbillies. The Christopaths could give a shit about the estate tax, and the gunlickers don't care sweet goddamn about the carried-interest deduction. The GOP coalition is eight rabid rats in a sack, and the moment one rat gets the hint that one of the others is getting over on it the ass-biting will go nuclear.

My real fear is that these morons know so little of history that they will try and push the nation back into the Gilded Age while in their ignorance have no idea how close we came to some form of autocracy in the 1929-1932 period and how dangerous it will be to try and go there today.

The Ryans and McConnells and Trumps are too ignorant to know what a turbulent place the US was in the original Gilded Age, and too stupid to figure out that while the Homestead Strike and the Haymarket Riot were one-sided wins for the government back in the day the profusion of cheap semiautomatic and automatic weapons and simple, easy-to-construct mines ("IEDs") have made suppressing rebellions a mug's game for Western troops.

They may very well get their wish and then discover why the original John D. Rockefellers and Carnegies and their robber-baron ilk didn't push back that hard against the Welfare State back in the day.

They had seen the bodies hanging from the lampposts in St. Petersburg and Rome and knew better than to think that they were safe.

I have no doubt that the upcoming Trump Administration will make Dubya and his band of cronies look like MENSA for competence and the Salvation Army for probity, or that they will do their level best to push the GOP Back-to-the-Gilded-Age agenda as far towards reality as they can, and that both sickens and enrages me.

But what I fear the most is that this administration will tear down a LOT of the institutional and social barriers that have protected us here in El Norte from the sort of caudilloist corruption and nepotism that has been endemic in much of the rest of our hemisphere.

His Fraudulency 2 himself is a walking violation of the Emoluments Clause, and rather than gibbering in fear that he will invoke a constitutional crisis the rest of the wingnut monkeyhouse has been doing a Gingrich; trying to insist that breaking the norms and rules is really the New Norms and Rules and that doing to the federal government what Newt does to Callista on Friday night after a bottle of lambrusco and 100mg of Viagra is Just How It Works.
We Are So, So, So, SO Fucked.