Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Hiding Cards in the Great Game

So apparently the Fraudulency Administration is going to continue try to hustle the East.
(And I should add to any readers out there who said, or believed, this: No. Donald Trump didn't ever mean what he said when he talked about "disengagement" (or whatever fourth-grade word he used for "getting the fuck out of Southwest Asia") on the stump. He...well, to call it "lied" would be to presume that he even bothered to put the effort into giving a fuck about whatever word salad came out of his piehole...didn't have the slightest idea or care the least bit about the pointless military farkling about west of the Khyber Pass any more than he really meant that you were going to have the best medical coverage, waaaay better than Obamacare. Donald Trump isn't some sort of pacifist, or even an isolationist. He's a conman and, like any good conman, he said what he needed to to get you poor, dumb bastards to buy his snake oil.)
Now this is all the same-shit-different-Groundhog-Day that the U.S. has been doing in the Grave of Empires ever since Dubya's day. IT didn't work when we had damn near 100,000 guys in theatre and it won't work now. I can talk forever about how it's going to be impossible without Pakistani buy-in and how the Pakis won't buy in because of the Kabul government's coziness with India, about how Trump's nonsensical rejection of "nation-building" leaves the problem of Afghan government corruption and malfeasance in place and, thus, ensures the worthlessness of any sort of military success.

But that's not what gets me about the latest round of this idiocy.

It's Orange Foolius' ridiculous obsession with not telling who he's going to direct the Pentagon to send as reinforcements.
(Oh, and another note: I'm hearing people talk about how "serious" and "presidential" the oaf sounded Monday night. Look. Regardless of how "presidential" he sounded his Afghan "plan" is a ridiculous mess of pottage that wouldn't produce a successful toddler's birthday party, let alone a solution to an intractable colonial war in one of the least-hospitable parts of the globe. Focusing on how The Idiot sounded lets the punditry elide what a mess he and his best, "the very best" military advisors have devised. As I noted; over 100,000 troopers complete with horse, foot, and artillery couldn't suppress the Pashtun. Now a couple of new brigade rotations is gonna work. And we're not "nation building" when every swinging richard who has taken a look at this has concluded that one of the single biggest problems is the regime in Kabul, which is loathed when its not ignored by every Afghan outside those leaching off it? So...no. He wasn't "serious" Monday night. He may have sounded "serious", but what he actually SAID was just the same Trump nonsense.)
A combat brigade, like love and a cough, is hard to hide. Trust me, the Talibs have people inside our log facilities in-theatre. When a new unit is due to arrive their advance party is on the ground making coordinations days, weeks, sometimes even months before the main body arrives. The muj will get intel on, at the very least, when and who is showing up long before they get there.

And the muj will also have people shadowing the units in the field AOs. They'll notice when the ADVON guys show up to coordinate the relief with the departing unit (or set up FOBs for a new AO). They may not know exactly which outfit is going to show up, or exactly where and when...but they'll have a pretty good idea that SOMEbody is coming.

But this all fits with Orange Foolius' ideas that war is like some sort of game where you "win" by hiding your cards or something, and, sadly, it also fits with our geopolitical infatuation with tactics as strategy. Every Great Power that has ever meddled with the Central Asian highlands has eventually figured out that you 1) choose your most ruthless local satrap, arm and equip him, and 2) declare victory and leave. Then, when your proxy falls to the inevitable coup or rebellion or whatever you shrug and move on. The whole damn place is pretty worthless.

"Killing terrorists" is just going to end up killing...more people. More Afghans. Meaning that we'll end us sowing Cadmus' teeth and making one or two new muj for everyone we kill. If you want to go Full Roman and make a wasteland? That's pretty much the only way that works. But, hopefully, Trump and his merry band of neoNazis aren't ready to tap their Inner Reinhard Heydrich.

Yet, anyway.

So the only people that this idiot is fooling with his secrecy are the people he's supposed to be straight with; the U.S. public. The Talibs will know before any of us civilians where and who he's sending to slay Afridis where they run.

Which will work just as well as is has for the past 17 years.

As I've said before; the only way to "win" this Central Asian Game of Thrones is not to play.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

An Open Letter to the 45th President of the United States

Look, I know you have the attention span of a housefly, but try to follow along, K? I'll keep it as simple as you are.

Here's what Americans do to Nazis:
That's pretty clear, isn't it?

It used to be a bar that you had to clear to get elected here in this goddamn country; don't be a Nazi, don't be a commie. Sadly, you could be racist, sexist, and xenophobic as all hell, but you at least had to clear that low bar.

So.

As the fucking President of the United States, here's what it's your job to do.

You put your ginormous orange gob in front of the teevee cameras and say this:

"Don't be a Nazi. Fuck "alt-right" and "white pride"; that shit's being a Nazi. Don't be a Nazi. Don't talk like a Nazi. Don't act like a Nazi. Don't hang out with Nazis. Nazis are evil. We killed shitloads of Nazis, there was a whole war and everything. If you talk like and act like and hang out with Nazis you are fucking evil. As your President, I hate Nazi scum and everything they stand for and I recommend you do, too."

See? Wasn't that easy?

But you won't say that.

Ever.

Because you can't. Because you know these Nazi shitpokes are your shitpokes, the ones who elected you, the only ones who still have your back after eight months of solid derp, the ones think you're doing such a great job, the very best job. Because you're a worthless goddamn orange oxygen-thief who should never have been trusted with anything more important than the menu choices at the Trump Tower grill.

But I'm leaving this here in hopes that somehow the Wizard figures out how to give you a heart, a brain, and some courage enough for you to act like a president of, y'know, the United Fucking States...

Lemme know when that happens.
I won't be holding my breath.

Friday, July 14, 2017

¡Fuera de acá, todos!

The Washington Post reports a rather disturbing meeting between the director of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus:
"Trump, Sessions and Kelly want to take 800,000 DREAMers with DACA and hundreds of thousands with TPS who are registered with the government and in compliance with the law and make them into criminals, felons, and deportees in the next few months."
We've been over this before and you know my position. But here's another thing to think about;

How, physically, do you DO all this?

I mean...almost a million people? Rounded up, "processed", shoved on planes and buses and dumped in airports and border towns across Latin America and, presumably, the world?

The sheer number of military/"law enforcement" bodies alone you'd need to do all this are just staggering. This is the sort of thing that changes entire organizations. Hell, it would change the entire country.

And...what do those bodies do once all these scary, dangerous "aliens" are gone?

Think about that for a moment.

So not only will the "...promised Day of Alien-Free Jubilee turn out to be a quiet monotone of unpicked crops, uncleaned hotel rooms, unwiped asses, and uncooked meals..." it will also include tens of thousands of armed paramilitary troopers with time and weapons on their hands and nothing else to do.

Hmmm.

I wonder how THAT could go wrong..?

Friday, July 07, 2017

The NORK Nukes - 2017 International Tour!

In what may well be the most NORK-y Fourth of July fireworks display ever, the Pyongyang regime appears to have successfully tested a nuclear-capable missile with the range to reach the western portions of North America; by definition an intercontinental ballistic missile.


The linked article does a good job discussing the strategic implications of this success, but the tl:dr version is "there are no good military options".

Simply put, the DPRK appears to have obtained what Stalin's Soviet Union did in the 1940s; a successful defense against U.S. military strongarming. Never a particularly good idea, given the NORK capabilities for inflicting nasty mayhem to American-aligned nations in northeast Asia, if the NORKs have the capability to directly threaten the U.S. mainland this option goes from "barely conceivable" to "off the table".

What's more, the strategic calculus of potentially-holding-U.S.-population-centers-hostage changes the relationship between the U.S. and Asian allies such as Japan and South Korea. If Trump wanted the Japanese government to start building its own nukes Pyongyang may well have given it the same push that the Soviets gave the British and French governments during the Cold War - the worry that the Land of the Big PX would be hesitant to risk its own civilians in the face of a possible nuclear exchange.

Where does the Tangerine Toddler fit into all this? Swinging the Big Stupid bat, of course. The King of the Deal is discovering what diplomats and potentates throughout history have discovered, albeit at his own, short-bus-slow-reader speed; that polities with interests that conflict with your own can't always - and often won't ever - be coaxed, swayed, or bullied into acting against their own interests. China fears a NORK collapse more than anything the U.S. can threaten. Figuring out a way to adjust U.S. geopolitical approaches to the new northeast Asian realities will require a hell of a lot more patience, creativity, and intelligence than either the current Chief Executive - who seems more interested in ginning up a "Blut und Ehre" white nationalist agenda - or his people have shown to date.

Nukes are funny things. Technically they are "weapons of war"...but they work well only as potential, not kinetic, energy. When the first nuke is thrown at a nuclear-armed adversary they have effectively lost much of their usefulness. If war is the "continuation of politics by other means" the problem with nuclear war is that, unlike politics, there is no real way to plan or predict or strategize what happens after the fallout settles. A single warhead getting through to a single city will mean that even the "winner" will suffer. There is little consolation for the "winning" public knowing that the northern portion of the Korean peninsula is a glassy wasteland.

Maintaining the nuclear balance was a difficult task for U.S. leaders like Truman and Eisenhower. What happens when the launch codes are clutched in the stubby fingers of a man whose primary education in conflict was as a WWF wrestling heel is something that I'm not sure I want to find out.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Enemies

A friend of mine (hi, mike!) posted something to his Facebook feed the other day about having turned on Joe Scarborough's Morning Joe after His Fraudulency had launched an attack-tweet on Joe and his co-host/paramour Mika, but that the content of the radical reactionary glurgefest was so vile that he lasted no more than a quarter-hour or less before having to kill the video feed.

I commented that this was a lesson, should we need it, that despite the saying the enemy of your enemy is NOT your friend.

At which point I stopped, with my hands poised over the keyboard.

Enemy.

Enemy?

This..?


...is my "enemy"?

Which got me thinking further. This woman is an American citizen. A "fellow American". She is, so far as I can tell, patriotic and honorable by her own lights. Presumably a decent loving daughter, wife, and mother. A hard-working journalist.

How could she, or Scarborough...or Mitch McConnell, or Paul Ryan, or Newt Gingrich, or Donald Trump, for that matter, be "enemies". They're all "fellow Americans". All, presumably, patriotic, hard-working, (okay, maybe not Trump...) decent, loving, (okay, maybe not Trump again...) citizens of my country.

And then I thought about the definition of the word "enemy";

1.1 A person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something.
the traditional enemies of his tribe’
‘Nigel made many enemies’
‘this man was her sworn enemy’


1.2 A thing that harms or weakens something else.
routine is the enemy of art’

And then I thought about what sort of things that Ryan and McConnell and Trump are proposing. What sort of things Scarborough and Brzezinski and Limbaugh and Murdoch are supporting.

A return to the economics and social stratification of the Gilded Age?
A place in the public square for theocrats, and racists, and fascists?
More than that; deference and authority for those sorts of traitors to the aspirations of my country?
The return of publicly shameless nepotism and graft to the White House that would have embarassed Warren Harding?



And then I thought: Are those things actively opposed and hostile to everything I believe about my country?

Would those things harm or weaken me, and those who are important to me?

Would they, in my opinion, harm and weaken my country?

Yes.

Therefore, the logical conclusion is that, yes.

These people are my enemies.

And there can be only one way to meet the hostile, harmful designs of one's enemies:

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day afternoon with COL Mix

You can't see it in this picture. But around the corner of the church tower, behind all the big modern monuments to the Honored Dead of every bunfight the United States has entered since 1775, is the marble marker for the one COL Simon Hosack Mix, killed in one of the many engagements at Petersburg, outside the Confederate capitol, in June of 1864.

Not that he's there, mind you. In those preflying times he would have had to pickled to have made it home in an acceptable state; no, what was left of him was buried somewhere close to the piece of Virginia where he was killed.

The marker is just his hometown's way of remembering him.

Turns out the Colonel was a bit of a celebrity in Victorian New York.
"As candidate for Congress on the same ticket as Abraham Lincoln, and colonel of one of the first volunteer cavalry regiments in the Union, Mix is justly regarded as “the greatest national character who ever came out of Schoharie county."
Congressional hopeful, colonel of volunteers, national character; Simon discovered, as many before and since, that the bullet could give a shit.

You're just meat, and as meat into the ground you go; food for worms, brave Percy, one of the many who have seen an end to war.

I'd spent the morning and afternoon amongst the living, visiting my baby sister and her husband in their old schoolhouse outside the little clapped-out hill town of Sidney, New York, one of the many dying places where the need for human habitation has passed by and only habit and intransigence prevents the remnants from fleeing. The chill rain had scrubbed the little Memorial Day parade, and the disappointed would-be spectators took refuge inside the church for the chicken supper.

There's something about being served a half of a baked fowl out of a tinfoil-lined garbage can I can't quite put my finger on.

After saying farewell to my family I sailed back up the interstate to the town of Cobleskill, and from there down the steep, curving roads to the county seat in Schoharie, to the big burying ground outside the old colonial church to spend a moment with the other old soldiers there, the men young and old who had seen the elephant, as they called it back in old COL Mix's times.

I wanted to share a drink with them, and so it was probably appropriate that the only thing I could find at the stop-and-rob down the road that would serve as a libation was a nasty pound can of Yuengling lager. I can't imagine that the guys had anything better, and, I suspect, probably had much the worse during their wartime service.

I parked outside the church and strolled around the tower, beer in hand, listening to the drip of rain off the maples and the quiet hum of traffic from the village to the south. The only other human noise was the random clanking of the flag halyards back in front of the building as the wet cloth flapped sullenly in the cold May afternoon.

I poured old Simon a draft and shared it with him, him and all the boys there, and elsewhere, who had worn the uniform before me, blue and green and parti-colored, and had paid the highest price that shoddy, lowest-bidder uniform could cost.

I told him that he'd done good, that dying for the end of chattel slavery was a better cause than the excuse for any fight my nation had ever asked of me, and that I apologized for the quality of the drink I offered to his shade and those of the fellas around us.

Here's to us, I pledged him; who's like us? Damn few, and you're all dead.

And we stood together in silence, his marker and I, and listened to the calling of the mourning doves and the sound of the rain.
And, as always on this day,

this.




Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Not living as large as I'd hoped...

Well, I know, I know. I promised content. And, as it says in the Scripture: "They cry "Content! Content!" and there is no content."
I can't plead anything but sloth.

Turns out that my easy pile-nanny days are turning into 12- and 14-hour pile nanny days. AND I have no internet at the place where I'm staying, so I have to work from the job trailer and, not surprisingly, I REALLY don't want to hang around the job trailer.

This has sucked in a lot of ways. It's sucked because I've had to miss my beloved Timbers and Thorns. It sucked because I can't chat with my loves back in Portland, or send and receive pictures other than through my tiny phone.
I've got an early afternoon off today - we had some trouble here at the jobsite - but, again, I don't want to hang around the job trailer. So I'm slamming this out and heading off to the Price Chopper for half-and-half and bagels. Here's some pretty waterfall pictures, though.

Oh, and these.
These are Devonian fossils from the outcrop described in this post; it's right outside the little town of Schoharie, the seat of Schoharie County, and I've since spent a couple of pleasant afternoons picking through the gray sandstone and shaley "grit" to find the valves of Gypidula and Spirifer and Atrypa and an occasional gastropod, long-vanished denizens of the Devonian seas.
I really will try and post something more substantive if I can get the damn internet back this weekend.