mmSpecial: Blast from the Past! No. 911

September 10, 2008
© Kandasamy M  | Dreamstime.com

© Kandasamy M | Dreamstime.com

There’s most read, and then there’s favorite. This is a post which yr (justifiably) humble svt is, regrettably, but not regretfully, not at all humble about.

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Blast from the Past!

A post commemorating THE blast. It hasn’t scarred over yet.

From our early days, originally posted well, you know… and it was titled: “No, I didn’t forget…”

MUDGE’S Musings

I never have, and probably never will.

No, I did not know anyone directly affected by the events of 11-September-2001, but nearly 300million of we U.S. citizens were hit hard that day, and have not yet recovered.

Here’s an image that I found in Entertainment Weekly, oddly enough, in the first issue that NYC based magazine published after Black Tuesday.

I suspect that it’s a composite; even in its earliest days in the Seventies, my recollection is that the WTC was surrounded by buildings, so I infer that the superimposition of Lady Liberty is only (only!) artistic rather than real.

This image makes up the wallpaper on every computer I work with: this one I work with daily (and nightly) at home; and the three (3!) I use every day, or occasionally, at work.

elegy391558_thumb

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mm487: A Truman for our times?

September 2, 2008
© Oleksii Sergieiev | Dreamstime.com

© Oleksii Sergieiev | Dreamstime.com

This one got me.

But, in recognition of Republican week, I don’t have a problem with having the infamous George III smirk atop this post.

I might have a problem with the thesis, but it’s worth exposing, since it represents a point of view that had never occurred to yr (justifiably) humble svt.

prospectuk

A Truman for our times

The received wisdom is that President Bush has been a foreign policy disaster, and that America is threatened by the rise of Asia. Both claims are wrong—Bush has successfully rolled back jihadism, and the US will benefit from Asian growth

August 2008 | 149 » Cover story » A Truman for our times | Edward Luttwak

That George W Bush’s foreign policy has been a total failure is now taken for granted by so many people that one usually hears it stated as a simple truth that need not be argued at all.

It has happened before. When President Harry S Truman said in March 1952 that he would not seek re-election, most Americans could agree on one thing: that his foreign policy had been a catastrophic failure. In Korea his indecision had invited aggression, and then his incompetence had cost the lives of some 54,000 Americans and millions of Korean civilians in just two years of fighting—on both counts more than ten times the number of casualties in Iraq. Right-wingers reviled Truman for having lost China to communism and for his dismissal of the great General Douglas MacArthur, who had wanted to win it back, with nukes if necessary. Liberals despised Truman because he was the failed shopkeeper who had usurped the patrician Franklin Roosevelt’s White House—liberals always were the snobs of US politics.

Abroad, Truman was widely hated too. The communist accusation that he had waged “bacteriological warfare” to kill Korean children and destroy Chinese crops was believed by many, and was fully endorsed by a 669-page report issued by a commission chaired by the eminent British biochemist Joseph Needham. Even more people believed that Truman was guilty of having started the cold war by trying to intimidate our brave Soviet ally, or at least that he and Stalin were equally to blame.

How did this same Harry Truman come to be universally viewed as a great president, especially for his foreign policy? It is all a question of time perspectives: the Korean war is half forgotten, while everyone now knows that Truman’s strategy of containment was successful and finally ended with the almost peaceful disintegration of the Soviet empire.

For Bush to be recognised as a great president in the Truman mould, the Iraq war too must become half forgotten. The swift removal of the murderous Saddam Hussein was followed by years of expensive violence instead of the instant democracy that had been promised. To confuse the imam-ridden Iraqis with Danes or Norwegians under German occupation, ready to return to democracy as soon as they were liberated, was not a forgivable error: before invading a country, a US president is supposed to know if it is in the middle east or Scandinavia.

Yet the costly Iraq war must also be recognised as a sideshow in the Bush global counteroffensive against Islamist militancy, just as the far more costly Korean war was a sideshow to global cold war containment. For the Bush response to 9/11 was precisely that—a global attack against the ideology of Islamic militancy. While anti-terrorist operations have been successful here and there in a patchy way, and the fate of Afghanistan remains in doubt, the far more important ideological war has ended with a spectacular global victory for President Bush.

First thing you have to do when confronting an essay such as this is to consider the source.

Edward Luttwak is one controversial bloke. Even Luttwak’s biography in Wikipedia is controversial.

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mm438: Post Bush administration destination – jail?

July 13, 2008
dreamstime_3280831
© Enruta | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’S Musings

Those looking for the smoking guns on torture and the mishandled war on terrorism within the Bush administration seem to have found them.

Frank Rich has a must read column in today’s NYTimes, reviewing “The Dark Side” by Jane Mayer, to be published July 15.

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Seems like the book is going to be a must read, also.

nytimes

The Real-Life ‘24’ of Summer 2008

Op-Ed Columnist | By FRANK RICH | Published: July 13, 2008

WE know what a criminal White House looks like from “The Final Days,” Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s classic account of Richard Nixon’s unraveling. The cauldron of lies, paranoia and illegal surveillance boiled over, until it was finally every man for himself as desperate courtiers scrambled to save their reputations and, in a few patriotic instances, their country.

“The Final Days” was published in 1976, two years after Nixon abdicated in disgrace. With the Bush presidency, no journalist (or turncoat White House memoirist) is waiting for the corpse to be carted away. The latest and perhaps most chilling example arrives this week from Jane Mayer of The New Yorker, long a relentless journalist on the war-on-terror torture beat. Her book “The Dark Side” connects the dots of her own past reporting and that of her top-tier colleagues (including James Risen and Scott Shane of The New York Times) to portray a White House that, like its prototype, savaged its enemies within almost as ferociously as it did the Constitution….

In the name of defending against terrorism, the Bush administration has systematically violated the law, and the evidence is finally exposed to the light of day.

Nixon parallels take us only so far, however. “The Dark Side” is scarier than “The Final Days” because these final days aren’t over yet and because the stakes are much higher. Watergate was all about a paranoid president’s narcissistic determination to cling to power at any cost. In Ms. Mayer’s portrayal of the Bush White House, the president is a secondary, even passive, figure, and the motives invoked by Mr. Cheney to restore Nixon-style executive powers are theoretically selfless. Possessed by the ticking-bomb scenarios of television’s “24,” all they want to do is protect America from further terrorist strikes.

So what if they cut corners, the administration’s last defenders argue. While prissy lawyers insist on habeas corpus and court-issued wiretap warrants, the rest of us are being kept safe by the Cheney posse.

But are we safe? As Al Qaeda and the Taliban surge this summer, that single question is even more urgent than the moral and legal issues attending torture.

Thus the illustration at the top of this post. In fact, some top administration officials, past or present, have been warned publicly not to travel outside the U.S., due to international war crimes court exposure!

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mm398: Military intelligence — time to start using some

June 2, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

We have devoted a number of posts in this space to topics military. And why not? We are fighting wars in two far-away nations simultaneously, and have done so for nearly seven years.

That’s quite expensive, and it has been downright draining of our expensively trained manpower.

But, beyond the cost of prosecuting the “global war on terror,” we have been spending overwhelmingly on defense programs that, while lucrative to the home states of the military contractors and their congressional representatives, are impossible for a rational thinker to justify based on the nature of current and future threats.

Making this point most eloquently in an opinion piece in the LATimes was Robert Scheer, of truthdig.com.

latimes

Indefensible spending

America’s massive military budget is irrational, costly and dangerous. Why isn’t it a campaign issue?

By Robert Scheer |June 1, 2008

What should be the most important issue in this election is one that is rarely, if ever, addressed: Why is U.S. military spending at the highest point, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than at any time since the end of World War II? Why, without a sophisticated military opponent in sight, is the United States spending trillions of dollars on the development of high-tech weapons systems that lost their purpose with the collapse of the Soviet Union two decades ago?

You wouldn’t know it from the most-exhausting-ever presidential primary campaigns, but the 2009 defense budget commits the United States to spending more (again, in real dollars) to defeat a ragtag band of terrorists than it spent at the height of the Cold War fighting the Soviet superpower and what we alleged were its surrogates in the Korean and Vietnam wars.

The Pentagon’s budget for fiscal year 2008 set a post-World War II record at $625 billion, and that does not include more than $100 billion in other federal budget expenditures for homeland security, nuclear weapons and so-called black budget — or covert — operations.

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mm375: Another superpower bites the dust?

May 10, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Let’s be geopolitically strategic today.

Our writers here make the point that, while we (manifestly!) weren’t paying attention, that superpower status we earned by being the last country standing after World War II, and defended so expensively during the ensuing Cold War, has quietly left the building.

From a new addition to our blogroll, Tom Engelhardt’s  TomDispatch.com, comes this bracing wake-up call.

tomdispatch

Tomgram: Michael Klare, America Out of Gas

TomDispatch.com | posted May 08, 2008 11:01 am

These days, the price of oil seems ever on the rise. A barrel of crude broke another barrier Wednesday — $123 — on international markets, and the talk is now of the sort of “superspike” in pricing (only yesterday unimaginable) that might break the $200 a barrel ceiling “within two years.” And that would be without a full-scale American air assault on Iran, after which all bets would be off.

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mm202: November 22, 2007: Thanksgiving day, and so much more

November 22, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Thanksgiving day, the U.S. holiday, is celebrated by statute on the fourth Thursday in November. This places the holiday on a varying schedule. It can fall on any date between Nov. 22 and Nov. 28.

Unvarying is the other, deeper implication of this Thanksgiving day, Nov. 22, as this particular day, in 1963, is one of the defining incidents of my generation’s lifetime: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

This self-congratulating student of history is ashamed to admit that he had to be reminded of the importance of this day by a story in Wired.com.

By Tony Long   11.22.07 | 12:00 AM

President John F. Kennedy and Texas Gov. John Connally ride in a motorcade in Dallas Nov. 22, 1963, moments before a sniper’ would shoot the two men, fatally wounding Kennedy. Photo: Bettmann/Corbis

1963: President Kennedy is assassinated as his motorcade passes through Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas. Texas Gov. John Connally, riding in the same car as Kennedy, is seriously wounded.

The Warren Commission, set up by order of President Johnson to investigate the assassination, concluded that Kennedy was killed by a lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, firing from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. Although the report was widely accepted at first, skepticism grew as more information concerning possible conspiracies leaked out.

Oswald denied having anything to do with the shooting at all, let alone being part of any conspiracy, but he was killed — and silenced — two days after the assassination while in the custody of Dallas police.

That, coupled with the FBI’s miserable handling of the initial investigation, did nothing to quell the suspicions of those who believed Kennedy’s assassination was the work of (pick one, or more than one): the CIA, Johnson, the mob, Fidel Castro, the anti-Castro Cubans, J. Edgar Hoover.

Defining events for a generation. For my parent’s generation, if it had to be boiled down to a single day of so many eventful days, it would be April 12, 1945, the day President Franklin D. Roosevelt died. He was the only president they had known their entire life, and his passing, my mother has said, was like losing one’s father. Anyone alive then can tell you exactly where they were, and what they were doing when they learned the sad news out of Warm Springs, Georgia.

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For my children’s generation, there is no contest: September 11, 2001. Can’t you tell us exactly what you were doing, and where, when those shocking images started to appear on CNN?

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For we boomers, upper half, JFK’s murder changed everything. And yes, I was sitting in my junior year English-Journalism class when we heard; school was immediately suspended as we all rushed home to watch the continual telecast that dominated the entire weekend. (BTW, I believe that this event coverage certified the new ascendancy of television news over printed newspapers and magazines. The boob tube was capable of delivering more than Jackie Gleason and Ed Sullivan.)

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Nov. 22, 1963: A Magic Bullet, a Grassy Knoll, an Enduring Mystery

For an explanation, or at least a description, of what changed, the Wired story links to this article that appeared the week of what would have been Kennedy’s 90th birthday last month:

John F. Kennedy would now be 90 years old — a circumstance virtually impossible to imagine, for those of us alive on November 22, 1963. When Lee Harvey Oswald’s bullets killed the 35th president of the United States, our memories of him were frozen in a kind of memorial amber.

It’s hard enough to picture 60-year old JFK as the proprietor of a great newspaper (a post-presidential career he was considering). It is simply impossible to conjure up images of him at 75, much less 90. He remains, forever, young, at least in the memory of those who remember his presidency.

Do we understand why he died, though? And does the regnant interpretation of the Kennedy assassination mask the truth about his presidency, and about his place in the spectrum of American political opinion?[…]

Why did John F. Kennedy die? According to the interpretation advanced by admiring biographers (and former Kennedy aides) Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Theodore Sorensen, JFK’s assassination was the by-product of a culture of violence that had infected the extreme American right-wing: thus right-wing paranoia about communism and civil rights activism had turned the city of Dallas into a seething political madhouse where something awful was very likely to happen.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

The-Tidings.com

The interpretation advanced in this last article resonates with me; things changed. Optimism, born of victory, born of world leadership, born of that post-war prosperity that built the suburbs and the interstate highways that wove them together, took a terrible blow that November afternoon.

The American century, at that precise moment, began to unravel. And we boomer inheritors were not destined to enjoy the triumph our parents earned for us after all, but only to ride that plunging elevator into some other nation’s century — China’s?

And shame on me for having to be reminded!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm194: Friedman: Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

November 14, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

It’s apparently petroleum week here at L-HC. The previous post tackled the subject of researchers innovating to produce practical biomass (as opposed to the wrong-headed impractical but politically potent corn) ethanol as a petroleum substitute. Now, a look at U.S. oil policy itself.

It’s just downright amazing how much smarter Thomas L. Friedman has become since the NYTimes no longer charges to read him on line. 😉

Today, he tells some truths, and challenges the presidential candidates to do the same, regarding our treasonable dependence on OPEC petroleum.

thomaslfriedman

In the wake of 9/11, some of us pleaded for a “patriot tax” on gasoline of $1 or more a gallon to diminish the transfers of wealth we were making to the very countries who were indirectly financing the ideologies of intolerance that were killing Americans and in order to spur innovation in energy efficiency by U.S. manufacturers.

But no, George Bush and Dick Cheney had a better idea. And the Democrats went along for the ride. They were all going to let the market work and not let our government shape that market — like OPEC does.

So, we all understand by now why George III and his evil puppeteer took the horrible course they’ve chosen, and taken us along for this devastating six-year and counting ride.

But Friedman has a legitimate point: why have the “loyal opposition” not pushed for a tax at the pump?

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda – New York Times

One has to love the proposed debate Friedman sketches for us.

His tax finances people who hate us. Mine would offset some of our payroll taxes, pay down our deficit, strengthen our dollar, stimulate energy efficiency and shore up Social Security. It’s called win-win-win-win-win for America. My opponent’s strategy is sit back, let the market work and watch America lose-lose-lose-lose-lose.” If you can’t win that debate, you don’t belong in politics.

And one has to admit that none of the serious candidates (i.e., candidates one can take seriously — sorry Dennis!) possess the steel to conduct such a debate. Not in Iowa, where present policy is just fine by the corn farmers. Not in New Hampshire where taxes are probably synonymous with Satan.

President Bush squandered a historic opportunity to put America on a radically different energy course after 9/11. But considering how few Democrats or Republicans are ready to tell the people the truth on this issue, maybe we have the president we deserve. I refuse to believe that, but I’m starting to doubt myself.

The war, $100/barrel oil — it’s all so wrong. January 20, 2009 can’t come soon enough, but if our petroleum policy stays hostage to the oil guys, the domestic automobile manufacturers and the corn farmers, all of whom are perfectly satisfied with the status quo, we’ll remain in desperate straits.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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