2:00PM Water Cooler 5/25/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers: This Water Cooler will be a bit light. Memorial Day is a slow news day. It’s also the first really hot day, and I have gardening to do!

TPP

TPP whip list [The Hill]. Find your House critter, and encourage them to do the right thing. (NOTE: This page looks like it’s only the Senate, and the headline is deceptive, but it’s continuously updated, and the House lists is at the bottom of the page so scroll down.

The mere prospect of TTIP is already exerting a chilling effect on governments ability to regulate pesticides [Ars Technica].

EU plans to regulate hormone-damaging chemicals found in pesticides have been dropped because of threats from the US that this would adversely affect negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), according to a report in The Guardian. Draft EU regulations would have banned 31 pesticides containing endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that have been linked to testicular cancer and male infertility.

But no worries. Obama said nice things about bees.

“Neoliberal Realism” vs. “Socialist Realism” [Corrente]. Fun with art criticism!

2016

The S.S. Clinton

“Hillary Clinton Campaign Shuts Down After Blowing Through $2 Billion In First Month” [The Onion].

“Debating Hillary for President: Robert Reich v. Nomi Prins” [Wall Street on Parade]. It would sure be nice to see Hillary cut herself loose from the Rubinites.

The Republican’s Josh Duggar problem [WaPo].

“How student debt became a presidential campaign issue” [WaPo].

Memorial Day

“Against Annihilation of the Spirit: Let Us All Become Cowards” [Power of Narrative]. Readers, Arthur Silber is one of the great, old school bloggers. Please do what you can.

“Memorial Day was first celebrated by Black Union troops and free Black Americans in Charleston, South Carolina at the end of the Civil War” [Bay View]. And “Forgetting Why We Remember.”

“Ap Bu Nho – A Remembrance for Memorial Day” [Sic Semper Tyrannis].

“I Never Wanted to Hurt Any Vietnamese”: Former Combat Medic Recalls Antiwar Resistance Within Army” [Democracy Now].

“War Is A Racket ” [General Smedley Butler].

“War is the health of the State” [Randolph Bourne].

“[A]nyone born in the past 13 years has never known an America that isn’t at war. Anyone born after 1984 has likely seen America at war for at least half of his or her life” [WaPo]. And we lost both Itaq and Afghanistan. The War on Terror is as sensible as a War on Flanking Maneuvers, since terror is a tactic, not an enemy. The War on Drugs is shuddering its way to an awful conclusion, with 4:20 today’s equivalent of “11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month.” In fact, over the course of my lifetime, I can’t think — let me pause here to chant U.S.A! U.S.A!, just to establish my bona fides — I can’t think, I say, of a war we’ve won. Except the War on Poverty, of course, a war we have to keep fighting over and over again, for some reason.

Our Famously Free Press

“Fusion Media Aims at Millennials, but Struggles to Find Its Identity” [WaPo]. That’s because the very concept “millenial” is bollocks, flog it though the Times may. (Hilariously, Fusion’s web site had 23,000 readers a day last year; a little less than half what NC had. Just goes to show what a tiny crew producing [lambert blushes modestly, as would Yves, were she here] great content can do.

“How Fox News Changed American Media and Political Dynamics”‘ (PDF) [Bruce Bartlett]. Bartlett is an apostate Republican, and this is a very interesting piece.

“What Liberals Still Don’t Understand About Fox News” [Politico].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“How an Epidemiology of Violence Helps Explain Baltimore’s Homicide Wave of 2014-2015” [@BmoreDoc]. Nut tweet:

I suggest 3 crucial ecological factors that have cranked up anxiety & stress in the past 6 months: foreclosures, water shut-offs & police

The epidemology in Ferguson would surely show that police stops due to law enforcement for profit are part of the problem; and perhaps foreclosures too.

“They See Us as Hulks” [Abernathy]. True (modulo “they,” a discussion for another time); “Hulk” is the word Darren Wilson used of Mike Brown, and there’s a long history of the “black brute” trope in white supremacist rhetoric. More pragmatically, if a police shooting is “good” if justified by fear, and white supremacist “black brute” trope/mindset induced the fear, then we as a society have in essence legalized race-based murder by the state. I don’t think that’s a good thing. 

“Shakeup in Baltimore mayor’s criminal justice leadership” [Baltimore Sun]. Hmm.

“WATCH: Virginia cop uses pepper-spray, Taser on unresisting black man having stroke” [Raw Story]. Ugh. I hate that “WATCH” locution, though; it suggests pr0n.d

Schadenfreude Watch

“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican” [Bible Hub]. Of course, today we have reality TV. So there’s that.

“All Unhappy Families: The Downfall of the Duggars” [The Atlantic]. Sorry for the kids. but it seems that keeping your hand on your wallet isn’t the only precaution you have to take with the “family values” crowd.

“Josh Duggar’s Police Records Destroyed” [Talking Points Memo].

The Duggar’s home-schooling curriculum on sexual abuse, with handy chart [Mother Jones].

Class Warfare

“Nobody ever handed anything to me on a plate” [Samuel Warde].

Kansas bans welfare recipients from taking out more than $25 a day, and they can only use ATM machines [Vox].  So, that’s (say) $250 – $2.50 = $247.50 vs. ($25 * 10) – ($2.50 * 10) = $225. It’s a twofer: Not only is it a kick in the ribs to the poor as petty-minded as it is vicious, it’s a giveaway to the banksters!

America is a global outlier on the minimum wage, and not in a good way (chart) [The Economist, “Pay dirt”].

Our criminal elites: “Stringer Bell would also never have tolerated the kind of amateurish behavior displayed by the traders rigging currency markets” [James Kwak, Medium].

Our criminal elites: “[S]ome 76% of full-time workers were victims of wage theft” [Priceonomics]. I can’t find the number I want in this article or the original study. The wage thieves are, by definition, capitalists. I want to know how many wage thieves there are, in order to determine the percentage of elites who are actual (and not merely metaphorical or probable) criminals.

News of the Wired

  • “The true cost of progressive enhancement” [Medium]. Surprise! Doing the right thing is cheaper!
  • “Parents up in arms over facial recognition software” [San Diego Union-Tribune].
  • “Here’s why media companies should pay attention to Snapchat” [Fortune].
  • “Google Is Making a Robot Teddy Bear That Can Recognize Your Face” [Gizmodo]. So what happens if I give my teddy bear its own airline seat?
  • “Five hundred new fairytales discovered in Germany” [Guardian]. Including the ones on austerity?

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant, the first of Gardens, Week Four (J):

jill_n

Chuck writes:

J, who lives on Martha’s Vineyard, MA sends this photo from her garden.

Her description of photo is “no words”.

How’s your garden coming? Make this Zone 5b guy jealous! And I think I said somewhere that iris lovers were a competitive lot, so….

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. It’s the soil, seeds, flats, and planting season!

Donate

(Readers will notice that I have, at long last, improved the hat!)

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

60 comments

  1. Sanctuary

    Alright Lambert, I have a tangential question about a comment you made regarding Obama and James Buchannan vis a vis the TPP saying you didn’t think he was worse than Buchannan or Andrew Johnson. I’m not arguing over whether Obama is worse or not, but my question is, why is Buchannan thought of as the worst? I admittedly know very little about his administration, but from what I remember, he made compromise decisions that reflected his desperation to avoid a Civil War that he feared was inevitable. At least from that standpoint, there is some nobility in not wanting to unleash a terrible devastation of human life on the nation. Frankly, that’s the opposite of the TPP.

      1. Sanctuary

        No, I do feel that way about slavery however from the standpoint of the time, Buchanan didn’t want to do further harm and slavery was considered something that always existed, regardless if it was wrong. He may have been a coward for not wanting to challenge the very notion of the existence of slavery in a supposedly free country, but I have a hard time equating that to the worst presidency when you have: Johnson’s proactively harmful anti-Reconstruction policies, Jackson’s genocide against Native Americans, Wilson’s institution of segregation policies in the federal government, Hoover’s Depression policies, and Dubya’s entire travesty of a presidency.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          From the James Buchanan pages at UVa’s Miller Center:

          Two days later, the United States Supreme Court rendered its decision in the case of a slave named Dred Scott. Scott’s owner had taken him to what is now the upper Midwest. Having lived in Illinois and Wisconsin Territory with his master, an army surgeon, Scott claimed that his residence in a free state and territory made him a free man. The Court decided otherwise. It claimed that the Constitution did not recognize slaves as citizens of the United States, and thus, they had “no rights which any white man was bound to respect,” including the right to sue for their freedom in a federal court. A slave, the Court asserted, was property and nothing more, with no more rights than a horse or a chair. Ownership of such property was therefore protected and guaranteed by the Constitution. Since Scott had been a slave in Missouri, his living in Illinois and Wisconsin Territory could not affect his status as a slave. The Court then stated its opinion that the Missouri Compromise had been unconstitutional and that slavery could not be banned in the new territories nor in new states. Its decision on this case was influenced by Buchanan, who urged a Northern justice to join the Southern members. The Court tipped Buchanan off that it was about to decide in favor of the South, and Buchanan in turn put a clause in his inaugural address declaring that the Supreme Court was about to decide and urging “all good citizens” to obey the ruling that was to come. Thus Buchanan would be implicated in the decision and would be vilified by those opposed to it.

          Lighting the fuse to the powder keg….

          1. Sanctuary

            I disagree. The Civil War was inevitable because it was a fundamental disagreement about the nature of the United States. If he hadn’t persuaded that justice to change his vote, the Court would have been a South/North split vote with a Southern majority and that would have just started the war 4 years earlier. That was the whole reason he asked the justice to change his vote. If you are unimpressed with Buchanan as a politician, I dare say you’d be appalled with him as a Commander in Chief in a time of war. He was not a great man. Probably the best thing he did was kick the can down the road to a better man than he to fight that war. But again, how can being a mediocre man make you the worst president when you have other presidents that did affirmative harm that lasts/lasted generations? How can he be worse than Dubya? I don’t see a 9/11 equivalent, Iraq War equivalent, letting a city sink equivalent, causing a Depression on the way out equivalent in his record.

            1. Sanctuary

              Oh, and I didn’t even mention not seeing an equivalent of passing a Patriot Act, ballooning surveillance state equivalent, undermining our Constitution equivalent, nor the equivalent of taking a country with surplus trillions and turning into a high debt/chronically deficit ridden one with structural revenue deficiencies.

    1. Ian

      I wonder if the CIA and NSA were aware of this. It kinda reminds me of the pedo cover up in England.

      1. hunkerdown

        Of course they were aware. There were police records. The question is, does reproducing far-right Dominionism help or hurt the Order? Does depriving the elites of their ability to intimately and personally commit and enjoy psychic violence with impunity help or hurt the Order? Is child sex, in practice, an elite privilege or a convenient precrime? (Are violations of elite privilege generally penalized more or less severely than most crimes?)

        Has our political economy merely served to outsource our shadow selves to the most punitive members of society so that we can pretend clean hands all around?

        So what would happen, I wonder, if people started treating every churchgoing Christian as an accomplice to pedophilia? Would they get their own house in order if they were essentially shunned from public life?

        Lotta questions for a Monday.

        1. Disturbed Voter

          Non-Catholic Christians can’t be exempt from criminal activity, just because they have rejected the hegemony of the Catholic Christians, who were caught covering up similar criminal activity. To a degree, Non-Catholic Christians are what the Catholic Christians claim they are … disobedient Catholics. And two wrongs don’t make a right. Unfortunately with most labels, they fall prey to the Not-A-True-Scotsman error. There are some people who are not criminals, and their only proper label is “criminal”. Home schooling etc aren’t at issue, just red flags for ideology and bigotry.

    2. ambrit

      I’m going to get a lot of bricks thrown at me for this, but, we must remember that the situation in the Duggar family relating to the status of women and the very definition of what constitutes an “adult” woman is consistent with pre industrial social mores. I remember reading a review of the film, “Viva Zapata” where it is remarked that Marlon Brando modeled his performance relating to Zapatas relationships with women to a “peasant farmers” concept of women as objects to be used.
      So, yes, Mz Jones is right. The Duggar case is much worse than it appears on the surface. It represents nothing less than a repudiation of modernity. Don’t be nostalgic for the “good old days.” Unless you were very lucky, born rich, or exceptional in some socially valued function, you didn’t have much to be thankful for.
      The pedo narrative reminds me of the case a few years ago where the Governing Authority for Pitcairns’ Island had to step in and sort out a very similar mess concerning the dominant males on the island and very young girls.
      See: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103569364

      1. Marianne Jones

        No bricks from me. You’ve eloquently taken an implied point and put form to it. I’m further horrified that this group of wackos and their ideologies have been granted legitimacy through our Supreme Court. I am further horrified that maybe, just maybe, the justices that ruled for Hobby Lobby lean towards having sincerely held religious belief that I am a reproductive object and not a person.

        1. ambrit

          I feel we are lucky to have a more gender balanced Supreme Court today. The next President could well get to choose new justices. More women are in order.
          History is replete with examples of ‘new’ rights being taken away at later dates. Nothing can be taken for granted. Rights do not have to be earned; that is an old reactionary lie. Rights do have to be protected; that is history.

      2. Carolinian

        I confess to never having heard of the Duggars before this latest spate of NC links, but let me see if I have the story right so far: cable channel TLC (which once laughingly referred to “The Learning Channel”) finds some home schooling weirdos to feature in a reality tv show, people unaccountably watch this show, and now the weirdos turn out to be really weird. Shock and surprise all around.

        Perhaps the real moral here is that America–including apparently some now triumphant liberals–is watching way too much television. Other than that I’m not sure it proves much of anything.

        1. ambrit

          I must confess to not having heard of them before this either. We don’t get cable TV, nor want it, somewhat for the reason you allude to. We have, however, met people like them when we homeschooled our own three children. We were the “hippy fringe” of the old homeschoolers. The religiously motivated homeschoolers were in the majority of the movement even back then. Many of the laws passed at the State level which empowered homeschoolers were sponsored and passed by coalitions of various religion based groups. Lest we condemn all of the ‘religious’ out of hand, we should remember that many of the reform movements of the past were based on religious precepts, and accomplished by religiously inspired movements. A sad observation is that our “new and improved” religion, the worship of science and technology, rests on morally and ethically weak foundations.
          If this latest contretemps does prove anything, it is that Newton Minnow was a true prophet when he warned us back in 1961 about the “vast wasteland” that television could become.
          See:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton_N._Minow

          1. Carolinian

            Wow, someone else who remembers Newton MInow.

            I’m being a little flip in the above comment and of course no offense to home schoolers. In the era of ROTC and Vietnam there were reasons.

            And perhaps the TLC show isn’t even as bad as its premise makes it sound. I’ve never seen it. Cord cutter here all the way.

            1. OIFVet

              Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger:

              I’m not sick, but I’m not well And I’m so hot ’cause I’m in hell

              Been around the world and found That only stupid people are breeding The cretins, cloning and feeding And I don’t even own a TV

              Put me in the hospital for nerves And then they had to commit me You told them all I was crazy They cut off my legs now I’m an amputee, goddamn you

              Lest I anger those with children, let me just say that having two-three children is procreating. Having more is breeding. Like a human version of puppy and kitten mills…

              1. ambrit

                A big can of worms there.
                I’ll not take offense, we once were called something to the effect of “dirty hippy polluters of the gene pool.”
                My problem with the whole ‘overpopulation’ control movement is, who exactly makes the decisions as to who gets to have children? Heinlein, in “Starship Troopers” suggested a ‘birth allotment’ tied to public service, (which was not restricted to military service.) Haldeman, in “The Forever War” posits a future social order that promotes homosexuality as a means to reduce the birthrate. Kornbluth, in “The Marching Morons” speaks of a future society where a tiny remnant of ‘intelligent’ people struggle to maintain civilization in a sea of prolific ‘morons.’ The solution ends up being a turn to the methods of the National Socialist Party.
                As for the distinction between procreation and breeding; it all comes down to medical science. If it wasn’t for those d—-d doctors, people would have the civic minded decency to die off in approved historical percentages. (Forget wars. History shows that wars actually promote population growth.)
                Maybe Gaia will step in and solve the problem for us. Her and Eris should get the job done.

                1. OIFVet

                  I am not part of any overpopulation control movement, much less a proponent of any dystopian method for population control. Rubbers and the pill is as far as I go. I just hate the very idea of the Duggars and their ilk filling the world with their hate, ignorance, and oppressive ideas by breeding like rabbits.

                  1. ambrit

                    Sorry if I misunderstood. I’m just afraid that a population collapse is in the cards for us.

                    1. OIFVet

                      Ursula LeGuin: “What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?” That’s how I feel too, and I think that the song describes that feeling of the sane doubting their own sanity in the sea of madness and idiocy which surrounds us. Plus, it’s really good tune IMO

                    2. Lambert Strether Post author

                      “Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can’t stop them from doing.” A commenter who’s handle I’m spacing out on used that as a sig, and how true it is.

                  2. Mel

                    Joke I heard today: “The condoms are way too expensive. My wife is knitting us some.”

    3. JTMcPhee

      And then there’s the Mormons, and that cult on Beaver Island ( really) in Lake Michigan back a hundred and fifty or so years, and the Israelites andAmalekites and what happens on small holdings in Northern England and Maine and Western Wisconsin and down yonder at the end of Tobacco Road…

      Nothing is what it seems, or what we are told it is. Protect what matters to you and those you care about, or have ownership of. The best you can do…

  2. timbers

    Huff Puff is giving front page cover to Rush Limbaugh (now officially to the left of O-bomb-er) coming out against TPP.

    Good.

  3. Oregoncharles

    “It would sure be nice to see Hillary cut herself loose from the Rubinites.”

    No, it wouldn’t. It would just be one more lie.

    1. edmondo

      hey, lies worked in 2008 for the O-man. Maybe she doesn’t want to be out-lied again by another opponent.

  4. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    American minimum wage: the list of the highest minimum wages in the world is also a list of some very successful countries (don’t tell Fox News that).
    But the very *idea* of workers organizing themselves has been completely demonized in the US. Say the word “union” and 98% of people will say “oh, bad, corrupt”.
    The pendulum always swings between Capital and Labor, and in the US it’s pegged to the far right end of the Capital side. The corporo-fascist state loves it when it’s the individual versus the unassailable armor of the elite. Not only do they get free money and laws they write themselves, they get to go mano-a-mano with John Q. Worker all by himself, gee I wonder who wins.
    In Germany every board of directors must include a representative of the actual people who do the work. Even better, they’re usually closely involved in the companies product planning and execution. What a concept, let the guys down on the shop floor help figure out how to improve the place.
    (I realize the recent “German miracle” was not a revolution in productivity but rather increased competitiveness as their free money made its way to the periphery).
    But minimum wage in the US is a sick joke. Um do you think Ferguson might have played out differently if the people there had even the tiniest glimmer of hope they could have a decent life?

  5. shinola

    Thank you so much for the Arthur Silber/Power of Narrative link. I was not familiar with this site previously.
    Looks like I have some catching up to do.
    It’s a real shame that the author is in poor health.

    1. Manny Goldstein

      Yes, well Arthur has been in ill health for quite awhile now but is still hanging in there. If you really do intend to “catch up”, you will need to set aside considerable time. His archives are rich with content and you will also need to indulge his good friend, Chris Floyd, at another considerable expense of time.

      As a long time reader of both, I can assure that it is not a waste of time in either case.

  6. Gerard Pierce

    I’ve forgotten the specific article, which is sad because It’s incredibly important.

    This may be a replacement for Ferguson’s tactics of financing the city based on bogus traffic tickets.

    Apparently some cities have figured out that they can issue tickets against your house for anything from uncut grass, to a tree limb broken by a storm. We are talking about $300 – $600 tickets with incredibly short response times and additional fees if you do not immediately respond. This may be a replacement for Ferguson-style revenue enhancement or it may have been going on in parallel.

    It’s likely there are some class issues here. I would guess the “upper middle class” homeowner picks up the phone and their lawyer makes it all go away. (Probably this guy never sees a ticket in the first place because he lives in the “right” neighborhood.)

    So we have several separate problems – governments too broke to provide necessary services, governments too broke to support their managerial class in the way they are accustomed, and governments that have always been rapacious, but we are just now becoming aware how bad it really is because the states are only recently cutting back on “municipal welfare”.

    To the extent that we try to clean up the mess, necessary services will be the thing first to go. Then the overpaid managers will take early retirement, and there will be a revolt when the “taxpayers” try to cut down on the pensions of those who actually deserve them.

  7. Ron

    “How Fox News Changed American Media and Political Dynamics”‘ (PDF) [Bruce Bartlett]. Bartlett is an apostate Republican, and this is a very interesting piece.”

    Bruce’s idea that all media was liberal before Fox News came into being but the advent of the internet plus the end of the Fairness Doctrine created the chance for conservative ideas to he aired by internet and cable is a huge jump. But it probably depends on what one defines as a conservative before and after these events. The bottom line is that modern day conservatives are a marriage between the Southern bible belt and the West’s John Birch Society, a far different breed of conservative thinking then had existed prior to Rush or Fox. Anyone who grew up in the 40’s thru the 70’s can attest that Newspapers and TV were far from liberal of left leaning.

    1. Sanctuary

      When they say “liberal” they mean fact/evidence based reporting. Before Fox News, that was the norm. After Fox News and the Internet, right-wing nuttery and rumor were no longer fact checked, screened, and tossed out. They make the rounds for a few days and get far more attention and consideration before being ultimately tossed. And even then their residue remains so that there will always be a lingering doubt/fear in some minds. That leaves them with a reserve pool of proto-believers that over time are primed to increasingly trust those doubts and fears and get whipped up faster with each cycle of crazy.

      1. ron

        Bruce point of view was that the liberal era of media generated a vacuum and that cable and internet along with the end of the Fairness Doctrine allowed conservative thought to finally break through the mass liberal media barrier.

      2. Noni Mausa

        Fox dismissed the need for news to be fact based, but also undermined the whole concept of deserved shame. You can’t pass off rumours, fictions and illogical rants as news unless you have also cut yourself loose from any impact that shame might have on you.

        Worse (if possible) is their habit of painting various people and groups with undeserved shaming, or shielding others from deserved shame. The result is a nation where shame is no longer functional as a social sanction. Which, of course, itself prevents shaming from being reintroduced as such. Like HIV, when the disease infects the very tools used to oppose disease, one is in a pretty sticky situation.

        “I’m rubber and you’re glue” isn’t an adult debate strategy, but one most often found in middle school bullies. When this and similar teenage debate techniques become common currency in legislative circles, something else is lost — the respect, such as it was, of the rest of the world.

        Noni

        1. Sanctuary

          I like your point but did they undermine the concept of shame or transform it? It seems to me that the core of what they did was to turn the media’s “on-one-hand…but-on-the-other-hand…” reflex against itself by forcing them to present an irrational/emotional/fear-based conservative rumor as the countervailing viewpoint against a rational/fact-based liberal position. In that way, conservatives only have to throw out fears and nonsense in as many ways as possible and watch to see if anything sticks to the wall instead of having to present a rational, reasoned counterpoint. Then, when these mostly nonsensical fears are dismissed, they can then effect the conservative victimhood meme which means that the only real shame occurring is that conservative “views” are stifled/dismissed/ridiculed. That way, the conservative is absolved of any shame for having a non-reasoned, fear-based emotional response and it is reflected back to liberals and transformed into self-doubt over whether they are being “tolerant” of different opinions. And everyone forgets that initially, we weren’t comparing two reasoned opinions, we were comparing one reasoned opinion against a mindless and irresponsible blurt of emotional color.

          1. hunkerdown

            Strangely, they don’t seem to have much tolerance for being attacked from the left, lest we spoil their little pie party.

            Also, there wasn’t reason, so much as rationalizing the status quo. The 1950s were not a fact-based time.

      3. Michae

        Fact-based reporting was definitely not the norm, ever. See: Manufacturing of Consent.

    2. hunkerdown

      You are aware that liberalism is anti-communist, pro-capital, pro-market, and right-wing? In that sense, the media was decidedly liberal. In the sense of learned, they managed that too. You can still smell the elitism and sanctimony in its concentrated form in any issue of TIME Magazine.

  8. A Farmer

    Actually, the Kansas law regarding welfare recipients and ATMs is even worse than that. ATMs only give out $10s and $20s, so the most the welfare recipients can get is $20. Even more fees.

    1. sd

      Clearly the extra $5 is specifically intended to cover usurious fees which apparently could be as high as 25%

      $20 + Fee for a maximum of $25

  9. Ned Ludd

    The link is broken for: “Parents up in arms over facial recognition software”. Correct link. I accidentally posted my comment on this morning’s Links page.

  10. ewmayer

    After recently rewatching the 1964 jewel-heist classic Topkapi (which was a key inspiration for Mission: Impossible), I read the IMDB bios of the various principals, and see that the late great Peter Ustinov had some pithy insights about war and terrorism, e.g. [on the invasion of Iraq in 2003] “Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich.”

  11. JTMcPhee

    I’m just an aging, disabled Vietnam vet, with non-mainstream thoughts and emotions about Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day and even Independence Day. None of it is what it seems, and it’s a lot worse than most of us can imagine. There’s whole realms of thought and behavior that are nowhere accounted for in studies of “political economy” that I’m aware of — granted, my ken is not that wide.

    Thanks for including Smedley Butler’s salient and apposite dissertation on the real nature of “war, US Imperial Style.” Generations have lived and died still suckered by the same crap I was taught and was callow enough to believe, in Boy Scouts and Sunday School and grade school American History (that self-defining term) and “Civics Classes,” that sucked me into enlisting in 1966.

    “War” is not even a defined term in the DoD Dictionary, http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/new_pubs/jp1_02.pdf, though as a person who grew up reading dictionaries and those old paper encyclopedias, I would offer than anyone trying to understand the current “war is a thing” might do well to click through that document that costs a drop-in-the-ocean billion to “maintain,” current with the changes in dogma and doctrine and other Advances (the military never Retreats, by the way — they Advance In A Rearward Direction To Previously Prepared Positions.) A whole lot of other shit is defined, into varying depths of insanity and complexity, take a look for yourselves.

    Our Officer Class supposedly studies great military thinkers of the past, like Clausewitz, and importantly from my perspective, Sun Tzu. Apparently this moniker belongs to a collective of authors, not a single person. But it sure does not appear that our Officer Class stayed awake in the class where Sun Tzu’s insights and exhortations were displayed and discussed. They pretty pointedly blow off the whole list of items that ancient wisdom says are the sine qua non of truly successful exercise of military power, in service to the nation as opposed to what we suffer from now.

    May I take the liberty of reproducing the fundamentals of Sun Tzu’s hoary treatise, for anyone interested in comparing what’s going on in the Global Interoperable Network-Centric Battlespace that used to be our complex planet of many human communities, albeit often in conflict, with what Sun Tzu advises, in detail, about the role of the war leader and the limits and formats of war as an instrument of national peril and policy? Kill the comment if it’s too much text. And put this with a Pentagram population that laughs at attempts to even audit where all our wealth goes, that has learned that it doesn’t matter if they don’t “Win,” “victory” being another term not defined in the “Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, that aspires to a kind of global reach in “intelligence” and the abilty to “put warheads on foreheads” anywhere on the planet. And match it against what we can figure out about the “how” of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Iraq, Notaghainistan, Syria, Bosnia, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, all those little former colonies in Central and South America and Africa, et cetera — how the military rulership actually plays the “Game of War,” where success is money and career and perks and eventually positions in the “supporting structure” that now largely swallows the former armed forces function, and will continue to do so until the Brass can get rid of that unruly horde of grunts and techs that occasionally let them know how stupid and ineffectual they are at the function they advertise that they perform “for the State.” So Memorial Day can be a pure PR and propaganda exercise, and Doorbuster come-on for the Retail Dependency.

    Enough in just the intolerable cognitive dissonance in just my little view and even in just this very tiny selection of the geometrically growing heaps of data and documents arrayed for our Rulers to plan and act from, in constant Brownian motion with growing entropy, enough to make an inflexible old purist like me kind of puke and weep, for myself as a sucker and the people I knew who experienced the mortality of the collective idiocy and hypocrisy of dudes like Rumsfeld and Schwarzkopf and Westmoreland and MacArthur, especially knowing that there’s not much of any way of fixing it to better serve the serfs who staff the brigades and units, and slave at multiple part time jobs to make the wealth and pay the taxes that fund the whole thing that produces NOTHING of value, and spare me any noise about how the military drives technology and improves trauma surgery and Cool Weapons and Drones and Nanodevices and STEALTH! Nothing short of some catastrophe that breaks it all down in a way that even cracks the thick brittle clumsy idiotic inflexible foundations of the Blob That Ate The World, or Hopes To (they do have a plan – behind the science and data in the front part of this link, is the Dream, the Vision, of how the military will do that Al Haig moment, for real, and actually “be in charge here,” and there, and everywhere, “Trends and Implications
    of Climate Change for National and International Security,” http://www.acq.osd.mil/dsb/reports/ADA552760.pdf:

    No particular highlights in this text — almost all of it seems pointedly on point, just varying degrees of patent pain at the dysfunctions and dissembling that take the too human function into ugly Neo-terrain. where unknown vulnerabilities and disparate asymmetries so surprisingly present.

    The Art of War
    By Sun Tzu
    Translated by Lionel Giles

    I. Laying Plans

    1. Sun Tzu said: The art of war is of vital importance to the State.

    2. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.

    3. The art of war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one’s deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field.

    4. These are: (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) The Commander; (5) Method and discipline.

    5,6. The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger.

    7. Heaven signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons.

    8. Earth comprises distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and death.

    9. The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerely, benevolence, courage and strictness.

    10. By method and discipline are to be understood the marshaling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the graduations of rank among the officers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army, and the control of military expenditure.

    11. These five heads should be familiar to every general: he who knows them will be victorious; he who knows them not will fail.

    12. Therefore, in your deliberations, when seeking to determine the military conditions, let them be made the basis of a comparison, in this wise:–

    13. (1) Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral law? (2) Which of the two generals has most ability? (3) With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth? (4) On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced? (5) Which army is stronger? (6) On which side are officers and men more highly trained? (7) In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment?

    14. By means of these seven considerations I can forecast victory or defeat.

    15. The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it, will conquer: let such a one be retained in command! The general that hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it, will suffer defeat:–let such a one be dismissed!

    16. While heading the profit of my counsel, avail yourself also of any helpful circumstances over and beyond the ordinary rules.

    17. According as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one’s plans.

    18. All warfare is based on deception.

    19. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.

    20. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.

    21. If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.

    22. If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.

    23. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them.

    24. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.

    25. These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand.

    26. Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.

    II. Waging War

    1. Sun Tzu said: In the operations of war, where there are in the field a thousand swift chariots, as many heavy chariots, and a hundred thousand mail-clad soldiers, with provisions enough to carry them a thousand li, the expenditure at home and at the front, including entertainment of guests, small items such as glue and paint, and sums spent on chariots and armor, will reach the total of a thousand ounces of silver per day. Such is the cost of raising an army of 100,000 men.

    2. When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men’s weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.

    3. Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain.

    4. Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor damped, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.

    5. Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays.

    6. There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.

    7. It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on.

    8. The skillful soldier does not raise a second levy, neither are his supply-wagons loaded more than twice.

    9. Bring war material with you from home, but forage on the enemy. Thus the army will have food enough for its needs.

    10. Poverty of the State exchequer causes an army to be maintained by contributions from a distance. Contributing to maintain an army at a distance causes the people to be impoverished.

    11. On the other hand, the proximity of an army causes prices to go up; and high prices cause the people’s substance to be drained away.

    12. When their substance is drained away, the peasantry will be afflicted by heavy exactions.

    13,14. With this loss of substance and exhaustion of strength, the homes of the people will be stripped bare, and three-tenths of their income will be dissipated; while government expenses for broken chariots, worn-out horses, breast-plates and helmets, bows and arrows, spears and shields, protective mantles, draught-oxen and heavy wagons, will amount to four-tenths of its total revenue.

    15. Hence a wise general makes a point of foraging on the enemy. One cartload of the enemy’s provisions is equivalent to twenty of one’s own, and likewise a single picul of his provender is equivalent to twenty from one’s own store.

    16. Now in order to kill the enemy, our men must be roused to anger; that there may be advantage from defeating the enemy, they must have their rewards.

    17. Therefore in chariot fighting, when ten or more chariots have been taken, those should be rewarded who took the first. Our own flags should be substituted for those of the enemy, and the chariots mingled and used in conjunction with ours. The captured soldiers should be kindly treated and kept.

    18. This is called, using the conquered foe to augment one’s own strength.

    19. In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.

    20. Thus it may be known that the leader of armies is the arbiter of the people’s fate, the man on whom it depends whether the nation shall be in peace or in peril.

    III. Attack by Stratagem

    1. Sun Tzu said: In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.

    2. Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.

    3. Thus the highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy’s plans; the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy’s forces; the next in order is to attack the enemy’s army in the field; and the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities.

    4. The rule is, not to besiege walled cities if it can possibly be avoided. The preparation of mantlets, movable shelters, and various implements of war, will take up three whole months; and the piling up of mounds over against the walls will take three months more.

    5. The general, unable to control his irritation, will launch his men to the assault like swarming ants, with the result that one-third of his men are slain, while the town still remains untaken. Such are the disastrous effects of a siege.

    6. Therefore the skillful leader subdues the enemy’s troops without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field.

    7. With his forces intact he will dispute the mastery of the Empire, and thus, without losing a man, his triumph will be complete. This is the method of attacking by stratagem.

    8. It is the rule in war, if our forces are ten to the enemy’s one, to surround him; if five to one, to attack him; if twice as numerous, to divide our army into two.

    9. If equally matched, we can offer battle; if slightly inferior in numbers, we can avoid the enemy; if quite unequal in every way, we can flee from him.

    10. Hence, though an obstinate fight may be made by a small force, in the end it must be captured by the larger force.

    11. Now the general is the bulwark of the State; if the bulwark is complete at all points; the State will be strong; if the bulwark is defective, the State will be weak.

    12. There are three ways in which a ruler can bring misfortune upon his army:–

    13. (1) By commanding the army to advance or to retreat, being ignorant of the fact that it cannot obey. This is called hobbling the army.

    14. (2) By attempting to govern an army in the same way as he administers a kingdom, being ignorant of the conditions which obtain in an army. This causes restlessness in the soldier’s minds.

    15. (3) By employing the officers of his army without discrimination, through ignorance of the military principle of adaptation to circumstances. This shakes the confidence of the soldiers.

    16. But when the army is restless and distrustful, trouble is sure to come from the other feudal princes. This is simply bringing anarchy into the army, and flinging victory away.

    17. Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory: (1) He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight. (2) He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces. (3) He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks. (4) He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared. (5) He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.

    18. Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
    ….

    Yah, Happy Memorial Day, all you dead soldiers — those who are getting closer to join you salute you. Ignore those sunshine patriots waving their little flags, and that the flag that draped your casket is tastefully displayed in a made-in-China case, available in store or on line from Walmart, only $16.97! http://www.walmart.com/ip/Flag-Display-Case-Solid-Wood-Mahogany/8204027

    1. Disturbed Voter

      The great Chinese TV series (2007) with English subtitles … is all about Sun Tzu put to use:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLxSJ0AnS-Y
      In 41 parts.

      One of the principle characters is a Prime Minister (of a sub-China state) who learned statecraft from Sun Tzu himself. I don’t think humans have changed in 2500 years, certainly not the upper class and their professional minions. And the peasants will always be taken to the cleaners.

  12. OIFVet

    About your first paragraph, all I can say is to quote Orwell: “In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” I refuse to acknowledge it as a day to remember the fallen who died for “freedum”. They died for the profit of the ruling elite, something Gen. Butler puts forth quite eloquently:

    I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

    I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

    During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

  13. abynormal

    i went poof at links so i’ll try here…i watched for the Nostradamus mega quake and me ponders he meant the sum of quakes :-/

    about 2 hours ago 2.0 magnitude, 0 km depth
    Twentynine Palms, California, United States
    about 7 hours ago 2.1 magnitude, 0 km depth
    La Quinta, California, United States
    about 7 hours ago 1.7 magnitude, 11 km depth
    Walnut, California, United States
    about 10 hours ago 1.6 magnitude, 13 km depth
    San Gabriel, California, United States
    about 22 hours ago 1.5 magnitude, 2 km depth
    Tehachapi, California, United States
    a day ago 1.8 magnitude, 18 km depth
    Banning, California, United States
    a day ago 2.4 magnitude, 3 km depth
    Barstow, California, United States
    a day ago 2.7 magnitude, 8 km depth
    Goleta, California, United States
    a day ago 2.7 magnitude, 4 km depth
    Goleta, California, United States
    2 days ago 1.7 magnitude, 12 km depth
    Claremont, California, United States

    If one could always predict the future, this person would soon be the saddest being on earth, for it cannot be surprised nor could it stop thinking of making a difference.

    LordBloodySoul

  14. Optimader

    The War Prayer
    by Mark Twain
    1904
    It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and sputtering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spreads of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country and invoked the God of Battles, beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpouring of fervid eloquence which moved every listener.

    It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety’s sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

    Sunday morning came – next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their faces alight with material dreams-visions of a stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! – then home from the war, bronzed heros, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation – “God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest, Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!”

    Then came the “long” prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was that an ever – merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory.

    An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher’s side and stood there, waiting.

    With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal,”Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!”

    The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside – which the startled minister did – and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said

    “I come from the Throne – bearing a message from Almighty God!” The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. “He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd and grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import – that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of – except he pause and think.

    “God’s servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two – one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of His Who hearth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this – keep it in mind. If you beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor’s crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

    “You have heard your servant’s prayer – the uttered part of it. I am commissioned by God to put into words the other part of it – that part which the pastor, and also you in your hearts, fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: ‘Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!’ That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory – must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

    “O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle – be Thou near them! With them, in spirit, we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it – for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

    (After a pause)

    “Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits.”

    It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

    1. JTMcPhee

      That last big Twain paragraph– pretty perfect fit for what’s become of Gaza and all those Syrian cities and wasn’t there a country we called ‘Iraq” over there some place?

      Pretty amazing, in all the proud, Allahiu Akhbar and YHWH Is With Us war-porn videos from there, you can see, or at least infer, in the shadows of the forms still visible above the piles of rubble and broken glass and the dark spots that once were humans, pleasant balconies and courtyards and little gardens, places where people sat to complain and observe and praise…

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