Archive for September 23rd, 2007

Camouflage, Ribbons and Social Control

punditman says @ 11:30 EDT…A little Canadian content for a theme that Americans should be very familiar with…

What’s up with all the camouflage folks? Everywhere I go, it is camouflage pants, skirts, caps, tops, backpacks, jackets, headbands, snow suits and dog leashes. Grandmas, school children, middle aged pot bellies–name a demographic–and you will see them sporting their earthy tones.

You know your country is at war when the most popular fashion statement around is combat apparel. Does this mean that everyone who wears camouflage supports Canada’s mission in Afghanistan? I doubt it. The latest polls certainly suggest otherwise. So as a fashion statement (or is that “fascist” statement?), you are, ah, trying to blend in with the plastic foliage in the shopping mall?

I don’t get it.

After all, the idea of camouflage is to make one’s self the same as the surrounding environment. Then again, at this rate, the growing sea of green, brown, tan, grey and black splotches may soon turn out to be weirdly analogous to the garb once worn by crowds at Grateful Dead concerts: everyone wore tie-dye and everyone blended in. But that didn’t make everyone a hippie—especially so-called “Deadhead” Ann Coulter.

Wearing camouflage used to signify one of two things: the person was either in the armed forces or was setting out on a different sort of mission that involved drinking tons of beer and killing furry creatures in a forest somewhere. But nowadays, the whole idea of hunting (humans or animals, that is), has been demoted by those who dress like G.I. Joe just because they are out hunting for a latte or an Ipod.

Grow a brain, people. This is all about the militarization of our culture.

This past summer I considered buying a new Wilson tennis racquet to replace my old “Hyper Hammer 5.2” frame. But when I went shopping I was informed that the latest incarnation of my old racquet is now called the “Surge.” Is it just coincidence that this corporate branding coincided with the name of Bush’s plan to increase the number of American troops deployed to the Iraq War? I think not. I found a new version of my old racquet online. Somehow it sounds more benign.

Along with camouflage, Canada is now beset by an overabundance of “Support Our Troops” ribbons, t-shirts, bracelets and mugs. You can’t go anywhere without seeing the telltale yellow ribbon on cars. Come to think of it, some are camouflaged. It is high time that the elephant in the room is asked the obvious question that polite Canadians would rather avoid: What does “Support Our Troops” really mean?

Those who decorate their vehicles thusly would have us believe that the decals are politically neutral symbols of support for soldiers overseas. This is nonsense and they know it. The intended audience are those of us who forego yellow ribbons. If you think about it, the phrase “Support Our Troops” is sort of bossy, like a drill sargent’s snarl. This is known in grammatical circles as the “imperative mood.” Therefore the directive to “Support Our Troops” comes off like an order, but with a somewhat fuzzy meaning: What exactly am I supposed to do? Buy a ribbon, I guess.

Yet the context is obvious. This is all about the Afghan War and nothing else. The yellow ribbon campaign has succeeded in convincing at least eighteen Canadian municipal and local governments to affix the decals to police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, buses and other municipal vehicles. Since this is all public property, this is a divisive move, not an inclusive one. Why this cause, but no others? Why not “Support Our Cancer Patients” or “Support Our Single Moms”? Are they less worthy?

Pretending the yellow ribbon is neutral means pretending that everyone supports the troops. But if you stop to think about it, this is neither true nor possible. One can not “support the troops” but not their mission because that is a logical inconsistency. If you want to see the combat mission ended and Canada’s soldiers brought home as soon as possible, then you really do not support them because a good part of their current mission is to kill or be killed.

For the record, I have no grand scheme, nor any simple answers to end the latest Afghan quagmire. In fact, nobody does, including those who obediently support military missions that have no exit strategy.

One can debate the need for security first as a means to development and stability, versus the need for development as a means to security, but what should be obvious is that occupation and counter-insurgency have terrible track records historically. As noted in the Toronto Star recently, according to Thomas Johnson, professor of national security at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, “Since World War II, is there one successful counter-insurgency? The answer is none. This war will never be won militarily.”

For this reason, Canadian Pulitzer Prize-winning photo journalist Paul Watson wants to ask a few questions of his old high school friend, Prime Minister Stephen Harper:

“I would beg him, as a former friend and someone who has access to intelligence that I don’t, to explain to me why we’re putting soldiers’ lives on the line and asking them to kill civilians to defend themselves when all the military people I’ve spoken to admit that there is no military solution in Afghanistan,” said Watson.

Actually, efforts to negotiate by bringing in all sides— various Pashtun tribal leaders, Taliban and other insurgent groups, and the government in Kabul, as well as in Islamabad—are ongoing. In fact, according to The Nation, a major English-language newspaper in Pakistan, secret talks began there in August between U.S. officials and the Taliban.

Oddly enough, the two sides have at least one thing in common: both are split along fractious lines. The renewed Taliban is divided between moderates and extremists, while the Bush administration appears to be divided on whether or not to launch a preemptive strike against Iran.

One may well ask: where should Canada’s foreign policy priorities be right now? Tied down in Afghanistan, begging NATO allies for more help in what looks more and more like an intractable military stalemate? Or, working through diplomatic channels to try to prevent a global conflagration between the US and Iran that could even go nuclear?

It’s time to ditch the camouflage and put on your thinking caps.

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Bolten Quietly Orchestrates Change In White House

by- Suzie-Q @ 5:14 PM MST

WASHINGTON — Joshua Bolten, President Bush’s bass-guitar-playing White House chief of staff, has been hitting the right notes lately, even with some of the administration’s harshest critics.

Several Democratic lawmakers praised Bolten this week for helping to find pragmatic outsider Michael Mukasey to replace Bush’s longtime inner-circle friend Alberto Gonzales as attorney general — and thus avoiding the fierce Senate confirmation fight that was expected if Bush had chosen another loyalist or ideologue.

“Josh Bolten is exercising pragmatic conservatism,” said Kenneth Duberstein, who was President Reagan’s last chief of staff. “There is a sense that compromise is no longer a four-letter word as long as the president can adhere to his fundamental principles.”

Bush remains mired in Nixon-like low approval ratings, and the nation is still slogging through an unpopular war in Iraq, but administration friends and foes alike say they see positive change in the White House, thanks largely to its low-profile chief of staff.

“I have found Josh Bolten to be a breath of fresh air,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., no fan of Bush. “I find him somebody that I can talk to. He returns calls quickly. I like him. He follows orders from the White House, and I know that, but he does have a lot of sway in what goes on.”


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Evening Jukebox… Always On Your Side

by- Suzie-Q @ 4:30 PM MST

Sheryl Crow Featuring Sting – Always On Your Side

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Health Care Is Voters’ Top Domestic Concern

by- Suzie-Q @ 4:18 PM MST

WASHINGTON — In 1994, doctors and other medical professionals were up in arms over “Hillarycare,” the universal health-care plan that was drafted under the former first lady’s leadership.

Health industry representatives were excluded from the task force that devised the plan, prompting groups such as the American Medical Association to withdraw support for the proposal and label it too heavy-handed, costly and complex.

Today, Hillary Clinton is the Democratic presidential front-runner, and she tops all candidates with nearly $1 million in contributions from doctors and other health professionals, according to The Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit group that monitors political contributions.

Her transformation from health-industry punch line to candidate emeritus on health care is a byproduct of the changing political climate that’s pushed health care to the forefront of voter concerns.

The combination of spiraling costs, declining employer coverage and growing numbers of Americans without health insurance has prompted consumers, employers, lawmakers and the medical industry to call for change.


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The Limits Of Ignorance

by- Mentarch … 17:46 EDT

Science – and the scientific method – constitute a process of fact-based and experimental demonstration-supported inquiry which allows Humanity to gain further understanding of the inner workings of the Universe, of Life and, ultimately, of ourselves – from all their complexities to the minutest of details. Such an inquiry has been taking place since the dawn of Humanity, who wondered about the growth and death of living things and of themselves, about weather phenomena (thunder, lightning, etc.), about those lights in the night skies, about sickness and health, about who they are and where they came from.

After centuries upon centuries of patient and dedicated refinement of the scientific method, allowing us to gain greater knowledge and understanding of Nature in so doing, science keeps finding itself increasingly under attack of late.

The culprits of such attacks? Primitive minds who fear to even catch a glimpse of reality which defines us, the world and the rest of the universe, and who’s mysteries continue being revealed year after year of dedicated and patient scientific investigating, one tiny step at a time – all because such new and ever increasing understanding threatens their cozy, comfortable and intellectual sloth-driven ignorance and blind faith in a Creator God.

Case in point:


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AFSC Dissects the Astronomical Cost of War

anti-war march
AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais
A member of Iraq Veterans Against the War leads an anti-war march to the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 15.

anthony @ 18:25 BST

How could the $720 million the U.S. is spending on the Iraq war each day be put to better use? Well, how about paying for the health care costs of 423,529 children? Or giving 34,904 college students four-year scholarships, or providing 6,482 families with homes?

These mind-blowing figures were crunched by the Quaker church-affiliated American Friends Service Committee as part of its “Wage Peace Campaign,” which the AFSC says is intended “to highlight the economic cost of the war and demand that Congress shift war funding to support human needs here and real solutions in Iraq.”



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Why Was Dan Rather Fired?

anthony @ 14:35 BST

On 16 November, Michel Chossudovsky published the following story on his website, Center for Research on Globalisation:

Where was Osama bin Laden on 9/11?

Bush Administration knew the Whereabouts of Osama

If the CBS report by Dan Rather is accurate and Osama had indeed been admitted to the Pakistani military hospital on September 10, 2001, courtesy of America’s ally, he was in all likelihood still in hospital in Rawalpindi on the 11th of September, when the attacks occurred. In all probability, his whereabouts were known to US officials on the morning of September 12, when Secretary of State Colin Powell initiated negotiations with Pakistan, with a view to arresting and extraditing bin Laden.

Given that most people still swallow the “lonely goatherd” theory of the 9/11 attacks, Dan Rather’s story is still current.

The stated reason for Rather’s dismissal is his 2004 expose on Bush’s military service record. But is that the real reason? This earlier story alone would undoubtedly have caused the Bush administration grave concern and have made him a marked man. If this second story is the true reason, then I predict that CBS will reach an out-of-court court settlement with him to avoid this coming out into the open again.

And if it is true that the administration knew where Bin Laden really was and that he is just a patsy, then I reckon a grateful George Bush sends him a Christmas card every year which he proudly displays on his hospital bedside table along with similar cards from Cheney, Liebermann, Giuliani and other neo-con creeps! Assuming he is still alive, that is!


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