Category Archives: War/Security

The lesson that bin Laden learned from Reagan

There is a particular narrative about Ronald Reagan and the end of the Cold War that has always struck me as compelling. I bought the argument at the time and I think I still do, to some extent, even though I’m hardly a Reagan fan.

The story goes like this: Reagan was able to finally win the Cold War and drive a stake through the heart of the Evil Empire because he realized that the Soviet economy was already badly overextended trying to prop up the war machine. All he had to do was accelerate the arms race, dramatically increasing military spending (while also amping up the sabre-rattling rhetoric) and that would force the Russkis to bankrupt themselves trying to compete. Read more

DJ Enhanced Interrogation Techniques: 30-Day Song Challenge, the Sequel, day 27 – a song you think would be an effective instrument of torture

It seems that America now officially believes in torture as a primary tool of investigation. And back in 2008, I did a little story on how, believe it or not, we are using music as an implement of torture. So I suppose today’s challenge has a dark side, huh?

Mercifully for those suspected terrorists in captivity, DJ EIT (Enhanced Interrogation Techniques) lacks imagination (although, +1 for the “Barney Theme Song” and Meow Mix jingle). Still, nothing at all from the Disco era? Read more

Memorial Day weekend: open thread

Memorial Day at Arlington National CemeteryIt’s Memorial Day weekend. As we honor our fallen, let’s also reflect on the larger question of war and on the reasons these dead heroes are too often asked to give up their lives.

S&R invites our readers to offer their own favorite poems of war and memory. Or stories. Or personal recollections. Whatever.

I’ll start. This one, from Yehuda Amichai, isn’t about America, but I think the message probably resonates for all of us.

Memorial Day For The War Dead

Memorial day for the war dead. Read more

A simple country boy’s solution to the budget “crisis”

Some conservatives see all these fact-laden critiques of our various GOP manufactroversies (see Ryan, Paul) and wonder where are the Democratic plans to solve the financial crisis? (I have been asked this, quite vehemently, myself.)

The informed reply goes something like this:

  1. The crisis isn’t real. It’s been fabricated by the neo-liberal politicians whose goal is to eliminate all taxes on rich people and bust structures like unions that afford the non-hyper-wealthy with some leverage in the American political economy. It. Isn’t. Real.
  2. You’re blaming the wrong people. Read more

30-Day Song Challenge, day 11: a song by my favorite band

I know that there’s no such thing as a band that everybody likes, and I’m fine with the idea that some people can’t stand my favorite band, U2. I don’t always understand the objections, but so what. I am puzzled when people flat-out misunderstand fairly obvious poses, like Bono’s Macphisto or The Fly characters, which were explicit Pop Star parodies aimed at the vapid, corrupt nature of the modern entertainment complex. “Oh, look, Bono has bought his own hype!” Ummm, no, Bono is offering a critique of the hype, which you’d know if you’d pay closer attention. What, you think “IT’S YOUR WORLD YOU CAN CHARGE IT” is a typo? Read more

What would a progressive society look like? The Tricentennial Manifesto

The Tricentennial ManifestoOne of my lists is currently engaged in a fairly dynamic discussion about “what is a progressive?”

In thinking about the issue, I realized that it might help to ask the question a slightly different way: what would a progressive society look like? Maybe I can better understand what it means to be progressive in 2010 if I reverse-engineer the definition from a vision of the future where things work the way they ought to.

I have argued that the success of the progressive movement hinges on seriously long-term thinking. It’s not about the 2012 elections or the 2016 elections or even the 2020 elections – those fights are about the battle, not the war.

Instead, if we do things properly, if we concentrate on and win the war, what does America look like on our Tricentennial? The following 40 articles suggest some ideas. Read more

America vs. the Terrorists, 9/11/10: a status report, nine years on…

In September 11, 2001, al Qaeda terrorists hijacked four passenger jets. They flew three of them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The fourth was retaken by the passengers and crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. These things we know. Since then, much has transpired. For example:

  • The US invaded Afghanistan, the nation that had harbored the terrorists and their mastermind, Osama bin Laden. The war has not been uniformly well managed and attempts to install a stable self-government have so far failed. Many experts argue that our efforts there have been woefully counterproductive. Read more

Goodtime Charlie Wilson cashes his check

Some months back, I attended a convention on behalf of my employer. One of the honored guest speakers was former Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson. Wilson, whose story was Hollywoodized in Charlie Wilson’s War, died today at the age of 76.

Wilson was primarily famous for two things: fucking anything he could catch, and funneling arms to the Afghani mujahedeen during the country’s war against the Soviet Union. Those of us unfortunate enough to be stuck in the room during Wilson’s speech were regaled by tales of how he ignored the law, bullied, end-ran, lied and cheated to get what he wanted, and I mean all this literally. Wilson was as proud of flaunting the law as he was of his lifelong pursuit of women with obvious esteem issues. Read more

9/11 happened on Obama’s watch! GOP noise machine already hard at work on the history books of the future

Something wicked this way comes.

There are a number of problems with these assertions, not the least of which is that when Saudi terrorists started flying hijacked jets into large buildings on September 11, 2001, George W. Bush had been president of the United States for the better part of eight months. The lapses in memory noted above are all striking, but especially so in the case of Giuliani, who was, from September 11 until he dropped out of the presidential race on January 30, 2008 (a span of roughly 2,332 days, if my math is accurate), unable to say so much as “hello” without somehow shoehorning “9/11” into the conversation. Read more

Breaking news: terror suspect aided by sharp-dressed man

Nothing good is going to come of this.

Flight 253 passenger: Sharp-dressed man aided terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab onto plane without passport

(MLive.com exclusive)
By Sheena Harrison | MLive.com
December 26, 2009, 2:22PM

According to witnesses, the suspect had a long beard and was driving a red 1937 Chevrolet coupe. Police forensic artists have released the following sketch: Read more

The Summer of Hate provides a watershed moment for “reasonable Republicans”

I’m not a Republican, but I know many people who are. I have GOP friends, co-workers and family members, and for that matter I used to be a Republican myself. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, to be sure. But it’s true.

It’s no secret that I don’t agree with the GOP on much of anything these days, but there’s kind of an odd element to my conversations with Republican acquaintances lately: a lot of them profess significant disagreement with the platform and policies of their party, too.

Taken in a vacuum, this is hardly surprising. Read more

America and its presidents: what the fuck is wrong with you people?

Let’s begin with a brief Q&A with America.

Q: Let’s say you’re sick with a potentially deadly disease. Who do you want for a doctor?
A: The smartest, most experienced and highly qualified expert in the field.

Q: You’re looking to invest your life savings. Who do you trust to handle your money?
A: The brightest, most agile financial mind I can find.

Q: You’ve been selected to participate in a “private citizens in space” program. Who do you want in charge of building the rocket? Read more

Time for the War on Terror 2.0?

Two people have been shot at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. The shooter has been identified as James Wenneker von Brunn, a man with ties to various right-wing hate groups. His Web site is here.

At the risk of putting too fine a point on it, we should note that since September 11, 2001, more innocent American citizens have been killed by anti-abortion activists and other fringe right terrorists than by al Qaeda. Oddly, we’re hearing no calls from Republican legislators or party leaders like Rush Limbaugh (or their Vichy Democrat allies) demanding that we invade Coeur d’Alene.

So are we serious about terror or not?

Ten years on: the enduring lessons of Columbine

Part one of a series

April 20, 2009: 11:19 am MDT

Ten years ago a co-worker turned to me and said something that I’ll never forget, no matter how long I live: “Hey, Sammy, there’s been a school shooting in Littleton.”

Since that day a great deal has been written and said about Columbine High School and the events of 4.20.99, and like a lot of other people I’ve tried my hardest to make sense of something that seemed (and still seems) inherently senseless. Tried and failed. Now, ten years on, the grief hasn’t fully dissipated here in the city that I have come to call home, and even if we manage to understand the whos, whats, and hows, there’s a part of us that’s doomed to wrestle forever with the whys. Read more

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