"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Friday, January 27, 2012

What we talk about when we talk about conservatives

Never mind all the guff about Ronald Reagan. Reagan was an amiable-seeming father figure who did what his wife and her astrologer and Exxon told him to do. He regularly fell asleep in Cabinet meetings and by the end of his term didn't know where he was half the time.
Richard Nixon, Lee Atwater and Newt Gingrich pretty much invented the modern conservative movement by harnessing the power of Barry Goldwater's Birchers and bigots, funded by corporations eager to buy the kind of legislation (or lack of it) that would allow them free rein to empty America's pockets without having to give any of  it back.
You can learn all about this from just about any mainstream political history text, but I would recommend Rick Perlstein's Nixonland to anyone who really wants to learn how American politics got to be the witchbag of corruption, sleaze and demagoguery it is these days.
Also, the film Boogieman, which chronicles Lee Atwater's work appealing to Southern racists to make the GOP the party of the Confederate States of America.

And if this had been written about anyone else, it would leave welts on their back, but it will simply roll off of Newt's carapace while he tells his half-bright supporters about the big bad liberal New York Times and how they are out to stop him from saving America.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Midweek reading

Just a couple of things for your midweek read that I happened across:

And speaking of reading:

#7 Requiem for an Assassin By Barry Eisler
Fast-paced fun with freelance assassin John Rain. For those not in the know, Barry Eisler is a former CIA agent turned  thriller writer, so his take on the espionage novel is a bit different. Great action scences, authentic spycraft, thought-provoking observations on how violence occurs and how the mind deals with it.

I read and reviewed this when it first came out, back when I used to get paid to read and review books ( I reviewed an earlier Eisler book in the John Rain series "Hard Rain" but forgot to save an electronic copy for my own use, though the review is quoted at his site). I've also communicated with Barry a few times via email and bulletin boards and only narrowly missed having a drink with him in Tokyo one time.
He also wrote the introduction for the only English language book of which I can claim partial authorship. He blogs a bit and sometimes writes for Huffpo and Firedoglake. For an former spook with a fixation on knives and martial arts, he's strikes me as a pretty nice guy. His books, however - and I mean this in the nicest way -  are like potato chips: it's difficult to stop at just one.

#8 Fault Line by Barry Eisler
A non-John Rain thriller that leans heavily on the liberal elite vs conservative warhawk cultural divide in American culture. Definitely worth reading and like Eisler's other work, a thinking man's thriller with plenty of emphasis on tradecraft and the technical side of espionage.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Music worth paying for!

From Tbogg we learn that Bob Dylan has donated the royalties/waived the rights to a whole bunch of his songs for a fundraising album of Dylan covers for Amnesty International.

Some samples:


War criminal feels the wrath of American military justice!

That will teach him a lesson! And let the dire fate of  marine Staff Sgt. Frank G. Wuterich be an example to every other soldier on the battlefield that the rules of war and human decency must be obeyed.
Well, mostly.
Unless you get angry because one of your fellow soldiers is killed, then ordering your men to shoot the nearest women and children is kinda like a bunch of unpaid parking tickets or getting caught shoplifting. Assuming of course the women and children are brown not-Americans foolish enough to have been born in a country to which the United States takes a dislike.
Three whole months in the stockade and forfeiture of two thirds of his pay for those three months. Assuming the USMC commandant doesn't step in and reduce the penalty.
And certainly the United States military doesn't want such a wanton law breaker and killer within its ranks, well not as a Staff Sgt. anyways, so he's been busted down to Private for now.
Imagine for a moment that an Iraqi soldier was responsible for killing 24 Americans - say U.S. security contractors or soldier, not women and children - what do you think the consequences would be? Can you conceive of any possible scenario in which that man would not be killed? Either through legal means with a quick show trial and a hanging or by presidential order and special forces hit team?