Friday, October 23, 2009


I gotta start posting more. There's too much to fulminate about. I get distracted, lose my notes, start rolling my eyes about something else—it's tough trying to keep up.
And I'm not as young as I used to be.

So there is an interesting article in this week's New Yorker about the use of drone planes against enemies in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Especially in Pakistan. There is a so-called "secret" war waged by the CIA (Rachel Maddow called this "the worst kept secret since Elton John came out") going on there, using drones to spot and then shoot missiles at Al-Queda leaders. Sounds good. Except in tribal areas of Pakistan, a country with which we are not at war (yet?) we have killed upwards of 700 (estimated—it's a no-news area) people to off about 2 dozen terrorist leaders. So is this good or not? Is it worth 700 "collateral" damage deaths to kill a few Al-Queda guys? Do you suppose that maybe those collateral deaths might NOT be raising two or five or more dedicated revenge seekers to fight against us?

There has been a problem in Afghanistan, where we actually are waging war, with innocent people getting picked off by drones, and it is causing trouble for our troops and the politicians we support there. And this is a place where we (mostly) know what is going on. Some wedding party gets wiped out by a misguided rocket, at least people have a chance to get queasy about it. Although a stronger reaction is hoped for.

Anyway, when the CIA operates, and this is without any oversight or accountability (the CIA is, after all, a secret organization) how do we know the operations are effective? And don't you think it's a little dangerous to have non-military personnel deciding who lives and dies in a country we aren't at war with?

Apparently Obama has approved more more drone attacks in 9 months than George Bush did in the last three years. I don't know who is giving this guy advice, but I think he might want to bring other voices into the conversation. The American halo is already tarnished by torture—shouldn't we be just a leetle bit more cautious about killing operations in a country we'd like to be on our side?

Back in the seventies the public and Congress were justifiably upset about CIA freedom to assassinate or abet assassination, so we passed laws. Now it's against the law for an agent to slit an Al-Queda leader's throat, but okay for an agent in Virginia or California or wherever to guide a drone (possibly by information provided by an informant who may have a personal stake in the removal of the intended victim) and shoot a Hell-fire Missile at a house which contains the target, his children, his in-laws, his friends, his baby-sitter, whomever.

I don't like killing, even if I sometimes feel mad enough to think I could, but I'd be more comfortable with the single throat-slitting, especially if it were vetted by a panel of military personnel (not spooks) as being useful. At least if there was a mistake only one person would suffer, not his extended family and friends.

It's a bitch to have to think about stuff like this. I don't even like what I said in the last paragraph. I don't like that it's true.

But most people don't think about this. And it's understandable. Hell, I don't think about it much of the time, being involved with problems of my own survival (and sometimes of my own making). There are drones in the air and there are drone voters on the ground. I would like for enough of us to be concerned enough of the time so that we can get out elected representatives to do their jobs and deal with this stuff properly. And they won't do it properly unless they know we are properly concerned.

And this brings me to drones in the Congress. Specifically Repubicans droning on with the party line of "no."
30 Republicans voted against a bill that would forbid the military from using contractors which forced their employees to sign agreements they wouldn't sue if raped or discriminated against. This was an Al Franken bill which was inspired, if that's the right word, by an incident in which Jamie Lee Jones was drugged and gang raped and imprisoned in a shipping container by Halliburton employees.
Why am I not surprised?
Actually, I am not so much surprised at the actions of Halliburton employees, they have the former VP Cheney on their side, as I am, still, by the feckless perfidy of the 30 Repubicans who voted against the Franken bill. These people really believe that corporations are more important than people. Halliburton is so important that it doesn't matter if one of their employees is raped. Repubicans voted against a Consumer Protection Agency. Is their thinking "why protect consumers?" Who do they think "consumers" are? Not the peoiple who voted them into office, certainly. Consumers are some sort of low-level life form which corporations are allowed to feed on like Morlocks fed on the Eloi in H.G. Wells' time travellor story.
Consistently Repubicans side with corporations against their own constituents. Of course, corporations give them more money. Corporations are better than the average American citizen because they have more money.
Hell, you all know this. Corporations are the embodiment of capitalism which is the bedrock of the American way. That's why you and I don't matter.
Okay, I've got more—haven't even got to the state of the art world yet.
Another night.
In the meantime, get a job and do something more useful than reading me.

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