Donkey Punch

July 31, 2008

Terrorism Season.

I am sitting here in my office on the 9th floor of an office building in downtown Seattle, listening to the annually occurring, soothing sound of war planes roaring around.

That’s right, it’s Terrorism Season in Seattle.

Every year the Blue Angels come roaring into Seattle for Sea-Fair, an month long celebration of… summer? The Blue Angels appear every year and wow the crowds with two days of highly choreographed aerial acrobatics. To prepare for this display, they practice for about 2-3 hours on Thursday and Friday prior to the performance.

A few years ago I was working at a sales job that just happened to be two blocks from the end of Boeing Field, the airfield any military aircraft coming into Seattle proper use to land and take off. It was then when I first realized how terrifying these machines are. They are all speed, sound, and fury.

When I was young we would go to the air show at Forbes Field in Topeka, Kansas and watch the Blue Angels. The fascinated me. I just couldn’t get enough of the spectacle. It was then I decided to be a fighter pilot. What could be cooler?

I was a perfect candidate for pilot. I’m medium sized (5′ 8″), generally healthy and fairly intelligent. I even visited the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and dreamed of multiple-g maneuvers and various acrobattery. An Air Force recruiter recognized this in High School, and was pretty aggressive in trying to recruit me.

Somewhere along the way I decided that I could not be a military pilot. Maybe it was because my grandfather died in WWII and I understood, deep down, that war sucked. Maybe it was the pencil drawing in my bathroom when I grew up that had a picture of a Vietnam-era soldier sitting on his helmet, head in hands, bearing the caption, “War, when you are at it, is horrible and dull.” Or maybe it was because the tone-deaf recruiter liked to call me around 9 am on Saturday mornings (Keggers were de rigueur Friday night entertainment at Topeka High School). But somehow, I realized that no matter how fun it would be to fly those birds, at some point the leadership may ask me to rain death on people, many of which would be innocent. I was fairly sure I could not do that with a clear conscience, so I let that dream go. I still harbor a small wish to pilot a vehicle that can go close to 2000 MPH, but we all have unrealistic wishes.

Back to Sea-Fair. Yesterday there was a ‘parade’ of Navy vessels in Elliot Bay featuring some kind of small battleship shooting its deck guns at downtown Seattle. I realize they were blanks, but WTF? Couldn’t they point them at the Kitsap Peninsula or something? I could not help to think of the Soviet-era parades featuring all manner of terrible killing machines. And today we get the ultimate terror display, the impossibly nimble, loud and effective F/A-18 Hornet.

When I was working at the end of the airfield I invited a beautiful friend of mine to stand on top of a nearby building and watch them take off and do their thing. When I wasn’t distracted by her beauty (I wonder where Morgan went…), I kept thinking about how the impression of these flying machines must change when you are aware that they could unleash their fury upon you or your loved ones at any time. They come up over hills with no warning. They move so quickly you have to constantly adjust to keep up with them. And they are loud. Extremely loud. Once you see and hear one of these drop its payload, just the sound of those engines must incite abject terror. These planes are relics of a time when nations fought nations. What is their purpose now except to remind everyone how powerful and violent we are as a nation?

So now we fight a faceless enemy, The Terrorists. But how many places in the world fear the mere sound of these Terror Machines? How many parents’ blood runs cold at the first echoing howl announcing the presence of the Hornet? How do we claim any moral superiority to The Terrorists if we do what they do, only ten times bigger and ten times worse? Not to mention the fact that our government regularly terrorizes its own population, like some kind of Al-Queda proxy, with all sorts of thinly veiled threats, colored alerts, unnecessary and ineffectual security measures, and bold pronouncements of imaginary threats (Remember the run on duct tape?)

So Fuck You, Blue Angels. Take your terror show somewhere else. I’m more interested in displays of peace.

Here’s Tom Tomorrow‘s take. I hadn’t even thought of this angle:


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March 24, 2008

A Case Study

Filed under: Abu Ghraib, Dick Cheney, Fail, GWOT, impeach, Politics, War on Drugs, War on Terror — t4toby @ 1:45 pm

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From the Victorville, CA Daily Press:

With candy sales banned on school campuses, sugar pushers are the latest trend at local schools.

Where have I heard about this kind of thing before?

“It’s created a little underground economy, with businessmen selling everything from a pack of skittles to an energy drink.”

So on one hand in this country, we seek to control the base impulses of our fellow Americans. On the other hand, we have this infinite faith that capitalism is the solution to all problems. It certainly solves problems involving supply and demand.

This has become a lucrative business… and those kids are walking around campus with upwards of $40 in their pockets and disrupting class to make a sale.

I find it most funny that it often seems that the people who want to control our behavior so much (Conservative Christians) are political allies with the Free Market cheerleaders. Strange bedfellows, indeed.

Our War in Iraq is a complete travesty. It is like some think-tank ass hat decided, “Hey, the War on Drugs is going so well, maybe we should have a war on some kind of warfare tactic. Let’s see…War on Attacking the Flank? Too wordy. War on Salting the Earth? Too outdated. War on Terror! Perfect!”

Terrorism is a tactic that is part of asymetrical warfare, to be defined by the side having the upper hand. So when George Washington rebelled, he was a Terrorist to the British, but a hero to the Americans. When an Imperial power declares war on a tactic that it gets to determine…well, you get what you get.

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Both wars are ridiculous on their face. War on Drugs Except the Kind That Have High Paid Lobbyists is more like it. The War on Terror or Anything Darkies Do That We Don’t Like is a tiny bit more accurate.

Both are criminal wastes of our time, energy, and money.

March 19, 2008

Happy Anniversary! (Updated)

Filed under: 5 Year Anniversary, Eternal War, Fail, Fuck!, GWOT, iraq, Iraq Blogswarm, Politics — t4toby @ 9:11 am

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5 years. We’ve been occupying Iraq for five years.

5 years of Mission Accomplished.

5 years of raining terror down on the populace.

5 years of further alienating the Arab world.

5 years of hemorrhaging money.

5 years of lawless contractors.

5 years of administration that refuses to be honest.

5 years of refusing to own up to our failures.

5 years of false pretenses and obfuscation.

5 years of an illegal, immoral war. In our name.

In my name.

In your name.

5 years.

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In honor of our bullshit war, check out this blogswarm against the Iraq war.

Update: Read the real deal when it comes to perspective and the Iraq War.  Seriously. Go read it.

October 16, 2007

It’s time to make a choice.

Filed under: 12 Captains, Draft, GWOT, iraq, protest, quagmire, war — t4toby @ 11:07 am

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In today’s Washington Post, 12 Army Captains deliver a sober assessment of the war:

What does Iraq look like on the ground?
…Many roads, bridges, schools and hospitals are in deplorable condition. Fewer people have access to drinking water or sewage systems than before the war. And Baghdad is averaging less than eight hours of electricity a day.

How do you like yer democracy, Iraq?

Iraq’s institutional infrastructure, too, is sorely wanting.
…At the local level, most communities are still controlled by the same autocratic sheiks that ruled under Saddam. There is no reliable postal system. No effective banking system. No registration system to monitor the population and its needs.

The gist of the article is that we either need to get serious, instate a draft, and really try to win, or immediately withdraw.
I have been saying for some time that if this Global War on Terror is the conflict of our generation, then let’s have us a draft. Quit screwing around and ask the American people to actually, you know, sacrifice something.
Why was World War Two won in four years? Because we pulled together and actually fought a war. The whole nation had War on the Mind 24/7. We rationed. We volunteered. We acted like it mattered.

Call me cynical, but I believe we never would have continued down this road to War Profiteer Hell if we had instated a draft. This war seems to be about power and oil, and nothing else. And as these Captains point out, we have made no headway in the last five years.

There is one way we might be able to succeed in Iraq. To continue an operation of this intensity and duration, we would have to abandon our volunteer military for compulsory service. Short of that, our best option is to leave Iraq immediately. A scaled withdrawal will not prevent a civil war, and it will spend more blood and treasure on a losing proposition.

America, it has been five years. It’s time to make a choice.

Ramen.

h/t CHS @ Firedoglake

September 24, 2007

Like School on Saturday.

Filed under: Abendinajad, Ahmadinejad, GWOT, Iran, No Class, Politics, Progosphere, war — t4toby @ 3:32 pm

Fat Albert
No Class.

The frat boys have really taken over the country.

Follow that link to see the ridiculous CBS interview of Mahmoud A.

Some gems:

Sir, what were you thinking? The World Trade Center site is the most sensitive place in the American heart, and you must have known that visiting there would be insulting to many, many Americans.

and

Mr. President, you say that the two nations are very close to one another, but it is an established fact now that Iranian bombs and Iranian know-how are killing Americans in Iraq. You have American blood on your hands. Why?

and

Mr. President, you must have rejoiced more than anyone when Saddam Hussein fell. You owe President Bush. This is one of the best things that’s ever happened to your country.

This response should have sufficed as an answer to every question this self-righteous asshat asked:

AHMADINEJAD: Are you an American politician? Am I to look at you as an American politician or a reporter?

So you’d think that the president of a major university would treat a visiting head of state with some dignity? Think again.

Mr. Bollinger asked Mr. Ahmadinejad: “Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator, and so I ask you, and so I ask you, why have women, members of the Baha’i faith, homosexuals and so many of our academic colleagues become targets of persecution in your country?”

h/t Sewell Chan


So the once proud victor of World War Two, the mighty country that stared down the Soviet Union in the Cold War, the beacon of liberty and freedom, is now reduced to taking petty shots at some two-bit crack pot?

What does this say about are country? If you ask me, I’d say it speaks volumes about how far the public discourse has fallen in the last ten to twenty years.  Seriously, it is like the whole county is now an episode of Jackass.

I think the most striking thing about Abendinajad is how closely his rhetoric mirrors Cheney’s. They are both war monger assholes salivating at the mouth thinking about the orgasmic release of sending people to die over petty politics.

So am I defending President A? No, but I am defending the need for a grown-up diplomatic discourse. Because this shit is like school during summer…

(I intentionally spelled his name differently in this post. It seems that no one in the MSM can seem to agree just what this dood’s name is…)

September 21, 2007

Boston’s at it again!

Filed under: GWOT, Politics, protest, terror — t4toby @ 1:56 pm

Well, well, well. Looks like another day, another circuit board, another Boston flip-out.

This time it involves a student from MIT, a circuit board, and and airport. In fact, the similarity to some recent events is quite striking.

Here’s the case in a nutshell. A college student arrived, via subway, at Boston’s Logan International Airport around 8 in the morning. She had on a black hooded sweatshirt and a circuit board which “had nine flashing lights” plus “Simpson had Play-Doh in her hands”.

So this girl approaches the information booth, lights a flashin’, to ask about an incoming flight. Then all hay breaks loose. A trooper was called, “joined by others with submachine guns”, and the heavy hand of justice is brought out.

“She was immediately told to stop, to raise her hands and not to make any movement, so we could observe all her movements to see if she was trying to trip any type of device…Had she not followed the protocol, we might have used deadly force.”

So this student with a harmless device around her neck, was one step away from being fully ventilated. Did I mention she was a shade of brown?

“She’s lucky to be in a cell as opposed to the morgue.”

And I’m lucky I’m white.

I’m sure the first suicide bomber in the US will not walk up to an Airport information booth to ask about a particular flight with their bomb hanging out like a drunk homeless man with his fly open.

Probably won’t have a name tag that sez: “Allah be praised”

Probably will not show their ‘Terrorist’ credentials at the door.

But what do I know?

True, this may be construed as a bomb hoax.  But that’s just how the Mooninites would want it.

September 17, 2007

Homeland Security.

Filed under: 9/11, GWOT, Politics, terror — t4toby @ 1:42 pm

From the Durant Daily Democrat, ‘the Gateway to Lake Texoma’

A briefcase taped to a slide on a playground at Northwest Heights Elementary School as part of a harmless scavenger hunt was detonated Friday afternoon by a bomb squad robot.

snip

A robot was used to approach the briefcase that was taped with duct tape to the top of the slide. The robot was equipped with a pole to prod at the briefcase.

snip

The robot tipped over while prodding at the briefcase, and a few minutes later two OHP bomb squad technicians, wearing protective suits, walked out and uprighted the robot.

snip

One of the technicians then pulled the briefcase down from the slide. The briefcase was placed on the ground and the technicians walked away.

Here is the state of America today. First off, how much did that robot cost? A quick search of the Googles indicates that these things are at least a quarter of a million dollars. Why is it so funny to me? I mean, the damn robot couldn’t even stay up (the robot tipped over while prodding at the briefcase), nor could it actually pick up the object (…pulled the briefcase down from the slide. The briefcase was placed on the ground and the technicians walked away). WTF? Bumbling robot aside, I know this reminds me of something…

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Ahh, yes. The time that the Mooninites invaded Boston. You know, the time that 10 cities had light-brites spread around, and only Boston panicked? I was kinda pissed I never saw any of them here in Seattle. Anyways, I thought that incident captured the absurdity of the post 9/11 America perfectly. Who needs terrorists when we have so many pearl-clutchers and scaredy cats? Our leaders are hoping that we react this way. It is how it is supposed to be.

So here’s my challenge: Cringe less. Take deep breaths. Focus on the positive. AND STOP BEING FUCKING SCARED OF EVERYTHING THAT SEEMS SLIGHTLY OUT OF WHACK!!!1!

Too bad the people who really need to heed this advice will never visit the lowly pages of Donkey Punch. Too bad indeed.

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August 31, 2007

You’ve gotta start somewhere!

Filed under: Advice, Democracy Now, GWOT, iraq, people power, Politics, protest, war — t4toby @ 9:49 am

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Here is a place to start.

h/t to Clapso

Check out Clapso’s blog. He is angry, and rightly so. I’m angry too, but I often feel powerless to stop the runaway train that our political structure.

It’s like the Baby Steps. You have to start somewhere small to accomplish something big.

Even the tiniest grains of sand can stop a mighty machine if enough of them get in the works.

I heard this quote attributed to Gandhi, but cannot verify that attribution. This is the plan, the essence of how where going to get out of this mess.

Attrition: 3 : the act of weakening or exhausting by constant harassment, abuse, or attack

(Hanx, Merriam-Webster)

I would define attrition as the act of weakening by tiny but relentless action.

So the Iraq Moratorium seems like a good first step for those of us who are paralyzed with inaction. So if you see people wearing the armbands on the third Friday of the month, say hello to them. Reach out. Alone, we are a voice in the dark. Together…

August 24, 2007

The wheels keep turning…

Filed under: GWOT, Learning the Hard Way, Radical! — t4toby @ 10:39 am

This is going to hurt!
Oh, shit.

I like this picture for many reasons, the foremost being it is an illustration of my primary learning technique.

I never really learn anything important unless I can feel, viscerally, the impact it has. I don’t think I am alone.

Our Global War on Terror™ seems very similar. As the Defining Struggle of Our Times™, you’d think we would actually feel its effects more. Even the ‘police actions’ of Korea and Vietnam had the draft. Funds were raised by raising taxes. WWII had people coming together as never before to support the war effort. Factories were retrofitted to produce military equipment. Everything of value to the ‘effort’ was rationed. In short, Americans were more than vaguely aware that we were fighting for something for which sacrifice was necessary.

So where are we today? Well, to start out, even as the auto companies are cutting production, the Pentagon cannot deliver enough IED resistant vehicles. The president is cutting taxes, running up a horrendous debt. Our military is beyond stretched. And average Americans wouldn’t even know there was a war afoot if it weren’t for television coverage, which is vapid at best.

So why are we stuck in another dead end war, a quagmire, if you will? Simple. We don’t really have any visceral connection to the war. None at all. If you have a family member in the military you  certainly feel it, but the numbers are too low to generate any real effect on the public discourse.

So the picture above is a metaphor for the near future. We are the bystanders, watching the US huck itsself over another thrilling jump. But something has gone wrong, horribly wrong. And all we can do is stand there with varying expressions of horror, paralyzed by inaction.

But who can blame us? There’s no way we could have known that hurtling over a four foot high jump at high speed to a steep downhill landing could end up like this, is there?  Is there?

Bueller…Bueller…Bueller…