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Quiet Time, by Marc Levy.

 

“Imagine this: after a blistering hot day marching up and down mud slicked hills, or tramping wide open fields, or steamy jungle, imagine setting out booby traps on enemy trails, laying in wait, then ever so carefully, breaking them down.

At dusk, after planting trips and claymores round the NDP, after finding a spot for your pack and gear, after eating tinned c-rations of beans and franks, imagine curling up on the cold wet ground.

Now, fast asleep, being woken twice in the night by a man gently tapping your resting arm. “Your guard,” he whispers, for the first of two one hour shifts.

Leaving that foxhole the second time, grenades, machine gun, claymore detonators all in place, imagine two hours sleep, rising at dawn, shrugging off bugs and wet bamboo, rubbing rheumy eyes, brushing sticky teeth.

Before the grueling day begins, there is the welcoming taste of GI coffee. Here is how to make it:

Seated crossed legged, take a chunk of C4 the size of a thumbnail, shape it into a ball, set it carefully down.

Tear open the packet of instant coffee saved from last nights c-ration meal. Pour it into a canteen cup half filled with water.

Tap the brown powder over the cup, stir with a c-ration white plastic spoon.

Strike a GI match and light the C4. Do not breathe in the white smoke; the fumes, it is said, are harmful.

Hold the canteen cup over the burning explosive until the water boils, about thirty seconds.

Remove the cup from the bright yellow flames. Let the C4 burn itself out. Those who step on it risk losing a foot.

Tear open and pour in one or two packets of non dairy creamer. Repeat with sugar. Use the white plastic spoon to mix and stir. With eyes closed, inhale the savory vapours; cup to your lips, feel the hot inky brew flood your mouth, scourge your tongue, roll down your willing gullet. The taste is awful, but it will do.

Grunts savor this quiet time, before every inch of our bodies are salty with sweat. This quiet time before seething mosquitoes, snapping ants, creeping leeches bite or sting or drink our blood.

This quiet time before sudden shots fill us with dread that is always new. This quiet time before the shrieking air sings of the wounded, smells of the dead.

It is the all too fleeting quiet time, which ends with the softly echoed ‘zero two,’ followed by the dim rustling of one hundred packs, helmets, weapons reluctantly lifted, slung, shifted to place.

See how the flock of helmeted cranes slouch against their rifles, feel how the sweat drips down narrow cheeks, collects at the chin, free falls, forming small dark spots on half bent knees.

Listen, as moments after the hushed command, one hundred grudging soldiers, one by one, reluctantly trudge forward, into the grim unwinnable jaws of Vietnam.”

 

I value my quiet time, I think everyone does.  Because silence time can mean peace and stillness, a time to be away from the thoughts that drive us.

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  William Astore writing for Tom’s Dispatch.   

 

      “I first came across the phrase “using a sledgehammer to kill gnats” while looking at the history of U.S. airpower during the Vietnam War.  B-52 “Arc Light” raids dropped record tons of bombs on parts of South Vietnam and Laos in largely failed efforts to kill dispersed guerrillas and interdict supply routes from North Vietnam.  Half a century later, with its laser- and GPS-guided bombs, the Air Force regularly touts the far greater precision of American airpower.  Yet in one country after another, using just that weaponry, the U.S. has engaged in serial acts of overkill.  In Afghanistan, it was the recent use of MOAB, the “mother of all bombs,” the largest non-nuclear weapon the U.S. has ever used in combat, against a small concentration of ISIS fighters.  In similar fashion, the U.S. air war in Syria has outpaced the Russians and even the Assad regime in its murderous effects on civilians, especially around Raqqa, the “capital” of the Islamic State.  Such overkill is evident on the ground as well where special ops raids have, this year, left civilians dead from Yemen to Somalia.  In other words, across the Greater Middle East, Washington’s profligate killing machine is also creating a desire for vengeance among civilian populations, staggering numbers of whom, when not killed, have been displaced or sent fleeing across borders as refugees in these wars. It has played a significant role in unsettling whole regions, creating failed states, and providing yet more recruits for terror groups.

     Leaving aside technological advances, little has changed since Vietnam. The U.S. military is still relying on enormous firepower to kill elusive enemies as a way of limiting (American) casualties.  As an instrument of victory, it didn’t work in Vietnam, nor has it worked in Iraq or Afghanistan.

     But never mind the history lessons.  President Trump asserts that his “new” Afghan strategy — the details of which, according to a military spokesman, are “not there yet” — will lead to more terrorists (that is, gnats) being killed.

     Since 9/11, America’s leaders, Trump included, have rarely sought ways to avoid those gnats, while efforts to “drain the swamp” in which the gnats thrive have served mainly to enlarge their breeding grounds.  At the same time, efforts to enlist indigenous “gnats” — local proxy armies — to take over the fight have gone poorly indeed.  As in Vietnam, the main U.S. focus has invariably been on developing better, more technologically advanced (which means more expensive) sledgehammers, while continuing to whale away at that cloud of gnats — a process as hopeless as it is counterproductive.”

One can imagine the US military as a toxic convoluted ouroboros.  This particular snake creates its own problems and then has to fix them by creating more problems and then has to fix them…

But hey, as long as the right people are making profits its all sunshine and rainbows.  Right?  :/

 

This story courtesy of Meghan Murphy writing on The Feminist Current.

This story highlights exactly the narrative of what the business end of transactivism is – male violence against women.  There is nothing ‘progressive’, ‘inclusive’, or any other lefty bullshit word appropriated by the transactivists that apply here.

This is a story of violent men being violent toward women, stalking, harassing, and beating women (and if you haven’t fucking guessed by now when I say woman I mean adult human female) for having the temerity to want to have a discussion about Gender.

“To Allen’s surprise, her Momentum group declined to host her proposed meeting, wherein she suggested people “get off the internet,” speak face to face, and debate the issues. She decided to move forward anyway, inviting an equal number of people from both sides of the gender identity debate to participate. She and her co-organizers arranged for the event, called “What is Gender,” to take place at the New Cross Learning, a community library in London, on September 13th. “

Oh hey look, this is how people that are not part of cult that promotes delusional thinking, approach a contentious issue.  They set up debates, invite speakers from both sides to promote a dialogue, to promote argument, to look toward a finding a shared ground and commonality.

This whole civilized debate thing goes straight out the window once males perceive a threat to their gender narrative though.

“It wasn’t until Sisters Uncut, a British direct action group advocating for domestic violence services, caught wind of the event, that things became chaotic.

 

“[People] started harassing the library,” Allen told me. “I went in [to New Cross Learning] and heard phone call after phone call, email after email, tweet after tweet.” New Cross Learning was inundated with demands they cancel the talk. Fearing for the space and safety of those in it, the library cancelled the event on September 12th.”

Yep, because debating women seems to be quite outside the wheelhouse of transactivists – much easier to threaten them and deplatform them.  The usual tactics and behaviour of threatened violent males.

“Between 20-30 protestors who had gotten wind that women were meeting at Speaker’s Corner before heading on to the talk showed up to harass attendees and follow them to the venue. Some yelled “Kill all TERFs” and held signs reading “No Debate,” according to witnesses. A group called “Action for Trans Health London” had posted the location of the meeting, despite knowing some protestors were threatening violence. Miranda Yardley, one of the scheduled speakers, told me that one man who commented, “Anyone idea where/if this is happening. I wanna fuck some terfs up, they are no better than fash,” on the Action for Trans Health London Facebook page, did in fact show up at Speaker’s Corner and tried to steal Yardley’s phone.”

Yep.  Kill all TERFS – No Debate.  Defenders of the transpoltics this is what you and other self-identified “progressives” are defending.  Your bullshit is terrible for feminism and women and should in no light be viewed progressive.  Unless of course your lexicon of inclusive progressive feminism includes punching women in the face, and putting the boots to her once she’s on the ground.

“The man, who calls himself “Tara Flik Wood,” didn’t only attempt to steal a phone. He was also allegedly involved in a violent attack on Maria MacLachlan, a 60-year-old humanist funeral celebrant for Humanists UK.

When I spoke with her over email, MacLachlan told me she had been trying to film the protest when some of the trans activists began to shout, “When TERFs attack, we fight back.” She asked them, “Who’s attacking?” At this point, MacLachlan says a young man in a hoodie tried to grab her camera. “I think he knocked it out of my hand but it was looped to my wrist. He turned back and tried to grab it again. I hung onto it.” As the two struggled, MacLachlan pulled back the hood of the man holding her camera, so onlookers could photograph his face, and another man — identified by numerous witnesses as Wood — ran over and began punching MacLachlan. Wood and a third man pushed her to the ground, where she says she was kicked and punched. The police were called, but have not yet followed up on the assault.”

 

Reprehensible.

 

“MacLachlan says she is “utterly bewildered at the behaviour of these young people.”

“They behaved like a brainwashed cult and seriously seemed to think that we are the haters, the bigots, the misogynists, the violent ones. But all we wanted to do was have a peaceful meeting and discussion and all they wanted to do was try to bully and intimidate us. They behaved like fascists and the irony seems to be totally lost on them. I’m sad because I’ve been a feminist for 45 years, I’ve always been left wing and I feel my generation of women and those that fought before us have been betrayed by this generation.”

Yeah.  There is no room in feminism for men – transactivists through their violence keep proving this statement.

“The women went on to the event venue in small groups, taking different routes in order to lose the protestors who were attempting to follow them. A number of attendees said they felt “stalked” as trans activists assigned to pursue particular individuals followed them very closely. Yardley told me, “We were being intimidated, in plain daylight, by a group of people who outnumbered us by about three to one.”

Julia Long, a feminist activist and lecturer, and Yardley, who identifies as a transsexual and is critical of gender identity ideology, presented to an audience of approximately 50 people, while protestors yelled outside. The talk was cut short as police arrived at the venue and shut down the event.

In a statement following the talk, Action for Trans Health London did not apologize and stated they were “proud” of the protestors’ actions.”

 

“Since the events circulated online, numerous trans activists have not only condoned the assault, but celebrated and encouraged it. One young woman who attended the protest said, “I’m happy for them to hit her.”

 

I heard a TERF got punched so it’s my duty as commander of Armchair Violence Enthusiast Twitter to say: good job, nice work, keep it up

— sexuall cruz (@AliceAvizandum) September 14, 2017

Imagine if twenty people had punched terfs.

Imagine if every terf had left bruised and bloodied.

Every one would stop organising.

— ada (@drcab1e) September 13, 2017

Especially trans people. Like, get on the TERF-punching train or get out of the way, a whole lot of us are ready to ride.

— Ms. Transistor 💘 (@SuddenlyLucy) September 14, 2017

I’d rather throw a punch and be accused of male violence than not and be the victim of transphobic violence. That’s it. The end.

— ME • RI • SA (@cambrian_era) September 14, 2017

 

“While silencing, no-platforming, and threats against feminists are not new, this violence takes recent efforts to shut down women’s speech to another level. Many of those defending the violence have predictably compared feminists to Nazis, an accusation that has been embraced by anti-feminists and men’s rights activists for decades. Indeed, it was right wing radio host Rush Limbaugh who popularized the term “feminazi” in the 90s — a man who, like these young activists, believes gender is innate and unchangeable, and feels feminists present a danger by challenging that idea.

That trans activists have adopted this comparison to Nazis with particular enthusiasm of late is intentional, contextualized within antifa defenses of violence against white nationalists. By painting feminist speech as dangerous and bigoted, trans activists have set up a political defense of male violence against women. If violence against Nazis is justified, and feminists are Nazis, violence against feminists is not only acceptable, but politically righteous. Ironically, it is the protestors themselves who have adopted practices endorsed by fascists, including censorship; misogyny; the forcible suppression of opposition and criticism; an opposition to democracy; and the use of violence or threats to build their movement, gain power, and impose their views on others.

Considering the context and history of Hyde park for women’s rights activists and social justice movements, more broadly, the violence and harassment that occurred on Wednesday is ever more emblematic. A century after women fought for their right to participate in public life, they are being silenced once again — smeared and harassed for speaking and meeting in public. Indeed, the behaviour is wholly contrary to the spirit of Speaker’s Corner, and an affront to women’s rights.”

Thank you Meghan Murphy for writing this piece, may it serve as a clarion call to for people to see the misogyny that is transactivism and see the abject male violence against women on display.  Transactivsm is not enlightened, it is not ‘progressive’, and sure as fuck it isn’t feminist.

    I am playing catch up with the recent dust-up around the choice of tactics used by Antifa in the United States in it’s struggle against the proto-fascist elements energized by the current Republican Administration led by Trump.  There are several sources in this brief overview, first from a academic journal to help with the context of state violence, then a rough sketch of the position taken by Hedges and Chomsky, and finally the reply found in Counterpunch.  The last article from Counterpunch, is a retort to Chris Hedges, a voice on the credentialed left who has taken a stance against the violent tactics used by Antifa.

We’ll be visiting Hedges’ article (and criticism)on Truthdig in a later post, but for now, examining the question of violence and how it is used, and by who it is used by in society provides a stepping stone toward providing a more nuanced entry into this debate.  To better understand how (in just one way) the state uses violence to arrange society we turn to an article written by Carol Nagengast, in the Annual Review of Anthropology titled Violence, Terror, and The Crisis of the State (p. 24): 

“The state must be a state of mind that divides people into the purified and honest who do legitimate work and a politically suspect or criminal,
deviant underworld of aliens, communists, loafers, delinquents, even thieves, killers, and drug lords who do not. The violent dissident must be positioned
and repositioned as necessary, “in a negative relationship with middle-class rational masculinity, a model that ensures a relationship of dominance and
subordination … by locking the two into a mutually defaming relationship”

     (16:15,21). In the United States, the presumed idleness of the unemployed, the poverty-stricken, the drug user or gang member, the single parent, gay man or
lesbian woman (all the latter with overtones of promiscuity and contagious disease) is also seen as violence against the social body. It cannot be just any
old work; it must be work that contributes to what dominant groups have defined as the common good (153).

     The hegemony of respectable culture and good taste and the denigration of what is represented as the disgusting, degenerate, worthless, criminal lower
parts of the social body is so strong that, according to a poll conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News in September 1989, 66% of those surveyed
favored random searches of peoples’ houses, cars, and personal belongings, even if the police had no suspicion of any wrongdoing. Seventy-two percent
said they approved of censorship of any film depicting illegal drug use. People have been so inoculated with the fear of evil and with the myth of an essential
relationship of repression to the cure of society, that they are willing to give up some of their own rights for what has been defined as the good of the social
body

The questions the fascist/antifa situation embodies goes back to the genesis of why we have states in the first place and the techniques used (see the myth of the relationship between the use of repression to cure soceity) to maintain order in said States.  The use of fear to discipline society is nothing new, case in point, consider the the fear cultivated in the buildups to the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.  The use/misuse of fear as a cultural motivator in Western society is being replayed yet again on the national (within the US) instead of international stage.   Looking toward answering the question of who gets to legitimately use violence in society with regards to the fascist/antifa question Noam Chomsky opines:

     “As for Antifa, it’s a minuscule fringe of the Left, just as its predecessors were,” Noam Chomsky told the Washington Examiner. “It’s a major gift to the Right, including the militant Right, who are exuberant.”  Many activists affiliated with the loosely organized Antifa movement consider themselves anarchists or socialists. They often wear black and take measures to conceal their identity.  Chomsky said, “what they do is often wrong in principle – like blocking talks – and [the movement] is generally self-destructive.”  “When confrontation shifts to the arena of violence, it’s the toughest and most brutal who win – and we know who that is,”

So, it would seem that Chomsky and Hedges, who cites this interview, believe that the antifa use of violence is not the correct course of action.  The counterpoint to their assertion comes in with

     “One crucial question in this regard is why the conversation about violence that is continually re-staged in the media overwhelmingly focuses on tactics of resistance by the underclasses. Among those who are vociferously proclaiming a pure form of “non-violence” as an unquestionable moral principle, who of them is arguing that this principle should be applied to the corporate state and all of its imperial endeavors? Alongside the countless statements reprimanding anti-capitalist activists for street scuffles, where are the articles calling for the dismantling of the military-industrial complex, the dissolution of the police force, or the abolition of the prison system? Why isn’t the debate around non-violence centered precisely on those who have all of the power and all of the weapons? Is it because violence has actually worked successfully in these cases to impose a very specific top-down agenda, which includes shutting out anyone who calls it into question, and diligently managing the perception of their actions? Is violence somehow acceptable here because it is the violence of the victors, who are the ones who presume to have the right—and in any case have the power—to define the very nature of violence (as anything that threatens them)?

     Clearly, the fetishization of non-violence is reserved for the actions of the underlings. They are the ones who, again and again, are told that they must be civil (and are never sufficiently so), and that the best way to attain their objectives is by obeying the moral dictates of those above. Let us recall, in this light, James Baldwin’s powerful statement in the context of the black liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s: “The only time non-violence is admired is when the Negroes practice it.”

So, what is the answer here?  How effective will violent leftist action be, and will the backlash further empower state repression?   Will the backlash continue to inoculate the citizenry with fear of violent ‘leftist violence’ thus justifying an increase in state use of coercive and repressive force against the left even though the initiators of said violence (aka the proto-fascist/nationalist Right in the US) are ultimately responsible for the situation in question?

 

CJ Hopkins writes a polemic about one of the themes that crops up in leftist literature.  The elite, who are our real enemies (of the common people) will employ just about any set of tactics to keep the populace engaged in harmless activity.  Bread and circuses if you will.

The marriage of politics and power is nothing new.  Yet we get hyperbolic essays like the one Hopkins’ penned for Counterpunch.

 

     “See, up to now, the dilemma we’ve been facing (or some of us have been facing, anyway) is how to respond to the ruling establishment’s concerted campaign to “regime-change” Trump. On the one hand, Trump is a living embodiment of everything the Left opposes. On the other hand, going after Trump has meant carrying water for the fake Resistance, i.e., that global corporatocracy (which, by the way, does not mean “the Jews.” I always like to slip that in to piss off my anti-Semitic readers.) This has been a bit awkward for some of us, restraining our impulse to stick it to Trump (at least on whatever talking points the Resistance is currently putting out) because in doing so we would align ourselves with the ruling establishment’s attempt to demonize, and eventually depose an American president who isn’t playing ball with them properly. If we oppose regime change in other countries, shouldn’t we also oppose it at home? Or do the ruling classes get a pass this time because Trump is such an exceptional monster? But wait … wasn’t Saddam a monster? And Gaddafi? And all the other “Hitlers” that wouldn’t play ball with the corporatocracy? And Assad? Isn’t he a monster?

     You can see how confusing all this gets … when you’re trying to figure out how to oppose both the supranational corporatocracy that is superseding sovereign nations as the hegemonic power in the world and the neo-nationalist reaction against it, which is essentially fascist in nature, and which the corporatocracy also opposes … and desperately wants you to help them oppose by buying their manufactured hysteria about Russians, or Nazis, or whatever scary monster they wave in front of your face. After a while, your brain starts to hurt, and you just want someone to make things simple.

     Charlottesville Nazis to the rescue! How much simpler could it possibly get? Corporatocracy? What corporatocracy? We got goddamned Nazis coming out of the woodwork! Racist Nazis! Confederate Nazis! Nazi apologists! Nazi sympathizers! This is no time to worry about who’s actually wielding political power, or how they’re manufacturing hysteria and otherwise manipulating people (not you, of course … other people). No, what we need to do now is censor the Internet, and other venues for Nazi hate speech, and round up all these racist Nazis and subject them to anti-Nazi therapy, or anti-racist empathy programs, or just gang up on them and beat them senseless.

   OK, sure, that might sound extreme, or authoritarian, or just plain old creepy, but keep in mind that This Is Not Normal! And racism and Naziism is very, very bad. And Love Trumps Hate! And Scope Kills Germs! And we never literally meant that Trump was an actual Russian agent or anything. Forget about all that Russia stuff now. Trump is Hitler. Trump has always been Hitler. America has always been at war with Hitler. America will always be at war with Hitler.”

So what if the shadow elites are orchestrating the rise of token fascist groups in the US?  This evasion is still elevating the consciousness of people who were otherwise indisposed to think about, much less act on a political impulse.

If these are the machinations of the supranational corporatocracy it would seem that their plan has more than a few flaws because galvanizing people into action, even the against token enemies of the state, is still awakening people from their political slumber.

 

Why looking at non-North American news feeds is important.  This little tidbit by Pepe Escobar cropped up on Counterpunch, but the article is all over the place in the Eastern media.

“But this is extremely serious. A China-North Korea mutual defense treaty has been in effect since 1961. Under this framework, Beijing’s response to Trump’s “fire and fury” was a thing of beauty. If Pyongyang attacks, China is neutral. But if the US launches a McMaster-style pre-emptive attack, China intervenes – militarily – on behalf of Pyongyang.

As a clincher, Beijing even made it clear that its preference is for the current status quo to remain. Checkmate.

Hunger Games apart, the rhetorical war in the Korean Peninsula did decrease a substantial notch after China made its position clear. According to a Beltway intel source, that shows “the US and Chinese militaries, as the US and the Russians in Syria, are coordinating to avoid a war”.

Evidence may have been provided by a very important meeting last week between the chairmen of the US and Chinese Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford and General Fang Fenghui. They signed a deal that the Pentagon spun as able to “reduce the risk of miscalculation” in Northeast Asia.

Among the prodigious fireworks inherent to his departure as White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon nailed it: “There’s no military solution, forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.”

And extra evidence in the “they got us” department is that B-1B heavy bomber “decapitation” practice runs – out of Andersen Air Force Base in Guam – have been quietly “suspended”. This crucial, largely unreported fact in the air supersedes rhetoric from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Pentagon head James “Mad Dog” Mattis, who previous to Bannon’s exit were stressing “strong military consequences if North Korea chooses wrongly”.

Wouldn’t it have been nice to see a reiteration of the China-North Korea mutual defence treaty along side the worrisome proclamations of the current leader Republican Administration?  The ‘Fire and Fury’ comment, in this context, seems little more that empty words and tired grandstanding when the geopolitical realities of the situation are taken into account.

It is the responsibility of our news media to provide meaningful context to the public so they make decisions based on fact, not on the unqualified hyperbolic rantings of the current president of the United States.

Our media needs to do better, and not just cover the buffoonery that is going on the US, but provide the information necessary for those of us in the reality based community to make informed decisions and judgments.

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