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March 27, 2015

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If we judge by SA's example, it'd be because the sectarian regimes can use religion to channel dissent at external enemies more readily than secular ones. Message control, and all that - if the local faith is a tool or ally of the government, it's neither a haven for dissent nor a force for (internal) instability...

Although I would note that Saudi Arabia does still have a sectarian issue. The eastern part of the country (which happens to be where the oil is) is heavily Shia. As, I believe, are some of the southern areas bordering Yemen. The "local faith" of the majority of the country may be Sunni (and Wahabist at that). But it isn't the whole of the country.

The Cold War ship of state turns slowly.

So, open thread:

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/03/26/261089/investigators-say-drug-cartels.html

A foreign police officer alleged that “prostitutes funded by the local drug cartels” were provided the DEA agents “at their government-leased quarters, over a period of several years,” according to the report issued Thursday by the department’s Office of Inspector General.
[...]
The DEA imposed penalties ranging from a two-day suspension to a 10-day suspension

That seems an exceptionally light sentence.

That seems an exceptionally light sentence.

The amount of money that the cartels have to throw around will turn almost anybody's head.

It's time to end the stupid, ineffective, expensive, corrupting war on drugs.

Good, bad, or indifferent, people like to get high. Throwing them in jail doesn't seem to be helping matters much.

Stupid, ineffective, expensive, and profoundly corrupting.

Enough already.

But yeah, the agents should probably be told to go find another job.

Stupid, ineffective, expensive, and profoundly corrupting. Enough already.

Indeed.

I suppose having a knock-down, drag-out fight among the non-Israel states in the Middle East is better done now, rather than when, say, Iran and Saudi Arabia each have nuclear weapons.

On U.S. involvement, it's always about us and meeting short-term objectives and goals, the local populace be damned. Why would we learn from this? Messing with other countries is much more fun than sitting back and letting them make it on their own and deal with their issues, perhaps with some encouragement here and there.

But yeah, the agents should probably be told to go find another job.

Those hookers will need lots of highly-tainted bodyguards. Win-win!

I suppose having a knock-down, drag-out fight among the non-Israel states in the Middle East is better done now, rather than when, say, Iran and Saudi Arabia each have nuclear weapons.

That way they will just burn the oil and not contaminate it with radioactive fallout. And all that smoke will help cool down our overheated planet. Win-win.

We could also sell them all our old leftover weapons from the Cold War, so demand for shiny new war toys will be rekindled. Win-Win (at least for Blockhead Marvin and Genital Morons & Eclectic).

Please, remind me not to watch a whole Futurama season in one session again until at least to-morrow.

Pfannkuchen Gugelhupf Kautschuk Relais Wagenhagel Fettaugen!

Please, remind me not to watch a whole Futurama season in one session again until at least to-morrow.

That's advice I couldn't give in good conscience.

Hartmut: you left out Huge Aircrash.

Watching an entire season of Futurama is only acceptable if washed down with a tasty can of SLURM.

Good, bad, or indifferent, people like to get high. Throwing them in jail doesn't seem to be helping matters much.

Well, it's actually another example of us (not) learning from experience. I mean, Prohibition was such a rousing success, why wouldn't making drugs illegal work great?

You use sitemeter here? It's been confirmed from server records at another site I go to: Sitemeter is now randomly redirecting to vindicosuite.

"Well, it's actually another example of us (not) learning from experience. I mean, Prohibition was such a rousing success, why wouldn't making drugs illegal work great?"

When somebody insists on doing something that has just recently been demonstrated conclusively to not work, you might suspect they're actually trying to do something else. The war on drugs accomplished a lot.

It's just that none of the things it accomplished had to do with keeping people from using drugs.

Well, one could question whether "accomplished" is really the right word. But I definitely take your point.

is there anything involving the government that isn't a plot?

I think that I shut it down. I believe that Eric used it, but this was a couple of years ago before they went to the dark side.

Generally no, Russell; Plots are the fundamental building block of government.

Plots are the fundamental building block of government.

Well, that explains the 2nd Amendment...a plot by white enslavers to keep white manhood armed and organized, ready at any moment to put down slave rebellions.

Don't take Brett's word for it, it's right there for all to see, this sentence in particular spells it out:

"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

Of course, those giving their consent was a particularly small set of those who were to be governed at the time. And today's GOP is constantly trying to move back to that ratio and mix of the permitted to consent populace. This, however, is apparently not a plot.

Back to learning from experience, what have the Hourhis ever done to US that we should back a Saudi attack on them?

Generally no, Russell; Plots are the fundamental building block of government.

So, generally no, but yes?

Sorry, I mis-read the sense of my own original question.

So, generally yes, anything involving the government is a plot, because plots are fundamental to government.

Glad to have that out in the open.

In a few hours, my family will be plotting what we'll be having for dinner. It's all very sinister.

Jeff, as so often, it isn't that someone (in this case the Hourhis) have done something to us. It is that someone to whom we are allied is now fighting them. Our willingness to wade into fights that we know nothing about on behalf of allies, and supposed allies, is enormous.

Stupid, and in many cases serving only to make us new enemies, but enormous nonetheless. For instance, it isn't obvious what we gain by allying with the Saudis. They are still going to sell oil on world markets, so it isn't like we would hurt ourselves there. And having them for an ally has certainly not prevented those embracing the fundamentalist version of Islam that they promote from attacking us. But we started doing so once, and seem incapable of considering that letting them find their own damnation without our involvement might be a wise move.

If you receive food stamps, dinner is plotting against you.

are other human institutions built on plots, or just government? if it's just government, what makes govt special? and, what is a plot?

To put it another way, what's the Macguffin?

Anton Chekov said if the there is a gun hung above the fireplace in the first scene of a work of fiction, you can be sure of at least one eventual plot development, because that weapon will see use in a later chapter.

Which could be said of U.S. history as well.

Mafia types sit facing the door at the trattoria, because they can guess where the plot is going.

The hilarious beauty of Kafka is that all existence is a plot against the human individual but good luck getting to the bottom of the mystery before you leave here feet first, and even if you do catch a glimpse, the plot makes no sense in any meaningful way.

Which is why he would read his work out loud to gathered friends and they would howl with laughter, tears streaming down their faces.

The odd thing is that his work, read as a retrospective, seems to be an uncanny prediction of the plot of the 20th century, including the Holocaust.

Thomas Pynchon's characters while away the time singing nonsense limericks while life, the plot against them, closes in for the kill.

Western civilization seems caught in a plot of its own devising, with even a linear timeline provided from the day of Christ's birth. The End, as they say, is near, and remarkably for a culture here in the U.S that prides itself on its exemplary optimism, so many of us expect, and even long, if you watch Sunday morning TV or catch the wacko conservative radio talkers, for da
woist.

And if da woist does well at the box office, then stay tuned for the multiple blockbuster sequels.

Eastern thought seems to me to have more insight into the mystery of it all, but meanwhile, it is a page turner, ain't it?


Government is based on plots, because it starts with politics, and politics is plotting. A candidate plans, and doesn't share those plans with his opponent.

So a campaign is a conspiracy.

Politics is plotting???

Politics is people workng out how they want to run things without doing violence to one another. Period.

Unless your preferred means of resolving differences of opinion, about how to run things or any other issue, is to exercise your 2nd Amendment rights and kill each other, they you damn well better believe in politics. And spend your time working at making it work well -- because, like any human institution, it can go wrong, too.

A candidate plans, and doesn't share those plans with his opponent.

That's a conspiracy?

By some hyper-literal, technical definition, which should be meaningless in this context to anyone with a speck of sense (or who isn't being hyper-literal and technical for the fun of it).

Every economic transaction is a plot of the seller against the buyer and vice versa.

The bid and the ask prices have mysterious, undivulged foundations, ever changing according to what the market will bear.

Then you need to figure in the vig.

Every profession is a conspiracy against the laity.

So, my contributions to my local Democratic Party LD are charitable conspiracies? Good to know.

If you are going hyperliteral, i.e. looking at the etymology, any time two people converse face to face ("breath together"), that is a conspiracy. No wonder there are conspiracies everywhere.

Ignoring Brett's latest foray into lexicography (he's getting to be a regular Samuel Johnson, is our Brett) let us return to the fascinating dynamics of US involvement in Mideast politics. Or plots, if you prefer.

Iran used to be America's ally against the Saudis not so long ago. Slightly less long ago, we backed Saddam against the Ayatollah. Then Dick Cheney talked the Saudis into an alliance with America to kick Saddam out of Kuwait. That pissed off bin Laden, who turned on the US after he kicked the Soviets out of Afghanistan with our help. So Dick and Dubya used bin Laden as an excuse to kill Saddam, who was Iran's big enemy. That made the Saudis nervous about Iran's growing influence in the region. Then it was practically now and history stopped. It's all future from here on out.

In the future, the US will continue to make and break alliances in the lands under which the god of Abraham saw fit to deposit an ocean of oil and on top of which he allowed Arabs and Persians to settle. To imagine that history really will stop before either the Second Coming or the End of Oil is to indulge in a naive and dangerous optimism.

The lesson to learn from experience is that neither war nor diplomacy will ever definitively settle anything in The Region. As somebody said about the Balkans long ago, the place produces more history than it can consume locally.

--TP

Isn't supporting sectarian dictators just as effective? They'll repress people of slightly different flavors of religion just as badly as the secularists do.

Though... Maybe sectarian repression isn't quite as effective at generating the kind of anomie in the well-off professional class that produces your high-profile religious terrorists, the movers and shakers.

...On the other hand, nah, al Qaeda alone ought to put the lie to that. No, I think supporting sectarian repression contributes at least as much as supporting secularist repression.

So a campaign is a conspiracy

As is an unspoken plan to redefine words in the English language, then.

only leftists do violence to the language.

I see what you're conspiring to do, there.

When somebody insists on doing something that has just recently been demonstrated conclusively to not work, you might suspect they're actually trying to do something else.

Also, just wanted to add that I, personally, am living proof that this is not true.

Third, no, fourth, no, fifth...., no, eleventy-seventh time's the charm.

Right?

Hope springs eternal.

OK, Russell, if you can demonstrate that you have learned something from your previous experience then the eleventy-seventh time might be different. For example, if running eleventy-six marathons builds up more muscle and stamina, then you might successfully finish the next one.

But you do have to learn from the earlier experience in some fashion . . . and hope that your opponenets are not. Otherwise...

When somebody insists on doing something that has just recently been demonstrated conclusively to not work, you might suspect they're actually trying to do something else.

Yes, like when we try to save people from dictators and communism and stuff. When that doesn't work, maybe the next time we try it we have a secret agenda like building a pipeline across Afghanistan or something.

That's what you're saying, right?

Actually, yes.

One might hope that we come up with an alternative which actually has some plausible rationale why it might work. But at least trying something different has a better chance of success than repeating the same failure over and over.

Put another way, doing something with a slim chance of working is a superior approach to doing something which has already proven not to work. It may not be a good thing to do, but at least it is a less bad thing to try.

Slarti, I think it was about means not goals. The goal of 'saving' is not the (main) problem but the repeat ad nauseam of 'liberation' by bombing and engineering of coups d'etat in order to install 'our offspring of a female canine' instead of the current SOB who is not 'ours' (or not ours anymore).
And I guess russell means that he has unsuccessfully tried to quit smoking (or some other vice) more than once.

I think russell was referring to repeated attempts to explain his position in way that won't be misinterpreted by (a) certain someone(s). I could be wrong.

Or we could both be right. Let's better not find out ;-)

I was actually responding to Brett, there, at 1:04PM. Wryly.

And I guess russell means that he has unsuccessfully tried to quit smoking (or some other vice) more than once.

I think russell was referring to repeated attempts to explain his position in way that won't be misinterpreted by (a) certain someone(s).

No, I was just referring to my glorious career as a general knucklehead.

That's "general" in the sense of "for most purposes", as opposed to military rank.

As a knucklehead, I am very accomplished, but have never attained executive rank.

In any case, it just cracked me up to read the claim that repeatedly doing the same thing that didn't work before was evidence of some ulterior motive.

I just always figured it was called "not paying attention".

I did, however, eventually quit smoking. IIRC it took seven tries, over the space of about half that many years.

Tough habit to kick.

maybe the next time we try it we have a secret agenda like building a pipeline across Afghanistan or something.

The other thing that always surprises me is when people assume that there is only one agenda involved. In whatever.

I'm tempted to say that agendas, like opinions, are like @ssholes in the famous joke - everybody's got one.

But in practice that probably underestimates things by an order of magnitude.

Not a comment about slarti's comment, just more random drive-by free-association blabbing.

Adding wry to bologna rarely helps.

As a knucklehead, I am very accomplished, but have never attained executive rank.

As a general rule, knucklehead is a grunt characteristic -- to distinguish someone who has it from those who get things done without it.

But for executives, it is sort of a default. (That's why the executives who lack it are so frequently lauded as "great leaders" and "visionaries" -- because they are such exceptions to the norm.) One of the ways you can tell this is by the fact that they so frequently fail to promote accomplished knuckleheads into their ranks. Apparently preferring mediocre knuckleheads.

Count, it helps as long as it is dark rye.

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