Evolution

by bdunn on September 17, 2014

in Be Afraid, Politics, Verbatim, War

→ “As I have said before, these American forces will not have a combat mission — we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq.” - President Barak Obama, Sept. 10, 2014

→ “I say that today, we had a hearing, and there was testimony from the counterterrorism people and the Department of Homeland Security. There is Twitter traffic right now and Facebook traffic, where they are urging attacks on the United States of America. And there is a great concern that our southern border and our northern border is porous and that they will be coming across.” - Sen. John McCain, Sept. 11, 2014

→ “I actually think we’re going to end up with small American special operations forces active in this broad theater, both Iraq and Syria. I don’t think you get American maneuver units on the ground, though… I do think we get to about 5,000 by the end of the year.” - former CIA and NSA Director Gen. Michael Hayden, Sept. 14, 2014

→ “We’re fighting a terrorist army, not an organization. It’s going to take an army to beat an army. And this idea we’ll never have any boots on the ground to defeat them in Syria is fantasy.” - Sen. Lindsey Graham, five minutes later, Sept. 14, 2014

→ “The reality is they’re not going to be able to be successful against ISIS strictly from the air, or strictly depending on the Iraqi forces or the Sunni tribes acting on their own. So there will be boots on the ground, if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy.” - former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, early morning, Sept. 16, 2014

→ “In the case of our contributions in Iraq right now the airmen are very much in a combat role. The folks on the ground are very much in a combat advisory role. They are not participating in direct combat. There is no intention for them to do so. I’ve mentioned, though, that if I found that circumstance evolving that I would, of course, change my recommendation.” - Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, late morning, Sept. 16, 2014

→ “We’re faced with people who are going to keep changing, keep evolving, keep learning. My guess is this will be a 50-year campaign. And as they become more horrible and the threat becomes more real, it will ramp up in intensity. It will ramp up in toughness. And ultimately, it will be a worldwide campaign because that’s where they are. You will have no choice. There are over 10,000 terrorists from over 50 countries currently in the ISIS arena, the Islamic State’s arena. That’s how big the movement is.” - former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, early afternoon, Sept. 16, 2014

→ “Our numbers have increased in Vietnam because the aggression of others has increased in Vietnam. There is not, and there will not be, a mindless escalation.” - former President Lyndon B. Johnson, Feb. 23, 1966

→ “No amount of American soldiers can solve the political differences at the heart of somebody else’s civil war, nor settle the grievances in the hearts of the combatants. It is my firm belief that the responsible course of action – for the United States, for Iraq, and for our troops – is to oppose this reckless escalation and to pursue a new policy… When it comes to the war in Iraq, the time for promises and assurances, for waiting and patience, is over.” - not-yet President Barak Obama, Jan. 30, 2007

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Scotch Bonnets (upper left) and Hot Chocolates belowWe were blessed here at the One-Acre Ranch with an abundance of Scotch Bonnet, Jamaican Hot Chocolate and various other hot chillies, so much so that 2014 has become the year of the pepper sauce.

It turns out that the most limiting factor in your ability to produce new hot sauce varieties lies in your ability to think up new names for the stuff. So far this year I’ve bottled and labeled 10 batches: Bottle Rocket Pepper Sauce, Pineapple Pepper Sauce, St. X, Trade Winds, Bob’s Atomic Banana, Scotch Bonnet Blaster Sauce, Tropical Hot BobSauce, Tropical Bob’s Flaming Fig Sauce, Happy Dragon Pepper Sauce and Chocolate Jerk Sauce. The pepper plants out back are busy making a second crop, so now I have to come up with more names.

The sauces vary from tangy, fruity types to mustard-based, curry types and one Jamaican jerk-type sauce. The Bottle Rocket is my first attempt at a fermented pepper sauce (the process used to produce most Louisiana-style hot sauces). The rest are mixed “fresh” and then sterilized via a canning process.

A few of this year's hot concoctionsIn some cases I may have paid too much attention to the hotter-is-better crowd. Bottle Rocket, for instance, is so hot that just a few drops would season a whole pot of gumbo. My latter sauces, and those yet to come, will include less heat, so that the excellent flavor of the peppers themselves can more easily shine through. A pepper sauce can’t be that successful if it’s uncomfortably hot for 80% of the potential “audience.”

I think the perfect pepper sauce, applied in moderation to almost anything, creates a warm glow, a kind of whole-body warmth that brings on a sense of well-being. I think that if rival warriors could sit down over platters of jerked chicken and rice and just the right pepper sauce, it’s possible they might never get back up and fire RPGs at each other any more.

It’s worth a try, right?

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The War On Anger

by bdunn on September 11, 2014

in Be Afraid, Government, War

Congratulations to both the Obama Administration and the Cheney-McCain war hawks, I guess. They have been successful, according to the latest polls, in whipping up enough fear in the brains of average Americans that now the public mostly supports doing something military to stamp out the newest version of terror, now a.k.a. ISIS.

The president last night of course declared he has legal authority to use fighter jets and drones to chase a concept called terror pretty much wherever he chooses. Run-of-the-mill legal scholars disagree, but since the Republican neocons are, as always, foaming at the mouth for more manly military intervention everywhere, it’s a cinch, as always, that there will be no congressional challenge to yet another Executive Branch military overreach.

So the circle is completed and Obama becomes the same man he replaced as president a few years ago by running on a platform of ending endless war. President Obama assures this latest foray will involve no “combat boots on the ground,” although some 1,400 soldier types already have been sent over and you can bet this number will escalate and escalate, if my memory serves (Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq I).

As for the air strikes President Obama now has authorized himself to order up in Iraq and Syria and wherever, it turns out many of them already are being undertaken with the purpose of destroying major weapons we left behind in the hands of the Iraqi army, who abandoned them, pooped their collective pants and ran away in the face of ISIS militia. If you count the original cost of the tanks, armoured vehicles, Howitzer cannons and the like that we (you know, the taxpayers) paid for in the first place, which we now must pay to have destroyed, these air strikes carry a taxpayer price tag of from about $1.5 million up to more than $12 million apiece.

That is certainly a fine thing if you happen to be sitting on top of a pile of Lockheed Martin or Boeing or Northrop Grumann stock, but it sucks for the rest of America, which has yet to recover from the Great Recession of 2008, and now faces the prospect of economic fall-out from yet another unfunded war without any defined endgame.

I guess this aspect is what gets me the most: These guys (the last two presidents and the Neocon Pack) work the citizenry up into a froth of fear (often without any basis whatsoever, I might add), then propel us into what amounts to full-on war, regardless of which weasel words they use to describe it. And they never seem to have a plan for ending the thing. It’s almost as if they don’t want to ever end the thing, almost as if they all were sitting on piles of Lockheed Martin or Boeing or Northrop Grumann stock, or campaign contributions.

What if we referred to what the U.S. is doing in more accurate terms? We have not declared war on “terror.” We have declared war on an emotion. We have declared war on anger. These jihadist groups have one thing in common, at least: They are so angry at American policy that they seem willing to go to any lengths to hurt us.

It turns out that a lot of this anger has been built up inside people whose family members may have, for instance, been blown up as corollary damage in drone strikes or military actions that the Bush Jr. or Obama administrations authorized themselves to conduct over the past few years.

So how do American Neocons respond to this newer anger? Why, by ramping up air strikes around cities and towns full of innocent civilians who through no fault of their own found their territory controlled by ISIS.

In other words, we are taking action pretty much guaranteed to create more angry militants than now exist, apparently guaranteeing the need for us to blow up more angry militants, with sufficient corollary damage to create even more angry militants. This is what happens when you declare war on an emotion such as anger, or on a concept such as terror.

In truth, the drug cartels of Mexico and South America have and continue to pose something closer to a terrorist threat to U.S. citizens than does ISIS, the beheading of two American journalists notwithstanding.

And meanwhile, while we tie up our military assets battling anger in the Mideast, who is left to stop Putin as he methodically steals back all the countries that broke away from the totalitarian old Soviet Union? NATO and the Europeans? Not bloody likely, sports fans.

“Well,” as Oliver Hardy once said to Stan Laurel, “here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into.”

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Happy Irony Day

September 1, 2014 Be Afraid

Thirty-five years ago I was a newspaper reporter covering events surrounding the United Steelworkers Union and the American steel industry in Wheeling, W.Va. and Pittsburgh. Steelworkers had physically demanding, dangerous jobs, but their union was powerful and extracted (especially in today’s terms) very attractive wages and benefits for its member-employees. But, in my opinion, looking […]

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Filtering Out Mobile Spam

August 18, 2014 Communications

I don’t know if you can do this with a Windows PC, as I dumped that failed proprietary computer operating system long ago in favor of Linux. With a Linux PC and either your own mail server or a friendly Internet service provider, I’ve found that you can cobble together a system that so far […]

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Chicken Tales

August 4, 2014 Be Afraid

I’m trying to be patient and wait a few years until, if things go as planned, my wife and I move to the Polka Farm full-time, before raising a flock of chickens. But it’s getting really hard to wait. I like eggs, and I like chicken meat. A lot. At a time when beef and […]

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Gardening With Don Quixote

July 21, 2014 Economics

The below couple posts notwithstanding, I labor under no misconceptions about the ability to provide a significant portion of my family’s food via my own efforts gardening or otherwise. Suffice it to say that I’m just making a tiny dent. For now. All the fresh tomatoes and figs, and herbs, and hot peppers, and later […]

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