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February 18, 2013

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Most excellent. Can't be said enough.

As I wrote shortly after 9/11:

It is becoming clear that a ham-handed military response, if affected, could very well be a demonstration of American ignorance at its most classic...

It is my hope that essays like yours, here, help lift that veil of ignorance...

"Bin Laden was one of "our S.O.B.s" in Afghanistan when we were trying to bleed the Soviets."

Was he?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIA_%E2%80%93_al-Qaeda_controversy

China is taking a more pragmatic route toward global hegemony.

First, it is using its vast accumulation of foreign reserves to make loans nobody else will make: the loans are contractually obligated to be repaid in the oil and gas supplies China needs:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/china-takes-investment-and-lending-risks-others-wont-in-going-global/2013/02/16/1eedadd6-783b-11e2-b102-948929030e64_story.html

Second, China is vastly expanding its economic and other espionage and manipulation operations via computer hacking:

http://www.coverjunkie.com/new-covers/11575

(Sorry, don't have the online time to find the correct article link).

China simply has to bide its time and it will grow its economy well beyond that of the U.S. by virtue of population.

China has put the brakes on population growth. But their economy will grow if they don't do what the US does -- become an imperial power. The economic blowback for the US for all the wars and military spending are poor schools, the end of social mobility, crony capitalism, careerism in the government and the sectors its supposed to regulate, increased imprisonment, and ultimately, collapse.

Jon, I appreciate the John Quincy Adams' quote but I always find such stances somewhat contradictory...especially: "she well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom." Where it not for other nations (France, Holland, Spain) "enlisting under other banners" of American independence would we have had a successful revolution. How we choose to intervene in foreign affairs, forcing our will and culture, is really the issue.

Emil, you mean to say that China is redefining economic imperialism. And they are managing to do so covertly:

http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130217/NATION/302170307

We linked the same article...I meant to link this (about the China Investment Corporation):

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies/china_investment_corporation/index.html?inline=nyt-org

China seems keen on investing in British infrastructure as well as in various regions of Africa...how the tables have turned on the Brits.

The above is in no way an excuse to continue the status quo...because China is imposing its economic will on foreign soil does not give us an excuse to continue illegal drone strikes. Likewise, because China employs lax environmental regulations does not mean we should match those lowly endeavors. However, in terms of international affairs, we cannot sit on the sidelines nor can we kill civilians and call it collateral damage and the price for our assistance.

Where it not for other nations (France, Holland, Spain) "enlisting under other banners" of American independence would we have had a successful revolution.

Horse of a different color, pSf, I think. These were powers already entangled in the colonialist game, with established presences and economic interests. They couldn't have stayed out of the way if they wanted to - using them was basically political ju-jitsu. We were supposedly starting afresh & shucking this model... which of course we instead embraced in our own "exceptional" ways not so long after our own establishment.

We all know there's a whole lot more to this dialog . . where the preamble to any national discussion would be an examination of what possible good came out of our horrific misadventures in Korea, 'Nam and the Middle East. Somehow we've been taught that at least the former were noble conflicts. What crap!

Then, in a perfect world, we'd gather the best minds and lay out a decade long re engineering template for our military. Start by defining the central values regarding offense vs. defense. Then address the costly redundancies between the various branches of service. Face up to the presence of an evil shadow government in the form of our insidious Military-Industrial Complex. It is right that we should examine the ethics involved in drone-a-rama and its collateral damages. And where was this concern for civilian casualties during Iraq and Afghany-stan? I honestly don't recall having seen them. It was as if they didn't count.

Used to be, I was kind proud of our country . . . warts and all. No more! We've an orator at the helm, with a laundry list of objectives that do little to tackle the crushing debt.

Blowback: I sent this off to some fellow republicans I know. U went and did it again Jon, Pissed them off big time.
Stand by for some hate mail.

Mr. Roguester,

You've really hit a sore spot with me because I have long been upset by the things "our government" has done in my name as a US citizen.

You claim to have thousands of followers for the Rogue Blog. I don't doubt you as you are a man of your word. However, please explain to me how out of your thousands of followers, only a couple of dozen are able to find their voice and express their thoughts on this blog?

I guess they are part of the silent majority, right??

As long as the silent majority (aka: the sheep, the asleep, the timid, the scared of their shadows, the lemmings, the lazy) remain silent, all the misdeeds of our government will only get worse.

If out of your thousands of followers, you only have a couple of dozen who have the guts to "find their voice", then in reality, you only have a couple of dozen followers. The rest are of no consequence.

Nicely said Jon.
The New York Times recently published an article full of indictments concerning China’s cyber-hacking evils, saying “While ‘Comment Crew’ [believed to be a military operation located in the suburbs of Shanghai] has drained terabytes of data . . . increasingly its focus is on . . . critical infrastructure of the United States — its electrical power grid, gas lines and waterworks. “ (And news agencies.)
One commenter was suspicious, wondering why the fear over China’s cyber-hacking now? Suggesting this is old news that may only be intended to raise the fear level over impending spending cuts to defense.

I cannot say, old news or not, I can say that black tar brew raises far too much dissension with absolutely no regard for the long-term.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/19/technology/chinas-army-is-seen-as-tied-to-hacking-against-us.html?pagewanted=all&src=ISMR_AP_LO_MST_FB&_r=0&gwh=791E1466EB1CB0609AFA91F78881BD41

AZREBEL (and isn't that a new spelling? -- it used to be AzRebel), the Arizona Republic has about half a million subscribers:

http://www.esri.com/library/casestudies/arizona-republic.pdf

Yet, once a week on the Op-Ed page they give letters totals and a breakdown by most popular topics, and that never numbers more than a few hundreds total; individual subjects, even controversial ones, receive much less.

This is one reason why individual letters of complaint to corporations may sometimes have a disproportionate effect: traditionally, each one is counted using a multiplier under the assumption that it represents a given number of similar but unexpressed views.

Even when the Arizona Republic had open posting of comments to its stories, the number of comments was typically in the tens or low hundreds, and many of those usernames posted more than once.

These days, with the requirement to not only have a Facebook account but also to pay for a digital subscription, the number of comments averages half a dozen, even in controversial matters such as the editorial board's approval of Flake and McCain's support of comprehensive immigration reform, which in the old days would have brought hundreds of comments from outraged conservatives.

By contrast, Rogue Columnist routinely racks up 30-40 comments per column. Furthermore, there are a larger than usual proportion of comments of better than average quality here, including some exceptionally good ones fairly frequently.

P.S. This is also why organized letter writing campaigns sometimes have considerable leverage in altering corporate policy, even though the number of actual letters received may be only a small portion of readership totals.

eclecticdog, China already has a population of roughly 1.3 billion, or four times that of the United States. If per capita consumption in China reaches a level only half as high as that in the United States, then its GDP would still be twice as large.

That said, I still expect major problems in the near term in China because of an economic crisis stemming from the collapse of its housing bubble.

This may not happen as soon as I thought. From a current Bloomberg news story updating that (note the reference to "housing slaves"):

"The volume of residential property sales in China will rise this year, driven by improved funding to developers, Fitch Ratings said in a Jan. 29 research report. . . . Loose monetary policy will drive housing prices and sales up in the near term, Hong Kong-based Jinsong Du, Credit Suisse Group AG’s head of property research, wrote in a report Feb. 18."

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-19/china-housing-slaves-helping-property-rebound-mortgages.html

AZREB: seems like we have a national constipation about any substantive war discussions. I don't know why. Our country's integrity has been soiled by these misadvantures. Our economic underpinnings have been crumbled. Supposedly intelligent people tell me mindless claptrap like, "but we MUST keep America safe"! Could we possibly be that stupid?

I managed to find a link to the Bloomberg cover story on Chinese hacking:

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-02-14/a-chinese-hackers-identity-unmasked

This is highly recommended.

"When the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other papers made headlines last month by exposing what they said were China-sponsored hacks into their organizations, I thought, pshaw. I’ve done some reporting on online security. The real news would be if they hadn’t been hacked. Security experts can’t say it enough: There are very few places Chinese digital spies haven’t gotten into."

I've said it before, but frankly I don't understand why the United States hasn't seen more blowback from its foreign adventures in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

It has mounted a systematic campaign of assassination against the leadership of professional terrorist organizations (and anyone else who happens to get in the way -- "collateral damage" and tough tittie you little brown people); and if that weren't enough to elicit revenge attacks from Al Qaida and other well-funded, well organized groups (even before their leadership ranks were reduced), there is the little matter of killing individuals whose culture makes revenge for spilled blood a personal, family, and religious imperative (e.g., Afghans).

Nobody seems able to do anything except make some poorly designed bombs which fizzle and smoke and don't explode, despite hundreds of millions of dollars in funding from wealthy Saudis and billions from opium sales, and loads of military experience in improvised munitions (think roadside bombs); and these groups have been active across a whole decade, refining their techniques in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Africa.

The borders are porous but the expected dozens of suicide squads never materialize. If only one in ten made it to U.S. malls, university campuses, and other easy targets, we might see a mass murder a month and scare the bejeesus out of most of the national population. Of course, I'm pleased that this is not the case, but it really makes you wonder.

The TSA set a goal of screening 50 percent of cargo flights into the United States for explosives by 2009:

"The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has put in place procedures to meet the Congressionally-mandated requirement to screen 50 percent of all cargo on passenger planes by February 3, 2009."

http://www.tsa.gov/stakeholders/tsa-implements-first-milestone-screening-all-cargo-passenger-planes

This means that even if they met their goal, half of the cargo flights involving passenger planes went unscreened -- and far more than that earlier in the decade, when Al Qaida was still regarded as strong. Yet, no bombs blowing up planes in mid-flight. Some scheme supposedly involving printers that got detected because of a mysterious tip or something.

...only a couple of dozen are able to find their voice and express their thoughts on this blog?
I would modestly propose that this is because this "couple of dozen" are bloviating pseudo-intellectuals that quite naturally put off people of more sensible tenor.

I would propose this, if it didn't indict me as well.

The Chinese are very aggressive toward The Philippines. Grabbing islands 50 miles off the coast of PI is nothing more than being a bully.

I would be happy to be one of.....only a couple of dozen are able to find their voice and express their thoughts on this blog?RC is the only substantive discussion of AZ and national problems.As Tom Friedman says,"We can no longer afford to "be as dumb as we wanna be" Even if we elected GWB twice.

. . . . or Obama, twice.

...or Kooks and Wimps, every election.

Emil's Dragon post has attracted a big spam attack from China.

"Emil's Dragon post has attracted a big spam attack from China."

You're kidding?

Attack of the Chinese Spam. Sounds like a bad movie.

Wanted to echo what Emil said about letter-writing. Barney Frank came to speak at a NORML conference once and told us of the relative efficacy of demonstrations vs. letter-writing.

Demonstrations: Ignored.
Phone calls: Better.
Letters: Best.

I don't believe the relatively new-at-the-time email was discussed, and certainly not blog commenting...

"At home ("the homeland"), civil liberties are inconvenient things to be disposed of, unless we are discussing corporate personhood."

I really dislike the way that the Obama administration has continued the Bush/Cheney method of justifying end runs around (and suspensions of) the law: have the U.S. Attorney General prepare a White Paper justifying whatever it is that the Executive wants to do, then classify it secret so that legal scholars can't point out the flimsy arguments, twisted logic & errors of fact and interpretation.

I too am displeased with the overtones of "Homeland Security" (Deutschland uber alles, anyone?). Still, the TSA is scarcely the Gestapo, and Security Joan is a cool song.

The domestic expansion of the CIA is among the most troubling aspects of changes in the national security apparatus. The CIA has long had an obscure and limited liaison program with local police departments, but now it seems to be involved in organizing whole departments in domestic spying activity. These departments are among the largest in the nation (e.g., NYPD) and their domestic espionage activities are no longer confined to the local area (e.g., New York City and its environs) but range to far away states. The CIA seems to be using them as a kind of proxy domestic intelligence arm to get around federal laws limiting their domestic activity.

Also, as reported by Terry Turchie and Kathleen Puckett in their book Homeland Insecurity, as a result of post-9/11 reorganizations, the CIA was given administrative oversight of the FBI's national security mission. The authors are no wanna-be's; Turchie in particular was a high-level career agent in charge of counterterrorism activities for the FBI. (I don't have the book handy, but I believe this is an accurate representation of the authors' remarks.)

Here's a snippet from Frank Donner's 1992 landmark study of domestic political intelligence, dealing with the CIA/local police liaison program, particularly as it existed in the 1960s. Remember that times have changed and that since 9/11 they are able to get away with a lot more than they used to:

* * *

Why did the CIA conduct an operation in seeming disregard of its charter? Certainly the most plausible answer is that the agency hoped to fill the vacuum created by the FBI's largely negative relationship with the local police, and, not to be ignored, by the Bureau's reluctance to take the risk of involvement in legally questionable and intrusive surveillance programs. A revealing clue to the CIA's courting of police is supplied by a memorandum by Howard Osborn, director of the CIA's Office of Security, which states in part: "Some aspects of Agency support to police operations have served to greatly enhance our working relationship and to secure, in turn, police commitment to activities and operations which might otherwise have the departments' negative response." In other words, these manifold liaison activities were conducted as a means of coopting police resources to promote the Agency's domestic surveillance activities."

http://books.google.com/books?id=FR1ogMhofc0C&pg=PA85&lpg=PP1&dq=protectors+of+privilege

(see p. 85 forward; quote taken from pages 87-88)

* * *

The remark about the FBI's reluctance to partake in questionable legal activity and intrusive surveillance is all the more remarkable coming as it did in an era of black-bag jobs. One can only guess that the FBI's real objection was that the CIA was a bunch of cowboy Yalies who lacked the discretion and professionalism to prevent domestic political blowback; or else they weren't under Mr. Hoover's thumb and were therefore unacceptable; or that the range and scope of the CIA's domestic intelligence activities was well beyond the more targeted goals of the FBI; or perhaps all of these.

Hey, I just looked up bloviate. I don't bloviate. I do whatever is the short version bloviating. Is there a word for that?

Blovietteing?

This stuff way over my ability to understand. Will buy Petro a beer and have him explain all this. Back to my reading of "Source of Thunder" the biography of a California Condor.

Comment from a retired CIA operative in Afghanistan:

I can tell you straight out from personal observation that the Afghans do not like ANY of the foreigners: Egyptians, Syrians, Iranians, Americans, Chinese, English, French, Germans, or from wherever other than the Chechen's whom they LOVE!

Actually, Rogue Columnist seems to be doing OK with its reader participation. If you really want pathetic, consider the case of this recent Robert Robb op-ed published in the Arizona Republic. The subject is immigration reform, not a wonky technical discussion of economic measures, so one would expect a great deal of reader commentary, especially since Robb's column at azcentral.com was also published in the hardcopy edition of the Arizona Republic, which has roughly half a million subscribers.

The good news, if you can call it that, is that there are six comments posted. The bad news is that all of them, even the replies, are from one Robert Barber of Rutgers University.

http://www.azcentral.com/opinions/articles/20130131robb-immigration-proposal-flawed.html

To be fair to Robb, this problem response isn't specific to his columns. It's specific to the Arizona Republic's online presence since they required commenters to have a Facebook account. (I'm not sure if payment of a digital subscription fee is also currently required. Anyone know?)

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