War and Peace

What About When Both Sides Suck? Ukraine Edition

Burning the Midnight Oil for the Arc of the Sun

This is not an effort to engage in an in-depth analysis of the Ukraine Crisis, but is rather a reflection on a challenge the seems to face online discussions about crises such as these.

Much of the analysis of the crisis goes along lines similar to the following:

  • The current government of the Ukraine sucks for [reason], therefore the opposition is great
  • The current opposition of the Ukraine sucks for [reason], therefore the government is great
  • United States foreign policy sucks for [reason], therefore Russia is great
  • Russian foreign policy sucks for [reason], therefore the United States is great

I am sure that anyone who has followed the online discussion of this crisis or, indeed, any of the previous international crises of the past five years will be familiar with arguments along these lines. After all, people who engage in this type of reasoning can come to conclusions about complex crises much quick than other people ...

... who are grounded in the reality that sometimes both sides suck.

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Is the Global War on Terror Racist?

If it is racist to indiscriminately stop-and-frisk people of color because they might be criminals, isn't it also racist to indiscriminately drop bombs on brown people because they might be terrorists?

Why did Democrats start speaking about the global war on terror differently after January 20, 2009?

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Gender Prison: Disrespected Veterans

I was pretty much not around the site yesterday. I could attribute that in part to it being Monday which is always a busy day in my classes at the college where I teach. But in reality, I was testing in two of my three classes, so it was definitely not a busy day.

No. Really the reason I spent most of my time elsewhere was because it was Veteran's Day. I served as a Spec-5 Correctional Specialist at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth during the Vietnam Era…and was part of a the Prisoner Pay Unit of the Ft. Leavenworth Finance Office that earned a Presidential Commendation from Richard Milhouse Nixon for its work diminishing the backlog of prisoner pay and benefit records.

It's not really that I am not proud of my service. It is rather the case that since I am now transgender, having transitioned from male to female in the early 1990s…two decades after having performed my service to my nation…my nation is not proud of me for having done it.

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Transgender Life in the US Military

Brynn Tannehill has been a guest author at The New Civil Right Movement this past week, writing about transgender people in the military. She published articles on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Tannehill is a former Navy pilot and also writes for the Huffington Post.

On Monday she published the title essay, After DADT: Transgender Life In The United States Military.

Most people, including many within the LGBT community (including some very prominent LGBT leaders), were or still are unaware that the end of DADT did not end the exclusion of transgender people from military service. There is no law preventing transgender individuals from serving. However, being transgender is still grounds for “rejection for military service.”

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It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is.

The question of whether a military coup took place has vexed the White House. Under US law, most aid must stop to "any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup d'etat or decree" or toppled in "a coup d'etat or decree in which the military plays a decisive role".

Source

But the president is less confused by the definition of traitor.

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The Self-Creating War of Terror Eternally Renews Itself

From Amy Goodman:

Human Rights Minister Hooria Mashoohouras heard US officials say that Yemeni government is not stable enough or strong enough to make sure the released prisoners don’t take up arms against America. They have told her that even if some of the prisoners were totally innocent and unjustly imprisoned, now—after 11 years behind bars—they probably hate the US so much that they’ll want revenge. In our meeting with Mashoohour she threw up her arms in exasperation. “So you abuse these men and then you keep abusing them because they might hate you for your abuse? Is that the way the US justice system works?,” she asked.

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Historian Rick Perlstein Uses the Nation to Whine About My Tweet

I have to admit, I was surprised to be notified that Historian Rick Perlstein of Nixonland fame, devoted an entire column in the Nation to two tweets replying to him; one from myself and one from another commentator on twitter. It's also surprising, because I have been a fan of some of what Perlstein has written in the past, and I have cited him before. However, after this, I and certainly a lot of other people surprised at this lack of professionalism from an established writer, won't do it again.

After all, one doesn't normally read columns by established historians devoting entire pieces to complaints about tweets they received or people on twitter. Especially, one tweet that was merely a question about a widely cited article at CNET. I certainly don't know why Rick Perlstein was so offended by that to devote an entire piece in the Nation to mine and one other tweet he received. I have to wonder if he realizes how unprofessional he looks by doing so. The excellent responses to Perlstein's shoddy piece in the comments section certainly speak to that.

On Glenn Greenwald and His Fans

Read another tweet:
 

“NSA admits listening to U.S. phone calls without warrants cnet.co/1agOFCy via @CNET What say you, @RickPerlstein ?”
 

I think we can detect here an accusatory tone, especially given the way the tweeter, “therealpriceman,” fawns over Glenn Greenwald generally. (Though you can never be sure on the Internet, and besides, why do people pursue political arguments on Twitter anyway? I’ll never understand how, for instance, “When u talk gun violence lk in mirror PA here we cling to guns-apologz to PRES O”—another tweet directed my way, apparently somehow meant to respond to this—could possibly contribute anything useful to our common political life.) I detect in this message: even the NSA says you’re wrong about Glenn Greenwald, so when are you going to apologize? And if I’m reading right, that’s some really smelly stupidity. Because the whole point of my original post was that there was plenty Greenwald had “nailed dead to rights” in his reporting. What I had in mind when I wrote that (I should have specified this, I think) was the stuff on Verizon turning over metadata to the NSA. And yet what therealpriceman links to is an article suggesting something that Greenwald has not (yet?) claimed, and which still remains controversial and undetermined: that the NSA has acknowledged that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls, a claim sourced to Representative Jerrold Nadler, which Nadler based on a classified briefing he and other Congressmen received, but which it has since been established Nadler probably just misunderstood.
 

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And given that perspective, I would love to know why Glenn Greenwald thinks the establishment cannot do to him, a relative flyspeck in the grand scheme of things, what they did to Dan Rather, a towering giant of Washington reporting going back to Watergate. Which is: consign him to the outer darkness, where the only people who care about what he has to say are the likes of my good friends @therealpriceman and @runtodaylight.

He starts out by assuring the audience that he has thick skin, but then goes on to prove just how thin it really is. By whining for 13 paragraphs or so about criticism, criticism from a couple of tweets he received days ago, it really doesn't show the maturity he was initially hoping to espouse. So since I apparently hurt his fee fees so bad, in 140 characters or less, I'll go ahead and put his suppositions to the test.

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The Neverending American War on the World

The fun never stops. The revenge for 9/11 will continue for this century. Perhaps it will be another Hundred Years War.

In a Senate hearing today, a Pentagon Special Operations Chief told Senators that the war OF terror will continue for at least 10 to 20 more years and more likely decades, it was confirmed it has no geographic limit including this country, i.e., it truly is global, the AUMF from 2001 is the authorization for all of it, it can include people not even born yet and it includes associated forces of Al Qaeda, i.e., anyone the Pentagon or CIA think is remotely affiliated with the terrorist group created by the CIA. In the hearing, John McCain was incredulous that the Pentagon took such a broad view and said “None of us” who voted for the law in 2001 “could have envisioned [granting] authority [to strike] in Yemen and Somalia.”

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Boston: The Unraveling and a Plea for the Healing of Our Society

I find it hard to write about anything after this happened. Boston is a great city I had the pleasure to visit in a field trip in 2006 while I was in school. There was so much life in that city and there still is despite this attack. It's still affected me even though I don't live there because of that fond memory. Senseless acts of violence like this shouldn't happen. It's hard enough just to get by.

I feel a sense of panic and uneasiness as if the fabric of society is breaking and it is; all the record inequality fueling human breakdown; the wars; the bombing of other countries fueling human breakdown. Human breakdown is caused by those that show indifference to their state of being thus breaking down barriers of sanity that keeps one non violent and functioning. Nothing excuses these actions whatsoever and I don't care about the reasoning of whoever did this; it’s despicable and abhorrent act of violence that killed a child and 2 other human beings and more than 170 were injured many permanently disabled.

That being said, we can try to change the society that breeds these types of people and actions instead of enabling the void. That's what protects people from terrorism and acts of violence in the aggregate. It may have been impossible to stop this incident, and not all can be prevented. However, given the overall breakdown of society and the marginal extremes that causes within the minds of the population, I have to think every one of our problems contributed to it. Every few months there is either a shooting or something like this. That's why I talk of the unraveling of society.

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