Wednesday, June 14, 2017

FORBIDDEN QUESTIONS

NOTE: I received the following comment from anonymous on my Stupid is as Stupid Does post:

Anonymous: You make some good points about our cognitive amnesia and the failure of Americans to ask hard questions about our country’s foreign affairs. I agree that we have been very stupid about using military force, though I tend to lean toward willful stupidity: too many powerful individuals and organizations benefit from war.  What are some of the tough questions you think should be asked?  

Dear Anonymous,

For an expansive list of questions that should be asked, and very likely won't, I offer the following list provided by Andrew Bacevich, a highly regarded historian, specializing in international relations, security studies, U.S. foreign policy, and American diplomatic and military history, which was posted on the TomDispatch website. Bacevich is a Professor Emeritus of International Relations and History at the Boston University Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies.  He is also a career U.S. Army officer who retired with the rank of Colonel.




Saturday, June 10, 2017

STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES


By Ronald T. Fox


"Stupidity is not the lack of knowledge, but the illusion of having it." 
                                                                                               Grigore Iulian:

STUPIDITY 7

These are confounding times.  The widespread rejection of facts and reason by many of our national leaders as well as a sizable portion of the American public has perverted our national discourse and led to decisions that boggle the rational mind.  Many people point to Donald Trump as the culprit who perverted our historical commitment to truth, but in reality our escape from reason traces back decades.  President Trump has clearly demonstrated he is well prepared to take irrationality to new heights.  

Not only have facts become politically irrelevant for most Americans, so has history. As a people, Americans are suffering, perhaps terminally, from cognitive amnesia, particularly as it applies to foreign affairs. I can’t help but think of the Santayana aphorism: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." It’s patently obvious that most of our political leaders, Republicans and Democrats, and most top military brass, foreign policy think tanks, and popular political pundits, have learned little from our recent history of military interventions in the Greater Middle East, Africa and Asia.  The Trump administration is no exception.  With missile attacks, intensified bombing, and loose talk about troop surges, it is doing its best to continue the amnesiac process. George Orwell would be proud.

STUPIDITY 5

Why are we oblivious to the lessons of past political and military disasters in places like Vietnam, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, to name a few? Why do we continue to try to achieve political ends through the use of military force?  Why do we tend to shun diplomacy?

Friday, June 9, 2017

May 2017 BONEHEAD ABSURDITY OF THE MONTH


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1. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho). A constituent told Labrador at a town hall meeting at Lewis-Clark State College: “You are mandating people on Medicaid to accept dying …. You are making a mandate that will kill people,” to which Labrador responded:

“No one wants anybody to die. That line is so indefensible. . . . Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care,” he continued, drawing loud jeers from the audience.

Not only is this untrue, this is so transparently untrue that you would have to be in a Guyana cult leader's camp for the last decade to even give him the benefit of contemplating it for a half-moment. Americans attempting to struggle along despite not having access to health care is a staple of the news cycle. Americans showing up in emergency rooms suffering from acute dangers that would have never happened in the first place, had they been given access to preventative care beforehand.

Not only do Americans die from a lack of access to health care, they do so regularly, and by the tens of thousands. Labrador's insistence otherwise is not just a lie, it's a thumbing of his nose at everyone in the room. There's no way Labrador believed what he said to be true.

It's rare that we can conclusively answer the age-old question of dishonest politicians—evil, or just stupid?—but in this case it's fairly clear that Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador is lying on purpose and sincerely does not care if his constituents know it.