Wednesday, Nov 25th

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The Road To The Paris Attacks Runs Through The Iraq War

Bush and Cheney, architects of warOne Middle East catastrophe apparently wasn't enough for some supporters of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. So they've continued to try to shape policy relating to the region, offering punditry in the wake of each fresh crisis.

It wasn't a surprise, then, that they seized on last week's tragic attacks in Paris to argue that the Islamic State group could only be eliminated by their preferred mode of U.S. intervention: large-scale troop deployment.

"If it takes 50,000 troops going in there and cleaning out Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State, do it," Bill Kristol said on ABC two days after the attack.


Paris attacks: The West’s fatal misunderstanding of Islamic State

What the West does not understand about ISILThe horrendous attacks on Paris have an eerie resemblance to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, in that they seem to have caught everyone off guard.

Until perhaps Friday, the main perception among Western intelligence agencies and Washington policymakers has been that Islamic State poses “no immediate threat” to the United States or the West.

“Unlike Al Qaeda, ISIS is more interested in establishing a Caliphate and not so interested in attacking the West,” a retired CIA officer explained during a closed meeting at one of Washington’s think tanks. He was echoing a common sentiment, and insisted that “Al Qaeda remains the main threat.” Even U.S. President Barack Obama recently said with confidence that Islamic State was being “contained.”


Frank Bruni: The Catholic Church’s Sins Are Ours

Frank Bruni

It’s fashionable among some conservatives to rail that there’s insufficient respect for religion in America and that religious people are marginalized, even vilified.

That’s bunk. In more places and instances than not, they get special accommodation and the benefit of the doubt. Because they talk of God, they’re assumed to be good. There’s a reluctance to besmirch them, an unwillingness to cross them.

The new movie “Spotlight,” based on real events, illuminates this brilliantly.


Bob Alexander : Nightmare Alley

Haunted house“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”

So begins Shirley Jackson's classic The Haunting of Hill House.

Perceptions and appearances cannot be trusted. Hill House looks like it was properly built, “… walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut ...” but Hill House is not sane.



Alex Baer: Ides and Go Seek

Ides and go seek'Tis the time of the wild-eyed Bewilderbeast which is nearly upon us, boys and girls -- thick as broomstick'd witches on candy bags, heavy as depleted uranium foil strewn on scrawny, screw-together tannenbaums.

You know where we are, calendar-wise:  It's that time of the year in which Life makes even less sense than usual, in an American post-Summer simmer and in a pre-sprung Spring.  Here we are, the lull between the Equinoxes -- the seasonal gap between locked and unlocked, as Vonnegut's sense of season would have it.  It is neither Fall nor Winter, more Hypnotic Lockdown than anything -- making it Hypdown or Locknotic, I suppose.  Up to you.

We're in the No-Sanity Zone betwixt the tart, fictional, Slack-jawed, Sourpussed War on KrissMuss and the all-too-real, tempting jar of Trick-or-Treat Sweetmeats and Jaw-breaker Bribes.


Alex Baer: One Planet, Two Worlds

Alex Baer: One Planet, Two WorldsThe problem with being a curmudgeon is that you still have things to say long after you know you really should shut up.

And so, as Curmudgeon General of The Benighted, Yoo-nited States -- one of many lifelong self-appointees, I see, based on a quick glance and a hasty listen snatched from around the media fountain -- here I am again.

My Curmudgeon General website is on hold.  I am tired, listless.  (Oh, a sizeable lottery win could still perk me up, but we'd have to be speaking about "Sharing-Size" quantities at this point.)


Is the GOP Clown Car a Volkswagen? It should be.

GOP clown carChina marked its President's visit to the US by announcing a cap and trade program on the burning of carbon starting in 2017. Now the Right Wing Nut Jobs really can call Obama's Cap and Trade proposal a Commie Plot with some small measure of truth.

China's economic problems are likely to get somewhat worse, but it's hardly the global disaster the short sellers would like you to bet on. Literally bet on, Wall Street has instruments to sell you that will cover you against China's collapse for a small fee. Check out their Brooklyn Bridge penny stocks while you're at it.


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