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Tuesday, June 30, 2020


It is a beautiful end of June evening here in North Carolina and I have been in a foul mood all day long. There are couple of things I want to get off my chest and I think my blog is the perfect place to do it.

First of all: I am appalled by the childish behavior of so many of my fellow Americans who, in the presence of an existential medical threat, simply cannot keep themselves from going to bars and beauty salons and beaches and restaurants. These are not people who desperately need to get back to work in order to feed themselves and their families. These are just people who are bored and selfish and thoughtless and thoroughly self-indulgent. If they were only endangering their own lives, I would be inclined to say “go ahead and die.” But they are endangering me and my wife and my sons and daughter-in-law and grandchildren and my sister and my friends. A country populated by such people is not a place that I can admire or to which I owe allegiance.

That was the first thing I wanted to get off my chest.

Second: I am outraged that the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, informed that someone is putting a bounty on the heads of the soldiers he commands, does not think it worth doing something about. Perhaps I care so much about this because 60 years ago I did a little not at all heroic service in the Army National Guard. But the thought that a commander would be told that someone had put a bounty on the heads of his soldiers and then did nothing about it is to me inexcusable and unforgivable. Oh, I am well aware that the Taliban who are being paid by the Russians are the modern day version of the force that the United States brought into existence for the purpose of fighting the Russians in Afghanistan. This is hardly a secret. All one need do is watch the Rambo movies – the third one, I think. I am not interested in who is right and who is wrong in a part of the world that I have never visited and know relatively little about. But it makes me furious that a commander would not think it worth his while to protect the lives of his own soldiers.

On the other hand, dinner was pleasant this evening and the desert was good.


Anonymous said...

The only thing Trump-related at this point I think that would trigger any outrage in me is if he is re-elected after all of this. But as far as his own behavior goes, the list is too long to bother when it comes to things that would traditionally be thought unfit for a commander.

s. wallerstein said...

The behavior which appalls you in paragraph two is found, if not everywhere, at least in many societies, not just the U.S.

Chile is no different.

If you're looking for a place you can admire and to which you feel you owe allegiance, New Zealand is the current utopia, but Charles Pigden can disabuse us of the admiration for New Zealand which the progressive media try to sell us.

Maybe we can admire the Paris Commune, but that didn't last too long. Otherwise, we'd better reserve our admiration for Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Homer, Shakespeare, Plato, and a few other selected creative souls.

David Palmeter said...

s. wallerstein,

China puts a bounty on the heads of soldiers from countries it doesn't like?

As one who also was in the military in the early 60s, also without combat, I share the outrage at Trump's silence on this matter. It's his job to do something about it--whether everyone else does it or not. Instead, he plays golf. I generally have been in favor of his playing golf, better that than mess around with the government. But this, for me, is beyond the pale.

David Palmeter said...

I'm also in complete agreement with the first paragraph. I look upon those who don't wear masks when in the presence of others as the moral equivalent of drunk drivers. People have every right to get as drunk as they want in the privacy of their own homes, but the minute they get in that car take it onto a public street, they're endangering me and everyone I love. The same is true of those who go out without a mask.

s. wallerstein said...

David Palmeter,

It appears that we counted the paragraphs differently, hence your response to me above.

Paul said...

Bob, has the disjunction between your abstract political philosophy—radical, penetrating, —and your concrete politics—bland, hackneyed—always been so jarring? I really have struggled to understand you these last few years.

Howie said...

A more benign interpretation of seizers of the day:
They've endured the bummer of a bullshit quarantine and scientists are full of it so why not enjoy yourself when you have the chance- it's an expression of vitality, at least to them and no more sinful than Adam and Eve-
Whose side are you on: man's or some repressive and wrathful God's?
More to the point: it's not that people are evil, it's just that they're absorbed in their own daily lives and have no wholesome and larger social connections.
I do think they're reckless and thoughtlessly destructive, but that's how people think.
The leadership in this crisis is insufficient to lift people from trivial selfishness

Anonymous said...

Jerry Fresia said...


An unnamed intelligence official told CBS News reporter Catherine Herridge that intelligence reports of Russia offering the Taliban bounty payments to kill US soldiers were “uncorroborated,” and the information was not presented to President Trump.

The official told Herridge that the National Security Council (NSC) assessed the intelligence and found it “does not match well-established and verifiable Taliban and Haqqani practices” and lacks “sufficient reporting to corroborate any links.” The official also said the intelligence reached low levels of the NSC but did not make it into the president or vice president’s daily briefing.


‘NO CORROBORATING EVIDENCE’: The Pentagon said late Monday night that while the jury is still out, so far, it has been unable to confirm the explosive allegations that Russia paid the Taliban cash bounties to target and kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

“The Department of Defense continues to evaluate intelligence that Russian GRU operatives were engaged in malign activity against United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan. To date, DOD has no corroborating evidence to validate the recent allegations found in open-source reports,” said chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman in a statement issued just before midnight.

SPYMASTERS WARN LEAKS HARMFUL: Both CIA Director Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe released statements Monday warning that leaking raw intelligence that is still being evaluated hampers the ability of intelligence agencies to do their jobs.

David Zimmerman said...

Re Jerry Fresia:

It would be a real shame if this blog became a home for "Russia trutherism."

Contra Fresia, the overwhelming consensus in the news coverage is that the intelligence about a possible offer of Russian bounties to Taliban fighters was just the sort of intelligence that should and would be passed along to, and taken seriously by, even a moderately aware president, and that indeed it was passed along to Trump.

All the coverage makes it abundantly clear that qualifiers are to be attached to the story pending further investigation, but that the evidence is worth that further scrutiny.

s. wallerstein said...

Jerry Fresia refused to buy into the consensus view about Trump's ties to Putin during the 2016 campaign and in the end, was right. Thus, he is not some kind of truther crank, but someone who has the intellectual curiosity and integrity to investigate issues and to go against the grain. I don't know if he is right now, but it is certainly worthwhile to listen to what he has to say and to keep an open mind about this issue until there is some kind of definite version, which we can all accept, about the Russian bounty story.

Anonymous said...

5 months to a big election, is there the (likely) possibility that this could just be anti-Trump propaganda? Might need to check your biases if you believe the media when it fits your narrative but reject it when it doesn't.

Christopher J. Mulvaney, Ph.D. said...

RE Jerry's post:

What gives "unnamed intelligence official", a Pentagon spokesman (also unnamed?, or Haspell and Ratcliffe any credibility? I don't credit anything said by Trump administration spokespeople. Their knowledge constitutive interests in this are clear. after all, his press secretary said Trump knows more about foreign affairs than anybody else (or words to that effect).

As to the Russian connection to the Trump campaign, the jury is still out. The full content of the Mueller Report has not been made public, and Russian interference is documented in the Butina case and there is strong evidence of Russian funding of Trump's PAC in 2018 in order to push for the removal of the Ukrainian Ambassador (Parnas, Fruman and Guiliani).

David Zimmerman said...

It is simply not true that Jerry Fresia's scepticism about the involvement of the Trump campaign, transition and administration with Russian officials and operatives "in the end, was right."

For a good, detailed summary of that involvement, see this account from a respected website: