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  • Friday, March 30, 2007


    O Mercenary, My Mercenary

    There are approximately 172,000 American military troops in Iraq. There are approximately 100,000 civilian "private contractors" in Iraq, many in "security" support positions to the American military. Blackwater USA is one of them.

    The interesting thing to me is these private contractors have no specific allegiance to the USA or to internationally recognized laws regarding behavior in war zones. Encouraging mercenary military development also seems a rather poor idea to me in the long term. When allegiance is a matter of money, it provides an incentive to claim the golden goose paying you. I'm thinking coup as a viable course of action for such folks. What do you depend on? If breaking the terms of a contract is more profitable than keeping it, do you think mercenaries will balk at their "honor"? This is a money/services exchange, not the mythology of the Knights of the Round Table.

    It's a dangerous line of work but it is also very profitable. From "Bush's Shadow Army" By Jeremy Scahill:
    In 2005 after Hurricane Katrina [Blackwater USA] forces deployed in New Orleans, where it billed the federal government $950 per man, per day -- at one point raking in more than $240,000 a day. At its peak the company had about 600 contractors deployed from Texas to Mississippi. Since Katrina, it has aggressively pursued domestic contracting, opening a new domestic operations division. Blackwater is marketing its products and services to the Department of Homeland Security, and its representatives have met with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The company has applied for operating licenses in all US coastal states. Blackwater is also expanding its physical presence inside US borders, opening facilities in Illinois and California. (emphasis mine.)
    Outsourcing patriotism seems just about right for the Bush administration.

    (Apologies to Walt Whitman's "O Captain! My Captain!" for the post title. I try to credit where I swipe things from when possible and if I remember; my memory is a disorganized mess.)

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    Tuesday, March 27, 2007


    Online Threats Against Women

    It's nothing new to find explicit threats against specific women in the blogosphere. A culture of anonymity and an abdication of responsibility/accountability for personal actions is interwoven into the fabric of some segments of the internet.

    I am not an internet novice. I've been online for over twenty years. I've seen some very nasty instances of internet behavior. Yet this blog post brought me almost to tears.

    The old saying goes: On the internet, no one knows you're a dog. (well, it's old in internet years.) A corollary is: On the internet, no one knows whether you're a psychopath.

    The relative anonymity of some online forums emboldens some men to use the threat of violence as a tactic of power against women. In face-to-face debate in front of an audience, such threats would usually be matched by public and physical intervention. The threatener would be identified and note taken. But on the internet, identification is more difficult, particularly if the man is fairly adept at covering his tracks. (If you're offended at my generalization of this being specifically a tactic of men, I'd love to see statistics that less than 99 percent of such cases are perpetrated by men. Really. Show me.)

    In the US, public opinion runs heavily against battering women or even threatening them. Yet men's impulses to control women, to keep them from being strong voices anywhere, finds an outlet. And if some man thinks he can get away with it without repercussion or consequence, it apparently still seems like a viable tactic.

    If you want to talk about terrorism, try talking about this everyday, commonplace kind of terrorism. It's all around us.

    Monday, March 26, 2007


    Collapse of Moral Imperative

    Such a sad little blog! I've been busy elsewhere, far too busy with other time and energy draining activities. Neglect of this blog has become a habit. Gone are the days of multiple postings, arrogant self-absorbed ramblings attempting to describe something deep, something of import. Instead, the shallow and ill-focussed spurts of activity look all the more skeletal for their infrequency.

    I return to find my jagged and erratic few posts of the last three or four months glaring back at me, bitter with abandonment, crazed by loneliness. My laughter is too loud, too forceful for public airing. I am sorrowful and repentant.

    But I make no promises for the future of this blog. I dream and construct illegible castles of chatter in my mind, intending to share but reluctant to break my long, stuttering silence.

    The linear writing style I've tried to maintain for this blog is foreign to my native narrative voice, a voice studded with illusion and allusion, personal and confidential. I am dulled to current events at the moment, barely keeping abreast of the odds and ends. The subjects on my mind are not what I usually write about here, and there lies my hesitation, my checked impulses, my refrained intent.

    So here I am, mumbling excuses and strange prose which seems more like free verse, redolent and flowing without seeking an end point, a conclusion.

    Later, dude.


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