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KEEP CALM & CARRY ON, ISIS EDITION (PT 4)

When I began this as diary as a "series", I pointed to Mosul as a metaphor for Nov 8, 2016, and true to form, the chaos of the ensuing weeks have thrown me off - but constructively so.

Sadly and ironically, the progress on the "battlefield", Mosul's ancient tightly wound streets booby-trapped for maximum obstruction, has been replaced by the PR & propaganda battle over what really happened March 17, though largely this battle has been lost already - whatever the allies do now, they will be mostly remembered for civilian casualties, despite all the extraordinary painstaking effort they've taken to avoid them.

And that should give Democrats great pause as well - the seeming victories over Trump & the Republicans the last few weeks can be ephemeral and imagined, with a PR loss pulled from the clutches of victory. As one person noted, giving Flynn immunity to testify can be a huge trap, and that's just 1 possible trip-up point. But I'm more interested in the idea of "cooperation" vs. "collusion" in how we go forward.

Too Big to Fail: Why Government as a Business Doesn't Work

Much is being written about Jared Kushner leading another task force to make government run like a business, with the usual caveats about how it's likely to fail. Included are all the usual right and wrong reasons about government not being a business. But the lack of failure is the biggest point.

American business is successful precisely because so many businesses fail, and are replaced by new trendy companies with just as much chance of failing. Amazon, one of our great recent "success" stories, didn't make a profit for years, and now 20 years later only pulls in profits of maybe 1% of revenues. Uber's much worse, with a 2016 loss of perhaps $3 billion. It's hard to imagine US voters putting up with such poor results. And those are the *good* examples.

KEEP CALM & CARRY ON, ISIS EDITION (PT 3)

"Gaslighting" is a meme based on an old movie where you're led to question your own sanity & ability to judge anything.

In my short previous installment, I noted the fighting in Syria & Iraq taking place in the new mags & tabloids and internet as well. Rather than subsiding with the near elimination of ISIS from Mosul, the conflict exploded onto front pages in the last day not due to what happened, but more due to what may have transpired. As has become rule over the last year or more, your take on the matter will depend on where you fit in the political spectrum and what walled-off garden of social & traditional media you're imbibing.

Keep Calm & Carry On, ISIS Edition (pt 2)

Not quite the #2 I'd planned, but in checking on progress for Mosul, I noted RT (Russia Today) continually using the term "indiscriminate strikes" when describing US/allied shelling and street action. Among their continued "3rd party independent" verifiers of this was a group called "Airwars".

Knife in the Back - Monsters on Main Street

Even as Hillary is sighted, somewhat like that bear, slipping out of the woods back into the mainstream, I see again and again the disgruntled comments arising in each story, the "we wuz robbed", the "DNC rigged the primaries", the "crooked woman", and the "party left us" kind of betrayed mentality you seldom see so strong except for WWI German vets distraught over Versailles. Not just a few comments - *DOMINATING* the comments section.

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Keep Calm & Carry On, ISIS Edition (pt 1)

On April 8, 2014, al-Baghdadi announced Al-Nusra & Islamic State Iraq were joining forces, and soon unleashed an impressive series of attacks that gained large swaths of Iraqi & Syrian territory (see below). Tied to the seemingly unstoppable progress was the horror of ISIS' fanaticism and cruel behavior towards any non-adherent to their fringe beliefs. Besides fodder for those who believe all Islam is like this, it renewed criticism of how the Iraq War was managed, helped fuel the mass emigration from Iraq & Syria that swamped Europe for a time (and almost dented the US), and provided a key thread of fear and loathing for the 2016 campaign trail.

The threat & ease of spread by ISIS wasn't just do to its methods and persuasion. It relied on the in-fighting of those that might in saner times approach it - in short, they relied on a philosophical vacuum much as they relied on the huge areas of unoccupied desert to make their gains look more impressive.

3 years later (in 3 weeks) we see what happens when Kurds, Shi'ites, Sunnis and any other factions join together to confront a regional pariah. It hasn't been easy - the Caliphate gained land much faster than the slow, plodding effort to retake control. Even back in October there was some feeling that defeat of ISIS could be just a few weeks away - but instead the much more extended re-capture of Mosul has enlightened us to the new realities of lightning war, or its non-existence in a terrain where we worry about civilian life rather than raw advance.

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Intermezzo - Springtime for Hitler

Today is my dip into happy land, my safe haven, my respite from the madness. Yesterday was the first sign of spring, still chilly but warm enough to go out with only a suit jacket - time for that springtime optimism.

They used to say no news is good news, but now we have it 24x7, so let's just talk up the good news for a change. Today I'll be largely untouched by political chaos, except to note the bright sides.

Pop Quiz - Fight Harder or Smarter?

I was at a pub quiz last night, answering questions with an impromptu team sitting around a table.

At one point, there was a question about which of 3 early 60's events happened first. I quickly gave an answer that I was pretty sure was correct, and gave me reasons for it. But over the course of the next couple of minutes, my teammates talked me out of it and chose another.

When we scored the paper a couple minutes later, my answer would have been right. One of the guys who was largely leading the group looked at me and said, "But you didn't fight for your answer hard enough".

Доброе утро, Америка - Notes from Underground

As the "Spy who Came in from the Cold" starts to unfold or unravel, these are some of my notes - there will be more, many more, flying at a furious pace I expect. What else is happening? Feel free to pile on, like a Moscow snowdrift.

Was Trump the "Casino" behind Russian Spies Arrested 2014?

Little Moscow: More Trump-Russia real estate corruption.

Plus: how Russian money powered Trump's comeback:

Bibi: Putin's inspiration?

Reading Michael Crowley's piece on Bibi's long-term strategy towards Obama, I'm struck by this absurdity in American politics. As Netanyahu comes waltzing into Washington to place demands on the White House, receiving policy concessions served up like John the Baptist's head on a plate, he must be thinking the transformation is complete. But be careful, Bibi - sea changes can be wild, with the occasional tsunami.

See, as we focus on foreign intervention into domestic politics, it won't be long until someone notices (me?) that we have a codified litmus test in Washington, if not largely accepted across the US, of allegiance to Israel and its needs/wants. For guilt reasons? Fear of the rapture and all things biblical? Sincere belief that these are Israel's and thus our needs? Who knows. For a nation that still largely practices the weird & painful circumcision procedure on all male babies for no actual religious or medical reason, we'll just have to accept we're a bit challenged on certain matters. But back to the story....

Congress regularly is evaluated for support  on all matters Israel - AIPAC's "who's been naughty or nice" especially resulting in near lock-step adherence to Israeli predilections. Hillary took to this obligation with a flourish in her time as Senator, clinging almost as close to the Jewish state as she did to Obama during the last campaign. Bernie being Jewish got a little bit of breathing room, but even he mailed in his criticisms from an undisclosed remote location, knowing better than to deliver in person lest he be found in the East River with the fishes (a joke, son, it's a joke...)

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Superpowers
Defies gravity Can spit really far Almost touch my toes Can cut a fly's legs off with a beer cap from 20 paces Know how to say useless stuff and prattle on in a dozen languages Don't know when to shut up
Favorite Quotes
To be for or against the Plague, it's much the same thing. Fiddledee, how a body shure do get around - just 2 weeks ago I was in Mississippi and now I'm all the way to Tennessee... Eat or Be Eaten Better to be pissed off than pissed on.
Biography
Born in swaddling clothes (designer, of course) at the confluence of big waters, my first recorded words were "Dad, can I have the keys to the car?" Raised a Southern Pedestrian, my musical talents were recognized at an early age, leading to my being exiled to the shed out back with a stack of books that became my eddykayshun - advanced readin', writin' & ritmytick, creating a major quandary of "what will I do, oh what will I do?" (Gunslinger) As an old black man advised in song, "You Gotta Move", so move I did, traveling the byways sideways even a lot of driveways, picking up sticks and psychological tics, even movin' to Beverlee through a quaint misunderstanding of the seriousness of TV series, until finally I blew up so big the carry nation incarnation tarnation couldn't hold me no more, so I fixed my sights on yonder sitar, and like Queequeg and Paul Bowles and one of those abducted kids by the Pied Piper of Hamelin, I ventured forth to the larger world, pickin' and grinnin', doin' me some reckonin' and naughts from naughts, occasionally rightin', building me some buildings and wiring and just trying to understand the babble comin' out of people's mouths and heads, I finally ended up in what Rummy quaintly calls "New Europe", which ain't so new from what I sees, but that pit in my stomach from lack-of-moving-sickness finally disappeared, and instead I sit behind a whopping big desk stacked with missives from all the chiefs with big whampum around the world telling me "what's going on". Which seems like a load of boolshit to me, but I guess that's what keeps me busy and entertained now, separatin' the weeds from the chapstick. So my name is Perry Keys, or Peracles to you, and since my mammy always said, "say please and thank you", I added the please, but I'm holdin' back on that thankee until I feel you've earned it. But do welcome, and I hope we's a gonna have a real good time. It all starts with, "I wuz born a poor young white chile livin' in the South..." and we cycle through again, like Nietzsche and his infernal regurgence. So enjoy, and let's spin a spell...

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