May 16, 2019


I suppose some people might wonder why I'm not completely hysterical. Why would I be hysterical? The building where I've lived for 22 years is scheduled for demolition, and I have to be out of my apartment no later than June 4. At the moment, I have no new apartment to move into. So, I have two and a half weeks to find a new place, pack up all the stuff I've accumulated over the years (and throw away and/or give away a lot of books, CDs, and DVDs, among other things), and make the move happen.

The good news is that there are apartments available in a price range I should be able to manage (which is to say, the new rent would be very close to my current rent, perhaps $100-$200 more per month, but that would be manageable, once the relocation expenses are disbursed to me -- see below). The bad news: I have no money to pay for the security deposit and first month's rent, or to pay for the move and/or storage of my belongings. Why is that the case?

Regular readers will know that I'm entitled to a relocation allowance. Since I'm over 62 and have lived here so long, I will be getting $20,050. Some owners make it easy on their evicted tenants: they provide a check for the full amount to help with the move. Alternatively, the owners can set up an escrow account, which is what the owners of my building have done. And the way the escrow account is set up means that, in effect, the relocation allowance functions as a reimbursement system: once you've paid the expenses of the move (or any part of them), they will reimburse you upon presentation of an invoice, contract (i.e., lease in this case), or something similar. So you have to have the money in order to get the required documentation, so that you can get the money. See how that works?

But I don't have the money. I've been round and round on this, and I can't make any headway. Up until last week, I thought I'd be able to work it out. I was wrong. So here I am, two and a half weeks away from life on the street. I've said it before, and I'll say it once again: I will not survive on the street. Given my health, homelessness is a death sentence, and probably one that would be actualized in very short order. Which, quite frankly, would be a blessing, if it came to that.

I don't believe for one moment that it has to come to that. You're doubtless wondering why this is happening at the very last minute, since I've known for a year about the forced eviction. Perhaps I haven't made clear just how bad my health is. Much of the time (and for most of the last year), it's all I can do to get out of bed for several hours a day, manage to eat a meal or two, and sit at the computer for a while. I kept thinking that I still had plenty of time -- and, honestly, a couple of months is plenty of time to move, I've done it in far less time than that, in fact, I've done it in a couple of weeks in the past -- and I also kept thinking that I just had to start feeling better soon. I never started feeling better.

So basically, I have to do my best to raise some money in very quick order. To cover the first month's rent, security deposit (assuming a rent of around $1,100-$1,200/month), and moving and storage expenses (assuming I have to store some items, as I'll probably be moving into a studio with less room than I have now), as well as contacting one of the services that come and pick up a bunch of junk and dispose of it, I'll need $3,500 to $4,000. I don't know if it's even possible to raise that much -- but I regularly see (we all regularly see) people raising far greater sums for projects that are often dubious, or at least questionable. My project is simple: it's my life. Without a new place to move into, I'm finished.

Now, I will be getting the $20,050 eventually, but to judge from the experience of other tenants who have already moved, I may not receive it nearly as quickly as I would wish. But I'll get it at some point. So I would be more than happy to agree with anyone who wished to make a donation for the purpose of this move that, once I've received the relocation funds, I'll refund the donation, plus an additional fee which you should feel free to suggest. If you want to do it that way, well, bless you, first of all, and just let me know. I'll send you an email confirming that I'll reimburse you for your donation once I have the funds.

A semi-related point: I held off on this post until today because I had made a deal with myself. Given my inability to write for most of the past year, I felt I had to publish at least one substantial new essay before regaling you with these tales of my wild adventures. I did that yesterday, and I enjoyed putting that article together (although the idea of war resulting from "bad intelligence" utterly infuriates me). I felt I had to do that as a gesture of good faith, if you will. And even though I have an incredible amount of stuff to get done in the next few weeks, I'll try to publish at least a briefer post every two or three days, or however often I can manage it. Writing should be a welcome break from the tedious tasks associated with moving.

So that's what's happening here. Although I'm not hysterical, I certainly am experiencing a considerable amount of steady anxiety. Sleep does not come easily these days; sometimes it doesn't come at all. Wouldn't it be lovely if I'd received a check in the full amount of the relocation allowance several months ago? All this would have been avoided. Ah, well. I am still confident that I can make all this happen in the next few weeks. Once I have the necessary funds, if I have the necessary funds, it's all manageable, even if very tough and pressured.

Thank you for listening. Bless you for your support and concern. Many people have to deal with situations far more grueling than what I've described here. And I am very far from giving up. I still derive a great deal of pleasure from far too many aspects of the world to consider giving up at this point. And, big mouth that I am, I still have a lot to say on many subjects. (I'd publish all my notes from the past year or so if I thought they would be intelligible to anyone else. But they wouldn't be. Sometimes they're not even intelligible to me months after I made them. "What exactly was I thinking when I wrote that?" I'll sometimes wonder. I'm sure it was absolutely fascinating, but occasionally I'll have no idea at all what it was.)

All right. I'll shut up about all this now. Many, many thanks again.

May 15, 2019

How Many Damn Fucking Times Do I Have to Explain This?

Please give your serious consideration to my profoundly upsetting personal dilemma. I am basically a serene, tranquil soul, trying my utmost best to navigate successfully (and serenely, and tranquilly) through a world beset with, well, insanity. Not merely insanity, but violent insanity. And not simply violent insanity, but violent insanity bolstered by nonstop hatred, and the desire to eliminate all traces of "the Other." And "the Other" is anyone who does not belong to any particular individual's tribe, however that tribe may be defined (on a racial, religious, political or other basis, and/or some combination of these factors). Such hatred and eliminationist desires are not conducive to sustaining and enhancing serenity and tranquillity. Not hardly.

So there I am, minding my own tranquil affairs, when I happen upon an article in The New Yorker. The article concerns the question of whether Trump is leading the United States into a war with Iran, either intentionally or "inadvertently" (!!! -- more on that point in a moment). It begins with a hint of promise, i.e., it appears the author might have more than a glancing familiarity with facts and history:
The United States has a long history of provoking, instigating, or launching wars based on dubious, flimsy, or manufactured threats.
Hey, not bad, you're thinking, right? The balance of the first paragraph and the second paragraph concern a confrontation with Iran that the Reagan administration engineered in 1986. The article presents a straightforward case of deliberate American provocation, which succeeded in getting the desired response.

Then we have the beginning of the third paragraph:
The most egregious case was the U.S. invasion of Iraq, in 2003, which was based on bad intelligence that Baghdad had active weapons-of-mass-destruction programs. The repercussions are still playing out sixteen years (and more than four thousand American deaths) later.
No. No, no, no, no, no, no. NO. O farewell, serenity! Tranquillity, farewell!

Please note that these two sentences are the totality of what this author has to say in the article about the criminal and illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. Yet these two sentences provide conclusive evidence that this author understands next to nothing about U.S. foreign policy and the forces that direct it, and also reveal that the author has entirely internalized (perhaps inadvertently!) the norms and values of American exceptionalism.

You may think that is a lot to claim on the basis of two sentences. I shall now explain. Take the first sentence: " The most egregious case was the U.S. invasion of Iraq, in 2003, which was based on bad intelligence that Baghdad had active weapons-of-mass-destruction programs."If you read commentary on current events with any regularity (and you have my utmost sympathy if you do, as well as my condolences for your lost serenity), you will recognize this formulation: it appears that many of our analysts and "experts" now attribute the invasion of Iraq to "bad intelligence."

Over a period of more than ten years, I have written numerous articles (at least 15 or 20 major essays, as well as many shorter entries) examining the entirely fraudulent nature of "intelligence" in general. I have also examined many particular instances of "intelligence" being entirely, often grievously wrong -- and "intelligence" is almost always wrong. Here, I will provide only a brief summary of the argument, but I will provide links for those who are interested in the details of the reasoning and evidence involved (either for the first time, or as a reminder).

From "You, Too, Can and Should Be an 'Intelligence Analyst'":
Intelligence is completely irrelevant to major policy decisions. Such decisions are matters of judgment, and knowledgeable, ordinary citizens are just as capable of making these determinations as political leaders allegedly in possession of "secret information." Such "secret information" is almost always wrong -- and major decisions, including those pertaining to war and peace, are made entirely apart from such information in any case.

The second you start arguing about intelligence, you've given the game away once again. This is a game the government and the proponents of war will always win. By now, we all surely know that if they want the intelligence to show that Country X is a "grave" and "growing" threat, they will find it or manufacture it. So once you're debating what the intelligence shows or fails to show, the debate is over. The war will inevitably begin.

To repeat: the decision to go to war is one of policy, and the intelligence -- whatever it is alleged to show -- is irrelevant. Don't argue in terms of intelligence at all. If you do, you'll lose. The administration knows that; many of its opponents still haven't figured it out, even now.
In the same article, I later wrote:
I therefore repeat my major admonition, and give it special emphasis:
It is always irrelevant to major policy decisions, and such decisions are reached for different reasons altogether. This is true whether the intelligence is correct or not, and it is almost always wrong. On those very rare occasions when intelligence is accurate, it is likely to be disregarded in any case. It will certainly be disregarded if it runs counter to a course to which policymakers are already committed.

The intelligence does not matter. It is primarily used as propaganda, to provide alleged justification to a public that still remains disturbingly gullible and pliable -- and it is used after the fact, to justify decisions that have already been made.
For newer readers, here are two notable statements of this principle that I have often referenced. From Barbara Tuchman:
Acquiescence in Executive war, [Fulbright] wrote, comes from the belief that the government possesses secret information that gives it special insight in determining policy. Not only was this questionable, but major policy decisions turn "not upon available facts but upon judgment," with which policy-makers are no better endowed than the intelligent citizen. Congress and citizens can judge "whether the massive deployment and destruction of their men and wealth seem to serve the overall interests as a nation."


The belief that government knows best was voiced just at this time by Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who said on resumption of the bombing, "We ought to all support the President. He is the man who has all the information and knowledge of what we are up against." This is a comforting assumption that relieves people from taking a stand. It is usually invalid, especially in foreign affairs. "Foreign policy decisions," concluded Gunnar Myrdal after two decades of study, "are in general much more influenced by irrational motives" than are domestic ones.
From Gabriel Kolko:
It is all too rare that states overcome illusions, and the United States is no more an exception than Germany, Italy, England, or France before it. The function of intelligence anywhere is far less to encourage rational behavior--although sometimes that occurs--than to justify a nation's illusions, and it is the false expectations that conventional wisdom encourages that make wars more likely, a pattern that has only increased since the early twentieth century. By and large, US, Soviet, and British strategic intelligence since 1945 has been inaccurate and often misleading, and although it accumulated pieces of information that were useful, the leaders of these nations failed to grasp the inherent dangers of their overall policies. When accurate, such intelligence has been ignored most of the time if there were overriding preconceptions or bureaucratic reasons for doing so.
Many (most) people (doubtless including the author of The New Yorker article) will nonetheless insist that "intelligence" is of vital significance, and that it depends on specialized knowledge, i.e., "secret information." That, too, is a lie. Here is Ray McGovern, who worked for the CIA (also excerpted in my article, "You, Too, Can and Should Be an 'Intelligence Analyst'"):
The craft of CIA analysis was designed to be an all-source operation, meaning that we analysts were responsible - and held accountable - for assimilating information from all sources and coming to judgments on what it all meant. We used data of various kinds, from the most sophisticated technical collection platforms, to spies, to - not least - open media.

Here I must reveal a trade secret and risk puncturing the mystique of intelligence analysis. Generally speaking, 80 percent of the information one needs to form judgments on key intelligence targets or issues is available in open media. It helps to have been trained - as my contemporaries and I had the good fortune to be trained - by past masters of the discipline of media analysis, which began in a structured way in targeting Japanese and German media in the 1940s. But, truth be told, anyone with a high school education can do it. It is not rocket science.
As I noted in the earlier article, after much additional reading and analysis, I concluded that the 80% figure is almost certainly too low; I now think the more accurate figure would be 90%, or even 95%.

For still more about the colossal fraud of "intelligence," I refer you to "Played for Fools Yet Again: About that Iran 'Intelligence' Report," which contains a lengthy excerpt from Chalmers Johnson about the decades-long failures of the intelligence agencies. You can also consult "'Secret Information': Giving Up Your Life for a Vicious Lie." The first half of this essay describes how the pattern of willingly and enthusiastically providing obedience to authority figures, in part because the young child believes the authority figures' claims that they have "secret information" denied to the child, is set in very early childhood, while the second half examines how the "intelligence" fraud cashes in on the severe damage inflicted on the child, now that she/he is an adult.

As for the claim that the invasion of Iraq resulted from "bad intelligence": c'mon. I mean, c'mon.Millions of people around the world passionately protested against the imminent invasion of Iraq. It was entirely obvious to them that Iraq represented no serious threat to the U.S., as that fact was obvious to anyone with ten functioning brain cells. Moreover, a multitude of evidence establishes beyond all question that the Bush administration knew Iraq represented no serious threat to the U.S. The decision to invade and occupy Iraq was one of policy -- a policy to which the key players had been committed since the early 1990s. They made no secret about it; to the contrary, they announced their preferred policy for the Middle East at every opportunity. That policy, in brief, was that the United States had the right (and the responsibility, they would often add) to shake up and rearrange the Middle East as the U.S. determined was necessary. To be clear: this policy was a fully bipartisan affair, and a policy to which both Democrats and Republicans (with a few notable exceptions) were fully committed.

As noted above, the intelligence did not matter, whatever it may have shown. The decision was one of policy, period. In some of my essays mentioned above, I noted that I was well aware that my views about "intelligence" were those of a small minority, and that I was astonished by how difficult it was to convince people even to consider altering their traditional view. Moreover, I have continued to watch as some people who have finally agreed me about this quickly revert to their previous, standard opinion about "intelligence," after some time has gone by. All of this confirms my view on another, related subject: that the damage inflicted on us as young children can last a lifetime. In this case, as in almost every case, the child is taught that obedience to authority is the primary virtue. The child is also taught that the authority figures in its life have "secret information" that is utterly inaccessible to her/him, and that she/he must therefore trust them completely, without any question whatsoever. This perfectly maps the adult's conviction that "important" government officials are privy to information that informs their decisions, information to which ordinary citizens can never have access, and that we must therefore obey the officials without question. Most people are unable to alter these beliefs to any significant degree once they are adults.

That most people still fail to grasp this issue results in one small benefit for the perceptive observer: watching "serious" writers, like the New Yorker author, eagerly offering an explanation of the Iraq war which is George W. Bush's preferred defense: Hey, don't blame me! The intelligence made me do it! I suspect the New Yorker writer would not consciously choose to provide succor and comfort to Bush in this manner -- but that is precisely what she has done.

I will mention only briefly one aspect of the New Yorker article which reveals the author's bias to the careful reader. In addition to the Iran episode involving the Reagan administration and Iraq, the article mentions the Vietnam War, the Spanish-American War, and the Mexican-American War. I feel compelled to mention that a much more colorful discussion of the loathsome lies and intentions behind the Mexican-American War will be found in Hampton Sides' work, which I excerpted here. For example:
The simple truth was, Polk wanted more territory. No president in American history had ever been so frank in his aims for seizing real estate. ...

Perhaps to dignify the nakedness of Polk's land lust, the American citizenry had got itself whipped into an idealistic frenzy, believing with an almost religious assurance that its republican form of government and its constitutional freedoms should extend to the benighted reaches of the continent then held by Mexico, which, with its feudal customs and Popish superstitions, stood squarely in the way of Progress. To conquer Mexico, in other words, would be to do it a favor.
Do you notice any significant omissions from the article's list of the U.S.'s "long history of provoking, instigating, or launching wars based on dubious, flimsy, or manufactured threats"? I can think of two, neither of which is lost in the mists of time: Kosovo and Libya. Curious, that. Both of those war crimes were deliberately instigated under Democratic administrations, and very recent ones. Both involved a monumental series of lies, including claims of atrocities that never happened. ("Oh, but we had to stop a genocide!" Except the genocide never happened.) For a lengthy discussion of Kosovo, please consult this post; on Libya, you may consult "If Pictures Were Arguments ..."

Let's turn our attention to the second of the New Yorker's sentences about the vast war crime of the Iraq invasion and occupation: "The repercussions are still playing out sixteen years (and more than four thousand American deaths) later." Here, the New Yorker writer has adopted an additional role. You may remember the old joke about the attorney who gestures to his client, a young man who is accused of brutally murdering both his parents, and who is obviously and unquestionably guilty. "But Your Honor! Surely we must be able to show some compassion. He is barely a young man, he's only 23 -- and he's all alone in the world. He's an orphan!" Yeah, it's truly heartbreaking to see the pain of a vicious murderer over the crimes he reveled in committing.

Four thousand entirely unnecessary American deaths is certainly a tragedy -- although it must always be kept in mind that the U.S. was the aggressor in a war of choice, a war of aggression against a non-existent threat. And there is no draft; therefore, every American soldier involved in the Iraq invasion and occupation was there by choice. No, that is not the end of the inquiry; these moral questions of responsibility and judgment are complex. "No, I Do Not Support 'The Troops'" discusses these and related issues.

The New Yorker fails to mention that, in its brutal war of aggression, the U.S. completely destroyed an entire country, destabilized an already exceedingly dangerous area of the world -- and it unleashed a genocide of world historical proportion. This is not even acknowledged.

I confess that, even after many years of writing about these issues, this kind of self-blinded, narcissistic self-absorption, to the exclusion of even a passing awareness of the pain and horror our government inflicts around the world, still takes my breath away. I repeat here part of what I wrote in the essay linked immediately above. I include this excerpt because I think I utilized a strategy that is useful in trying to break through this wall of resistance:
Since Americans' narcissism is so all-encompassing, and because the superior value of American lives and goals as compared to those of all other peoples is regarded as an axiom never to be questioned, let's put these horrors in terms that Americans might understand. Let's make it about you.

For ease of computation, we'll use approximate figures. Assume the U.S.'s war crimes have resulted in one million deaths. That is roughly 1/26 of the total Iraqi population. An equivalent number of American deaths would be 11.5 million people. 3,000 Americans were murdered on 9/11. In terms of casualties, 11.5 million deaths represent 3,800 9/11s -- or a 9/11 every day for ten and a half years.

Let me repeat that: a 9/11 every day for ten and a half years.

Perhaps you think these casualty figures are highly inflated. Fine. Cut them in half. That's a 9/11 every day for a little over five years.

Every day.

Do you begin to understand now?
That the United States government is fully prepared to do this again, either with regard to Iran or perhaps, in time, elsewhere, is a crime so hideous as to be almost beyond contemplation. But make no mistake: whatever future conflicts may occur -- and barring the unimaginable case of another country attacking the U.S. (which, given the certainty of an utterly obliterating counterstrike from the U.S., would appear to be virtually impossible) -- they will not be "accidental" or "inadvertent." Every war the U.S. has ever fought was the result of deliberate calculation, often over an extended period of time, and a course decided upon to achieve certain desired goals (usually, territory coveted for resources and/or for the markets that would be provided to the U.S.). My series Dominion Over the World contains nine essays which chart the development and implementation of the U.S. policy of global hegemony.

The bipartisan elite Establishment continues to believe that the U.S. is entitled to dictate events around the world. Yes, even the sainted Obama believes this one. You cannot be elected to national office in this country unless you believe it. Oh, yes, the odd Senator or Representative might get through now and then -- you have to reinforce the people's faith in "democracy" and its wondrous workings! -- but that's not enough to change the direction of events. But if the U.S. government should go down this route once more, there will not be fires hot enough in Hell to punish their putrid, rotted souls.

P.S. If you found this post of interest and that it offered a perspective of some value, I hope you might consider making a donation to the blog. I'm in the midst of an emergency donation drive, necessitated by the fact that I (along with the other tenants in the building) am being evicted prior to the building's demolition. I have to be out of my apartment by June 4, and I don't have all the funds required for a new apartment and associated moving expenses. So, yes, it's a crisis. A fuller explanation is provided here. I would be most grateful for your consideration. Many, many thanks. (The PayPal donation button will be found in the upper righthand corner.)