I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do.

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Troop recall folly

FACED with continuing shortages of U.S. military forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, President Bush has now given open-ended authorization for involuntary recall of Marine Corps reservists, starting with an initial group of 2,500.

These are people who thought they had completed their duties to the nation as soldiers. Many had launched new, more stable lives in the civilian economy, taking on jobs, relationships, and other commitments appropriate to a nonmilitary life. Now they will be required to return to active duty, including combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, for indefinite periods.

The involuntary recall is a result of Mr. Bush’s approach to the Iraq War: that the United States will continue to pursue what is a failed effort, no matter what.

The evidence is clear to everyone except, possibly, Mr. Bush and the engineers of the Republican Party’s fall campaign, that, apart from the overthrow of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, the other stated U.S. objectives of the Iraq war have not been achieved and the situation is deteriorating sharply.

Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction for the United States to eliminate. It had no previous relationship with al-Qaeda, but the occupation insurgency has now provided a rich recruitment and training ground for future terrorism.

Iraq’s ineffectual government, unable to rule amid the general chaos, is no advertisement for democracy in the Middle East, or anywhere else. The country marches deeper into civil war between the Sunni and the Shiites and the creation of a separate Kurdistan

According to President Bush and conservative “thinkers” we’re in Iraq to bring them democracy, if that is the case either Iraqis don’t believe them or or are not interested in at least western style democracy. Given a genuinely free choice Iraqis would have an authoritarian style democracy where they haggle over whether burkas should cover everything or let the face show. This is what the called up marines will be risking their lives for. Why would you or I think such realistic thoughts, because the Iraqis themselves think the same thing, “what the Iraqi people want”

The growing sense of insecurity affected all three of Iraq’s major ethnic and religious groups. The number of Iraqis who “strongly agreed” that life is “unpredictable and dangerous” jumped from 41% to 48% of Shiites, from 67% to 79% of Sunnis, and from 16% to 50% of Kurds. The most recent survey, done in April this year, also asked for “the three main reasons for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.” Less than 2% chose “to bring democracy to Iraq” as their first choice. The list was topped by “to control Iraqi oil” (76%), followed by “to build military bases” (41%) and “to help Israel” (32%).

[ ]…The bottom line: 91.7% of Iraqis oppose the presence of coalition troops in the country, up from 74.4% in 2004. 84.5% are “strongly opposed”.

Getting back to the utterly delusional rantings of neocon apologists Victor David Hanson in his National Review article Mr. Bush’s Communication Problem

In other words, we trusted that the Taliban and Saddam Hussein explained the recent savagery of the Afghans and Iraqis, rather than the innate savagery of the Afghans and Iraqis themselves explaining the creation of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. The result of this confidence, despite the carnage of war, was that democracy was ushered in, the rogues were to be kept out, and peace was supposed to follow from a grateful, liberated people.

But why should it, when the hard hand of American war was not first completely felt — nor the jihadists utterly vanquished and discredited and any who supported them? Unless there is some element of fear, or at least the suggestion of consequences to come for recalcitrance, why should an Iraqi cease his easy support of Hezbollah, his anti-Semitism, or his cheap support for Islamist terrorists around the block?

Victor thinks that all Iraqis are savages thus that puts yet another lid on the we went to Iraq to save the Iraqi people rationale, unless Vic and the neocons think that savages are worth dying for “jihadists utterly vanquished”? Hanson doesn’t even know who we’re fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan, in Iraq we’re fighting the insurgency and in Afghanistan we’re fighting the same tribal war lords that fought the Soviets. Al Queda would love for us to stay bogged down in Iraq, they don’t want us to leave so whether it is Hanson or Bush’s intention they are siding with terrorists; the longer we stay the more lives and treasure we lose which is exactly what AlQueda wants. Conservatives are supposed to be the Grand Pooh Bahs of national security yet don’t know who to fight or how, then turn around and point fingers at their detractors saying that we don’t have a plan. An ironic accusation from a political movement that doesn’t seem to have a clue and is separating civilians from their families and work for a mission they can’t define.

Real Wages Fail to Match a Rise in Productivity

That situation is adding to fears among Republicans that the economy will hurt vulnerable incumbents in this year’s midterm elections even though overall growth has been healthy for much of the last five years.

The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. The drop has been especially notable, economists say, because productivity — the amount that an average worker produces in an hour and the basic wellspring of a nation’s living standards — has risen steadily over the same period.

As a result, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation’s gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960’s. UBS, the investment bank, recently described the current period as “the golden era of profitability.”

Work harder, work smarter, get less. The perfect Republican prescirption for a wizbang economy, but only if you’re already at the top of the ladder.

Decidedly not safe for work, JAMES JOYCE’ DIRTY LETTERS

1909. James Joyce lives in Trieste (Italy) with his family. End of October, he leaves alone for Dublin on a business trip, and stays there until the end of December. He makes a pact with his wife to write to each other erotic letters. The letters of his wife disappeared, but the ones he wrote were published in 1975, the “dirty” letters of Joyce to her wife.

Just another warning, they are as graphic as any modern writing and may be jarring to even the most sophisticated reader. As a Joyce fan I think they provide some of the most intimate insights one is likely to find into the inner Joyce.

I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it call itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use— silence, exile and cunning.

James Joyce (1882–1941) Stephen Dedalus, in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, ch. 5.