Wednesday Reads: History…War on Christmas, War in Iraq, and the Fog of War

Peace River Citrus...tasty orange juice, freshly squeezed.

Good Morning!

Ooof, that is quite a lot of war in the title for today’s post…lots of things to share with you this morning. It’s been raining pretty steady and the wind is whipping up the cows in the pasture down here in Banjoland.

Today’s post is going to focus on a theme that revolves around History…but first, a quick article about  something meteorological.

This weather link is so damn cool!

I saw this article when it was first published earlier this week, and planned on using it for today…Weird Kelvin-Helmholtz Wave Clouds over Birmingham and let me tell you, it is freaky!

While driving through Birmingham, Alabama, Redditor alison_bee couldn’t help but notice the bizarre, repetitive wave shapes appearing in the clouds near the horizon. While these strange cloud formations look otherworldly, they’re an example of what’s called Kelvin-Helmholtz instability — which is a pretty awesome name for a spectacular phenomenon.

What did I tell you?

Heres what Redditor and meteorologist zensunnioracle had to say:

Meteorologist here. These are indeed Kelvin-Helmholtz waves. What is happening is that the nocturnal near-surface layers (lowest 50-100m) of the atmosphere are much more stable than the layers above it in the mornings. Until the ground heats up due to daytime heating, the surface layers stay more stable than the air over it. Kelvin-Helmholtz waves occur when the wind shear between the layers destabilizes the topmost portion of that stable layer, and entrains the air into the unstable layer. What you see is stable air being lifted, cooled, and condensed so that this process becomes visible, though this commonly happens many places without being visible.

As spectacular as these waves are here on Earth, the same forces create similar patters on the gas giant planets like Saturn and Jupiter. While those are some truly enormous waves, these pictures from alison_bee should show that the Earthbound variety aren’t to be sneezed at either.

Video of these clouds as they roll over the city at the link…

Do you remember that hostage situation in a Russian cinema back in 2002? European Court Orders Russia to Pay Victims of 2002 Theater Siege

The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Russia to pay more than $1.3 million to victims of the government’s mishandled attempt to end the siege of a Moscow theater in 2002.

The Strasbourg-based court ruled Tuesday that Russia had violated the European Convention on Human Rights by a lack of planning and poor execution of the rescue operation.

Chechen militants refused to surrender after a standoff at the Dubrovka theater lasting several days, leading Russian security forces to launch a raid on the theater, where the militants were holding more than 800 people hostage. The troops fired an unidentified gas into the theater to try to knock out the militants, but nearly 130 hostages died in the attempt.

In addition, the report stated that Russia did not provide adequate medical aid to the hostages after its rescue effort and failed to conduct an effective investigation of the tragedy.

This comes at a time when tensions are running high in Russia, as Peggy Sue described it in a post last week, The Russian Winter.

Well, the Arab Spring is still ongoing, I thought this next post was interesting because it discusses British History in the Middle East, and the lessons that should be learned. The ‘Arab spring’ and the west: seven lessons from history

talat harb 1956/2011

October 2011: Egyptians in Talat Harb square, Cairo, protest against military rule; October 1956: Egyptians demonstrate in the same square against British-French invasion. Photograph: Getty/Associated Press

There’s a real sense in which, more than any other part of the former colonial world, the Middle East has never been fully decolonised. Sitting on top of the bulk of the globe’s oil reserves, the Arab world has been the target of continual interference and intervention ever since it became formally independent.

Carved into artificial states after the first world war, it’s been bombed and occupied – by the US, Israel, Britain and France – and locked down with US bases and western-backed tyrannies. As the Palestinian blogger Lina Al-Sharif tweeted on Armistice Day this year, the “reason World War One isn’t over yet is because we in the Middle East are still living the consequences”.

Just a side note, I think the comparison of those two photos is a perfect introduction to this article.

The Arab uprisings that erupted in Tunisia a year ago have focused on corruption, poverty and lack of freedom, rather than western domination or Israeli occupation. But the fact that they kicked off against western-backed dictatorships meant they posed an immediate threat to the strategic order.

Since the day Hosni Mubarak fell in Egypt, there has been a relentless counter-drive by the western powers and their Gulf allies to buy off, crush or hijack the Arab revolutions. And they’ve got a deep well of experience to draw on: every centre of the Arab uprisings, from Egypt to Yemen, has lived through decades of imperial domination. All the main Nato states that bombed Libya, for example – the US, Britain, France and Italy – have had troops occupying the country well within living memory.

If the Arab revolutions are going to take control of their future, then, they’ll need to have to keep an eye on their recent past. So here are seven lessons from the history of western Middle East meddling, courtesy of the archive of Pathé News, colonial-era voice of Perfidious Albion itself.

Please go to the link to read about the seven lessons, the first one is a big lesson that we will probably never learn…there are also embedded videos to support the article, some go back to Libya and Jerusalem in the 1930’s.

And for another History Lesson, there is a lengthy timeline here at this link to MoJo: Lie by Lie: A Timeline of How We Got Into Iraq

George Bush Dr. Strangelove

At A congressional hearing examining the march to war in Iraq, Republican congressman Walter Jones posed “a very simple question” about the administration’s manipulation of intelligence: “How could the professionals see what was happening and nobody speak out?”

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, responded with an equally simple answer: “The vice president.”

Oh… this is extremely detailed, so just go read the entire thing! Perhaps it will make you remember some of the events listed, as it made me recall them, in my mind’s vivid memory.

History has yet to write the story of Bradley Manning, however, Amy Goodman has done a good job of reporting on his case. Amy Goodman: Bradley Manning and the Fog of War

Accused whistle-blower Pvt. Bradley Manning turned 24 Saturday. He spent his birthday in a pretrial military hearing that could ultimately lead to a sentence of life … or death. Manning stands accused of causing the largest leak of government secrets in United States history.

Goodman explains the reasons for his “imprisonment” and gives a summary of what his outlook may be:

Back in the Fort Meade, Md., hearing room, defense attorneys painted a picture of a chaotic forward operating base with little to no supervision, no controls whatsoever on soldiers’ access to classified data, and a young man in uniform struggling with his sexual identity in the era of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Manning repeatedly flew into rages, throwing furniture and once even punching a superior in the face, without punishment. His peers at the base said he should not be in a war zone. Yet he stayed, until his arrest 18 months ago.

Since his arrest, Manning has been in solitary confinement, for much of the time in Quantico, Va., under conditions so harsh that the U.N. special rapporteur on torture is investigating. Many believe the U.S. government is trying to break Manning in order to use him in its expected case of espionage against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. It also sends a dramatic message to any potential whistle-blower: “We will destroy you.”

For now, Manning sits attentively, reports say, facing possible death for “aiding the enemy.” The prosecution offered words Manning allegedly wrote to Assange as evidence of his guilt. In the email, Manning described the leak as “one of the more significant documents of our time, removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of 21st century asymmetrical warfare.” History will no doubt use the same words as irrefutable proof of Manning’s courage.

There are so many things going on these days that indicate a change in the rights and liberties of American citizens. We are in the process of losing these rights in this Bush/Obama Administration.

I love this history theme for today’s post…here is another article from Truthdig: William Pfaff: History Tells Us Not to Dismiss a Democratic Challenge to Obama

A week ago, in the Providence Journal newspaper (in Rhode Island), the publisher of Harper’s Magazine, John R. MacArthur, wrote that President Barack Obama, through expedient political compromises, has lost the moral authority that an American president must command, and therefore has lost his right to a second presidential term. Mr. MacArthur quotes in support of his argument the veteran journalist Bill Moyers, who was a member of President Lyndon Johnson’s staff from 1965 to 1967, and since has become a prominent commentator on public television and in liberal and Democratic Party circles.

Just click the link to read the rest…and there is a note at the end of the post you may find interesting too. (Especially those following the Euro/EU economic news.)

And for the last link, we’re going Medieval…on the Right and Left’s perceptions of the “War on Christmas.”  Illuminating the “The War on Christmas” — Got Medieval

No snark today, just a few pretty medieval pictures interspersed with thoughts on this whole War on Christmas thing that you hear so much about these days.

At heart, I think, the War is a matter of incompatible perception. One camp looks at Christmas and sees this:

British Library MS Additional 52539, f. 2 (click-expandable)

And the other, this:

British Library MS Egerton 2045, f. 95 (click to expand)

Behold, a pair of “Adoration of the Magi”.* Neither version looks very much like the medieval marginalia this series typically features** but they both muck about with the page’s margins, nevertheless, so they’re fair game.

The second adoration is actually the most properly called “marginalia”; look closely, and you’ll see there’s a tiny rectangle of text there in the middle of the page, barely a half line of scripture.  Everything else–Jesus and Mary, the three magi and their retainers, the gifts, the castle, even the camel–is located fully within the page’s sumptuously decorated margin, a margin that has expanded so as to nearly blot out the page’s text.

Likewise with the first; it’s marginal, if only just.  While it’s technically a “historiated initial,” if you squint at the lower left quadrant, you’ll see that the kneeling cup-bearing servant is slipping out into the margin.  Everyone else is crowded in so that there’s no room left for him to stand in the main image.

Which one is the metaphor for the Christmas War-Uponers, and which the Christmas Defense Squad?

There is so much one can learn about the attitudes and thought process of the Medieval mind through the art of page decorations.

As the above blog post analyzes the pictures of Christmas, that include the Savior, an occasional Christmas “Beasty” and all the other familiar characters, i.e. the Three Wise Men, I wonder what the three idiots on the curvy couch would have to say about all this marginalization going on.

So this is your History Lesson for the day, what else are you reading and thinking about? See y’all later in the comments.

Hmmm…that makes me think of the phrase, See You in the Funny Papers.


33 Comments on “Wednesday Reads: History…War on Christmas, War in Iraq, and the Fog of War”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    First, those pictures are spectacular! You can’t beat Mother Nature!

    Secondly, I am so sick of those who “forget” those awful Bush years while pretending they hardly existed when it is the aftermath that we are dealing with today.

    No one is interested in asking the average Iraqi citizen how he/she feels about their homeland being invaded, their homes bombed into rubble, the loss of essential services like electricity and water supplies, their families torn apart, and the torture of random citizens who were tossed into Abu Ghareib for “fun and games” by the US military all based on lies perpetrated by a criminal enterprise who have escaped accountability.

    It’s as if it never happened.

    • HT says:

      Pat, that is one helluva a comment – worthy of an entire post. One must ask, after the Nurembourg trials, it was made patently clear that “just following orders” was not a defense when those orders were clearly criminal, yet not one person of note has stepped forward and sounded the clarion call for those types of trials – The U.S. and all of NATO are clearly involved in war crimes, yet no one even contemplates holding them to the same measure that they held Nazi Germany. Wonder why?

      • Pat Johnson says:

        “Accountability” was stricken from the dialogue when Nancy Pelosi took “impeachment” off the table. End of story.

        This merely opened the way for those who led this debacle crafted by the neocons and enacted out of lies to “aid us in forgetting” the abuse of power that took place for 8 years.

        We got Obama who agreed to “turn the page” thus driving these events underground, or better yet, scrubbed from history.

        Today the average attention span of the public is reduced to a 24 hour news cycle with history all but forgotten. I am seeing the evidence of that on blogs that are casually suggesting that “Newt isn’t all that bad” or “Bush is better than Obama”. Feeble comparisons when Newt was the leader of the charges against Clinton and Bush created a war based on false premises.

        Had we held hearings at least we would have lifted some of the inconsistencies and outed the lies and liars who took part.

        It’s almost impossible to criticize Obama without having to pay attention to comments that prefer to erase those 8 years of horror by excusing those excesses in suggesting Obama is “worse”.

        He is no prize but all the past has been forgotten in an avalanche of opinion that seeks to exclude Bush for putting us in the positions we are at today.

      • ralphb says:

        casually suggesting that “Newt isn’t all that bad” or “Bush is better than Obama”.

        Pat, That is indeed seen on some supposedly liberal blogs and it drives me to distraction. I can’t understand cheerleading for the insane GOP, even if Obama sucks.

      • quixote says:

        Um, not strictly true. The Spanish government actually has warrants out for Bush’s and Cheney’s (and other members of that Administration? not sure) on the grounds of war crimes. The US Establishment seems to consider it kinda cute. Recently, Shrub took a trip to Africa as part of some charitable cause or other, and decided not to stop over in Europe in case he got arrested.

        I completely agree with your point that the US is doing nothing, and that nobody else is doing anywhere near enough. I’m just mentioning the slight noise out of Europe because it is actually there.

  2. HT says:

    Minx, as usual, wonderful roundup. Love the pictures of the clouds – eerie but interesting. In the past they would have been a harbinger of bad things acoming. Reminds me of one of many of my favorite movies – Something Wicked this way comes (apologies to Shakespeare). Can’t find a clip on you tube. They recently changed their format and from my POV not for the better. The beginning of censorship on a major scale. Clips are being pulled, searches are being directed only to what the POTB want, no more freewheeling allowed. Sad, we are witnessing the decline of a civilization.

  3. ralphb says:

    Thanks for another great morning’s news Minx. The clouds are fascinating and the middle east information very good indeed.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Very very enlightening post, Minx. Thank you for providing such a variety of links! As Pat said, the photos are reminders of how magnificent and powerful nature is. I totally agree with Pat’s comments and with HT’s evaluation of them.

    I’ve been sick for the past few days and I’m sick and tired of the Christmas hype. I think I’d be really depressed right now if it weren’t for this blog. Thank you everyone for being here!

    • HT says:

      BB – nestle in – lots of comforters and warmth. Get a good book (I use crosswords and Jane Austen novels) lots of hot lemon with real sugar and a tad of scotch. Sleep, watch mindless movies, sleep again and if you have furry pals, quiet play. Do that for a couple of days solid – meaning no running out for odds and ends. Eat well – lots of soup. Just get better really soon.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      I am feeling a little ill as well. Almost noon and I am still in robe and slippers while looking around at what needs to be done but not having the interest or energy to make it happen.

      Honestly, I am anxious for the next week to be over. Like with the GOP debates they have gone on for too long. Enough already! We get ti!

      Fa la la la la and all the rest of the phony crapola that must be endured.

      Going to haul myself over to the couch and finish the latest Michael Connolly book while fighting the “guilt” away.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Enjoy, Pat. I hope you don’t get this. It started out with feeling queasy and very tired.

      • HT says:

        Oh no, not you too Pat! take care of yourself. Get you kids to take the load off your shoulders and rest, drink plenty of fluids, and rest.
        Speaking of fluids, I had to get plumbers in to fix my main water intake valve – it was leaking like a sieve and my basement was being flooded. Anyway although the bill was over $400 – worth every penny – while the older plumber was writing up the billing, the younger one at my invitation sat down at the piano and played – beautiful music. Some days give you a curse and a blessing all at the same time.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Thanks BB, wow you, Dak. and Pat all getting sick, take care of yourselves.

  5. quixote says:

    Loved the clouds!

    … but have bones to pick with the “seven lessons from history” of the West in the Middle East. That’s a real porridge of truth and not-so-truth, and it bothers me. Yes, the colonial powers + US are in it for the oil and have a horrible influence. Yes, the Arabs and Iranians have had hugely courageous resistance movements for over a century. But, no, far from everything that is going wrong is the fault of the West.

    I spent some time travelling through the relevant countries and part of my background is Iranian. Not that that makes me an expert by an means, but I have seen some of the attitudes that hold Middle Easterners back “on the ground,” as it were, and they have nothing to do with the West. There’s a centuries-long history of absolute and generally fairly vicious rulers in the region. So even before the decades-long and fairly vicious colonial era, the population expected corruption and commonly dealt with it by trying to use it rather than get themselves killed trying to change it.

    An even bigger problem is the cultural attitude to women. They’re wasting half their population, and there’s not a population on the planet who is so brilliant they can afford to do that. Besides, even though women aren’t too different from men, oppressed people haven’t held power so they’re freer of its corrupting influence. So, right now, they’re wasting the better half of their population. They don’t at this point even pay lip service to the concept that this may not be such a smart move. Interestingly enough, the earlier generation of revolutionaries, Ataturk, Nasser, Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, were a bit clearer on the need to liberate the whole population. (Some of them didn’t turn out too well, but they were clearer on that point.)

    So, anyway, this is a longwinded way of saying that the stratospheric levels of corruption and sexism are homegrown, and do plenty to make it easy for the West to work them over for oil.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    House Republicans walk out of chamber and demand C-Span turn off cameras in order to prevent debate on Senate payroll tax/unemployment extention bill.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal/2011_12/literally_walking_away_from_a034239.php

    I wonder if these Reps realize they may be signing their own “death warrants?” They do have to get votes from real people, not just the 1%

    • ralphb says:

      Those people are knifing themselves in the back. It couldn’t happen to a better group of fools.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        The thing is that most of them are in “safe districts” which is why they are able to carry on as they do.

        If you don’t fear the voter then you can behave like a complete asshole and be rewarded for your efforts in the bargain.

        And besides, even if they do manage to eventually “kick you to the curb” there’s always a job waiting for a well paid consultant, or in some cases a “historian”, to continue kicking you up into a higher income bracket even if you are as dumb as the proverbial post.

      • ralphb says:

        Here’s a small maybe. I’m not sure those new Tea Party reps are in totally safe districts so they may get kicked to the curb easier than normal. At least, we can hope.

    • quixote says:

      I think they’re watching Obama’s popularity climb up after a few pretty speeches and they’re figuring an ad campaign next September – October (financed by the 1%) will solve all their problems.

      The terrifying part is that they may well be right.

  7. ralphb says:

    While Willard criticizes Obama for lack of leadership, he won’t even take a position on the payroll tax cut.

    http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/12/21/393843/romney-payroll-tax-refuses/

    Is it any wonder the GOP voters hate this weasel? Even Gingrich says the House should “give in” on the deal.

  8. Minkoff Minx says:

    Matt Damon Would Have Preferred ‘A One-Term President With Balls’ | Mediaite

    Matt Damon lashed out at President Obama in a new interview with Elle magazine, saying he would’ve preferred “a one-term president with some balls who actually got stuff done.”
    “I’ve talked to a lot of people who worked for Obama at the grassroots level,” Damon fumed. “One of them said to me, ‘Never again. I will never be fooled again by a politician…You know, a one-term president with some balls who actually got stuff done would have been, in the long run of this country, much better.”

    “If the Democrats think that they didn’t have a mandate,” Damon continued. “People are literally without any focus or leadership, just wandering out into the streets to yell right now because they are so pissed off. Imagine if they had a leader.”

  9. foxyladi14 says:

    Minx,thanks for a wonderful roundup. 🙂

  10. Linda C says:

    I am actually for letting the payroll tax cut expire. It is about the only money we pay into the government that we actually get back in social security. Insisting on extending that tax cut is probably the worst thing to do.