DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Overturning The Apple Cart

Conn Hallinan
Friday September 27, 2019 - 03:48:00 PM

In many ways it doesn’t really matter who—Houthis in Yemen? Iranians? Shiites in Iraq? — launched those missiles and drones at Saudi Arabia. Whoever did it changed the rules of the game, and not just in the Middle East. “It’s a moment when offense laps defense, when the strong have reason to fear the weak,” observes military historian Jack Radey.

In spite of a $68 billion a year defense budget—the third highest spending of any country in the world—with a world-class air force and supposed state-of-the-art anti-aircraft system, a handful of bargain basement drones and cruise missiles slipped through the Saudi radar and devastated Riyadh’s oil economy. All those $18 million fighter planes and $3 million a pop Patriot anti-aircraft missiles suddenly look pretty irrelevant.

This is hardly an historical first. British dragoons at Concord were better trained and armed than a bunch of Massachusetts farmers, but the former were 5,000 miles from home and there were lots more of the latter, and so the English got whipped. The French army in Vietnam was far superior in firepower than the Viet Minh, but that didn’t count for much in the jungles of Southeast Asia. And the US was vastly more powerful than the insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq, but we still lost both wars.

The Sept. 14 attack on Saudi Arabia’s Aramco refineries at Abqaiq and Khurais did more than knock out 50 percent of Saudi Arabia’s oil production, it shook the pillars of Washington’s foreign policy in the region and demonstrated the fragility of the world’s energy supply.

Since 1945, Washington’s policy in the Middle East has been to control the world’s major energy supplies by politically and militarily dominating the Persian Gulf, which represents about 15 percent of the globe’s resources. The 1979 Carter Doctrine explicitly stated that the US reserved the right to use military force in the case of any threat to the region’s oil and gas.

To that end Washington has spread a network of bases throughout the area and keeps one of its major naval fleets, The Fifth, headquartered in the Gulf. It has armed its allies and fought several wars to ensure its primacy in the region.

And all that just got knocked into a cocked hat. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: The Effects of Bipolar and Schizoid Conditions on Decision-making and Impulsivity

Jack Bragen
Friday September 27, 2019 - 03:58:00 PM

Don't quote the following as a professional opinion:

OCD, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, by itself is not a major mental illness. It is characterized by unusual behavior patterns that are obsessive. People who have this without any additional disorder often do fine without treatment, and some may be very successful in business. However, OCD may also be one of many byproducts of having either a psychotic disorder or an affective disorder.

On the other hand, people with psychosis or mania may not suffer from OCD, they may simply behave obsessively; an important distinction. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: Ready or Not, Here Comes Impeachment

Bob Burnett
Friday September 27, 2019 - 03:44:00 PM

The recent revelations about Donald Trump's attempt to bribe the President of Ukraine, in order to get political dirt on Joe Biden, once again raises the specter of Trump's impeachment. What's involved?

On Tuesday, September 24th, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, announced the commencement of a formal impeachment inquiry:

"...the Trump administration’s actions undermine both the national security and our intelligence and our protections of whistleblowers... For the past several months we have been investigating in our committees and litigating in the courts so the House can gather all the relevant facts and whether to exercise its Article 1 powers, including a constitutional power of the utmost gravity of articles of impeachment.

...this week, the president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically. The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable facts of betrayal of his oath of office and betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.

Therefore, today I’m announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry and directing our six committees to proceed with their investigation under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry."

Pelosi's actions carry political risk. Until this week, the national polling on impeachment has been discouraging. In July Quinnipiac asked, "Do you think that Congress should begin the process to impeach President Trump, which could lead to his removal from office, or don't you think so?" Only 32 percent of respondents said that Congress should begin the impeachment process. Now, the polls indicate positive movement. The September 26, NPR/PBSNewsHour/Marist Poll( ) indicates that 49 percent of respondents are in favor (46 percent opposed) and Independents are split.

It will be a slog to get impeachment to happen. But it's not impossible. Here's what's necessary: -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: On the Impeachment inquiry

Ralph E. Stone
Friday September 27, 2019 - 03:52:00 PM

On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump boasted, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and wouldn’t lose any voters, okay?” He said, mimicking firing a gun with his fingers. “It’s, like, incredible.” We now know how prescient he was. The lesson we learned since Trump became president that if lying and stonewalling work, and your own party is too afraid to challenge you, stick with the plan. As a result, Trump has so far been beyond the reach of the law.

The situation may have changed after the whistleblower complaint reported to be centered on Trump's communications with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, pressuring him to investigate presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden in return for the release of $391million in Congressionally-approved military aid to Ukraine. Trump admitted holding up the Ukraine aid and did ask them to investigate Joe Biden and his son but claimed it was because the cheapskate Europeans were not paying their fair share and he asked for the investigation because he was very worried about political corruption in the U.S. The military aid was ultimately released to the Ukraine. -more-