DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:Middle East: A Complex Re-alignment

Conn Hallinan
Friday November 08, 2019 - 12:01:00 PM

The fallout from the September attack on Saudi Arabia’s Aramco oil facilities is continuing to reverberate throughout the Middle East, sidelining old enmities—sometimes for new ones—and re-drawing traditional alliances. While Turkey’s recent invasion of northern Syria is grabbing the headlines, the bigger story may be that major regional players are contemplating some historic re-alignments. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE:Impeachment and Ukraine

Bob Burnett
Friday November 08, 2019 - 12:18:00 PM

Although the impeachment inquiry is cloaked in legalese -- such as whether Donald Trump committed an impeachable offense -- it's also about the relationship between Trump, and his associates, and Ukraine. There is a counterintelligence aspect: Trump was trying to manipulate the Ukrainian government on multiple fronts. -more-


Jagjit Singh
Sunday November 10, 2019 - 10:08:00 AM

Anger is mounting over the large number of civilians being killed by heavy-handed CIA trained Afghan Forces and misdirected US aerial strikes. According to the United Nations, more civilians were killed by Afghan and international coalition forces in Afghanistan in the first half of this year than by the Taliban and other militants.No longer are Americans regarded as saviors but enemies or infidels. Some Afghans are calling for Americans to be tried in Afghan courts.
After a number of US military strikes resulting in the death of hundreds of civilians, more and more Afghans were heard chanting, “Death to Ashraf Ghani, death to America.”
Following 18 years of U.S. military operations against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the war is still a meat grinder. The Taliban control much of the terrain. The insurgency continues to operate in much of the country including the capital, Kabul. While President Trump equivocates on his peace initiatives with the Taliban and is desperately trying to defend his role in Ukrainegate, Afghanistan is burning. Perhaps many Americans have forgotten that we supported Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban fighters as a counterbalance to the Soviet invasion. Americans should understand that religious affiliations will always trump foreign alliances. Long after all American troops leave left Afghanistan the warring tribes will eventually settle their differences. Let us not compound the mistakes we made in our earlier interventions in Iraq and Libya. The time to leave Afghanistan is NOW.

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: When Delusions Become Assumptions

Jack Bragen
Saturday November 09, 2019 - 10:47:00 AM

The human mind is organically produced, and the attributed organ is the brain. Since the brain is a biological thing, it isn't really a machine. Except that in some instances, the brain and mind do seem to act like a machine. An example is where the human mind seems to operate in a linear, logical manner.

I'm not speaking of "logic" like you might've heard issuing from the character "Spock" in Star Trek. The human mind's logic is, as often as not, inaccurate. The "logic" I speak of points to how we function from assumptions. Assumptions are like postulates. If the assumption is correct, then accurate thinking will follow. If a person's assumptions are inaccurate, the mind will produce inaccurate thoughts and beliefs from these assumptions.

Except that human beings are designed with some mechanisms that allow some level of truth to filter in, despite possibly holding erroneous assumptions. These self-corrective mechanisms, however, don't always work very well. The latter fact pointing to how people can behave in a misguided manner.

People with psychosis usually have a delusion at the bottom of the thoughts. This is where, as a basic assumption, we believe something that isn't so. When erroneous behavior inevitably follows, we get into some type of trouble, and in a best-case scenario wind up being put in a good psychiatric ward. -more-

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Friday November 08, 2019 - 12:30:00 PM

A Teacher's X-rated Desperation

Do we need any more evidence that teachers are underpaid and underappreciated? If so, consider this wrenching cri de coeur that appeared on October 20 in Dan Savage's syndicated East Bay Express sex advice column, Savage Love. (I only read the column for the acronyms, I swear. Recent example from a "poorly endowed" gent who signed his letter: "Physically Embarrassing Nub Isn't Sufficient").

The letter read:

"I am a public-school teacher in the US. I love teaching and I want to teach for the rest of my career" but "after 10 years of poverty, I'm getting tired of going without. I thought perhaps I could do some sex work on the side to help pay off my student loans and get some more money for classroom supplies," so "how on earth does someone safely and discreetly embark on sex work as a side hustle?"

—Signed: Need a Second Job That Actually Pays.

ECLECTIC RANT: Public Debt And Deficits Be Damned

Ralph E. Stone
Friday November 08, 2019 - 12:23:00 PM

The public debt has surpassed $23 trillion for the first time in history, rising more than 100% in less than a decade and more than a trillion dollars this year alone.

The Fiscal Year 2019 (October 1, 2018-September 30, 2019) budget created a $1.09 trillion deficit. A budget deficit can cause concern when the economy is doing well. The government should be reducing the deficit in an effort to lower the debt. Deficit spending in a healthy economy will make it overheat. An economy that's churning too fast creates a boom and bust cycle. It always leads to a recession.

As The New York Times put it, “If we are not going to saddle future generations with ever-increasing government debt, we need to find a great deal of money. That means either spending less or taxing more.” -more-