Xark began as a group blog in June 2005 but continues today as founder Dan Conover's primary blog-home. Posts by longtime Xark authors Janet Edens and John Sloop may also appear alongside Dan's here from time to time, depending on whatever.
I'm generally a pretty optimistic guy, and there's a general logic to that attitude: Things have pretty much always looked bad to some degree, yet things have, generally, gotten better over time. So you shut your eyes and you keep on walking and you whistle past the graveyard and then, you know -- the sun comes out.
But now a-days you look around, you do the math, and you realize: Holy shit, dude -- are we fucked?
I get the sense that this is one of those moments when things are much worse than "they" are letting on. Which makes me think: We need an "F-Scale." Like, if stuff is just sorta screwed up, but things generally work and you can pretty much expect that you're going to be able to keep your job and your house and suicide bombers aren't going to move in next door and really downgrade your property values, that would be F-1.
And then an F-10 would be economic depression, the destruction of the Bill of Rights, civil war and environmental collapse. And so on.
So where does that put us? Because when the Feds are bailing out the banks and the President is giving the economy a "You're doin' a heckuva job, Brownie" pep-talk, and currency converters in Amsterdam stop exchanging dollars because their value is dropping so fast, that's got to be like an F-7.
And when we're five years into a botched, brutal war and still hoping that the latest strategy is someday going to give the Iraqis a chance to build a society that's stable enough to do simple shit like, say, provide electrical power to most of the grid for most of the day, that's at LEAST an F-8.
And then we've got a political campaign where the entire focus of the past few days has been a concerted, deliberate attempt to destroy an inspiring presidential candidate by endlessly looping out-of-context statements by his preacher? At essentially the same time that the President of the United States of America is openly advocating TORTURE? And the media doesn't even think the torture veto is really all that NEWSWORTHY?
I have to admit: My reactions when I saw the headline-alert Tweet announcing the "Iranian naval showdown" story were not pleasant. My first thought was that our government was hyping whatever happened for political reasons. My second thought was that the News Lords were going to uncritically pound that hype right into the national consciousness.
I don't like either thought, but that's where I find myself today. The federal government says something, and I have to discipline my reaction to make sure that I at least give it the benefit of the doubt. I wasn't this way before 2004, but that where I am now, and it's based on experience, not ideology. The Bush administration certainly didn't invent politicized bullshit (Gulf of Tonkin, anyone?), it's just that ... great Gawd, there's just so much of it, and the skeptical reporting is just so slow to catch up that it's practically irrelevant.
Let's be clear: Bhutto was no saint, even though she played one on TV recently. And yes, her return to Pakistan under threat of almost certain death was an act of great courage.
But the tragedy here isn't just personal. This is a global disaster. Iraq is a mess and Iran is a potential threat, but Pakistan is an enormous country with a polarized population that could either grow into a stable democracy or shake itself to death. And if Pakistan -- a nuclear power -- falls apart and turns hostile to the U.S., well...
If you've been rabidly keeping up with the pending mortgage crisis in the U.S. and its global economic consequences, good for you. I've been out on the town with princesses.
However, if you would like a lovely explanation of just what the hell the "credit crunch" is and why people everywhere are aflutter about looming defaults of thousands of borrowers, visit one of the top sites for U.S. news coverage: the BBC.
This little Q&A lays out nicely what the problem is and why it matters. It's bizness news in English (no pun intended) for those who would like to be economically literate, but aren't masochistic enough to have an MBA. It's from September, but there are lots of links to news stories on the site if you'd like to know more.
(Editor's note) Say what you want about reporter Sy Hersh, but remember this: History gets the last word. His coverage of the Bush Administration's wars just keeps on getting confirmed -- months, even years later, yes, but that's the way things go in the world.
So what does Hersh have to say about the NIE on Iran's nuclear weapons capabilities? Here's a transcript of what he had to say to Wolf Blitzer on CNN last night (-dc)...
"There was no doubt in my mind that this stuff (the explicit images) was gravitating upward. It was standard operating procedure to assume that this had to go higher. The President had to be aware of this."
That's the two-star general who was tasked with investigating the program of torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib, the same man who was forced into retirement this year. Hersh hit the talking-head circuit last night to promote it. On what planet is this not front-page news? Everywhere?
As much as I'd like to read Stratfor's 2007 Annual Forecast, I just can't come up with the $399 to buy a copy right now. However, I thought some of you might be interested in the company's sales pitch summary of some of its key preditions:
Russia and China will rank at least as high in importance as the U.S.
conflicts in the Muslim world.
The United States and Iran are blocking each other's ambitions in Iraq. This
will open new possibilities for political arrangements. The war in Iraq will not
end in victory for anyone. That will become the basis of all negotiations.
The United States is the world's leading power. When it moves toward
political paralysis, others grow bolder. Aggressiveness will continue from
Venezuela to Asia. But the most important moves will come from Russia and China.