Unmanned Killer Aircraft: Coming to a Town Near You

I thought this was noteworthy, since the air base where the new live video gaming center command center will be located is just a few miles from my house. Contrary to the ominous-sounding title, though, this is good news. No, really. Just ask a local official:

Local officials praised the move. State Rep. Todd Stephens, R-151, said “the beauty of it is we get the jobs but no impact on air traffic in and out of Willow Grove. That’s a terrific scenario.”

Bill Walker, manager of Horsham Township, said the news is positive for both the base and municipality.

“The only difference we’ll see is in the economy,” he said. “If people are being relocated, it will help the housing market. And it’s all good news for the banks and barbershops, dry cleaners and restaurants.”

I see that no Pakistanis were interviewed for this article. Just as well, I guess. They’d probably find some reason to pooh-pooh this boon to pizza shop and adult DVD store owners in southeastern Pennsylvania. On the other hand, it’s good to see that my representative in congress is doing her job, digging her snout in the trough and fattening herself–sorry, us–on federal largesse.

As for the two sourpusses who are all worried about drones being used to spy on citizens, I say get a grip. The US government doesn’t need drones to spy on us. That’s what we have Telecoms for.

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Go to faraway place, lose limb, be used by large automaker to sell cars

My favorite ad (meaning the one that jumped out as the most shameless piece of manipulative shit) that ran during the Commercial Bowl the other day was the one that tried to pass itself off as a “tribute” to our heroic heroes in uniform (whose sacrifice makes all of this endless whoring possible, no doubt) before revealing itself at the last moment as a sales pitch for Jeep.  The ad itself consisted of a video collage of picturesque small towns, rosy-cheeked marines in their dress uniforms, and rippling flags, underscored by maudlin music and a voice-over spouting all the usual platitudes about the military.  I love cynical appeals to the patriotism of the ignorant as a sales ploy.  It makes me proud to be an American.  Next time I think they should go whole hog, though.  I want to see smoking Humvees, triple amputees, and body bags, with the message: Buy a Jeep.  You don’t want these lives to have been ruined for nothing, do you?

Bicycles and Killing Machines

Good line from a post at Mimi’s Musing:

I looked it up, discovered that the Air Show–the penultimate thrill of bullies and fascists–is scheduled from 10:00 until 3:30, so advised him his friends should have no particular problem going south.

It reminds me of being in Ocean City, New Jersey during an air show two years ago.  We were down there for the weekend at the place my mother-in-law rents for a week every September, and a bunch of us had rented bikes and rode down to the boardwalk.  While we were there, the air show started up.  It consisted of a succession of vintage planes doing the usual assortment of stunt dives and loops out over the beach and ocean, moving, if I recall, from older and slower to newer and more powerful aircraft.  Then, for the big finale, modern fighter jets came screaming in from out beyond the bay.

We were on our way back when the war planes came in.  The rest of the group had rode on ahead, leaving me and my daughter, who was six at the time (and a much slower rider than her older cousins), behind.  People stood all along the boardwalk, and on the decks of the houses facing the ocean, watching these planes rip across the sky with what I took to be a mixture of awe and civic pride.  When we reached the end of the boardwalk and descended to the street, the town itself was pretty much deserted.  Down amongst the houses and other buildings, the noise from the jets was deafening, and by about the third or fourth pass my daughter had had enough.  “I hate these stupid planes,” she yelled, wobbling on her bike and hunching her shoulders as if attempting to ward off the sound.

It didn’t take much effort to imagine that this is what it must feel like to be on the receiving end of U.S. military “aid,” except that instead of dodging bombs we were just having our eardrums blown out.  Maybe next time, in the interest of putting on a more realistic show, they could work in some live explosives—not close enough to kill anybody, of course, just close enough to send a few hundred patriotic fools scurrying for the nearest sand dune.

The Other 1%

Heard a marine, or former marine, say on a talk radio show this afternoon: “We’re the one percent that helps the other 99 percent.”

Setting aside the question of how exactly killing villagers in places like Afghanistan is helping anyone in the United States, I have to ask, don’t you just hate when people insist on giving you “help” you didn’t ask for?

Support the Troops

The retired postmaster flags certain items he comes across, for female soldiers: such as a little box of nice soaps. Stirling says even people who don’t support specific wars should support the troops. But he’s not sure he supports the troop withdrawal, “I think that’s a political thing right now. I think it’s expedient. But I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do unless they’re right there waiting to go back in because the situation in the world is very. It’s like a tinderbox, you know, and you’ve got to make sure things are done properly.”

My local NPR affiliate

I guess now that the troops are coming home from Iraq (except for the ones who will remain to guard the embassy, and the others who will remain in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, just, you know, to make sure nobody steals any sand) we’re going to get more of these sentimental puff pieces about those brave men and women who risk their lives to defend our freedoms.

Of all the braindead slogans regularly parroted in the mainstream media and culture, “support the troops” has got to be the most nauseating.  Even when an effort is made, as in the passage quoted above, to separate the soldiers from the mission, it’s still, in effect, an underhanded attempt to silence dissent.  What they’re actually saying is, “You may not support the war(s), but really you should, if only for the sake of the troops.”  It’s become the foreign policy equivalent of “think of the children.”

But what really irks is the implied obligation.  You should support the troops because they’re risking their lives for you.  I mean, they wouldn’t even be in Iraq, killing all of those terrible sand niggers and getting their arms and legs blown off by IEDs, if it wasn’t for you and your damn freedom that needs to be protected all the time.  You’re not some kind of ingrate, are you?

Funny thing is, I don’t recall asking a single soldier to go anywhere and do anything for me.  So I have an idea: Instead of telling me that I should support the troops, I think you should just fuck off.

The Jingo Bowl

Will Grigg on that annual spectacle of national self-indulgence disguised as a sporting event:

Superbowl Sunday, the High Holy Day of our de facto state religion, has become such a brobdingnagian spectacle of militarist self-worship that Leni Riefenstahl would probably find the proceedings a bit excessive. The Caligulan feast in Dallas did offer one small source of consolation: Contrary to what compulsive mosque-baiters would have us believe, the culture on display is not haunted by the specter of impending Sharia rule.

I had a similar thought while watching the pregame show, although I probably would have gone with Kim Jong-il instead of the Nazis.  But no matter—gaudy displays of militarism and paeans to the dear leader (or, in our case, leaders) are all more or less the same anyway.

My favorite part was the tribute to the glories of the US Government narrated by Michael Douglas.  Images of past emperors—I mean, presidents—flitted across the screen, accompanied by references to their most famous speeches.  “Where would we be if He hadn’t asked us what we can do for our country,” said one of those supposed America-haters from Hollywood.  

I almost spat out a mouthful of crab dip when I heard that one.

Let’s see, where would “we” be if JFK hadn’t made a bullshit speech 50 years ago?  No doubt we’d all be dead, all 300,000,000 of us having long ago succumbed to collective inertia and self-neglect.