Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fiction Friday, Now on Thursday

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I marched ever westward after... No more stomach for war or soldiers or whatever may have crawled out of that shallow grave. I followed a trail of displaced peasants for a league or so, picking at their elderly and infirm in the night. Helped to disguise my predations but Coña Maria - how thin and oily their blood tasted! How relieved I was upon waking one night to smell that thick odor of civilization on the breeze!

Besancon wouldn't have the peasants - at least I assume so, as so many remained outside the walls. But walls, dear Doctor, are but an inconvenience for me - I bounded over them that first night! Had to cross some water first, leading to the happy discovery that I can't drown. After thrashing around for a bit...

Ah! A French city! But still an Imperial city - un Ville Libre d'Imperial, as they were so proud of declaring, even to each other. Frequently. Though quite different from all those other imperial cities I'd known before, both day and night. Much cleaner for one, much more varied peoples - more flavorful, if you will permit me Doctor. I took a room on the Rue de Savoie, overlooking Batten Bridge to the east and the Citadel with its gleaming white walls - gleaming even in blackest night! - visible from the roof.

I am rather fond of clambering over rooftops, I must admit...

A good house with a good proprietress. She left me to a small room near the top and even supplied me with heavy curtains upon request. She never asked why I should need them, nor why I never appeared downstairs until after dark and returned just before dawn. A rarity - an old woman who does not go about sticking her nose into the business of others!

I shared the house with some other drifters and vagabonds. Madame Boulin, the proprietress, held no prejudice against race or creed so long as there was hard coin in the bargain. A delightfully mercenary old woman - she also offered hot food and mending and the services of her sickly daughter Amanda. All for a price!

She needed to be so enterprising. Counting myself, only half a dozen boarders ever called that heap of a house a home. Always felt like more though, what with Amanda's own children getting underfoot. Three of the buggers with a fourth that thankfully ran away. All from different fathers too, their mother being such a loyal and hard worker...

Read the rest of the excerpt here!

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"We've got another group meeting in fifteen," Stephen said, stretching out on the cot. He muttered something.

"Hmm?" David asked. His vision was starting to focus more easily now.

"I said I'm fucking sick of this!" Stephen snapped. "Jesus, I shouldn't be here at all, I -" He saw David's bleary eyes. "How much of that shit did they give you this time?"

"Mmm," David held up first three, then two, then corrected himself again and held out three fingers. "Think it's wearing off now."

"You know those are fucking horse tranquilizers, right?" Stephen dropped his voice, "I started palming them just last week. You should too, makes everything clear up." He added, with a vicious look to his eyes, "Makes it harder for those bastards to mess with your head too."

David shook his head. "Don't want to get in trouble."

Stephen laughed. "Dude, you're in fag rehab! You're in enough trouble already! Little more won't hurt you. Besides," he sat up, leaning closer to David so he could whisper, "They don't check to make sure you take 'em, y'know?"

David shook his head again. He'd promised his mom he'd try. He didn't really want to be gay - he thought. He liked Brad but didn't want it to go beyond that - even though it had already. "Gotta stop while I'm ahead," he completed the thought out loud, then laughed like a hyena. "I said head!"

"Jesus, you're high," muttered Stephen. "Can't say I blame you..."

They sat in silence - except for David's snickering - until the booming voice announced the next group session. David and Stephen shuffled down the hall along with the others, most of whom were still a little groggy from the medicine. It was a necessity, they were told. Their urges had to be suppressed somehow until they could purge them. Otherwise, who knows what they would get up to with each other when the lights went out?

David and Stephen were in the same group, along with some six other boys. They took their seats at one of the dozens of round tables in the main hall - which also doubled as the cafeteria, which doubled as a clinic when the councilors wheeled in privacy screens. Their councilor - in group and individually - was Robert, an orange-tanned and upbeat character with the habit of calling everyone "brother." Like all the other councilors, he was a graduate of the program.

"Grace and peace, brothers!" Robert said once they were all seated, smiling with those perfectly white teeth. "Everyone have a good visit? Brandon, what about you?"

He always did that, singling one of them out to guarantee someone would answer. "M'okay," Brandon said. As Robert kept looking at him, he hastily added, "My mom, uh, said there was this girl asking for me and, um, everyone at home's praying for me?"

That was a popular answer. Robert liked it so much he would leave whoever said it alone for the rest of the session. "Well amen to that! The support and prayers of your family are always needed in these difficult times. But it always comes down to you to get yourself right with the Lord!"

It always came back to the Lord with Robert. Same with all the other councilors but Robert liked to be very loud about it. "- Because only through the Lord and the sacred blood of his only Son, Jesus Christ can you be purged of your wickedness... Along with the Exodus Inc. program."

The program actually came first in Robert’s formula. First, they all had to admit they had a problem. Next, they all had to identify their “wound” – some moment from childhood that turned them from the straight and narrow, as it were. David had never really believed that psychobabble crap, but at Exodus he’d soon found himself blaming his own quiet, agreeable mother for being the emasculating force behind his own turn to wickedness. The things he’d said about her...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Case for Impeachment

Today, we're gonna discuss some of the legitimate reasons for impeaching Barrack Obama. This is a purely hypothetical exercise, since the House Republicans have pretty much ceded any possibility of actually going forward with such proceedings. After raising a fuss over Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the dreaded national spread of Romneycare, and some made up thing I'm probably forgetting, the loyal opposition party has settled for a lawsuit. Because settling for a lawsuit is what craven Americans do.

So we're gonna ask the question no career pol will: How does one go about impeaching Obama?

"Bring it on, bitches."

The NSA is the first obvious choice, if only because it's still in the news and the internet libertarian man crush on Edward Snowden. Nevermind Chelsea Manning revealed systemic war crimes in both Iraq and Afghanistan, incidences of not just mass murder but also blackly comic incompetence on the part of the US military - no, what really concerns Americans is if some other office slave was reading their private emails.

While this would be the first option, it's also the trickiest. When the NSA was caught data-mining in the Bush years, it was doing so without a FISA warrant. That's the secret court that issues the secret warrants for secret surveillance, so the government can get its snoop on legally. The PRISM program exposed last year may be technically legal, depending on what secret documents of the secret court get de-secreted. Further, connections to Obama could prove tenuous as he went on record as being unaware of the program, like a good lawyer, when the whole scandal kicked off last year.

So you're not going to impeach Obama over the NSA monitoring your porn surfing. What else is there...

Oh! How about them drones? Admittedly, I'm not an opponent of drone warfare - as I'm under no illusions that war can be moral - but it has killed a number of American citizens under Obama's watch. While a captured Awlaki could quite easily have been convicted of treason and then executed, our legalistic society declares it a bad thing that he was just zapped outright.

And this is a matter of public record. Obama has never shied away from admitting that yes, he gave the order to kill an American citizen. No, there was not a trial. Here, look at the rationalizations the DOJ wrote up after the fact. This here is an abuse of power that practically prosecutes itself!

However... Kamal Derwish. Not many Americans know him but he was the first American citizen to die by drone. In 2002. Also in Yemen, coincidentally. It was little commented on at the time, likely because it was little reported, but his ghost would haunt any impeachment trial based on Obama's use of drones. A sad jihadi ghost, wailing "What about Buuush!" in the middle of the opening statements.

So while legally a good option, impeaching Obama over drones would not be feasible politically.

Now what else does that leave us with? Well, Gitmo is still open - but that brings us right back to the Kamal Derwish example. Detainees may be getting tortured but that started in the Bush years. While it's not explicit in the Constitution, there's likely a gentleman's agreement between Congress and the White House to grandfather in immunity over crimes against humanity committed by the previous administration.

That would certainly explain the GOP's silence on the legality of bombing Libya. They'll yell about Benghazi until they're blue in the face, but Obama's initial attack of yet another Islamic Third World nation is treated as standard operating procedure. Which it is, since it easily falls within the loose confines of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists. And Congress can't really go after him for not attacking Syria since they never voted for that - which Obama didn't even need to take action, legally speaking.

One could argue that Obama trading a couple of battered victims from the Cuban gulag for Bowe Bergdahl constitutes "giving... Aid and Comfort" to the Taliban, a not-exactly-declared enemy of the nation. Except prisoner exchanges are perfectly common in war, as is "negotiating with terrorists" like Obama did to free Bergdahl and Reagan did to free the embassy hostages in Iran. You just know a slick Chicago lawyer is going to have these precedents memorized before the House can even introduce the articles of impeachment on this one.

Which leaves us with... Nothing. Zip. Nada. No impeachable offense.

At least not one that wasn't already business as usual.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Realpolitik versus Jihad

The antics of those 10,000 Sunnis calling themselves ISIS or ISIL or ASSHAT has really done a number on all the Beltway insiders. These middling careerists are still trying to figure out how to maintain a unified Iraq - as if one ever existed - or looking for ways the Almighty American Presidency can respond. But all this kvetching is couched in the delusion that these 10,000 irregulars are rational actors.

Delusional, that's the view the pundits and the politicians have of everything outside America. They assume everyone wants to live the American Dream of 2.5 kids, a sensible car, and six figure consumer debt eating out their insides. Hell, there are plenty of people right here in America who don't want any of that - I'm one of 'em and I married another - but, like Anglo-American philosophy professors who go about their work like Nietzsche never happened, this same political class keeps trying to find some neat, American way to explain what is essentially Islam's Thirty Years War.

Like that unified Iraqi government. Kerry, the poor bastard, had to travel all the way to the sand pit and personally tsk-tsk Nouri al-Maliki for not accommodating the Sunnis. "How dare you not give your blood enemies a big ol' hug!" It's willfully ignorant, not just expecting Maliki to sit down to tea with people who wish him dead - and mean it - but in assuming anyone in Iraq wants that congenial, civics class crap.

No wait -  a few people do. You'll see them mentioned by name in solemn Politico and New York Times articles, some harried nuclear family in a Baghdad apartment who are scared to go to the corner for hummus 'cause they might trip over a dead fella. That these are such cloistered, Westernized Iraqis should tip you off they ain't the norm - for starters, where's the dozens of other relatives? Sure, plenty have died in the turf wars since 2003 but only a million. The population has around 26 times more where that came from and Iraq, like most Third World nightmares, has a high birth rate.

When you don't see all the cousins and elders of the family in these little heartstring-tugging articles, it's telling you that these are the urban, modern sorts of Arabs that Western media love to talk to, love to celebrate whenever they have one of their little "Spring" moments, and never ever end up in power because they are a slim and marginalized minority. It's why so many of them live as expats in Europe and America.

If these Progressive Arabs were actually a player in the Iraq-Syria conflagration, the Beltway brainwave might make sense. These would be people with rational agendas - meaning business agendas. Peace and security and boredom are the favorite conditions of business, because it means money. These mellow, non-religious Arabs are conducive to that, since they've grown out of the belief in fighting and dying for a cause. Like their American fans.

Among the majority of Iraqis today, Sunni and Shia alike, fighting and dying is culturally normative. Religion is a matter of life or death for them, like it hasn't been for gringos since about the 17th Century (except for Ireland). For Wahhabized Sunni militias like ICECREAM, the entire point is to bring not just Iraq and Syria but the entire world of believers, the Ummah, under a single religious law. All other concerns are secondary. The Shi'ites, so far, have the slightly saner position of maintaining their own little tribal homesteads against these evangelist jihadis who think they're all kuffaar. And if that means war, bombings, and the forceful partition of every country west of Iran than so be it.

The talking heads in the American media and their muddling masters in American government could see this - it ain't exactly a secret - but it would conflict with the deep commitment to craven self-enrichment that is their true faith. The true faith of every American, even the hardest core Southern Baptists. And because not one of these fools can understand a position of "To the death!" they've blithely sat back while the Saudis set the world on fire.

There aren't any good guys here - except maybe the Kurds - but the House of Saud has got to be the worst guys of all. Already sitting on obscene oil wealth, already ruling a totalitarian state that makes North Korea look like New Hampshire, and they have to go and fund every Sunni whack-job with a grudge, from the Maghreb to Chechnya. And as though that weren't enough, they have to spread their toxic Wahhabi ideas too - where everything is forbidden and will get you stoned. Wahhab himself was expelled from every city he ever lived in by other Muslims because he was too stone-happy.

The Saudis have been infecting the brains of the faithful with their medieval madness for years, while filling up their bank accounts, all because of this "To the death!" religion stuff... and what do Americans do about it? The world's most powerful empire, and they argue over which president should have bombed the madrassa zombies, rather than attacked the root. But see, Saudis are also good for business because they got the oil. And rationally, you want business to run smoothly. So you look the other way while your business partner spends his billions on remaking the world into a crazier, meaner place.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Vampires Are Cool Again

Only Lovers Left Alive is a brilliant trick on audiences. It's two hours examining the ennui of an aged bohemian couple, but it gets away with such a tired plot by making the couple in question of pair of vampires. Also, they're a joy to watch.

Tom Hiddleston plays Adam, a vampire rocker living as a recluse in a decaying Detroit suburb, fiddling with fifty-year-old recording equipment to craft space rock anthems that would make Godspeed You! Black Emperor jealous. Rather than go out and gorge on groupie blood, he sticks to a blood bank where he's guaranteed a drink free of disease and pollutants, something he and the other few vampires frequently lament as being the new normal among mortals.

And those infrequent shopping trips are the only time he leaves his old house. The rest of the time is spent brooding and plucking at guitars twice the age of his unsuspecting manservant. He's every romantic cliche about the tortured heroic vampire... except he's not tortured over his horrid and forsaken existence but over how said existence has been going on so long that he's just plain bored. 

Enter his wife, Eve, played by Tilda Swinton. A walking inversion of Adam in every way - lively where he is broody, joyful where he is morose, pastels where he is perpetually garbed in black. She takes it upon herself to shake Adam out of his funk and you get the impression she's done this before. Maybe several times. Though it takes more than dancing and blood popsicles to cheer Adam up.

Here's where the film enters a very slow point. Deliberately slow, as it follows Adam and Eve through an endless night in Detroit, chatting about everything and nothing while enjoying the sight of urban entropy. There's a lot to read into these bits, particulalry the stop off at the grand old opera house that's been transformed into a car park. Adam broods over this undead city he's settled in, contrasting with Eve's sunny optimism of the future - "When the southern states are burning, this city will live again." As if the polluted blood wasn't enough of an enviro message...

But just before people can get bored with all this meditating, their "sister" Ava shows up. A happy, irresponsible child who keeps breaking into Adam's stash, you know she's going to mess up the good thing they have going, necessitating the two flee back to Eve's home in Tangiers. Eve handles all the travel arrangements, Adam being too romantic to worry about the drudgery of logistics.

It's a brief, simple story carried through by fantastic performances and brilliant camera work. Tom Hiddleston, the poor bastard, is popularly known as Loki from the Marvel summer money suck but here shows that he was born to play cinema vampires. It makes you wish they'd hurry up and do another film adaptation of Dracula. Coppola's version was over twenty years ago, that's forever compared to their regularity in the Hammer Horror glory days.

Tilda Swinton, despite looking like his mother, easily overshadows Hiddleston for the time she's on screen. This isn't just because Swinton is on of the best things to come out of England since Ted Hughes, but as stated above her character is the real dominant force in the relationship. She handles their worldly travels, she pulls him out of the house to see the world again, she even decides for him whether or not Ava stays in his house. And Adam accepts all this, seemingly relieved to have someone taking care of such things so he can just focus on his art. Despite his dismissal of Byron as a "pompous ass" he sure does reflect all the aspects of the clubfooted poet.

All of this would just be another stage production if not for the cinematography. Detroit at night is sadly haunting, row after row of abandoned buildings and houses, a very post-apocalyptic world of darkness and decay. Adam's house has a cluttered and cloistered feel, his whole "life" spent in a sprawling studio cobbled together from the past half-century of recording equipment. Living in the past, inside and out.

This forms a stark contrast to the heat and fecundity of Tangiers. While Adam moons around a mausaleum, Eve confidently strides through the orange-lit alleys full of active Arabs and Berbers, still full of life. Travelling to this still breathing city finally invigorates Adam, making eternity interesting again.

And again, there's much to be read into that dichotomy, like how the Third World remains vibrant in a way that the First World can't, but that's just so much film school fappery. This is the best vampire flick since Let The Right One In and the best flick period you'll see all year.

Get your fang on some more with Fiend, in paperback or on the ereader of your choice!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

From the Vault: The Sanctity of Life

What with Independence Day on the horizon and the Supreme Court outsourcing the national religion, I couldn't think of a reason not to repost this:

"And I'm telling you this is the end of the line!" 

And that was final. Tori found herself thrown off the bus six blocks short of her stop. Damn idiot driver, making a pregnant woman walk all that way on her own. Tori'd found more and more dark jokes popping up in her mind of late... 

After pointing her in the right direction, Crystal hadn't been much help. Tori had tracked the story of the phantom abortion clinic through a dozen different people through two schools outside of her own, every time assuring them "Oh yeah, it's for this project on, uh, something." 

It paid off when she found a girl who wouldn't meet her, wouldn't talk on the phone, but was more than willing to instant message the whole story - after some dancing around. The first time Tori tried to contact her, she got bombarded with "you a cop" and "i dont know you" and some gibberish she couldn't hope to understand. She wound up blocked and having to log in under a different screen name. This time she started with that odd password she'd been told to use, "i herd u liek mudkips." Things went much more smoothly from there... 

Turned out she'd been on the cheerleading squad at her school and had gotten knocked up by her boyfriend of the time. She freaked out, crying and terrified of being kicked out of school for breaking the pledge but someone - she wouldn't say it was her parents or maybe her coach but Tori had gotten the impression it was someone in authority who shouldn't have been into these sorts of things - someone had "connected" her with a "group" way out in some ghetto. 

Yep, some ghetto was where the bus left her. Or as close to the ghetto as that driver had been willing to get. Every TV show screamed at her this was a bad idea, especially with the five hundred in cash stuffed deep in her pocket - she'd intentionally left nothing of real value in her purse - but the other screaming in her belly convinced her to press on. She knew she could only be weeks before it started to show and then the questions would come and then she'd be out on her ass and coming back here to make a living. And Josh would keep his scholarship. 

The neighborhood was surprisingly quiet. She'd expected shouts, a little breaking glass, maybe even a few shouts of "Hey, white girl!" But nothing. More surprising was the fact she wasn't the only white girl around. The steps of the decrepit buildings were populated by a seemingly equal number of blacks and whites - even a few Hispanics! How they'd evaded the mass deportations from a few years ago she couldn't begin to guess. The INS had even shaken down her school with dogs and big beetle-looking men in riot gear, all for the one custodian. 

Tori followed what appeared to be the posted bus route the driver had refused to continue down - he had insisted said route didn't exist, or at least not anymore. It brought her past a pawn shop and more liquor shops then she thought were legal on the same block but she seemed to be making progress. At least she hoped so. Every building looked like it was on the verge of being condemned and the street signs not obscured by graffiti were bent out at odd angles, leaving it anyone's guess exactly where she might now be walking. 

She strained to remember the street names around this place. Not that she hadn't written them done, but she feared looking too much like an outsider here. So far she'd kept calm and disinterested enough to pass for a local, but if someone saw her looking at a map — or worse, asking directions... Although she could really use some help finding her way. 

She looked around, seeing the same smattering of tired people as before. Some men, some women, all old and wrapped in clothes that looked in desperate need of washing... it occurred to her she hadn't seen many people her age. Where were the teenagers? Or even little kids? Every block had felt like the times Tori visited her grandmother in the nursing home before she died. 

Not that old people couldn't be helpful but... Looking around again, Tori wondered if any of them would help. They might not be too fond of what she had planned - not that there was any way they could know - or could they? 

No. No, of course not. That was just the hormone-fueled paranoia talking. The paranoia grounded in the very real punishments reserved for her if she got caught. Damn... 

"Excuse me." 

Tori had been so caught up wondering if the locals would be willing to help or let alone talk to her, she hadn't noticed one of them coming up to do just that. 

"I said excuse me," she said again, a stout and middle-aged black woman with thick glasses. "But you seemed a little lost." 

"Oh, well, I mean the bus..." Tori fumbled. 

The woman rolled her eyes. "Left up by the mailbox, two blocks on the other side, down the stairs next to the Seven-Eleven." 

And she was gone, shaking her head and muttering "More of 'em every day." 

Tori watched her leave, absolutely confused. "What? I mean - huh?" What could that be about? She didn't seriously mean...

Read the rest of the excerpt here OR buy One Nation Under God and get the full story of America after Hobby Lobby!

Friday, June 20, 2014


The past two weeks has witnessed the stupidest things to be written about Iraq since the lead up to the 2003 invasion. "ISIS is taking over!" "Al Qaeda is coming!" "What's a Shi'ite!" Every single story has gotten everything exactly wrong.

It's painful, especially since there's no other news. No one really cares that Cantor's gone except whoever got to be John Bohner's new bitch. I wasn't paying attention because Congress voted away its own powers in the Bush years. Instead, I've been following every hoot and cry over Iraq, getting a very nasty reminder about the provincial ignorance and credulousness of the American people.

Let's establish the basics first - just what is ISIS? About ten thousand Sunnis calling themselves "Islamic State in Iraq and Syria." They've gone through a couple leaders and a couple similar names, jihadi groups being very flexible about geography. Kind of like the First International back in the Nineteenth Century, which was never all that international. ISIS has so far managed the "Iraq and Syria" part, but only due to porous borders and a sectarian culture no one inside the Beltway will admit exists in the Middle East.

It's horrifying and darkly funny, the way all the Very Serious People talk about Iraq like the Sunni-Shia rivalry doesn't exist. Like this is all because Maliki is weak - I'd never say that to Saddam's former hitman myself - or it's all because of the American president you hate the most. Or it's al Qaeda because al Qaeda al Qaeda al Qaeda.

That's really what's driving all the stupid. Americans in 2014 give even less of a damn about Iraqis than did Americans in 2004, they're all just scared ISIS is gonna somehow start flying planes into skyscrapers if we don't smack 'em down right now. This is what I mean when I say Americans are credulous - ISIS honcho Abd Bakir al-Baghdadi talks a whole lot about setting up a caliphate and making war on New York City, but what exactly are his logistic capabilities?

Keep in mind, this is the same outfit that couldn't knock off Assad a year ago. That's right, the jihadis who've got McCain's panties in a bunch today are the same jihadis he wanted to back last year, when they were talking big about an Islamic state in just Syria while never moving beyond Aleppo. If they couldn't take down the minority of Alawites on the coast, how are they gonna take down the Shi'ite majority of Iraq? Especially when said majority definitely has the backing of Iran?

International terrorism takes two things ISIS doesn't exactly have an abundance of - money and operatives who can blend in with the decadent target culture long enough to get into position. How many of those ten thousand irregulars speak English? How many are even literate in their own language? Jihad doesn't exactly attract the best and brightest, the 9/11 highjakers being a collection of upper middle-class boys with more theology than brains. On the ground guerrilla outfits like ISIS recruit more from peasant and working class stock, low on formal education but dedicated to fightin' and dyin' for the 'hood.

And no more than that. You never heard of Ulster loyalists crashing trucks of semtex into the Oireachtas in Dublin. Why would they need to when there's the more pressing matter of the Catholics three blocks over? That's the rough, sectarian reality no one cares to address. Maybe because they're dumb, maybe because it's not a sexy enough angle for the Beltway media, maybe some mutant mix of both. I don't know and I don't care - point is, ISIS can field a lot of guys to secure majority Sunni towns like Mosul and Aleppo but find themselves short of recruits when it comes to hitting places without any supportive network of cousins. That's why Maliki is as safe as Assad and it's why, for all his bluster, Abu Bakir won't be pulling off another 9/11 unless he does it all by himself.

Which would be easy to see if you first accept that Iraqis, Sunni and Shia alike, have their own local politics and agendas that come first. If the past two weeks have taught me anything, it's that the ruling class and their tame press can't accept that. Won't, in fact, as it violates the American exceptionalism subscribed to by even the most latte-sucking of liberals. This sectarian turf war is entirely because America Did X or America Didn't Do Y and now America Must Do Z or else Bad Stuff. Exactly what that Bad Stuff is depends on who you ask - either Iraq will fall apart or AQ suicide commandos will teleport into Ohio. Both ideas are equally impossible but they play into the solipsism that clouds any understanding of the world, assigning American cultural narratives which are completely alien to the situations in question, which will resolve themselves no matter who Obama bombs.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Libertarian Fraud

Let's start today with a bit of an allegory.

You're Poot the Peasant. The King has a war on his hands and needs soldiers, but he can't just go out and press gang folks because this is a very modern kingdom. They at least pretend to respect the rights of the peasantry, so he offers "the King's shilling," a shiny gold coin you can spend on getting platsered, which as a peasant is your only joy in life. So you figure why not? Beats pushing a plow all day for the abbot who eats all the cheese.

You join the Grand Army and get marched off to the border lands where the war is going on with the Orcs, who are considered primitive and don't have shiny new swords and crossbows like you. However, they know the lay of the land and aren't afraid to die, giving them the initiative. You and your fellow foot sloggers hunker down in a camp where you mostly repel guerrilla raids from those swarthy barbarians and try to make nice when their women and children come around - who are likely the spies of the enemy but you're a decent guy, so you're not about to put their heads up on spikes like you do with their sons and husbands.

It's a grind, physically and mentally. It takes it's toll and you start going for walks outside the camp to clear your head. Until one night, the Orcs grab you while you're out walking and carry you off to their caves. They spend years beating you, starving you, locking you in a cage - basically treating you the way an emotionally troubled child treats the family dog - until finally the King negotiates your release and you get to come home!

Where the Privy Council demands your head on the chopping block for reasons that have nothing to do with you.

See what I did there?

Congratulations, you've just role-played the life of Bowe Bergdahl! A man who would've just been another US Army grunt in the grotesque sideshow of Afghanistan had he not gone and gotten himself POWed, only to get released at a time when partisan hate trumps every other impulse in the American people.

Bergdahl, who's greatest crime against the nation was apparently going on walkabout, has been the target of some of the nastiest Republican attacks outside a campaign season. No sooner was he out of Taliban hands then every senator with an R in parentheses was complaining about how he wasn't worth the five starved goat-fuckers we released from Gitmo. Chris Wallace, channeling the NKVD, even floated the possibility that he be executed for treason or desertion. And this official hate has trickled all the way down to the grassroots, who spent last week sending Bergdahl's family so many death threats the FBI had to get involved.

But what really stands out is the noticeable silence from such high profile libertarians as Rand Paul. Aside from a lame crack about how we should be trading Dems instead of Talibs, the nominal Liberty 2016 candidate hasn't had much to say on the rights of an American. It's a ready-made issue - if Bergdahl deserted then he didn't want to die for the State and those five Talibs released form Gitmo are five less human beings being tortured by the Big Government. Why wouldn't a principled libertarian like Rand Paul jump all over that?

Maybe because he doesn't believe a word of that freedom stuff. Maybe none of them do - not Paul senior, not the Koch brothers, and especially not any of the talking heads who celebrated the "resistance" of that racist hick in Nevada. The libertarian angle is just "Hope and Change" for bitter white guys, a campaign gimmick to get enough rubes voting for them in November so they can stick to business as usual. A promise of low taxes and freedom from government overreach plays real well with the peasants in Peoria.

The only libertarians who live by those principles are small-time terrorists like Jerad and Amanda Miller, who only ever hurt other plebs. After planting a Tea Party flag on the two cops they murdered, they couldn't get their revolution any further than one gun owner in a nearby Wal-Mart. They really believed all that anti-government noise, they killed and died for it, and it didn't make any kind of difference.

Because at the end of the day, libertarianism is nothing but a confidence game the ruling class plays on prols. China Mieville said it best in his takedown of the laughable seasteading movement:

"Libertarianism... is a theory of those who find it hard to avoid their taxes, who are too small, incompetent or insufficiently connected to win Iraq-reconstruction contracts, or otherwise chow at the state trough. In its maundering about a mythical ideal-type capitalism, libertarianism betrays its fear of actually existing capitalism, at which it cannot quite succeed. It is a philosophy of capitalist inadequacy."

Bowe Bergdahl is getting slandered by a bunch of disingenuous hucksters playing off the low self-esteem of middle class suckers. The Taliban looks pretty good in comparison.