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Friday, May 22, 2015

Get yours here.

Hey ... let's stop in at the Petrified Creatures Museum. It sounds, well ... very dessicated. And interesting. Perhaps. I don't know ... what do YOU want to do, Marvin (my personal robot assistant)?

Check out our podcast, This Is Big Green.Yes, we're taking a day trip. The weather is nice, so it seemed like a good idea to leave the abandoned Cheney Hammer Mill behind for a few hours. Trouble is, it's a little hard to find entertainment that suits everyone's eclectic tastes. Marvin is a little reluctant to give the Petrified Creatures Museum a look, perhaps because they may mistake him for one of their exhibits and NEVER LET HIM LEAVE. He was scared, even (yes) petrified. Poor creature.

What else is there to do, driving along route 20? Well ... there are a lot of campgrounds. There's an ice cream place called "Banana Dan's". There are some really cool mountains, if you like mountains. That should be sufficient to satisfy anyone's taste. But here I am, in a car full of freaks - Marvin, Anti-Lincoln, Mitch Macaphee, the mansized tuber ... Matt refused to go, choosing instead to mind his wildlife charges. Anti-Lincoln is pretty much against everything. Mr. freaking negative. Mansized tuber just wants to go to gardening centers. That's where he goes to meet other plants. It's like a nightclub, without the booze. Mitch? He's only interested in conferences and laboratories. He just stares out the window at the passing scenery, dreaming up formulas for making the whole thing go blooey.

Look, Marvin! (meh)Well ... so much for our pleasant day out. What's next on the agenda? Not much. Just back to the hammer mill. We've got some music to work on. Where's that going? I don't know ... another album, maybe. Not sure how we'll release it, but we will make it available in some way, shape, or form. Maybe we'll have Marvin hand deliver it to everyone in Upstate New York. Maybe we'll sell it in the anteroom of the Petrified Creatures Museum. Maybe BOTH of those things.

One other thing we're working on - a kind of Big Green subscription service. We're contemplating the price being somewhere between $0 and gratis. Sign up, and we'll send you disc copies of our first two albums (while supplies last), a digital copy of our third album, and advance digital releases as they are completed. Still ironing out the details, crunching the numbers, etc. (Very crunchy, those numbers.)

Ramadi redux.

The so-called Islamic State, ISIS, etc., took control (or at least partial control) of the city of Ramadi in Iraq's Al-Anbar province, a place that was occupied by U.S. troops in 2005 and subjected to untold misery. In a week that was marked by remembrances of things past regarding the invasion of Iraq (to say nothing of Bin Laden's prison memoirs), it was pretty amazing to hear the fulminations over the "loss" of Ramadi, with various politicians and talking heads referring to the city as fought-for land, suggesting that the sacrifices of our troops have been poorly served by Obama's withdrawal from Iraq. They always yank out the troops when it's convenient, just to raise people's sense of indignation.

Here come the hot heads. Again.That's just laying insult upon injury. Our troops suffered mightily alongside the people of Ramadi, and most of those now complaining did nothing to relieve their suffering in 2005; quite the opposite. The fact is, as Juan Cole has pointed out so adeptly, Ramadi was never ours to lose. It has always been a center of Sunni resistance against the United States and its various allies, including the new government in Baghdad. It was, in fact, the base of Al Qaeda in Iraq, the precursor to ISIS, and as Cole points out, former Baathist made common cause with the Salafists in Al Qaeda in 2005-6 to fight off the occupiers. The "Sunni Awakening", mostly the effort of Sunni tribal leaders, helped to tamp down some of the unrest, perhaps with the promise of a greater voice in Baghdad.

That broader government, of course, never came, and now we are back to 2005-land. Different name, yes, but I am certain that many of those old Baathist officers and tacticians are behind the ISIS advance, taking advantage of this large reserve of battle-hardened, fanatical fighters. The ex-Baathists are unlikely to fall for any new promises from Americans, assuming that their names are still in the CIA and JSOC address book. Fool me once, right? They would rather live with the fanatics fighting against Baghdad than Baghdad itself, whose security forces have treated them very harshly in recent years.

Of course, the military hammers in our ongoing national security conversation are now hunting for nails. I heard a general this morning advocating an overwhelming force approach. But this problem does not have a military solution. Without a meaningful political stake in Iraq for the Sunnis, there will no longer be a unified Iraq. Bombs, troops, advisers, and drones won't change that.

luv u,

jp