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Friday, January 22, 2016

Blame us.

Hmmm. I thought Mitch was looking a little depressed. Are you sure that's the reason? Wow. Who knew?

Oh, hi. Christ on a bike, sometimes living in this abandoned hammer mill is like working in a clinic for the chronically depressed. What a bunch of moody Melvins! Marvin (my personal robot assistant) has been giving us all the silent treatment for about a week. My brother keeps saying he needs a charge-up, but that's just making apologies for the fucker. (Stop defending him!) Every time there's a new episode of "Mercy Street", old Anti-Lincoln goes all pear-shaped, starts drinking and cursing at us like we're General Grant or General Sherman (with our inimitable bow-ties snapping). Insufferable.

And then there's Mitch Macaphee, our mad science adviser. Though to be fair, his depression is usually rooted in mad science. Anyway, his smile turned upside-down earlier this week, and we had to start rooting around for the cause. (You don't want to allow Mitch's moods to fester ... that's when he starts getting really creative in the lab.) At first I thought it may have been about that North Korean A-bomb test, but that wasn't it. Then I saw the story about the astrophysicist who claimed that there was evidence of a massive ninth planet way beyond the orbit of Neptune, and I knew I had found the cause. Busted!

Frankly, Mitch, it looks kind of ominous.Yeah, we've known about that planet for years. Mitch discovered it on one of our interstellar tours, and he was so thrilled at his own cleverness that he resolved to keep it secret from humanity until he could find some practical use for it. It is, in scientific terms, a big motherfucker, with enough mass to line up all the other planets in our puny solar system like billiard balls. (I think that played into Mitch's plan for the dark world beyond Neptune. He dreamed of racking them all up like nineball and running the table, as if he was the Minnesota Fats of interplanetary collision.)

Okay, so now we need a cover story. Here goes: just call the new planet "Blameus". Legend has it that this dark world is responsible for all of our sorrows. That should focus people's attention a bit ... at least until Mitch can work out his next shot. (Okay, so I'm an enabler. Just a little harmless fun.)

Soldiers and their uses.

There are a lot of things to write about this week, to be sure, but I just wanted to get something down about Bowe Bergdahl and the political shit storm that erupted around his disappearance and release from his imprisonment by the Haqqani Taliban network. This is prompted in part by the current season of the Serial podcast, which is focusing on Bergdahl's case, but also by the fact that Republicans - and particularly Donald Trump - regularly hold this guy up as emblematic of everything that's wrong with America. (On this they appear to be in agreement with the Haqqanis.)

Unworthy victimI won't run through the particulars of the story. For that, I suggest you listen to the podcast. Suffice to say that Bergdahl suffered grievously over his five years as a guest of the Taliban. He attempted to escape several times, once for as long as nine days, escaping barefoot into the Hindu Kush, injuring himself severely, eating grass, etc. He was beaten badly, cut with razors, kept in a cage not fit for a chimp, threatened with beheading - you name it. He was the first P.O.W. held for anything like this long since the Vietnam War, and under conditions that rival any horror stories from that conflict. Frankly, it's a testament to his physical and mental strength that he survived.

When he got home, though, he received something less than a cordial reception from his fellow Americans, aside from the folks in his home town and the Obama administration. Now, of course, he's facing court martial. This is more a political response by the military than anything else, given the heated rhetoric that has accompanied his return. John McCain has insisted that Bergdahl is "clearly a deserter" and threatened to haul top military brass in front of his Senate committee if they didn't prosecute him as such. Something to bear in mind the next time you consider using the words "McCain" and "integrity" in the same sentence. Mean as a snake.

This is the flip side of the "hero" treatment we give our military personnel - specifically, referring to them as heroes without actually doing anything substantive to help them, keep them from being deployed pointlessly, etc. Bergdahl made a mistake under a great deal of pressure; he did so with the best intentions, and he has more than paid for it. The vast majority of those who criticize him now wouldn't last five minutes under the conditions he suffered for five years. Time to let him continue with his life and move on.

luv u,

jp