Rider “A” — Petraeus, Stalls, And All That Free (Updated)

A quick personal note before entering the mists of transcendent vacation. 

A Chance Encounter

We visited the limitless horizon of identical strip malls that blight the suburbs of the Imperial City. Our contribution to civilization and a pristine continent. While stalled in a parking lot clogged with single moms jockeying with gigantic SUVs, we noticed a man emerging from a van. He struggled to wrestle his legs out the door, attempting to navigate his dual crutches as well. It was clear his legs were not just wounded but severely and permanently damaged. With him was a boy of 8-10 or so. They both looked from the subcontinent or Middle East.

We hesitated. There is an awkward microsecond for the Stiftung — we want to offer help, but then wonder if offering help might be perceived as intrusive. We plunged ahead. The man, in his late 40s, perhaps, declined, smiled and said all was well. 

Hunting For Unleaded Chinese Imports

We wandered into the various front companies that merely market Chinese exports and looked for vacation flotsam and jetsam. 30 minutes or so later we headed back to the car. We saw the same man and young boy 100 yards away hobbling across one of the ugly highways that bisect strip mall Hell. Temperature was circa 95 plus.

He looked at me, looked down, looked at the boy and then me again. Finally, hobbling up to me, he asked me if my offer of help was still valid. Out of breath, he said he left his keys in his van. (If you know Imperial City suburbs, cabs are more rare than Chickenhawks serving in Iraq). The Stiftung paused for a second to see what our “gut” told us. We heard nothing back so we said yes and offered a cell phone. Instead, the man said his apartment was less than a 1/2 mile away. We could see it. Could I drive him there to get the spare key?  

Who Are We In The End?

As you know Dear Reader, the Stiftung is not completely 100% unfamiliar from “diversions” and the like. We’ve seen Vin Diesel movies. But here, looking at this man and this boy, with a “gut” that said nothing, we made an instant call. No problem. All three of us got into the Stiftungmobile ™ to his apartment down the street.

Here’s the damning part. He introduced himself as “Adbul”. These particular stripmalls are surrounded by gleaming faceless office buildings and guard stations with metal gates, some renovated, some newly built. (Just so you know, deliberately calibrated non-ostentation is the NEW ostentation for XYZ outfits, in our brave new blurred public/private world. It’s all so transitory in the end).Abdul’s English was excellent. Was he a video clerk? We could have cared less. We saw a hot guy with ruined legs and a 9 year old boy and nothing ahead of us but vacation.

Trip to his apartment took about 2 minutes. His wife stood on the foyer curb with the van spare key, carefully clothed and mannered as an Arabic woman in public would be. We got the key and began the return to the strip mall.”Abdul” immediately launched in a deeply embarrassing monologue insisting that he and his nephew were “good people”, that his wife was devout, but that he “Abdul” drank liquor, did not pray, and had no deeply religious views, all while thanking me over again and again.

It was a long, long 2 minutes. The Stitung told him not to worry. Over and over. It continued as he exited the car, which took time with his two full crutches. Somehow we just wanted him to know that everything was “All Good” as the kids say. Still he persisted. He wanted me to know. He was safe.   

Getting Personal, Dear Reader

We try not to foist our personal life on you.  For many reasons.  One of which is that your personal life is probably far more interesting.  And frankly, ours the Bill Gates of old likely would declare scathingly is just “random thinking”.

But here’s a small slice of who is typing at (with?) you.  Our spiritual life we will keep private.  But we’re technically part of a mainstream faith in general/loose terms. Our belief is that all of us are more than mere chemical chain reactions.  And that Spirit (human and otherwise) is separate from the material and came from some source — called Creator, God, Buddha, Allah, etc. We also believe that Creation in the beginning and end is empathy.

We know no other word for it. Nor do we we mean to foreclose analytical, scientific or other approaches. Or mandate emotional, mystical embraces. But our internal compass is that empathy is in the end literally the true Alpha and Omega. All the while wholly seeing what seems to be a pitiless universe, galaxy, planet, Nation, etc. down to strip mall development.

So back to “Abdul”. His fear of mistrust another small victory for the Warlord, Cheney, A.G.A.G, the Neocons and all of them. Yes, the thousands of dead. Yes, the wounded. Yes, the maimed. Yes, the corruption, the lies, the cynicism. But also the deliberate stoking of the basest elements of Human Nature that stab at us every day in a parking lot. With “Abdul” today, another part of that “mini death”.

Should the Stiftung’s sophomoric musings come even within a billion trillion light years of “what’s going down” re The Real Deal, we hope that the Warlord, Cheney — all of them — reap what they have sown somehow should there be something beyond this Veil of Tears. Their legacy for imposing the same literally upon millions if not billions.

Now, truly off to holidays. May yours be filled with light, joy . . . and true empathy. 

[UPDATE] We switched to the more commonly used Petraeus above. Some other nits fixed.


  1. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Hi guys, just back from what I hope to be the last ER-related appointment for someone close to the Stiftung. Still groggy and haven’t read latest posts EXECPT to ask A.E. to stop spying on my car! and note Hunter, some of our CSA fulminations were over on the original site. STSOZ 1.0. You may be disappointed as I am not (can not?) approach this site with the systematic rigor and discipline of a formal academic presentation — too much associated with this site. So maybe I would have to set up another blog to get clear that here is where one does work and not screw around.

    I was just about to add Gibson’s scathing critique of Tommy Hilfiger in the quotes database. Please give a day to catch up and hope all is well with our merry band.

  2. says

    Stiftung: “we hope that the Warlord, Cheney — all of them — reap what they have sown somehow should there be something beyond this Veil of Tears. Their legacy for imposing the same literally upon millions if not billions.”

    A noble sentiment, as is your definition of empathy. We are also bound by a universal responsibility; and for the habitual corruption of domestic and international law that ultimately brought us 9/11 and its still redounding physical and constitutional horrors, we all then bear some responsibility, for the past, and for the imperiled future.

    We also have to confront what had become of the nation long before the Cabal ascended to their unfortunate station, long before 9/11.

  3. Hunter says

    So I was going to do some work on CSA, but I wanted to read all the old posts tagged w/ it first. I click on the tags and get an error page. What gives?

    I read both Spook Country and The Assault on Reason in the last little while, and they both reference the Frankfurt School. (Incidentally they were both quite good. Some discussion would be appreciated… anyone else read either yet?) So I got ahold of Horkheimer’s Critique of Instrumental Reason, and have been perusing it. More later (if time ever permits…business and biochemistry are consuming me…)

  4. says

    I’m imagining the Stiftungmobile equipped with Excocet (Silkworm or Strellas would do too) missiles, 22-inch rims, and a Playstation 3 in the back.

  5. Aldershot says

    Welcome back, Doc hope you had a nice time. Thanks for sharing that story, I appreciate it.

    Re, the Greenberg book, sounds interesting, and has jogged a ghost of a memory for another book about architecture…maybe saw it on c-span…

    Well maybe it’s about to hit the fan. Over at the Colonel’s the commenters make some interesting points:


    “1. The Telegraph (London) reports on Washington’s war with Iran and a Heritage Foundation war game per same:


    And for the bottom line?

    “In the meantime, administration officials are studying the lessons of the recent war game, which was set up to devise a way of weathering an economic storm created by war with Iran. Computer modelling found that if Iran closed the Straits of Hormuz, it would nearly double the world price of oil, knock $161 billion off American GDP in a single quarter, cost one million jobs and slash disposable income by $260 billion a quarter.

    The war gamers advocated deploying American oil reserves – good for 60 days – using military force to break the blockade (two US aircraft carrier groups and half of America’s 277 warships are already stationed close to Iran), opening up oil development in Alaska, and ending import tariffs on ethanol fuel. If the government also subsidised fuel for poorer Americans, the war-gamers concluded, it would mitigate the financial consequences of a conflict.

    The Heritage report concludes: “The results were impressive. The policy recommendations eliminated virtually all of the negative outcomes from the blockade.”

    2. For comparison, The Defence Academy of the UK has some interesting papers on Iran and the Middle East here:


    3. Many forget W’s brother Jeb was an original co-signer of the Neocon PNAC (Project for a New American Century)foreign policy strategy statement. Bush41 also supported his son’s war in public statements here and abroad, for example, once in Denmark as I recall (??). So it is not just W in the Bush family.

    Posted by: Clifford Kiracofe”

    Kiracofe is a professor at VMI, I believe.

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