News From The Reality-Based Community
May 25, 2006
NBC reports today that as many as 19 U.S. Marines deployed in Iraq are under investigation for killing an innocent Iraqi civilian and then trying to cover-up the crime:
As many as seven Marines are accused of dragging an innocent Iraqi man from his home in April, killing him in cold blood and then trying to cover up the crime, NBC News has learned.
Further, military officials tell NBC that at least one of the Marines has reportedly confessed in the killing, saying they find the allegations especially disturbing because the case appears to have been a premeditated killing and not carried out in the heat of combat.
Does this really come as a surprise to anyone? Do we really learn nothing from history? Or is it that we simply no longer care, no longer have the intelligence or the willpower to break away from 'American Idol', no longer have the strength or courage to stand up and say no to the madness that surrounds us?
February 1, 2006
We have alway been at war with Eastasia.
Eurasia are our allies.
Eurasia have always been our allies.
Ignorance is strength.
March 23, 2005
The U.S. government today declared it's full unilateral support against genocide thoughout the world. After years of being criticized for looking the other way during crises in Uganda, Kurdistan, Yugoslavia, Darfur, and various other oppressed nations, the U.S. has announced that it will begin an international campaign against the wholesale eradication of indigenous peoples, starting right here at home with Terry Schiavo. President Bush was quoted as saying "We find it unconscionable that an entire race of Schiavos could be wiped out right under our nose. We promise to employ every tool in our mighty arsenal, including skipping vacations, in order to save the last Schiavo."
More as it develops.
March 19, 2005
Don't you feel so much safer now?
February 22, 2005
I was stunned reading Hunter S Thompson killed himself last weekend. The man was a literary god to me and it is hard to believe his body of work is finished. The man was without a doubt the most honest writer I have ever read. You always knew where the self-described political junkie stood; he believed objectivity in the press was a lie and no one was going to accuse Hunter S Thompson of lying.
Everything was transparent to HST and he was vicious in pointing out the absurties of his subjects. His flair with the melodramatic was incredible; in lesser hands it could be a sad prententious joke, but in Thompson's writings, the melodramatic was inspiring. You never knew where the fiction started with Hunter. Who knows if he was really wasted surrounded by cops at a Drug Enforcement convention. It really doesn't matter, he was the kind of guy that you believed would do it.
My favorite book so far has to be Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail,72. Great book chronicling the rise and fall of George McGovern's presendential aspirations. This coupled with his railings against Richard Nixon, which were especially acute facing four more years, was HST at his best. At times I laughed out loud and he educated me in the political process from primary to election.
Dr. Hunter S Thompson was truly a legend in his own time and we are fortunate to have shared that time with him. Like Elvis, his stature will grow with death and soon he will be mentioned in god-like tones. His life was the stuff of myths and legends and HST will outlive us all.
February 2, 2005
Terrorists and insurgents are afraid of Democracy
Keep this in mind the next time you are approached by a terrorist or insurgent, or find yourself under terrorist attack. Simply reach into your pocket and pull out a nice sized wad of Democracy (any denomination will suffice) and watch the terrorists run away screaming like little girls.
The will of the Iraqi people is heavy
Apparently it is so heavy that it takes more than a small group of terrorists to overturn it. No word on exactly how much Iraqi will weighs, or exactly how many terrorists it takes to overturn it.
Terrorists have an uncontrollable compulsion to attack Democracy
We're not exactly sure how this fits with terrorist's fear of Democracy, but apparently if you show them your Democracy and they don't run away screaming then simply throw your Democracy as far as possible. This will cause the terrorists to forget about you while they attack the Democracy, leaving you free to make your escape.
Social Security is under a state of crisis
Unless we all drop what we're doing and band together to prop up Social Security, it will fall over and explode sometime between now and 2018, or 2042, or 2052. Of course, if Social Security explodes then everyone and everything will be covered in a sticky, gooey Social Security mess. And we all know how difficult that is to wash off, especially if you're wearing rayon.
Freedom is on the march
And you'd better get out of it's way. It's big and mean and angry and heavily armed, and it's not going to stop for little old you.
November 25, 2004
NASA has released an excellent new open-source project called WorldWind which allows the user to zoom from satellite altitude into any place on Earth, using high-resolution LandSat imagery and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) elevation data to create a full 3-D representation. Now you can virtually visit anywhere on Earth without leaving your chair. Very cool stuff. (Click the image to view a high-res LandSat image of Baghdad, Iraq.)
November 22, 2004
According to a report by 60 Minutes, the Department of Defense has chronically undercounted the true number of casualties in the Iraq conflict by only including those soldiers injured in conflict. By the official count there have been 1228 killed and 8956 wounded; however, when pressed to give the number of casualties according to the military's own definition of anyone "lost to the organization," the DoD number balloons to "more than 15,000" evacuated due to wound or illness. Some military analysts estimate that the number is actually more than 20,000 and perhaps as high as 30,000.
60 Minutes asked the Department of Defense to grant us an interview. They declined. Instead, they sent a letter, which contains a figure not included in published casualty reports: "More than 15,000 troops with so-called 'non-battle' injuries and diseases have been evacuated from Iraq."
"It's difficult to estimate what the total number is," says John Pike, director of a research group called GlobalSecurity.org.
"You have to say that the total number of casualties due to wounds, injury, disease would have to be somewhere in the ballpark of over 20, maybe 30,000," says Pike.
November 21, 2004
While surfing the internets in my pajamas, as we bloggers often do, I ran across an interesting piece by Jim Lobe highlighting quotations from J. William Fulbright's 1966 book "The Arrogance of Power". In 1964 Fulbright was the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a member of the Congress which passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution committing the U.S. to war in Vietnam.
Even as early as 1966 Senator Fulbright had some eerily prescient insights on the course of American foreign policy, insights which ring especially true in light of the Bush administration's foreign policy course during the last four years.
On the arrogance of power:
Power tends to confuse itself with virtue and a great nation is particularly susceptible to the idea that its power is a sign of God's favor, conferring upon it a special responsibility for other nations--to make them richer and happier and wiser, to remake them, that is, in its own shining image. Power confuses itself with virtue and tends also to take itself for omnipotence. Once imbued with the idea of a mission, a great nation easily assumes that it has the means as well as the duty to do God's work.
On Unilateralism and support from traditional allies:
The United States is willing to defy allied opinion because of... an excess of pride born of power. Power has a way of undermining judgment, of planting delusions of grandeur in the minds of otherwise sensible people and otherwise sensible nations. As I have said earlier, the idea of being responsible for the whole world seems to have dazzled us, giving rise to what I call the arrogance of power, or what the French, perhaps more aptly, call le vertige de puissance, by which they mean a kind of dizziness or giddiness inspired by the possession of great power. If then, as I suspect, there is a relationship between the self-absorption of some of our allies and the American military involvement in Vietnam, it may have more to do with American vanity than with our friends' complacency.
On international law:
Law is the essential foundation of stability and order both within societies and in international relations. As a conservative power, the United States has a vital interest in upholding and expanding the reign of law in international relations. Insofar as international law is observed, it provides us with stability and order and with a means of predicting the behavior of those with whom we have reciprocal legal obligations. When we violate the law ourselves, whatever short-term advantage may be gained, we are obviously encouraging others to violate the law; we thus encourage disorder and instability and thereby do incalculable damage to our own long-term interests.
November 20, 2004
According to the U.K. Guardian, the U.S. Pentagon has begun discussions of possible military action against Iran. Pentagon strategists have begun to "war game" possible scenarios including possible strikes on leadership, political and security targets.
While it is possible that this is merely bluster designed to increase the pressure on Iran, it is nonetheless disturbing given the previous track record of the Bush administration and its neocon policy makers.
This news comes closely on the heels of last week's announcement by Secretary Colin Powell that Iran is developing a nuclear missile. According to Secretary Powell, "I have seen some information that would suggest that they have been actively working on delivery systems. . . . I'm talking about information that says they not only have these missiles, but I am aware of information that suggests that they were working hard as to how to put the two together."
This is the same man who, in February 2003, stood before the U.N. Security Council and presented "evidence" that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, including mobile weapons labs, nuclear weapons and delivery systems, and the now infamous aluminum tubes, none of which have been found to this day.
Powell's pronouncement is especially puzzling since the IAEA chief, Mohamed El Baradei, said last week that "all the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities."
As for Emperor Bush, it is clear at this point that his idea of foreign policy is "more stick, less carrot." If, as political science theory teaches us, nation-states behave in the same way as children playing in a sandbox, then Bush's idea of diplomacy must be to act as the playground bully. As we, as well as others much smarter than ourselves, have pointed out before, the U.S. is already grossly over-extended in both its military and intelligence capacity. And now our "steadfast and determined" self-styled "war President" apparently seeks to bluff his way through the Iran situation by threatening military intervention which the rest of the world knows would clearly be nearly impossible given the present state of the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It is one thing for the President to bet his own life, it is another thing entirely for him to bet with my life and the lives of millions of others.
From the Department of Irony comes this latest entry in the browser wars: apparently, Microsoft's Windows Marketplace is extolling the virtues of none other than Mozilla's Firefox. Et tu, Brute? (Click the image for a closer look.)
November 15, 2004
A week has passed since the start of hostilities in Fallujah. A week of incredible devastation aimed at a city which was no threat to us before the start of the war, and was no threat to us during the war, but in the aftermath of war has somehow morphed into the greatest threat the U.S. faces in the world today. In November alone, 75 soldiers dead, 308 wounded. Estimates of more than 1200 insurgents killed.
No embedded reporter, at least of which I'm aware, has dared to speak of civilian casualties; however, many reporters have commented on the lack of bodies (login here). As usual, there seems to be no coherent thread to the reporting coming from Fallujah and Iraq.
The absence of insurgent bodies in Falluja has remained an enduring mystery. Roaming American patrols found few on Sunday in their sweeps of the devastated landscape where the rebels chose to make their last stand, the southern Falluja neighborhood called Shuhada by the Iraqis and Queens by the American troops.
In the midst of all this conflicting information comes an anonymous blogger who has posted images of Fallujah. When words fail, pictures speak volumes. (Note: not for the faint of heart.)
November 10, 2004
Yesterday's resignation of John Ashcroft and some guy named Evans (he was the Secretary of Commercials, or something) almost made me downright joyful. Could it really be true? Did Bush really mean it when he said "We'll put out an agenda that everybody understands and work with people to achieve the agenda... It's not a Republican issue, it's a Republican and Democrat issue. So I'm -- plenty of places for us to work together"? With Jackboot John on the way out, maybe we really could see a softer, gentler Bush in the years ahead.
November 8, 2004
With numbing regularity good people were seen to knuckle under the demands of authority and perform actions that were callous and severe. Men who are in everyday life responsible and decent were seduced by the trappings of authority, by the control of their perceptions, and by the uncritical acceptance of the experimenter's definition of the situation, into performing harsh acts. …A substantial proportion of people do what they are told to do, irrespective of the content of the act and without limitations of conscience, so long as they perceive that the command comes from a legitimate authority. - Dr. Stanley Milgram, 1965
Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men, generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to put out its faults, and do better than it would have them? Why does it always crucify Christ and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels? - Henry David Thoreau, "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience", 1849
Half the country is not stupid. We're all stupid. We're convinced several times a day to do things that aren't in our best interests. We work too hard. We're drinking, eating, medicating, and smoking ourselves into early graves. We overextend ourselves on credit. We knowingly stay in emotionally or physically abusive relationships. We let television raise our children. We're deliberately mean and nasty to people we don't like or agree with. We learn science from the Bible. We stay silent when speaking out would help someone. We fear the future. We fear death. And we're lazy about our beliefs and convictions and we let the Democratic and Republican Parties dictate the political agenda in America by pushing our emotional buttons. Red, blue, black, white, brown, yellow, purple, and retina-burning yellow-green...we all share the blame. - Jason Kottke, kottke.org, 2004
November 6, 2004
Dave Pentecost has an excellent video short he put together documenting election day in Cleveland, Ohio.
- via boingboing