February 9, 2010 archive

War junkies

Leave it to Hollywood to show us our ugliness in the mirror and make us proud of it. The “Hurt Locker” perfectly communicates America’s dirty addiction to war, which is the driving force behind our militarism. As this film plainly demonstrates, young Americans like the adrenaline rush, the danger, and the bonding that comes from warfare. Those that want to mainline the war drug go to fight. Those who can’t tolerate a heavy dose watch it depicted on TV or in Movies like “Hurt Locker.”

There may have been a time when the post-9/11 wars could have been justified in terms of national “defense,” but that time ended years ago, with the revelation of the Bush administration’s lies and the calculation of the horrible toll of destruction unleashed on Iraq and Afghanistan. Not even the dumbest American recruit has any excuse to disguise the quest for action and adventure in a combat zone.

What makes the popular reaction to “Hurt Locker” so revealing is that the soldiers depicted in the film are not viewed as freaks or unfortunate victims. They are seen as exemplars of a new nihilistic heroism, in which all that counts is personal style and a savage kind of courage. It is this decoupling of sacrifice from reason that is the essence of America’s moral collapse. The soldiers in “Hurt Locker,” like most American consumers, are just living for their next buzz. That is all their lives have been reduced to – long stretches of boredom punctuated by brief moments of great excitement.

This is the end of the line for our sick society – when it no longer cares what it is fighting for, and it simply relishes fighting. We have become a wicked people who delight in violence for its own sake. Future historians will find “The Hurt Locker” provides a simple answer to the question “What were they thinking?” The answer is: “They weren’t thinking; they were just a bunch of war junkies.”

Afternoon Edition

Afternoon Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 U.S. missionary in Haiti says trusts God to free her

By Joseph Guyler Delva, Reuters

Mon Feb 8, 5:31 pm ET

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – A Haitian judge made no decision at a hearing on Monday whether to free or prosecute 10 U.S. missionaries accused of kidnapping children, and their leader said she trusted in God they would be cleared and released.

The missionaries, most of whom belong to an Idaho-based Baptist church, were arrested last month trying to take 33 Haitian children across the border to the Dominican Republic 17 days after a magnitude 7 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people in the impoverished Caribbean nation.

They were charged last week with child abduction and criminal association. Hearings that could lead either to their release or a decision to move ahead with prosecution were scheduled to resume on Tuesday and a judicial source said a ruling was unlikely before Wednesday.

Education policy: Sam Chaltain’s “Big Picture”

Given President Obama’s declared intention to revisit NCLB for the next renewal of ESEA, it is clearly time for Kosers of all stripes to come forward with their proposals for changing the evaluative climate in which the schools operate.  I do think there could be more along these line, but an exemplary proposal is now online: Sam Chaltain’s “The Big Picture On School Performance.”  This, then, is a critical review of that piece.

(crossposted at Orange)  

Dems: Our Votes or Their Money?

Simulposted at Daily Kos

Wait, don’t answer yet! Before you make the reflexive 21st century choice of the DC politician, stop and remember one thing:

Their money is only used to buy our votes.

Unless of course you are keeping it in your freezer. And look where that got your buddy.

We The People are angry at you.

We are angry at you because you are ignoring us, The People you are supposed to be representing. Instead you are representing the Corporations that are filling your coffers with money. Money you undoubtedly need……but please stop, think, and remember…you only need it for one reason.

To buy advertising.

In order to TRY to buy our votes.

Their money is only used to buy our votes.

But times are changing. You just can’t fool Most of The People as easily as you once did. We are now going to demand something for our votes. We will not give them to you just because you buy enough advertising anymore. You are going to have to earn them by doing what WE want now. Not but doing what The Corporations want and assuming we will fall for your ads, or vote along party lines, or any of the other assumptions you have made.

So you have to make a choice, Democrats. Which is more valuable to you? Their money, or our votes? Do you want 10,000 dollars, or 10,000 votes?

Do you want us hitting the streets and phones working to elect you? Or do you want to go to Corporate Cocktail Parties?

If the answer is votes, and The People working to get you elected…you better start earning that. Now. Because NO amount of money and advertising is going to convince us to put you back in office ….just so you can keep screwing us.

Those days are over.

You can take their money and do what they want…..or you can take our votes and do what we want.

Which will it be?

You can’t have both anymore, sorry.

On Health Care, Vegas-Style, Or, Figure It Out In The Ambulance, Chump

I was supposed to begin the long-delayed series of PTSD stories I’ve been planning, but before we begin, I need to tell y’all about something that just happened in my house.

For us it wasn’t a matter of life or death, but it is the kind of story that explains, perfectly, why we need to reform the health care system we have today-and for that matter, it’s also a great explanation of why a single-payer system would be a giant step forward for everyone in this country, whether you’re insured today or not.

It’s also hilarious and sad and frustrating, all at the same time-which makes today’s story a pretty good allegory for the current American way of doing health care.

So follow along, have a good laugh…and at the same time, take a minute to consider what could be, and how much less irritating things should be.

US Soldier arrested for waterboarding 4-year-old daughter

What can one say?  I can imagine a punishment for this guy.  But on a deeper level, this may be chickens coming home to roost from American use of torture and the failure to punish war criminals such as George Bush, Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld, and others.  When torture is allowed against anyone, a taboo is broken and the crazy may use it on others, including a 4 year old child:

A crazed G.I. was arrested for waterboarding his 4-year-old daughter because she wouldn’t say her ABCs.

Cops said Army Sgt. Joshua Tabor, 27, who served 15 months in Iraq, admitted to punishing his daughter by holding her down on the kitchen counter in suburban Washington State and repeatedly pushing her head backward into a full sink.

He explained she’s deathly afraid of water,” said Todd Stancil, police chief in Yelm, Wash.

He would lay her down on her back and push her head into the water right up to her eyeline. He was open about it. He did it all the time. To him, that was an acceptable form of punishment – because she wasn’t able to say the alphabet.”

Stancil said neighbors told cops that he also ran water over the flailing girl’s face, taking her to the edge of drowning, but Tabor denied that.

It was hot! The water was hot!” the girl said, according to the police report.


Disgusting!  How can any person do that to a child?

There’s more here in the New York Daily News about this:


Open Flow


UPDATED: Secret Slush Fund Charges Engulf Florida GOP

Crossposted at Daily Kos

This is going to be a relatively short essay.  In a state where only a few months ago, a popular, moderate, establishment-oriented Republican Governor (Charlie Crist) was not only expected to get his party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate but, perhaps, coast to victory over any number of Democratic opponents, finds the governor’s party in crisis mode.

Lately, the news out of Florida has not been good for the Republicans.  The St. Petersburg Times reports this morning

As a volatile election season gets under way, the Republican Party of Florida is facing its biggest crisis of confidence in decades.

Donors and party activists are livid over newly revealed records that suggest outgoing chairman Jim Greer used the party as a personal slush fund for lavish travel and entertainment.  The records also show that executive director Delmar Johnson padded his $103,000 salary with a secret, $260,000 fundraising contract and another $42,000 for expenses – at the same time the once mighty Florida GOP was having to lay off employees amid anemic fundraising.

Bush and Rove’s Citizens United fueled comeback. I $hit you not

Crossposted at Daily Kos

At least half a dozen leaders of the Republican Party have joined forces to create a new political group with the goal of organizing grass-roots support and raising funds ahead of the 2010 midterm elections, according to people familiar with the effort.

The organizational details of the group, expected to be called the American Action Network, are still being worked out, but it is expected to contain both a 501(c)3 and a 501(c)4 component. In simpler terms, a 501(c)3 can advocate on policy matters while a 501(c)4 is an election arm.

Republican leaders expected to be affiliated with the group include former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Bush adviser Karl Rove, Republican strategist Ed Gillespie, and Republican donor Fred Malek.


    Jeb Bush, George Bush, same difference, same incompetent governing style, failed ideas and Corporatist agenda.

    More below the fold

Change You Can Believe In

Midterm Momentum Is All GOP’s

November Is Looking Grim For Democrats, And It Could Still Get Worse

by Charlie Cook, via nationaljournal.com, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010

Whenever someone asks if the 2010 midterm elections will be “another 1994” it makes me roll my eyes. No two election years are alike — the causes, circumstances and dynamics are always different to anyone who takes more than a casual look.

But 1994, and for that matter 2006, were “nationalized” elections, elections where overarching national dynamics often trump candidates, campaigns, local political history and natural tendencies.

Often in these elections, inferior, underfunded or less-organized candidates and campaigns beat more amply funded and better-prepared candidates and campaigns.

The primary difference between this year and previous nationalized elections is that this one looks so bad for Democrats so early.

These kinds of years also see states and districts that normally fall easily into one party’s column inexplicably fall into the other’s hands.

There is no reason to believe that 2010 is not just as nationalized as 1994 and 2006 were, or for that matter 1958, 1974 and 1982. To be sure, the causes, circumstances and dynamics are different, but the trend line is the same for each. At least today it is.

Death and Idiocy in the Arghandab River Valley


The Arghandab River Valley

US Army Captain Paul W. Pena died in the Arghandab River Valley January 19, 2010. He was 27 years old.

As a skinny teenager in the Junior ROTC program at San Marcos Baptist Academy in San Marcos, Texas, he worked quietly behind the scenes, ensuring that the unit’s annual inspection and other events went smoothly.

He rose to the rank of cadet major and graduated from the academy fifth in his class in 2000, said school spokeswoman Shelley Henry. Then he attended the military academy at West Point, graduating in 2004.

A teacher at the San Marcos academy, Max Smith, recalled Pena as a diligent, well-behaved boy. “He always came back here and let you know he was OK and that he appreciated all you’d done for him.”

Every week I read through the WashPo’s brief obituaries of US soldiers killed in Afghanistan, and try to understand something about the particular neighborhood of that God-forsaken country where each of them perished. But there isn’t much information online about the Arghandab River Valley.

The entry in Wikipedia repeats an article from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica verbatim.

There is a good deal of cultivation along the river, but few villages. The high road from Kabul to Kandahar passes this way (another reason for supposing the Tarnak to be Arachotus), and the people live off the road to avoid the onerous duties of hospitality.

People lived off the road to avoid the onerous duties of hospitality in 1911. And now they host the US Army!

Captain Pena represents the nobility of military service. The idiocy of it is represented by U.S. Lt.-Col. John Newman, who arrived in Arghandab River Valley in August 2009

U.S. Lt.-Col. John Newman was assigned to directly command the Arghandab troops. He began speaking slowly, carefully, his translator jumping in with words in Dari. There was consternation and shuffling among the elders. Then a whispered conference with Newman.

The translation should have been in Pashto, the local language, not Dari, also known as Eastern Persian, which is commonly spoken in central and northern Afghanistan.

It was just a mistake, you might say, but it was also a mistake that Lt.-Col. John Newman and his “translator” could not have made if they had ever spoken to anybody who lives in the Arghandab River Valley, before Lt.-Col. John Newman began yammering at the local elders.

Dr. Jill Stein launches Green campaign for Massachusetts governor

Dr. Jill Stein’s formal announcement on Monday of her campaign for governor of Massachusetts as the Green-Rainbow Party candidate drew coverage from media outlets including the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, MySouthEnd.com, and Open Media Boston.

“If you’ve had enough business as usual, if you’ve had enough of the culture of influence, if you’ve had enough payoffs and layoffs and rip-offs and bailouts, this is the campaign for you,” Stein told about three dozen cheering supporters who waved her green campaign signs.p jill stein with supporters

“It’s true I’ve never been a CEO and I’ve never been a Beacon Hill insider,” Stein said. “I’ve never huddled with health insurance executives who have denied people their health care. I’ve never met in the backrooms with predatory lenders or casino ambling executives or real-estate schemers. And I just don’t owe any favors to machine bosses or big-money donors who are looking to buy influence. Sorry. I’m a mother and a medical doctor and an advocate for healthy people, healthy economies and a healthy democracy.”

The full text of Dr. Stein’s remarks can be found on her website JillStein.org.

Jill Stein ran for governor once before in 2002, when she earned 3.5% of the vote and was widely recognized for her excellent performance in the one debate she was allowed in. She received over 20% of the vote in a 2004 state rep. race and garnered over 350,000 votes for secretary of state in 2006. She currently serves as a member of Town Meeting in Lexington.

To learn more about Jill Stein’s campaign, check out JillStein.org.

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