Friday, September 28, 2007

Monkey tales (9.28.07) - america first edition

War crimes and murder? Old news, even when made new again. The recent revelation (what’s it been? Two days?) that the U.S. military systematically shoots Iraqis for sport has already faded from the national consciousness.

US soldiers are luring Iraqis to their deaths by scattering military equipment on the ground as "bait", and then shooting those who pick them up... The highly controversial tactic, which has hitherto been kept secret, is believed to have been responsible for the deaths of a number of Iraqis who were subsequently classified as enemy combatants and used in statistics to show the "success" of the "surge" in US forces.

Yet again, we wring our hands and whisper the horror, but on we move confident that tomorrow, or next week at the latest, will reveal a new atrocity. Murder. torture. war crimes, chemical weapons, kidnappings, secret prisons, secret trials, and so on. Nothing is shocking anymore. We might as well steel ourselves to the inevitable reports of cannibal battalions eating the entrails of Iraqi children. National security, you know. If we don’t eat their children’s entrails over there, they’ll be eating ours over here.

This morning, however, I will indulge in a thought exercise and, like most people, try to examine things solely from the American point of view. I mean, fuck a bunch of Iraqis. They are evil, dirty things consumed by hatred and envy at all things good and holy (i.e. us) and shooting them for sport is probably the cost of a bullet more than they deserve. Okay?

But what about our troops? What about these fine young Americans who shoot these “people” for sport? How will it affect their psyche? Will murdering unarmed civilians be a character building experience that will contribute to the commonweal? Will our citizen soldiers return radiating moral strength gained from that experience? Will they wear their medals proudly?

Or will they be weaker types, you know, those who might become psychologically damaged by participating in mass murder, torture and oppression. I know it’s hard to believe, which is probably why nobody ever talks about it, but historically, there are those who don’t find serving their country by murdering unarmed civilians morally uplifting. Some become consumed with guilt, have nightmares, or commit suicide. Others try to numb the pain with drugs, alcohol or other self-destructive behavior. Some will become deranged and live on the street. A small percentage will become sadistic, or hardened in the sadism that was already there. They might beat their wives and children. A few will no doubt take up arms against their fellow citizens. Go postal on our asses. We have every reason to expect some negative fallout.

It’s unfortunate, I know, but murder is often not good psychologically for the murderer. Experience tells us that many of these fine young men will be seriously fucked up. Doesn't anyone care about our troops?

And I dare say it’s not good for the society either. When we put a gun in a young man's hand, or a bomb at his fingertips, and tell him to murder civilians, or a cattle prod in a young woman's hands and tell her to shove it up some brown guy's ass, it doesn't just harm them (and who cares about the Iraqis), it harms all Americans.

There are so many ways Bush’s stupid wars are damaging to our national security. It’s unfortunate that we rarely consider that one. But we will, we will.

Update: Krugman fleshes out the story a bit, focusing on our mercenaries.
What we do know is that more than 20 civilians were killed, including the couple and child in the car. And the Iraqi version of events is entirely consistent with many other documented incidents involving security contractors.

For example, Mr. Singer reminds us that in 2005 “armed contractors from the Zapata firm were detained by U.S. forces, who claimed they saw the private soldiers indiscriminately firing not only at Iraqi civilians, but also U.S. Marines.” The contractors were not charged. In 2006, employees of Aegis, another security firm, posted a “trophy video” on the Internet that showed them shooting civilians, and employees of Triple Canopy, yet another contractor, were fired after alleging that a supervisor engaged in “joy-ride shooting” of Iraqi civilians.

Perhaps those individuals are all ready too morally fucked up to save, but the point remains about the damage they do to our society and national security.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Monkey Tales (9.27.07) doormatocrat debate edition

The Washington Post reports that Hillary Clinton, the Republican front runner in the upcoming presidential election, would staunchly defend and perpetuate Bush’s policies of war and economic insanity.

“...the candidates debated how to make the Social Security system solvent. Clinton refused to point to specific remedies.

"I think it's important that you cannot give away what you're going to be negotiating over when it comes to Social Security until you make it clear that fiscal responsibility has got to be the premise of the negotiation," Clinton said,

Must fiscal responsibility be the premise of the negotiation? Yes, if you are a Republican. That little social security check won’t even cover the champagne and caviar budget. Who needs it? Better to invest in a hedge fund, oil companies and defense contractors and/or buy another summer home.

Normal people, however, think that providing social security, you know, enough money for the elderly to cover their basic needs, should be the premise of any negotiation about Social Security.

Regarding Bush’s war in Iraq, Clinton stressed that she would continue his policies.
saying those combat missions would be aimed at eradicating al-Qaeda in Iraq...

Yes, it’s necessary for the Bush/Clinton war strategy to keep al-Qeada in Iraq active and the only way to do that is to keep troops there as targets. If we were to remove the troops, there would be no al-Qeada in Iraq and we would need to find a new excuse to stay there and feed the ”defense“ industry trillions of dollars.

Clinton also stressed her support for Bush to expand the war to Iran, defending her vote for a law that designates a large part of their armed forces as ”terrorists,“ a bill widely acknowledged as laying the groundwork for war. John Edwards, rushing to her defense, claimed that she simply did not understand the issue, that she had learned nothing from her support of Bush in the lead up to the Iraq war. Realistically however, she’s demonstrating that she learned a lot from how Bush got us into it, that she has learned an effective way to start a disastrous war for no good reason (for the majority of Americans and mankind) and that as president she would use that experience to start one with Iran.

If a war with a much smaller, largely disarmed Iraq costs $200 + billion a year, how much would a war with the larger, better armed Iran cost? Would fiscal responsibility be the premise of the negotiation? If that war spawned tens of thousands of new terrorists and made the world a much more dangerous place, how many terrorists would a war with Iran spawn? We could have virtually countless excuses for countless military opertaions. From the Republican point of view, fiscal responsibility is cutting social security so we can afford endless, stupid wars that pad the portfolios of their investors, err campaign donors, err constituents. It’s reassuring that Hillary Clinton, the Republican front runner has her priorities straight.

In the same article the Post reports that Gov. Bill Richardson and Rep. Dennis Kucinich were somehow allowed to participate in the Republican debate, but patriotically doesn’t report anything that they had to say.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Monkey tales (9.26.07)

The Bush administration and their Republican cohorts are responsible for so many splashy, headline grabbing catastrophic failures--tales of death, destruction, and economic ruin--that the depth of their crimes often goes unnoticed and uncommented upon. And even when the major media does notice, they jump through rhetorical hoops to cover for them.

The Interior Department’s program to collect billions of dollars annually from oil and gas companies that drill on federal lands is troubled by mismanagement, ethical lapses and fears of retaliation against whistle-blowers, the department’s chief independent investigator has concluded.

You see? In the New York Times Stylebook, rampant corruption becomes mismanagement and ethical lapses.


It’s still too soon to tell, but the early returns are encouraging that the Bush administration’s plan, along with the toadies at the Ny Daily News and Post, to bolster the power and status of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been a success.
Mohsen Rezai, a former head of the Revolutionary Guards, denounced on the state-run news channel the inhospitable treatment of Mr. Ahmadinejad. “He is the president of a country,” he said. “It is shocking that a country that claims to be civilized treats him that way.”

Bush is criticized, and rightly so, for many of his miserable failures, but you have to give credit where credit is due. His administration has certainly been successful in helping out Mr. Ahmadinejad politically and furthering Iran’s interests throughout the middle east and Afghanistan.


In religious news, a prominent Mormon, considered by many to be a prophet, is convicted of aiding in the rape of a 14 year old girl. The rapist, a cousin she was forced to marry, was not charged.
The polygamist Warren S. Jeffs, hailed by his followers as a prophet but denounced by critics as a tyrannical cult leader, was convicted here on Tuesday of being an accomplice to the rape of a 14-year-old church member.

That is just another incident that demonstrates what a decadent society we have become. The Bible is full of prophets and heroes who married their 14 year old cousins (plural). When you consider how far we have gotten from the Bible, it’s no wonder there is so much wrong in the world. If people really believed in their religion, just about everybody would get stoned.


In sports, it turns out that the New England Patriots cheated their way to their Super Bowl victories and actually cheated during them.
But if the Patriots' tapes and documents contained no indication of cheating in the Super Bowl, it would be strongly in the NFL's interest to publicize this. Instead, the New England documents were shredded within roughly 48 hours of the NFL receiving them -- see timeline below. The rapid shredding occurred although Goodell said nothing about plans to destroy the materials when he was on national TV vowing his purpose was "maintaining the integrity of the NFL."

So the NFL joins the NBA, Major League Baseball, and professional Cycling among the ranks of the cheaters. Who would have guessed that Professional Wrestling’s business model would dominate all major sports?


In related news, government wants to ensure your right to fast and easy wealth, or a good time if nothing else.
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said yesterday that he will propose slot machine gambling legislation "very similar" to a failed 2005 plan that sought to legalize 9,500 machines at racetracks and other locations...

If mom loses the house in the process, well, it was her own fault. Next, Gov. O’Malley plans to introduce legislation to sell drugs to teenagers. “Why shouldn’t we get a piece of that action?” he asked, rhetorically.


Ah, time is short and I’ve just started with the Wapo. Bush’s virtual fence isn’t working out as planned. Who woulda thunk it. Romney is embracing change. Of course he is. Airlines are urged to provide better customer service. I’m sure that initiative will produce results as soon as government guarantees their profits. World leaders press U.S. on climate change. That’s news? Episcopalians vow restraint on teh gay. Yep. Nation’s report card shows improvement? We’re #1! We’re #1! Feel better now?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The road always leads west

Just saw Into the Wild, the new movie directed by Sean Penn with my daughter Jane Bob. As regular readers know, I am very shallow as a reviewer, rarely recapping the story on the off chance you, reader, may someday see the movie.

So I’ll just say this: Into the Wild is very well-written, well-filmed, well-edited and well-acted. A beautiful film containing great insight and depth. The soundtrack, largely written and performed by Eddie Vedder, is very good as well. The central theme emerges slowly and is quite poignant when finally revealed. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes great story and cinematography and doesn’t require car chases and explosions. There is very little sex and violence and only a few bits of innocent nudity. As movies go these days, it is all very mild and not at all inappropriate for a mature kid. I’d only say it would be inappropriate for an immature kid because of its length and pacing. It is about two and a half hours,and although it never really drags, it does, as already mentioned, lack car chases and explosions. Jane Bob and I were never bored and I think cutting any of the parts would seriously detract from the whole.

Of course I am just another character with opinions on the internets, not a professional movie reviewer, but for what it’s worth I think Sean Penn is one of the best writer/directors working today. I was shocked the first time I saw Indian Runner on late night cable. It was such a great movie. I had no idea it was by Sean Penn and probably thought of him as Mr. Madonna back then anyway. The Crossing Guard and The Pledge were incredibly well made movies as well. All of his films are subtle and meaningful. The cinematography is often breathtakingly beautiful. And he gets a lot out of his actors. I’ve never had any idea how they go about Oscar nominations, I’d say Hal Holbrook deserves supporting actor consideration for his work in Into the Wild.

And on a personal level, I relate to the main character in Into the Wild. I too went west on spiritual journeys and did a lot of stupid things pursuing whatever it was I pursued. I'm not so sure I've come to the same conclusions as Penn on how we can best relate to incredible natural beauties, but I understand where he's coming from. It's a great place if you can get there. Staying too long... well that could turn into something else.

Monkey tales sunday edition (9.23.07)

In another triumph of the Free Market, a company purchased 49 nursing homes in Florida, cut costs and made millions of dollars for their top executives and investors. Unfortunately, the nursing home residents didn’t fare so well.

“They’ve created a hellhole,” said Vivian Hewitt, who sued Habana in 2004 when her mother died after a large bedsore became infected by feces.

That is truly sad, but you can’t blame the Free Market, much less lack of government regulation. These people in nursing homes should have done a better job taking care of themselves--you know, lived on a diet of fruit and vegetables jogged 10 miles a day, taken their vitamins and used those supplements that stop the aging process. People like us, the voters, realize that we will never grow old and get sick and neither will our parents. Better to have those private nursing home companies in our stock portfolios so we can buy yachts and private jets for our retirements.


In Iraq news, beyond the everyday carnage, the Iraqi government is making noises about prosecuting individuals from Blackwater USA, a company that supplies us with mercenaries who are legally authorized to murder people just for the fun of it, and often do.
A provision originally called Order 17, signed by L. Paul Bremer III in 2004, while he was the top American administrator in Iraq, was later enshrined into Iraqi law, effectively giving security companies working for the United States immunity from prosecution here.
Perhaps for that reason, no Western contractors of any kind are known to have been convicted of any crimes in Iraq.

As long as it’s legal and someone’s profiting, I don’t see any problem. What’s the point of conquering a country if you can’t murder people? It’s not just about oil.


In other Iraq news, President Bush is asking for an additional $50 billion to fund our murder sprees in Iraq and Afghanistan through 2008
The increase would bring the amount the administration is seeking to finance the war effort through 2008 to almost $200 billion.

Spending $200 billion in a year averages out to be over $561 million a day. I wonder how many murders that buys? Good thing there's nothing else we could possibly spend that kind of money on.


On the imminent arrival of the anti-Christ front, the Times reports that Jewish and Arab scientists are working together and explains the heretical nature of the endeavor.
as Dr. Sowwan explained to me over the echoing and crackling telephone line to East Jerusalem: “Science and technology are universal languages like music and not connected to any religion or politics. We can do a lot right here with friends around the world.”

That's like dogs and cats fucking. A clear sign that the end times are upon us. and science and technology? Universal languages? Not connected to religion or politics? Friends around the world? Rarely have I seen a sentence that so appallingly captured the socialist/athiest mindset. These people are supposed to be killing each other. Our national security, as well as our future in the afterlife, depend on it.


In other news on religion, following the lead of our own Republican party, religious fruitcakes are taking over the Russian schools in order to turn Russian children into ultra-nationalist morons.
“Sacred orthodoxy transformed and revived the Slavic soul after becoming its moral and spiritual foundation,” Ms. Telnova said, quoting Patriarch Alexy II. “Through the ages, Christianity helped to create a great country and a great culture.”

Next step: Fox News in the classrooms. That can’t end well.


And finally, in the Washington Post is the government's butt-boy department, we get this hed and subhed:

Bush Steps Out Front on Climate Issue
But No Policy Shift Is Planned as Nations Begin Debate on Post-Kyoto Accord


Bush Keeps Head up Ass on Climate Issue.
Wapo keeps head up Bush's Ass

Then we have the old standard:

Bush, Democrats Duel On Children's Insurance

An article in which the Post reports how the Republicans and Democrats call each other names, but fails to detail what the actual issues are concerning children's health insurance.


There's more, much more, but the day is upon me and I have things to do. I saw Into the Wild yesterday and should have a little write-up on it by tonight, if you're interested.