U.S. Army kidnaps Iranian diplomats

The U.S. military in Iraq has kidnapped Iranian diplomats without the knowledge or consent of the Iraqi government, with whome those diplomats were talking.

So the U.S. doesn't respect the Iraqi government (OK, we knew that), doesn't respect international law (a bit of a surprise, the U.S. government usually tries to follow the letter, although they'll do all they can to strong-arm the letter into a form they like), kidnaps an Iranian diplomat who was at a mosque to pray for his mother who had recently died (the U.S. didn't have anything to do with the death, probably).

Are those diplomats going to be returned to the Iranian embassy or are they going into one or another American gulag, there to be tortured?

Looks like George W Bush flexing his muscles there, breaking laws along the way, as is his style, and trying to start a war with Iran all at the same time. Time to buy oil futures right now. $200/barrel, here we come.

Oh, good news. The U.S. government released the diplomats. OK, hold on the oil futures. There might still be a war, or certainly an increase in the temperature of the insurgency as the Iranians let go of some of their frustrations. But no war yet, probably, unless the U.S. starts one in the next few months.

No gifts

This year I have even fewer gifts for people than normal. I rarely give gifts because I don't give mindless gifts. If there isn't anything that I particularly like for someone, then they're not going to get a gift. This year, with baby Timmy keeping sol and I busy, I don't even have a gift for sol because I just haven't been able to find the time to find something good for her.

Fortunately, I'm not bound by any traditions, so I don't mind giving gifts after the occasion, or for no occasion at all :-). So Sol will probably get something, it'll just take a while, and we need to circulate so I can see something good :-).

We'll be treating ourselves to the Neo Spa at The Fort this weekend. We've done that before, we had gift certificates from our best friends at Q Software Research. This time, we're treating ourselves. We had such a great time last time, we want to go there again. The only thing it needs, I think, is a mixed-sex steam room. As it is, we can't chat in the steam room, but everything else is perfect.

But that's not the gift. Maybe we can go to Davao for a four-day weekend :-). THAT would be the gift :-).


Muslim women's veils and Immigration policy

It's suspected that a suspected murderer in Great Britain fled the country while dressed as a muslim woman wearing the muslim full face covering Niqab. And now an order comes down that muslim women must show their faces at airports, so that their identities can be verified.

I'm a great fan of integration and am neutral (sometimes a bit negative because of liberal stupidity) on diversity. Diversity is good, but a lot of other values are more important than diversity, IMO.

On the veil, I've always thought that women should be allowed to use them, but when identity must be verified, then the veil must not be honored mindlessly. In fact, NOTHING should be honored mindlessly. So the veil must be lifted when identification needs to verified. If the woman wearing the veil is particularly conservative, then she may request that a woman perform the identity authentication. Similarly, in European societies, it is stupid immigration policy to give citizenship to people who have no intention of integrating. If they won't integrate, don't let them in. If they come in as guest workers, let them stay guest workers until they fully integrate. If it takes two generations to demonstrate true integration (i.e., wearing the niqab may be a sign of not integrating), then don't give them citizenship. That way, if they riot, you can deport them without the headaches of dealing with their citizenship.

Similarly, with U.S. immigration, actively enforce immigration laws, levy punitive fines on businesses that hire illegals (if there's actual and continuous punishment, they'll actively comply with the law, instead of winking at the law and allowing John Smiths [who are clearly illegals since they speak spanish and not english] to work). A wall may help. I doubt it'll help much though, so it's probably a waste, but active policing and unfriendly treatment of illegals coming across the Southern border will help as long as it's sustained.

Of course it won't matter. The Republican party bleats about illegal immigration, but it helps its big business partners (Meatpacking plants raided, illegal immigrant workers arrested) by ignoring the laws.

The meatpacking plant raids are a good start but that needs to be sustained. Continuous intelligence gathering, continuous raids, continuous arrests, and huge fines to the employing companies to pay for the effort, all of that will lead to fear and hiding in the illegal immigrant community. Jobs will open up for citizens, meat packing plants will raise payrates (Swift is doing it already), there will be an effect on the market as prices rise due to increased cost of production, but the costs of supporting immigrants in the public schools and emergency rooms of America offset the benefits to the economy of cheap labor.

Enforcing the law, but in a reasonable way, is always the way to go as long as the laws are reasonable. Some U.S. laws were clearly passed by morons (that's the liberals and mccain) and craven chickenhawks (that's the republicans).

U.S. immigration laws are stupid in policy in some ways, but they can be made to work if they're enforced, unlike DMCA and various Patriot Act related laws, they're not completely stupid at their core. European immigration laws I don't know enough to write about, but they're probably stupid in policy and possibly the immigration and integration issues can't be fixed until the laws are completely overhauled (the effect of decades of leftist stupidities in Europe).



Hot dog! I want a jet man pack!. I saw a Jetman video on youtube. Had to view it there since the videos on the jet-man.com site are WMV and my current browsers won't load that, and I don't intend to spend any time figuring out how to get that working in Linux.

Oh wait, we can embed youtube videos here.

Oh right, I saw the original jetman video at reuters.com

I wonder when I'll ever be able to afford one of those. He should set up a company and sell kits. Oh, I should just give up. I'll never be allowed to fly one of those :-).

dog philosophy 101

Mofomon has a post on dog philosophy (consisting of quotes from various people

A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.
-Robert Benchley

If your dog is fat, you aren’t getting enough exercise.

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.
-Robert A. Heinlein

If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give him only two of them. (oh boy is that true!)
-Phil Pastoret

LOTR in Russia

There are incredible pictures of a village in Ukraine, at englishrussia.com.

There must be some photoshopping going on, or some of that high dynamic range imaging which I first learned about when I saw some digg or flickr or reddit post which brought me to a high dynamic range pool of cathedral images at flickr. But no, I think that was another set of images. They were really pushing the envelope and the images didn't seem realistic anymore.

Oh, jen, you'll want to do some flickr searches, e.g., here's one on "high dynamic range cathedral":

high dynamic range cathedral, flickr search

Attention to detail matters

Bush has been putting money into bin-Laden's pocket.

After invading Afghanistan, Bush didn't pay attention to the details. Instead, he cast around for another country to attack. Fortunately, he's a bit stuck in the sand and might not be able to add yet another country to his list before he leaves office.

Just as with Katrina, and with 9/11, Bush wasn't paying attention to the details. In focusing on one big thing, and then another big thing, he lost sight of the opium. Afghanistan has been a source of opium for centuries, and of heroin, for a century. The Taliban had done a good job of keeping opium poppy production down and Afghan opium production was at all-time lows when Bush attacked Afghanistan.

Since Bush wasn't paying attention, opium growing has become the national industry and heroin prices in Europe are a third of what they were a few years ago. Much of that money is going to Taliban and Al Qaeda. If bin-Laden had the funds to pay for a jihadi airline attack on New York and the Pentagon, he now has the funds to buy the airplanes themselves, fill them up with whatever he wants (I'd suggest LSD and cocaine) and dive bomb the White House, finally giving the President all the drugs he's ever wanted but has been repressing his desires so badly that he's needed to kill hundreds of thousands of civilians to forget his pain.

This is what happens when an incompetent is elected to high office. As head of the most powerful government on earth, there is still incalculable mischief that incompetent son-of-a-bitch can do. I hope he doesn't nuke Iran. Wouldn't be surprised if he does though. Or tries, and someone from the military finally shoots his fool head off.

It's not just the Israelis

An American private contractor (i.e., mercenary) fired on Iraqi vehicles and passengers for fun (or for some sort of psychological pleasure)

To their credit, two of his companions reported the incident. On the other hand, there is no case filed, no one is in detention (as far as the report indicates) and no one in the U.S. military command has met with the whistleblowers to determine the facts.

Perhaps with the report, there will finally be some action. This seems to be par for the course for the U.S. military in Iraq. They only investigate when a scandal blows up in the news. Everything else gets buried. Of course, the military is busy with whatever their job might be in Iraq. But allowing the insurgency this ammunition (first by not controlling their men sufficiently, and then letting issues go until they blow up in the news) is incompetent. Haditha, where the initial report was clearly a lie, U.S. military throwing Iraqis off bridges and not caring enough to see if anyone died,kidnapping innocent women and children to force their brothers, husbands and brothers to turn themselves in, pointing guns at old Iraqi women and telling her they will fire, in English, impoverishing a country by blockade, leaving it with terrible infrastructure through bombing through lack of resources to build or fix anything, and then invading it and destroying what's left, and reconstructing so that the electric power situation is now many times worse than when they left, or even, after a few months after they invaded. A few months after invasion, parts of Baghdad still had 4 hours of electricity a day, this is down to 1 hour or less a day, after years of occupation and hundreds of millions spent by U.S. carpetbagger contractors and their mercenaries (sent to protect and support the carpetbaggers, but apparently shooting up Iraqis for fun too).

That last link is a pretty good summary article too (I only link to it because it was one of the first links google brought up).

Given the pattern, by the U.S. military, of ignoring massacres and civilian deaths until it blows up in the media, it is pretty clear that there are multiple civilian deaths and maimings every day inflicted by the U.S. military and the U.S. doesn't care about any of it (that's the U.S. military, the U.S. government, and the U.S. civilian population, none of them care).

I had hoped that the U.S. would merely be able to leave Iraq and go on with their lives, without victory, but without individual dishonor (except for their chickenhawk warleaders whose personal dishonor should be remembered for eternity, at least by Americans so that lessons are learned). With these atrocities coming to light (and the thousands dead from unreported atrocities, however), it's almost time to hope that the U.S. leaves in defeat and national dishonor and that they learn their lesson and stay home for a hundred years (as the germans will stay home for a thousand, or forever).

russian urban art and kublai millan

Kublai Ponce Millan, a friend in Davao has filled The Ponce Suites, his family's hotel with his own art. He's almost run out of space inside the building and is creating concrete sculptures outside the building. He's very prolific, and very talented.

He hasn't yet done anything as big as this whole building facade painting. Although once he learns about it, I wouldn't be surprised if he makes it a new special goal.

russian urban art

a friend of mine in Davao has filled The Ponce Suites, his family's hotel with his own art. He's almost run out of space inside the building and is creating concrete sculptures outside the building. He's very prolific, and very talented.

He hasn't yet done anything as big as this whole building facade painting. Although once he learns about it, I wouldn't be surprised if he makes it a new special goal.

The art of conversation

At the Economist, there's a good article on the art of conversation

He's still got two years

It's true that you've not slashed the population of Iraq in half, as Leopold and those who immediately followed him did in Congo, but that's small comfort.

Well, he's still got two years. He might still get there.

Killing babies and laughing about it

Israel kills babies and laughs about it

"What would happen if the Virgin Mary came to Bethlehem today? She would endure what I have endured," she says.

"It was 5pm when I started to feel the contractions coming on,"

They (...) set out for the Hussein Hospital, 20 minutes away. But the road had been blocked by Israeli soldiers, who said nobody was allowed to pass until morning. "Obviously, we told them we couldn't wait until the morning. I was bleeding very heavily on the back seat. One of the soldiers looked down at the blood and laughed. I still wake up in the night hearing that laugh. It was such a shock to me. I couldn't understand."

Her family begged the soldiers to let them through, but they would not relent. So at 1am, on the back seat next to a chilly checkpoint with no doctors and no nurses, Fadia delivered a tiny boy called Mahmoud and a tiny girl called Mariam. "I don't remember anything else until I woke up in the hospital," she says now. For two days, her family hid it from her that Mahmoud had died, and doctors said they could "certainly" have saved his life by getting him to an incubator.

Recently, two of our pregnant patients here were tear-gassed in their homes ... The women couldn't breathe and went into premature labour. By the time we got there, the babies had been delivered stillborn.

Of course this particular story might be propaganda. But it's a rare woman who'll kill her own son for propaganda. And there are a LOT of other stories like this, where Israeli troops prevent pregnant women from getting to hospitals while they're in labor.

And sure, not all israelis are for this barbarity. But there are enough for it that the government doesn't change and suddenly act civilized. It's sad, I've always loved the idea of Israel. It's too bad that it's turning into South Africa in the bad old days of apartheid.


foiled by foiling morons

I don't understand why someone might want to spend $25 and an hour or two to completely wrap someone else's workstation and gear in tinfoil.

It's a waste of money. Sure, that's not a lot to an american, but it's many day's salary in the third world and this guy is throwing it away just so he can have someone else waste his time taking the foil off and throwing it away.

I don't remember the last prank played on me. It doesn't happen often since I'm just no fun about them. I ignore the prank, ignore the prankster, throw away the props (possibly in the personal space or on the person of the prankster) and move on. I don't get mad, I just ignore everything and coldly handle the situation since i don't want to make them enjoy the situation, and I don't want to waste any emotional (or any other kind of) energy on it either.

It's cold, I know, but I like it that way. It saves time, and (after the first prank or two), embarrassment on the part of the prankster.

One should never generalize.

# Poofread carefully to see if you any words out.


I forgot one

I forgot one more way to achieve victory in Iraq.

Robin Hayes has the solution to the Iraq war: have our soldiers convert all Muslims to Christianity.

Playing into Al Qaeda's hands indeed.

I'm not going to follow all the comments, but one, in particular, slays me:

Please spread far and wide. I'm a big fan of Jesus myself, but I don't think he'd much approve of Flipper trying to enlist him in the Party of Greed's War on Everything.


Victory in Iraq is achievable

Sure, victory in Iraq is achievable.

  • genocide -- probably achieves victory. Leaving more than about 1,000 alive. Probably counter productive though, even if only 1% are dedicated terrorists, that leaves ten enemies alive, and genocide destroys the genocidal army from within, as well as its supporting culture. Decadence and decline are inevitable.

  • nuke-em-all -- achieves victory, but not the fruits of victory. Counter-productive since the oil fields will be inaccessible for a few thousand years.

  • declare victory and leave -- see nuke-em-all, first sentence.

  • garrison Iraq with a million men -- There are only 26 million or so Iraqis and they're leaving Iraq as fast as they can. Ten years or so of sectarian violence, random killings, sort-of-friendly fire accidents (American troops are not friendly with Iraqis, but most of them don't particularly want to kill civilians, although when American lives are on the line, Iraqi lives count for less than Filipino lives), and the occasional massacre, rampage and gang rape and massacre of the raped girl's family are increasing the decrease in population and motivation to leave Iraq. In a few generations, there might be more Americans in Iraq than there would be Iraqis. A few more tens of thousands of dead Americans might be a cheap price (for Bush, anyway) to pay for a 51st state, and one with the second largest proven reserves of oil in the world.

    The Iraqis would become the new palestinians of the middle east, this time, a refugee population created by the U.S.A., that bastion of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But only for Americans.


spoiled children, ingrates and sidekicks

Christmas Spoiled Brats

But what's a sidekick? The karate sidekick? or a close friend who is always at one's side? Or a slave? ("her parents just gave her..., a sidekick").

If she's such an ingrate, why give her $25 in (whatever, I don't know what a Visa gift card formation is, a bunch of Visa gift cards in denominations less than $25 which add up to $25 and are shaped in a V?) at all?

Oh, "basic manners and the concept of accepting gifts graciously". OK. Good manners I agree with. Being fake fails my smell test, but other people are less sensitive to fake.

If this is how they treat americans

How do they treat non-americans?


Good Man

Teenager returns $24,000 in hundred dollar bills. Good man. May you go far, young man.

Work is suffering

I've been absent from work quite a bit lately. One was an annual event I should learn to avoid, but lately there's been a lot of fatigue, cough and colds, and stomach troubles.

I was thinking about them all as being separate problems. I'm starting to think though that they're fatigue related, due to being up with the baby at unnatural hours. It'll get better, but I worry a bit about the toll it all takes on work. But worry is all I can do about it, of course, since timmy will always take priority.

powered by performancing firefox

Images by Michael Poliza


More American troops to be deployed to Iraq

I see that George W Bush is about to send more men to Iraq.

20,000 to 50,000 is probably too little though. There might be ways to succeed in Iraq (most of those ways involve changing definitions of "success"), but sending not enough combat troops isn't it. Combat troops, as Jerry Pournelle is found of saying, are for breaking things and killing people. In Iraq, those combat troops are likely to kill at least as many civilians as actual insurgents or Al Qaeda. I wouldn't be surprised if, in fact, the U.S. military is killing 5 times more civilians than insurgents or terrorists. That's the nature of war, particularly a war where the stronger party's primary purpose is force protection.

What Iraq needs are massive numbers (perhaps half a million) police and constabulary. They need to be on the ground, walking the beat, actually getting to know the civilians and protecting them from insurgents. Unfortunately, that also means that they should not drive around in Abrams tanks or Bradley fighting vehicles or hummers, rushing from point A to point B, shooting civilians and cars who won't stop for them and avoiding bombs on the ground. They need to be *on* the ground, talking to people. That means doing actual hearts-and-minds work, and walking where they're vulnerable. It means taking casualties and losing the occasional battle in order to win the war.

This is not, however, a mission that the U.S. (not just the military, but the whole population) is willing to take. Since Bush is probably going to continue with his doctrine of shock, awe, and paying billions to Republican donating private security and services companies (instead of actually providing more than an hour of electricity a day to Iraq), there is probably no chance of success unless he goes ahead and performs the ethnic cleansing himself. No population, no civil war. Leaving anyone alive is counter-productive. They'll out-breed americans and, after breeding, will go off to attack americans wherever they are.

I think that's unfortunate, I certainly don't condone terrorism. On the other hand, I'm not blind to reality, and the reality is, the current American president, American government and industry are making things far worse than they found them. And when they leave, they're not going to rebuild anything, they'll just leave with the blood of hundreds of thousands of civilians on their hands and go off to save someplace else for democracy.

And perhaps the U.S. military and government will learn its lesson and stay home for a generation (until the public forgets and some other republican fundamentalist president goes off to start another war of choice and kill another half-million ragheads).


Don't be Latino,
get white skin,
don't work in meat factories,
don't have children who are american citizens while you're illegal,
be ready to be deported anytime, no one will defend you,
and you're going into a Halliburton facility and right into Dick Cheney's pocket,


Don't go to Durham

Wow, Durham, North Carolina sounds like one place no one should ever go to. Not that it would necessarily be unsafe, nor would it be likely that the visitor would be escorted to the bathroom (and witnessed by a gun-toting thug) or worse, not escorted to the bathroom and left to piss on himself, but rather on moral grounds. In much the same way that visits to the United States should be avoided while George W Bush is president, and for a long while after, until the curtain of fascism he's erected is finally taken down.


And where are the catholics in all this

An Episcopalian bishop was arrested (apparently, very nicely) for blocking a federal building in an anti-war protest.

Good for him. I hope that there are catholic prelates and priests concerned enough about the war (and unconcerned enough about later, and inevitably, being inconvenienced by the TSA to similarly publicly protest the war.

Hmmm, now what website would that be on. Google is my friend.

That's too bad

It's too bad that This article on why impeaching George W Bush is in a magazine that boasts of itself as "Marxist Thought online".

So it looks like the Iraqis will just have to suffer their next hundred thousand or so dead while George W Bush smiles his secret smile. One can hope that the American people might learn enough from another hundred thousand or so raghead deaths (plus a few americans) and impeach their dear leader. But hope is pretty much all there is there. It's not likely that anything will actually happen. Even the democrats are being the spineless bastards they've always been (not just lacking in courage, but lacking even the brains to distinguish between loyalty to the troops who were bamboozled into Iraq and the right thing to do).

Ah well. If there isn't going to be any improvement in the situation, the best I can hope is that the American government and military stay occupied far away from me. I've got a wife and a newborn son. I don't want the American government anywhere near my family. And certainly not an American government led by that bastard son.


yeah well

that's what Israel does. It's just a fact of life.

I wonder what the Israeli viewpoint is though. I don't see a lot. There's one on YnetNews. I saw one or two other articles, but they were as one-sided (on the bedouin side) as the Albawaba article above.

But, yeah, this is what Israel does. Some Israelis have a conscience, most ignore their conscience (just as most americans ignore the effect of US policy on non-americans, because of the benefits of being American, the Israelis look to the benfits of being jews in Israel), a small minority are just a bunch of thieves who actively try to push things like this (maybe because they're racists, but maybe not, they're Zionists, and extreme zionists are like extremist fundamentalist christians and some American presidents, you can't reason with them).

The Israelis too, sow the wind. Possibly, considering their own material good, this is the right thing to do to maximize their own material profit. But it diminishes their moral worth (except for the valiant few Israelis who actually care about doing good for all citizens, including arab Israeli citizens, and the even smaller minority who think Israel should treat the Palestinians as human beings).

That's too bad. I love the idea of Israel, but the Israelis seem bent on diminishing themselves. Ah well.

palm civets in the philippines!

I see that those notorious coffee beans that come out of monkey's butts don't actually come out of monkeys

Actually, the palm civet, which hand picks and eats the coffee beans, is more closely related to a mongoose than a monkey


The palm civet lives in the islands of Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, the Philippines, Vietnam, and some coffee estates in south India.

So, is any Philippine coffee price-enhanced by this endemic animal? And if not, why not? Where is the capitalistic streak in filipinos? Perhaps overshadowed by the catholic or clean-freak streak in the culture? This is a lot of real damn money right here! We need to be passing coffee beans through captive palm civets!!! :-).

Inspiring Tough Love

There's an inspiring article on tough love and buddhism in the Seattle Times. Someone else might have sued their own parents, but this kid seems to have learned the right things. I hope what he learned sticks and that he finds a good way through life for himself, as he re-integrates into his old environment.

I think he has a good chance. Good call by his parents.


food trip

This weekend, despite seeing me only half-alive for half the time, was a great one for food. On Thursday, sol and I went to Banana Leaf at Podium (there's an official website referred to there, but the site is empty) and had two kinds of curry. That was so good, we brought the curry sauce home and had seconds ;-). That night we had nachos (bought at the Nacho Fast at the Podium) and Bravo's tomato and garlic dip. We were going to leave some for the morning, but we got carried away and ate it all (all the nachos, and all the dip).

Then, since we had previously bought sausages from Shopwise Cubao, we had that on Saturday night. Smoked Bavarian, Hungarian, and Pepperoni sausages, fried in oil, and the oil used to fry baby potatos and garlic.

On sunday, the leftover sausages (plus one new one) were chopped up and put in fried rice. That was a whole meal, right there. After that, I don't remember since I was down for the count :-).

Next weekend, if there's basil and coriander (wansoy), I hope we can have Pho :-). Sol is already thinking of having Pad Thai. And more curry from Banana Leaf would be great (it's a bit expensive, but lovely, completely worth the cost).

Christmas got me down

It's important to remember things past, particularly when they get you down year after year.

I have an allergy to some kinds of dust. I'm not allergic to dust on the streets (except aesthetically) or on the outsides of houses and buildings. The dust I'm allergic to is the kind that sits in cupboards and cabinets and musty boxes at home. So it's probably not the dust itself I'm allergic to but some sort of fungi or other molds that live in cabinets and boxes that are only opened once a year.

Every year (except last year) I come down with a 2-3 day allergy attack that keeps me down for the count. It's always early in the season, when family put up the Christmas decorations. I never remember. So I get taken down every year. This year it's a bit more reasonable that I forgot since I haven't had christmas decoration fever for 2 years or so. Sol and I were living in a small apartment and we had no christmas decorations. We moved in recently with my in-laws though, and they have decorations. So I didn't remember that 3 or 4 years ago, and every year before that for decades, I'd get sick when the decorations came out.

Ah, well, maybe next year I'll remember. Although I'm not sure what I could do about it. Maybe figure out when the decorations are coming out and go to Baguio with Sol and Timmy. Or Tagaytay. Or even, one can hope, Davao!


hilarious traffic stop video

I've said it before, I like Americans by default, and right now I can't think of an American whom I have personnally met whom I still dislike (one or two people made things difficult once upon a time, but everyone else was wonderful).

This policewoman, and the driver, both need to get more famous.


Apparently there will be an investigation into a youtube video demonstrating how much of an asshole one particular soldier and his friend (and the rest of the squad they were travelling with) are

This is a good thing. But in an incremental way. The problem is, this sort of arrogance happens a lot. It's not the fault of the soldier, he's ignorant. He doesn't know any better. It's the fault of the system. Any military always protects its own until a scandal hits public consciousness. And even then, the military will still protect its own until it's forced to vomit out the, ahhh, vomitus.

When the U.S. military (and american citizens) begin to act honestly and actually work to see truly what they do in the world, then I'll slowly start to change my mind as to how close to the devil U.S. policy is on (very close, in this Bush administration, a bit farther away in other administrations, but more on that side than the side of the angels).

That's a lot of cultural change to wait for though. Maybe immortality in the body will become available in my lifetime, in which case I'll have a few centuries to see if U.S. policy slowly moves toward the good of the world (instead of being on the side of bad for the world, but good for Americans).

A Soldier's Story

Now THAT's a good soldier's story.

Yes, it is possible for Americans to understand what they're doing and, as a result, do the right thing and maybe even slowly undo the damage they do in Iraq. On the other hand, it needs to be done one man at a time (learning, and understanding). Lectures don't work, only insight will help. And insight can't be mass produced.

As a practical matter though, it probably won't happen. There is too much ingrained cultural arrogance and ignorance there. Even if 5% of the troops could be taught to see the truth, the rest of them would be a dead weight. The U.S. can't win counter-insurgency wars because their priorities are all wrong, and they can't change. For instance, force protection through the application of overwhelming force on the opposition, is a RATIONAL choice. It just loses.

It doesn't help that any military (and the U.S. military in particular) is hidebound and tends toward ultraconservative values. That's a good thing in some wars. But again, in counter-insurgency, it loses. Liberalism is a stupidity in its own right, but ultraconservatives aren't (as a group, or in the majority) capable of seeing a middle way and seeing things as they are since any extremist (left or right, up or down) viewpoint will always prefer to see things as the viewer wishes things.

There is no victory to be won in Iraq, but this one soldier shows a way to an honorable end. One can hope that enough in the U.S. military will learn the right lessons. Even if it does seem unlikely.


your receipt please. that's hilarious.

i'm not going to do any of that, of course (i'm not a U.S. citizen, I don't got no rights). but it's damn funny.

hmmm, now that I think on it, when I was last in Virginia, living with the lovely Victoria and her beatiful family, I liked Trader Joe's more than Costco (no link for you, although you sure are a heck of a lot better than WalMart). I didn't mind paying a bit more, it was just more fun shopping there.

That probably had to do with the fact that I only bought beer at Trader Joe's though, and only bought food at Costco :-).

hahahaha. that article made my day.

Creating hungry children

Some Iraqis (who might have been looting wood, there's only the allegation) are accosted by American soldiers. The Americans then destroy the Iraqi's car by driving over it with their tank.

Even if the Iraqis really were stealing the wood (likely, but not certain), destroying the taxi certainly seems over the top. The Americans were just having fun, I think, enjoying exercising their power. But they didn't understand that in a completely destroyed economy (destroyed by the Americans, fitfully, corruptly and incompetently rebuilt by American carpetbaggers, worsening by the day), that car kept one or two families and a lot of children alive. By destroying it, the Americans absolutely created at least one (and likely, ten) enemies. Some or all of those children are going to go hungry. But of course, americans never hear about this, they can't imaging going hungry because someone destroyed their car on a whim, they don't care. They're not being assholes and bastards on purpose, they're just ignorant, and allowing their government to rape whole countries.

There's another video of British soldiers beating the crap out of some Iraqi boys. It's Lord of the Flies time out there. No one controls what the Americans and British soldiers do anymore. Most of them do the best they can to do good for the Iraqis (maybe), but as a practical matter, they are making things worse. It's a stupidity too that the Americans can't understand that they're making enemies. But that's the problem with having Hollywood on your side. All you see of your side is the good. No one sees the evil their own men do. Or if they do, they give them a pass.

I see that the Iraq Study Group is probably going to recommend a phased withdrawal from Iraq. I don't think that'll help. It's too late. They've made too many enemies. Those enemies are going to follow them home. That's unfortunate, one would have wished better. But this is what George W Bush and Dick Cheney have sown, and the world (not just the Americans) is going to reap.