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January 14, 2012 04:02 PM UTC

Weekend Open Thread

  • by: Colorado Pols

“The cause is hidden; the effect is visible to all.”



52 thoughts on “Weekend Open Thread

      1. I don’t think I’ve ever actually watched a single one of those videos in all the years I’ve blogged here. I don’t think I ever will.  

          1. while still having a very full life. I don’t need to experience everything. Besides, if I watch I might start taking trips like Doug Bruce to find a woman

  1. The Windward International Collegiate Programming Championships

    12 of the 22 “top 10” universities have agreed to participate. And 6 more are considering (3 of them very likely).

    This started off as a contest at Mudd at the request of my daughter. But with all the work required to create the problem, I figured I should invite some other schools. And it’s grown and grown to become something major. I think the students really like the chance to have an academic competition.

    And the picture to the left – that’s the trophy for the winning school.

  2. And they’re long. You can skip them (I do) but they’re 12 – 13 minutes long.

    It’s a really interesting approach – something that long is not a couple of talking points, it’s trying to create a strong connection.

    1. The Author of SOPA Is a Copyright Violator

      I decided to check that everything on Lamar’s official campaign website was copyright-cleared and on the level. Lamar is using several stock images on his site, two of which I tracked back to the same photographic agency. I contacted the agency to make sure he was paying to use them, but was told that it’s very difficult for them to actually check to see if someone has permission to use their images. (Great news, copyright violators!) However, seeing as they’re both from the same agency and are unwatermarked, it seems fairly likely that he is the only person on the entire internet who is actually paying to use a stock image (and he’d be an idiot not to).

      So I took a look back at an archived, pre-SOPA version of his site.

      This is a screenshot of his site as it appeared on the 24th of July, 2011.

      And this is the background image Lamar was using. I managed to track that picture back to DJ Schulte, the photographer who took it.

      And whaddya know? Looks like someone forgot to credit him.

      I contacted DJ, to find out if Lamar had asked permission to use the image and he told me that he had no record of Lamar, or anyone from his organization, requesting permission to use it: “I switched my images from traditional copyright protection to be protected under the Creative Commons license a few years ago, which simply states that they can use my images as long as they attribute the image to me and do not use it for commercial purposes.

      “I do not see anywhere on the screen capture that you have provided that the image was attributed to the source (me). So my conclusion would be that Lamar Smith’s organization did improperly use my image. So according to the SOPA bill, should it pass, maybe I could petition the court to take action against”

  3. Very nice to see a story like this:

    The owners of Babylon restaurant in Lowell, Massachusetts, were understandably shaken last Wednesday when a man hurled a 20-pound rock through the window of the downtown Iraqi eatery, fearing he may have acted out of hate.

    Now, a group of war veterans are sending a message that they won’t tolerate hate against the eatery by pledging to fill every seat in the restaurant, the Lowell Sun reports.

  4. Oddly, I’m thrilled to see this being fixed. It makes me happy with Ken.

    A controversial quote inscribed in the granite of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall will be corrected, an official at the Interior Department confirmed to CNN.

    Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has given the National Park Service 30 days to consult with the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, members of the King family and others to decide on a more accurate version of the quote, the official said.

    Angelou is right, the quote as is sounds arrogant, at best; stupid at worst. I’ve never been clear on why it was given such a prominent position, fixed or not.

  5. We’re All Guilty of Dehumanizing the Enemy

    In a statement issued Thursday, Gen. Jim Amos, the Marine Corps commandant, said that “the behavior depicted in the video is wholly inconsistent with the high standards of conduct and warrior ethos that we have demonstrated throughout our history.”

    Yet, I can’t imagine that there was a time in human history when enemy dead were not desecrated. Achilles dragged Hector around the walls of Troy from the back of a chariot because he was so enraged by Hector’s killing of his best friend. Three millennia later, Somali fighters dragged a U.S. soldier through the streets of Mogadishu after shooting down a Black Hawk helicopter and killing 17other Americans. During the frontier wars in this country, white Americans routinely scalped Indian fighters, and vice versa, well into the 1870s.

    The U.S. military should be held to a higher standard, certainly, but it is important to understand the context of the behavior in the video. Clearly, the impulse to desecrate the enemy comes from a very dark and primal place in the human psyche. Once in a while, those impulses are going to break through.

    There is another context for that behavior, though – a more contemporary one. As a society, we may be disgusted by seeing U.S. Marines urinating on dead Taliban fighters, but we remain oddly unfazed by the fact that, presumably, those same Marines just put bullets through the fighters’ chests. American troops are not blind to this irony. They are very clear about the fact that society trains them to kill, orders them to kill and then balks at anything that suggests they have dehumanized the enemy they have killed.

    But of course they have dehumanized the enemy – otherwise they would have to face the enormous guilt and anguish of killing other human beings. Rather than demonstrate a callous disregard for the enemy, this awful incident might reveal something else: a desperate attempt by confused young men to convince themselves that they haven’t just committed their first murder – that they have simply shot some coyotes on the back 40.

    It doesn’t work, of course, but it gets them through the moment; it gets them through the rest of the patrol.

    1. But young troops today, who should be the more savvy about such things than their elders, are taking gleeful photos and videos of themselves and their buddies doing these things and if you are stupid enough to provide your own evidence against yourself and your friends, it probably will be used and you will have no one but yourself to blame for not getting away with things that most got away with in the past.

      We are an occupying army.  We can’t expect the people we are occupying to be pleased with such utter contempt.  We can go home.  They are home.  We have power over them and we can’t expect them to be fine with that any more than we would if some foreign power came to “liberate” us.  

      The actions recorded and posted in this video demand punishment all the way up the chain of command responsible for creating an atmosphere in which this could be considered something acceptable.  If it’s unfair it’s only unfair in the but Johnny did it too and got away with it sense of fairness. Johnny lived in a different world where people didn’t record and post every damned thing they ever did.

      1. is about.

        Junger brings up an interesting and disturbing point–these are soldiers that were in 4th or 5th grade when 9/11 happened. They heard the “enemy” dehumanized by our own officials in charge of the Department of Defense, the White House, et al for 10 years.

        They heard it’s okay to waterboard an enemy (clearly a violation of the Geneva Convention), heard it’s okay to torture them, to subject them to rendition and torture in other countries like Syria and Libya–countries we are now condemning for torture and inhumanity. They heard that it is okay to hold enemy soldiers without trial for years.

        The enemy is not entitled nor human enough to deserve the rights bestowed upon the rest of us. Why do we expect our soldiers to behave any differently than how we have trained them for the last ten years? The enemy isn’t human so why treat them as such? That notion has been openly sanctioned by the United States, at our highest levels of government.

        When the war on terror started, the Marines in that video were probably 9 or 10 years old. ..

        For the past 10 years, American children have absorbed these moral contradictions, and now they are fighting our wars. The video doesn’t surprise me, but it makes me incredibly sad – not just for them, but also for us. We may prosecute these men for desecrating the dead while maintaining that it is okay to torture the living.

        I don’t read Junger painting these soldiers as victims. I see him rightfully questioning why we are surprised by their actions at all and questioning the ongoing contradictions our government continues to engage in.

        I’m with Dan. Junger nails the larger question.

        1. I’ll assume, MoTR, that you were never in boot camp while a war was going on. Any dehumanization of the enemy that hasn’t taken place in society gets completed in boot camp. Recruits learn many ways to use the word “gook”, before that “Japs”, even in rhymes/cadence while marching. Stories are told about the evil enemy and what they would do to our sisters and girlfriends. It is overwhelming, especially for 18 y/o kids.

          1. I’ve never been in the military and my friends that have been have reported the same thing you just said. Boot camp is the icing on the cake for turning the enemy into non human beings.  

            1. here in our small community more than a dozen youngsters, so far, have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. When they come home their peers inevitably ask “Did you kill anyone?” The soldier invariably pulls out some kind of smartphone and displays photos.

        2. The enemy is always dehumanized in war.  Look at  the Japanese in WWII era cartoons.

          Yes, this is a particularly long one and that means the people doing the fighting have been subject to the propaganda since childhood but, in general, it’s the way of all wars in all times.

          After all,  war is about getting mainly very young people to kill other mainly very young people who just happen to have been born in a different country with whom their country has a beef.  None of them on either side has any control over the issues that caused their country’s or faction’s leaders to send them to kill each other.  Any day those leaders may settle things, declare peace and then, all of a sudden, they’re not supposed to kill each other anymore. All the killing prior to that is supposed to be considered perfectly OK but now it’s supposed to be turned off. Like a faucet. Does this sound like any kind of normalcy?  

          That’s where dehumanizing comes in.  It’s not as if it’s a natural transition for a nice kid to go from a job at the mall to a job killing other kids or for their parents to see killing as a natural and desirable job for their sweet babies. It takes some doing.

          I don’t discount Junger’s piece.  I just don’t see anything particularly striking or new here. I really don’t. There has never and will never be cleaner more “humanized” wars. Americans will never be uniquely innocent of acts like this or far worse atrocities. The only difference is that the John Wayne white hat fantasy we cherish can’t be maintained anymore.  It’s all recorded and put out there.  

          1. I think Junger is reaching out to a younger audience who frankly, don’t know half of what they should about history or about what you are referring to. And until they have read his article, I doubt they have thought for two seconds how they are being programmed.

            And I don’t really care if the message isn’t new. It bears repeating. Again and again and again.  

            1. I doubt those you see as the target audience are reading anything like this.  Besides, the excitement of the fantasy of war, the challenge of proving oneself in a glorious enterprise will always appeal. It’s the stuff of adolescent dreams until those dreams bump up against the horrible reality. Good luck with making a dent in that.

              The fact that we have rules of war, conventions, treaties and there is an effort to keep some level of preservation of human decency in place is certainly better than not having any rules or making any effort.  Something is better than nothing.  But war is butchery and it will never be any more humane than it is right now.  It can only improve by ceasing to exist.

              In the meantime the enemy will be dehumanized, the young we send will be held up as glorious, pure hearted heroes to celebrate and the whole enterprise will fail to live up to the  fantasy.  It will still be necessary to punish those who blatantly break the rules because the rules are the only thing that prevents even more and even worse levels of bestiality.  I only wish it wasn’t always just the common soldiers getting offered up as a sop to our collective conscience.

              1. than this:

                I only wish it wasn’t always just the common soldiers getting offered up as a sop to our collective conscience.

                I can’t help but think of Pat Tillman and how absolutely no one but the lowest ranking soldiers ever paid a price for his death and the cover up. So much evidence that proved it was a cover up that reached the upper echelon of the White House as well as the DoD and yet, all the top military guys walked away, scott free. Hell, some of them even got promoted.

                As to Junger’s audience, they aren’t your average hard core politicos, BC. He writes for Vanity Fair and Rolling Stones. So on this we disagree and who could care less, since it’s a minute point at best, right?

                I’m just grateful someone is reiterating what already is so very obvious to you and others and doing it in a way that starts a conversation–which it clearly is doing by the look of this thread here, as an small example.

                Hell, what’s the point of a letter to the editor or an op-ed? To reiterate the obvious, over and over again. To express a viewpoint and start a conversation.

                And what’s with the “sigh” stuff? I thought we were just having a discussion here. It wasn’t my intention to bore you or piss you off. If that was the end result, I sincerely apologize.  

          2. is the suggestion that cameras should be forbidden in these zones, in the prisons, etc. by all but journaists. That is an enforceable rule. And, I think we all know, that sometimes a camera entices folk to do what they otherwise might not do

              1. Some of the sexual stuff from Abu Ghraib was obviously staged for the camera. Would it have happened except for cameras? Perhaps–probably–not. But pictures of the dead prisoner on ice? Not likely he was killed just for a picture, but rather the photos eventually revealed the lies and coverup of how he was killed. And of course journalists would not be allowed in to expose that abuse–which also explains the lack of pictures from Guantanamo even though we know there were abuses there.

                1. cameras would be banned by the military to protect themselves from the young idiots who can’t get enough of videoing themselves and their friends showing off. The brass probably don’t care so much about the incidents themselves, just the headaches they cause. It probably wouldn’t work as these young geniuses would find ways to sneak their tiny little gadgets in and get their “Look guys.  Here’s me do doing something cool” videos out to hundreds of “friends” anyway.  

    2. all war dehumanizes humanity.

      I don’t pretend that there’s an answer to who or what we are, but I do know you begin can’t kill or destroy the lives others without first destroying their worth and value in your mind.

      Dead on correct:

      But of course they have dehumanized the enemy – otherwise they would have to face the enormous guilt and anguish of killing other human beings.

      but, a crap conclusion.  An excusing of the actions of the perpetrators by explaining them as victims:

      Rather than demonstrate a callous disregard for the enemy, this awful incident might reveal something else: a desperate attempt by confused young men to convince themselves that they haven’t just committed their first murder – that they have simply shot some coyotes on the back 40.

      The actions here compounded the dehumanization — and those actions were dehumanizing to all parties, mostly the perpetrators.  Instant karma’s a vicious bitch.

      1. Throughout history this occurs again and again. Will we ever change?

        Scholarly folks like Ernest Becker, and Otto Rank to name a few have explored this very well. It alters todays Ovid quote, because since Ovid we have explored and now understand the causes of our actions:

        Perhaps Becker’s greatest achievement has been to create a science of evil. He has given us a new way to understand how we create surplus evil-warfare, ethnic cleansing, genocide.

        From the beginning of time, humans have dealt with what Carl Jung called their shadow side-feelings of inferiority, self-hate, guilt, hostility-by projecting it onto an enemy. It has remained for Becker to make crystal clear the way in which warfare is a social ritual for purification of the world in which the enemy is assigned the role of being dirty, dangerous, and atheistic. Dachau, Capetown and Mi Lai, Bosnia, Rwanda, give grim testimony to the universal need for a scapegoat-a Jew, a nigger, a dirty communist, a Muslim, a Tutsi.

        Warfare is a death potlatch in which we sacrifice our brave boys to destroy the cowardly enemies of righteousness. And, the more blood the better, because the bigger the body-count the greater the sacrifice for the sacred cause, the side of destiny, the divine plan.

        Becker, Ernest (2007-11-01). The Denial of Death . Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

        What could $1 Trillion a year buy that now goes to the MIC and the empire, world policing?

  6. South Carolina: A Battle Between Old And New?

    He downplayed the significance of Romney’s smaller operation. “Ground games are becoming less important as marketing techniques change with the Internet and growing national media trends,” he said.

    Rick Santorum on the other hand is more firmly from the old school. Observers who tout the importance of retail campaigning in South Carolina say Santorum is doing what needs to be done – he’s been on the ground more than almost any other candidate, and has built up a strong ground operation.

    Romney, meanwhile is doing things “the new way,” Thomas said – relying on ads and the internet to get his vote out. The Romney campaign did not respond to a request for comment on their South Carolina operation.

    There’s a lot of other things in play too. But the conventional wisdom has been that you must have a strong ground game. Maybe not anymore…

    1. easily extrapolate to campaigns in the General?  Does Santorum have a choice?  And is the SC GOP primary electorate in any way, at all, reflective of what a winning (think 270) presidential campaign will require…?

      There’s a few missing steps between your post and even speculative conclusion, IMO.

        1. And I think this says more about this campaign than it does about whether things are changing, or how much.

          Think about it – we have had the telephone for over a century, and it’s something every American has had since at least the postwar period. That gave politicians another way to reach people, as did television, but the ground game did not disappear as a result.

          New tools do not supplant old methods. Talking to someone face to face will always be more personal that other forms of communication. That’s why offices don’t disappear and why nearly everyone still goes into work.

          If Romney wins SC despite a weak ground game, it’s because the GOP establishment has wanted him, he’s been the only consistent leading candidate, and the only one not so far to the right that he’d be lucky to break 35% of the vote against Obama. It won’t be because people find the internet more compelling than speaking to a campaigner in person.

          1. Is still a big deal according to numerous studies, especially in the down ticket elections where most voters have never heard of any of the candidates, such as for state legislature, and those who aren’t particularly partisan may well vote for the one who showed up at their door and seemed nice. Phone calls don’t have as much impact as face to face. Flyers are largely ignored but you have to start somewhere in getting your name out there. An organization for getting soft voters to the polls is  invaluable in close ones. Ask Harry Reid. So, yeah, ground game still matters.

  7. Page 1, Column 1 — Sunday New York Times

    Romney Offers Praise for a Donor’s Business

    WASHINGTON – At a town-hall-style meeting in New Hampshire last month, listeners pressed Mitt Romney on the soaring cost of higher education. His solution: students should consider for-profit colleges like the little-known Full Sail University in Florida.

    A week later in Iowa, Mr. Romney offered another unsolicited endorsement for “a place in Florida called Full Sail University.” By increasing competition, for-profit institutions like Full Sail, which focuses on the entertainment field, “hold down the cost of education” and help students get jobs without saddling them with excessive debt, he said.

    Mr. Romney did not mention the cost of tuition at Full Sail, which runs more than $80,000, for example, for a 21-month program in “video game art.”

    Nor did he mention its spotty graduation rate. Or, for that matter, that its chief executive, Bill Heavener, is a major campaign donor and a co-chairman of his state fund-raising team in Florida.

    Forget Bain, one can’t hardly hope for better than this so early in the cycle . . . Mitten’s publicly pimping his sleazy campaign donors . . . fabulous.

    Bill Heavener could soon to be known as Mitty’s “Kenny Boy” . . .

    Is Mittens simply just a smug, clueless asshole, or his he really just as stupid as Rick Perry?  (BTW, I can just see Perry having someone read and explain this article to him and asking, Why the fuck didn’t I think of that?)

    I said it the other day, but it bears repeating — Crony Capitalism?  Methinks Mittwad doth project too much . . .

    I’m becoming of the opinion that, like UrUrpaGop, we can’t possibly hope for a better candidate to run against Obama than his boss.  Thank you, Mittenator.

    1. 80K is a lot of money to some people. Heck, he could spend that much on 8 small wagers, right? One wonders what Romney thinks the middle class is and how he imagines they live.

  8. I checked out what the Republican caucus location would be in my precinct, just so I could know where the crazy would be. They don’t have locations posted yet, but the whizbang state GOP website has a link to sign up for an update… but you have to put in your address and verify that you’re a registered Republican.

    Fair enough I guess, except my address is in their database as well as at least a dozen other names and addresses in my precinct. Data security much? Weirdly, the people registered at my address haven’t lived here for at least 6 years. Since then, registered Democrats/Greens have been living here so the database thinks we’ve got some kind of ideologically diverse sitcom situation going on?

    I’ll have to wait until I have time to sit down with somebody that has access to voter reg info to see if it’s just the GOP’s lousy data vendor keeping old info. I wonder if this is perhaps one factor in the republican freakout about voter fraud? Working on Dem campaigns, I’ve rarely encountered voter registrations that are that far out of date, but if the GOP is working with craptastic data in their day to day campaign operations the frustration might be translating into a distrust of the voter rolls generally.

    So… umm… GOP fix your website so it’s not leaking voter data to everyone! Also, conspiracy theories go!

    1. beyond when they should, there likely won’t be a good head-to-head battle between Romney and the everybody-else candidate.

      But to keep things interesting, didn’t I read today that Donald “The Hair” Trump has changed his voter registration from Republican to unaffiliated for a possible third-party run?

      1. Are you ready for some VP Tancredo?

        He’s tanned (but not so much that you’d confuse him for a foreigner), ready, and  a certifiably attention-starved wacko.    

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