August 07, 2007

In Case You Were Feeling Too Cheerful

Attention conservation notice: Unpleasant recent bookmarks, in no particular order.

Health insurance companies: more morally culpable than flesh-eating zombies or blood-sucking vampires; for example. (But really, zombies should eat brains.)

Mississippi: sacrificing sixty-five black babies a year to the Moloch of tax cuts, the abomination of the sons of Grover Norquist. You may guess which of our parties opposses suppressing this practice, and why.

"Deceiving us has become an industrial process": your bought-and-paid-for climate-change denial operation at work. When you drive alone, you drive with the Competitive Enterprise Institute. (And, because I get tired of pointing people to it individually, read the damned IPCC report already.)

An entire city "bids for the Darwin Award".

As earlier remarked, a post-apocalyptic wasteland now covers approximately one-sixth of the habitable Earth, and what would one of those be without a multitude of insane new cults?

The Supreme Court has decided that, in fact, Strom Thurmond had the right taken on Brown vs. Board of Education. I eagerly await their reinterpretation of Loving vs. Virginia.

In a late-breaking development, The Party of Fear, the Party without a Spine, and the National Surveillance State. Which, apparently, does not go far enough.

An example of our "national security letters" at work. (Via.)

Our government's renewed authorization of torture. Our proud precedents. (Via, and.) "So in summary, what they've hit upon is a protocol based on the best practices developed by Soviet and medieval torturers alike to accomplish torture's traditional goal -- the extraction of false confessions -- and seem to have wound up with a bunch of false confessions. Which, of course, is precisely what you'd expect to wind up with if you thought for a minute about why governments have, historically, resorted to the systemic deployment of torture." These are war crimes.

Some scenes from within our latest experiment in utopian social engineering. More. Counting the eggs broken to make this lovely omelet. (Did I mention war crimes?) Those who threw in their lot with us are going to be shamefully betrayed, of course.

The Army isn't even planning to fight the last war. Some diagnoses from someone who's never going to make colonel, and someone who got out. The blame will, of course, be placed elsewhere.

"An engaged couple reflects on their future together on a beautiful Memorial Day." (Further to the theme.)

The War Prayer. (Via.)

All of this, of course, is part of the decay of the Republican Party' once-proud traditions of statesmanship.

"In 2003, the most recent year for which records were available, the United States sent weapons to 18 of the 25 countries involved in active conflicts around the world."

An incredibly depressing look at a tiny sliver of the Yugoslav civil wars and their fall out. (Via.)

A member of the foreign policy community — evidently smart and well-intentioned — is "SHOCKED" when one of the senior members of her field gets questioned in an open forum. If that's really an accurate reflection of their intellectual norms, well, pardon me if I'm not impressed, and not surprised that lessons go unlearned, and we are somehow debating the wisdom of using nuclear weapons against a bunch of criminals in caves. But, of course, the real problem is unauthorized people complaining about catastrophically bad decisions, not the bad decisions themselves. The idea that some of the strengths of democracies are that everyone can criticize policies and mistaken policies can be changed by argument and voting appears to have sunk from view. Similarly, what can one say about Anne-Marie Slaughter, who is certainly no dummy, pointing favorably to the continuing public role of John Negroponte, a man who helped implement our policy of support for death squads in Central America, describing him as a "seasoned moderate"? What, for that matter, can one say about our hiring (or re-hiring) of Latin American mercenaries for the war in Iraq? "They know what we like", perhaps?

It is a further sign of our intellectual depravity that people take Bryan Caplan seriously, even when he is obviously a cheap imitation of The Onion (via). Economics does, however, have some scientific content, and does not consist entirely of rationalistic myth-making and elitist visions of the radical reconstruction of society according to abstract plans.

I sometimes think those who lament the weakening of the American moral fiber since the 1960s are right — and that the best evidence is the popularity of conservatism, or what passes for it these days. It didn't used to need reminders that "infrastructure is patriotic" (unlike torture, unchecked surveillance powers, indefinite detention without trial or charge, kangaroo courts, the aforementioned sacrifices to Moloch, etc.).

A noted English author records his observations of the domestic manners of the Americans.

Manual trackback: Amygdala.

Linkage; The Continuing Crisis

Posted by crshalizi at August 07, 2007 12:07 | permanent link

Three-Toed Sloth:   Hosted, but not endorsed, by the Center for the Study of Complex Systems