Robert Fisk examines the near-universal insistence that Staff Sgt. Robert Bales must have “snapped” before he killed sixteen civilians—mostly women and children—near Kandahar. If an Afghan had done the same thing, killing civilian workers in Afghanistan, he’d be labelled a terrorist. But since he’s on our side, we interpret his actions in the kindest possible light. It’s noteworthy that General John Allen—the army’s top guy in Afghanistan—pleaded with his troops last month not to murder civilians in response to the Afghan riots over the accidental burning of Korans. A few weeks later, that’s precisely what happened. →
- Washington Post: Poll Finds Public Wary on Tax Cut
The A1 headline in the Washington Post on the morning of September 11, 2001 was for this prescient story: "A majority of Americans say they are prepared to roll back President Bush's $1.35 trillion tax cut to help deal with the shrinking federal budget surplus and say Bush more than congressional Democrats bears responsibility for a problem that has suddenly put him on the defensive."
- Commonwealth of VA vs. Kathleen Sebelius
I recommend a quick reading of the Fourth Circuit Court's smackdown of Ken Cuccinelli. The decision starts on page 17, and it reads like a Constitutional Law 101 lesson, one that Cuccinelli needs badly. "The sole provision challenged here—the individual mandate—imposes no obligations on the sole plaintiff, Virginia." End of story.
- Wall Street Journal: Many Afghans Shrug at ‘This Event Foreigners Call 9/11’
In two Afghani provinces, 92% of 15–30-year-old men surveyed had never heard of September 11th. Keep in mind that few people have access to newspapers or television (TV was banned by the Taliban), that many Afghanis were young children when it happened, and that many of them probably find it preposterous that a building could be so tall that thousands of people could die in one.
- New York Times: A Tipping Point for Gay Marriage?
With the government unable to muster a legally defensible argument against gay marriage, it's amazing that the House of Representatives went ahead and hired their own private law firm to carry on the right. But it's more amazing still that the law firm dropped the case, finding the Republican majority's position impractical to defend. This looks like the beginning of the end of anti-gay discrimination. My children will almost certainly not know a world in which marriage is only for opposite-sex couples.
- Salon.com: "USA! USA!" is the wrong response
I'm glad to see that others share my discomfort with some of the reaction to the death of Osama bin Laden. "In the years since 9/11, we have begun vaguely mimicking those we say we despise, sometimes celebrating bloodshed against those we see as Bad Guys just as vigorously as our enemies celebrate bloodshed against innocent Americans they (wrongly) deem as Bad Guys."
- The Independent: Bush rejects Taliban offer to surrender bin Laden
Remember when the Taliban offered to hand over Osama bin Laden to the U.S., the President Bush rejected the offer? That was in October 2001, a week after we started bombing. Bush's response? "When I said no negotiations I meant no negotiations."
- The Washington Post: How the U.S., on the road to surplus, detoured to massive debt
In case you've forgotten how we went from record surpluses to record deficits in a decade (hint: you have), the Post recounts the story of how President Bush blew President Clinton's carefully crafted budget by going on the largest-ever tax-cutting spree, recklessly distributing our nation's wealth to the nation's wealthiest.
- Wall Street Journal: Jobless claims
The WSJ put a sparkline in a tweet. *swoon*
- Los Angeles Times: Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles belies its name
Two member of the famed chorus have come out as straight. To the credit of the chorus, they have been very accepting.
- asymco: If Cash is King, Apple’s is an Emperor
If Apple didn't take in another dime, their current cash on hand is enough to keep them in business until 2018.
- L.A. Times: Teen succeeds where Army fails in recording Arlington graves
17-year-old Ricky Gilleland has accomplished what the military has been incapable of doing—creating a digital record of all Afghanistan and Iraq veterans buried at Arlington National Cemetery. That's because this sort of thing isn't really very hard. The trick is just shutting up and doing what needs doing.
I interviewed photojournalist Ashley Gilbertson about the stunning rate of suicide among Iraq/Afghanistan veterans. It averages about 700 each month. More soldiers have died by their own hand after returning home than in country. Ash wrote “The Life and Lonely Death of Noah Pierce” for the current issue of VQR, the story of one 23-year-old vet who, after two tours in Iraq, killed himself a year ago July.