Monthly Archives: October, 2004

The Men Who Stare At Goats

In the wake of Vietnam, the US military were demoralised and prey to some fairly crazy ideas. They thought they could train ‘super soldiers’ with psychic powers. In 1979 a secret unit was established by the most gifted minds within the US Army. Defying all known accepted military practice – and indeed, the laws of physics – they believed that a soldier could adopt the cloak of invisibility, pass cleanly through walls and, perhaps most chillingly, kill goats just by staring at them. Entrusted with defending America from all known adversaries, they were the First Earth Battalion. And they really weren’t joking. What’s more, they’re back and helping to fight the War on Terror. Why are they blasting Iraqi prisoners-of-war with the theme tune to Barney the Purple Dinosaur? Why have 100 de-bleated goats been secretly placed inside the Special Forces command centre at Fort Bragg, North Carolina? In his new book, The Men Who Stare At Goats, Jon Ronson describes the connections between 1970s new age bullshit and the torture of prisoners in Iraq. Read excerpts via the Guardian [1] [2], mirrored at Religious News Blog [1] [2]. See also www.jonronson.com.

Nader Debates Dolls



Formerly a great activist, now a bitter old man who has ruined his legacy and talks to dolls.

I recently read this (rough) quote from Alice Walker: "The easiest way that people give up their power is to believe they don’t have any."

I open with that because I desired to say something more constructive than “Kerry says stuff like this, and I wonder why I should bother mailing my ballot.”

“In response to this tape of Osama bin Laden, let me just make it clear, crystal clear, as Americans we are united in our determination to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden and the terrorists,” Kerry said. “They are barbarians, I will stop at absolutely nothing to hunt down, capture or kill the terrorists wherever they are, whatever it takes.”

In that video, Osama — who’s obviously absorbed in his own distorted vision and violent agenda — dropped this nugget of reality: “Your security is not in the hands of Kerry, Bush or Al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands.”

Read outside of the context,

that statement is exactly right.

We, as individuals and beings of intelligence, creativity and common, conditional, interdependent existence, are the ones who must take responsibility for ourselves and the world in which we live. To continue to allow self-interested (or interest-driven) men and their power games be “the way it is” is to give up power and control of our collective destiny, and to consign this world and its inhabitants to ongoing and unnecessary suffering and injustice.

No matter who the system is said to be led by, we have to wake up and accept that we are fully capable of leading ourselves and crafting the world that must come to be if our species is going to survive on this planet.

To paraphrase King:

“We must learn to live together as family,

or perish together as fools.”

Kerry Accuses Bush of Delaying U.S. Hunger Report

The Kerry campaign accused the Bush administration on Friday of delaying a government report that could show the number of starving Americans rose last year.

The U.S. Agriculture Department’s annual Household Food Security report for 2003, considered by some as the most authoritative estimate of hunger in the United States, was supposed to be released around Oct. 28.

Nancy McNiff, a spokeswoman for USDA’s Economic Research Service, which publishes the report, said it “was held for further review.” [more]

Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election

Considering that this coming Tuesday promises to be FUBAR’d, and taking into account all the shit that has gone down in the past four years, it’s important not to forget what happened the last time Americans s/elected their President since there’s a good chance we’re going to have to fight for this election after the polls close. But this time we need to win.

So I urge you to revisit the 2000 election, and all that it entailed: felon voter purges, blatant conflicts of interest, furious legal maneuvering, the “Brooks Brothers Riot,” racially skewed voting patterns, Supreme Court shenanigans, butterfly ballots, “Jews for Buchanan,” etc.

The easiest way to do this is by checking out the documentary “Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election,” which you can watch online in its entirety.

Lancet survey fallout

While Fred Kaplan of Slate is skeptical of the recent Lancet survey of Iraq war fatalities, Juan Cole remarks that if the figure of 100,000 deaths is accurate, “the US has already killed a third as many Iraqi civilians in 18 months as Saddam killed in 24 years.”

The Road to Abu Ghraib

“The devastating scandal of Abu Ghraib,” writes Phillip Carter in the Washington Monthly, “was a direct—and predictable—consequence of a policy, hatched at the highest levels of the administration, by senior White House officials and lawyers, in the weeks and months after 9/11. Yet the administration has largely managed to escape responsibility for those decisions; a month from election day, almost no one in the press or the political class is talking about what is, without question, the worst scandal to emerge from President Bush’s nearly four years in office.”

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