07 April 2010

a list of stories I don't care about, so thanks media

1) Tiger Woods has gone with the Evil Spock look for his return to golf
2) Strippers or whatever that was out in Republican hypocrite land
3) Republicans who think they can repeal the health care bill
4) Tea party advocates who think that a few crazy racists either don't exist in their ranks or shouldn't somehow smear and tarnish the rest of them without taking ownership over their movement in the way the civil rights folks did.

Things I was amused by, but still don't really care about
1) Obama's jump shot and trash talking
2) Insurance companies figured out that the law they helped write has some loopholes in it that they could exploit. Probably a PR disaster, but PR doesn't always pay the stockholders.
3) Human beings figured out that planned health expenses can be gamed under these mandates over having insurance and pre-existing conditions, etc, by getting insurance, then going out and getting whatever done, then getting rid of said insurance and returning to paying a fine or whatever the penalties are for not having insurance. Yet another fine example of a) how incentives really work and b) that "insurance" is a ridiculous way to pay for health care.

Things that may or may not deserve some more attention
1) The wikileaks video making the rounds on the anti-war/liberal blogsphere.

I'm not really sure the fact the journalists were killed is a problem worthy of serious investigation so much as the people who showed up to try to help the wounded getting shot up after the fact. I am not so sure this is as inflammatory without that event as people seem to want to claim. But then, I have a more casual attitude toward death than most other people despite my somewhat pacific tendencies toward war in general as an event that causes death. It looks like a Rorschach test for the war as it is for many who have commented on it. Though of course, I was opposed to the Iraq war and I'm not so sure this is a "big deal". I do think things like this should not give us a good feeling that we have accomplished something worthwhile in Iraq, either through our tactics here or the strategy that permitted them to exist. But it's less clear that they should mean that we have trained a cadre of bloodthirsty soldiers to go fight these wars. I do think there are some who do. Blackwater seems to have hired some of them. I'm pretty sure that "being in arms" is not the same as "born to kill".

I would also prefer to view the video without the commentary provided, sort of like how I only watch political speeches on C-SPAN (updated: it appears Wikileaks provided an unedited and longer version on their website which has the misfortune of being harder to watch, ie, without any idea for most people what the hell is going on without little footnotes attached, and it's almost 3 times as long). An important part of making assessments of combat decisions is to understand them as they are being made. It certainly does not appear that they decided to shoot at a band of unarmed civilians here, it sounds like they presumed there to be weapons (and indeed, there are several guys with AKs around in the shots prior to the shooting). It's not clear that they went to great trouble to determine what they were doing or why they were there, and it's not clear that there wasn't a running battle or some other extenuating circumstance that preceded or precipitated the gunfire support from a helicopter orbiting the scene. Even so I have little trouble that a pair of journalists died here, abstractly speaking. I have a lot more trouble that a van which shows up in the midst of the scene is shot up as they attend to a wounded man (who happens to be identified as one of the journalists). The van made and posed no active threat and it is not identified that anyone who exited it was either armed or picked up any weapons off the ground.
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