Morning Miscellany: Soldiers On Drugs, Nihilists On Drugs, Brooks On Joads, Etc.
The New York Times fronts new news of those soldiers who killed Afghan civilians for fun and collected their body parts for many months even after one of the soldier's dads started bothering the Pentagon about it. They belonged to an Army unit "consumed with drug use," says the lede. WHAT FUCKING DRUGS, you are obviously wondering. The Times never tells us! And you have to wade way deep into the jump to learn that they were military-prescribed drugs for "sleep deprivation"—so, Adderall, Provigil, prescription meth, something like that—along with muscle relaxers. Idea: why doesn't the Army just dispense Ecstasy to everyone in Afghanistan and be done with the whole thing? They could distribute it through Karzai's already robust heroin supply chain, and it might even get the Taliban to soften its stance on music.
Creepy addendum: the seemingly coldest-blooded of the soldiers, Specialist Jeremy Morlock (is not only actually named "Morlock"!? but also…) hails from Wasilla, Alaska. I'll bet someone knows Levi Johnston's mom!
In other news of boys killing stuff under the influence of amphetamines, this guy Mitchell Heisman shot himself in the head at Harvard in what he called an "experiment in nihilism"—because I guess if you're a strict nihilist, "blowing your brains out" qualifies as an "experiment" much in the same way "cutting taxes on the wealthy" qualifies as "reducing the deficit"—and his mom is blaming Ritalin. Heisman was 35 years old.
Hey, did you know Portugal had a Socialist Prime Minister named Socrates? His plan for reducing the country's deficit to 4.6% of GDP in 2011 was just endorsed by the OECD. Further PROOF that deficit reduction is for socialists.
Andrew Ross Sorkin has a column about how Facebook douche Mark Zuckerberg's supposedly $100 million donation to Newark schools might actually be worth something like 5% of that number, depending on what sort of scam he is pulling by donating the money entirely in shares of his evil company.
Emmanuel Saez, the Berkeley economist from whom I crib all my favorite statistics on how the nation's top 15,000 billionaires and centimillionaires control more than 6% of the annual GDP and christ knows how much of the nation's total wealth, won a MacArthur Genius Fellowship! He is, unsurprisingly, the only economist on the list. Congrats dude, you made it to the top 1% this year! Of course, all the morning papers focus on is David Simon winning one of the grants and professing to feel all "guilty" about it because every card-carrying member of our nation's endangered knowledge-embracing minority already coughed up for an HBO subscription and mercy-watched Treme this year but they couldn't very well give the award to Jon Stewart without someone starting some right-wing scare campaign that succeeds in convincing 23% of Americans that the etymology of the word "genius" is actually closely linked to that of "jihadist."
Blogger Mayhill Flower just quit blogging for Huffington Post because it doesn't pay. Flower is one of those "citizen journalists" who "broke" two prominent meme-type stories many many meme-cycles ago, one of which we all impressively still remember. She told the Post her decision was "not so much about the money itself as the dignity it confers." Smart of the lady to quit before she debased herself to the point at which it is, actually, about money, and only money…
David Brooks writes today of the awesome "pro-market progressives" that governed California between the years 1911 and 1960. The column is called "Tom Joad Gave Up." My (stolen) Wi-fi was down when I read this column, but…did the Joads end up gloriously harnessing the almighty market and stomping those grapes of wrath into a lucrative Napa vineyard with adjacent luxury spa in the end, or something? I don't think so, but maybe that's kind of imagery Brooks is seeking generate in the minds of his readership. It probably works differently on some people than others. For instance, when he talks about glorious California governors of yore, I immediately thought of Jerry Brown, but I have a feeling some of his other readers might have pictured a different former governor entirely…
AIG is in the news again, this time because Treasury is "finalizing" a "plan" that is "aimed at recouping" our "investment" in its giant money vacuum. This "news" is touted in both the Times and the Post. Here's one thing I will say for Bush's wars: when thousands of soldiers die everyone can agree it is kind of tacky to talk in terms of "recouping investments" but I do think America stands a better chance at turning a positive ROI on Iraq than it does fucking AIG.
Although we all know who really wins out in the end, as token white Post op-ed I can stand Anne Applebaum reminds us today: China! Her Post column today says "Chinese oil companies have acquired bigger stakes in the oil business than their American counterparts" in Iraq, and ends ominously: "We still haven't realized that the scariest thing about China is not tae size of its navy or the arrogance of its diplomats. The scariest thing is the power China has already accumulated without ever deploying its military or its diplomats at all."
The rest of the Post op-ed section is typically blandly infuriating today, with the exception of an arch editorial on the massive Koch-funded right wing astroturf giant Citizens for Prosperity's hilarious claims that it is apolitical and Eugene Robinson's pretty funny column on Eddie Long. Richard Cohen opines idiotically about how Obama needs to show "common sense" and abandon his "absolutist" demand that Israelis stop building new settlements before he indulges any more peacetalking, "given the highly emotional nature of the settlement issue." Jo-Ann Armao uses Obama's admission that his kids were probably getting a better education at Sidwell Friends than they would in DC public schools to whine about the loss of some voucher program that used to award underprivileged school children $7500 grants to attend private schools, an amount which might otherwise be funding two whole months of Sidwell Friends education for some deserving child. Michael Gerson wonders why Obama does not seem to "radiate joy in his work" when Michael Gerson has after all done so very very much to make his the president's job more joyful.