"Americans abroad have long been accused of such blinging arrogance and display. I find the charge generally unfair. Arrogance is incorrectly ascribed to what is really the cultural clumsiness of an insular (if continental) people less exposed to foreign ways and languages than most other people on earth.
True, America as a nation is not very good at humility. But it would be completely unnatural for the dominant military, cultural, and technological power on the planet to adopt the demeanor of, say, Liechtenstein. The ensuing criticism is particularly grating when it comes from the likes of the French, British, Spanish, Dutch (there are many others) who just yesterday claimed dominion over every land and people their Captain Cooks ever stumbled upon.
My beef with American arrogance is not that we act like a traditional great power, occasionally knocking off foreign bad guys who richly deserve it. My problem is that we don’t know where to stop — the trivial victories we insist on having in arenas that are quite superfluous. Like that women’s hockey game in the 2002 Winter Olympics. Did the U.S. team really have to beat China 12-1? Can’t we get the coaches — there’s gotta be some provision in the Patriot Act authorizing the CIA to engineer this — to throw a game or two, or at least make it close? We’re trying to contain China. Why then gratuitously crush them in something Americans don’t even care about? Why not throw them a bone?"
"Neoconservatives have now become such caricatures of themselves that it almost pity-inducing to read what they are writing (though even the briefest reminder of the tragic damage they have wrought precludes any possibility of real pity). When it comes to operating within the minimum confines imposed by basic rationality and plain reality, neoconservatives really are indistinguishable from, say, Lyndon LaRouche or Fred Phelps or any number of other deranged extremists who are not merely radical in their ideology, but are so far removed from reality that they command no attention beyond the occasional derisive reference.
Yet there is little doubt that these same neoconservatives still exert the greatest influence on the thinking of our current President, and the more decorated among them still command great respect from our nation's media stars. They are as bloodthirsty as they are detached from reality, as amoral as they are radical, and it is long past the time that just a fraction of the scorn that they so plainly merit be heaped upon them."
Reservist Upset by Iraq Deployment Dies in Police Shootout
Back in the United States, a Maryland army reservist who was to be deployed to Iraq next month has died after a fourteen-hour standoff with police. Army Reservist James E. Dean had already served eighteen months in Afghanistan when he was told last month he would be sent to Iraq. A neighbor says the deployment order sent Dean into a spiral of depression because he didn’t want to go back to war. The standoff began after Dean barricaded himself inside his home with several weapons. He was shot after exchanging gunfire with police.
Afghanistan Heroin Blamed for Rising Addiction, Overdose
In California, an influx of high-potent heroin from Afghanistan is being blamed for an increase in addiction and overdoses in Los Angeles. Heroin-related deaths have increased 75% in the past three years. Over nearly the same period, the share of Afghanistan heroin on the US market has doubled to 14%. Thousands of Afghan farmers were forced to turn poppy production following the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. A spokesperson for the Orange County Sheriff’s told the Los Angeles Times heroin from Afghanistan is the single biggest rising threat in the fight against narcotics.
Justice Dept. Database Criticized Over Data Collection
Civil rights and privacy groups are voicing concern over a massive new Justice Department database that gives police departments around the country access to millions of case files from several law enforcement agencies. The database is known as "OneDOJ." Stored information includes in the names, addresses and other information of criminal suspects or targets – even those who have not been arrested or charged with any crimes. Barry Steinhardt, director of the Technology and Liberty Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, says: "Raw police files or FBI reports can never be verified and can never be corrected… The idea that they're creating another whole system that is going to be full of inaccurate information is just chilling."