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September 22, 2004

Juan Cole again brings the goods with a post trying to show Americans what it would be like if the US was in the same shape as Iraq. A sample:

The population of the US is over 11 times that of Iraq, so a lot of statistics would have to be multiplied by that number.

Thus, violence killed 300 Iraqis last week, the equivalent proportionately of 3,300 Americans. What if 3,300 Americans had died in car bombings, grenade and rocket attacks, machine gun spray, and aerial bombardment in the last week? That is a number greater than the deaths on September 11, and if America were Iraq, it would be an ongoing, weekly or monthly toll.

And what if those deaths occurred all over the country, including in the capital of Washington, DC, but mainly above the Mason Dixon line, in Boston, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco?

What if the grounds of the White House and the government buildings near the Mall were constantly taking mortar fire? What if almost nobody in the State Department at Foggy Bottom, the White House, or the Pentagon dared venture out of their buildings, and considered it dangerous to go over to Crystal City or Alexandria?

It goes into much more detail, and you will probably conclude by thanking your lucky stars that you aren't in Iraq. Go read it.

Posted by Jake at 10:13 AM | TrackBack (0)
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With Props to Juan Cole, What if America...?
...when they interrupted the baseball game on TV with the news that Malaysian fighter jets were bombing Washington.

Soon after that, the station went off the air. You managed to get hold of an old Big Ugly Dish, and you were able to pull in a station from Canada. It wasn't just Washington. The Malaysians had also bombed New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami. All these people, screaming, crying. Worst of all were the kids. Little kids, with these horrible wounds, no way to treat them, it was like 9-11 but worse. No emergency services, no lights, people getting sick because there was no clean water.

The only other station you could get looked like what used to be CNN but it had been taken over by Malaysians. Just these talking heads going on about how Malaysia was liberating the US, that Americans should be sure to obey the Malaysian soldiers, they were in control now. And worst of all, they actually had some Americans on there being interviewed, talking about how great it was, and how everybody should be pro-Malaysian, and thank Malaysia because they had taken George Bush into custody.

Well, not that you had ever been a big political person, and you'd had your own opinions about Bush, and not too favorable, but with this horror show you're seeing on the Canadian station, you don't really give a rat's ass where Bush is. You've got a sister in Miami, and they just bombed it again. But this time they bombed the Canadian station's office. The Malaysians are angry because they keep showing all the injured and dead Americans, especially the children. The Malaysian guy is on now, reading CBC for trash, says they are anti-Malaysian, not balanced. What the Malaysians consider "balanced" is the daily Malaysian military briefing, where they talk about how many "insurgents" they've killed.

An "insurgent" means an American who resists the Malaysians. It is hard to get a phone line any more, but a Japanese reporter lets you use his satellite phone. Thank God Janice, your sister, is OK, but your brother-in-law has been "detained" as an "insurgent." Janice doesn't know where he is. They took him away, in handcuffs, with a bag over his head, because he shot at a Malaysian soldier who was kicking in his neighbor's door. When she tells you how the Malaysian soldier just shot his machine gun into the house, killing the whole family there, you have to hand the phone to Jen. You don't want Janice to hear you cry, and you don't want her to hear you throw up.

CBC interviews a guy from a British paper, the Guardian, who watched Malaysians, and incredibly, some Americans, loot the Smithsonian. Jen tells you Janice is on the run, the Malaysians have put her, and both your nephews on a wanted list of suspected insurgents. That's one of their tactics, to arrest the family members of anybody they think may have taken part in any attack against Malaysian forces.

There is no more economy, no more job, no more food. You hear through the grapevine that your former boss has taken a job with the Malaysians. "The New American Army" they call it. His job is to help the Malaysians round up any Americans who might be anti-Malaysian.
He comes to see you the day after your neighborhood is bombed. Thank God, everybody survived it, but Summer has some shrapnel in her leg. The road to the hospital has been closed to civilian traffic by the Malaysians. You try flagging down a Malaysian soldier to ask him to let you through, he points his gun at Summer, and tells you to turn around or he'll shoot. You're lucky, your neighbor tells you, most of the time they just shoot. You don't know what to say. Two of the people they "just shot" were his wife and son.

Jen has some Tylenol with Codeine left over from a root canal, she puts it in some canned peas, mashed up, since food is in short supply, Summer is hungry enough to eat it, and you hope it takes the edge off the pain.

Your boss looks around, doesn't mention the damage to your home, makes some small talk. He seems to be feeling you out, his new job is great, he says, of course, not a lot of career choices now, huh, chuckles, but watching you, to see what you'll say. You smile weakly, offer him some canned peaches.

The stories the people tell, who have escaped or been released from the Malaysians are horrific. You thought you'd heard it all, you thought nothing could be worse, but this....They took your best friend's daughter, right about Jen's age. When they were done, they let her go back home. They have nothing to lose. In the unlikely event she tells her story to some reporter from a terrorist propaganda rag, nothing she says would be credible. And even if pictures of the blood, the bruises, should surface, bad apples. Investigation. As it turns out, she doesn't say anything, anything at all. to anyone. She was a tiny little girl. Within a week, she had bled to death.

Canadian TV has somehow gotten hold of some pictures. They say they don't have pictures of the worst things that go on in the Malaysian detention facilities. The stories keep coming out, torture, child rape, gang rape, riding old women like donkeys, starvation, beatings, hanging people from hooks, electrodes. The Malaysians call it abuse, a few bad apples. They say they'll investigate. They ban cameras.

Josh had been seeing a girl, maybe getting a little more serious than even he realized. When the Malaysian troops took her away, he cracked. It's pretty common knowledge what happens to young girls in those detention centers, and he stupidly tried to shoot the truck tires out as it was driving off. You didn't even know he had a gun, although suddenly guns seem to be everywhere. He escaped, but he's a wanted insurgent now, too. Not safe for him to be at home anymore.

There are rumors that he and his friends managed to cobble together some kind of bomb and tried to blow up a convoy of Malaysian army vehicles during one of their routine operations in an apartment complex. The Malaysian briefing guy says the attack was thwarted, and a dozen terrorists were killed, but the mastermind is still at large. That would be Josh.

This time, when your house is bombed, you're not so lucky. It was so quick. Patsy's body is not even recognizable as anything that was once a human being. Summer is burned so badly, it will be a miracle if she survives, even if she could get to a hospital, which she can't, and even if she could, the hospitals are out of supplies now anyway, they just put people on the floor, give them some water. It's all they've got. There is no more Tylenol with Codeine. Summer screams until she loses consciousness, wakes up, screams again. After what seems like a year, but is only a day, she can't scream any more. Not out loud. Michelle holds her, tries to sing to her, her voice keeps breaking.

Summer takes three days to die.

Your ex-boss is not as friendly when he comes this time. He's not alone, either. He's the American face on a clean-up operation in this neighborhood. The Malaysian generals call this area a "cancer," a "snake pit."

Adam, your old boss, now a proud member of the New American Army, doesn't believe you when you tell him you don't know where Josh is, that you don't have any information about any planned attacks on Malaysian forces.

Part of that is true. Except for those who are collaborating with the Malaysians, it's hard to find any Americans who are not planning to attack the Malaysian forces, the supplemental armies of mercenaries, the raft of "support personnel" they've brought in to build permanent Malaysian military bases and drive trucks. They say an "insurgent" cut off the head of one of them the other day.

You really don't know where Josh is though. He has made sure of that, and when Adam's Malaysian helpers knock you down, you just wipe at the blood with your sleeve and don't say anything. Michelle and Jen are petrified. So are you. You can't believe it when Michelle asks Adam if the family can please come outside what's left of your house to bury what's left of Patsy. And Summer. Tell us where Josh is and we'll let you bury her in the cemetery, says Adam. The Malaysians pay no attention. They are looking at Jen.

You don't know what might have happened next, but someone has fired a rocket or something at their truck, and mercifully, they leave you alone to go chase down the terrorist responsible.
In the bathroom, you try to clean yourself up, and figure out where to go. You can't stay here anymore. Through the open door, you hear the TV.

Malaysia is about to have an election. The candidate challenging the current president is saying he can get the job done in the United States for less money. He will offer Malaysia's allies incentives to help, too, and put an international face on Operation American Freedom. A panel of Malaysian experts complains that Americans are ungrateful. They agree that almost all Malaysians support their troops.

Then the set goes quiet. No more electricity. The Malaysians cut it off periodically. You hear helicopters overhead. Should you take Jen and Michelle and go back to the basement? Or try to make a run for it? How can you just leave Summer and Patsy?

You bury them as best you can with rubble from the collapsed part of the basement, pack up the last of your canned goods, and yes, your gun and your bullets. Tank fire in the streets. Screams. No one breathes. Finally, there are only screams, and you take your family and go out into the night of the New America, just three more terrorists on the run.

http://ductapefatwa.blogspot.com/2004/09/with-props-to-juan-cole-what-if.html

Posted by: DuctapeFatwa at September 24, 2004 09:03 PM

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Posted by: at October 9, 2004 12:19 AM
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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

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Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:

Failure.

What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

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