Saturday, January 10, 2004

How to Lose Your Job on Talk Radio

Be a conservative talk show host who criticizes Bush while employed for a Clear Channel station.

Clear Channel: "We program. You obey."


Friday, January 9, 2004

They (GOP) Must Think Americans Are Idiots

One does have to wonder what goes on in the minds of the Bush crowd. I've periodically had to ask myself if there's an element of sociopathy at play. One pattern that emerges with many serial killers (who tend to be sociopaths), is that of seeing just how far they can go, and still "get away with it." I tend to see the same thing happening in the White House. The lying has become ever more obvious, the rhetoric ever more extreme, and yet there's this air of near-invincibility among them: a belief that they can lie, commit acts of treason, and still get a free pass to continue.

Note: I generally am wary of engaging in armchair diagnoses, for what I hope are fairly obvious reasons (e.g., w/o an opportunity to do a thorough clinical assessment in person, it's difficult to really have sufficient information to make such diagnoses). However, I don't think claiming that Bush is a sociopath is necessarily that far-fetched. It would provide a post-hoc explanation for the various reckless behaviors of his youth, as well as the apparent lack of genuine emotional responses (e.g., the fake smiles), the general enjoyment in engaging in cruelty (e.g., mocking individuals on death row), and the current shenanigans regarding a wide range of White House actions. We also should bear in mind that sociopaths can be, and often are, people that are perceived as upright, responsible citizens (i.e., "good" sociopaths). One case study of a record company exec, suggested that even though he had refrained from any criminally violent behavior (or criminal behavior generally), he otherwise fit a sociopath profile in terms of his professional and personal behaviors. Again, no clinical assessment here, I'm not even making a forensic assessment, but merely a hypothesis based on what I know about human behavior.

Just some food for thought.

Everything You've Always Wanted to Know About the Neocons But Were Afraid to Ask

The title is fun (nice reference to a Woody Allen film that was based upon a David Ruben book, "Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex...").

Lots of links and info regarding the neocons, their origins and their goals.

Or, to reference an old 1970s sitcom: Fascism American Style.

The Bush Hitler Thing

From the perspective of a survivor of the Nazi era.

Well worth a read.

Who Let Dubya Play With The Crayons?

Our soldiers die for Bush's lies.

Today's ???W Blog

Thursday, January 8, 2004

Today's ???W Blog

The Lord of the Right Wing

Time for a little humor, on the square.

The 500

Bush lied and our soldiers continue to die. The continued loss of life and limb for Bush's lies disgusts me to the very core of my soul.

Ghosts of Landslides Past

Some excerpts:

Dean is electable precisely because he's making a decisive break with the spinelessness and pussyfooting that have become the hallmark of the Democratic Party.

There is a historical parallel to Dean's candidacy. But it's not McGovern in 1972, as the DLC-paranoiacs would like us to believe, it's Bobby Kennedy in 1968.

Like Kennedy, Dean's campaign was initially fueled by his anti-war outrage. Like Kennedy, Dean has found himself fighting not just to represent the Democratic Party but to remake it. Like Kennedy, Dean is offering an alternative moral vision for America, not just an alternative political platform.

And like Kennedy, Dean has come under withering attack from his critics for the very attributes that his supporters find most attractive.

Kennedy was drawn into the '68 race by his indignation over the direction of America's foreign policy. "This nation," he said, "must adopt a foreign policy which says, clearly and distinctly, 'no more Vietnams'." Dean has been saying, clearly and distinctly, no more Iraqs, even when 70 percent of the public said they approved of Bush's policy. That's leadership and the kind of boldness the Democratic Party has been sorely lacking.

Far from Dean not being able to "compete" with Bush on foreign policy, he's the one viable Democrat who isn't trying to compete on the playing field that Bush and Karl Rove have laid out. .... Dean unambiguously asserts that "we are in danger of losing the war on terror because we are fighting it with the strategies of the past...The Iraq war diverted critical intelligence and military resources, undermined diplomatic support for our fight against terror and created a new rallying cry for terrorist recruits."

In the same way that Kennedy was able to take his outrage over Vietnam and expand it to include the outrages perpetrated at home, Dean has gone from railing against the war to offering a New Social Contract for America's Working Families that harkens back to the core message of FDR: "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."

I was a small child when Bobby Kennedy was making his run for the Democrat Party nomination -- a run and a life tragically cut short by an assassin's bullet. The sense I got from talking to people who were adults back in 1968 (including my own rather conservative parents) is that Bobby Kennedy offered a sense of hope that had been sorely lacking in the Democrat Party...not only that the war in Vietnam would be halted, but that Americans, especially working Americans, would be better off economically. My guess is that he would have had an excellent shot at beating Nixon that year. Instead, the Democrats got the tepid Hubert Humphrey...and the rest is history.

Arianna Huffington is hitting some good notes here. I posted this afternoon in someone else's comments something along those lines, though primarily focused on the shortcomings of Lieberman and Kerry. Specifically, Lieberman and Kerry have already given us a taste of the sort of spineless campaigns that they will run if nominated (thankfully, I think the risk of either of them being nominated is relatively low at this point). By attacking Dean's recent comments that we are not safer since Saddam's capture, Lieberman and Kerry have effectively lost one potential useful talking point in their own campaigns. If either were nominated, Dubya could essentially say "even my opponent will agree that we are indeed safer since Saddam's capture." When offered the choice between two candidates who end up seeming very similar, whom will the voters choose? Probably the incumbent. Better to have an opponent who actually offers a distinct vision from that of the incumbent. Granted, I'll vote for whomever gets the nomination, but, for many of the candidates it will be less than enthusiastic: it is only because I understand what is at stake. Our cause will be much better served by someone who can actually appeal to a grassroots of people who would otherwise have slipped through the cracks this election year.

Some food for thought.

Climate risk 'to million species'

More on the environmental problems we face over the course of the 21st Century. The loss of plant and animal species on such a mass level will likely have a profound impact on humans as well. There are some things we could do to minimize the impact of climate change, but will our leaders seriously consider them?

What's up with Bush?

From the same link as the previous post:

President Bush: Where were you in 1972? You were supposed to be attending weekend meetings in the National Guard but all the evidence points to you being AWOL.

President Bush: When tens of thousands of average Jane and John Does headed towards danger on Sept. 11, 2001, to help, you were flying for the safety of a hardened underground bunker. What's with that?

President Bush: You have shifted taxes from the wealthy of today to America's children and their children by "reducing" taxes. We all know the bill will have to be paid, but you've made sure it's the likes of my daughter and her kids and their kids who will be paying the bill you helped create.

President Bush: Our national debt is currently just shy of $7 trillion, and that figure is growing by a half trillion dollars per year under your administration. Since 1962 we have paid over $8 trillion in interest on our nation's debt, and for last year alone that figure was $320 billion, once again under your administration. What's up with that?

President Bush: You told the nation all about Iraq's WMD but we can't find a hint of one. What's up with that?



Another example of questioning W. It's not hard to do at all. Just use your head.

From some op-ed letters: Bush a dictator?

This was the first of a whole page of letters critical of one facet or another of Bush's performance:

Recently I've heard some people comparing the Bush presidency to a dictatorship. Is that a fair comparison? Hmm, let's see.

President Bush has imprisoned people indefinitely on secret evidence without access to counsel, in violation of the Constitution.

He has launched programs to spy on the American people without their knowledge and due process of the court system (the "sneak and peek" provision of the Patriot Act).

He has stifled all dissent of his policies through intimidation. He has steadfastly refused to involve Congress in the formation of his policies (even alienating his own party) and has classified more documents than any president in American history in a zealous quest to keep others from knowing how his administration works. And, of course, he invaded a country, ignoring world-wide protests, based on assertions which were later proven to be outright falsehoods, presumably to distract the American people from his incestuous ties to the biggest financial scandals in American history.

Bush a dictator? Maybe the claim isn't as outrageous as it first seems.



Courtesy of the Burlington Free Press.

Food for thought.

Wednesday, January 7, 2004

Kurt Nimmo on Bush, Authoritarianism, and Fascism

Seems to hit it right on the head...

...Generally speaking, Bush is a fascist, more of a Mussolini than a Hitler. Simply put, "fascism [is] a political theory advocating an authoritarian hierarchical government (as opposed to democracy or liberalism)," period (according to Hyperdictionary). Fascism is not necessarily totalitarian, as were the Nazis. It is consistently authoritarian, and uses the state to enforce "strong and sometimes oppressive measures against the population," according to Wikipedia. "It is distinguished from totalitarianism both by degree and scope, authoritarian administration or governance being less intrusive and in the case of organizations not necessarily backed by the use of force." It is corporatist, as Mussolini, essentially the father of fascism, understood, i.e., his quote: "Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power."

In other words, Bush is a corporatist-statist who believes government should place importance on the interests of the corporation as against other societal goods. Bush-Cheney are corporatist-statist radicals because they believe not only that corporations need to "establish their own right to move across the face of the planet without restriction to extract resources, exploit unorganized and unprotected labor, evade taxes and environmental regulations, and monopolize indigenous knowledge and genetic materials without regard to the human and environmental consequences" (Jay Hansen), but they believe as well that this "right" should be enforced by the United States military, as the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq demonstrate.


Monday, January 5, 2004

Naked Terror

An interesting essay that succinctly captures the psychology of fear and panic, and how it's playing out in the post-9/11 political landscape.

One area of research that the essay draws on is research on human judgment and decision making. What cognitive and social psychologists have demonstrated in numerous experiments is that humans tend to use a lot of mental shortcuts as they attempt to make semse of the world around them. These shortcuts are called "heuristics", which often lead to a correct decision under conditions of uncertainty, but which also bias the perceiver in ways that can lead to errors.

Quick! What's more likely to happen: a fatal car crash or a fatal plane crash?

What was your answer? In research by Tversky and Kahneman, people tend to assume the latter is more likely to happen, even though the data suggest that you are far safer in an airplane than in your car cruising the roadways. What's up with that? One of our mental shortcuts is to assume that if we can recall it readily, that it is an event that is more likely to happen. It's easier to recall airplane crashes than car crashes, since airplane crashes tend to be spectacular events that generate a lot of press coverage nationwide -- and possibly worldwide. Not so with car crashes, with the possible exception of those crashes involving royalty or heads of state. Hence we are prone to overestimate the probability that a plane crash will happen.

Acts of terror can be conceptualized in much the same way. They don't happen very often, unless the country is occupied or in a civil war. But they are vivid, headline-grabbing events that are legitimately frightening. What happens? We over-estimate the terror threat because of the vivid nature of terrorist attacks, and politicians (mostly GOP in the US) have demonstrated that they can rather effectively use this particular mental bias to gain greater control over the populace. The consequences, unfortunately have been quite costly in terms of human lives and financial capital.

We humans are not necessarily rational animals. It behooves us to remind ourselves that easy recall does not necessarily imply higher probability of occurance. Best bet is to turn off the tv, do some digging around (yep -- do some actual reading) and make better-informed decisions with regard to terror threats (or any other threat for that matter). No need to be scared over minimal threats, that could be contained with less draconian measures.

Is America Becoming Fascist?

A collection of articles that point to the possibility.

It can't happen here? Riiiiiiight.

Is Sex Natural?

Summarizes varying evolutionary approaches to human sexuality. Makes for an interesting read.

George W. Bush Has a Hot Temper and a Mean Streak

Jimm over at Project for a New Century of Freedom has a series of links and commentary on Dubya's temper, which you can find here, here, and here.

Next time someone tries to diss Dean as being too angry, you might turn that person on to the above links. Hopefully that will help to neutralize the "Dean is too angry to govern" meme.

Bush In 30 Seconds Finalists

The fifteen ads to make the finals are worth a look. One in particular resonates with me: "What are we teaching our children?"

The ad features a series of children making presidential campaign speeches, in which they promise to "lie about WMD", gut environmental standards, keep America in a state of fear and panic, call those who question unpatriotic, etc. The audience is filled with parents who look anguished as the kids go through their speeches.

Why do I react so strongly to this ad? Perhaps it has something to do with my being a parent, with two young children. I may be off the mark here, but I am under the impression that most parents want to teach their children to tell the truth, respect others' rights, to share with others, avoid greediness, etc. Our leaders, on the other hand, are setting a rather different example, and are essentially telling our children that it is okay to lie, it is okay to be disrespectful of others (especially if they are "different"), to be greedy and to take away what belongs to their community, and so on. Hence the parents' connundrum: if one supports Bush, one is at least implicitly accepting that a set of anti-social behaviors are acceptable.

About the closest parallel to what my kids must be going through is what I went through in the mid-1970s when the Watergate scandal was going on. My parents were genuinely anguished by the scandal, especially given that they were otherwise fairly conservative people, and ones who generally thought Nixon would be a good president. They found themselves having to teach me and my sisters that questioning authority figures is a good thing, because there's a good chance that many of them are crooks. I wonder of the general sense of cynicism among fellow Gen-Xers has something to do with growing up in the shadow of Watergate. And now with my children, I am and my wife are going through the sorts of conversations with my oldest child that my parents had with me: this president is a liar whose lies have cost lives; ask questions and be skeptical; just because someone in authority says it's so, does not mean that they are correct or that they are telling the truth. I wonder if my kids' generation will be as cynical as my own.

Hope Dies Last

By Studs Terkel.

Of Rights and Responsibility

Is a good essay from Jan. 2 over at ddjangowire. Give it a read and some thought. Chicken soup for the progressive soul.

Sunday, January 4, 2004

Dean Trails Bush by Five Percentage Points in Most Recent Harris Poll.

That's quite an upsurge from the last poll. With a margin of error at +/- 4%, that's almost statistical dead-heat territory. Dean could win this thing.

Also noticed that Lieberman is within striking distance as well in the same poll. Caught me a bit by surprise given that he's not run an inspiring campaign, nor was he an inspiring running mate with Gore in 2000. Kerry, on the other hand, seems to be trending downward just as dramatically.

Bush is author of dark chapter for America

Damage done, but what of future?

Haroon Siddiqui

CONOOR, India - Up here in the tea estates of Nilgiri Hills, where teak-floored bungalows with vast verandas offer spectacular vistas, one feels grateful for the distance from the ubiquitous American media and for the time and tranquility to think and reflect.

As the year of the war on Iraq draws to a close, the larger perspective that emerges is clear: George W. Bush, a small man in a big job, has dragged America into one of its darkest chapters.

He commands unprecedented military power, but his word carries little or no weight in much of the world.

This odd equation remains unaltered by Saddam Hussein's capture, hyped in America but seen elsewhere as inevitable, given that Iraq is not an Afghanistan of a million caves. If anything, the video of his captivity exposed the Bush administration's desperate need to display a trophy catch.

Bush's next declared mission, that of toppling Yasser Arafat, only reinforces the image of the president as a king who knows not the boundaries of his kingdom, nor the limits of his power. Or, as a captive of pro-Israeli hawks hell-bent on remaking the Middle East to Likud designs.

While the president struts and smirks for the cameras in contrived situations- landing on an aircraft carrier to prematurely declare victory in Iraq or serving Thanksgiving turkey to soldiers in Baghdad- terrorism has increased under his watch. Not unlike the record rise in suicide bombings in Israel under Ariel Sharon.

Bush's use of fear as a key tool of governing has turned the world's most powerful nation into its most paranoid, despite two invasions and an expenditure of nearly $200 billion (U.S.).

The administration, invoking 9/11 and the murder of 2,900 innocents as its licence to wage unilateral wars, has so far killed about 10,000 innocents in Afghanistan and Iraq. That's a guesstimate, since America does not count the Afghans and Iraqis it kills in the process of "liberating" them.

The gap between Bush's words and deeds gets bigger by the day, as does the disparity between his illusions and reality.

His war on Iraq was waged on a pack of lies, shoving aside the United Nations when it refused to play its part in the sham exercise of rubberstamping a predetermined course.

Just as he manipulated intelligence to tie Iraq to terrorism and portray its non-existent nuclear, biological and chemical weapons as a threat to America, Bush ignored the State Department's warnings of post-war troubles. He spoke instead of flowers greeting the U.S. liberators and oil revenues paying for the war and rebuilding of Iraq.

He invoked democracy but ignored its expression abroad and suspended its principles at home.

His war was universally opposed, even by the electorates of the governments that joined his "coalition of the willing"- Britain, Spain, Italy and Australia. His most enthusiastic allies were dictators and oppressors, the worst violators of human rights, who used the war on terrorism to stifle dissidents and kill secessionists.

He keeps delaying direct elections in Iraq for fear that the majority Shiites would win and won't be the puppet he wants installed in his subject kingdom.

His administration's violations of the Geneva Convention and the U.S. Constitution are not explained away by the need to cut corners to get at terrorists. Besides not catching any, his policies alienated the very groups whose help was crucial and also sapped the moral strength of his rhetoric and America's $240 million public-relations campaign in Muslim nations.

American courts are reasserting, as they always do, albeit slowly, the rule of law.

But the human and political damage is already done.

Bush promised to avoid a clash of civilizations, but that's what he is widely perceived as presiding over. The anti-Arab, anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic discourse- often unapologetically racist- is supplied by Christian fundamentalists and pro-Israeli neo-conservatives, two key constituencies Bush dares not alienate.

The mollycoddled Sharon is thus set to blithely ignore Bush's road map and steamroll over Palestinian lands and Palestinians' human rights in hopes of imposing his version of Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories.

But this will no more bring peace than his previous policies did.

So long as the Israeli-Palestinian issue festers, anti-Americanism and, presumably, terrorism will keep growing. The link has been unmistakable.

Surveying these geopolitical ruins, it is politically incorrect to blame the American public. But its gullibility is alarming. Even now, a majority believes that Saddam had a hand in 9/11. The Bush crowd knows only too well the usefulness of Saddam, a former ally now a demon.

All of the above is self-evident, except to a majority of Americans and their apologists, including, sadly, some Canadians.

The latter are still whining over Canada's decision to sit out the Iraq war, which history will record as Jean Chretien's finest hour- something Paul Marin would do well to always remember.

What of the future?

Saddam's trial should be conducted, not as Bush wants, by the Iraqis he controls, but by the International Criminal Court.

Saddam should be charged with crimes against humanity as well as war crimes- hundreds of thousands of Iraqis tortured, raped, mutilated, murdered; groups brutalized in Stalinesque campaigns: Kurds, Marsh Arabs and Shiites; neighbours Iran and Kuwait invaded, their civilians and properties destroyed.

Iraq should be turned over to the United Nations.

But since that's not likely, the United States should let the world body play as great a role as possible while keeping military control in American hands.

That would help improve security for Iraqis and American soldiers alike. It would attract international help, especially from those, like France, Germany, Turkey, Pakistan and India, who do not want to be caught dead cavorting with Bush.

Iraqi sovereignty belongs to Iraqis. They need to write their own constitution, elect their own leaders and make their own mistakes.

They could not possibly do any worse than their occupiers, who have been lurching from crisis to crisis for the last eight months in a haze of incompetence and ignorance.

Thinly Veiled Anti-Semitism From The Wingnuts?

Blogtopians report. You decide.

First this gem by Matt Grills via atrios:

Howard Dean's comments place him squarely in the "Jesus of convenience" camp. His wife and children are Jewish. Cool. But I have to wonder: if Howie's faith in Jesus Christ is so important to him, why didn't he marry someone with the same faith? Why didn't he insist on raising his children in that faith? Say it with me, on three: because what faith Howard Dean has in Jesus isn't central to his life.

This gem from Cal Thomas, also via Atrios:

Dean's wife is Jewish and his two children are being raised Jewish, which is strange at best, considering that the two faiths take a distinctly different view of Jesus.

And of course, we can pretty much figure out which faith is "right" according to Cal Thomas.

Personally I'm pretty sick of these idiotic religious purity tests that seem to obsess the frazzled brain cells of religious wingnuts. One of the reasons I stepped away from any faith for quite a while was precisely because I really wanted nothing to do with figuring out who's more pious than whom. Your walk with God or whatever name you assign to your higher power is your business and not mine; likewise whatever role my faith plays in my life is my business and no one else's. My cautious return to matters of faith has been made possible by knowing people who exemplified the following premise: that one's faith doesn't have to doom one to a life of intolerance, ignorance, hatred, and fear. I hold out little hope for the religious fanatics; I wonder if they've managed to create their own hell as they try desperately to force their own ideas about the road to heaven down everyone else's throats. Rather, my main focus is on going about my life and raising my children with as little interference from these bozos as possible.

And while the term "bozo" might seem a bit mean, yet another quote from Matt Grills suggests to me that "bozo" is a rather fitting term:

Jesus taught that unless you obey God's Old Testament laws to the letter, you don't have a fighting chance at getting into heaven.

I get the feeling that this cat and I have read two completely different Bibles. Given what is laid out in the New Testament, I don't see how one can even make such an inference. Do these people even read their Bibles?

As for Howard Dean and his family: whatever works for them is cool by me. I could care less about that, and I care a great deal more about what ideas he has about getting our nation out of its current mess (largely created by the current White House resident). I get a sneaking feeling that Dubya doesn't fare well when it comes to ideas. All he's got is faith, and likely misplaced faith at that. So why diss Dean for having a wife who's Jewish and who's raising their kids in the same faith? Are these cats breaking out the brown shirts and swastikas? Is this the shape of things to come this election year? I have to wonder.

God Told Pat Robertson that Bush Will Be Re-Elected in 2004

Yup. About as reliable a source as that tabloid that ran the stories on Saddam Hussein & Osama bin Laden's gay wedding, and their subsequent adoption of a shaved baby ape. On second thought, that's quite an insult to that tabloid (or tabloids generally).