Wednesday, July 28, 2004

"On the road again..."

Am trying to tie up some loose ends around the office (getting grades ready to turn in for summer courses, some last minute odds and ends) before heading out of town for the remainder of this week and weekend. In all likelihood I won't have access to the Internet, and the only information sources will be the standard major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX), PBS, and that right-wingnut owned rag The Daily Oklahoman. To be honest that's probably for the best. I really do need a break, and it'll be good to spend some time with my parents, sisters, and nephews. I'll be back likely Monday night or Tuesday, posting some more thoughts from that angry liberal perspective that I've come to embrace.  To those who check this blog regularly or semi-regularly, make sure to check out the other links in my blogroll. There are a lot of great sites that I've linked to for all your blogging, news, and activism needs. I'll catch you all on the flipside. Peace.

Nail, hammer, head

Juane Cole's post Arguing with Cheney says it all:

Iraq was not a threat to the United States. Period. Let me repeat the statistics as of the late 1990s:

US population: 295 million

Iraq population: 24 million

US per capita annual income: $37,600

Iraq per capita annual income: $700

US nuclear warheads: 10,455

Iraq nuclear warheads: 0

US tons of lethal chemical weapons (1997): 31,496

Iraq tons of lethal chemical weapons (1997): 0

Cheney knows that Baathist Iraq posed no threat to the US. He is simply lying. I was always careful not to accuse him of lying before the war because who knows what is in someone else's mind? Maybe he believed his own bullshit. But there is no longer any doubt that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, no active nuclear weapons program, no ability to deliver anything lethal to the US homeland, and no operational cooperation with al-Qaeda. These things are not matters of opinion. They are indisputable. Ipso facto, if an intelligent person continues to allege them, he is prevaricating.

The numbers speak for themselves, and need to be repeated as often as necessary until the point is driven home: there was no threat to the US posed by Iraq. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Whatever one's opinion of Saddam's Baathist regime (mine is, suffice it to say, very very unfavorable), the Iraq war was the wrong war, fought at the wrong time, against the wrong regime, with the wrong means and the wrong approach, by the wrong president. No matter what the minions of Bu$hCo may claim or how hard they may try, there is no way of making hog manure smell like roses. That these ideologically-driven and power-hungry nutcases are still spoiling for additional wars even in light of the miserable failure of the invasion and occupation of Iraq is I think reason enough to evict these clowns from the White House and send them scurrying back to their ranches, boardrooms, and think tanks where they can do far less damage.

Hunter S. Thompson via High Desert Skeptic

Logjam digs up along with another quote (plus a couple links) this gem from HST's column on ESPN's Page 2:

The 2004 presidential election will be a matter of life or death for the whole nation. We are sick today, and we will be even sicker tomorrow if this wretched half-bright swine of a president gets re-elected in November. Take my word for it. Mahalo.

Damn straight.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

There will be no peace without justice

And as soccerdad at The Left Coaster notes, as long as the abuses at Abu Ghraib (and elsewhere) are whitewashed, there is no justice for the survivors of torture and sexual abuse, nor for the families of those who were killed while in US-run military prisons. If you've ever known a child who's been molested, you'll understand why justice is nowhere near being served.

Play the slot machine

10 Reasons to Stop Bush. You'll hit the jackpot every time.

Why Bush's Base Will Not Be Persuaded:

Drinking the Kool-Ade, by Jeff Kirvin:

Fritz (not his real name) is my best friend's boyfriend. He's a conservative born and raised in the Midwest, full of old fashioned traditional American values. He's intelligent, rational and I actually have a great deal of respect for him. And until recently, I couldn't understand how he could support Bush or the Republican Party in general. I had a conversation with him recently that shed a great deal of light on what's going on in America, and why Bush might get reelected not because of what he's done, but in spite of it.

Fritz and I got into a "spirited discussion" about the upcoming election. And as it wore on, it became clear to me that Fritz never directly confronted my assertions about President Bush. I'd point out that Bush got us into an illegal and unnecessary war, and he'd respond, "But what has Kerry done?" The first few times I got that reaction I kind of blew it off (NOTE TO HOMELAND SECURITY: THAT DOES NOT READ "BLEW IT UP") but it started to sink in on me. Fritz refused to accept the reality of what Bush and his fellow Republicans were doing to this country.

I can understand his reluctance. As I said, I'm a veteran and a patriot. I believe, very deeply, in the principles upon which this country was founded. I didn't want to believe we were capable of becoming what we are. I didn't want to believe we could so callously throw out much of the Bill of Rights, bully the other nations of the world for our own economic and political gain. This isn't the America I signed up for. The difference between me and conservatives like Fritz is that I do accept what's happened, and try to fix it. They're in denial.

Fritz refused to listen as my friend and I tried to explain the PATRIOT Act to him. At one point, he shouted, "No! That's not my America! I refuse to believe that!" Hitler once said that people will believe any lie, so long as it's big enough. Too many of the American people have believed the lies of the current administration because they can't face the alternative: accepting that the people are no longer in control, that the major issues of the day are decided by the super rich and their political proxies, and that the dream of American democracy is largely an illusion.

In short, the folks supporting Bush aren't doing it because of what he's done as president. They're supporting him because they want to believe he hasn't done the things he's done. If they vote for John Kerry, it's a tacit admission that all the bad things are true. They're drinking the Kool-Ade, and hoping they never wake up.

While I might disagree a bit with the author's choice of the term "conservative" to describe Fritz, I do think he's hit on something important. Right-wing authoritarians (who pretty much make up Bu$hCo's base), although not the most cognitively complex humans on the planet, are talented at one particular type of cognitive gymnastics: they can easily compartmentalize their thinking. The consequence of compartmentalization is an ability to avoid confronting dissonant information, hence largely avoiding the sort of psychological discomfort that their leaders' actions should on the surface create. All the bad stuff? Probably gets shoved deep into the recesses of neocon collective unconsciousness, where it likely remains provided a healthy dose of Faux "News" propaganda and talk radio drivel.

It's the frames, stupid!

As Mary of Pacific Views reminds us in her post, Framing the Message. Much of the focus is on linguist George Lakoff's research on framing. We can think of frames as cognitive structures that guide the way we think about an issue. I especially dig the reframing of Bu$hCo's "Healthy Forests" policy as the "Forest Destruction" policy as a means of highlighting the consequences of Bu$hCo's changes in environmental policy.

To me the key to success in winning the frames war is dogged persistence. Frames need to be used as frequently and assertively as possible. The idea is for our frames to increasingly become embedded in the minds of the public. The right wingers have been doing this for what seems like forever. There's no reason for us not to do likewise, and by doing so we'll gain an opportunity to shift the focus of debate on any of a number of issues and forcing the right wingers to argue on our home turf.

haiku tuesday

Abu Ghraib

good will of many

shattered by mad dogs, broken

bodies – desert winds!

(© 2004)

Monday, July 26, 2004

Here's a feature article on Seymour Hersh

Mr. Hersh goes to war

It's good to know a little something about the person behind the byline, and this article will give some idea of who Sy Hersh is and what makes him tick. Here are some clips that caught my eye:

Not that such attention is particularly new. Hersh is, after all, the same reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1970 for breaking the story of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, a historic scoop that altered public opinion on the war. Before he was 40, his exposes initiated massive reforms in the CIA. His 1983 book, "The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House," was a bestselling indictment of the former secretary of state, and many still consider it definitive.


"There's a huge rivalry between Woodward and Hersh," says former CIA agent Robert Baer, a friend and occasional source of Hersh's. "Woodward gets the story out, but it's almost the official version. Hersh is an unguided missile, sort of a lone-wolf guy. He can get almost anywhere in Washington without having to kiss the a_of the White House."


"I think there's a reforming zeal in Hersh," Thielmann says. "It's not just a job. It's to expose skulduggery and rogues and liars. Of course that plays well, too, in talking to someone like me who was appalled that the government would actually distort information bearing on a national decision that would involve the life and death of Americans."


"You don't have to be a Democrat or Republican to think that the war is an atrocity, has gone really badly. There's something called the truth, the facts, and you do what is right. Any person who's looking objectively would find it hard to write very positive things about Iraq. Does that make me a publicist for the left?"


If anything, Hersh talks faster than he walks, careening from one topic to another, from one old story to the next. On this recent morning in his office, it is from Abu Ghraib to My Lai ("Just like in My Lai, the photos made the story") to a collection of his New Yorker stories that will be published this fall by HarperCollins, to playing second base as a kid, to tennis ("It's just thrilling to work up a good sweat"), to critics who would question his patriotism.

"I'll tell you one thing," he says behind his desk. "Don't ever suggest that I don't appreciate my country. My parents came here from the old country. No high school education. I went to public schools in Chicago, lower middle-class, and I had to work my way through. Some professor took me to the University of Chicago, and I paid a hundred dollars a year or something.

"I wasn't editor of the Yale Daily News or the Harvard Crimson," he continues. "I wasn't in the elite. And 11 years after getting out of college with a lousy little BA, having trouble getting a job, I'm sticking two fingers in the eye of an American president and being given prizes for it. I mean, where else can you do that? It is an amazing country."

His does seem a uniquely American success story. Hersh is said to have inherited both his frenetic energy and famous temper from his father, a Polish immigrant who died of lung cancer when Seymour Hersh and his twin brother, Alan, were 15. Hersh helped his mother, working behind the counter of the family-run dry cleaners on Chicago's South Side through his college years. His white-hot competitiveness emerged as a feisty second baseman on high school and college baseball teams.

After dropping out of the University of Chicago Law School, Hersh happened across a job at City News Bureau in Chicago, which covered crime stories for the city's major dailies. That led to United Press International and The Associated Press, which sent Hersh to its Washington bureau. There he covered the Pentagon and, according to a 1975 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, was introduced to duplicity at government's highest levels.


The downtown Washington boardroom of the Center for Public Integrity is crowded by the time Hersh charges in, carrying his tennis racket. Most of the young investigative reporting interns seated around the table are clearly star-struck by the 6-foot man in the rumpled blue suit who's telling them that the government "has been taken over by a cult of eight or nine neocons without a peep from the press."

Hersh makes clear that if he doesn't have an agenda, he has plenty of opinions about the Bush administration. Hersh calls the Bush White House the most secretive administration he's ever encountered. For the first time, Hersh says, he has no highly placed White House source with whom he can check his stories.

At the end of the hour-long session, a young woman asks Hersh how he keeps from becoming discouraged.

"Why do you think I'm here?" Hersh says, grabbing his tennis racket and moving toward the door. "It's my country as much as it is George Bush's. I will not abdicate. I think I'm a better American than 99 percent of the guys in the White House."

Applause follows Hersh into the corridor. Clearly, though it leaves him vulnerable to criticism, he is the rare investigative reporter with no qualms about publicly sharing his private views, with no pretensions toward objectivity.

"Let me tell you what I say to all my friends," Hersh says as he charges back down the street. "My youngest (child) is 23, my oldest is 36. This is about them. What right do we have to put them in a permanent war with people who are crazy? Here we have 9-11, and the whole Muslim world, 99 percent of them, even the true believers were horrified and said, `What can we do to help you?'"

"And these nuts drove them away," Hersh says. "These ideologues drove them away. How can you live with people like that?"

Sunday, July 25, 2004

I rarely post links to "Meet the Press" reviews,

but in this case I'm willing to make an exception.

Some clips to highlight:

Russert asked Obama about the recent comment campaign of Bill Cosby, and Obama said that he agrees whith the principle behind Cosby's comments, which are that America needs to turn off the TV and get over the anti-intellectualism that plagues this nation.

This is where I began to respect Obama, and if he's true to his words, he is going to be a big influence in this country. Anti-intellectualism ('It's cool to be a fool', C+ is OK) is one of the reasons that this nation is in the mess it is. We aren't making the right decisions because we can't determine for ourselves what the right choices are.


One of Obama's main points, presented as in agreement with Cosby's outspoken principles, is that we need to restore a sense of personal responsibility in the American citizen. We need to be promoting education at least as hard as we are promoting consumerism.


BP's commercial at the beginning of the show was an eye opener. Taking more notice of the future oil shortages than the (mis)Administration of George Warmonger Bush, they were presenting their activities in the fields of natural gas and solar power as replacements for energy sources that currently use petroleum - by using a 'concerned consumer' asking 'tough' questions about the future sources of energy.

I applaud this commercial for these reasons:

1) It's realistic that corporations begin to think about what to do now that it's obvious that petroleum is a dying industry. Resources are finite and dwindling as demand increases. The smart firms are already planning their withdrawal from petroleum, as evidently BP is.

2) People need to be led into the New Energy Future. They need to see that changes are going to come, which will make acceptance and participation in these changes more likely.

I'd much rather that people pursued these changes more proactively as individuals, for they would thus have more of a say in how this New Energy Future is configured, but as we are complacent, ...

There's more, of course, but the above especially caught my eye. I get the impression that Obama is really going to make a splash when he arrives on Capitol Hill next January (yeah, I know...he hasn't won yet, but given the sorry state of Illinois' GOP it's looking like an increasingly safe bet that he will be Senator). Anti-intellectualism is regrettably a part of the American Zeitgeist that goes back many generations. While Preznit Bush didn't invent anti-intellectualism, his rise to the Presidency (and subsequent mismanagement of the office) is certainly symptomatic

of our anti-intellectual vibe. Maybe (I hope) a few more leaders who are willing to say that it's okay to be smart, to think for yourselves will help to temper what has been a major flaw in the American character.

I'll also say that the description of the BP commercial intrigued me: I'll be curious to see how well BP walks their talk. If they indeed are, that's cause for a bit more optimism than I usually find myself capable of. If nothing else, it is refreshing to read of a petroleum corporation that grasps the importance of moving beyond oil and natural gas now that Hubbel's peak is nearing (sooner or later).

More evolving

Looks like this blog has evolved from the aviary (flappy bird) to rodental (adorable little rodent) since last I checked. Thanks to those of you who read & link to my little corner of blogtopia.

Don't forget I'll be away from the computer for several days beginning mid-week for a much-needed vacation. In the meantime, I'll probably post a few more items as time permits.