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Man v. Nature
not why, but why not
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Star Trek Follow Up
The Flaming Lips
The New Radicals
Death Cab for Cutie
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(note: I'll be making short updates for a bit, because there are already enough long posts to read over)
Peaceable Kingdom Film screeening here in Tulsa.
Northeastern Oklahoma Animal Helpers presents the Oklahoma premiere of "Peaceable Kindom". The film explores the interconnected life journeys of farm animals, former farmers, and animal rescuers struggling against an out-of-control industrial system.
1416 E 4th St (4th and Peoria)
Friday, April 16th - 7 pm
Saturday, April 17th - 2 pm and 7 pm
With any luck I'll be going to see this... did I mention that its free?
CNN.com - Protests as U.S. closes Iraqi paper - Mar 28, 2004:
"The U.S.-led civil administration in Iraq closed the Baghdad newspaper Al Hawsa for 60 days, accusing its publishers of inciting violence against coalition troops.
(brought to my attention by blah3.com)
We should translate some of our revolutionary literature and send it over to the Middle East and hope it has the same effect on them that it did on our founders. A little Jefferson, Paine and Franklin might do them more good than oil contracts and evangelical missionaries.
Sins of omission - The George Will edition
Will South Carolina send a difference to D.C.?
Mr. Will likes to spin phrases in such a way that almost trick you into not realizing that he just omitted a potentially damning detail that would sink his entire argument.
Lets examine a little editorial that appeared in the Tulsa World this Sunday (which the Fort Worth Star Telegram was so gracious to make available)
In the context of a welfare state devoted to assuaging the insecurities and augmenting the competencies of its citizens, conservatism's challenge is to use government -- collective action -- to promote individualism. DeMint believes that dependency can be countered by policies that foster attitudes and aptitudes requisite for independence.
Jim DeMint is the Senatorial candidate that Will is shilling for in this column. If you have to ask whether Demint is a Republican you just haven't been paying attention now have you?
Will earlier defines the welfare state as "health care, education, income or retirement". He makes the point that when people rely on somebody else to pay the bills they have little or no incentive to contain the costs. I agree, and while these categories that Will mentions do account for a large amount of government spending he and his conservatives buddies consistently refuse to include massive corporate handouts masquerading as military spending in their criticism of the government dependency nexus. He also makes it seem like the people pushing for increased social spending are the poor people that pay little or no taxes. I am a little shocked because if you look at the recent drug benefit added to Medicare it is textbook corporate pork. The people pushing for the new spending may be doing so under the guise of helping seniors but the prime beneficiaries will be drug companies, their executives and shareholders. These are the same people that will be the main beneficiaries of tax cuts coming down the road. So yes, Mr. Will, we do run the risk of having a group of unaccountable people who are increasing the amount of money they get from the government while reducing the cost they have to shoulder. Its just not the group that you want us to believe it is.
DeMint did vote against the Medicare Drug Prescription benefit despite White House pressure. So maybe he's not so bad after all huh?
DeMint asks: "How can any free nation survive when a majority of its citizens, now dependent on government services, no longer have the incentive to restrain the growth of government?"
Yes, now just extend that argument into the realm of corporate citizenship. Entire industries are dependent on the spending of the Federal government and they DO push for greater and greater spending all the while shirking their tax burden by hiding assets offshore. Why is it so hard to make this part of the conservative agenda? If they did I might have more respect for them. But I suspect that the conservatives have been in bed with wealthy donors from the corporate sector for too long to start pointing fingers in all the obvious directions.
The conservative message has some merit. But its too bad that they are partnered with the corporatists within the Republican Party. The corporatists are the epitome of the kind of government dependency that people like Will should be screaming about. Instead they focus their attention on what is a politically impotent group, the poor. The corporatists are the funding machine within the Republican Party while the conservatives are able to muster popular support from people that have a deep and bitter resentment for government control over their lives.
Do Republicans realize that their party is a composite of two opposing forces that just happen to complement each other? One side seeks to transfer as much wealth into the private sector for the purpose of creating what is in effect a class of people dependent on government for their wealth, and the other that believes that this process will eventually produce a more restrained government. So when you examine an idea like private investment accounts for retirement or health care, one side is licking their chops thinking about all the new money entering into the Wall Street system and the benefit that will bring to stock prices while the other side thinks that these accounts will mean greater individual freedom and control for citizens.
I think the true conservatives are outmatched and are being taken along for a ride by the current powerbrokers in the GOP. Bush passes tax cuts not because he wants to shrink government and give people more control over their lives, but he does so because it will enrich his corporate donors and therefore generate increased campaign donations. The conservatives are left saying "now he just needs to cut spending".
The other half of the corporatist agenda means transferring as much federal spending into direct or indirect subsidies for select industries. So well-meaning people are left apologizing for the runaway spending happening under the watch of the Republicans who control the White House, the Congress and the Senate... with not a Democrat in sight to blame.
Yet the spending train keeps a rolling...
Puts a lie to all that talk about how it was the Democrats all along.
Back to George...
The key to cost containment is turning patients into cost-conscious health care shoppers, with a personal financial incentive to reduce the "optional" medical problems arising from known risky behavior (imprudent eating, drinking, smoking and driving, inadequate exercise, unsafe sex). Moving away from a third-party payer system means giving individuals ownership of personal health care resources -- those health savings accounts -- that they will have an incentive to husband.
I fail to see that people engage in risky behavior because they think they won't have to pay for the medical costs associated with that behavior. Most people simply believe that their behavior will not have consequences. Seriously, how many people drive recklessly because they know they have good insurance? Not many people with health savings accounts will be thinking that they better not run through a red light because it might cost them money once they pry their broken body from the wreckage. If possible death and pain is not incentive to keep people from engaging in risky behaviors I doubt money will. If catching AIDS or an incurable disease can't keep people from engaging in unsafe sex, what hope will savings accounts have?
Nobody budgets for accidents, that's why we have insurance. So what's too keep people from blowing their health savings on fake boobs or penile enhancements? Nothing... but what do we do about people who have acted irresponsibly with their money? Do we set up a safety net or do we say "heck, you stupid ass, now you suffer for your own misfortune!" We either go back to what we had, or we accept that we'll have people needlessly dying because they spent all their health money on boobs.
To extend the argument into elective surgeries like plastic surgery and eye surgery is bewildering. What makes health care issues such an albatross is that it doesn't have the same mechanisms as consumer driven markets. It gets sticky when people have no control of the amount or timing of their health care purchases. Its not as if we sit around and decide to have expensive chemotherapy at some point in our lives. Furthermore with these new health care accounts you have a new factor getting involved. Should you decide to have a life saving procedure and spend a good portion of your health savings it will reduce the amount of money you can pass on to your children (at least that's how I understand it because these accounts will be individually owned assets). Will we start to see people electing to not have medical procedures because of pressure to preserve assets for their kids?
Its a consideration isn't it? I won't draw any conclusions though.
My Big Post on the music industry - again
Just received my Copy of Fleming and John, The Way We Are, which I would never even know existed without the help of peer to peer networks. The Zero 7 is growing on me after a half dozen listens. They were yet another band I found through downloads. I buy the actual CD's because they are a better product than what I can download, though I buy used when I have a chance. I realize that I don't necessarily represent the stereotypical music listener, or the people that simply see downloading as a way of getting their music for free. I am a snob about sound quality and while I enjoy having mp3's of my music on my computer I still like the sound of CD's.
The record companies don't really get it. Its smacks of irony that in one realm if debate we hear people saying that American workers should expect a decline in wages and job security as the market becomes more global yet on the other hand we should be horrified that new techniques for production and distribution of music is going to eat away at what can only be categorized as obscene profit margins for the layers of the music industry people.
It makes sense in the context of class division, one scenario drives shareholder value and one undermines it.
If you are about my same age you might recall that when the Compact Disc was first released there was a underlying promise that as they become more popular the price would drop. They did, but nowhere near where they should be. If I can produce a production quality recording with my equipment and have it on CD for is practically no cost how can an industry with vastly superior buying power not do so as well?
What causes the recording industry people to wake up in a cold sweat at night is the realization that many of them are just not needed anymore. Sure, it used to require vast amounts of capital to get an artist or group into a recording studio and thus there was an expectation that profits would be realized on that investment. But when you listen to bands like Fleming and John who basically made their own CD at their home studio, with vastly superior sound quality than some big time studio recordings, and when you hear Wilco's manager confess that they didn't even need the record companies money to make Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, you have to wonder just what purpose does this industry serve anymore?
The product that the record industry still has to sell is promotion. It still takes an enormous amount of money to get your song out there to the buying public to consume. Even if you make a sonic masterpiece in your home studio for pennies there is still no guarantee that you will ever make a dime off it. If your catchy tunes never hit consumer ears you have no market.
This is where the internet poses the greatest threat to recording industry profits. But does it have to be?
There are two models you can follow when releasing music for profit. The dominate model for the past few decades has been to focus promotion efforts on a few artists and recoup large returns with small investments. We might call this the superstar model. Here you make a record for a few bucks and spend millions to make that artist the current "star". You do this by saturating the media with the music, the image and the buzz. No matter who you are and where you live you will have heard of this "new" artist. They seem to be everywhere all at once and every time you turn on the radio there is "that song". By sheer power of exposure and repetition you create an audience and thus consumers for that product. A side benefit of this model is that you also create a demographic you can then expoit with copycat artists.
While this method is not "bad" per se it does have some, by my standards, unfortunate byproducts. Many "stars" have short life spans and never get a chance to develop as artists. Our attention span for music and artists is short as there is always something new pushing for our attention. This method has also made it extremely difficult for bands that exist outside the current marketable mold to survive. We should not forget that Wilco's YHF was dropped by Reprise because that label didn't feel that there was an audience for that style of music in the current consumer climate. A younger, less established artist might not have survived being dropped by their label. Wilco was able to get their recordings released on Nonesuch and get their album out onto the shelves. But you have to wonder just how many deserving artists and recordings have perished under a demographics driven method where being "too different" is the kiss of death? I hate to think...
Another bad side effect of this model is the effect that it has on radio. What we get now is a very streamlined process that leaves very little up to individual tastes and passions. Corporate owned Clear Channel and their ilk are products of this model. What it does is offers up the promise of low overhead, less time spend working artists that will never turn a profit and less room for error. Recoding company X signs hot artist Y, sends it out to hundreds of station nationwide that play the single for months until Z millions of dollars have been made and the next hot artist is ready to roll out. Its simple, its very methodical and it works. Most importantly it provides a predictable method of producing profit. Wall Street likes predictable.
The second model I'll call the "scattershot" model. Here, the record industry signs thousands of artists of all different stripes and varieties, throws them into the studio to make cheap records, they send out the singles to hundreds of small locally owned radio stations that each pick what they want for their format and choose to play. An artist might start to catch on in certain markets and expand into other markets and eventually turn into a national phenomenon. Once that artist is famous they send them back into the studio with more money to make another hit record which gets national rollout and a marketing blitz.
This model was more common a few decades ago but is still in use today. Sometimes labels will see a promising act, put them through the studio and send their album out with limited fanfare in the hopes that it will take off all on its won. Sometimes it even works. In some cases a band will garner a large enough following to justify their continued survival as long as they can guarantee a predictable amounts of sales per record. Metallica lived like this through the age of glam rock and eighties metal till the demographics came around and made it feasible for the labels to take them to the airwaves. Some artists however will never make it into the national spotlight for marketing reasons.
You can see the problems with the model if you think about from the perspective of record execs. You spend lots of time and money working with artists that won't bring in enough profit to make it worthwhile. Its much easier to limit the options available for people to choose from and concentrate on making your hitmakers VERY profitable.
Internet distribution of music, either through legal channels or illegal channels poses a grave threat to record company profits. It represents what could be very substantial leaks in the system. Consumers can now seek out artists they like in a vast network of available music instead of being focused on what is available in the limited world of corporate radio. It effectively fragments consumer demographics. If you have too many kids in prime buying ages moving in a thousand different directions it makes it much harder to hit them with your marketing bullet. You might spend millions putting together your "skater girl punk rock-like angsty teen" act only to find that your audience has been turned on to something else entirely - angry rappers with tattoos for instance. It was much easier when you controlled tastes and then delivered the product to fill that taste. I doubt that the record companies and radio station owners want to return to the game of chasing their audience.
Too some degree the record companies will always be able to control consumer taste and deliver products to fill that need. What we are talking about here is the SIZE of the profit being realized. Companies loath going backwards when it comes to profit. Its enough to make somebody run to Washington with a gaggle of lawyers in tow.
I too feel that we should not be of the mind that we can get our music for free without regard to the effect that this will have on artists. But at the same time I do not buy into the argument that giving in to highway robbery in form of inflated CD prices represents the most effective way of showing support for the artists that we love. Most of that money never reaches the artists and at best it buys them another chance to make their next album. During his speech at the Grammies the President of the Recording Academy referred to the "family" of the music industry. I couldn't help but think that many of the artists are treated little better than the child with the ten dollar allowance that is expected to do everything from mowing the lawn to washing the dishes. From their website about music downloading we get this statement.
Whatever we each might think about music companies and the profits they make on music, the fact is that making records is expensive.
The cost of actually recording an artist has been dropping and many artists have gone about creating their own home studios to get as much creative control as possible. Making a record is actually pretty cheap these days, especially as digital recording on moderately priced computer systems becomes more common. What cost money is the process I referred to earlier, creating that market cohesion and hitting it with the magic bullet. That expense is only considered essential if you think that the "superstar" model is the best practice. I don't.
If record companies still expect to spend millions to build a captured market in today's leaky environment they can expect to take hits to their bottom line. To their credit I think they realize this and are embracing legal alternatives like iTunes and its counterparts. In the meantime what we are seeing are the last attempts to keep a model that is quickly becoming irrelevant from dying. In the future we should aim at creating a market that gives as many artists as possible access to the buying public, more money directed to the people actually making the music and less going to the apparatus built up to drive consumer demand, and a reason to convince people to pay for their music by offering a better product in terms of quality, variety and convenience.
Out and About
Being the homebody that I am (who else but a homebody can keep a blog like this?) it was quite an occasion that I got out to hang with a friend and drink a few beers at McNellies Public House. I've been meaning to get downtown and try it out for quite a while. I was intrigued by the sheer number of beers they have available to sample. Since starting my quest to learn all about beer, about say... six years ago I've been randomly sampling what I could find at local liquor stores. This however is much more entertaining.
First there was the lovely and patient young women that helped use decide just which beer among the three pages worth that we might try. I had a few wheat beers that pleasant, along the lines of what I felt like drinking tonight. Kudos!
Second, I am just floored that Tulsa has the beginnings of what could be a really nice downtown scene. Its been brewing (ugh, pun) for quite some time but this time it looks like it might go over pretty well. I will try to make as many trips in to participate as I can manage. Its too bad that driving in to downtown from out here in BA feels like a roadtrip.
Tulsa really needs to try harder to find ways to convince younger people to stay here. Without young people with disposable time and income it will be extremely difficult to build a thriving downtown. This will not only mean keeping good jobs here but making it worthwhile to stay with a fun and growing nightlife.
Right now, Tulsa is single person's hell. I won't go so far to say that married people are boring, but from my perspective.. well....
My sis needed to use my computer today while I was at work and I don't know how she did it but she managed to pick up all kinds of nasty self installing viruses. I spent the better part of an hour tracking down the little buggers and squashing them.
Here's a little word of advice, and I'm by no means an expert on this stuff: Hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete and see what processes you have running. Make a note of these programs, they are "normal" for you. Download a little ap called Sartup Control Panel which allows you to turn off various programs that run when you start up your computer. If you run into any little problems check out this site for two nifty little tools, cwshredder and Hijackthis.
Because I use this computer as my DAW I try to minimize the number of programs that run in the background. I think I can wittle it down to about four, and not less.
Repeating something does not make it true.
Saying something with authority does not make it true.
Repeating something does not make it true.
Saying something loudly does not make it more true.
Repeating something does not make it true.
You ever watched those commercials for a razor where they show a little cartoon about how the blade "lift and cuts"? Does that convince you that the blade actually lifts that little hair out of your face and whacks it off?
How about that one where the little cartoon bubble with the sad face and the raincloud gets all better once he takes the anti-depressant?
How about the one where the father looks at his son/daughter with admiration when she admits that he/she wants to join the Army?
Do you believe that its the best time to buy a truck?
Do you have Great Moments at Work?
Does watching somebody puff out their chest and walk across a lawn to a waiting helicopter accompanied by stirring patriotic sounding music make you believe he is a strong leader?
This is not a story
High gases prices are not a story.
Happy Happy Joy Joy!!
CNN.com - Python's 'Life of Brian' to be re-issued - Mar 24, 2004
Gracias to Chris at Nummmssskkkuullleryyyy for bringing this to my attention.
BRIAN: I'm not the Messiah!
Excuse me sir, have you accepted Brian as your personal Lord and Savior?
(This post inspired by Chefquix at Information Pollution who had a few words to say about Evolution)
To me, if you don't believe in evolution as a fact then you are a luddite. Your perception of the world is irrelevant because it is tainted with a colossal misunderstanding that is absolutely fundamental to the appreciation of the human experience that is our life. Understand it, appreciate it, welcome it or be damned in my eyes.
I am currently reading Peter Gay's "The Enlightenment". During that time period many people thought that reason would ultimately triumph over superstition. Science and Reason had brought forth new governments, new medicines, new freedoms, longer life and the promise of a better life for everyone.
To a large degree they delivered on that promise. Take a look at the world we live in. Compared to even the royalty of old most of us live better, fuller lives because of advances made through the sciences.
Enlightenment thinkers must have assumed that having delivered where superstition and religion had failed, that it would ultimately lead people to reject their old ways, embrace the new world and leave that dreadful reality behind.
And to some degree we have done just that, so much so that even today most clergy accept the basic foundations of science and have devoted themselves, rightfully so to the realm of the spiritual.
Creationism is a weird throwback to the pre-enlightenment era. It belongs on the shelf with Witch Hunts, Leaches and Exorcisms. It tries to impose psuedoscience into the realm of real science. In so doing it not only violates the very spirit of scientific thought but it tries to once again blur the lines between superstition and reason.
That the people proposing Evolution warning labels are not laughed out of office is a testament to how lax we have become in teaching the basics of science. In many ways we have become complacent of the gains we have made in the past few centuries. We take many things for granted that were simply inconceivable to people of past ages. Our ignorance of science could lead us to perhaps unintentionally undermine the foundations for the world we enjoy. If we see no connection between the good methods of science and the technology and freedoms it produces we risk destroying these beneficial products.
Creationism not only represents a return to bad thinking it acts as an indicator of the depths we have sunk in our basic understanding of the highly technological world in which we live. I like to tell people that a man hooked to a life saving machine could be convinced to pull his own plug if he failed to see the connection between the plug and the machine. Science and technology are like the life saving machine and good scientific methods are the plug that provides the power.
Creationism is not only bad science, it is also bad religion as well. Even religious people should reject the mutant beast that is creationism. In the modern world we have reached what I feel is a good compromise between science and religion. They do not have to be in conflict with each other. In fact many scientists are members of religious communities and all it takes is a new understanding and acceptance that the world that science reveals does not need to undermine religious faith but can be viewed as a revelation of creation's mysteries.
Turning a blind eye and ignoring the facts as science presents them is not the answer. Neither is attacking the foundations of science to protect an antiquated worldview based on the psuedoscience and superstition of the past.
Lies and the Lying Liars...
John Dilulio: Former Whitehouse Staffer.
But they have been, for whatever reasons, organized in ways that make it hard for policy-minded staff, including colleagues (even secretaries) of cabinet agencies, to get much West Wing traction, or even get a non-trivial hearing.
Rand Beers: Former White House Counterterrorism Adviser.
"It's a very closed, small, controlled group. This is an administration that determines what it thinks and then sets about to prove it. There's almost a religious kind of certainty. There's no curiosity about opposing points of view. It's very scary. There's kind of a ghost agenda."
Joe Wilson: Former Ambassador To Iraq.
The question for me is who so betrayed the president as to allow this lie to get into the State of the Union address? It wasn't me. It was somebody from his own staff. It was a manipulation of intelligence, a twisting of intelligence, the selective use of facts or fiction to bolster a political decision that had already been made.
Richard Clark: Former White House Counterterrorism Expert.
"I blame the entire Bush leadership for continuing to work on Cold War issues when they back in power in 2001. It was as though they were preserved in amber from when they left office eight years earlier. They came back. They wanted to work on the same issues right away: Iraq, Star Wars. Not new issues, the new threats that had developed over the preceding eight years."
This Adminstration sure has a nasty habit of turning out disgruntled staffers with a bone to pick...
Life in Retail
First, before we start, do this: grab you keyboard with your hands on the sides, flip it over and shake it all about.
Did anything fall out?
I have mentioned this fact before, but I can hardly expect that everyone reading here today has been religiously following my every post from the last year.
I work in retail.
How I got here is a short story.
After I graduated from TU I was still just working part time at a Lebanese steakhouse. I worked back in the office tallying up the tabs. My sister was the bartender and I worked weekends while in school. After graduating I took some time for myself. I took a cruise to the Caribbean and a trip to Hawaii, among other things. I wasn't excited by graduate school and I was getting more involved with my musical recording hobby.
This period ended when the steakhouse closed down and I found myself with no source of income. I picked up a job at a local bookstore working in their coffeeshop. I stayed there for a year or so and eventually quit and took a job working at a photolab. By now I was quite interested in photography and working at the photolab allowed me to print my own pictures and do so at a fairly cheap cost. I learned a lot about photography and I don't balk at considering myself an expert in that regard.
At one point I transferred to Dallas, where I printed photos in Dick Cheney's old neighborhood. It was there that I developed my views about class. I learned that the rich are not any different than any other people expect that they see the world from a completely different perspective. It never registered to some of our customers that we always seemed to be there when they came in to have their photos done. They really had no clue that while they were fretting over which European vacation picture to use for their Christmas cards there were people working there that had never been to Europe, and that some hadn't had a vacation in years.
Eventually I moved back to Tulsa and decided to leave the photolab business, at least for the time being. The whole business is changing as more and more people adopt digital cameras and move away from film. I'm not sure how photolabs will be integrated, if at all, into the new environment.
Now I sell digital cameras at a retail electronic chain. I enjoy the work, explaining the how digital cameras work and helping people make good decisions about what best fits their needs. I've always been at my best as a teacher and I like talking about things I enjoy. Photography is one of those things.
What I like less is the overall retail environment. For instance, right now I have about six people above me that cannot agree on just what they should be doing. On top of that is layers upon layers of management from the corporate office. So I have gotten used to accepting that at any point in time the rules regarding what I should be doing can and will change with little warning. In this regard I imagine its a lot like any corporate structure. Management spends the majority of its time trying to justify their own existence when in fact most things would run fine on autopilot, at least for a little while.
There have been instances where I've worked at stores where there was no management. This happened a few times at the Bookstore as each manager would leave for greener pastures. It might be months before a new Store Manager was found and sent in to muck things up. Most of the employees remarked about how much smoother things ran without a manager.
By now you have no doubt noticed my general disdain for management. I have managed (pun intended) to avoid going into management for a few reasons. Mainly because most of the managers that I have worked for were only managers because it was the next step on the ladder. They wanted better pay and they needed the status of the position to go with their age. It just doesn't look good if your getting on in years and you haven't climbed up into some sort of management position.
I should pause here to make a comment that I HAVE worked for some excellent people that were well suited to the roll of management. My boss in Dallas was an excellent manager and a good friend as well. My hat goes off to her.
Mostly though my experience has been with middle aged hacks that had little natural talent for working with people, spent the majority of their time trying to look managerial and made being and asshole an intergral part of the job description.
I subscribe to the Peter Principle - "In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence."
If you're too dumb to realize that you would be a bad manager you are likely to accept the job, be really bad at it, and get stuck there.
And that.. is where managers come from.
Clark before the commission
Richard Clark is testifying before the 9-11 commission which is airing on NPR. The attacks against him are coming in the form of questions to his credibility regarding the difference in tone and content between a previous Press Background Briefing and his latest book.
The "aha!" smoking gun seems to be that during Clark's tenure in the Bush Administration he provided a much rosier picture of events surrounding the transition between the Clinton and the Bush Administrations regarding terrorism than he does in his book.
This is somehow seen as a smear on his character.
Important to remember is that as a member of the Bush Administration, as with any other administration, Clark was acting as a spokesman. He does not have the mandate or the liberty to interject his own personal feelings while acting as a member of an administration. Such as you would be remiss in putting forth your own opinions while acting as a employee of a business.
You would be right to ask whether an employee has a responsibility to speak the truth even when speaking for someone else. You would also be right to point out that people working in our government have a responsibility to the American people for whom they work to speak the truth to the press, and through that conduit, to its citizens.
But should an administration spokesman go before the press and stray from the administration's talking points they would be seen as disloyal and untrustworthy. They would risk not only their job but the ability to do their work with cooperation from their superiors. If, however they go before the press and speak in disingenuous or even untruthful ways they do a disservice to us. Its a moral dilemma.
Its telling that the Bush administration is using this background briefing, which is essentially their own words to try to discredit Clark.
The Whitehouse has just released this background briefing in what is yet another attempt to smear any whistleblower that comes out and criticizes the President. Its a pattern we should all notice.
The other line of attack on Clark is to draw a connection between his book and the Kerry Campaign. They do this by highlighting the closeness of Clark to Rand Beers, who does indeed work for Kerry. The two men, Clark and Beers are both former terrorism experts that worked under Bush. They now teach together at the Kennedy School. It is implied that Clark, through Beers is looking to position himself for a job in the Kerry Presidency.
Today, before the commission and under oath Clark said that he would not take a position with Kerry even if it was offered.
More noteworthy is the close comparisons between both Beers and Clark. Both were longtime experts who served as civil servants under both Republican and Democratic Administrations who both left the Bush administration citing lack of support for fighting terrorism.
Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo makes this point in a very succinct manner:
And the pattern suggests two possible theories.
I would recommend Marshall as a more definitive source on the Clark Issue.
Dear Mr. Friedman
Input: Axis of Appeasement
Output: At some level I believe that Thomas Friedman wants what he feels is best for the Iraqi people. Freedom. But, I think we differ on what extent we would be willing to excuse deception to achieve our goals. Right now, his strategy is an extension of his pre-invasion plan. Get the U.S. into Iraq, get Saddam ousted and get the world to commit to helping to put in a working democracy in Iraq. To that aim he saddled up with the Bush plan because he figured that even the though the charges of WMD were trumped and even though we were entering into Iraq with a bad plan on false premises that once Saddam was out and the U.S. was in we could navigate from there to a better end.
In short, argue that once the eggs are broken we should make an omelet.
What we see, is that our esteemed columnist is attempting to drive the train after the wreck.
Unless President Bush dispenses with his discredited argument for the war W.M.D. no one will hear or listen to what I believe was always the only right argument for the war and is now the only rationale left: to depose the genocidal Saddam regime in order to partner with the Iraqi people to build a decent government in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world because it is the pathologies and humiliations produced by Arab misgovernance that are the root causes of terrorism and Muslim extremism.
A quick translation: I never bought into the WMD argument, it was bogus. But, I was willing to sign on as long as something was done to help the Iraqi people get rid of Saddam. Now drop the sham and do the right thing, get the UN on board and commit to some real progress in Iraq.
I can sympathize. Something needed to be done in Iraq to help out the Iraqis but I am not so delusional to think that we'll do right by the Iraqis despite all the high minded "freeing the Iraqi people" rhetoric flying about the right wing these days. You know something is fishy when the right starts arguing for humanitarian intervention. He criticizes the Bush administration for not going about the Iraq reconstruction effort with enough troops or commitment. I say that this is the predictable result of going in on a false premise. The aim for the Bushies was always to score a quick political victory. The plan was never to achieve the goal that Friedman envisions.
Let's look at the goals as I see them:
Its pretty obvious that "freeing the Iraqi people" was never a high priority. Nor was "establishing a middle east democracy".
My dream is that the U.S., Britain, France, Germany and Spain announce tomorrow that in response to the Madrid bombing, they are sending a new joint force of 5,000 troops to Iraq for the sole purpose of protecting the U.N.'s return to Baghdad to oversee Iraq's first democratic election.
Unfortunately for Friedman's dream the US government currently in power cannot risk having a democratically elected government in Iraq that might jeopardize one of its goals. We simply cannot allow an Islamic state with strong Anti-Israel tendencies to take power and demand the withdrawal of US troops and US oil interests.
It can't happen. Else the war was for naught.
Friedman can argue till he's blue in the face for the current administration to act as he wishes. But you cannot simply expect Bush and Co. to put aside their goals to appease a NYtimes columnists... or do the right thing.
If the cook plans to make scrambled eggs, don't expect an omelet.
I stopped by Target the other night. I needed to get a file folder to organize my paperwork. This followed an episode of digging through my current shoebox system and not finding what I needed. I don't much like shopping. I recognize the cathartic benefits, the sating of our hunter-gatherer instincts, the need to accomplish a task. However I don't have lots of extra money so I can't make shopping a hobby.
For some, shopping is an activity. You go do it when you need to "do something".
That's fine. Target is nesting central. It makes me want to don a shirt that says "no coupling zone" in big letter across the chest. Happy little couples leisurely plod up and down the aisles, looking at towels, picking up decorative lampshades and taking up the whole DAMN aisle! They flaunt there happy couple... ness.
Hey, I used to be the same way (a little) when I had a mate, but I was considerate of those other people that just wanted to get in and get out. They had a mission. Get a file folder, get some kitty litter, grab a pack of TP and some Doritoes. Then get the hell outta there.
So the other night I run in and start heading up the main aisle only to get stuck behind couple of ladies plodding along side by side so as to take up the entire breadth of the main walkway. I hate being rude so I slow down and walk along behind them thinking that soon enough they'll sense my glowering eyes burning fresh brands into their back flesh and move aside.
No luck. They walk at what must have been a step per second all the way to the back of the store.
I suppose I could have headed off down a side aisle, cut through the lady's undergarments or the Menswear department but I was too stubborn. Besides, I chided myself, I should have some patience. I'm not the only one in this world. Other people have a right to walk a snail's pace down a busy aisle. Right?
But here's where it gets weird. No less than three more times do I find myself trapped behind these same two ladies. Once more as I head towards the checkout lane. Another time as I head out the door and then remarkably as I drove my car out of the parking lot. There they were sauntering across the parking lot on a direct path between me and the exit lane!
Such a small thing...
... and speaking of heavenly signs...
KT at CNR sums up the God thing quite nicely:
I take the skeptical view -- called "weak atheism" -- that the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing, immortal, perfectly good and benevolent being is an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence. I have never seen any such evidence (nor have I read any proof of God's existence that achieved anything beyond illustrating the author's faith), so I do not believe in God. I take the same position on the existence of dragons, unicorns, and Britney Spears' musical talent.
But I still wonder if those two ladies were some sort of Godly sign? It is Lent after all?
Lets talk about music a little
I'm tired of talking about Bush. If you're still telling yourself that he's worth voting for after yet another insider put the smack down on his administration and they keep getting caught in lies, then well... there's nothing I can do for you.
However I might be able to add some spice to your music collection. Provided you have similar tastes....
First off... free music? Sure... Download a little gem from Wilcoweb. Cars Cant Escape in either mp3 or mp4 format. Its an extra from YHF.
I've just picked up copies of Wilco's "Being There" and "Summerteeth". Both excellent albums. I am amazed at the consistent quality of this band. Even if they do change members after every record. These two previous efforts have more of a studio sound to them and lack the character that made Yankee Hotel Foxtrot so amazing. But the songs are still there. That's the important part, no?
Right now, as I type this I am listening to my latest purchase. It was an easy decision picking up the latest Zero 7, "When It Falls". Any reader here will have been exposed to my adulation of this band. At first listen they seem like such a simple bunch of songs, but they serve that essential niche for when you need to chill. Its quintessential chilling out music. For the newbie to Zero 7 I advise downloading a copy of "Destiny" (free mp3 download from Amazon) or "Spinning" which feature Sophie Barker and/or Sia Furler. Sweet voices.
Here's a challenge for you.
Recommend one band that I should give a listen. Any band.... try me.
Crumbling Down, The walls.. crumbling crumblin'
CBS News | Did Bush Press For Iraq-9/11 Link? | March 21, 2004 11:29:54:
"'I blame the entire Bush leadership for continuing to work on Cold War issues when they back in power in 2001. It was as though they were preserved in amber from when they left office eight years earlier. They came back. They wanted to work on the same issues right away: Iraq, Star Wars. Not new issues, the new threats that had developed over the preceding eight years.' "
First let me state that I think Bush, the man, has less to do with this whole debacle than it might seem. He is an easy target because he is supposed to be in charge but that was never really true. The people in charge are a group of ideologists that share a common worldview, handpicked by Cheney to serve in this administration. It was a turning point when Cheney got involved with the Bush campaign and another turning point when he assumed the position of Vice Presidential Candidate from his position as scout. It was at that point that we were doomed to endure a bunch of old Cold Warriors going back to the Reagan and Nixon administrations.
Is Bush a cunning mastermind or a useful idiot? The evidence seems to indicate the latter over the former. I've yet to hear Bush make an intelligent argument for any of his policies that go beyond the usual talking points. For all of Clinton's moral failings you couldn't shut the guy up when he started to talk about his policies. You could tell that the ideas where either coming from Clinton or that he was deeply involvement with policy. Not so with Bush, he shies away from talking to the press, and when he does he comes back to the same talking points again and again. He has either not developed an intellectual understanding of the issues or cannot articulate what he believes. Neither option indicates that Bush is the cunning mastermind of his administration. Instead we see "top officials" out front discussing what I believe are their policies.
Even if Bush isn't the intellectual engine of this administration it still leaves us with an option that gives him some credit: Bush the decision maker. In this role he needs only to listen to all sides in a debate and decide who makes their case more clearly. A leader need not be an expert on all matters over which he presides if he can skillfully manage those experts.
After 9-11 the Bush administration asked their experts to find links between Iraq and terrorism.
"It was a serious look. We got together all the FBI experts, all the CIA experts. We wrote the report. We sent the report out to CIA and found FBI and said, 'Will you sign this report?' They all cleared the report. And we sent it up to the president and it got bounced by the National Security Advisor or Deputy. It got bounced and sent back saying, 'Wrong answer. ... Do it again.'
So either Bush saw the memo and ignored his experts or the people around him are filtering the information the President receives. In either scenario the wrong conclusion was drawn and we know that something is seriously broken in the Bush Whitehouse. I cannot recall ever seeing this many people coming out of an administration with the same story; ideologically driven, won't listen to people that disagree with them, focused on political gain over practical solutions.
Its a recipe for disaster. Re-electing Bush will only put the same people that have failed us many times already back into power. Unless we can think that Bush will not bring back people like Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz I see no reason to trust them with the reigns of control again.
God is Gravity
Think about it...
I can feel HIS presence every step I take. When I fall down I KNOW its HIS will. When an airplane crashes we know that HE made it happen. When people ask for proof I push them over. I don't have to have faith, HE is always letting me know HE's there, always present, always imposing HIS will on me. I don't need and musty old books to know HE is there and HE wants me to pay attention to HIM. Worshiping HIM is easy. Simply lay on the floor and let HIS power wash over you.
Birds are heathens.
Faith may move mountains by my God keeps them from flying off into space!
Wow... you know that popular argument that the Spanish elections signaled an appeasement by the voters to terrorism? Might I present this empty box, and floor beneath it? There lies the shreds after David Neiwert was finished.
Because well, you see the Aznar people tried to use the train bombings to push a political agenda against ETA. It pushed a resolution through the UN Security Council and angrily denounced any attempts to suggest that it could be anyone other the ETA. When it came out that it was probably not ETA but possibly Al Qaeda the voters turned on the lying opportunists.
Cashing in on political capital created by tragedy can be risky. You act too rashly and the people lose confidence.
Of course, the right-wing smear of Spanish voters serves precisely one purpose only: To set the stage in America for the Bush re-election campaign's talking points attacking John Kerry for his supposed weakness on national security. It's meant to work in tandem with the equally noxious "terrorists want to see Kerry win" meme.
(1280 x 960 version suitable for desktop use)
It was a strange weather day. Around five o'clock it was over 80 degrees and the sky was fairly clear. It felt like a nice summer day. A few drops fell on the ground around me like perspiration from a cup of cold soda. The drive home from work was dry. I came into the house and opened up the windows. A cool breeze was already starting to build. A few minutes later I could hear the sound of rain outside. I was a little surprised but not so much to rush outside. The rain started pounding and I went out to have a look. It was hail, penny sized. I watched it fall from the safety of my porch, wondering if for the sake of self discovery I should wander out and get pelted. I thought better of it. The neighbor across the street always comes out onto his porch when it rains as well. I wonder why more people don't wander out to see nature at work. He goes in to get his mother and they look at the rainbow hidden behind my house. The neighbor next door runs out with her daughter and snaps a few pictures and goes back inside. Soon the hail lets up and its simply raining again. The rain quits. The water flows down the streets and the dark grey clouds slide away. Big puffy clouds come in and puff up into big three dimensional shapes. I think that people must of conceived of the "heavens" looking into these shapes. The suns set as the evening wanes. Its about 5:30 P.M. and it starts turning copper. I take a few pictures of the clouds, a piece of hail that had yet to melt and a couple of worms washed up on the driveway.
Later I drive to the store and buy some apples.
The store nearby has six different varieties of red apples.
Chalmers Johnson, Author of "The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic" - A BuzzFlash Interview:
"We know with precision from numerous historical examples that the use of a high-tech armed force like ours in trying to combat terrorism is the wrong strategy. In fact, military over-reaction is one of the things the terrorists anticipate in resorting to terrorism, in the belief that that then will generate more activists and increase the movement, which so far you'd have to say Al Qaeda has succeeded beyond its wildest imagination."
I really like what Chalmers Johnson says because it mirrors my own thoughts. I'm sure he has a greater depth of knowledge from which to draw but I think the basic foundations are the same as the ones rolling around in my head. Recall for a moment this important information:
The assumptions that we make about our foreign policy are all wrong because of one simple reason: we assume that others think and act differently then we, ourselves would think and act in similar circumstances.
We assume that by further aggravating a situation we can make it better. We might as well be trying to smooth the ripples on a lake with our fingers. If overthrowing a government in the seventies and installing a cooperative dictator didn't fix things then let's try overthrowing him and installing a version of our own government. If assassinating a country's leader didn't make things better we'll try a coup attempt or a bribe to influence voters in an election. (read this article on Blowback)
We assume that people should easily put aside old grudges and feuds for the "good of all". I think we forget that other nations have centuries of bad blood that will not so easily go away. As we get older as a nation we will see this happen with us. We already bear the wounds of a civil war and cultural shifts.
We assume that any action that we undertake is done for purely altruistic reasons (I call this one the Whittle Fallacy) or that even if we act in ways that benefit ourselves it will help others because we are benevolent. Others of course will not see it that way.
We assume that others will not resent a powerful nation that has the military capacity to overthrow most national governments, the economic clout to coerce action, and enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world.
We assume that just because we have the power to act in ways others cannot that we should be able to. How many other nations can get away with thumbing their nose at millions of people and an international governing body so they can invade a nation to prove we can?
We assume that showing others how weak they are should not breed resentment.
We assume that we are the only ones responsible enough to develop even more deadly arms and sell them all over the world., deciding who "deserves" to defend themselves.
In short , we assume a position of arrogance, meaning we think that we alone have the right to act the way we do and that others should understand their subordinate position.
Alternet: The Disquieted American
"If we had a division of Turkish troops in San Diego, we'd have a few patriotic young [American] men who would kill a couple [of Turks] every weekend."
It becomes frustrating when you debate people that take neither history or human nature into consideration. Their contention is that "other people" are acting in an irrational way. Most people do not believe they are acting irrationally. It only appears that way if you are willfully blind to history, human nature and cause and effect. People rarely strap bombs to themselves for no good reason. They are most likely either acting on bad information or under cultural influence.
Just as we are.
People will only strap on weapons and go to their deaths, overriding their own individual survival instinct if they believe they are doing so for a reason; God, Country, Family, or Freedom. While we all have things "worth fighting for" we have to be careful not to be mislead. We must always be wary of people that wish to simplify the issues. We must be wary of people that want us to act on our emotions despite the warnings of our heads. We must be wary of people that claim to speak for higher authorities.
We can only be arrogant if we assume that we would not act as others have, given the same set of circumstances.
Today I celebrate an anniversary.
Its one year from Life Changing Breakup Day?!
I'm a bit conflicted because I'm also in the middle of celebrating Truck Month, its so hard to go through the usual holiday truck month activities while trying to be reflective of lost love. Truck Month always cheers me up...
GARLAND -- It's Ford Truck Month and with over 3000 available new Ford trucks, Prestige Ford is offering a stampede of savings on the heftiest herd of new Ford trucks the Metroplex has ever seen!--at least according to Prestige Ford owner Jerry Reynolds. Reynolds explained, Aren't you tired of hearing dealers whine about being overstocked? We are not overstocked; we stocked up so truck buyers can find exactly what they're looking for! That's one of the reasons we're the #1 Ford F-series dealer in the world! It's Truck Month; the absolute best time of the year to buy a new Ford truck or sport-utility vehicle.
So between all the hubub of truck month and the having-completely-gotten-over-her thing I had almost forgot the significance of the day until a co-worker asked me what day it was and I realized that today was the day. Soon enough I will be celebrating another holiday, the official One Year at this Job Day. Its a bit like Lent and Easter.
For those curious, it was amicable, it was not entirely surprising and it was ok by me.
And yes, I'm being sarcastic about Truck Month.
The Dread Terrorist Bin Laden
I think its silly to try to guess what the terrorist want or what they are thinking. I think its even sillier to react in ways that we think will be the opposite of what we think the terrorists might want or intend.
We get into that loop of thinking that they want us to do this, or MAYBE they only want us to THINK that's what they want, so we shouldn't do that. (link)
Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I'm not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool; you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
Ah yes, so I can clearly not choose the candidate in front of you....
Salon.com News | Behind the jobs debacle:
"The failure of Bush and his economists does not lie in faking a prediction. It lies in failing to understand what the underlying problems are. It lies in failing to propose policies suitable to their cure. It lies in the wanton pursuit of a strategy of tax cuts for the long term aimed at the political, not economic, objective of exempting plutocrats and their fortunes from federal tax. In lies in the rush into military adventures -- from missile defense to Iraq -- that achieve little, waste vast resources and make a proper jobs-and-security policy even more difficult down the road. Most of all, it lies in failing to care, one way or another, what might happen."
(link via Emphasis Added)
This analysis bears repeating often in various places.
The big picture is clear. This administration is concerned primarily with political gain. In the back of their minds they think that it will all work out if they can solidify a base of voters to keep them in power. Even if they have to sell their long term tax policy by passing short term tax relief for the middle class they know that in the long run it will be those same middle class people that have to shoulder the burden of longer more destructive tax cuts coming down the road. Those big tax cuts for the wealthy will pay off in the form of increased money for political activities.
On the ground I think its easier to see the structural changes in the economy. Its too easy to assume that we will always just proceed on to a recovery after X amount of time. It will take new and innovative ways of keeping the economy as a whole in good footing. I'm not entirely sure that even if we had done all the right things we would be on better footing even now. I do know that what needed to be done was not what was done. I know this because the rationale for why we proceeded with the current policy never changed even as the reasons for it did. Unless you've forgotten, the original reason to the tax cuts was as a reward for a booming economy.
Even as Bush remains firmly committed to the tax cut, his rationale for enacting it has changed. During the campaign, when economic projections were rosier, Bush said a reduction in the basic income tax rates would be a way of giving citizens money that was rightfully theirs.
But as we've learned, its not ever the real reason that we get when an idea is pitched. They know that if they laid out their rationale for their actions they would get booted out of office next term. Only by pushing through a bunch of policies that rewards their friends to the point of building up a powerful financial behemoth and using that money in the next election cycle to push more propaganda will they hope to succeed.
Liberals = Weak
Brian Hull.net - A proclivity for verbosity: Liberal Demonization
Brian Hull has put down an excellent history of liberalism in the U.S. A worthy read.
I don’t even know when, where, why, or how the word liberal became something of scorn. Two decades ago liberalism was reduced to a synonym for weakness, it became associated with everything on the left that seemed immoderate, indecisive, contemptible and ignoble. Since when did compassion for others generate such negative emotions in people? Why should protecting the environment and workers rights, wanting a better education for our children, helping the poor, sick and elderly, protecting consumers from corporate greed, eliminating racism, sexism and classism, and wanting a peaceful world so that every nation can prosper be things to look down upon in disgust?
The war of definitions rages on.
I guess I just feel angry, politically. Ever since Kerry has been the clear winner in the Democratic primary we have seen what I consider the worst pack mentality I have ever witnessed. It nearly rivals the sheer frothing blather thrown at Dean when it looked like he might challenge our dear leader.
It drains me. I feel that all debate has become pointless. You cannot reason with wounded dogs, angry bees or tidal waves.
Forces of nature are at work here.
I feel exasperated at the lengths I have to go to define my position. Its a success of unimaginable proportions that one side can win an argument through sheer definitions.
I feel that when issues get boiled down to basic instincts our worse tendencies show through. When you define things in terms of fear you get instinctual behavior. We lash out at our fears. So it drives me crazy to hear the terrorist threat reduced to issues of US / THEM and simplistic notions of "They just want to kill us!". You see, they have no reason? We have no responsibility to justify our actions. However we act, no matter how cruel and thoughtless will be justified by the ultimate definition: Evil.
Where my critics and I diverge is in our willingness to accept that basic premise. We are good (unconditionally) and they are evil (unconditionally). In an earlier post I touched on issues of perspective. But why is it important to have perspective? Because if you recall during the Cold War we thought it perfectly reasonable to assume that the Soviets were the embodiment of evil and hell-bent (literally) on taking over the world and destroying freedom. And where did these evil communists go?
During WWII it was perfectly reasonable to consider Japanese people or Germans as possessed of evil and one again intent on destroying the world and freedom in its wake. And where did these evil being go?
Human beings, when born, fresh from the womb hold no innate bias towards good or evil. Our values are constructed by the framework of our society. We are social beings. We share information and share values. During the Cold War and WWII it became part of our social framework to think of Germans, Japanese or Soviets are evil. They in turn were victim of a different framework that lead to their actions. I think we sometimes fail to distinguish between these social frameworks (governments, ideologies or religions) and the people themselves. Sometimes we refuse to accept that these social frameworks are products of converging forces.
Today we no longer demonize the Germans, Japanese or Russians. They are our friends. They are no longer possessed.
Today its perfectly acceptable to discuss what might have caused these groups to act in the way they did. We talk about root causes. What led to the rise of Nazism, what went wrong with communist Russia? We take at look at those social causes. We wonder what happened to cause people to stop thinking critically and start acting in irrational ways.
What we find is that in all cases what broke down was perspective. A society either refused to consider another point of view or they dismissed it entirely. The narrative of reality was reduced to core elements where emotional responses overrode rational thought. People accepted caricatures of their enemies as a way of dealing with emotional responses; fear and anger.
Political propaganda in principle is active and revolutionary. It is aimed at the broad masses. It speaks the language of the people because it wants to be understood by the people. Its task is the highest creative art of putting sometimes complicated events and facts in a way simple enough to be understood by the man on the street. Its foundation is that there is nothing the people cannot understand, rather things must be put in a way that they can understand. It is a question of making it clear to him by using the proper approach, evidence and language.
Propaganda is a method of programming the subconscious mind. Modern day marketing has taken this methodology into new territories and I sometimes wonder if we're becoming a nation of programmable people. Or are we becoming immune?
Part of my dismay comes from this cult of personality built up around Bush. An image of him has been created that tells us that only Bush can "win the war on terror". Its as if only Bush has been given the "gift of sight" and we are turning our backs on enlightened leadership by turning our backs on Bush.
Read this next quote and you can easily imagine it coming from the mouth of the more rabid Bush supporter.
Works of talent are the result of diligence, persistence, and gifts. Genius is self-creative by grace alone. The deepest force of the truly great man is rooted in instinct. Very often he cannot even say why everything is as it is. He contents himself with saying: it is so. And it is so. What diligence and knowledge and school-learning cannot solve, God announces through the mouths of those whom he has chosen. Genius in all fields of human endeavour means - to have been called.
But its not, its talking about another leader gifted from God to lead his nation in a time of war. Suffice it to say that July 20th changed everything.
What would these nitpickers do if that authority suddenly disappeared? At such a time as this, a strong hand at the helm is the most important prerequisite to keep things going, and ultimately to win the victory.
I guess what I fear more than anything is the trends promoted by this administration. They have been outed not once (Dilulio) but twice (O'Neil) as opportunistic powermongers who see it as their role to enact their policies disguised behind misleading propaganda.
I could in an honest debate concede a few points to conservatives and their support for things like the Iraq War but what I have a hard time believing is that we can trust the current holders of power to act responsibly with the power we have given them. I think they have proven beyond a doubt that they see power as their providence, not as a responsibility.
Incoming Message from the Mother Brain
To: Right Wing Attack Dogs
CC: Fox News
We are at war with JOHN KERRY.
We have always been at war with JOHN KERRY.
We have never been at war with Al Gore, or Bill Clinton. They are nice guys compared to JOHN KERRY.
We have learned that JOHN KERRY has been secretly selling babies to the TERRORISTS to raise campaign cash. We will defeat JOHN KERRY in the upcoming election and save America from EVIL. GEORGE W. BUSH, our president, is a STRONG and STEADY leader, who will fight and defeat EVIL. We must stand behind our president who is battling EVIL. He is battling JOHN KERRY and the LIBERALS who are using their TERRORIST connections to fund their EVIL campaign to RAISE TAXES. GEORGE W. BUSH, our president, has a PRO-GROWTH plan to help our economy and protect America's families from the EVIL liberals and the HOMOSEXUALS.
Only Bush Can Drive Mideast Democracy Forward*
So remember GEORGE W. BUSH is a STRONG leader who can WIN the WAR ON TERROR.
*Actual Georgewbush.com blog headline!
Bush is STRONG STRONG STRONG STRONG!!!!
Cam Edwards (www.kerrybashingcentral.com) wants to know how John Kerry will ever live up to the Bush talking points?
"If you think John Kerry will respond with strength, fight evil in a decisive manner, and be absolutely committed to winning the war on terror... do me a favor. Tell me why you believe. I don't out of spite or malice, I ask because there's a chance that Kerry's going to be our next president, and I'd really like to know what the guy's got going for him on this issue that I don't see."
umm... respond with strength? What the hell does that mean, bombing countries? I hope not!
Fight evil in a decisive manner? Does that mean defining everyone as terrorists and waging a thousand year war to rid the world of bad people? I thought only superheros in tights "fought evil". Will John Kerry take on the Army of Satan and chase the Prince of Darkness down into the bowels of the Earth and slay him with tax cuts? Probably not.
Will Kerry be committed to winning the war on Terror? Well, considering "terror" is an emotional response and not easily destroyed without the use of heavy narcotics. I would say no here as well. But giving Cam the benefit of the doubt and assuming he means Terrorism, not Terror (which is just silly) we can pretty much assume that any President will (hopefully) try to prevent a terrorist attack on American soil. But will he do so like Bush? Will we invade and occupy any nation that might be a potential threat? Will he blow a hole on our federal treasury by refusing to collect sufficient revenue to cover needed expenses? (You call them tax cuts but lets be honest ok, its willful negligence) And will he insist on turning every nation with a tinpot dictator into a Democracy (i.e. American protectorate) through decades of military action? I would like to think not.
Will Kerry be "steady" like Bush?
Will Kerry be "principled" like Bush?
will Kerry be "pro-growth" like Bush?
Will Kerry be "strong" like Bush?
I hope not, or I wouldn't vote for him. If Kerry was like Bush it wouldn't be much of a choice would it?
All over the place today!
Man, nothing sticks in my craw more than people that refer to Bush as "strong". I think that irks me more than "moral clarity" use to.
You know that incredulous feeling you get when shopping for a car and every single one turns out to be a "real beaut"? Even the obvious jalopy with the tires sticking out at odd angles is a "humdinger".
You start to wonder, just how bad does it have to be to qualify for negative remarks?
I feel bad for Bush defenders. Because at this point I don't know what to think. I'm a pretty reasonable person. I give people the benefit of the doubt. But what do you do when the evidence continues to mount? Its spilling out over the edges of reality and filling up absurdity. And still some people defend this obvious lemon.
Just recently: Bush administration ordered Medicare plan cost estimates withheld
"Richard S. Foster, the chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which produced the $551 billion estimate, told colleagues last June that he would be fired if he revealed numbers relating to the higher estimate to lawmakers."
What do you know lying to Congress... AGAIN!!!! Do you see a pattern yet folks?
I can understand people that don't pay attention to politics. But there are some politically savoy folks out there that continue to support this guy. Luckily more and more people come to their senses as Bush stabs them in the back.
How about a chart?
Every February the Bush administration tells us about all the new jobs coming just around the corner. They are 0/3 in their forecasts. I believe it has nothing to do with being wrong. They just have no qualms about lying even when they are going to get caught. They can rely on you "John Q. Bushdefender" to continue to believe whatever they tell you.
Of course I'm not changing any minds here. I'm either preaching to the choir of feeding Jello to the loonies. But if I were a praying man who thought that God spent his free time meddling in American politics (which I don't) then I would say a little prayer every night before going to bed.
Dear Lord, please reach your big hands down to Earth and tickle a few cerebellums. We need your help to defeat a truly despicable man that is trying to ruin this country. I'm not asking for lightening bolts. Nothing life threatening. Definitely no locusts or frogs! Maybe just talking to a few million people and asking them to stay home election day, or better yet, asking them to vote for someone else? I know its a lot to ask, I know you're busy, what with Haiti and Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan... and that's just a few countries who are relying on you to determine their political fate. Maybe you should delegate the politics to some angels or something? Keep yourself open for sporting events and the SAT's? But anyways, thanks for listening God (or Angel in charge of political requests) and whatever you choose to do is fine by me. Amen
Of course I don't see God as some sort of Cosmic Request Line. But if I did, that's what my "Long Distance Dedication" would look like.
Damn poor people, why don't they just get a job?
Here's a little something that's been on my mind. Nothing big, but a little thing that's been crawling around beneath my skin itching to get out.
There's an odd type of person, of a political persuasion that's hard to pin down. They seem like great liberal types. They like gay people, have a few gay friends, don't harbor any racist tendencies, aren't particularly religious, sometimes even scornful of organized religion, they like multicultural societies and seem pretty cool overall.
They harbor nasty class prejudices. They don't like poor people. They feel like poor people should be blamed and punished for not being rich and successful. Being poor is a scarlet A on a person's character. Its shows you're an immoral or stupid person if you don't have fine things, or a nice car, a fancy house or the latest gadgets.
They don't feel like there should be any other reason other than a person's own laziness for their poverty. They refuse to consider the idea that society might be tilted against some people. And most of all they resent people taking THEIR money to support any sort of safety net.
This attitude seems to afflict mostly middle aged white men the most. Usually they've had access to good schools, family resources to draw from and a network of connections to work with as well. It pains me to hear them talk about their own success, oblivious to the advantages that made their success possible. Its as if they refuse to consider that their lives would have been different had they been born into a different environment. Its like most American's who seem to believe that its their own specialness, not the great opportunity of living in a wealthy society, that affords them such riches and material wealth.
I recall a few cultural references to illustrate my point:
Remember that classic Eddie Murphy skit on Saturday Night Live where he pretends to be a white man and people treat him differently, they give him free stuff and he feels like he's joined some secret society? Sure, it was an exaggeration but it reflects a reality that you don't see unless you can put yourself in another person's shoes. Where I work, the security people keep a close eye on "suspicious people". All too often it turns out to be scruffy looking people or minorities. Its not so much a conscious decision but rather one based on cultural biases. We have it programmed into our psyches that their is a certain way people look and act to be respectable. Its no accident that every serial killer going to trial gets a haircut and a new suit to wear.
If it didn't work they wouldn't bother.
If you live in a world where the cultural biases are in your favor you don't see them. Its like a swimming with the current. Its myopic to believe that those social conditions are the same for everyone. It isn't. That's a truth you should learn quickly, if you haven't already.
I attended a Catholic High School here in Tulsa. One of three I think... but that's not important. During my attendance there it was required that we wear uniforms; a pair of dress pants and a button down shirt. The girls wore skirts and button down shirts as well. Hair length was to stop at the collar, no longer than that. A few guys pushed the limits but you couldn't go past the collar while you were still in school there. So of course after I graduated and went to college I decided to see what all the fuss was about.
I should pause and say I'm a firm believer in willfully putting yourself outside of your "comfort zone" for the educational opportunities it affords.
So I grew my hair out long. I would wear it in a ponytail most days but other times it would blow around in the wind and hang down over my face and down my back. Nowadays I try to keep it around the collar but long from the top. I still don't much like that cropped short look that most guys favor. I have beautiful black hair and it's straight as could be.
But enough about me and my hair...
Part two of the experiment was to be poor. I would be a non-consumer. Try a little experiment for yourself when you feel like it. Dress down. Ratty work clothes and maybe an unshaven look. Go into a store, someplace nice. Spend a few minutes looking around; pick up and look at a few items. Don't buy anything. Walk out of the store with nothing.
Feel the eyes on you.
Its hard to do if you don't have "the look". But its a worthwhile experiment even if you can't get the full effect.
My point, amongst all this rambling and unnecessary biographical information is this: What you look like, and who you are MATTERS. Otherwise we would all wear out PJs to work and never shave or get ourselves groomed. Its hardwired into our brains to assume a person's character by their appearance. And it drives me nuts when people assume that who they are, and what they are has NO affect on their opportunity to succeed. Not to say that we can't all achieve our goals. But its not the same for all of us. And when you think that these little cultural biases don't mean anything you're missing the point. It might seem like a small thing when your nation's cultural heritage is defined in terms of white men's "discovery" and "pioneering" but it feeds into a larger scheme of who deserves to succeed. Those little narratives become part of our cultural value system. As much as it becomes convenient to ignore that most blacks in America lack some sort of familial wealth and connections that help pave the way for success. Its just easier to write them off as lazy or stupid. The same with other poor people. Luckily most of us have the good sense to see past these gross prejudices.
Growing up in a sheltered world makes it hard to see past your own circumstances, and empathize with others. But its a constant source of hope for me to know that no matter what environment we grow up in, nothing ever goes completely according to plan. And its in those moments when your preconceptions of the world get tested that you become more human.
Full Speed Ahead!
Political Mugging In America
Anatomy of an "independent" smear campaign:
"In the recent Iowa caucuses, we saw our first political mugging of the 2004 presidential campaign, Democrats sneakily slurring Democrats. It absolutely will not be the last, considering the remarkable cash advantage and sordid reputation of White House political director Karl Rove, who years ago taught negative campaigning techniques at the University of Texas. The bubble and unexpected implosion of frontrunner Dean's $47 million candidacy will be studied for years to come, and no one can or should plausibly suggest that his political demise was substantially attributable to the attacks from Americans for Jobs or any other para-mudslinging subterfuge efforts we don't know about."
(link via This Modern World)
Um, why not?
The big party bosses may have sunk the Dean ship on its way into victory harbor but they have to know that they'll be seeing more sails breaking the horizon soon enough. The techniques and ideas forged for the Dean campaign are still new and they didn't pay enough attention to protecting their flanks. The kids in orange hats were no match for people with connections and money. They got their candidate and millions of progressives will either have to vote for Nader or hold their noses and pull the lever for Kerry. Given the consequences of a Democratic loss you can bet their will be a lot of nose holding this year. But that resentment will only help fuel the next people-powered candidate.
With any luck, next time we'll get the candidate we deserve instead of the candidate that big money politics picks for us.
The idea of a candidate entirely funded through small individual contributions has got to scare the living shit out of the network of political kingmakers. This year they stood in front of their magic mirror, chanted "Mirror, Mirror on the wall, whose the fairest candidate of them all" and got the fright of their lives when Howard Dean's face popped up. Its not surprising to read that the Labor Unions were involved, or that they had given money to the Dean campaign as well. You see, they figured it would play out according to the old rule book. You spread the cash around and see who floats to the top, then they come crawling to you for more money and that's when you start attaching the strings. Only this time Dean rose to the top and they never got the visit. What good is a candidate you can't get your hooks into?
So it had to happen. Kerry and Gephardt, the consummate insiders pulled in some favors, their backers put together a little organization and the torpedoes were armed and pointed at the Dean ship. After Iowa Dean was taking on water and headed towards the bottom. They needed the momentum to succeed and that was destroyed. Voters were scared off and any political heavyweights that had climbed aboard the Dean ship were safely rowing away on rescue boats.
There's always four years from now. Progressives have to realize that should we succeed with Kerry in defeating Bush we'll be stuck with Kerry four years from now as well. The choices look bad either way, four more years of Bush policies which we know will be disastrous, or waiting for possibly EIGHT years for a real progressive candidate that lives up the promise of a genuine people's president.
Its almost enough to consider a life as a Canadian eh?
Most Liberal Blogger on the Web
I would like to take this moment to congratulate conservatives: You have been utterly successful at overturning nearly a thousand years of political, economic and social progress by redefining the langauge.
Definitions of liberal on the Web:
a person who favors a political philosophy of progress and reform and the protection of civil liberties
Hmmm... reform, tolerance, progress? When did all these things become bad ideas?
Well, the answer is, they haven't. They are still as important and vital to a healthy democracy as before. Even most conservatives, while they try to drag us back to the "good ol' days" of the Dark Ages still pay lip service to freedom and liberty while they support people that are working to erode those rights.
Remember this very important fact:
Conservatism was an anti-liberal movement that opposed the secularization of government, governance by the people for their own welfare, the freedom to explore scientific issues without fear of persecution, the freedom to worship according to your own personal choice, the freedom to express your opinions, the freedom to speak truth to power, the freedom of movement, and the freedom of thought.
This country was a result of freedoms won by liberals and enshrined in our government documents. The results have been fairly spectacular. So much so that we feel we should export them to Iraq.
Even if we cannot come out and use the rightful term to describe ourselves, we can remained satisfied that our values have been victorious. I'll accept a loss in the war on vocubulary, all hail the victors!
Dissolve into Evergreens