Saturday, September 16, 2006

Well, not for Joan D'Arc, it wasn't...

Can hearing voices in your head be a good thing?: "Can hearing voices in your head be a good thing?

Psychologists have launched a study to find out why some people who hear voices in their head consider it a positive experience while others find it distressing.

The University of Manchester investigation – announced on World Hearing Voices Day (Thursday, 14th September) – comes after Dutch researchers found that many healthy members of the population there regularly hear voices.

Although hearing voices has traditionally been viewed as 'abnormal' and a symptom of mental illness, the Dutch findings suggest it is more widespread than previously thought, estimating that about 4% of the population could be affected.

Researcher Aylish Campbell said: 'We know that many members of the general population hear voices but have never felt the need to access mental health services; some experts even claim that more people hear voices and don't seek psychiatric help than those who do."

I think you'd have to be crazy to seek psychiatric help for voices in your head. They'd have to be pretty damn loud and hateful before it's worth taking anti-psychotics to shut them up.

For myself, "hearing voices" is routine. I am, after all, Multiple. But I treat the voices in my head the same way as I treat the ones outside - if they make sense, I pay attention; if they don't, I say progressively cleverly rude things until they retreat in disarray.

Oh, yeah, and I forgot. I AM one of those voices. We are all very egalitarian here...

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Americans Think Wars Are Creating More Terrorists

A CBS News. 54 per cent of respondents believe the Bush administration's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is creating more terrorists who are planning to attack. In itself a "duh" sort of observation, and also as digg commentators on the right observe, "so what?"

Well, we did call it a "war on terror" so I presumed the idea was to reduce terrorism, not increase it. Or am I just too literal-minded?

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Just Who's Leading the Battle to Re-Legalize Drugs? Economists...

In recent years economists have led the fight to legalize actually, to "re- legalize" drugs. The Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman has been the outspoken leader of the re-legalization forces. His open letter to "Drug Czar" William Bennett, published in the Wall Street Journal, is just his latest salvo against the prohibitionist....

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"I Hear the Voices"

"I Hear The Voices" Anti-Bush song...

This showed up in a blog comment and turned out to be one I'd heard on Randi Rhodes, or some other "uppity bitch" of that sort.

It's funny and it's a toe-tapper; you might just want this one on your iPod.

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President threatens to stop torture program if he doesn't get Republican support.

GOP Infighting on Detainees Intensifies : "President Bush warned defiant Republican senators yesterday that he will close down a CIA interrogation program that he credited with thwarting terrorist attacks if they pass a proposal regulating detention of enemy combatants, escalating a politically charged battle that has exposed divisions within his party."

McCain: "No, B'rer Bush! Don' throw us in that briar patch!"

Actually, what he REALLY said was this:

"Weakening the Geneva protections is not only unnecessary, but would set an example to other countries, with less respect for basic human rights, that they could issue their own legislative 'reinterpretations,' " McCain said in a written statement. "This puts our military personnel and others directly at risk in this and future wars."
I think it would be foolish in the extreme for shrub to test McCain on this particular issue.

A man who was tortured by the Vietnamese may have a more practical appreciation of the uses and limitations of torture than Bush. Disrespecting that sort of understanding may well undermine McCain's regard for Bush's legacy - and that of a party that would consider such a concession as a political tool.

Colin Powell came out to say that Bush's "reinterpretation" of the Geneva conventions might lead other countries to "doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism."

Colin's a bit late to the bus on that realization, but still, it's all to the good.

He's supported in this by the Judge Advocate General office, which issued this statement:

Maj. Gen. Scott C. Black, the Army's judge advocate general, sent a new letter to McCain and other senators, saying "further redefinition" of the conventions "is unnecessary and could be seen as a weakening of our treaty obligations, rather than a reinforcement of the standards of treatment."

Not could. Would. Already is. Civilized nations don't NEED to discuss such things, they know the difference between right and wrong and that war is not an excuse for, oh, off the top of my head, threatening to rape a man's children if he doesn't talk, or sticking his head under water repeatedly, or making him lie shackled in his own feces while the temperature is lowered enough to induce hypothermia.

Besides that, it produces crap intel. The President's attributions of success for these programs are dubious, to say the least. He's not really in a position to say "Just trust me on this", either.

FBI "by the book" interrogation techniques do not come close to the Geneva Convention definition of torture, they are robustly Constitutional and they routinely result in solid, actionable intelligence. Being an accused terrorist will not make you immune to them, nor will lying help you all that much. The pattern and structure of a lie often tells skilled investigators as much as a direct confession.

I mean, consider the liar in question, George Bush; he's established such a pattern and it's pretty easy to infer that when he's trying to get us to focus on fear, we need only look at the subject and the timing to discern what he's trying to distract us from.

In this particular case, Josh Marshall of the Talking Points Memo may well have nailed another Rovian plot:

The aim here was to unite Republicans behind a bill and then force Democrats either to vote for or against -- demoralize the supporters of those who vote for and crush with 30 second ads those who vote against.

But if the White House actually gets tripped up in a fight with members of his own party over what kind of torture we should use, and that's the last legislative story out of Washington going into the election, that really seems like it would be a big disaster for the White House.

I don't pretend that it's a clear political shot to argue, in a highly polarized electorate, that there are certain rights we should afford to anyone in our custody, no matter how bad they may be. [emphasis mine]

I think the point that both Rove and Josh, along with most of those inside the Beltway have missed is that there are some things that are not political.

Screwing with the Geneva Conventions - and putting our own troops at risk thereby is one of them. Creating precedents for courts of any sort that would allow classified evidence to be used against a suspect without defense review, with the other condition that a "defendant" could be anyone the President chooses to designate as an "enemy combatant" is another. That is a precedent that will not go away if permitted and it's too much power for any single person of any political stripe to have.

These are issues outside of the realm of permissible political restatement under our Constitution and our law.

The Geneva Accords are a multi-national treaty with the force of law, and "reinterpretation" of them cannot be done unilaterally. Any such "reinterpretation" or "clarification", even if supported by a unanimous House and Senate could be seen as a repudiation of the treaty, leaving every other signatory free to "reinterpret" them as they see fit. I doubt we would like the result.

Already, I suspect a rather high number of responsible world leaders consider this an evident attempt to "clarify" the administration retroactively out of impeachment and perhaps a War Crimes tribunal and will feel that way even if the Administration succeeds in evading either fate. Understand, again, that violation of the Geneva Conventions is a felony under US law and of course, a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

So there's more at stake here than what some see as "merely" a dispute over the rights of accused terrorists. The distinction between "enemy combatant" and "terrorist" and even "criminal" does not exist in law, even if it has appeared to be so alleged in both rhetoric and practice.

And here's the thing, the issue, the nub of the problem; if your average person in Iraq, Iran, and wherever else we are worldwide has reason to suspect that they face a fate worse than death if even approached by a US soldier - this will cut us off from ANY ability to control the situation on the ground in Iraq and get a lot of our kids killed. It makes our forces useless in any role other than shock troops, rather pointless as the "left hand of diplomacy."

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Well, THAT was a lot easier than getting out the Graveyard Vote!

Princeton Students demonstrate how to hack a Diebold machine

For full technical details, click here.

Maybe CNN should electronically shield the ladies room...


Creds to Crooks and Liars, because they had a tiny bit of transcript, uploaded by Wonkette1.

Kyra Phillips was in the bathroom and talked over the President’s speech with a friend not knowing her mic was live…rough transcript:

Kyra: That’s how you figure it all out.–Mom’s got a good vibe?–He’s married, three kids, but his wife is just a control freak..

KYRA: Yeah baby…

Woman: Your mic is on…

Kagan: All right, we’ve been listening in to President Bush–he speaks..

Kyra - Someday, you'll be able look back at this and laugh! Say, at your retirement party, a few decades from now.

I find it hilarious right now!

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"No Regrets" DCCC ad.

Democrats don't have a great deal of record to run on, but who needs it when the opposition record is so ... well, let Dick Cheney speak for himself.

Now, you might well think this has been taken out of context to unfairly represent the Veep's nuanced statement.

Alas, no. I recall the interview, and I nearly swallowed my mustache. He really has no regrets and he really said that knowing what he knows now, he'd do nothing differently.

No guarding priceless Iraqi treasures - or ammunition dumps - or records of who held what oil lease at the Oil Ministry. No regrets on sending our troops in underequipped and unarmored, with little training in urban conflict. It's all some sort of regrettable necessity. How could we expect them to do better? What godlike foreknowledge did we expect of them, to think that unsecured explosives might end up in the wrong hands? Goodness!

I wonder if Cheney is on Oxycontin, or perhaps powerful hallucinogens when he says things like that. Perhaps he is channeling the ghost of Mao, for whom the word of a Political officer well grounded in The Dialectic was inherently superior to the bourgeois practicality of an experienced field commander.

Even given the most perfect outcome to a war, how in hell could you have NO REGRETS at sending young men and women off to kill and be killed, to maim and be maimed? What kind of arrogant bastard has NO REGRETS about starting a war?

Well, other than people like Phillip the Second of Spain, or perhaps a Borgia Pope; it is a common affliction of both the religious fanatic and the willfully evil sort that exploits the faith of their supporters.

Don't you think you ought to go for a stroll in Arlington National Cemetery, Mr. Cheney? It's no less than what is expected of any wartime President.

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The price of "Staying the Course."

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Marine colonel's Iraq report fuels US gloom: "Iraq's biggest province has suffered a total breakdown in law and order in which al-Qaeda has emerged as the dominant political force, according to descriptions of a classified US military intelligence review reported today.

The report, by the US marine corps colonel Peter Devlin, focuses on the vast, arid region of Anbar in the west, which contains the insurgent-held towns of Fallujah, Ramadi and Haditha.

The Washington Post quoted military officers who had seen the report as saying the area was 'beyond repair'.

'We haven't been defeated militarily, but we have been defeated politically - and that's where wars are won and lost,' was one army officer's summary of the review quoted by the newspaper."
That army officer was no doubt quoted on deep background, for fear of being sent as US Military Liaison to the former Siberia.

Ever since the infamous "Crusade" Bushism, I have been amazed at this administration's ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

I mean, I was dubious as to the merit of going into Afghanistan, but I could indeed see the political and Karmic payoff of ridding the world of the Taliban and freeing half of it's population.

I had no doubt we could do it, and do it without serious risks to our troops or the population, due to the massive technical differences and the huge and evident moral high ground. After all, Osama WAS there, as a guest of a much-hated government.

Remind me - how exactly did Shrub fuck that up? Oh, right. He told Delta Force to back off and let the Taliban escape to Pakistan.

And then, I was opposed to the Iraq war as being the wrong war at the wrong time for the wrong reasons, but I assumed that given proper military planning and a decent regard for intelligence, human nature and good logistics, there was no real question as to the outcome. I mean, look what Stormin' Norman did to them the last time.

I did not sufficiently account for the contagious nature of stupid, blind, willful arrogance, greed and sheer incompetence.

There is only so much crap you can stuff in a soldier's pack before he falls over. Therefore, it's the job of the chain of command to ensure that crap runs uphill. I suspect that sort of advice was unwelcome in the Oral Office, where blow-jobs - in a metaphorical sense - are clearly still currency for access

We have seen enough soldiers die buying time, space and opportunity for a diplomatic solution.

That IS how all wars end, after all. Bush and his Visigoth cronies have made it unlikely that any terms will be satisfactory (short of a war-crimes tribunal) and many will howl that we should blow more people up until we can change that equation.

I'd agree - if we had someone with the credibility, spine and above all, COMPETANCE to lead us to victory. All we are assured of now is a more abject level of defeat. Not because our capacity for destruction is at all abated - it's because our leadership's will to be CONSTRUCTIVE is evidently missing.

I'm committed to winning the "cultural war" that Bush points out as the core of this "worldwide war on terror." I agree that religious fundamentalism, intolerance, and hatred of our freedoms is exactly what motivates "them."

And "Them" are not just Al-Qaeda. They are also the theocons that want to swipe our country and put our women in purdah and our children in private brainwashing camps while we are distracted by yet another self-serving appeal to fear.

These are the people that are dangerous to you, your freedoms and those of your children, your right to practice any religion as you please, or none at all. There's not a dime's worth of difference between Osama Bin Laden and, say, Jerry Falwell, not in terms of doctrine or intent.

So let's get rid of both of them, and every other self-appointed moral authority who thinks it's a good thing to use force against those who disagree. It makes little damn difference to me whether the force used is a pipe bomb or a vote-rigging scheme; the intent is just as vicious, just as corrupt and evil.

So let's round them up; the Taliban, Al-Qaeda AND the Corrupt Bastard's Club, put them all in a sack and dump them at the Hague for civilized people to figure out. Of course, until the Hague gets around to it, I believe we could use Gitmo as a holding area, and I bet even Cuba would approve of that irony.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Avoiding Cornered Rat Syndrome.

AlterNet: Bush Fears War Crimes Prosecution and Impeachment: "Congress enacted the War Crimes Act in 1996. That act defines violations of Geneva's Common Article 3 as war crimes. Those convicted face life imprisonment or even the death penalty if the victim dies.

The President is undoubtedly familiar with the doctrine of command responsibility, where commanders, all the way up the chain of command to the commander in chief, can be held liable for war crimes their inferiors commit if the commander knew or should have known they might be committed and did nothing to stop or prevent them.

Bush defensively denied that the United States engages in torture and foreswore authorizing it. But it has been well-documented that policies set at the highest levels of our government have resulted in the torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of U.S. prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo."

Those who are condemning Nancy Pelosi for not screaming for a well-justified and legally supportable impeachment are perhaps forgetting the prime dictum of Sun Tsu: Always allow your enemy the chance to retreat. Of course, in trying to have it both ways, Pelosi may have created the worst of both worlds. But this isn't about Pelosi, really. It's about overall progressive strategy, which should not focus exclusively on the image of the Administration in orange jump-suits being perp walked out of the White House by Interpol agents.

In other words, the President must be left with something to lose. Pelosi is betting that the very distinct possibility of Democrats regaining power will give the President pause. Investigations will of course happen, and very, very likely will be presaged by a general, discreet exit from Washington to parts unknown on the part of functionaries who would prefer not to testify before a Senate subcommittee with subpoena powers.

Of course, enough such people could be found if the President decides to force what could amount to a domestic civil war.

By this point, I'm sure the Administration has quietly investigated the possibility of imposing martial law as a way out of their untenable political situation = and I'm equally sure military and Justice Department sources have informed them that it would, indeed, amount to a civil war - a civil war the Bushites could not decisively win, even given 100 percent loyalty from armed forces, national guard and state and local police.

Given the strong likelihood of a distinct lack of loyalty on the part of much of those forces and given our demonstrated capability to hold a nation the size of Iraq, it becomes an exercise in figuring out the available numbers and comparing those numbers to the potential active and passive resistance, and the potential capability of that resistance.

I don't have enough information to predict scenarios, but I'd presume a few things, such as the practical inability to hold California, and indeed, the entire non-urban southwest, and probably the Pacific Northwest. Nor would I be terribly surprised if the Pacific Fleet decided to either remain above the fray, or decide that geography is destiny. If it did not, possibly the US could maintain control of that area, but it would be at a very high price indeed. Again, insurgent rural areas would be death traps for federal forces. In a practical sense, direct federal control might simply contract to the Mississippi River. But I'd expect a lot of grief from the North-East too.

But that would be a rational assessment, based on the assumption that the President would value the survival of the Union over his own personal and political survival and his ties of personal loyalty to various sponsors and "dead-enders."

I'm not convinced that would be a safe bet, and I sincerely hope that various state and local governments have considered the possibility and done some contingency planning. But obviously, the best possible outcome is no such war, and while I'd love to see the Bush Crew serving time for their various crimes - I'm personally adverse to risking civil war for that sort of satisfaction.

Meanwhile, were I a Bush follower of middling significance - I'd consider very seriously a period of voluntary exile, at least from politics. My caution is often misplaced - but it is the nail that sticks up that gets hammered.

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A gentlemanly rebuke ; Former National Security Czar points out a few foreign-policy considerations.

SPIEGEL Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski: "Victory Would be a Fata Morgana" - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News:

"Brzezinski: ... It is a paradox: During the Cold War, our policy was directed at uniting our friends and dividing our enemies. Unfortunately our tactics today, including occasional Islamphobic language, have the tendency of unifying our enemies and alienating our friends."

A very polite rebuke, but all the more stinging for that, from a man with a pretty fair track record.

The interview is a foreign-policy must-read.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A Bush Supporter Repents.

There comes a time when the desire to believe is exceeded by the price of having believed. One public example of a social and political sea-chage.

McIntyre in the Morning 790 KABC-FM: "Doug's apology


By Doug McIntyre

Host, McIntyre in the Morning

Talk Radio 790 KABC

There’s nothing harder in public life than admitting you’re wrong. By the way, admitting you’re wrong can be even tougher in private life. If you don’t believe me, just ask Bill Clinton or Charlie Sheen. But when you go out on the limb in public, it’s out there where everyone can see it, or in my case, hear it.

So, I’m saying today, I was wrong to have voted for George W. Bush. In historic terms, I believe George W. Bush is the worst two-term President in the history of the country. Worse than Grant. I also believe a case can be made that he’s the worst President, period."

And there's still time for you. The mid-terms are an excellent opportunity to send a message. If you can't stomach the Democratic alternative, vote Libertarian, Green or whoever else shows up. You won't be "wasting your vote" if you do that - the only wasted vote is the one you had the right to cast and didn't.

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9/11 Special Comment - Keith Olbermann

I had read the transcript, but it's just not the same. Now that the fuss has died down a little bit, it should buffer more quickly.

Oh, and once you've watched, give Olbermann a high-five - I mean, if you think he's right.

If you think he's left - that probably isn't news to him, either.

The Word from the Silent Majority.

A T-Shirt I WISH I'd thought of. I may have to get one anyway...

Stop Flinging Poop
some of us are trying to walk.

I've been a "negative partisan" for some time now. I'm much less invested in what I'm "for" because there's so much to be against that must be done away with before a positive process can occur. Nonetheless, it bears thinking about, and what "better" would look like. While I have particular political preferences, I have seen that the political process works best when NO particular political agenda dominates.

Some of the best and most interesting and workable social policies tend to work out when there's dynamic tension between, say, outright socialists and free-market conservatives - because both philosophies concentrate on things the other philosophy has difficulty noticing. So, while being ideological opposites, they actually complement one another and manage rather well in forestalling or fixing the excesses of the other. That's simply one example, and I find that the more viewpoints that exist, well stated and well argued by reasonable people, the better the result.

Now, I would prefer a common sense approach, where everyone simply looks at the facts and the situation and picks the approach that's going to give the best result for the least cost - but that would be reasonable and rational and I've long since resigned myself to the fact that politics and rational behavior have little common ground.

Nonetheless, allowing partisanship to degenerate into a purely visceral process, as we have done, where support has nothing to do with the actual effectiveness or rationality of a party's policies is clearly ... well, it's stupid. And we have been suffering from a fever of stupidity since 1997, or perhaps even 1981.

Now, I'm not actually blaming Republicans for anything other than realizing that appeals to emotion, and in particular, negative emotion would be successful in an electoral sense.

But at some point you have to ask yourself; "what price victory?" If you degrade, demoralize and bankrupt a nation in order to seize and retain power, you probably won't have the power to do more than ride the rotting carcass downhill.

That, arguably, is what is happening, and it has nothing whatsoever with either liberal or conservative values, or indeed the foundational values of Democrats or Republicans. Rather, it is the disease of expediency and corruption, when getting and staying elected is more important than being a responsible and effective representative of the people's interests.

Politics in the United States has become a race to the bottom, and it is no surprise that it is dominated by bottom-feeding scumbags. These days, the polled trust and respect level for a politician is lower than that of personal-injury lawyers, on the level of used car salesmen and carnival barkers. Clearly, it's not unreasonable viewpoint.

However, it's quite possible to have a polite, courteous and effective political process with much more citizen involvement that our current crop of "representatives" are comfortable with; your dear grey neighbors to the North manage quite well. Not only that, they manage to make politics rather entertaining; a fit subject for the evening news and dinner-table discussion. Politicians are expected to answer the hard questions and the opposition party exists to have - and is expected to intelligently present - coherent, useful and understandable criticism. Not "bashing" or "swift-boating;" ultimately, that's a cheap and easy substitute for real, hardball politics.

Take a moment and see the sort of representation you deserve - and have the right to demand. By the by, these happen to be Liberals, that was simply the first result to come up. In my experience, Canadian Conservatives are of equal quality. But then, they have to be, to not get laughted out of Parlement.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A dark milestone indeed.

Today is five years since 9/11. And in a twist of irony, it also marks another turning point....

RJ Eskow: DARK MILESTONE: More Americans Have Now Died In Iraq Than Died On 9/11 - Yahoo! News:

"Today President Bush and his fellow Republicans made another public spectacle out of 9/11, the anniversary of the gravest executive blunder in American history. It's been more than five years since President Bush told the
CIA officer trying to warn him about the upcoming attacks that 'you've covered your ass now,' and then went off to enjoy his vacation day.

'War is a cowardly escape from the problems of peace,' said Thomas Mann. The real struggle we face is preventing terrorism. The GOP's escapist distraction in Iraq has proven deadlier than the real business at hand."


Carter To Bush: "Stop playing with the alligators and drain the damn swamp"

Jack Carter Comments on 9/11 Anniversary | Jack Carter for Senate: "Jack Carter Comments on 9/11 Anniversary
Submitted by Sarah R Carter on Mon, 2006-09-11 17:51.

September 11, 2006

Jack Carter, the Democratic nominee for United States Senate from Nevada, is joining with his fellow Americans in remembering the attack on America five years ago today.

“We must remember the thousands of innocent victims of the Al Qaeda attack on America, not only on this fifth anniversary of that fateful day, but every day,” Carter says. “We must keep in the forefront of our military efforts the fight against the enemy that attacked us and the militant fundamentalism that Al Qaeda represents. Our ultimate responsibility to the 9/11 victims and their families is to wage a successful war on those directly responsible for their deaths.”

Jack Carter’s condition “continues to improve,” according to Dr. Edward Nathan, a family friend and one of the physicians treating the candidate at Summerlin Hospital in Las Vegas."

Kieth Olbermann's 9/11 Message to Bush: "Who has left this hole in the ground?"

When we are scolded, that if we merely question, we have "forgotten the lessons of 9/11"… look into this empty space behind me and the bi-partisanship upon which this administration also did not build, and tell me:
Who has left this hole in the ground?
We have not forgotten, Mr. President.
You have.
May this country forgive you.

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I Told You So, Mr. Bush: My 9/11 Memorial.

Bob King - FirewheelVortex (firewheelvortex) wrote in paradigmshifter,
@ 2001-09-19 18:11:00

I wrote the following just after 9/11, while the rubble was still smoking. It's disturbing to see how correct I was in that moment.

Maybe this time, someone will pay attention.

But hell, I'm just an aspy. I obviously don't grasp the damage to the social fabric, or the visceral need to go and kill someone, anyone, whether or not they had anything to do with this. Forgive my impatient foot tapping as you persist in flapping helplessly, achieving nothing at great length.

The Grand Old Flag and all that.
I'm having an aspy moment. In fact, I've been having an aspy moment ever since the rubble of the World Trade Center stopped tumbling.

I'm tying to figure out how posting flags on every available surface and hanging them from every crossbar, antenna and flagpole is supposed to achieve anything.

It sure appears that everyone is convinced it will, and anywhere will do. Around Reno, someone has figured out that you can print flags out with your computer, and someone slapped one on the apartment's dumpster.

I think that's in very surreal taste.

I'm completely baffled by the consensus that I should be emotionally devastated by the deaths of so many people and the blow to our national prestige.

Well I'm an aspy who's spent a lot of time out of the country. I'm not emotionally affected... and I assure you, rumors of our national prestige have been wildly exaggerated!

That shouldn't be a shocking revelation. If we were universally loved and respected, people wouldn't be diving airliners into our landmark architecture.

You don't see people dive-bombing Canada. Of all the aspects of American Culture that the Taliban and other funnymentalist Islamic splinters revile, Canada is every bit as gleefully guilty. Hell, it's not even illegal for women to go topless in public in Canada, in the aftermath of a Charter of Rights ruling. You can just see Ayatollah eyeballs bleeding at that concept. And in terms of enforcing social conformity and family values on the general population - well, Canada is utterly delinquent, much to the impotent frustration of the DEA.

Yep, the interdiction of that Demon Weed, Marijuana is not exactly a high priority of Canadian police agencies. And that sort of lax response to moral turpitude is something that convinces the self-righteous that God or Allah will rain retribution upon the offending culture.

But for the most part, they are indeed content to leave such things TO Allah.

On the other hand, Canada doesn't routinely fire cruse missiles at people in the fond belief that it's a solution to a complex foreign policy issue.

The peculiar American delusion that one can rain death from a great height and not gain enemies thereby is somewhat baffling to me; it seems an obvious violation of common sense, however justified such "big stick" actions are.

"Justifiable" does not mean that those ducking the shrapnel are going to be suddenly struck by the irrefutable reason of our diplomatic position. If they were, it wouldn't have been necessary to deliver a stiff diplomatic cruise missile.

But whatever I think of American foreign policy, it doesn't follow that diving airplanes into buildings is a reasonable, appropriate or defensible thing to do.

Anybody who thinks I'm attempting to justify such an act is utterly mistaken. I do, however, think it's wise to at least attempt to understand it; the motivations for it and the context it exists in, just for the sake of self-preservation.

But the national psyche seems to support any number of bizarre and inexplicable assumptions.

Today, a man said on national television that those who are not overwhelmed by grief at the untimely end of thousands of unrelated strangers is emotionally disturbed and should seek treatment. And one is tempted to nod until you realize that no one would suggest that the entire nation should be so paralyzed with grief at the passing of an equal number of Chinese in an earthquake. It would be tragic, it would noted, we'd contribute money and dry socks to the rescue efforts - and then we'd get on with our lives.

More directly and relevantly - where were the candlelight vigils for the civilian victims of the aerial assault on Baghdad? Whatever you thought of it, whether you felt it a justifiable and necessary act, no matter how unavoidable those civilian casualties were - still. Why were we not moved? How can we justify being horrified now, if we were not then?

The fact that the US military moved heaven and earth to avoid civilian casualties and managed to do so up to the limits imposed by physics, intelligence and human perversity is beside the point. If every corpse in the World Trade center is worth a bio on CNN, SO WERE THEY.

And while it was not precisely a terrorist act, certainly the idea that we were "sending a message" was an integral part of the exercise.

Personally, I was not moved at all. And after the sheer, overwhelming surprise wore off, I was not moved by this, even though a distant cousin I'd never met perished in one of the planes.

My response seems to be purely intellectual, and from an intellectual viewpoint, I can see the argument for launching cruise missiles at Baghdad - considering the Scuds raining on the whole region and the Iraqi attack on Kuwait. The fact that our national motivations were not entirely idealistic dosen't bother me. Our government’s JOB is to pursue our national advantage. That includes securing an oil supply. If that happens to congrue with our national ideals, O happy day! And it did, very much so. And that's aside from treaty obligations.

But still, I don't see why a dead US citizen should be regretted more than the deaths of strangers who have the misfortune of living in a tyranny with opposing agendas. But it's apparently supposed to be, for "normal" people.

So in order to be "normal," I have to place myself in a disordered, irrational mental state that prohibits me from thinking clearly or doing anything useful about the situation.

Well, I'm not normal, and thank God. I'd think that at times like this, we could profit by having more like me manning vital functions while all the normal people make utter inconveniences of themselves.

I don't see how being paralyzed with grief, racked by irrational fear and plunged into depression is going to help anyone, any more than wearing a red, white and blue jockstrap is going to do one single thing to combat world terrorism.

I would like to see a lot less patriotic posturing and a lot more serious thought about what can be done to prevent such things from occurring while at the same time, how to do that without turning ourselves into a repressive police state. That's real patriotism. It's an expensive habit, real patriotism. Ask any of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. At the end, those that weren't dead were mostly broke.

Real patriotism takes a deal more commitment than printing out a stack of flags, sticking them up randomly and sighing with contentedness at how much of a Real American you are.

What it demands an unemotional determination to do what it takes, while maintaining our Republican principles. (Some would say Democratic principles. That's another cultural myth. This has never been a democracy. It's a republic. That's a significantly different thing.)

Irrational patriotic fervor will not help and will likely lead to yet an exponential increase in the number of our live enemies, instead of what we actually want - a smallish smoking hole filled with thoroughly dead ones, communicating the global impression that a policy of terror against us is not just a bad idea - it's an absolutely fatal bad idea.

I refer you to what happened to the terrorists that killed the Israeli Olympic team at the 72 Olympics. The Mossad tracked each of them down and killed every one of them. There have been terrorist acts against Israeli citizens since - but none like that.

This can only be achieved by a very clear view of the ends and a diamond-hard determination that the means must be measured, appropriate, and applied with total commitment.

It will take a great deal of time to do this. It's complicated, messy and it will be unavoidably bloody. The world at large is convinced that the United States is willing to do whatever it takes - so long as it doesn't take more than six months, result in any actual casualties, raise their taxes or affect their lifestyle in any way.

So far, I see no evidence this perception is inaccurate to any significant degree.

That is exactly why the terrorists think they can get away with this - they are convinced that the United States simply does not have the attention span to allow any other outcome.

We had best decide to disabuse them, or this will continue. And next time, it might be a building you are in, or even a city.

We also have to face something else - that this particular conflict arises out of an irreconcilable ideological difference. It's not something we can defuse with gifts, bribes, apologies or even the removal of key figures in the terrorist community.

Ultimately, there IS no rational solution to this situation because the fundamental worldviews of the opposing sites are utterly, starkly and completely incompatible; the two systems cannot co-exist. The means why which western culture would use to destroy the Islamic Fundamentalist Movement don't involve bombs and guns; they are nonetheless as destructive of that culture as a rain of atomic weapons on us would be.

Indeed, more so.

And it's a good thing, too, because it's an evil culture that should be eradicated, root and branch.

Those who are aware of the world outside of the Lower 48 have been warning of the increasing threat of religious fundamentalism in general and Islamic fundamentalism in particular.

In ironic illustration of this, Jerry Falwell made a statement that any Ayatollah would agree with.

"RICHMOND, Va., Sept. 18 ? The Rev. Jerry Falwell has apologized for saying God had allowed terrorists to attack America because of the work of civil liberties groups, abortion rights supporters and feminists. Falwell said his comments were ill-timed, insensitive and divisive at a time of national mourning. President Bush had called the minister’s statement inappropriate."

You note that he didn't say he'd changed his mind; he just apologized for bad timing.

But believe you me, while the Ayatollahs and Mullahs may disagree with Jerry about certain abstract theological issues, boy, they sure do agree about the proper fate of faggots and loose women. They certainly agree that religion should have the right to enforce "proper" behavior, even on those who don't share the beliefs that would make sense of those behaviors.

If Jerry had his way - we'd be stoning "harlots" and "apostates" in the street too.

Think on that.

Think on the logical danger of permitting that degree of delusional self-righteousness to take on the form of a government. Realize what sort of threat that is to EVERY person of EVERY belief EVERYWHERE... and then realize what needs doing. It's not something we can afford to tolerate; not a movement that we can allow to spread.

The fundamentalism - stupid and irrational as it is - THAT we must tolerate. It's the idea that it may permissibly be enforced on those who do not share those beliefs is what must be eliminated from the world consciousness.

It's that paradigm that has prevented any widespread outrages against the large Islamic communities in the United States in particular and the West in general. Contrast that against your survival chances as an identifiable Westerner in the general vicinity of whatever happens next, folks.

Maybe you can't do anything personally about Middle Eastern terrorists - but you can speak against the sort of mindset that exists here that would do the same here and HAS done it, in Oklahoma City, Selma, Alabama and at abortion clinics across the nation.

The idea that anyone has the right to enforce a moral standard or ideological belief through terror cannot be tolerated.

It's not an idea that can be combated selectively and conveniently; it's far too fundamental. It has come down to a choice. This is, if you like, Armageddon; The Place of Decision.

So decide.

So the next time you see hate speech, do something. The next time you hear someone advocating violence against others based on their beliefs, sexual orientation or gender,

You think there's any fundamental difference between Operation Rescue, the KKK, Bader-Meinhoff, the Red Brigade or Islamic Jihad? They all believe passionately in their causes; they are (or were) willing to die to further it. Now, that's reasonable. It's even laudable to be willing to die for a belief.

Being willing to kill innocent (or at least, uninvolved) persons in wholesale lots in order to terrify the surviving masses into compliance with an agenda - that's just plain evil.

It must not be allowed EVEN IF YOU AGREE with their goals. No matter HOW urgent, how imperative it is. If your cause is not such that passionate speech will not serve to sway the majority - it could just be that you are passionately and sincerely wrong.

That's what the marketplace of ideas is for, what freedom of speech and freedom of the press is intended to ensure; that ideas are fully tested before they are implemented as social policy.

We can see what happens in cultures where this doesn't happen. Not only are they generally tyrannies, they are dusty, repressive, broke and BORING tyrannies.

We must also embrace that ideal as a national policy. The US government has, from time to time, thought it appropriate to "support freedom" by supplying "freedom fighters" in their struggles against... well, usually something that will cost us money or prestige.

We have to stop doing that, if for no other reason than an easily documented history of this shortsighted policy biting us on the butt.

The Taliban is just the LATEST example of "heroic freedom fighters" that suddenly became terrorists when they decided we were legitimate targets. Understand that their motivations and means haven’t changed in the slightest - just their point of aim.

The Viet Minh, The Chinese Red Army and the Cuban patriots of the Bay of Pigs have all managed to inconvenience us. And that's just from this century. It's taken the South over a century to live down Quantrell.

You would think someone in Langley, VA might have gotten a clue by now, but since that is apparently not the case, you might wish to write your Congresscritter about your concerns - and suggest that more attention to the long term effects of foreign policy is NOT incompatible with their responsibilities for packing the pork in barrels and shipping it home.

In light of the likely costs of "Americas New War," I'd say that a little more attention would have been cheap at nearly any price.

But hell, I'm just an aspy. I obviously don't grasp the damage to the social fabric, or the visceral need to go and kill someone, anyone, whether or not they had anything to do with this. Forgive my impatient foot tapping as you persist in flapping helplessly, achieving nothing at great length.

But if I hear one more person say that this outpouring of patriotism has Strengthened Our Great Nation, I may just puke.

I'm not hanging any damn flag, going to any candlelight vigils or indulging in any other pointless exercises that are intended to promote the sort of emotional solidarity I'm mentally incapable of feeling.

But I do see the utility of meaningful gestures.

Click Here and donate to the Red Cross.

---note from later ---

Actually, don't donate the the Red Cross. The last five years have shown it to be a dubious resource at best.

tag: george w. bush, miserable failure, 9/11, ground zero, aspy, aspergers, five years after, terrorism, World Trade Center, Al-Queda, Taliban, Afganistan, Iraq, religious fundamentalism, clash of cultures, clash of civilizations, seperation of church and state.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Limited Edition Corrupt Bastard Club Designs

The latest items from GraphicDesign go to supporting Jack Carter's Campaign and deriding the Corrupt Bastards Club.

Corrupt Bastards Club

Corrupt Bastards Club
Campaign Related Gear.

It's gone in sixty days; proceeds go to Electing Jack Carter to the Senate.

Proud Non-Member CBC

Proud Non-Member CBC
Jack, he's not that sort of 'joiner'.

tag: , , , , , , , ,

Jimmy Carter stands in for Ailing Jack

There's your family values! Get well soon, Jack!
Publish Post
Posts by Sarah R Carter | Jack Carter for Senate: "September 10, 2006

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA -- The 39th President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, delighted the crowd as a surprise guest speaker this afternoon at the Fiestas Patrias (Mexican Independence Day Festival) at Freedom Park in Las Vegas.

President Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter arrived in Las Vegas this morning to visit their son at Summerlin Hospital, where he is recovering from complications from severe colitis. However, by midday, Jack Carter – the Democratic nominee for United States Senator – was responding well enough to treatment that his father felt comfortable leaving his bedside to speak on Jack’s behalf.

The President – accompanied by his grandson, Jason Carter -- addressed the crowd in Spanish, urging those who haven’t already done so to register and then to vote in this fall’s election. He directed members of the largely-Hispanic audience to a tent at the festival at which they could conveniently register.

Later, President Carter told reporters that his son’s campaign is not deterred by his illness, and that Jack is eager to resume campaigning. The President said, “The campaign is well organized.” He added that he is upbeat about his son’s chances in the November 7th election.

“Jack’s opponent has been among the most subservient members of the United States Senate,” President Carter said, pointing to John Ensign’s voting record, which is in nearly-total support of Bush administration policies.

While President Carter ‘stood in’ for his son at this afternoon’s festival, Jack visited with his mother and other family members and also watched a football game from his hospital bed, according to Dr. Edward Nathan, a family friend and one of the doctors overseeing Jack’s care. “Jack continues to respond well to treatment,” Dr. Nathan said.

Torturing the Truth: CBS News's Meyr calls Bush Liar

"I've said to people we don't torture. And we don't." Bush said. His statement here is beyond doublespeak and above spin. It's untrue, it's egregious. The Pentagon's backhanded, long-delayed and uncourageous acknowledgment that torture was used also repudiated what the president has been telling citizens for years.

read more | digg story

FBI seeks truth, CIA seeks Bush-Mandated pretexts.

Or at least, that's what this NYT article suggests to me about the inter-agency disputes over interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, the first Osama bin Laden follower captured by US forces post 9/11.

At a Secret Interrogation, Dispute Flared Over Tactics - New York Times: "President Bush pointedly cited the capture and interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah in his speech last Wednesday announcing the transfer of Mr. Zubaydah and 13 others to the American detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. And he used it to call for ratification of the tough techniques employed in the questioning.

But rather than the smooth process depicted by Mr. Bush, interviews with nearly a dozen current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials briefed on the process show, the interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah was fraught with sharp disputes, debates about the legality and utility of harsh interrogation methods, and a rupture between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the C.I.A. that has yet to heal.

Some of those interviewed offered sharply contrasting accounts, but all said that the disagreements were intense. More than four years later, these disputes are foreshadowing the debate that Mr. Bush’s new proposals are meeting in Congress, as lawmakers wrangle about what rules should apply as terrorism suspects are captured, questioned and, possibly, tried before military tribunals."


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