Friday, March 07, 2008

The Fix Is In - Or is it?

I don't know about you, but I've had a problem with this election for some time, and it's an issue that is not so much with the apparent campaigns and the apparent candidates, but rather a growing suspicion that neither you nor I will be permitted a choice, and that "they" don't much care if we figure it out or not. I feel as if this has become political theater and the masses are requred to attend - in mute affirmation of a decision already made quite outside of any apparent party affiliation.

When it seems more likely that less obvious affiliations - like the Council on Foreign Relations or Skull and Bones - count for as much or more as overt support within a political party earned by hard work and honest passion, I start to wonder.

And I have cause to wonder about all the remaining candidates, in that regard, save Paul, who's been left in as he will provide some appearance of democratic process on the Republican side.

Of course, I've long harbored a jaded view of the actuality of democratic process within the Republican camp - it is very much a top-down group. But now it appears that even being a member of the overt hierarchy, of being in a position of apparent influence and power within a state or national party organization might just be a fond illusion.

Former NM Gov. Dave Cargo seems to be finding out that not only has the rule book been put aside, that many younger members of the NM party are unaware that there are rules, that do apply to them and that violations of these "silly rules" are actual felonies that even WHITE people could go to jail for. My God, even White Republicans!

I'll let Brad of the Brad Blog catch you up on the latest Republican scandal. Suffice it to say that there isn't even any evidence to suggest that those involved - and it involves media, a Senate candidate and high party officials - seem to have any idea that there are ethical lapses here that are serious enough that one should at LEAST be aware of in the breach. But it seems that they really do not think there is anything wrong at all with packing a convention with paid shills in order to come out with the "right" candidates - instead of the candidate that would have been seated by actual grass-roots activists.

They don't see a problem with that; the only comment has been something to the effect that "it's not illegal," although the state AG appears to have a divergent opinion in that regard.

But even if it turns out that a state party can run it's operations any way it chooses and pick candidates any way it likes... well, ethics are not an abstract, feel-good guideline to how to be a nice person. Ethics are a guide to living in a crowd of other humans without causing them to decide that your skin would be of much greater utility as a tasteful handbag.

I don't much care if various republicans and democrats have made willing bargains with The Forces of Evil, thinking they don't really need a soul all that much, and they would have gone to hell anyhow for all that masturbation. Ethics is about consequences in the real, in the here and the now. Surprisingly enough, it doesn't matter all that much whether you think that by controlling law enforcement and the courts that you are immune.

All you do is diffuse the consequences so that they splash about onto everyone around you. And sooner or later, the very people being used to shield you from the consequences of your actions become the agents of consequence. Oh, and since they have been raised up by such ruthless examples, the fall will be harder than an honest acceptance of responsibility would have been. I, Claudius is instructive in this regard.

There is another aspect of human nature that is not well appreciated - at least in this context. Anyone who's had a young child underfoot knows it immediately, though. People, at root, do not like getting away with stuff they should not be able to get away with, much less being put in a position where they have to "look the other way" or even participate in things they know to be wrong just to stay within their peer group or keep their job.

At some point, a constant presumption upon the forgiving nature of others for your efforts "on their behalf" or "for the cause" will backfire, and it's one of those things where a sudden cascade effect may be expected. There are enough whistle blowers and leakers now that they have apperently started their own professional organization!

I was almost surprised that only 7 of 9 core activists left the party. But then, I suppose I shouldn't be; I've been asking myself for years a rhetorical question regarding all the arrant bullshit from the wingnut right - "how stupid do you have to be to believe this?"

I say that as someone who is neurologically biased toward conservatism and who is passionately in favor of a nice, stable, predictable status quo ante. I'm on the Autistic Spectrum, and I hate change.

But on the other hand, that means that just about every other reflexive conservative I've ever met, I LIKE rules. I EXPECT fair play. I assume the rules are there for a good reason unless there's some reason to think they aren't. Finding that only those who write the rules profit from their application - by others - caused me to return to first principles and start evolving my own.

I take a very dim view of folks who think rules are for the other guy and snicker at all the "suckers" who believe that "fairy tale" stuff. It is not without some personal satisfaction that I see the political structure of this nation collapsing around the ears of those who thought themselves entitled to rule us by virtue of their willingness to abandon all standards of decency and all obligations to their constituencies if it led to a moment's advantage or an extra nickel in their political war chest.

It's somewhat disturbing, though, to see what happens when candidates forget themselves - like McCain has done from time to time - and act as if they were the persons of integrity they once aspired to be. It's amusing to see how suddenly and how hard their chains are jerked, how quickly and publicly they are forced to correct the impression that they might just have backbones and thoughts that diverge from the party line. One could almost feel sorry... but...

Sir; once you are a "made man," you are a made man for life.

Those who think I'm only talking about Republicans would be sadly mistaken. Of course, one could observe that the current Democratic Party is more accurately the Clinton Wing of the Republican party. It's snarky on my part to observe that Ms. Clinton is by far the best NeoLiberal in the race.

But now that Murdoch's media start shoving Clinton down my throat when I'd expect lascivious reporting on every "Swift Boat" style attack, I find myself reluctant to accept someone the establishment media wants me to support.

Aside from the politics, aside from the greed, aside from the corruption, the war-mongering, the killing and the lies, all things that I despise as a matter of principle, the thing that really works my last nerve is the sheer arrogance displayed, the amazing contempt this sort of thing shows for the average American voter, and the more they get away with and the longer they get away with it, the more obvious it gets.

And I'm afraid it's a fine bi-partisan contempt in many ways. Everyone in Washington, on either side has more interests in common with each other than they have with the people that supposedly employ them.

I'm starting to feel that it's coming up to one of those moments in history where the great majority are pretty much willing to roll the dice.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Never Dicksize a Lesbian!

This is the first time I've ever created a t-shirt to illustrate someone else's blog!

Amanda writes at Pandagon:

I celebrated the new-found legality of female masturbation in the state of Texas. One should never underestimate the lengths to which wingnuts will go to control female sexuality. The Texas AG Greg Abbott, who apparently has nothing better to do than to separate women from their dildos, has asked the 5th Circuit Court to rehear the sex toy case.

I’m trying to imagine the mindset of a man who doesn’t realize that when you try to take dildos away from women, basically everyone with a brain and/or a sense of humor is going to assume it’s because you’re afraid you can’t handle the competition.

It's the commentators who take it over the top and down the other side into the "enemy trenches." So to speak.

The depth of penetrating analysis had me rolling in the aisles, and a phrase that's been kicking around my head for ages had to be used.

I have no idea whether Amanda is a lesbian, by the by. It's simply a truism that those who would not laugh until they pee at this post, and of course Texas by extention, probably assumes so.

And that's where the funny lives. (click for punchline)

Siegelman and Scrushy - Tip of the Iceburg?

Alternet: Going to Jail for Being a Democrat: How Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman Got Roved
By Paul Craig Roberts, CounterPunch.

The frame-up of Siegelman and businessman Richard Scrushy is so crystal clear and blatant that 52 former state attorney generals from across America, both Republicans and Democrats, have urged the US Congress to investigate the Bush administration's use of the US Department of Justice to rid themselves of a Democratic governor who "they could not beat fair and square," according to Grant Woods, former Republican Attorney General of Arizona and co-chair of the McCain for President leadership committee. Woods says that he has never seen a case with so "many red flags pointing to injustice."

The abuse of American justice by the Bush administration in order to ruin Siegelman is so crystal clear that even the corporate media organization CBS allowed "60 Minutes" to broadcast on February 24, 2008, a damning indictment of the railroading of Siegelman. Extremely coincidental "technical difficulties" caused WHNT, the CBS station covering the populous northern third of Alabama, to go black during the broadcast. The station initially offered a lame excuse of network difficulties that CBS in New York denied. The Republican-owned print media in Alabama seemed to have the inside track on every aspect of the prosecution's case against Siegelman. You just have to look at their editorials and articles following the 60 Minutes broadcast to get a taste of what counts for "objective journalism" in their mind.
The story itself bears so much similarity to so many other stories that it seems almost routine. It took a few of the comments to make me realize that suddenly "Dog bites Man" is genuine news.

The news is that "plausible deniablity" is off the table. We now know that when "Dog bites Man," it's almost always the same goddamn dog - just as we always suspected.

The Internet, the web and other emerging peer-to-peer connections are a staggering intelligence advantage to ordinary people, and a freakin' nightmare to those who would prefer to keep citizens "Mushroomed;" eg, "Kept in the dark and fed bullshit."

The Internet, the web, and now the various social media of "web 2.0" are a freaking godsend for people like me who justify their existence by making connections between apparently unrelated things. While the implications of it trouble civil libertarians when they contemplate how potentially troublesome data mining linkages could be, it's a fact that this particular phenomenon is at least as dangerous to those who would abuse their authority than to those they might find "dirt" on to abuse.

This case is fascinating evidence of that phenomenon. Not only do we have evidence of abuse, but clear and damning evidence pointing to a systematic cover-up.

It wasn't all that long ago that the assassinations of Robert and Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King and probably others were undertaken without any blow-back to those who set it up, or conclusive evidence pointing to who was responsible.

Back in the day, it only took a few judicious threats here and there, and the ominous, but truthful observation; "Who ya gonna tell?"

The answer today is "the whole goddamn world, and whatcha gonna do about it?" There are people alive today -Sibel Edmonds leaps to mind - who probably would have perished suddenly and quietly fifteen or twenty years ago.

The problem for those who start thinking in that way is this: There is no way to shut up a whistle-blower these days without significant and persuasive notice being taken. And if the implications of data-mining for connections between ordinary individuals may be troubling to ordinary individuals - imagine what the very idea does to the sphincters of people with connections to Karl Rove.

You see, this is one of those ideas that could have gotten me put in a quiet padded room somewhere very private, back in the day, just for pointing it out. But I hardly need to point it out, it's obvious, it's inevitable and it's already happening. The internet is a powerful and absolutely magnificent tool for individuals who need to evaluate the reliability of various information sources.

In "free and open societies" such as our own, a newspaper can be scrupulous about their journalistic standards and still be corrupt as all hell. There are probably three or four stories a year that are of critical importance - and if a paper sits on those stories, it's even better than publishing lies.

Well, that reality actually ended in the mid-eighties, when the Internet became a flood of information, and a way to reality-check information cheaply and reliably. What was first the tool of the hardwired geek intelligencia is now available to anyone with the cash to pick up a second-hand computer. If you are the slightest bit interested in data security, it's pretty darned easy to hide your tracks.

What this new reality amounts to is a means by which the average person can have access to the sort of information that William Casey would have sacrificed his left nut and his first-born to get his hands on - if he could have kept it to himself.

Indeed, that was J. Edgar Hoover's secret to power - files that contained dirt on everyone of significance in positions of power both public and private. Well, of course Rove has taken that tactic to heart - but the fact that he has done it is so clearly obvious to people in a position to "connect the dots" that it significantly erodes the effect.

For instance, ten years ago, even five years ago, Nancy Pelosi may well have gotten away with saying "impeachment is off the table." Anyone who disagreed and could object meaningfully would have no ability to do much of anything about it.

But by now there is some point to saying aloud that "taking impeachment off the table" made no goddamn sense politically or strategically when it's in the absolute best interest of honest Democrats to remove corrupt Republicans from power before they can fix the next election.

It makes sense to say that some combination of stupidity, incompetence and blackmail must account for the difference between implied promises in 2006 and delivered results in time for 2009 have significant and troubling implications.

The web hasn't eliminated smoke-filled back rooms where deals are made between politicians and "the people that matter." What it has done is put a live webcam in there, so we can see that the people in those smoke-filled rooms aren't any smarter, better informed or more high-minded than your average gas-station attendant or insurance agent.

We always had the right and the responsibility to oversee them. Now we have the practical capacity to do so; yes, that is bi-partisan urine trickling down their legs.

Oh - and by the by, what's true here in the US is true everywhere there is a robust Internet. So, pretty much, that means everywhere. The implications for the Taliban, for Norway, for China and Russia are all the same - there's no way of keeping "internal matters" internal, there's no way of ensuring that they don't end up on the front pages of their own media and blogs and there's no way of erasing every single trace of corrupt dealings.

Come to think of it, consider the implications of the internet in an honor society like Pakistan, where it becomes impossible to hide the private dealings of "men of the world."

It's a good way to get a private enterprise rocket grenade enema.

Nor is there any effective way of restricting access to that information without killing off their own economy. Now, some regimes don't give much of a crap about that - but that doesn't mean they can absolutely ensure that their citizenry will obey, when disobedience is so very profitable in so very many ways.

And it's also true of the United Nations, and stuffy old NGO's like the Red Cross. If it hadn't been for the web, I doubt they would have gotten so righteously hammered as they did in Canada, where the government took away their control over the blood supply after it turned out that they had willfully neglected to screen blood plasma for HIV - because it would have been "too expensive." That piece of data became widely known - along with another damning number - their overhead ate up 80 cents of every dollar donated. As I recall, - though it's only a vague recollections - it was a combination of hemophilia advocates who had been tracking this that brought it to national attention, but they did it by way of the internet, skipping the historical process of having to find someone to call who could do something and might be persuaded to do so.

Essentially, what has occurred is this: the web advantages people who deal honestly and who either have no skeletons in their closets, or who use them as festive decor while chuckling gleefully. It has made it clear that those who have invested a lot in appearing to have nothing to hide are less worrisome and more likely to screw you over than those who, say, like dressing up in rubber and don't much care about what "decent people" might think.

The average person is now capable of getting enough information to compete intellectually abd even strategically with "the people who matter," because we also have the ability to collaborate to mutual advantage at minimal cost.

Conservatives decry Wikipedia, for instance, because it's not "definitive," that it is "unreliable," and it's possible to insert innacurate information.

All of this is true - but what they don't comprehend is that the distinction between Wikipedia and, say, The World Book is that you can tell who's fingerprints are on which bit of information.

It's true that you can insert inaccuracies - but the act of doing so is information in it's own right; more compelling than the misinformation. Further, the process by which Wikipedia is self-policed tends to give extra validity to articles that have become stable and uncontested.

Compare that to the editorial policy of The Brittanica or Groliers.

Oh, wait. You can't.

So how do we know they have equal or higher standards, as is alleged by conservative sources?

They say so. Very authoritatively. And to the extent that you would have been able to check, that would be true, back in the day. The problem is, that makes you tend to rely on the accuracy of things you cannot check. And that is where the money is.

Go ahead, look up Armenian Genocide in three or four different encyclopedias.

Now go to Wikipedia. I don't actually know what it says - but I know that it will come from more perspectives than the "authoritative" sources, and the comments section will be more fun than "All My Children" and "Project Runway" put together.

History and culture is no longer defined by the victors, or by those who believe they are the "winners" in our society. Everybody gets their fifteen seconds - and it's archived by keyword on You-Tube forever.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

In the matter of O'Reilly v. Godwin

Media Matters - O'Reilly: No escaping "the similarities between what Hitler ... did back then and the hate-filled blogs, what they're doing": "O'Reilly: No escaping 'the similarities between what Hitler ... did back then and the hate-filled blogs, what they're doing'

Summary: On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly responded to a viewer's letter -- criticizing O'Reilly for a 'lapse of judgment' regarding his statement that he did not 'see any difference between [Huffington Post founder Arianna] Huffington and the Nazis' -- by defending the statement. O'Reilly said: 'If you look back at what happened in Germany, you cannot escape the similarities between what Hitler and his cutthroats did back then and the hate-filled blogs, what they're doing now.'"

Yep. they both explore concepts and advocate positions that Bill cannot comprehend, due to his complete, willful ignorance.

In ordinary discourse, of course, it is considered to be a norm that a gratuitous comparison of a critic to Nazis amounts to a concession of the total argument.

Goddess, it becomes so damn embarrassing to even admit the slightest tendancy toward Conservatism in any way, on any matter, for fear of being confused with the mouth-breathing lickspittles that watch his show. But then I remember what the rest of the world calls much of what we think of as NeoConservatism.

Then I feel better.

Yet one more reason I don't regret being Aspie.

Everyone is for free speech, as long as the speaker sounds like them.
 blog it
I feel her pain - well, no, not really. And thank Ghu for that.

"I have stayed away from clipmarks from a while, in order to facilitate a more balanced life. I stopped visiting for awhile when I noticed some folks were taking my own opinions to be critiques of them almost personally. This scared me. It said to me that they and I were spending too much time here.

Need some real world connection ... when we care more about our invisible friends than the person next door or next to you in the bookstore, it is time to check reality.

We don't know each other on clipmarks we only know a portion of the person behind the keyboard. We know what they clip, not who they are."

Click thru and read the comments though; this is one of those "thinkers" I inflict upon y'all from time to time.


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