Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hey, Gov. Ventura; is that a 2X or a 3X?

Sometimes this stuff just writes itself.
Raw Story » Ventura: I’ll waterboard Hannity into saying Obama best president ever: "The former Navy SEAL said he’d relish an opportunity to waterboard Hannity, a procedure he endured himself during military training: “I’ll bet him a thousand bucks that I can get him to say ‘Barack Obama is the greatest president’ — if I get him to say it, he’ll give the thousand to charity and if I can’t, I’ll give the money to charity.”"
Actually, that's my problem. When crap like this goes on, and it has to be pointed out and explained and argued about as to whether water boarding is really torture or, Ghu forbid, the even worse, "yeah, so it's torture, but 9/11!"

It makes me wonder aloud what the point is. Those that get it, get it. Those that do not - perhaps it might make more sense to them AFTER the karma train comes rolling through their state of mind.

But then, I realize that it has, several times, and no luck so far.

And then I learn, that as a member of the "media" - peripherally and grudgingly - I'm the problem!

A new report for a leading neoconservative group that pushes a belligerent "Israel first" agenda of conquest in the Middle East suggests that in future wars the U.S. should make censorship of media official policy and advocates "military attacks on the partisan media" (via MuzzleWatch). The report for JINSA, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, was authored by retired U.S. Army Col. Ralph Peters. It appears in JINSA's "flagship publication," The Journal of International Security Affairs. "Today, the United States and its allies will never face a lone enemy on the battlefield. There will always be a hostile third party in the fight," Peters writes, calling the media "the killers without guns."

"Of course, the media have shaped the outcome of conflicts for centuries, from the European wars of religion through Vietnam. More recently, though, the media have determined the outcomes of conflicts. While journalists and editors ultimately failed to defeat the U.S. government in Iraq, video cameras and biased reporting guaranteed that Hezbollah would survive the 2006 war with Israel and, as of this writing, they appear to have saved Hamas from destruction in Gaza. ...

"Although it seems unthinkable now, future wars may require censorship, news blackouts, and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media. Perceiving themselves as superior beings, journalists have positioned themselves as protected-species combatants. But freedom of the press stops when its abuse kills our soldiers and strengthens our enemies. Such a view arouses disdain today, but a media establishment that has forgotten any sense of sober patriotism may find that it has become tomorrow's conventional wisdom.

"The point of all this is simple: Win. In warfare, nothing else matters. If you cannot win clean, win dirty. But win. Our victories are ultimately in humanity's interests, while our failures nourish monsters."

Indeed they do. Monsters just such as this. And the only "humanity" they tolerate is their own kind - and so long as they follow the age-old trade of death, horror, madness, revenge and retribution. Do you wonder what sort of person would consider such "victories" to be in "humanity's interest?"

I don't need to. But see above.

Conservative radio hosts gets waterboarded, lasts 6 seconds

Chicago's conservative radio host Erich "Mancow" Muller decided he'd get himself waterboarded to prove the technique wasn't torture. Turns out, he was wrong.

read more | digg story

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bob Altemeyer; The Authoritarians

There are many books one should have read, but of course has not due to questions of money, access or the fact that they are so intractably dull that they are inaccessible. Books of this sort seem traditionally to be given press runs of three hundred or so, destined to be buried safely in academic libraries, where it can be safely assumed that those who do have access can be trusted to not make use of the insights contained therein to upset any apple-carts.

Academia and most academics are, after all, entirely dependent upon the status quo ante; it hardly requires great degrees of coercion to inspire a little caution regarding the danger of getting crosswise of cultural preconceptions.

Those dangers are very real, of long and noble vintage, have manifested in various ugly ways, and frankly, have have caused a prejudice among the educated classes that is as strong - and far better informed - than the violent anti-intellectual bigotry that informed it.

I'm not claiming one side is better than the other - and that requires of me some tooth gritting. It's more important to observe that such social divisions serve agendas that limit the freedom and intelligence of each "class" and that a primary tool this end is to encourage each of it's superiority and reinforce each group's certainty that life would be better if only "those people" "over there" would simply disappear. Divide and conquer is one of the oldest tricks of authoritarian rule.

We must try to overcome those views, even while admitting that each and all perspectives have some essential truths to them, or they would not have such power over us.

Bob Altemeyer chose a direction that is delightfully subversive, making his research available to all in comprehensible terms, simply ignoring the filters and checkpoints of traditional media, using means that many of his colleagues would dismiss as being the choice of the voiceless.

But wait, the voiceless now have voices? That's a sudden development! And if you look around, it's a rather pervasive phenomenon. Aside from the content, I think it's an admirable example. Bob's example points out that our technology makes it possible to simply bypass choke points that once existed of necessity, but now serve only as sinecures for those who hope you do not notice how very easy it is to bypass their "indispensable services."

So, here it is, easy to get, accessible anywhere and without regard to the sensibilities of those who would prefer very much you did not read this, and with price no barrier. It's considerately written so that anyone who reads English at a high-school level should be able to understand it. The following is an excerpt from the Introduction.

The last reason why you might be interested in the hereafter is that you might
want more than just facts about authoritarians, but understanding and insight into why
they act the way they do. Which is often mind-boggling. How can they revere those
who gave their lives defending freedom and then support moves to take that freedom
away? How can they go on believing things that have been disconfirmed over and
over again, and disbelieve things that are well established? How can they think they
are the best people in the world, when so much of what they do ought to show them
they are not? Why do their leaders so often turn out to be crooks and hypocrites? Why
do the followers accept the flimsy excuses and even obvious lies that their leaders
proclaim, and cling to them so dogmatically? Why are both the followers and the
leaders so aggressive that hostility is practically their trademark? Why are both so
unaffected by the evil they do? By the time you have finished this book, I think you
will understand the reasons. All of this, and much more, fit into place once you see
what research has uncovered going on in authoritarian minds.

It's also worth noting that the actual work underpinning this book contributed to John Dean's "Conservatives Without Conscience," a book, I should add, that would have had Barry Goldwater as a co-author, had he lived a bit longer.

Dean, Goldwater, and others with solid Republican credentials had been alarmed by the capture of the Grand Old Party by the Religious Right and its seemingly amoral leaders.

Dean was plowing through the social science literature's on conservatism and
religion to see what perspective academics could offer his analysis, and
eventually he ran across my name.
I think you will find it to be a fascinating read. I literally could not tear myself away from the screen. It's time to re-read it and I invite you to join me, as I intend to weave the information and insights Altemeyer has together with my own explorations in life. It certainly explains a great deal of what sharp edges and inexplicable behaviors I encountered throughout my lifetime.

There is an associated Google Group, which is fascinating. I contribute occasionally myself, when I feel I have something to say. Mostly I lurk and learn. I suggest you do as well.

I'm hoping that together, we may stir up a lack of trouble and perhaps some surprising and revolutionary acts of civilization.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dawn of the Braindead

Oh, it's not you, it's me. Really. And by brain-dead, I'm in a place today where I just don't want to think about current affairs or human events. Why?

Well, let's look at what's hot on digg.

Michael Chertoff - even more of a scumbag than we had thought.
Alan Keyes - see above, batshit crazy and STILL thinks he should be President. Worse, people listen!
Don Rumsfield - Turns out his main field of competence was appearing competent, while sabotaging the efforts of those who might make him look bad by having actually done their jobs.

That's just the result of a simple scan of ONE source. Any of these stories would serve me well in pointing out the obvious - that when someone fucks up publically in a way that indicates inability or unwillingness to act ethically, it's very likely NOT an isolated event, nor is it a "partisan" act to point out that certain uncorrected behavior traits lead to bad acts. Making such observations - over and over and over again - make me understand the enduring popularity of Bruce Cockburn's "If I Had A Rocket Launcher" [Links to Amazon MP3 Downloads]

But today, rather than slogging away to point out the obvious - again, in the dour expectation that if noticed at all, I will be complemented on my "novel and remarkable insight," I shall instead blow shit up in Star Pirates. It's more satisfying and it actually feels like I'm accomplishing something.

Yes, we all need our little illusions. Care to join me? We can take over the solar system!


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