Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Bait and Switch
We all know that Dubya likes to simplify complex issues so that the public doesn't have to think too much. On many levels, that is both condescending and dangerous to the true power of the people. One such issue is the good vs. evil mantra of "they hate our freedom" you always hear when we ask "why do they hate us?" Of course, that isn't the case, or else Costa Rica would be getting attacked as well! It is all about our foreign policies, and this is backed up by the latest report by the Defense Science Board, as reported by the Christian Science Monitor:

"Muslims do not hate our freedom, but rather they hate our policies [the report says]. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the long-standing, even increasing, support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf states. Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy."

This report is also discussed in a N.Y. Times article:

"America's negative image in world opinion and diminished ability to persuade are consequences of factors other than the failure to implement communications strategies," says the 102-page report, completed in September. "Interests collide. Leadership counts. Policies matter. Mistakes dismay our friends and provide enemies with unintentional assistance. Strategic communication is not the problem, but it is a problem."

The study does not constitute official policy, but it is described by the Pentagon's civilian and military leadership as capturing the essential themes of a debate that is now roiling not just the Defense Department but the entire United States government. The debate centers on how far the United States can and should go in managing, even manipulating, information to deter enemies and persuade allies or neutral nations.

There is little disagreement about the importance and utility of battlefield deception to help assure the success of a military operation and protect American or allied soldiers. But there is great concern among public affairs officials in the military at proposals for regional or even global information operations, especially if those efforts include falsehoods."


"In the eyes of the Muslim world, the report adds, "American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering."

The report also says: "The critical problem in American public diplomacy directed toward the Muslim world is not one of 'dissemination of information' or even one of crafting and delivering the 'right' message. Rather it is a fundamental problem of credibility. Simply, there is none - the United States today is without a working channel of communication to the world of Muslims and of Islam."

It is all about perception vs. actions. While right-wing radio personalities throw off the Abu Ghraib incidents as troops "blowing off steam," the perception of Christian soldiers humiliating Muslims damages any good done over there. It is not about freedom and liberation, it is about perception and policies.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

My How Time Flies....
Or how did that great Groucho bit go? "Time flies like an arrow...fruit flies like a banana!" Oh well......as my good friend William has recently reminded me, "Hey! How come you haven't posted in a while???" Now while I've been busy over here in Fire Ant world (new job, trying to buy a new house and all of that) and as a result posting has been non-existant, the question did pop up in my mind about the frequency of blogging post-election. Has it truly waned for many blogs? It seems to me that the upsurge in blogs was at least superficially tied in with the "ABB" campaign: "Anybody But Bush." The momentum has definitely turned, but I see no letdown in the major blogs (Kos, Atrios, etc.), so I think they are here to stay. As for me, I'll keep on posting....

Monday, November 15, 2004

CEO of the End of the World
Scary, isn't it, that we basically have a man voted into office by a large group of religious groups who not only believe in the approaching end of the world, but actually think it is in their best interest to hasten that process! Talk about a self-fulfilling process.......ok, so let's see, conflict in the Middle East not only has been predicted, (tough prediction, that one!) it is a step in the Second Coming!! And, of course, the end of the world should not be feared, since the "Chosen Ones" (not us liberal heathens) will be taken up into the sky! Quite the "story," and I've heard many Christians claim that evolution is a fairy tale!

So, what that means, is that policy is now being influenced by groups who really believe we won't be around here much longer. Thinking along those lines, why protect the environment, since the great gig in the sky is approaching? Why worry about Social Security, world peace, anything that takes long-term thinking since true believers' ultimate reward depends upon the destruction of this planet? Depressing, I know, and of course many religious folks don't think that way. But they're not the ones with fingers on buttons.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Sing Along, Won't You?
Since we already tried the "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" line from Network, how about trying out "American Idiot" by Greenday? Find it somewhere, give it a listen and let me know if that doesn't sum up this split nation!

"Don't wanna be an American idiot.
One nation controlled by the media.
Information age of hysteria.
It's calling out to idiot America.

Welcome to a new kind of tension.
All across the alienation.
Everything isn't meant to be okay.
Television dreams of tomorrow.
We're not the ones who're meant to follow.
For that's enough to argue."

Monday, November 08, 2004

Turn Out the Lights, the Party's Over.....
Well, it's been almost a week now since hate and fear trumped hope and opportunity.

As far as a mandate goes, someone should remind Dubya that more people voted against him (56 million) than any other president in history. As a matter of fact, Dubya got the smallest percentage incumbent win since Woodrow Wilson in 1916. So, we remain a Nation divided. If anyone here thinks that Dubya will reach out across this divide and bridge that gap, you're fooling yourself. What's absolutely incredible is that a large amount of people in this Country actually believe that gays and abortion are the life-or-death issues. Not health care, an illegal war, environmental issues, living wages, etc. Dubya's supporters all now believe that not only do they have a mandate, they believe that an invisible deity in the clouds delivered it for them. Yep, nothing more humble or empathetic than a person who says that their God endorses racist beliefs.

Saving the institution of marriage from gays? I've got a better idea: how about making divorce a crime? The highest rates of divorce are among born-again Christians, while there just so happens to be a blue liberal state with one of the lowest rates of divorce: Massachusetts!

Abortion? Check out Dubya's performance so far, where, go figure, abortion is tied not to how godly you are, but the economy and health care:

"An independent study by an ethics professor at Fuller Theological Seminary who is also trained in statistical analysis finds that, contrary to popular assumption, abortion has risen in the U.S. during George W. Bush's presidency and that the increase is linked to economic policy.
"Under President Bush, the decade-long trend of declining abortion rates appears to have reversed," said Glen Stassen, Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary, a leading evangelical divinity school. Citing connections to rising unemployment and soaring healthcare costs, Stassen noted that "economic policy and abortion are not separate issues. They form one moral imperative."

Using data from the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, the Guttmacher Institute, and reporting by individual states, Stassen found that U.S. abortion rates declined 17.4% in the 1990s to a 24-year low when Bush took office. Many expected that downward trend to continue under the conservative president, but Stassen found the opposite: 52,000 more abortions occurred in 2002 than would have been expected under the pre-2000 conditions, and abortion has risen significantly in those states reporting multi-year abortion statistics."


"If we are to be truly pro-life, we must focus on real people and the conditions that lead women to seek abortions," said Wallis. "Jobs, healthcare, and a living income must be part of a pro-life agenda."

But what worries me is the lack of civility from the "compassionate conservatives." Was there mud-slinging on both sides? Certainly. But the football game mentality of winning/losing applied to politics and political infotainment breeds a special kind of fascism. Is that too strong of a word? Stroll on over to David Niewert's blog, if you haven't already. He does an excellent job of tracking domestic terrorists that the media seems to overlook.

"This attitude of utter hatred and contempt for fellow citizens whose politics differ from yours obviously exists on both sides. And it's obviously harmful. It plays out in large acts and small, warping the fabric of our lives and poisoning the community well-being. I was struck by a passage from one of the many e-mails I've gotten this past week, from a woman named Mary B. who lives in a rural Southern town:

My 11 year old daughter in the 6th grade was the ONLY student to wear a Kerry/Edwards button to school, out of 729 students in her middle school. Her classmates ridiculed her, told her to get the hell away from them, and kicked at her desk all day to separate her from them. They even told her she was not a "Christian" because she supported Kerry. They told her that Kerry was gay because he supported gay marriage. Today was even worse. They gloated, jeered and sneered at her from the minute she stepped out of the car to the minute she was picked up from school. They did not have to kick her desk because she intentionally moved it away from them.

I think we know what we're all dealing with here. If it becomes pervasive, there won't be any point in pretending that fascism hasn't descended on us. So I'm not terribly interested right now in all this talk of "building bridges" either, because it has a distinctly hollow ring.
Sure, I understand that liberals got nasty this year. But then, Republicans have always been eager to dish it out and unable to take it. Let's not kid around: We all know where this fight started.

But I'll tell you what, all you conservatives who want us to bow and scrape at the altar of your newfound civility. I'll maybe start thinking you're sincere about "restoring civility" and "turning down the hate" when I stop seeing and hearing the following -- not just from the bottom feeders like Adam Yoshida, but leading conservatives like Bill Bennett, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter:

-- That liberals are the root of all evil.
-- That liberals are innately treasonous.
-- That they are internal enemies on a par with Al Qaeda.
-- That they are responsible for conservative failures.
-- That electing a liberal president would bring the end of the republic.
-- That the nation would be better off if liberals were just eliminated.

I'll start to believe you're sincere about civility when I'm no longer reading books with titles on these subjects, and seeing them reach the bestseller lists. Most of all, I'll think there might be something to this civility thing when I see actual conservatives start standing up for basic human decency -- which at one naïve time in my life I actually believed conservativism stood for -- and publicly repudiating these people.

But when I read and hear these things, and I look around for supposedly decent conservatives to say something, what do I hear?


That speaks all the volumes that need be spoken between us. And will be, for the foreseeable future."

And then there's the celebratory e-mails received by Margaret Cho:

"I am getting lots of email that are like this.

"Whooo-hoo!!! We won!!!!

It just goes to show how incredibly dumb the Bush voters are. They are not treating this like an election, with many lives at stake with a full blown war being fought by our kids in Iraq; cataclysmic errors in national security causing our civil liberties to be severely crippled; too great a divide between the haves and the have-nots culminating in the worst economic situation in nearly eight decades; the threat to women's rights by insane religious fanatics seeking to ban abortion and therefore do away with equality; the aberration of freedom that is the Federal Marriage Amendment and the dehumanization of gay and lesbian Americans, etc, etc, etc. They are acting like it is some kind of sporting event, like their team won, and they are going to celebrate by doing beer bongs and hanging each other outside hotel windows by their big, stupid, un- evolved webbed feet. They see America like a giant tailgate party, and they are getting ready for the big game with Al-Quaeda."

Not that the liberal/progressive front is taking this lying down. After trying to talk and explain things to the right-wingers, there's only so much you can take. For example, there's
this fantastic piece by Steve Gilliard that goes on for many, many pages....go and read:

"They're the ones who voted for an overprivileged fratboy deserter who makes speeches dressed in military garb; who demands loyalty oaths from all who would be in his presence; who descends from the sky in a military helicopter amid raving crowds and fireworks displays; and who ignores the real threat of stateless terrorism in favor of invading and occupying a country that was no threat to anyone. They're the ones who voted for Abu Ghraib.

Or you don't like me calling them stupid because it's unkind and illiberal, and oh, how can I be so elitist? Cry me a river: they are stupid. They believe that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for September 11, 2001. They think corn syrup is food. They believe that there's no such thing as stateless terrorism. They believe that "the left" is responsible for the revolting cesspool of popular culture. They don't believe in evolution. They think Bush is a godly man. They never wonder why the Republicans never meet their promises to them. They don't believe in global warming. They do believe in the "Flypaper Strategy." They believe in one paragraph out of Leviticus, but they ignore the rest of the Bible."


"These are not Conservatives--this is not the Republican party we knew. This is the Movement funded by Richard Mellon Scaife, the Koch Brothers, and Joseph Coors, among others. This is Ann "My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building" Coulter , whose books are huge best-sellers. Read a few of her columns and then come back and tell me I'm over reacting. This is Rush "Feminism was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream" Limbaugh, who has an adoring audience of many many millions: Who intoned in his nice baritone about the US policy of torture at Abu Ghraib, "I'm sorry, folks. I'm sorry. Somebody has to provide a little levity here. This is not as serious as everybody is making it out to be. This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation, and we're going to ruin people's lives over it, and we're going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You [ever] heard of need to blow some steam off?" How about Sean Hannity , on whose show a young woman caller, to much acclaim, pronounced that she was voting for Bush "because President Bush likes war. Kerry doesn't like war. So I'm voting for Bush." Who said, apparently with a straight face: "[After 9-11], liberal Democrats at first showed little interest in the investigation of the roots of this massive intelligence failure...[Bush and his team] made it clear that determining the causes of America's security failures and finding and remedying its weak points would be central to their mission." Michael "Savage" Weiner , who, while voicing his contempt for San Francisco's homeless and the efforts to help them, Savage, a long time Bay Area radio personality, said that female students who come from a Marin County private school to feed and provide services to the homeless "can go in and get raped by them because they seem to like the excitement of it..." These and other comments suggesting sexual activity between homeless people and minor students were peppered throughout the three-hour broadcast."


"Browse their sites and comment boards and then come back and tell me you can reach them, educate them, live in peace with them."

This will not be a "healing" four years. What will happen is anybody's guess. What we seem to be fostering is a holy war in this Country between the "true believers" and the secular, and guess which side God and the President (who are often seen as the same person by many!) are on? I've always had a sick feeling in my stomach that the members of the public who are not bothered by carpet-bombing bits of Iraq are just simply equating any brown-skinned Muslim Middle Eastern with 9/11, and satisfying the feeling of revenge that this administration slowly stirs up. I hope that peace does result from this mess, but I just don't know......

Monday, November 01, 2004

Here We Go.......
Well, it's the day before elections, so let's toss out a couple of items:

1) The ObL video
When the bin Laden video came out last Friday, the pundits were almost all saying, "well, this certainly helps Bush out." WTF? How can that be, by reminding the American public that the very guy that Dubya promised would be hunted down and "can run but can't hide" is still out there? And, by the way, here's a little reminder of just what Dubya's campaign thinks is important about the tape:

"But it also refocused the nation on terrorism, which polls show helps Bush. And it reminds voters of their horror on Sept. 11 and Bush's well-received response, as well as obliterating the recent flood of bad news for Bush.

"We want people to think 'terrorism' for the last four days," said a Bush-Cheney campaign official. "And anything that raises the issue in people's minds is good for us."

A senior GOP strategist added, "anything that makes people nervous about their personal safety helps Bush."

He called it "a little gift," saying it helps the President but doesn't guarantee his reelection."

"A little gift?" You've gotta be kidding......I know having an evil chracter on the loose like a Warner Brothers cartoon helps justify extreme foreign policy decisions, but to actually THANK bin Laden for his help in the campaign is just so wrong. I don't think that ObL cares at all about this election, but Dubya's faith-based foreign policy decisions have probably served as a recruiting tool for extremists.

2) Will the Redskins and Nickelodeon kids be right again?
Apparently for the last 70 years the Washington Redskins football game right before elections has been right on in predicting the Presidential election. If the 'Skins lose, the incumbent party loses. So, yesterday Green Bay beat the 'Skins. Also, the Nickelodeon kids' survey has correctly predicted the race as well. The kids' pick? Kerry!

3) A country divided
The amount of anger expressed at what is simply a choice of candidates is astounding. What's funny is that Dubya ran on his "uniter not a divider" mantra back in 2000, and that was promptly wadded up and thrown into the trash like so much used Kleenex. You have to wonder just what more traditional Republicans must think about the current version of their party: pandering to religious extremists, creating a huge deficit, letting chickenhawks who never served in the military make life-and-death decisions, etc. Digby over at Hullabaloo sums it up perfectly:

"I also heard Tucker Carlson on the Chris Matthews week-end show say that he thought Kerry would win because people don't stand in line for hours in the Florida sun to vote because they like a politician. People are willing to stand in line for hours because they are angry.

Tucker's right, too.

There is a lot of handwringing among the gasbags about the fact that people allegedly aren't voting "for " Kerry but against Bush, as if the underlying reason for voter intensity matters. It doesn't. If the Democrats come out in droves tomorrow because they loathe and despise President asterisk more than they love Kerry it doesn't matter one iota. The result is the same.

The underlying fact that cannot be ignored by Democrats and moderates of all stripes is that they stole the goddam election last time and then governed like they'd won in a landslide. They rubbed our noses in it for four long years with a far right agenda, treating us like shit every single step of the way. Apparently, they believed their own ridiculous hype and convinced themselves that we would just roll over and take it. They were wrong.

It didn't have to be this way. 9/11 could have wiped the whole thing out if Junior had behaved even slightly as the president of the entire country instead of just his base. They made their bed."

Let's hope that Dubya and his faith-based posse gets booted out tomorrow........

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